Beta Finished, Readers Wanted

I’ve finished the Beta for Chocolate Meltdown, the third book in my Beowulf Chronicles series.

Now I’m looking for Beta Readers. The idea is simple. I’ll provide you with a copy of the novel, you’ll read it, and provide me with feedback.

The beta is ready to go now and I want to receive feedback by October 24th. If you would like to help, you need to have a strong commitment to reading the entire novel and providing feedback in that timeframe. It is also a strong preference that you like Sci-Fi and/or Mystery, but you do not have to have read Murder & Mochas or Mercury & Murder.

If interested, please send me an e-mail at

Chocolate Meltdown

That’s right, you read it, Chocolate Meltdown, is the title for Beowulf Chronicles 3!

I suppose I should insert some legalese here giving me enough wiggle room to allow myself to change the title later should something better crop up. But nah. Each time I settle on a title it sticks. This one will stick.

The title process is always interesting. It can be a little frustrating, trying to distill the books essence down to a couple words while still keeping it relevant. With Murder & Mochas at one point I had a working list of 25 titles, all of which I eventually tossed out. I got within thirty days of publication, for a book I had been working on for two years, before I settled on the title. Sometimes, there’s some luck involved. For Mercury & Murder, the key elements of that book were so clear the title just locked itself in before I even got through with the second draft. And, of course, good friends always help.

I was sitting on the deck of The Dead Mule with my girlfriend talking about Murder & Mochas and I mentioned that I needed a title for book 3 and I just asked if she were game to help. She said, “Sure.” I mean, come on, who would refuse that, right? So I showed her the synopsis and she came up with “Bittersweet Exit.” I loved the sound of it and in a way it fits, but it also sounded a little more romance than gritty detective story.  I texted it to Kevin, who has read the Alpha, and he came back with Chocolate Meltdown and Chocolate Shakedown. I thought about Bittersweet Meltdown (what can I say, I liked the Bittersweet bit, I am a dark chocolate fan). But having chocolate in the title made more sense (I mean chocolate sells books, right? – everyone loves chocolate (now I am about to be flooded with mail from the Vanilla Fan Club)) since the thieves are stealing chocolate. Plus I’ve already been working with the idea of having melted chocolate on the cover and there are some other melty bits in the book, so Chocolate Meltdown just fit! Woot-woot!

Getting to a title is always exciting. It’s one of those events in a book’s life that helps it to become more real. Plus, after a while, it gets old referring to a book by a number simply because you lack the imagination or commitment to title it. So here I am with a toothy grin because I can start marketing Chocolate Meltdown. Next stop a Beta and a cover.

Check Out This Review

I was going to write about the title for BC3 (the third book in my Beowulf Chronicles series), but I happened to pop onto Goodreads today and discover the latest 5 star review for Mercury & Murder . This one is from Greg, another winner from my Goodreads Giveaway. Here is what he had to say:

Firstreads Winner. Loved this book. It was a fast ride though a wonderful cross of worlds. I want this to be a TV series where the bounty hunters are followed in their endeavors to wrestle with alien outlaws. This was such a rich world the author created full of gritty characters and humor. The dialogue is witty, unreverent, and quick. This is a great book with all the fun of an amusement park.

Mercury & Murder

(Couldn’t find a non-copyrighted picture of an amusement park that I liked, so I just used my book cover.)

What can I say, he nailed it! People who know me would definitely say that a ride through my world is a ride through a witty irreverent amusement park.

I am thinking about a direct to NetFlix series. I see a lot of room for this to be a great TV show with the type of production quality you can get from NetFlix. And who doesn’t love binge-watching a season!? There are other options, but that one appeals to me for a number of reasons.

If you would like to read his review yourself or see what else is on Goodreads, you can find it here.

Thank you for the great review Greg, it made my day. I hope you check out Murder & Mochas and enjoy it equally as much.

Guess I’ll write about the title for BC3 this weekend — Stay Tuned.

5 Star Review for Mercury & Murder

Mercury & Murder has gotten its first review from my Goodreads Giveaway. And I am totally stoked that Bernie gave the book 5 Stars! Here is what he had to say:

A lot is happening in the small college town of Chapel-Hill. Halloween and alien tourists is an explosive combination. Throw in a mass murderer and things are bound to happen. Kurt West thinks he is on top of it but he needs a lot of help along the way. There are enough twists and turns to keep anyone’s attention. This book will appeals to science fiction and murder mystery enthusiasts. I have not read the fist book but after reading this book I intend to get it. I also look forward to the next book in the series.

Mercury & Murder

Thanks for the good review Bernie. I hope you pick Murder & Mochas up and enjoy it!

If you would like to read the review yourself or check out Goodreads, you can find the review here.

And … They’re Off

Goodreads giveaway books are in the mail!

BC2 Goodreads Giveaway 2

As a minor aside, I once again walked into the Post Office to a long line. Uncontrollably, a heavy sigh issued from  my lips. Yet, I was amazed at how quickly the line moved. Unless of course, you were one of the people behind me and my 4 international and 29 domestic books to be shipped. Yeah, apparently, I’m that guy. The postal workers did their best, but 45 minutes later there was a line to the door and I was the apparent cause of the heavy sighs. So if you happened to be stuck in the Chapel Hill Post Office longer than you wanted to be this fine Saturday, my apologies. But take solace in the fact that over the next week (or so) thirty some people will be happy to receive their free books. Some of them may even like the book!

Now, if I can just get real about some marketing, I may be able to get these sales nudged past their current dribble.

Mercury & Murder Goodreads Giveaway

Better late than never!

Okay, short version – I am amazingly tardy getting the books in the mail for my last Goodreads giveaway. International travel, vacations, and an outsized plan doomed me. Last time I scheduled a Google Hangout book signing and every time I looked at the calendar I just couldn’t find a time that worked for that. Note-to-self, keep it simple!

BC2 Goodreads Giveaway

So, after jettisoning the overly complicated plan … two trips to Staples, 6+ hours, and we’ll call it A beer, I’ve got the books ready to go (along with an appropriately contrite letter of apology for my tardiness). With a little luck, I’ll get some good reviews.

Next stop, the post office. After some sleep, of course.

Good News, Bad News, Old News

Rockin’ n Rollin’ that’s how I feel. Of course that’s after swallowing that the first draft of BC3 was boring and A LOT of coffee, but hey, you know, everyone needs a pick me up.


Okay, so good news, bad news, old news. I’ll start with the old news. BC3 still needs a lot of work. Of course, it is still a first draft, so we knew this. Honestly, of the four novels I’ve outlined, it is the one with the weakest initial outline. In fact, to complete the first draft, I had to take a sharp turn off of the outline. Good news is that worked. Bad news is sometimes when you don’t have a plan, you end up somewhere else.

So the real bad news – first draft isn’t quite as good as I hoped. I know it’s a first draft, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want it to be solid ;-). The main weakness is the plot. Given my piss poor outline, this should not be a surprise. A disappointment, sure. A surprise, no. Not enough twists, no real turns, and no surprises. I guess that shouldn’t surprise me. But the good news is that I’ve got three more drafts before I even begin to consider it done and the magic is in the rewrites. Plenty of time and opportunity to get creative and put some twisty turns and surprises in.

Now on to the good news. Overall, the draft is pretty clean — grammar, spelling, etc. I’m sure I’ll screw that up in future drafts … after all, my beta readers need something to fix. The banter between the characters is great and as my readers have told me, this is a big part of what makes the books so fun. So basically, I’ve got the same fun characters, in the same fun and intriguing storyworld, with a mystery that’s not mysterious enough. Fixing the plot is easy. This should be a no-brainer, right?

So, I did some brainstorming with my alpha reader and came up with some solid ideas. I spent this evening plugging the ideas into the outline. And when I did that, I realized that a major significant sequence happens too early in the book, so I picked up three chapters and shifted them about ten chapters later. After looking back over the changes, I am convinced they’ll make the story more interesting and more fun. Good. I’m also sure there’s room for more twists, but that’s why I have a coupleish or so more drafts after this one.

Of course right now, I feel like I just got the recipe for a great new dessert. It looks and sounds yummy. I’ve read the ingredients and the instructions and it doesn’t seem too difficult to make. Of course, I haven’t gone shopping yet, attempted to find that one hard to find ingredient, discovered that kitchen implement I never thought was necessary just might be, or started the general work of making the dessert. Yep, the kitchen might end up a mess. Any time I make the number and type of plot changes I just made, it’s a lot. Even little ones have a ripple effect that cascade through chapters. The reread could be fun.

For now, I feel energized and not overwhelmed. So that’s something. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow.

BC3’s First Draft Is Complete

Ever since I took that sharp left turn at Albuquerque and got off my outline I’ve been on a roll. I found the story and tore through the second half of the book. I did circle back to the original outline for the last couple of wrap-up chapters and I’ll be interested to see if that material survives the edits. I suspect that I am going to completely rewrite the beginning, which will mean I completely rewrite the end, but you know, details details. Like all first drafts, it kinda sucks. But the real magic is always in the rewrites. Right now I am happy and I’ll take a few hours, maybe even a few days, to savor the accomplishment. And then the real work begins!

11,000 Words

I am stoked to report that I have had a particularly productive weekend! I set a goal of 10,000 Words and I have hit 11,032.

Now that I have ditched my outline, the story is progressing nicely. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to wrap it all up, but you know, I guess I’ll just make it up as I go. I must admit that in my caffeine-fueled exuberance, I feel tempted to keep writing – see if I can crank out another couple thousand words tonight. But there is that laundry I haven’t done all weekend calling me. Of course, right now, that feels like an easy call to ignore.

Anyway, I feel really good about what I’ve accomplished this weekend – I needed a big weekend on the book. I think a break from writing this evening will be healthy to refill the creative tank. The good news is that I feel real momentum now and not only am I within striking distance of finishing the first draft of BC3, but I am also feeling confident that I can pull it off within a week. I do have a particularly busy week at work to contend with, but you know, I don’t really need to sleep all that much. Sleep is overrated anyway, right?

Something else to look forward to – I’m meeting with Abel (my cover designer) to discuss the cover for BC3 this week. Now that I’ve got a clear sense of the book, we should be able to have a good productive conversation and bounce around some ideas. I will keep you posted on how the cover progresses, it’s always exciting to get a cover for a new book – it’s one of those moments that helps it to feel more real.

10,000 Words

That’s the goal for this weekend!

I’ve finally caught some momentum on Beowulf Chronicles 3. I’ve done 10,000 words in the last two weeks and I feel like I’m in striking distance of finishing the first draft. –Ah-hem, with a BIG weekend of course.– I did 1800 words last night, so only 8200 to go. Across two days that feels pretty achievable.

So how did I catch some momentum? I did a sharp right turn off of my outline. I had been bugged, bogged down really, by a sense that the outline wasn’t meaty enough, that the story needed more fleshing out. Then as I was writing I hit a spot where a character was supposed to confess to some naughtiness, which brought a rapid end to the novel. Right there was the problem. So I thought about it for a bit and decided that instead of confessing to X, I would have the character point Kurt & Papa Bear toward a new clue. That was key! Because that clue didn’t exist in the outline, so I had to take a sharp right turn (my pun is up and I felt like writing a “sharp write turn”) and start making shit up. Good thing I’m a writer and my chief job is to make shit up! That freed me up and since then I have created 8.25 new chapters, all of which were not in the original outline, and I feel like I’ve got some momentum to finish out this draft.

So I’m ditching household chores (bummer about that), home projects, and maybe even grocery shopping (unless I run out of coffee) for the weekend. I’ve got my mental state set to Write, I’m over caffeinated, and ready to go.