Starting Tomorrow: Free Chapter Friday

No sooner had I announced that the project I didn’t tell anyone about had reached novel length, than megafan Pizzamancer chimed up in the comments section, requesting a sample from the new book.

And I thought, yeah. He’s got a great point. Kind of a no brainer, really. After all, Andy Weir started out giving away The Martian on his website, chapter by chapter, until people began asking for a version to read on their Kindles. He did that, and the rest is history.

(Brief aside: read the book, see the movie. Both are great.)

This new book is written with commercial intentions, and the giveaway ploy worked for Weir, right? So why not?

Thinking this over, I decided I also wanted this to be fun for the people involved… so here’s what I’m going to do, hopefully with an interesting audience vs. author twist.

Starting tomorrow, and every Friday following, at 12 noon ET, I will post a chapter of the new novel right here on this very page. I will continue to do this every week until I finish the first draft of the novel. So you can root for me to finish the novel in a hurry so I can go through all that publishing rigmarole, or you can hope I get stalled out so you pretty much get the whole book for free (don’t hold your breath – next I’ll be writing chapter 29 out of a projected 54 chapters).

And yes, when I do this tomorrow I will also be revealing the actual title of the work, something I haven’t done in decades (sometime in the past I got superstitious about doing that, so this will be good for me).

I figure at this rate you’ll get four or five chapters out of the deal, and hopefully get so hooked that you’ll seek out and/or champion the book when it comes.

You up for this?

Here’s some basic rules (none of them too stringent):

  1. As an early reader, you understand that this is a rough draft and that what you see over the next few weeks may change – often drastically – before the actual publication (the early chapters of my novels are typically the most revised).
  2. You also understand that this will be published under a yet-to-be-determined pen name as this is not a typical JCF novel. The voice will be different, but the trademark humor will still be there. The trademark suspense may or may not. Depends. It’s a different brand name.
  3. I am not making any kind of secret that this is a pseudonuymous novel, so blackmail is off the table.
  4. Feel free to ask questions or challenge me over literary idiocy or generally discuss things in the comments. I do hold approval rights, but I approve pretty much every comment unless you’re trying to sell my readers Viagra. I also tend to respond to comments, so expect some back-and-forth.
  5. Have fun at all times. Notice I didn’t say “enjoy”.
  6. Try not to chuckle too hard when you hear the ice cracking under my feet.

Now the question is – am I up for this? I tend to be secretive about this kind of thing, so this is a first for me. We’ll see how it goes. If it goes well, I may repeat the process with that monster that is the UFO Novel (but no promises).

The experiment begins mere hours from now…

And here's another clue for you all.

And here’s another clue for you all.

It’s A Novel!

Congratulations are in order for me. I think. I just passed the 40,000 word mark on a writing project, meaning that it is now officially novel length.

Um, no… it’s not the UFO Novel. I’m at 50k plus on that one, and it’s a big project, a long write, and I’m taking a break from it at the moment…

What I’m supposed to have been doing right now is work on a couple of other things that have become pressing in the wake of Drawing Down the Moon being picked up via the Kindle Scout race. First, I’ve slowly been trying to get the three books of the Angel’s Luck trilogy cleaned up after being OCR scanned and into formats for both Kindle and trade paperback. Then it will be on to do the same for the two Pembroke Hallnovels, putting them both into a single volume to create the Author’s Intended Version.

I’ve also, at the behest of an illustrator friend of mine, dug out an orphaned manuscript from some time ago – a middle grade novel that, at the time I’d hoped would be a child’s gateway to science fiction, without having any ties to those Trek or Wars franchises. It had been sitting quite a while, and I needed to update it for the age of the cell phone and tech savvy young people. The revision is almost done, and then I’m shipping it off to my mighty artist.

But none of those is what I’ve been working on…

Before you jump all over me for this, hear me out. I’m a writer. I can’t help it. This is what happens to us. Lots of times an opening scene pops into my head, I write it down and file it. Sometimes it waits for years before I come back and do anything with it.

Not so this time.

How I got to this moment is a long story, but in a nutshell: near the end of June I got an idea for an opening chapter of something and wrote it down. I went to file and forget it, but the scene kept coming back, bringing friends, playing CDs and making calls to Japan on my phone. As I jotted short chapters in a session or two, I realized that this project was just what I’ve been looking for over the last couple of years: The first in an open ended series of lighthearted crime novels, able to be written quickly because each chapter is designed to be written in one sitting (my writing pattern of late has been one chapter a week based on their length).

I’m thinking commercially with this new project. The UFO novel is decidedly non-commercial, just me flexing literary muscle. I’ve wanted for some time to develop something like this, probably published under a pen name – the idea being that this series of novels wouldn’t be the typical Joe Clifford Faust novel (if there is such a thing), the different name being an indicator of that.

I started writing in earnest in September and crossed the 40k word mark today. Twenty-seven chapters so far. Halfway through for both my projected final word count and final number of chapters. At this rate I might finish it up by the end of October or the first week of November, setting a record of just over two months of solid writing (previous record holder Precious Cargo took four).

So there you go. With a minimum of fanfare and almost no previewing or teasing I’ve slipped in half a book under the radar of most everybody. It’s been a fun secret to keep and a fun write so far, but it’s time to mention it and keep myself honest for writing the back half. Crime Series Novel #1, here we come!

Upgrade

If you’re here reading this for not the first time, you’ll notice there’s a different look about the place. Yeah, it was time. I was on the page updating things that should have been done long ago – can you believe I never did a book page for Drawing Down the Moon? – and one thing led to another. The place was in bad need of an update all over the place as it turned out, so I tweaked copy all over the place and then decided to give the site a facelift.

So here you have it. And there’s more coming. I’m working now on getting the Kindle and trade paper versions of the Angel’s Luck trilogy done. I’m collaborating with an illustrator friend of mine, cleaning up a book that has been mouldering in my unpublished manuscript file. Hopefully we’ll see some action on that soon.

Plus, of course, I’ve got about three new novel projects dangling, and at least one more on the farthest back burner I have. I just have to pick one, plunk myself down, and do it. Oh, and I have a proposal for a 33 1/3 book, too. Will probably hear something back on that in another couple of months.

To tantalize you while I’m making up my literary mind, here’s a sample illo from the above-mentioned illustrator… the proposed cover art for the project.

And in the meantime, if you’ve read Drawing Down the Moon, thank you! If you haven’t yet reviewed it on Goodreads and/or Amazon, it would be appreciated. Not only is the feedback welcome, but it also helps sales. An important factor from my point of view, and from yours, too – especially if you want to see more Faustian novels.

z cover

A Peek at the Process

Here’s a peek at something I’m cooking up. I just sent off a proposal for my first non-fiction project, a book about one of my favorite albums. 33 1/3 is a line of books about just that. I hope it’s a fit. And yes, if they green light it, you’ll hear all about The Making Of on this very blog.

proposal

Go Set A Watchman  Catastrophe

Really? Really?

There’s been a lot of hand wringing going on in the media – last night on PBS, today on CNN – about the effect that the release of Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman is going to have on her classic (and only other novel), To Kill A Mockingbird.

“Will this change the way Mockingbird is viewed?” they are asking, with the same anguish as if they had just seen The Phantom Menace or the second and third Matrix movies. “Will this change what it means to us? Will it keep its impact on us?”

US_cover_of_Go_Set_a_WatchmanPeople, this is a novel. And an unedited draft at that. Before the wheels of publication began to turn, Lee was offered the chance to have the novel edited and she declined. Today, that’s only afforded to massively bestselling authors like Stephen King, Tom Clancy and Jean Auel, whom editors are either too afraid or too busy to edit — okay, maybe that’s not such a big deal right now.

To catch you up if you haven’t been following the story. Once upon a time, a young Nelle Harper Lee wrote a novel called Go Set A Watchman about a young woman looking back on her relationship with her lawyer father. It made the rounds and one interested editor – or maybe it was an agent – suggested the story would be better if it was narrated by the protagonist at the age she was at the time the events in book took place, as opposed to looking back after a decade or so. She did some rewrites and the book we know as To Kill A Mockingbird was born.

And something likely happened to the story line along the way. The perception of the relationship passed from a knowing one, from the view of a young woman who was a newly minted adult. It became more idealistic, a view from a little girl who worshiped her Daddy.

Meantime, the first draft of the book disappeared, thought lost by the author, who was busy not writing other novels. Until it was recently discovered and put into motion as a real book, to much excitement… until folks found out what it was about.

Apparently Watchman shows a view of Attacus Finch as a separatist and possibly even a racist – perhaps a less idealistic view of a man as seen through the eyes of a now-adult daughter. This the cause of all that angst in the literati – like the release is going to undo all of the advances in civil rights and race relations that have been made since Mockingbird was released. Welcome back, lynching and Jim Crow laws! Like the first book was single-handedly responsible for all of that to begin with.

Is there nothing else going on in the world right now worth losing sleep over? Is it a slow news week?

Or am I the only one who understands the concept of a first draft?

Just in case I am – here’s the answer to this non-story:

No.

Go Set A Watchman will not change To Kill A Mockingbird. Mockingbird will be the same book, the beloved classic it deserves to be.

If you don’t believe me, photocopy a random page of the book, put it in envelope, and check it after Watchman comes out. I’ll bet a large amount of cash or chocolate pudding that none of the words will have changed. Or better yet, open up that favorite novel of yours that was made into a wretched, forgettable waste of a movie and read a random chapter. It hasn’t changed. Just like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn wasn’t changed by Tom Sawyer Abroad or Tom Sawyer, Detective, two cash-in novels written by Mark Twain, both of which were written in the voice of Huck Finn.

And as far as I know, Lee isn’t pulling a George Lucas and issuing a revised director’s cut of Mockingbird where, among other things, the rabid dog shoots at Attacus first.

If Harper Lee made any mistake in issuing Watchman, perhaps it was in leaving the names of the first draft intact, not understanding the attachment we’ve developed over the years to the version that was published. It would have been an easy thing, once the book was put into a word processor, to do a global search and replace to change the names from the revered ones to something a little more generic. Nobody would have been the wiser.

Yeah. As if something like that would ever become a best-seller.

The Really Great Chinese Food Tour

Tour Dates Updated 7/23/15

Yes, the Kindle version came out on St. Patrick’s Day. Yes, the paper version has been available for over a month. But I’ve been sidelined by various and sundry catastrophes that, if I bothered to chronicle them here, might leave you in a fetal position under your dining table.

JCF workshopping with the Utica Writer's Club

JCF workshopping with the Utica Writer’s Club

What matters now is that I’m finally able to start a promotional tour for Drawing Down the Moon. Things have changed since I last hit the road to hawk a book, and now we have the whole virtual side of things. So not only will I be appearing with the usual suspects – bookstores and libraries – I will also be doing guest blogging stints and interviews out in the blogosphere.

Tour dates are listed below. Bookmark this page, as it will be updated with new dates as they’re booked.

Stay tuned. I’m getting ready to fire up my own blogging muscles once more, in pursuit of this blog’s theme of chronicling the creative process. One of the ways I plan to do that is by interviewing other authors about their way of doing things. It should be fun.

And yes, there may even be a tour T-shirt…

2015

June 25Utica Writer’s Club, Utica NY – Workshop, Q & A – (See photos)

July 7My Two Cents Worth (Before Inflation), Blogosphere – Blog Interview (Read it here)

August 10Secret Life of a Townie, Blogosphere – Blog Interview (Read it here)

August 12LindaSands.com, Blogosphere – Blog Interview (Read it here)

JoeFaust promo

Drawing Down the Moon Gets Physical

DDtM PaperFor those of you who prefer your reading experience to be literal instead of virtual, your wishes have figuratively come true. Drawing Down the Moon is at long last available in a trade paper edition that is guaranteed to have mass and take up physical space. If you let it, it may also take up some space in your brain, at least for a time.

DDtM – The Paper Edition is available at all of the usual online suspects:

Amazon.com

Create Space

In a month or two you should also be able to order it through your favorite bookstore, if such a thing still exists.

No word on a spoken word version yet, but it may be in the works. Figureatively. I mean, virtually. Um, that should be literally.