Authorgraphs

I have a major announcement coming very soon (most likely tomorrow) but before that, I wanted to drop a quick message about Authorgraphs.

I’ve signed up with Authorgraph, so now you can request signatures for your ebooks! Don’t be afraid to send me a request and add my atrocious handwriting to your collection!

The link is here: http://www.authorgraph.com/authors/crackedthesky

It’s also on the sidebar of my blog. There’s supposed to be a widget, but it doesn’t seem to work at the moment, so for now the link will have to do.

Thanks for everything, and stay tuned for a post on something I’ve been teasing for a while now.

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Permanent Ink on Temporary Pages Release

Permanent Ink on Temporary Pages is now available at most online book retailers.

Permanent Ink on Temporary Pages

Each of the 16 poems in Permanent Ink on Temporary Pages stands alone, but also serves as a piece of a larger narrative. From the death of poetry itself in “At Rest in the Sea” to the lifetime-spanning “The Back of the Room”, the stream-of-consciousness piece “Alone” to the song-turned-poem “Sunday Calls for Cloudy Skies”, and the thematically-related interludes “Letters”, “Pages”, and “Poetries”, Permanent Ink on Temporary Pages tells the story of a narrator struggling to find his place in the world, drifting between tangential universes, and replacing the people around him with fictional characters, all the while writing letters he doesn’t send, poetry scattered to the wind, and pages full of everything he can’t bear the thought of losing.

You can find the e-book through these links:

Amazon • Smashwords • Apple iBooks • Barnes & Noble • Kobo • Google Play

The paperback should be up on Amazon and Barnes & Noble soon, and is available through the CreateSpace store now.

Samples of the book can be found at all of its storefronts, but you can also read several poems under the Scenes section of my blog, under “Samples” in the menu bar.

Permanent Ink on Temporary Pages Announcement

My poetry collection, Permanent Ink on Temporary Pages, will be released next month in ebook and paperback formats.

Permanent Ink on Temporary Pages

Each of the 16 poems in Permanent Ink on Temporary Pages stands alone, but also serves as a piece of a larger narrative. From the death of poetry itself in “At Rest in the Sea” to the lifetime-spanning “The Back of the Room”, the stream-of-consciousness piece “Alone” to the song-turned-poem “Sunday Calls for Cloudy Skies”, and the thematically-related interludes “Letters”, “Pages”, and “Poetries”, Permanent Ink on Temporary Pages tells the story of a narrator struggling to find his place in the world, drifting between tangential universes, and replacing the people around him with fictional characters, all the while writing letters he doesn’t send, poetry scattered to the wind, and pages full of everything he can’t bear the thought of losing.

My plan is to release all formats of the book on June 24th, 2014.

The ebook will be up for pre-order on most major retailers soon. In the meantime, here is the table of contents. A few of the poems available for reading now, which you’ll find through their links:

At Rest in the Sea
Letters
Faded.
Sunday Calls for Cloudy Skies
Alone
Shadows and Fingerprints
The Back of the Room
Yearbook
Pages
Be There
In the House Across the Street
On the Mend
I Could Have Shined
Love on a Page
Contronym
Poetries

Hardcovers!

I recently received my proof copies of the hardcover editions of After the Bite and In the Lone and Level Sands. I’m pretty happy with the way they turned out, and now I’m making them available to purchase through Lulu.

I wish I could make these available elsewhere, but I can’t justify the cost to do so. For now, Lulu is the only place to get hardcovers of these books. Paperbacks and ebooks will remain available everywhere they currently are.

You can find After the Bite here: http://www.lulu.com/shop/david-lovato-and-seth-thomas/after-the-bite/hardcover/product-21636543.html

And In the Lone and Level Sands here: http://www.lulu.com/shop/david-lovato-and-seth-thomas/in-the-lone-and-level-sands/hardcover/product-21636523.html

After the Bite comes in black satin with gold spine text, while In the Lone and Level Sands comes in tan satin with black spine text. Both books feature glossy dust jackets and black-and-white interiors.

On the Mend

I’ve been going over my poetry collection, and on the whole I’m happy with it. It’s looking very unlikely that I’ll scrap it at this point, so I’m probably going to share a few more poems in the coming weeks. I still want to give it another round of editing, then there’s assembling it for publishing, finding a cover, hopefully getting some external feedback, etc. Hopefully I’ll have more concrete information about it next time I mention it on here.

In the meantime, this poem is called “On the Mend” and it almost didn’t make the cut. It’s one of the shortest poems in the collection, but it fits the theme well, and I’m happy with how it turned out.

On the Mend

I’ve been throwing bricks
From atop this house of sticks
And I’ve been casting stones
Across a lake as dry as bones

I hope you never know
How much time I’ve spent planning for bridges
I never come to, much less have to cross

And I’ve been planting seeds
In a yard not fit for weeds
I’ve been writing words
That leave the page like little birds

I was pretty sure
I’ve spent most of my life burning bridges
I couldn’t sleep beneath, much less try to cross

I wrote you down so you would always stay
But a heart like yours won’t be contained
So I put quotation marks around your name, like wings
So you could fly away from me

I hope you never see
I’ve spent every hour since then building a bridge
And I can barely walk, much less bear a cross

Tonight I’ll try to sleep
Beside the secrets I don’t want to keep
Tomorrow I’ll start throwing bricks
At your makeshift crucifix

And hope you do believe
You won’t find any answers jumping off of bridges
Come down from there. You’ve suffered enough.

WIBUT April 2014

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t want my blog to focus mainly on reviews, yet I have one ready to post at any time, and another one in progress. As it turns out, I greatly enjoy talking about the things I enjoy.

Before I get around to posting those, I thought I’d give an update on the other things this site was intended to focus on.

Writing

My main focus right now is on a coming-of-age / magic realism novella. I’m a little over 15,000 words in. I’m not sure what I’ll do with it once I finish it (and in this case, “finish” means finish writing, shelve it for a few months, then edit it and decide if it’s worth existing anywhere but my own hard drive). For now, I’m going to focus on writing it. Its tentative (and likely final) title is “The Afterglow”.

I have a few other projects on the backburner, one of which I’d like to talk a lot more about, but probably shouldn’t, since it won’t be finished anytime soon, let alone releasable. The reason I mention it is that I’m pretty sure I’ll break that silence in the coming weeks, depending on how well it comes along.

Publishing

Search around the internet, and you’ll find a very unfortunate battle raging over traditional- vs. self-publishing. I think (and hope) the squabble is coming to an end, with both methods coming out of it as valid routes to the same goal, and both methods existing as alternatives balancing each other out. With that said, I don’t prefer or dislike either method. I’m still eager to have certain works traditionally published, but I have turned to self-publishing before. One reason for it is that I enjoy doing it. My first love will always be writing, but putting the finished product together as one package is a lot of fun. It’s hard work, sometimes it’s frustrating (no one can ever know how long I’ve languished over where to place the title on the cover, what size to print a book in, what font to use, etc.), but in the end I enjoy doing it.

It’s always exciting to see new options pop up on the publishing side of things. In my case, these options aren’t necessarily new, but old ones I’ve seen in a new light.

There isn’t a lot to say about either route, at the moment. On the traditional side, I’m submitting short stories and novelettes to publishers for their consideration. There’s a lot of waiting involved, which I understand and don’t mind, but it doesn’t make for an exciting blog post.

On the self-publishing side, I’m putting together hardcover editions of After the Bite and In the Lone and Level Sands. My co-author Seth and I have had a few people ask us about hardcovers, and it’s always a bummer to have to tell them it’s not in the cards. However, I’ve found a happy enough medium to work with. If I get these finished and approve of the quality, hardcovers will be available through Lulu’s store only. (I can’t bring myself to use their expanded distribution options; I would have to charge in the realm of $40-$60 for the books, and part of my self-publishing philosophy is that my books need to be affordable. I paid $40 for the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series, I can’t see myself charging the same for one short story collection by some random not-George R. R. Martin.)

Finally, and this one falls somewhere between “writing” and “publishing,” I’m considering a book of poetry. I had a random burst of creativity a few weeks ago, and the result was over a dozen strongly related poems. I’ve considered submitting them for publishing elsewhere, but these follow a theme and almost form a story, and I think they belong together. I could submit the entire book for publishing, but I’m not sure anyone would want to represent or publish a poetry book by someone who hasn’t published poetry before, so for now I’m leaning toward self-publishing it.

Reading

I’ve finally made decent progress with Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. I started reading it a long time ago, but I found the beginning to be slow, even boring. It’s finally picking up, and it was worth getting through; I’m enjoying the story.

I also recently began The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. The writing is delightful; I find myself smiling almost nonstop through it. The story is magical, although the parallels to previous works like Alice in Wonderland and other writers like Diana Wynne Jones and Ursula K. Le Guin are very strong, and I’m not sure the book will end up accomplishing anything those others haven’t already. But I’m not very far in yet, and anyway, a book doesn’t have to change the world or even change literature to be great. In any case, I’m surprised Studio Ghibli hasn’t made a film out of this one. It would fit right in.

Blog Upkeep

I’ve been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff around here. For example, the “Published Works” link at the top is now a drop-down menu that contains a page for every work listed in there (which it should have from the start, but I hadn’t thought to do it yet). Clicking “published works” will still go to the old page, where everything is on one page.

I’ve also been using the tumblr version of my blog a lot more than I thought I would. It’s great for posting pictures, and I’ve recently begun a project I’m calling “Scenes”, where I put excerpts of my writing over pictures I’ve taken over the years. I do plan to get that project going on here as well, but it’s a little more involved on WordPress, and I’m not sure yet how I want the page to appear. In the meantime, you’ll find the pictures on my facebook, the page for my zombie series, and my tumblr.

So that’s what I’ve been up to, more or less. Now I’ll get back to finishing those review posts, and hopefully, by the time those are up, I’ll have something a little more substantial to share on the writing side of this blog.

“Hole” Update

My first venture into self-publishing was through a free short story called “Hole“. For a long time the story appeared almost exactly as I’d written it. Sure, I’d edited it after first writing it, but beyond that, I didn’t do much to it.

I happened to catch a glimpse of the story recently, and realized that was something that needed to change. So, over the last few days, I prepared a new cover image for it (thanks in part to the contributors at Pixabay) and set to work editing the text itself. I’m a lot happier with the newer versions of both.

Cover by David Lovato

As I mention in the story’s new afterword, I’m considering making a side-by-side comparison of the 2010 version of the story and the 2014 version of it, to show a little bit of my editing process, and the thoughts that go into each change. Maybe it’ll help someone out there with their own editing. This probably won’t come until later; I’m pretty busy working on new, never-before-seen projects.

“Hole” is available for free from just about every ebook retailer, except for Amazon. (They tend to not allow permanently free ebooks.) You’ll find links to “Hole” at various ebook retailers here: https://davidjlovato.wordpress.com/works-2/#hole

Thank You!

Writing a book can be frightening. There are times I wonder if I’m capable of doing the story justice; there are places and characters and plots in my head, but what if I can’t translate those onto the page? What if I end up sharing a bastardized version of them with the world?

Then there’s the fear of losing someone. I think a lot of people who read can relate; even though a story or character is fictional, you’re devoting part of your life to spend time with them, and sometimes losing them hurts. I think it’s just as hard on the writer, especially if we didn’t see it coming, but we have to do what’s right for the story.

For me, possibly the most frightening part is releasing the book into the world, and not knowing how people will react. It’s like I’ve raised a bird since it was an egg, and now it’s time to set it free to fly, and I really hope someone doesn’t shoot it out of the sky as soon as it leaves my hands.

Obviously, not everyone is going to like my writing, and every writer gets negative reviews. That’s part of the process. People have different tastes, and you can’t expect a book to sit well with everyone. There’s so much I love about writing, I’d keep doing it if nobody liked my work. Still, that anxiety that accompanies releasing a book exists. I’m pretty sure by now it’s inescapable. I could release 99 books that each get a hundred five-star reviews, and I’ll still feel it just before I release book 100.

I’m not trying to complain. That anxiety is also accompanied by a sense of excitement, especially if I’m proud of the book I’ve written. It’s a double-sided coin, and I think if I wasn’t anxious, I might not be excited, either.

So far my books are being well-received. I’m thrilled to see the reviews come in, most of them very positive, and I can’t thank you enough. I have a few one- and two-star ratings, and I can’t complain. Theoretically, every rating is followed by a reading. Someone took time out of their life to read something I wrote. That is its own reward; someone twice my age, someone half my age, someone sitting in a country I’ll probably never see with my own eyes has read something I’ve created.

If you’re that someone, thank you. There are millions of books out there, billions of characters you could’ve spent your time with, and you chose mine. That’s an incredible honor. We’re on this earth for a limited time, and to have anyone spend theirs on me is a humbling experience.

I hope you enjoyed it. I’m sorry if you didn’t. Either way, I’m thankful you gave it a chance.

On Titles

Over a year ago, I was browsing a magazine (I don’t remember which), and near the back was a review of a book I’d never heard of. The book is called The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There. I didn’t read the review (I think they gave it five stars, I don’t recall), but I did add the book to my mental “to read” list immediately.

The title hit me like a freight train. It captured my attention, held it, and demanded I pick the book up.

I looked into it and discovered the book is a sequel to one with a title that’s almost as good: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. It should be noted that I haven’t read either book yet (a misfortune I plan to remedy very, very soon), but regardless of how that goes for me, I think these are two of the best book titles I’ve ever seen in my life. (The author is Catherynne M. Valente, for those interested in looking these books up.)

When it comes to titles, I don’t know that I’d consider them among the most important parts of the writing process. A bad title probably won’t turn anyone away, but a good title can certainly turn a reader toward your book. For example, let’s look at two of my favorite books: The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris is one. It’s a great title for several reasons. To start, it has a sort of mystical feel to it. You don’t immediately know what it’s about. There are two key words in the title: “silence”, which makes me think of darkness, death, suspense, and fear. The other is “lambs”, which conjures the idea of “innocence”. So now I have to know why innocence is being silenced, which means I have to read the book (or, at the very least, the back cover).

(In case you don’t know, the book is a horror/suspense novel about a young FBI agent hunting a serial killer. The title comes into full play toward the end of the book.)

Now a second of my favorite books: The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It’s simple, straight to the point, and honestly, tells me absolutely nothing about the story. That book could be about anything. I can guess that perhaps the titular road is symbolic and that there will be some kind of journey involved, either internal or external, but not much else. (It turns out it’s a bit of both; it’s a post-apocalyptic road novel.)

I wouldn’t say The Road is a bad title, but it’s no Silence of the Lambs. It doesn’t demand I drop what I’m doing to read the book (which is where the synopsis has to take over), but it certainly doesn’t make me turn away from the book, either.

With all of this in mind, when I choose a title for my work, more than anything else I try to find one that fits the story. Lately, I try to aim for the attention-getter, but sometimes I just can’t find one. In any case, I thought I’d give a few pointers in how to narrow down a good title, or at least a good place to start looking for one.

You’re going to want something that serves as a “bigger picture” summary of your story. (The Road nailed this one.) Bonus points if this is unique. George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones is a good example. The book is, at its heart, about a struggle of succession to the throne, and how many of the people involved more or less game the system. It’s also very obvious just from the title that we’re probably talking historical fantasy, and the title isn’t readily reminiscent of any other title I can think of. So it’s unique, it hints at the genre, and it summarizes the story within.

A good way to find something like that in your own work is to look for a word or term or phrase within. (Another one A Game of Thrones nailed, as the term appears twice in the book, if memory serves.) An example of this is my own book, In the Lone and Level Sands. While it’s not immediately clear from the title that the book is about zombies (though those familiar with the Shelley poem the title alludes to might think “post-apocalyptic”), the title is, in my opinion, an attention-getter. It’s also taken directly from a conversation two characters have toward the end of the book, and relates to the story pretty clearly from that context.

So, long story short, you want something that summarizes your story, hints at the genre, grabs the attention, or does all of these. A good place to look is in the work itself, in a passage of writing, a bit of dialogue, or just in the general plot. Sometimes you can find it by looking elsewhere; for example, Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men does a good enough job of summarizing the story, even though the line is taken from a completely unrelated poem. (Again, my own In the Lone and Level Sands can relate.) Just make sure it’s related to your story in some way and falls under fair use; plagiarism doesn’t make for good titles.

I think a good combination to shoot for is this: Your cover should draw the reader in from afar. Your summary should make the reader have to read the book. But your title should make the reader have to read the summary. And, if your title is good enough, it just might cause a few readers to skip the summary and dive right in. Catherynne M. Valente’s titles did it for me, and I can only hope to be that good at coming up with titles in the future.

In closing, here’s a list of some of my favorite book titles and my own comments about them. Feel free to add yours in the replies.

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin. The Word for World is Forest, also by Le Guin. (No idea what either of these books are about, but I’m pretty sure they’re both in her Hain series, which I’m about halfway through.)

The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Only Revolutions by Mark Z. Danielewski. (Sounds cool, and it’s a road novel, and there’s a lot of teenage anarchy involved, so it’s a perfect fit.)

John Dies at the End and its sequel This Book is Full of Spiders by David Wong. (I mean, you pretty much have to read a book with that title.)

The Drawing of the Three and The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King. (Both of these are Dark Tower novels, and both have the sort of fantastical title that captures my attention. Most of the books in that series do.)

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. (You see the title and have a pretty good idea what the book is about.)

The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft. (The title is almost as creepy as the novella is. I could list almost everything Lovecraft ever wrote here, so you should probably just look up a list of his works.)

A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle. (Another attention-grabber.)

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card. (Another perfect title. You can guess the genre as scifi/fantasy, it draws you in, and it does a wonderful job of capturing the heart of the story.)

The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me by Brand New. (This is an album and not a book, but it fits just as well.)

In the Lone and Level Sands

In the Lone and Level Sands cover

The wait is over! In the Lone and Level Sands is now available in ebook format (list price $3.99) through Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes (with Kobo and Sony editions coming soon). It’s also available in print (list price $12.99) through Createspace and Amazon (with Barnes & Noble coming soon).

In the Lone and Level Sands is the story of seven groups of people across America as they try to survive the zombie apocalypse.

You can read the first 19 chapters here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzO8YJWnSng8SzRzcUtYeHpDM00/edit?usp=sharing

You can also see a longer preview at the various ebook retailer pages.

Seth and I want to thank everyone who reads this or any of our works, and everyone who will do so. You mean a lot to us.