Category Archives: On Writing

Things I learned when publishing The Incident

What I learned
What I learned

Every time I publish a book, I learn something. Which is a good thing. Yesterday I put the finishing touches on the ebook files for The Incident. This book was different than all of the others. Here are some things I learned, and maybe it will help you (if you’re publishing a book).

  1. Indiegogo campaigns are fun and can raise some much needed funds. When you’re deciding on the prices for your offers, make sure that you add a little for profit, and then add a little more for things that will go wrong. This holds true especially if you include shipping in the price. I think all of mine I will just about break even.
  2. This also was my first Hardback copy. I used Lulu for this service. I thought they would be like Create Space. They aren’t. The biggest difference is that when you order the books, it then takes 6-8 days to print the book, and then they ship it to you. Make sure you figure this into your timelines. Just ordered the Indie books from Lulu, delivering to the folks will depend on when these get here.
  3. Create Space – I’ve been using them for a long time, for paperback books. The Incident has pictures and a ton of different headings and things. My fiction books I had always just uploaded the word doc and things turned out OK. The Incident every time that I uploaded it, the reviewer was always different. Not by much. But even a little difference throws all of the other things off. I got tired to redoing it over and over again, so I did some research. What I should have done first. They way you can make sure it looks exactly the same is to create the file as a pdf – then it is the same. I have a little bit of concern that the images won’t be as crisp as the word doc. I should get the proof today and if things look good (fingers crossed) then I’ll order 20 of them to take care of the Indie orders.
  4. It had been awhile since I published, so I stumbled around to figure out what I had been doing. When you figure it out, create a checklist and save it where you won’t forget where you put it.

I hope that helps you a bit. I’ll make sure and post here and on FB when the Incident is live.

First Contract

Received a good note in the inbox a couple of days ago. I submitted a short story to be included in a book of them. Here is a quote from the email.

Good news for you today….Jim chose your submission to be in Jesus Talked to Me Today, and so far the Bethany House editors have approved your story as part of this compilation. I’ll get contracts to you in the next week or so.
The short I sent in was about an incident that happened to me a couple of months after  Mom passed away when I was seven. This will be the first book related contract that I’ve signed so I think it will be interesting.
Hope you had a great holiday weekend and enjoy your week this week.

Writing More

I have learned a number of things over the last few months and I thought I would share some of them with you. First a little background, which may be a reminder for some of you. My dad had an accident in October, he was working with Mom in the yard, slipped on some slick leaves and fell over the hill and flat on his back on their asphalt driveway. He suffered two cracked vertebrae, four broken ribs, a bleed to his brain and a contusion to his lungs. He was in the hospital, rehab centers for a little over three months.

Before this happened I lived a pretty simple life. I make most of my money consulting for others. This is all done from a home office and all of the correspondence with my clients who are all over the world is done mostly through email and a few phone calls. I didn’t need a laptop really, but I had one for those rare times when I was away from my office for an extended period of time (like vacations).

I took the laptop to the hospital with me and soon discovered that while I could write with it, the battery lasted about ten minutes and it didn’t have the power to run some of the software that I needed to do my consulting work (mainly Adobe).

I was too busy to buy one until the end of December, I should have bought it much sooner. I have discovered that I can write anywhere…which has increased my productivity quite a bit. I’ve written in the car, library, doctor’s office, at my Mom and Dad’s kitchen table and other places too. It has helped me reach my daily goal of 2k words which I would not have been able to do without it, since I go to my Dad’s everyday to help him with his shower, get to Physical Therapy etc.

My suggestion for you if you love to write, try testing things out on a laptop, you just might be surprised how much you’re able to get done.

How to Write More

Write MoreSomeone asked me the other day how I wrote so much. I have a very limited amount of time to write, like most of you I’m sure. Here are some tips on how I write more with the time that I have.

1. Figure out the time of day when it’s the easiest for you to write. It could be in the morning or the afternoon. It may even be in the middle of the night. I’ve found that while I can write any time of the day or night, I am much more porductive if I write before 10am. It is pretty simple to find out when your most productive time is…write at different times of the day. Set a word goal and then time yourself. Do this several times for each time period your testing. When I’m cranking in the mornings I can normally write about 2k in an hour.

2. Set a word goal and write till you make it. My goal is 2k / day or 10k each week. I have had goals as high as 3k a day.

3. Remember this is a first draft, your goal is to write and not be perfect. If you are at a loss for a location name or something similar, just put in ??? and you can find the answer / tweak it during your first round of edits.

4. When you sit down at your computer, have an idea of what you want to write about. If you outline, this should be pretty easy, but even if you’re a panster you can think about what you want to put down on the page before you begin writing.

5. If you get stuck, remember that you don’t have to write from beginning to end. For Book 12, I started out at the beginning, then moved to almost to the end, now I’m writing back from that point.

6. Some days it will be easy and others it will be hard to put one word after another. Enjoy the good days, and slog through the bad.

Have fun!


What I’m reading…

I enjoy writing my stories, I also love to learn more about my craft. There are many different ways to do that, one of them is to read. One of my goals this year is to spend at least an hour a day reading something.

The first series of books I’m reading is Ender’s Game. One of the reasons is because it is a series to. When I started this whole process and decided that I was going to write 12 books, I thought it might be an impossible task. Now that I’m writing the 12th book, sometimes I think that maybe I should have made the series longer, or the books longer.

One thing I want to make sure that I do is wrap up all of the threads. I hate when I read a story and I still have a hundred questions about what happened. If you have a few questions, that is fine, but any big plot holes is a no no.

I hope you have a wonderful week. I’m curious what are you reading. Let me know in the comments.


Happy Memorial Day – More FREE Books

Me on the back deck of a tank, when I guarded the border of East and West Germany
Me on the back deck of a tank, when I guarded the border of East and West Germany

I just wanted to send a note out to you before Memorial Day, a couple of reminders and things you might like to know.

We would like to welcome all of our new subscribers and Facebook followers. Last weekend we gave the first book in our series away. This weekend on Sunday and Monday we’ll be giving the forth e-book in our series away. If you’ve already downloaded it, please send a note (right now before you forget) to any friends who you think might like our book.

You can find the book at the URL below – remember that is Sunday, May 25th and Monday, May 26th, which is Memorial day.

Here’s the url –

If you’ve read the free books from last time and you enjoyed them, please leave a review on Amazon, those reviews help me to sell more books, and selling more books help me to pay my editor.

On Saturday I’ll be putting some of my words on my Google Plus account. I’ve been doing a thing that’s called Saturday Scenes, which is pretty cool.

You can find me here on G+ –

I am working on writing Book 10 in my series; I’m at about 90,000 words. Not sure how long it’s going to be, maybe 150k?

In closing I want to wish everyone a wonderful Memorial Day if you live in the US. Enjoy your weekend.

Help me name a dog…

The dog

I finished writing book 9. I’m working on writing a rough outline for books 10, 11, and 12. I’ll start writing book 10 in April, the goal is to have it finished in April or mid May. Eleven should be done June / July, then Twelve Aug / Sept  / Oct. I’ve also started rough edits on Book 7. I’m still trying to think of how I want to release everything.

I have a question for you guys – if you haven’t read book five and you want to read it, then you’ll want to stop reading this now.

In book 5, Aly gets a dog, what do you think I should name it. Give me your thoughts and suggestions and you can give me your answers on the comments (either here or on Facebook).

Hope you have a wonderful week!!

Friday Update – Edits and a Concert

Disciple Concert
Disciple Concert

Awesome week – hopefully you had a great one as well.

Edits on Book 4

I have sent my edits to the Editor so this is her last round of edits. This means, hopefully by next week I will have the semi final version of the book, and if things go well I will have the final version done next week. I have been thinking just to delay it till the first of the month. If I hear a lot of cries of woe from you guys (which is the reason I write anyway), then I’ll put it out. I also have a tentative schedule for the rest of the books.

Book 4 – November
Book 5 – Feb 2014
Book 6 – May 2014
Book 7 – July 2014
Book 8 – Sept 2014
Book 9 – Nov 2014
Book 10 Jan 2015
Book 11 Feb 2015
Book 12 – March 2015

The goal is to get ahead of the editing curve. If I can do that then everything is good.

Book 8 –

If you’ve ever written a book, usually the first pages of a new book are hard. Now I am past that and we’ll be crusing along. I would say what thread I’m writing on, but that would be spoilers, so I won’t do that. I will say the thread I’m working on now tells the backstory of one of the characters.

The concert –

Went to see a a concert on Weds and it was awesome. My wife, Haley and I went to see a Disciple concert and had so much fun. I enjoy music, it motivates me, inspires me. The drive was long so we didn’t get back home till almost midnight so yesterday I was still tired.

The website –

I have been working on the website, trying to make it easier to use, and navigate. I still have some tweaks to make on it, but those should be done this weekend. The goal is to be able to sell some books from it, we should have that all squared away by November. If you would like to see something we haven’t included, please let me know.

Enjoy your weekend!!

Write every day

English: Isaac, A Lover of Peace; as in Genesi...
English: Isaac, A Lover of Peace; as in Genesis 26:12-25; illustration from a Bible card published 1906 by the Providence Lithograph Company (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think writing is like a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it gets. When you write every day, you will always be thinking about your story. It has happened to me more than once. When I write I have an outline in my head. I know how the story  is going to begin, what’s going to be happening at the middle and (sometimes) how it is going to end. I write the first few chapters and then I start writing individual threads.

Currently I’m writing book number 6. I’m at almost 40k words. This novel, I think anyway is going to be segmenented into parts. I’m on my first thread in part 1.

[minor spoiler alert ]

I’m writing about Isaac. I was wondering exactly what I would do with him during this part. I had a general idea of what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know exactly how I wanted to accomplish it. This morning, when I woke up, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. If I didn’t write everyday and was thinking about the story, even when I wasn’t writing it, I don’t think I would have had the idea.

I know it is hard to write everyday. I work too, have to work or I wouldn’t be able to pay the bills.

Enough preaching, I wish you much success!

So… how do I write

Apple I at the Smithsonian Museum
Apple I at the Smithsonian Museum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Someone asked me recently, how I write. I could have been a goober and told them, one word at a time, but I didn’t. They wanted to know the space I used, how I did it, etc.

I write at my desk. I have a laptop, I think one of these days I’ll get me an Apple, but for now I write at my desk. For our whole conversation we’ll be talking about my first draft. The edits, I’m sitting in the same place, but I do things quite a bit differently. I have a comfortable chair, I’ve had for years. My posture I know isn’t correct but it works for me. I have an L shaped desk, and a table that I can scoot around that holds my keyboard.

No distractions. Turn off facebook and email and if you can, the internet.
Decide how long you want to write. I usually write for two or three hours. If possible it needs to be one block of time.
The first hour will be your slowest, as you get in the grove your second hour will be much better, and if you write a third, then it will be even faster.
Normally I write about 1k words the first hour, then 2500 the second, which meets my goal of 3500 words a day. Some passages will be easier to write than others. Some days you will write better than others, that’s just the way it is, and has been for me.

The important thing to remember is no distractions and then just to sit down and do it. I write hard and fast, don’t worry too much about mistakes. If I need a bit of information I don’t have then I just put question marks and keep writing. I try my best to do the punctuation better, but I don’t really care, I just write.

I’m curious, for those of you who write, how do you do it?