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Friday, October 30, 2015


Imagine the end of the world is coming in eight days. What will you do in the time left to you? 

In "8 Days," many people will spend time with their families. But others will party. Others will try to live out their fantasies and lead lives they couldn't before. 

Now, imagine that the world doesn't end after all. How do you feel about what you've done? 

It is a time of crises. Crisis of conscience. Identity crisis. Crisis of faith. Both during the approach of the end and in the frenzied days that follow its miss. 

Follow the stories of several people and the world as they tackle these questions and more in the near-apocalypse novel "8 Days."

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Just 99¢!

5 out of five stars on Goodreads
4 out of five stars on Amazon

"Great read and thoroughly thought provoking. Looking forward to reading more by this author!"
-- Arkync

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

"8 Days": Heart-Stopping Moments

Not for the reader.  For me.

Most recently, I realized I didn't do something way back when I first came up with the title.  I didn't Google it.


Imagine my shock when I saw that there were a few 8 Days things out there already.  A movie, a book ...  I panicked for about ten minutes and thought about Eight Days.  Yep, already taken, too.  What about 7 Days or Seven Days?  Of course, those are taken.  What about 9 Days or Nine Days or 10 Days or Ten Days?  Of course they were all gone, too.

Yes, I was considering a rewrite to adjust the number of days.  Once I saw that there was no way to get a title of X Days that hadn't already been taken, I talked myself off the ledge and decided to just leave things be.

The bigger cardiac arrest I had once I finished my first readthrough of the book.  I was done typing, it was organized like I originally planned, ... I thought things were A-OK.

I hated it.

Man, that was rough.  I spent a few months writing and writing and I ended up with 65,000+ words that I just didn't care for.  I had a mild panic attack.  I thought about shelving it and moving on to my "Night at the Museum" idea.  Then I decided to sit down and examine what, exactly, wasn't working.

Originally, the structure was more character focused and not chronological.  It made sense from a storytelling perspective to keep the attention on the core characters for longer stretches of time because, I thought at the time, that they would be lost in the anthologized shuffle if I did things chronologically.

For example, Chapter 1 was random character, 2 was character A, 3 was B, 4 was C, 5 was D, 6 went back to a random character, and then 7 went back to A, and so on.  (It makes more sense when you read it.)  Even though it generally followed a chronological story, the characters were separated from each other in the own islands of story.  Again, for the characters themselves, it made more sense to tell their stories across multiple days in one chapter.

Reading it, however, it made less sense.  It was wholly unsatisfying.  And deflating for me, the writer.

Well, I thought, let me try organizing it day-by-day instead of by character.  Almost immediately I felt the difference in reading it.  Isolating the characters in their own chapters made sense from one perspective, but that isolation didn't always make them feel like they were in the same world.  By mixing them up and structuring things by chronology, I got characters near each other (in the narrative sense) that never were before, which helped provide some interesting contrasts.

There were a few gaps in storytelling that I noticed in the chronology version that I didn't notice before, so I wrote some new sections, bringing the word count up to near 75,000.

I'm happy to say I like 8 Days now.  It's a much better book thanks to me hating it before.

Look for its release on Friday, October 30.

Friday, October 23, 2015

"8 Days": Keeping It Real

Basically, that big "V" word means you write about something like it's real.  You treat it real so that the reader accepts it as real, too.  Obviously, this is a must in science fiction.  Without it, scifi won't be taken seriously.

For something like 8 Days, it's needed in more ways than the obvious.  Since this is a story about the near future (2019), it can't feel too far flung from the present.  And since this is set in the real world, any interaction my characters have with the real world must feel real, too.

Thanks to Google Earth, it's easy for me to pick a route for bank robbers to follow in Des Moines.  I can choose a neighborhood for a family to live in Phoenix.  I can find grocery stores near an old lady's house in Little Rock.  But it's more than just that.

I had to learn a little bit about a steam power plant on the outskirts of Atlanta.  I studied up on the primate population at the Greensboro Science Center.  I know the names and faces of local TV anchors in several markets now.  The layout of the University of Florida in Gainesville.  NASA's Near-Earth Object program.  (The facts and figures laid out in a chapter featuring a Senate committee hearing are all true.  And a NASA director did recently say that Congress shouldn't "pour funds" into the NEO program.  And a lot of what the president and others say about the federal budget is completely true, too.)

Trying to "keep it real" did bite me on the ass, though.  While the president was always going to be a fictional character, I intended to surround him with real politicians.  Speaker of the House John Boehner put in an appearance, too.  Well, that didn't work out so hot.  I decided to go ahead and fictionalize all of the politicians.  (See if you can guess who the senators in the committee hearing chapter were originally supposed to be.)  But all of those TV anchors?  They're real.

Next week, I'll post about the two realizations that made me clutch my chest.  Also, as I wrap up my third and final reading/editing/rewriting session, I may give away the book before its Friday 10/30 release.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

"8 Days": Tone

The tone of 8 Days was important to me.  Yes, there's an asteroid coming and the world freaks out.  But how does that feel?

Did I want to show wall-to-wall, drug-fueled partying, a la Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up" music video?  Did I want to show masses of humanity, coming together, singing "Kumbaya" until the minutes tick away?  Did I want everyone to be utterly and woefully depressed about the whole thing?

It's easy to fall into any one of those realms, but I decided from the start that this would be an anthologized story.  Meaning, multiple tales involving different characters, but all reacting to the same basic circumstances.  So I can have party scenes with family scenes with depressing scenes.  Yay!

In a way, I took some storytelling inspiration from the HBO series The Leftovers.

Like 8 Days, it focuses on a single, worldwide event and the aftermath.  (In the show's case, it's a Rapture-like event dubbed The Sudden Departure.  Two percent of the world's population just vanished.)  If you've watched the show, it can be a very dour hour.  I mean, ... it can be emotionally taxing.  (But I like the show.  Really.)

It would have been easy for me to go down that same path.  Given the choices that people might make when they believe the world is ending, it would not be hard for the book to feel leaden with angst and strife.  Therefore, I took my inspiration from the show by not going down that path.  Yes, there's some dark shit.  There's some drama.  But I made sure that there was some lightness, too.

For a bit of the lightness, I took some additional inspiration from another HBO show.

You may notice there's some wisecracking in the scenes involving the president.  This, actually, isn't too far from the truth.  It's often said that people in very serious positions (police, doctors, etc.) resort to jokes to help them deal with the stresses of their work.  So I put some of that in here, too.

In the next post, learning about "verisimilitude."  And coming soon, a couple of near-cardiac events I had (one relating to the title, the other relating to the quality of the book).

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

"8 Days" for Real

This is some pretty good publicity for my book, I think:

No, for real.  It's the size of a skyscraper and astronomers just detected it a couple of weeks ago.  It'll miss us ... for now.

And check out what it looks like:

A skull.  That's awesome.

Man, I wish 8 Days was ready to distribute.  I could really capitalize on this.  Oh well.  I can have it ready by the asteroid's flyby, I believe.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

"8 Days": Theme

Yes, you know that the main plot of 8 Days is that there's an asteroid coming to Earth, people freak out, the asteroid misses, and people have to live with their decisions.  That's not really a theme, though.

The theme is crisis.

Just about every phrasing with that word can be found.  Crisis of conscience, crisis of faith, identity crisis, family crisis ...

Well, not every kind of crisis.

It's a worldwide crisis and of real magnitude.  The phrase "first-world problems" is overused, but most of the issues here are far beyond that.  These crises affect everyone and how people react to these crises will affect everyone, too.

Also, not for nothing, this scene from The Dark Knight embodies a rather prominent theme in the book:

Coming soon, more posts on the book's tone and how I nearly had a heart attack after my first readthrough.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

"8 Days": Inspiration

8 Days is my upcoming near-apocalyptic novel.  "Near-apocalyptic"?  Yes.  An asteroid is eight days away from hitting the Earth, people go nuts, and, oops, it misses.  The rest of the book is dealing with people's decisions during that time.

Where did I get the idea?  Oddly enough, a podcast.

Are you familiar with Impractical Jokers on TruTV?  What about the podcast Tell 'Em Steve-Dave?  A fixture on both is Brian Quinn.  His friend (and fellow Impractical Joker) is Sal Vulcano.  Brian and Sal have a podcast of their own, What Say You?

Click to visit

It's a lot of fun.  Anyway, at the beginning of episode 43, they started talking about the apocalypse and what they and other people might do with their limited time left on Earth.  At one point, Q talks about trying hard drugs, and Sal says, "What if you then get addicted to it, the most addictive thing in the world, ..."  And he paused just long enough for my mind to finish his sentence in my head: "And the asteroid misses."  That's not how Sal finished it, but my imagination took the hell off.

In fact, I don't remember too much else about that episode because I was thinking of all kinds of end-of-the world scenarios.  I thought about it all day and, when I got home, wrote some notes down to form a basic outline of a story.

Thus, 8 Days.

The good news is that I'm just about done.  A couple of chapters to finish, some minor restructuring, and then the editing process.  I aim to have it released by the end of the month.

More news and background coming soon.  Thanks.