Tuesday, February 26, 2013

With A Little Help From My Friends...

Well, today is the day!

After literally decades of trying, I am finally (FINALLY!!) going to have a novel published!  A real novel!  With words and punctuation and…EVERYTHING!!!

Wow!  I honestly don’t know what to say.

Yes, I do.


Thanks to all of you who have helped me bring Edmund to life.

Thanks to the wonderful people at TORC (www.theonering.com) who encouraged me over the years.  Edmund was initially born on TORC’s discussion boards as a simple writing exercise.  I couldn’t have even gotten started without you TORCers.

I also want to thank everybody at AbsoluteWrite (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/). If you are an aspiring writer, you simply have to go to AW.  There you can find the right mix of encouragement and criticism that every writer needs.

I also want to thank all of my new friends on G+.  I’m not much of a people person, but I really enjoy getting to know all of you.  I hope I can cheer you all on as well as you have me.

And then, of course, there is my publisher (Diversion Books), my agent (Joelle Delbourgo), and editor/writing coach (ChristineDeSmet).  They each saw something in Edmund that was worthy of publication.  I hope that Riddle in Stone does well enough to justify their faith in me.

Finally, there is my wonderful wife, Kristen. 

Our lives are very busy. Between homeschooling our two incredible boys and all of the things they are into (e.g., tae kwan do, swimming, Chinese school, piano, LEGO club), we really don’t have much time together.  We’re always handing the kids off and passing each other as one of us runs off to work.  Yet, despite the headaches caused by our time constraints, Kris still encourages me to go up in office and write.  (HEY…wait a second!! Maybe she doesn’t want me around!!!)  At any rate, thank you Kris.  I love you more than anything. Thank you for letting me be your husband.

With all of this said, I do have one favor to ask all of you.  It’s a big favor and purely selfish of me to ask.

But I need your help getting the word out about Riddle in Stone.

I am hoping that, if Edmund sells well enough, I’ll be able to write other stories and keep improving as a writer.

Many of you already have been gracious enough to buy Riddle in Stone and I thank you.  Thank you very, very, very much!! Thank you! )By the way, you can’t have your money back!  *Ka-CHING!!* Fifty cents more in the kids’ college funds!  Whoo hoo!)

But I’m hoping you’ll do a few other things for me, if you don’t mind.

First, if you have purchased the book, please post reviews wherever you bought it as well as on places like GoodReads. 

Second, I would also really, really, REALLY appreciate it if you would mention Riddle in Stone on whatever social media you use…Facebook, G+, Twitter, and so forth.

Please don’t be pushy, but … if your friends are interested in character-driven novels that have an odd sense of humor to them … maybe direct them to my website at www.RobertEvert.com.  There they can learn more about me as well as find where to buy Riddle in Stone (by the way, it is available as an e-book at most online stores for $2.99).  You can also find a SAMPLE CHAPTER both on my website as well as on this blog (click on the book cover).

If you don’t know anything about Riddle in Stone, this is what it’s about… 

It’s labeled as an “epic fantasy” but I hope that it is much more than that.  Yes, it has a little magic and battles and goblins … but it’s mainly about a middle aged man who stutters and feels like a loser. To give his life meaning, he sets off on an adventure so that he can become a hero.  But he quickly realizes that being a hero isn’t all that it is cracked up to be.  Think of it as a “coming of middle age” story.

There is also a romance to it.  Edmund loves a woman named Molly.  But she doesn’t really know he exists.  He wants to become a hero so he can win her heart.

And there’s a “bromance.”  Edmund and another character named, “Pond Scum,” become best friends and often find themselves saving each other’s lives, even at the peril of their own.

And there’s a bit of a comedy. The “bad” guys (Kravel and Gurding) have a very odd sense of humor with which they torture Edmund.

Perhaps it is an okay story.  I’ll let you be the judge.

Again, if you would like to read the first chapter, it’s available here as well as on www.RobertEvert.com.  I hope you enjoy it.

Well, that’s it.  I’m sorry to ask so much from all of you. You've all been so wonderful.  But I really want Edmund to succeed and, unfortunately, that means LOTS of marketing.  If you can help in anyway, I’d be very grateful.  But please, PLEASE, do not feel obligated.  If you read the first chapter (or the entire book for that matter) and find that it stinks…believe me, there’s absolutely no hard feelings!  Like I said, I’m a new novelist and I want to get better.  I’m sure there’s plenty of room for improvement.

Thanks again to all of you! 

Thank you very, very much!


Monday, February 25, 2013

The Writer's Pain: Bad Reviews

I’m in pain, my friends. Horrible pain!  And not from a cavity that I just had filled.

By the way, have any of you had a cavity filled in your back molars only to have it feel as if you couldn’t close your mouth right?  My teeth don’t seem to be lining up correctly and it’s killing my jaw muscles.  Have you ever had that happen?  I’m not sure if I should go back to the dentist or not.  God knows, I don’t want her ripping out the filling and putting in another one!

But back to the sermon…

I’m in PAIN, my friends!  Horrible, HORRIBLE, PAIN!

My stomach is all twisted.  Cold sweat is trickling down my sides. My throat is dry. I want to vomit. 

Ugh!! When will the misery end???

I suppose I should start at the beginning.

Yesterday, one of you wonderful people told me that you liked my book. 

WOW!!!  This was surprising because I didn’t realize that it was out yet.  It isn’t due to be released until tomorrow. The reader explained that she got an early release copy because she reviews books.

Anyway, on a whim, I checked the various book outlets—Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and so forth.  None of them were offering Riddle in Stone.  HOWEVER, I found that goodreads DID have a page up for it!  Moreover, it had two…count them TWO…reviews! ONE…TWO!!!

One review was wonderful.  Clearly the reader actually read the book. He talked about the plot and the characters and how the book really wasn’t a “fantasy,” but more of a character-driven novel.  [Those aren’t the reviewer’s exact words, but I think they are close enough.]  What is better, the reviewer gave the book FIVE STARS! Count them…FIVE!  One, two, three, four, FIVE!!!!!

Holy cow!!!  Really! Wow!  I sat there in front of my computer, just blinking at the screen, wondering if I might be misreading it.  But there it was!  A wonderfully written review with FIVE FAT STARS!  FIVE!

What’s more, the second review gave my book FOUR STARS!! Not five, mind you. But I’ll take it!  Four and five stars!


I know that this sounds like a cliché, but I honestly couldn’t sleep last night.

I didn’t have delusions that my book would “make it big” or that I’d become a best seller. Still, I allowed myself to dream that I might not suck as a writer after all!!!


By 4:00 in the morning, I still lay in bed, smiling…and trying not to wake my wonderful wife with my tossing and turning.

Two reviews…. Four and five stars….

This morning dawned cold and dark. 

And I checked goodreads.

Bad, bad mistake.  Horrible.

Somebody had rated Riddle in Stone one star.  ONE STAR!  One.

I’m crushed and devastated and…hurt.  Really, really hurt. 

To my credit, I haven’t cried yet.  YET.  But honestly, the only thing that would hurt worse than this is disappointing my wife.   (And maybe being kicked in the testicles.  MAYBE.) 

To quote Dr. Smith from Lost in Space, “Oh, the pain. The pain.”

I want to be clear here.  I don’t blame the reviewer.  Hell no!  She was just being honest and trying to help other readers by warning them away from the hideous monstrosity that is my work.  And if any of you rate Riddle in Stone at one star, believe me, there’ll be no hard feeling.

I blame myself for not being a better writer. 

Look, I know many of you wonderful people have said that you’ll buy my book.  And I hope you do (no pressure!), but I KNOW I’m not brilliant.  I hope that I will be some day, but right now…I’ll settle for good, even “decent.”  I’ll even take “surprisingly average.”

But one star!  

KILL ME OH GODS OF THE WRITTEN PAGE! Kill me now and spare me this hell you’ve thrust me in!!!!

(I’m beginning to see where I might have earned the one star.)

I know that I should shake it off.  I know that I should focus on the TWO other good reviews!  After all, I can’t please everybody.  And people DO have different tastes.  Some people don’t like the Beatles or Tolkien or Carrot Top!  Many people undoubtedly won’t like my work, for both good and malicious reasons.

But I can’t push it out of my mind.

One star…

One star…

One star…

In truth, what I think bothers me most isn’t the one star review…but all of the other one stars that will undoubtedly come at some point in my writing “career.”  And they will come.  That’s just how the world is.  Some people like chocolate. Some people like strawberry. 

This is part of being a writer. 

The worst part.

So what am I going to do, you ask???

Well, first off, I’m not going to look at goodreads or Amazon or any other place that might have bad reviews!  You think I’m kidding or that I can’t do it.  But I can!  Robby has a tremendous ability to be oblivious to things around him.  Just ask my wife.

So I will no longer pay attention to reviews!!  THIS I VOW!!

But I’ll also keep writing, and keep trying to get better.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

On Being a Pantser or Plotter

Greetings, dear reader.  I hope all is well with you and your loved ones.

I feel as if I’ve been away too long.  I know I’m supposed to write in this bloggy thing a couple times a week, but I’ve been spending most of my free time working on the third story in my Riddle in Stone series.  The first book, Riddle in Stone, will be available February 26th, by the way (PLUG! PLUG! PLUG!)

At any rate, I’ve hit upon a bit of a snag with my current manuscript and it pertains to something I thought we’d discuss.

Let me begin by asking you this: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

When I first started writing seriously, somebody asked me that question and I didn’t have a clue what she was talking about.  So let me explain.

A “plotter” is somebody who plots out the main storylines before they write the manuscript.  For example, they might have an outline of each chapter.  Or they may have notes on the “back story” of the primary characters.

A “pantser” is somebody who just writes without any clear thought as to what’s going to happen.  They might have a rough idea where things might end up or what might happen at certain points of the story, but a pantser never forces the story in that direction.  Things just happen.

I’m a pantser. 

I don’t like plotting because I think it ruins the story for me.  I get bored and I stop writing.  After all, I know what’s going to happen at every turn. Why should I want to keep working on it?

But as a pantser, I don’t have a clue what’s going to happen.  Everything is, more or less, a complete surprise to me and that motivates me to keep hammering away at the manuscript. After all, if I want to see what happens next, hopefully the people shelling out $2.99 for Riddle in Stone will as well.

What I really love about being a pantser is that a character may pop up and steal the show!!  For example, there’s a character in my series called Pond Scum (you’ll have to read the book to see why he’s called that) who literally popped his head in front of my main character, Edmund, and started talking.  I had no clue who he was or what he wanted.  He just showed up!  Now he’s Edmund’s side kick.  If the series sells well enough, I love to write a new series specifically for him.

The same was true for Edmund.  When I started writing Riddle in Stone (available February 26th PLUG! PLUG! PLUG!), I had no idea what I was writing about. I had this character, Edmund, and he just started walking down this road.  To where?  I had no idea. I had no story, no bad guys, and no clue what would happen.  I just wrote and the tale unfolded in front of me.

This, of course, is the source of my current problem. 

You see, I’m 204 pages into my third manuscript and I’m reaching the climax too early.

(NO TYPICAL MALE JOKES, PLEASE!  It happens to all of us from time to time! HONEST!!!!  It’s all the stress at work! STRESS I TELL YOU!!!!)

I want to hit the climax of the main storyline around page 300 and I’m nowhere near that. I’m afraid my manuscript is going to peter out well before it should.  Further, I can’t just “add” chapters or scenes without undoing the story that has naturally developed.  Adding chapters for the sake of length just ruins everything.  I hate that!  The story becomes contrived and artificial.

Unfortunately, this is the problem with being a pantser. 

As George Harrison said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”  Sometimes the road you start down is too short to make a full-length, 100,000 word novel.

So I will keep working with Edmund and Pond Scum and their mutual love interest, Abby, and their manic puppy, Becky.  Hopefully something will happen that will extend the story in a logical and pleasing way.  But if not…perhaps Riddle in Stone (available February 26th) will be a two book series!

So, what are all of you?  Are you plotters or pantsers?  And what issues do you have with being whatever you are?

Until next time…thanks for stopping by!

Friday, February 8, 2013

What All Writers Should Read . . .

Greetings real and imaginary readers.

Last week, I had the wonderful pleasure of being interviewed by the Bookworm’s Fancy.  It’s an incredible blog that helps new writers promote their work.  You might want to check it out.

In the interview, Erin, the blogger, asked me to give some advice to non-published writers. 

I’d like to expand upon what we discussed in the interview.

You see, one of the cardinal commandments of writing is “Read a lot and write a lot.”  Everybody knows that.  But what should we read???

I’ve written before about the need to read “bad” writers.

Why bad writers??

Well, one, I believe reading bad writers shows us what is cliché and what doesn’t work.  But it also gives us hope that we can “do better.” I mean, if THEY got published, can’t WE get published as well???  And HOPE is usually something that aspiring writers need.  So read bad writers.  At the very least, they’ll show you that you don’t need to be a Hemingway to get published!

Although other writers disagree with me on this, I also think that we need to read outside of our genre.  Let me explain.

Riddle in Stone is an “epic fantasy.”  I love epic fantasies.  Tolkien got me hooked on reading and writing.  So that’s what I tend to read and write about.

But my story isn’t just about magic and goblins and sword fights.  All of that is certainly in my book, but (hopefully) there is a lot more. 

For example, there’s a romance between my main character (Edmund) and the village beauty (Molly).  There is also a “bro-mance” between Edmund and another male character named “Pond Scum” (you’ll have to read the book to understand the name).  There’s also a mystery surrounding the riddle Edmund finds.  And there’s a good horror scene in the book (Not to toot my own horn, but an editor from a big publishing house called it the “best torture scene” she’s ever read! Seriously!  THE BEST!  SUCK IT STEPHEN KING!!!!)

The point is . . . all books are more than their “genre.” 

I needed to know something about sociology and psychology and anthropology and architecture and people and a million other things.  In order for my bad guys to make sense, I had to understand why they would be the way they were. I also had to understand how living in the frozen far north would affect the clothes people would wear, their customs, and so forth.   For instance, I can’t put orange trees around Edmund’s hometown because it’s too cold.  The fact that Edmund grew up around snow made me realize that he probably played in the snow as a child. So he would know about sledding (there is actually a critical scene where he teaches Pond Scum, who has never seen snow before, how to sled).

So read histories! Read biographies! Read about everything, because everything needs to be in your “epic fantasy” world.  I’ve read enough biographies about Hitler to make (hopefully) my bad guy more human.  He just isn’t “pure evil” for the sake of being evil. He has a reason for being the way he is.

Finally, I want to recommend that you read new writers.

Ah!!  That’s a bit self-serving of me, isn’t it!  I’m trying to get you to buy my book! 

Maybe . . .  But hear me out. 

If you pick up a book by one of the greats—Hemingway, Tolkien, King, Rowlings, whomever. . . you’re probably going to feel as if you need to like it.  After all, you’re an aspiring writer – how DARE you find fault with the God-like Tolkien!!!  SACRILIEGE!!!!!  He’s sold more books than you ever will so how can you criticize his work!! Right? 

The same thing with every other great and famous writer. 

We read their work EXPECTING the book to be great!  And if we disagree, we kind of feel guilty…like we aren’t smart enough to see why everybody is crazy about it.

HOWEVER, if you read a new writer, a writer whom you have never heard of before, you are far more likely to be able to evaluate it objectively.  You could pick up a new author’s book and say, “Oh, I really like how he did…” Or, “Boy, that really fell flat! I would have done it like…” 

Reading new writers allows you to more clearly assess what works and what doesn’t without all the bias of what other people and the media throw at you.

There’s one last point that I want to make here. 

If you write to the BIG writers, the best sellers . . . you probably won’t get any response.  But if you write to a new author, you probably will.  I would LOVE for a reader to contact me and ask about writing! It’s hugely flattering (hint, hint, hint).  What new writer wouldn’t dig getting fan mail and helping out a fellow newbie?? 

So that’s my advice about reading.  Read a lot, yes! Read bad authors to see what they do wrong and to give yourself a bit of a pep talk.  Read a wide variety of books, even if they don’t relate to your genre.   And read new writers, because we need you and we can help you become better writers more than those bastard millionaires who don’t even care enough to answer their blasted e-mails!  I’m talking about you Tolkien!!!

That’s if for now.  Thanks for stopping by . . . and all of the support you all have been giving me.  I appreciate it!!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

RIDDLE IN STONE can now be Pre-Ordered!!!

Greetings, everybody!

I have just been informed that RIDDLE IN STONE: BOOK ONE  can now be "pre-ordered!"  Yiippee!

Right now it's only available though iTunes bookstore (I had no clue they had a book store! Silly me.)  But I've been told that starting next week, you'll be able to pre-order it from Amazon and a few others.

Here's the link, if you're interested.


Thanks again for all of your support!  It means a great deal to me. Thank you all for your encouragement.

I'll write more in a bit.  I have to get back to writing RIDDLE IN STONE: BOOK THREE!!