My warmest thanks to Robert Altbauer for making this map using ideas from the depths of my noggin’. The Kingdom of Rothesia is the setting I created for all the books within The Legacy Series. You can check out more of Robert’s phenomenal work at his website.
All posts by Jason Varrone
Posted by Jason Varrone on March 11, 2013
The time has come for a little spit shining. I am coming up on my one-year anniversary of self-publishing. Let’a face it, many of my covers truly stink. It’s OK, I know this, you won’t hurt my feelings. This last year has been about writing and understanding the ins and outs of the self-publishing game. What I’ve learned is that I have no graphic design eye whatsoever. I can write and I can format e-books, two out of three solid traits to have to succeed long term in this business. As for the covers, it is time for improvement.
I recently purchased two new pre-made covers. The first is for The Deathbed Mindset. It’s a beautiful blue, clean, minimalist, and represents the book perfectly.
The second is for Tales, my short fantasy fiction collection. It is a simple cover reflecting the fantasy genre.
In addition, today I commissioned two covers with a professional designer for my Legacy Series books. One cover will be redesigned for Warrior’s Tale (book one), and the other will be for book two, my first novel which I am working on now, entitled King’s Reaping. It is such a load off working with a professional on a cover. Now I can concentrate on writing. I’ll also be upgrading the covers for my short stories going forward as well, here and there, when a pre-made cover grabs my eye.
I am about 26,000 words into my novel, and hope to have it published by June 2013, at which time work on book three will begin. While my short fiction days are not one-hundred percent over, my concentration going forward will be on novel-length works.
Stay tuned for more!
Posted by Jason Varrone on January 9, 2013
Tales: A Collection Of Short Fantasy Fiction is now available in paperback for $6.99! It is available at both Amazon (along with the e-book) and CreateSpace. I cannot express in words how cool it is to see your work in print form. This is my five-story collection that includes all five of the shorts I published earlier this year: “Loyal,” “Dragon’s Vengeance,” “Courage,” “Knight’s Oath,” and “Second Son.”
I hope you enjoy it!
Posted by Jason Varrone on October 23, 2012
My life clock ticks to forty today. I admit I am having a hard time with that. My angst didn’t kick in until two days ago, when I realized that potentially my life is half over. It is a sobering thought. But it has been a wonderful ride thus far, enriched with a beautiful wife who supports me in everything I do, kids who drive us insane, and a family that is always there for me. I cannot ask for much more.
In my thirty-ninth year of life I finally took up writing again. So much time had passed since I put down the pen as a teenager that I didn’t think I could do it. But that itch was always there, a tickle in my brain that constantly made me wonder if I could do what I always dreamed of but never had the confidence nor the time to do.
Now, as I turn forty, I reflect on what I’ve accomplished since I sat my booty down to begin The Deathbed Mindset in October 2011. I have published four short stories, two novelettes (one in a series, also in print form), and one short non-fiction e-book. And today, I announce the publication of Tales: A Collection of Short Fantasy Fiction, which is the collection of those four short stories and the one non-series novelette. This collection is important to me, and it is appropriate that it arrive on my birthday. Beginning with Loyal, my journey in writing short fantasy fiction began. It was so enjoyable it is difficult to express in words. I fell in love with characters taken from deep within, characters filled with emotion, stories filled with drama. This collection represents the start of my journey and the joy of the ride. Tales is now available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.
In addition to those publications, I also started Short Fiction Spotlight, a website dedicated to expanding the reach of short fiction. It has grown popular faster than I expected, and I expect that growth to continue. One last project that I began in late 2012 with some fellow indie authors is the creation of the Short Fiction Writers Guild, a group of writers of the short form whose sole purpose is to help other authors market their work. Details on that launch are forthcoming.
Going forward from this point, I’ll be working on longer fiction, into the novella territory (above 17,500 words). I will first begin work on completing The Legacy Series trilogy, and the sequel to Warrior’s Ascension will begin shortly. I have ideas for two other series already in mind, one of those catering to young adults, so 2013 will be a busy year as I focus solely on series work and continue to foster the growth of the websites and guild.
I am not a fan of setting goals or assessing where I’ve been at the start of a new year. To me, that time should come on your birthday. It’s been a great journey, but my destination is nowhere in sight, which is fine with me. For too long I wallowed in a haze as I thought I could do it, but never sat down and tried. I finally did, and my soul is so much the happier for it.
Thanks, as always, to my family and friends for their continued support and encouragement.
Posted by Jason Varrone on October 14, 2012
I tried to write a novel once. I then realized I hadn’t a clue what I was doing. I decided to write something shorter, but in no way easier. Thus my love of writing and reading short fiction began.
Most short fiction authors will tell you that marketing and succeeding at selling short fiction is difficult. There is a dearth of good short fiction websites that authors can use to market their work. Short fiction author Alain Gomez runs two excellent sites catering to short fiction: Book Brouhaha and Short Story Symposium. She and I discussed at length the need for another site for short fiction authors. I wanted to put my own spin on a short fiction website and combine the services that she offers into one. It would enable authors to market their work and have it reviewed by an objective person, and a way for me to market my work in another venue. I would also learn more about the short fiction medium by being exposed to submissions for review.
And…Short Fiction Spotlight was born. Today is its official launch.
To all short fiction authors who read this, please take a look at the site and feel free to send submissions my way. Check out the tabs at the top for directions on how to submit your story and what services I offer. If you have feedback about the site in general or recommendations for improvement, by all means let me know. I am using a free WordPress theme so I am a bit constrained by its limitations. Overall I think it looks solid and clean.
Who knows where this will go, but I will have fun and learn a helluva lot while doing it! Feedback is welcome!
Posted by Jason Varrone on July 20, 2012
“Loyal” is the featured short story this week at Alain Gomez’s great site for short fiction, Short Story Symposium. It is a site dedicated to expanding the reach of short fiction, be it short stories, novelettes or novellas. A hearty thank you to Alain, a wonderful short fiction writer herself, for featuring “Loyal” this week.
Posted by Jason Varrone on June 29, 2012
Over at the Writer’s Cafe a few weeks ago, someone opened a thread asking if we indie authors wrote to make a living or did it as a hobby. The responses were varied, and I thought it an important question for an indie to ask him or herself. That question is foundational, and the answer to it shapes your approach to your writing endeavor.
For those writing as a hobby, it is easy to justify a more relaxed approach to writing. Your schedule can be loose, and stress over not writing as often as desired can be minimized because you are doing this to enjoy the writing process and perhaps share your work with others. But should your approach be that relaxed, even if this is just a hobby?
For those writing to make a living, or at least those of us who view writing from an entrepreneurial perspective, the approach is different, more rigid. A solid writing schedule should be adhered to, professional editing services utilized, and products offered at desired intervals depending on your goals.
But should your overall approach to and seriousness about writing be different if a writer does it for a living or as a hobby? My friend over at the Cafe, Ashley Mackler-Paternostro, responded on the thread with a quote that moved me.
My advice, no matter how much money you actually make, is to pretend that writing is how you make your money, how you survive and put food on the table, gas in the car. Take it that seriously at all times. Whether you’re tired, cranky, blocked…sit down and write. Every. Single. Day. Never think of it as a hobby. Hobbies are fun and you don’t feel guilty if your interest wanes 5 out of 7 days a week. Let your goals be your guide on how to approach the process.
Her quote speaks to the seriousness with which we should take our writing, both hobbyists and those desiring to strike it rich as writers.
Those writing as a hobby can take a lot from this quote. No, it may not be your goal to place your work on Amazon or the like and make money from the venture. You may simply want to write that novel that has always festered in your brain. That’s awesome, but it will never happen if you don’t take the writing itself seriously. Nothing will happen if you write one day a week for a half-hour and don’t make the effort required to get that novel on paper. You will not improve, and the novel, if it is ever finished, will be lacking. “But I am doing it to enjoy the process!” you say. Understood. But why can’t you enjoy the process by taking it as seriously as someone who writes for a living? You can. I sure do.
For those writing to make a living, her quote is on the money (pun intended). It shouldn’t matter if you are in a foul mood, or had an argument with your spouse, or just don’t feel like sitting down in front of your computer. You should “pretend” that writing is the only way to keep money in your pocket, that without doing so will cost you, which it will if making money and eventually sustaining your lifestyle is the end goal.
I’ve read other writer’s quotes about writing and how seriously you should take it, but this quote from Ashley moved me in a different way. Perhaps because it came from a fellow indie it resonated more with me. It is now printed out and sitting at my desk.
Thanks, Ashley, for providing a little boost and inspiration that we can refer to when the situation requires it.
Posted by Jason Varrone on May 5, 2012
As a writer, I don’t need much to accomplish my goals and publish my work. I require a computer of some kind (I’m typing this on my brand new laptop!), a quiet space (or as quiet as possible, which normally isn’t very much), and one other key ingredient, one item that is the cog in the whole mechanism. That ingredient is time. And wow, do I have little of it.
When I first started out on this writing venture, I figured I’d be able to carve out whatever time would be needed to fulfill my desire to pour out on paper the stories that resided in my noggin’. I must have been delusional. I have the best of intentions, and no, I am not a procrastinator. But finding time to write has been extremely challenging, especially lately, and it is frustrating beyond belief.
I have a wife and two children, and as much as I love them – let’s call a spade a spade here – they are the primary cause of my lack of time. I am by no means casting blame; it simply is what it is. The routine is what gets me. Waking up (or at least being semi-coherent), getting the kids breakfast and ready for the bus, working a full day, and coming home to see the family and doing whatever is required at night make up 90% of the day. Then, when the kids and wife are settled and I have time, I’m either spent or I have other pressing needs to attend to (a house project/issue, a personal matter, whatever).
But I write this as a form of catharsis, because the bellyaching and excuses must stop. I have concrete writing goals this year, publications that I want to get finished. Sitting here, typing this out, I am making myself aware of the issue, and in turn making a promise to myself that the writing momentum must begin again, and continue. I love writing. Time actually stops when I do it. When I write the world still spins on its axis, but in my mind everything is still and serene. I need to continue carving out a night to jaunt to my beautiful library to write for a few hours. I must peel myself away from the couch or recliner when everyone is in bed and sit my booty down in front of a computer. I will do this. I promise myself.
If you are struggling to find time to write as well, look at the situation objectively, see where time can be reclaimed, and grab it. Move things around in your schedule, ask your spouse for a night or two alone, don’t succumb to the velvety softness of the puffy recliner in your living room, it’s comforting allure so difficult to resist. Make a promise to yourself. Write in small chunks of time if needed, carve out what you can when you can.
And just remember why you do it in the first place.
Posted by Jason Varrone on April 24, 2012
Writing is hard work. While it may look simple (you sit in front of your computer and type or scribble words on a pad), there is a complex thought process occurring that requires a massive amount of energy and thought. The thing about writing is that it must be sustained, its momentum continued in order for progress to be made and the fruits of a writer’s labor to be enjoyed. There is one piece of equipment in our homes that can single-handedly ruin a writer’s momentum: the television.
I wrote extensively in my self-published e-book, The Deathbed Mindset, about how television can suck time away without you consciously realizing it. It can do the same and worse to writers. Not only is our time wasted by sitting in front ot the boob tube, but to top it off, no progress is made on our work. No progress equals no writing equals not doing what we love.
Adults, on average, watch television upwards of thirty-five hours per week. Let that sink in a moment.
We watch television each week in an amount almost equal to that of a full-time job.
Wait, what? Yup, check the statistics. Some say more, some less, but the message is clear: we sit our booties on the couch and watch way too much TV. Keeping writing momentum sustained is difficult enough balancing work and family life. Adding that much television to the mix will take your progress to a screeching halt.
Our time is precious, it is all we have. If you love writing as much as I do, you make the conscious decision to place said booty in a chair and download your most intimate thoughts onto the screen or write them on paper. Why add something to that scenario that will add nothing to your writing?
I’ve struggled with this for years. I’ve always had a hard time tearing myself away from the tube when all I wanted to do was sit and watch the talking heads on CNN or the like discuss politics or social issues. While I come away from the shows enlightened (somewhat), I also took away an incredible amount of stress. Little old me cannot do much to solve the world’s political and social problems. All I can do is take care of my own and pursue my passions. By removing TV from the equation I was able to write The Deathbed Mindset and complete three short stories thus far.
I recently found out how easy it is to slip back into old habits. I caught a nasty bug last week, causing flu-like symptoms that ground me down to a quivering pulp. I had no desire to write, only to curl up on my inviting recliner and veg out. I cut myself some slack while fighting this illness and allowed myself time to recuperate. However, once I was over it and ready to reclaim my writing life, I found it difficult to pull away from the TV. That old recliner still called my name, inviting me into its warm, soft caress, and I struggled for a few days to break free.
We writers have enough difficulty carving out moments to write and express ourselves. Don’t complicate things by adding television to that mix. It is a caustic piece of electronic equipment that will ruin your momentum. Instead, add it sparingly by picking and choosing a favorite show or two or sticking with a rigid maximum each night or week. Either way, at least be cognizant of what you are doing with your time. Awareness of how you choose to spend your time is paramount to your success.
Posted by Jason Varrone on April 14, 2012
The ideas swirl in my brain, desperate to be recorded on my computer. I work out the details in my head, playing out the scene I envision, all the while thinking how great it will turn out. Encouraged, I think about when I’ll be able to write again. Planning my writing sessions around family and work obligations can take some effort, but I am always able to squeeze them in somehow, even if they aren’t as often as I’d like. As the planned writing session approaches, something odd happens. I get nervous, anxious, and my confidence plunges.
What is that about?!?!
I’ve never been the most confident person in the world, and I think writers in general can relate to that. My self-esteem, although much improved since the horrid high school days, can still be damaged, sometimes cycling in wild swings like the stock market. In the world of writing I am young, only recently having devoted myself to honing this beautiful craft. Because of that lack of experience it isn’t surprising that I feel nervous about my next writing session. The doubts creep in, the questions come in waves:
- Will it come out on the screen like I envisioned in my head?
- Do I have the talent to do this?
- What if nobody likes it?
- Heck, what if nobody reads it?
- Why do I put this pressure on myself? Why don’t I just go and watch television?
I understand why I feel the way I do before each session, and it is improving with time. But I recently learned via interaction with other indie authors on the Kindle Boards that even experienced writers feel this way. The doubts continue to fester, even with multiple novels under their belts. On the one hand this surprised me, but on the other, it did not. We are all fallible human beings, and no matter how high our confidence, when we write we share a piece of ourselves. We rip out a small chunk of our souls and place it on paper or a screen. That is an intimate act, and even the most confident person may be afflicted with doubt when they choose to do it.
So how do we get around this? I don’t think we ever can, at least not entirely. But we can tell ourselves a few things to make the nervousness subside:
- Pressure is a good thing. It means that you care deeply about what it is you are doing. Make friends with it because it will never go away, be it in writing or in life. Let it spur you to excel.
- When I finally begin my writing session, the anxiety goes away after the first sentence or two, and the Muse takes hold and creates her magic. Other authors have related similar experiences. Once you start, the focus shifts to writing, and the nervousness and anxiety subside. Just sit down and start and see what happens.
- Remind yourself why you are doing this. If it is because you love it, and for most of us that is what drives us, then all the pressure in the world shouldn’t keep you from moving ahead with your dream.
I am making peace with my writing anxiety. He and I are becoming fast friends. It takes time, but it can happen if you don’t let it win by taking hold of you and letting it prevent you from writing. Don’t let that happen. You’ll never forgive yourself.
Posted by Jason Varrone on March 31, 2012
Today I celebrate the publication of a short article in my local newspaper, The Buffalo News. The article is directly related to my self-published e-book, The Deathbed Mindset, and describes my experience about how I learned to use my time in a more effective, fulfilling manner.
I started this writing venture about six months ago and am proud of what I have accomplished thus far. By no means is a 600-word essay in my local newspaper the pinnacle of my dreams, but it is a start, a step forward. It got me to thinking that writers are way too hard on themselves.
Writing is a lonely art. We toil away, scribbling on notepads or staring at a computer screen, hoping we capture the ideas and stories within our minds that are desperate to see the light of day. This effort can take weeks and months and years. What drives us?
I have always been an intrinsically motivated person, my fuel to achieve coming from within. I enjoy external rewards, such as compliments and praise, as much as anyone, and I keep those rewards close to my heart. They do not, however, provide the drive I need to excel. I think most writers are built the same way. Rare is the writer who does this for money or external reward. Sure, they are around, but they are not the norm.
The problem, as I see it, is that writers who are internally motivated don’t allow themselves to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small. Sitting down to start a project that will take months or years to finish is daunting. Allowing yourself to celebrate a small success is crucial to continuing ever onward. Here are some examples of accomplishments to celebrate:
- Finishing your project. No matter the length of your work, you persevered and made it until the end, even if the first draft is rough. Bravo!
- Nailing a scene or section of your story. The feeling of knowing that what you wrote truly captures what you pictured in your mind is priceless. Celebrate that!
- When someone tells you they enjoyed reading your work. Don’t analyze the person’s intentions or make light of it. Take it for what it is and savor it.
These past six months have been six of the most enjoyable months of my life. I have a ways to go in this business, and I know that if I persevere I will continue to improve. I feel good about what I have done thus far, but by no means am I even 2% of where I want to be. I can only imagine where I will be after I publish more work, or when I get that first short story submission published, or when I see lots of 5-star reviews on Amazon. I will celebrate those successes, whatever their breadth.
Posted by Jason Varrone on March 24, 2012
In early February I wrote a post entitled Short Story Challenge. I vowed to write at least one short story per month of at least 2,500 words. Prior to that I took a stab at writing a novel and realized about a half-hour into the process that I had no idea what I was doing. Instead, I’d start with short stories to develop some writing ability, practice at fantasy fiction, and see where the effort took me.
About two days after writing that post, I sat down at my computer and prepared to write my first short…and panicked. My heart raced and I realized that I had no clue what to write about. Where did I expect these stories to come from? Would they magically transfer from my mind to the screen? I wanted to write in the fantasy fiction genre, and magic plays a large part in that type of story, but expecting magic to help me in this situation was slightly unrealistic.
Then, to my surprise, magic did happen. I cleared my mind, relaxed, and gave my brain the time it needed. My mind wandered, allowing me to access a part of my brain that I had not used in what seemed like ages: my imagination. The faint outline of a story appeared. I wrote the first sentence, then the second. The story flowed and took on a life of its own. It was a wonderful experience, and over the ensuing week it was completed.
After I wrote that first story and began thinking about the second, panic again tried to grab me with its sharp claws. But, as with story number one, I would take a breath, relax, and let my mind go. I allowed myself the time and space to tap into my creativity. The stories are there, locked in a closet, a part of you. Giving yourself the time and letting yourself go will help unlock them and bring them to the surface.
Between the second and third stories, I could not stop my imagination from firing, even at the oddest times, such as while eating, exercising, or at 3am. I am to the point now where I need to keep a notepad to keep track of story ideas.
What I realized from this experience is that an imagination is like a muscle. Mine had been dormant for so long that it atrophied, but it was always there, it’s potential unrealized. Up to that point I had convinced myself that I had no imagination. I was wrong. It was there, napping, a latent power waiting to break out of its cocoon. The more it is exercised, the more powerful it is becoming.
In addition to just relaxing and trying to tap into that power, here are some other ways to spark your imagination:
- Get away from people. Take a walk or lock yourself in a room. Allow your mind to wander.
- Exercise. A few great ideas popped into my noggin’ while I was lifting weights.
- Write a first sentence. Just write it. Then develop the story around that sentence.
- Ask your kids for a story idea. Odd, I know, but a child’s imagination is readily available at all times.
- Pictures. I stumbled across a beautiful book of fantasy artwork; knights dueling, sorcerers playing with magic, the life on the page palpable. I’d look at one of these pictures and get inside the mind of the person on the page. What are they feeling,? What are they doing? What is it they intend? Ideas flowed from doing this.
There is no secret formula to using and exercising your imagination. All you need do is relax your mind and let it naturally take you to another place. You have to give yourself permission to do this. With time the atrophy will disappear and a rock hard muscle will take its place. You just need resolve, discipline, and perhaps some external inspration to get your imagination cooking.
Posted by Jason Varrone on March 18, 2012
In addition to always wanting to be a writer, the lure of being an entrepreneur has always called. Being able to apply the skills I learned in graduate school to something I loved was appealing, but I never had a product to sell or a thought about what I wanted to focus that effort on. Now I do: my writing.
Independent authors need to learn everything they can about the busines, which can result in a dizzying list of things to research, such as:
- Cover design
- Website design
- E-Book formatting
- Editing services
As a new author, this can be daunting. While I only have one book available, I am diligently working on more, and my my mind churns with ideas about how I can improve my current and future products and how I can market myself in a more efficient manner. Concerns always arise, sometimes at 3am, about my website not being crisp enough, or my book cover being subpar, or other such nonsense. However, when you boil it down, none of that really matters.
It is vital for me to remember why I write:
Because I love it and cannot picture life without it.
In the short time that I have been writing and researching everything about this art, I have found fellow authors who concentrate so much on marketing their wares that they’ve lost the love of what they do. It has become a job for them. Check out author forums and websites and you’ll pick up on this. I can see how that happens. Without a publishing house and agent behind them, an author can easily get lost in the minutia of the list above, rather than just being able to write.
When that occurs, a reset is needed, and I believe that going back to the reason you started this in the first place is the key. Just ask yourself one question:
Why do you write?
Let the love of the art return, let it move your soul like it did when you first began, and then plant your butt in that chair and write. The rest is just noise. Yes, cover design and marketing are important, but writing is the foundation of everything you do. Concentrate on the content and give your readers what they long for. The perfect website or cover will not win you anything if the writing suffers. Use the Pareto Principle: 80% of your time should be spent writing, the rest learning about indie publishing and improving your product.
In the end, it’s all about the writing.
Posted by Jason Varrone on March 10, 2012
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
This passage above is a clear example of the power of The Deathbed Mindset, the title of my e-book released in February. This sentence sums it up beautifully:
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.
Steve is talking about death as a change agent, a tool for making yourself aware of your life’s shortcomings and what you need to change and improve. Awareness is the key concept, without which we can make no change. Keeping death close to you is the easiest way to take control of your time and make yourself cognizant of how time is passing you by. Don’t let time control you.
Posted by Jason Varrone on March 2, 2012
Early in February I began work on my first monthly short story. I wrote about my Short Story Challenge in this blog post a few weeks ago. The story involves a knight’s loyalty to his king despite the challenges they both face. As I wrote the story, I began to form a bond with the characters, and they became an extension of me. After two-thirds of the way through the draft, the story required one of the major characters to die. I was surprised at the level of emotion this generated within me. I never saw it coming.
No, I didn’t get to the level of the poor kid in the picture to the left. What surprised me was feeling anything at all. There I was, working on my story, and I began to form bonds with these characters. They became my friends, and I could feel what they felt as I wrote about their lives. It was an unexpected, enlightening experience, one that I enjoyed to no end. When the death scene was written, it was typed onto the screen with a heavy heart, as if a close friend had suddenly passed away. We’ve all experienced that hollow, broken-hearted feeling, like your chest cavity is suddenly emptied. That is what I felt, and oddly enough, I am so glad I did. While saddened, I felt more human, more in touch with me. I explained this to my wife who, being the uber-counselor she is, told me I was not sad for that character, but was relating the experience the character went through to an experience in my own life. Hmm, I’ll have to think about that for awhile…
Then again, perhaps I’m just going insane. As one of my heroes, Kurt Cobain, once sang:
I’m so happy, ’cause today I found my friends. They’re in my head.
Posted by Jason Varrone on February 23, 2012
Cover design: I spent $7 on the photograph used for my cover. Using Picassa, I created a simple, clean cover design. It is not state of the art by any means, but I think it works. Some writers spend hundreds of dollars on covers using graphic designers. That may be right for their books, and perhaps I’ll need that level of sophistication, but it didn’t make sense here. Readers do not buy books because of a cover, but they may not buy a book because the cover looks amateurish or rushed. The cover is the first symbol of a decent book. But the image is digital, and after it is reduced to a thumbnail image, all the time and extra money spent making a perfect cover seems wasted.
E-Book Formatting: This is vital and what I spent the most amount of time on. The Smashwords Style Guide was invaluable. I used it to format my Amazon and Barnes and Noble versions as well. Microsoft Word has many gremlins built into it that try to make your job easier with auto-formatting and auto-correction settings. But these can wreak havoc on your e-book. I used Calibre, an e-book conversion program, and was able to convert test copies of my book to see how they looked. Now that I know how to format, I should have an easier time going forward. This was only a 6,000-word e-book and it took me hours. I can only imagine what it takes for a 50,000-word novel.
Editing: At first I thought, for such a short book, that I could use a Beta Reader or two and get away without a professional editor. Wow, was I wrong. Shelley Holloway, at Holloway House, was my angel. She pointed out mistakes in structure and word selection that I would never have seen. I paid $75 but could and would have paid more. I learned that regardless of the length of your work, be it a 1,000-word short story or a 200,000-word novel in the vein of Dostoyevsky, an editor is crucial.
A Non-Fiction Book is Not a Long Blog Post: I have a blogging background. Blogging typically uses a stream-of-consciousness style of writing. My first pass at The Deathbed Mindset resulted in an overly long blog post. It was written in that same stream-of-consciousness style, wherein I talk “at” the reader. Not good. It was a horror show and required considerable rewriting. I added fiction-style elements into the second draft as well, but had to remove a lot of “I” references and slang.
It Was Awesome!: And the last lesson learned? I loved every minute of this experience. Without that, why bother?
Posted by Jason Varrone on February 18, 2012
I am very proud to finally announce the self-publication of The Deathbed Mindset, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. This has been a wonderful, but difficult, journey, and I believe the hard work has paid off. It is my first foray into self-publishing and has been an incredible learning experience. As described on my home page, this e-book is about time and how to change your mindset to better take advantage of what little we have. Time is not our enemy. Wish as we might, time does not stand still, and slowly our lives slip away with dreams unrealized. It is time to take a stand against time, and The Deathbed Mindset can help. Based on an experience I had some time ago, the book describes how I realized that time was slipping through my fingers. I altered my approach to time and now understand what it means to seize every moment.
I welcome your feedback and would love to hear from you. My e-mail and Facebook pages are in the Contact Jason section above and you can always leave a comment at this website. Click the links below to buy whatever version suits you. Thanks for your support.
Posted by Jason Varrone on February 12, 2012
Today is February 4, 2012, and I am officially launching this website after numerous redesigns, stops and starts, and questions about what direction it should take. It will chronicle my journey as a writer, be a storefront for my e-books, discuss upcoming projects, house writing samples, serve as my home base, and perhaps serve as inspiration to my peers.
As I detail in my forthcoming e-book, The Deathbed Mindset, I am finally using my time in a fulfilling manner and aware of how it is spent to ensure every moment is seized. Why it took me 39 years to understand how time can slip by, I’ll never know, but I am thankful that I finally did.
For as long as I can recall I’ve wanted to be a writer. How many times have you heard that before? I can’t accurately count how many times I’ve said it to others, but most especially, to myself. Excuse after excuse arose, procrastination reared its massive head, and life got in the way. Lame excuses, all. Our time is priceless; blink and it is gone. I will not let another moment go by without grabbing hold of my dream and holding on as best I can.
Am I a good writer? Will I ever be? I don’t know, but I’m going to give it a whirl. Will anyone read my drivel? I hope so. I’ve been working on the e-book I mentioned earlier for a few months, and the more I do it, the more I feel that writing is like breathing; it has that powerful an effect on me. The more I write, the better I’ll get. Sure, I’ll stumble a bit, but that’s to be expected. This is about creating, following my heart and mind to make words appear on paper or the screen. It is magic.
It would be an honor if you would join me on the ride as I create new e-books, blog about a writing life, and listen to the Muse sing her beautiful songs.
Thank you for stopping by and spending your valuable time.
Posted by Jason Varrone on February 4, 2012