Superhero Stories in Disguise

VS Wallpaper NO TEXTI believe many popular shows, movies, and books are superpower stories in disguise.

I LOVE superpowers! I grew up watching Spiderman, Batman, and the X-men cartoons just to name a few (otherwise the list would be too long). I wait eagerly for Superhero movies to be released and try to watch them in theaters as soon as they come out. I have always enjoyed learning how each hero got their powers. I am captivated by the evolution of the characters, watching them fail, train, and then grow into the heroes they needed to be to save the day. I love superheroes so much that my wife helped me decorate my classroom with a superhero theme. (She has tried to decorate it in all sorts of things before, but cutesy doesn’t work for me. This is much more my style! Thanks, Wifey!)

Every super hero has an origin story depicting how they obtained superpowers. Spiderman received his powers from a radioactive spider. Wonder Woman discovers she’s a demigod. Tony Stark keeps shrapnel out of his heart by building an arc-reactor that he later uses to power a suit of armor. Captain America receives super soldier serum. Batman trains his mind and body in order to gain superhero abilities. You get the idea.

I see other popular shows, movies, and books in the same light. In Harry Potter, characters use wands to produce superpowers. The Lord of the Rings, the rings of power give their wearers superpowers. The Stormlight Chronicles have superpowers in the form of shardblade or bonding with a spren. Mistbornhas superpowers from burning metals in their bodies. Naruto uses chakra. Gummy Bears use gummy bear juice. Ninja Turtles use ooze. Dragon Ball Z uses ki. I could go on and on. I have a feeling I could find superpowers even in some of those cheesy Hallmark movies my wife watches.

My love of superpowers means that I can’t help but have them in my stories, too. When I go to write a story, they are usually the first thing I research. I create worlds and storylines with superpowers in mind. In VERVE STONES, rare characters can access verve stones which give a variety of superpower abilities. In NINTH NIGHT, I included the mystery of a mythological creature so there is at least a possibility of a superpower. In UNDER, Boyd uses a superpower from the Glide-Suits. In a story in production, superpowers are passed down from descendants. For example, King Midas passes on his golden touch.

I nerd out about superheroes. What is your thing? What could you talk for hours on end about?

 

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Self-Publishing is NOT for the Faint of Heart

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Self-publishing is not for the faint of heart. I struggle with distractions, finding time to write, finishing drafts, and writer’s block. Not to mention, the need to be a teacher, dad, husband, and follower of Christ. When I decided to self-publish I really had no idea what I was getting into. It is a lot harder than I ever imagined (and I knew it would be hard). There are a few things I really dislike about it, but there is one part that I truly hate.

Accepting negative feedback from my editor friends (even when it’s essential) is high on my list. To help make this step easier on my heart, I’ve developed a system. First, I read through the entire edited manuscript and correct the easiest corrections like spelling and grammatical errors. Next, I read over the plot and character comments because they usually require only minor changes to the story. Finally, I address the meaty-feedback that calls for me to add or delete a scene, make major character adjustments, or rework my plotline.

Receiving negative reviews on Goodreads or Amazon is also high on my dislike list. Getting ratings and reviews is paramount to having any success as an author. For VERVE STONES, it was mostly my friends and family memberswhoreviewedthe book. These reviews convinced other readers on Goodreads and Amazon to purchase the eBook or paperback, or read the book on Amazon Unlimited. Negative rating and reviews are a painful part of putting my creation out for the world to judge. But I also believe that they demonstrate the authenticity of a book’s reviews. (After all, not everyone is going to like any given book. I mean, every book from the Harry Potter series had some one-star reviews so I’m certainly not alone.) That said, when you get a whopper like this review, it takes a few days to calm down and try to laugh it off.

Formatting. Formatting is the bane of my existence! (Spoiler alert: there is one thing I hate even more, but boy is this a close second.) I often joke that formatting is a curse word in my house. As a self-published writer, I am in charge of getting all the formatting just right. I must select fonts, sizes, and spacing. I add chapter titles and headers. I insert maps. I add gutters for the binding. I make sure everything you see (or don’t see) on the page looks as perfect as possible. When I first started, I naively thought this step would be easy. I mean I wrote a whole book. Surely, I can just upload it and it will look great. Nope. I spent over a week uploading a manuscript (over and over and over again) to CreateSpace Digital Proofer, which allows me to view my fully-formatted book in an online virtual environment. It must detect no errorsin the document. After pulling out what I little hair I have, I finally begged my technologically-gifted-wife for help. She discovered that I made a small error that was messing everything up. GRRR! As frustrating as formatting is, I still don’t consider it to be the worst part of being a self-published author.

My number one, worst, most difficult part of being a self-published author is—SELF-PROMOTION! Ew. I despise asking anyone for help. Especially my friends and family. I also loathe bragging about myself. (Those compliments you read on my blog are usually written by my wife. She reminds me to be proud of what I’ve accomplished. I’d rather crawl under a rock, but I try.) The number of books for sale on Amazon is overwhelming. With so much competition, I struggle to find ways to promote my stories. Giveaways on Amazon work a smidge. Giveaways on Goodreads are expensive. Advertisements cost more money than I wish to spend on a hobby. I want to get my book into the hands of not just friends and family members, but strangers. I want my books to excite people to read and it brings me great joy when I hear they do.

I dream of a day where a team can do all these things for me, but for now, I continue to be grateful for a way to get my words out of my journals and into a book.

Any other self-publishers out there? What was the most frustrating part for you? Feel free to explain in the comments below.

Happy Anniversary UNDER

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I self-published UNDER on July 9, 2017. One year and a month ago from today, August 9,2018. (Recently I realized I forgot its anniversary and thought today could be a great backup plan.)

A lot has happened since I self-published the book. My family moved to a new town, we bought a house, my daughter completed kindergarten, we found a neighborhood church, and I finished my thirteenth year of teaching. The days were long, but the year passed quickly.

UNDER is the second story I ever wrote. I started the manuscript in 2009. I wanted to write a science fiction book with a mystery to solve in an underwater city. I originally wanted Boyd’s family to be out of place in Sans Terra, like the Beverly Hillbillies were out of place in Beverly Hills. However, the characters evolved into something completely different (as they so often do). While I followed where the characters led, the story changed a lot over the years thanks to thoughtful edits and feedback from my incredible family and friends. They helped make it the story it is today and I’m forever grateful.

If you want to read more about my inspiration for UNDER, you can read about it here.

UNDER is a captivating story for kids and families. If you’re looking for a book to share with your kids, grandkids, or students, this one is a fun mix of both science fiction and mystery that they’re sure to enjoy!

One of my best friends recently read it to his 6-year-old son. My friend’s son was always asking me questions as he tried to solve the mystery. I’d always tell him that you’ll have to read on to find out. I hope you take the time to read UNDER and find yourself transported to 3,960 feet under the ocean. You too will have to read on to solve the mysteries of Sans Terra!

Happy Anniversary UNDER! Thanks to all the readers who make writing worthwhile!

 

 

 

 

 

 

UNDER Ebook Sweepstakes Update

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Feeling incredibly blessed that 443 entrants entered the UNDER eBook sweepstakes!

UNDER is a combination of science fiction and mystery written at a fourth-grade reading level. In it, thirteen-year-old Boyd Under and his older sister Maggie enter their grandfather’s secret underwater city, Sans Terra. Life here is full of surprises and fun (remember underwater city!). You won’t want to miss out on this adventure so enter today. If you know someone else who’d enjoy a literary trip under the ocean, share this link with them.

See this #AmazonGiveaway for a chance to win: Under (Kindle Edition). https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/a78dc30472332ec3 NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of Jul 23, 2018 11:59 PM PDT, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules http://amzn.to/GArules.

UNDER Sweepstakes Begins Today!

Sans Terra Map Final

Follow thirteen-year-old Boyd Under and his older sister Maggie as they enter their grandfather’s secret underwater city. Located at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, Sans Terra is a technological marvel. Within its many domes, citizens enjoy a surprisingly normal city life of parks, shops, restaurants, schools, and apartments. However, life goes from typical to tense when several people inexplicably fall ill. It is up to Boyd, Maggie, and friends to uncover the source of the illness. Will solving this mystery unite friends or turn friends into enemies? Dive in to find out.

See this #AmazonGiveaway for a chance to win: Under (Kindle Edition). https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/a78dc30472332ec3 NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of Jul 23, 2018 11:59 PM PDT, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules http://amzn.to/GArules.

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Researching

I find joy in researching. Usually, I research an item I’m daydreaming about purchasing like a motorcycle, bike, canoe, bass guitar, or a boat. Or I research players to trade for or pick up on the waiver wire during fantasy football season.

I absorb every fact or opinion I can get my hands on within nonfiction books, blogs, videos, websites, and reviews.

My most favorite story I researched is UNDER. Hands down. I spent weeks combing through nonfiction books about ocean life at different depths around the world, reading Popular Science to learn about amazing new developments in technology, and searching the internet for information on materials that could keep water out of Sans Terra.

My wife bought me the book pictured above so I could finalize the numerous details about the sea life around Sans Terra. I used my combined research as a foundation to build a believable futuristic city 3,960 miles beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean.

Do you enjoy researching? If so, what? Please share your answer in the comments below.