Pantsing through the Pandemic

Seaside Statue Sitting Man
Courtesy of eltpics

Today, I had the pleasure of being a guest over at The Kill Zone. These guys are first-rate authors. Take a look at my post and decide whether I measure up.

If, as Stephen King likes to say, the road to hell is paved with adverbs, then finishing a novel is paved with mouse traps; and here you are trying to get across that minefield in your bare feet. As writers, we tend to get distracted—a lot. Thanks, Netflix. And then, there’s life. How many of you have said, “If only I could focus exclusively on my writing, I’d finish this damn book, by cracky.” I know I have. Repeatedly over the years, much to the irritation of my long-suffering wife.

Then, a little thing called COVID-19 happened. We were told we had to shelter in place. Sure, there was still Netflix and Amazon Prime to distract us, but we couldn’t go anywhere. What’s a writer to do? Well, like the wily poker player whose bluff was called, I decided to shut up and write. And guess what, I finished the damn book.

Pantsers Are People, Too

I’m a pantser by trade. That means I don’t have a clue where I’m heading when I begin a new book. That’s not entirely true. I do know where I would like to end up, but I haven’t worked out the details. I have a main character in mind, of course. And I’m pretty clear on the conflict arising between the mc’s goal and the thing standing in the way. Other than that, I’m free as a bird when it comes to the plot. I suspect that some plotters look at pantsers as undisciplined children with uncombed hair and sticky fingers. My image of a plotter is a person who dresses impeccably and has an English accent. Borrowing from the wonderfully insane film Galaxy Quest, plotters are Alexander Dane, while pantsers are Jason Nesmith.

The book in question is the third in my supernatural suspense series, Sarah Greene Mysteries. My main character sees ghosts, which tends to get her into serious trouble. Over the course of the three novels, Sarah goes from discovering a mirror that holds the spirit of a dead girl to the entire town pretty much erupting into flames. Now, as a card-carrying pantser, I had no idea how I was going to go from a murder mystery to Armageddon. I had to trust that the characters would get me to my destination. Spoiler alert—going about crafting a novel this way requires you to rewrite. Often. That’s the downside. The upside is, there are lots of opportunities for discovery. And then, there is what I like to call the happy accident, which in my opinion, is a gift from heaven and makes for a better story.

You can read the rest of the post here.

2020 Indie Book Awards Press Release

NextGenerationIndieBookAwards2
Next Generation Indie Book Awards is the world’s largest book awards program for independent publishers and self-published authors

The Girl in the Mirror: A Sarah Greene Supernatural Mystery by Steven Ramirez has been named by the Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group as one of the best indie books of 2020.

Steven Ramirez’s book is the winner of the Horror category in the 2020 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the world’s largest book awards program for independent publishers and self-published authors. The winners and finalists will be honored June 26 in an online event which will stream live on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NextGenerationIndieBookAwards at 8:00 pm (Eastern Time) and 5:00 pm (Pacific Time).

2020 is the 13th year of the not-for-profit book awards program. Outskirts Press, an independent book publisher which provides services for self-publishing authors, was a Silver Sponsor of this year’s awards.

The Next Generation Indie Book Awards are judged by leaders of the indie book publishing industry, including many with long careers at major publishing houses. Their love of a great read and experience in the publishing arena identify books deserving a wider audience.

In an article at CNN.com titled If it’s cool, creative, and different, it’s indie, journalist Catherine Andrews wrote: “The term ‘indie’ traditionally refers to independent art – music, film, literature or anything that fits under the broad banner of culture – created outside of the mainstream and without corporate financing.” That definition remains true for book publishing.

Independent book publishing companies are independent of the major conglomerates dominating the book publishing industry. Indies include small presses, larger independent publishers, university presses, e-book publishers, and self-published authors.

According to Catherine Goulet, Founder and Co-Chair of the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, “Like other independent artists, many indie book publishers face challenges that the industry giants don’t experience. The indies have to work much harder to get their best books into readers’ hands.”

“Authors and publishers who compete in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards are serious about promoting their books,” adds Goulet. “They aim to stand out from the crowd of millions of books in print.”

According to an October 2019 report by Bowker, publisher of the Books in Print database, the number of titles self-published in the United States grew to over 1.6 million in 2018, an increase of 40% over the previous year. “This trend is likely to continue as the quality of many self-published works now rivals that of traditionally published titles,” according to the report.

Worldwide, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) estimates more than 2.6 million books are now being published in a single year.

To help indie authors and publishers reach a wider audience, the top 70 books in the 2020 Next Generation Indie Book Awards will be reviewed by New York literary agent Marilyn Allen of Allen O’Shea Literary Agency, or one of Ms. Allen’s co-agents, for possible representation in areas such as: distribution, foreign rights, film rights, and other rights.

The awards will be presented on June 26 in an online event which will stream live on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NextGenerationIndieBookAwards at 8:00 pm (Eastern Time) and 5:00 pm (Pacific Time).

This year’s awards event was originally planned to take place at Chicago’s Newberry Library, to coincide with the American Library Association Annual Conference, but was moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other prize-winning books in the 2020 Next Generation Indie Book Awards include:

Top Non-Fiction Books

First Place Winner ($1,500 Prize)

Treasured Lands: A Photographic Odyssey Through America’s National Parks, by QT Luong (Terra Galleria Press)

Second Place Winner ($750 Prize)

The Chimpanzee Chronicles: Stories of Heartbreak and Hope from Behind the Bars, by Debra Rosenman (Wild Soul Press)

Third Place Winner ($500 Prize)

Feast of the Seven Fishes: A Brooklyn Italian’s Recipes Celebrating Food and Family, by Daniel Paterna (powerHouse Books)

Top Fiction Books

First Place Winner ($1,500 Prize)

Lucky-Child: The Secret, by Dr. Chelinay Gates aka Malardy (Tellwell Publications)

Second Place Winner ($750 Prize)

Eve of Snows, by L. James Rice (Twelfth Star Publishing)

Third Place Winner ($500 Prize)

Marlon MacDoogle’s Magical Night, by Sean Covel and Diego Velasquez (Baby Buddha Publishing)

Other Winners

Top books were named as winners and finalists in over 70 publishing categories ranging from Action/Adventure to Young Author.

A complete list of 2020 winners and finalists is available at the Next Generation Indie Book Awards website at indiebookawards.com.

Where to Watch the 2020 Book Awards Event

This year’s event will be streamed live online and the public is welcome to watch. To see the 2020 Next Generation Indie Book Awards Presentation, visit https://www.facebook.com/NextGenerationIndieBookAwards at 8:00 pm (Eastern Time) and 5:00 pm (Pacific Time) on Friday, June 26.

June 2020 Highlights and What Happened to May?

Empty Pool
Courtesy of Matt Jiggins

I know, I know. I’ve been trying to get a newsletter out on a monthly basis. And I was doing pretty well there for a while. Then, May hit. Now, a lot of people would defend themselves by offering lame excuses like “I lost track of time” or “Was I supposed to do that?” Not me. I’m guilty, guilty, GUILTY. I messed up. There, I feel better. I hope you do, too. On with the show…

Writing

I have finished writing Book 3 of my Sarah Greene Mysteries series, and the manuscript is off to the editor. Originally, I had planned to publish the novel next year. Well, this one should be out in late 2020. At that time, I also plan to release a box set containing all three books.

For those of you who are Kindle Unlimited subscribers, you can read Books 1 and 2 for free. And speaking of KU, I’ve decided to move all my books to Kindle Unlimited. By the time you read this, everything should be available.

Recommended Reading

Cades Cove Cover

As I said in my review, Cades Cove by Aiden James is one mother of a scary book. If you like ghost stories filled with history and dark magic, check it out. You can read my review here.

The Gun Cover

The Gun by Fuminori Nakamura is a different kind of novel. Reading it, I couldn’t help imagine Holden Caulfield as an angry Japanese man with a weapon. It’s a fascinating story. You can read my review here.

Recommended Viewing

For those of you with a Netflix account, check out Black Spot, a dark thriller set in a French town located near a forest. Maybe it’s the trees, but the inhabitants of this town are seriously messed up.

And for you Amazon Prime members, if you like English dramas, then An Inspector Calls might be your cup of tea. It’s based on the play by the esteemed J. B. Priestley.

Stay well. See you next month, when I try to locate a swimming pool that only allows one person at a time. Peace and love.