Monday, December 26, 2011

Ring In The New Year With On The Bird!


Exciting news!

As it turns out, I'll be going on something of an impromptu blog tour throughout the month of January, and it starts today!

I sat down for an interview with Moonlit It was great fun, though Christine seems to have identified my potential for taking over the world. >..>

Gotta watch out for that one!

On January 9-17, I'll be appearing on the blog of Liz Newman, who runs Gypsy Shadow Publishing.

I also have reviews of Weaver and Atticus popping up on My Mercurial Musings. Dates TBA.

And possibly one or two other stops, but I need to finalize those first.

Oh, and for extra fun, check out the guest post at Book Briefs, in which Congressman Hoyt Boone mounts a spirited defense of the Post Unveiling Tort Reform Act ("PUTRA")..

Think that will keep you guys busy while I finish writing The Void (currently sitting at 10k words, btw)?

Hope everyone had a good holiday.


John A

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"Dude, Who Broke YOUR Heart?" (Or, My Treatment of Relationships In Fiction)

One question I get asked with some regularity is "Can't you ever let two of your characters hook up and just be happy?" I've taken a rather dim view on happy relationships in my work since back when I was just telling stories to my five friends who played in my RPGs -- any time a couple finally resolved its unresolved sexual tension, you could count on one of the partners dying, going evil, losing their memory, or meeting some similarly dreadful fate. Even those who have been encouraging me for some time to "go public" with my stories have raised skeptical eyebrows at my approach to love stories.

Some people have suggested that I refuse to portray a happy relationship because I've never been in one. I won't bore you with my personal life, but suffice it to say that anyone who's ever met my significant other would quickly laugh at this notion. (Incidentally, folks, she's the best creative mind in our relationship, and I look forward to co-writing some things with her soon so that you can all see how amazing she is.)

Other people suppose that I'm simply following in the footsteps of my (de)mentor, Joss Whedon. There's some truth to this -- Whedon is fond of committing relationship massacres. (See i.e., Buffy season 2, Buffy season 6, Serenity (!!!), Dollhouse season 1).

But mostly, I take this approach to relationships because it's the best way to tell stories. Fiction is not real life, and things that are acceptable in real life are intolerable in stories. For instance, a person might happily accept a period of months or even a year in their life with little notable activity, but writing page after page of a book in which nothing significant happens is the quickest way to make sure the book sits on a shelf gathering dust. (I suspect even the most avid readers would have little patience for "He woke up. He ate Cheerios for breakfast. He brushed his teeth. He put on a suit. He went to work." Etc.)

Stories require conflict to sustain them in a way that real life does not. So while harmony may be desirable in actual relationships, narratives thrive on interpersonal tension.

To put it another way, Unresolved Sexual Tension can add to a story in a variety of ways. It can be a catalyst for character change or growth, or a way of bringing out aspects of a character that aren't otherwise obvious. It  can create animosity between potential suitors in a love triangle. It can create those "awwww" moments that make you want to throw popcorn at the screen. And so on. Resolved Sexual Tension does none of these things.

So no, I'm not a hater or anything like it. The cold truth is that stories are just better when you don't give the characters what they want (romantically speaking, at least). It's like they say in The Godfather: "It's not personal, Sonny. It's strictly business."

And who knows, maybe someday I'll surprise you all. Maybe ....

Monday, December 19, 2011

Exciting things happening!

Hey folks --

Just a few quick updates.

First of all, The Void, a.k.a Weaver 2, is currently sitting at around 6.4k words.

Second of all, I'm proud to announce that on January 9th, I'll be guest-posting on the blog of the talented Liz R. Newman. You won't want to miss it, folks!

Third of all, those of you who've read Weaver (which is still free on Smashwords with coupon code BY83E, by the way), don't forget to leave your reviews on Amazon! Let's build some hype for The Void!

Back to the Writer's Cave for me. More later.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Words of a newfound fan

One of my readers over in the United Kingdom recently posted this rather remarkable  review of Atticus for the  Undead on her blog. I'm always flattered when readers like my work, but I found this review particularly touching. As such, I post it here (warning: mild spoilers within):

Atticus for the Undead is a legal drama set in a time when supernatural beings are no longer simply the stuff of our imaginations. Despite the fact that supernaturals – or arcane, for better description – are all around us, as a society, we are reluctant to let them have an equal status. Whilst calling ourselves civilized, we are bigots at heart, and we treat arcanes with just about the same level of tolerance the first wave of black slaves must have felt on their arrival, centuries ago.
John Abramowitz utilises this blinkered, hateful relationship as a base from which he constructs the castle of his story.
Hunter Gamble and his sidekick, Kirsten Harper, have found their niche in developing a successful law practice which specialises in arcane cases. Unlike the vast majority of the population, they are still flying the flag for the fundamental shred of humanity, the one which dictates that people should treat every person as a human being, regardless of ability, looks or political orientation.
Not in the least judgemental, they work well together and help out the vulnerable people marginalised by society, or in Sabrina’s case, shunned by their very families.
Family relationships are well observed and the tensions between different generations perfectly depicted using flawless, clever dialogue. John Abramowitz illustrates with ease the stiffness and rigidity of higher social classes without detracting from the main storyline with unnecessary obscurities.
The court proceedings are absolutely spot-on. John Abramowitz shows us just how comfortable he is with the legal environment. The casework, courtroom action, even the theatricals exhibited by a cunning prosecutor with a political agenda are all very realistic, the dialog is witty and intense, but uncluttered of the legal terms that would thoroughly confuse a layman.
To conclude and without giving away any more of the story, Atticus for the Undead was a nice surprise for me. Pleasant and entertaining, it stays with you long after you’ve put it down. To be perfectly honest, when I heard there were zombies and witches among the characters, my natural hatred of terror and violence almost stopped me from reading what is without doubt the best fiction work from an independent author I’ve read in recent months.
Thank you, John, for a brilliant read. Now, only one more thing: when do we get to read the sequel?

Get your copy now!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

You wish, and I deliver

All right, friends, due to the overwhelming positive response (by which  I mean, everyone that DID vote, voted yes), I'm going to give away Weaver for a limited time.

Here's how it works:

Go to Weaver's Smashwords page and enter this coupon code: BY83E.

That should enable you to get the book for free. Then read it, and post your reviews on Smashwords and Amazon. (If you have to pick one, pick Amazon.)

If you have any problems doing so, leave a comment for me here.


John A

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tough Act To Follow

I'm sure it's happened to every writer (and probably most singers, actors, and other artists) at some point.

The bolt of inspiration strikes, as it so rarely does for most of us (this job is roughly 97% perspiration and 3% inspiration), you sit down, you work hard, you give up your sleep and your soul for a good couple of months (or more) ... and you create something you're really, really proud of. Something that justifies your entire decision to go into such an impractical field, despite all the friends, relatives, and career  counselors who warned you about the high probability of sleeping in a shoe box. Something that, if you could only get people to notice it, you're convinced could be really, truly great.

And then what?

Once you've published the book, finished the blog tour or the book tour, made the NYTimes or Amazon best seller list (or, in the case of a lot of us indies, really, really NOT made said lists), once the euphoria has died down, you return home ... and realize you have to write the next thing.

This is the point at which the giddy, light-headed feeling gives way to a sick, anxious, cowering-under-the-bed feeling. Because how the hell are you going to do that? The little perfectionist in the back of your brain knows, just knows, that everyone is going to expect it of you now, no one is going to be satisfied with anything of lesser quality to the Awesome that you just did. You're sure that unless you hit it out of the park, you're going to fall on your face in front of your entire audience. And that is the most terrifying prospect imaginable, no matter how large or small your audience is.

That's where I am right now.

I truly believe that Atticus for the Undead was one of the high watermarks of my creative career -- one of the best and cleverest stories I've ever told (and I've been telling stories a lot longer than I've been writing novels). But it's done now, and now I'm turning my attention to The Void. The trouble is that the little perfectionist in me won't shut up.

Don't get me wrong, I'm absolutely confident that The Void will be a good book. With a little help from my trusty beta readers, it can probably be a great book. But can it equal Atticus in quality?

The perfectionist isn't so sure. The perfectionist thinks I'm out of good pitches.

Of course, if I listened to the perfectionist, I never would have started self-publishing to begin with. Every writer knows that a major part of writing is eventually, at some point, deciding that your work is good enough and telling that little voice to go shove it. But in the meantime, it can make life damn frustrating.

This post doesn't have a tidy ending, because I haven't yet effectively told the perfectionist to shut up. So, now that I've once again used way too many parentheses in a blog post, I'll throw it open to my writer friends (and others): Do you know the feeling?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Atticus Update!

The issue with the cover image has been fixed. It now appears on Atticus's Barnes & Noble page as normal.


John A

Friday, December 2, 2011

Your input is wanted!

At the moment, I'm starting work on the second volume of The Weaver Saga, which is currently sitting at around 2,000 words. I'd like to get people excited about it for when it does go live (probably in March of 2012).

To get people excited to read Weaver 2, though, first we have to let them know about Weaver itself. To that end, I'm contemplating making it free for another week on Smashwords (as I did the week that Atticus went live) to encourage people to pick it up and read it.

If I did that, would you be willing and have the time to read it and post an honest review on Amazon? (Note that I said "honest," not necessarily positive.) Getting more people talking about the book would probably get more people reading the book. Thus, you'd get a good story and I'd get a larger following for my next novel.

What do you folks say? You up for it?

Voice your opinion by taking the poll to the right!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dancing With The Stars

So everybody knows that writing has its frustrations: long hours, lots of re-writes, (in my case very) low pay. Even moreso when you're a self-publishing writer, the bias against which I discuss here and here. But today I'd like to talk about one of the great pleasures of this job: namely, the chance to interact with (and get support from) other authors.

Some people have suggested that the internet is making our society a true democracy at last, in which all ideas receive an equal hearing. I think this idea has been largely debunked in other contexts, but I know from personal  experience that it has allowed me to communicate with my writing peers and colleagues in a way that might not, previously, have been possible. The miracle of Twitter has allowed for a real-time exchange of thoughts, ideas, and favors.

For instance, when I started reading Sweet Venom, by the inestimable Tera Lynn Childs, it seemed to me that the early chapters smacked of Buffy influence. In a previous era, fans might have had for some interviewer to notice the same thing and ask the author about it, but I didn't! I just Tweeted her and asked away. (It turns out I was right, by the way: she started watching the shows as "research" for the series and promptly became obsessed. Thus did I not only talk to an awesome fellow author, but meet a fellow Whedon afficionado! Joy to the world!)

And when I put together the promotional campaign for my most recent novel Atticus for the Undead (featuring the first ever trial of a zombie for eating brains!), I decided to do something really ballsy and ask some fellow authors if they'd read it and plug it on their websites or in their Tweets if they liked it. A show of chutzpah on my part, certainly -- there was no reason to expect that established and successful authors would  care a whit about my little book -- but it paid off. A few days after I e-mailed out the ARCs, I was rewarded by a gushing e-mail from the amazing Angela Scott (whose book, Wanted: Dead or Undead is on my list to buy as soon as it hits shelves) telling me that she loved the book and thought I was on track to be among the great fiction writers! (Seriously, folks, that one made my whole day. I e-mailed a bunch of friends and family and went SQUEEEEEEE! AN ACTUAL WRITER WITH ACTUAL TALENT ACTUALLY LIKES ME!) Ms. Scott proceeded to become a follower of my blog.

I've also gained writer-friends in people like Lindsay Buroker and Pam von Hylckama. Not only do these people and I trade fabulously witty Tweets on a daily basis, I've even been able to guest post on their blogs. (My nefarious plan worked so  well that I'm pretty sure they even think I was doing them a favor by saving them the trouble of writing a blog entry that day. In reality, I was on Cloud 9 for the opportunity.)

So, yes, I don't get much sleep (as Lindsay can attest) and the pay is all-but-nonexistent and I want to tear my hair out with every new book. But in one respect, at least, becoming an author really has allowed me to dance with the stars.

*My thanks to all the authors and bloggers who have shown support for my projects. You are the lifeblood of On The Bird.