With the winter holidays nearly upon us, I’d been thinking about what gift I could give my awesome readers. And then… it suddenly occurred to me! “Hey, I’ve got this great unpublished short story called Invasion Day!”
On his tenth birthday, a boy living on the moon asks his grandpa about the blue planet glowing in the forever-night sky, and why they live the way they do.
I wrote this story earlier this year, based on a several-years-old idea from my notes, and inspired by the writing of one of my favorite authors — the great Ray Bradbury.
You can read the eBook free on Smashwords and other online retailers including Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Scribd. I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please leave me a review when you’re finished.
Among other things, I am a blogger. This thing that you’re reading right now is in fact a blog post…on a real-life blog! Mind blown, right?
To create this mind-blowing blog, I use WordPress, free and easy-to-use software that powers about a quarter of the websites online. WordPress has a great community that gets together all over the world. Last year, I attended and wrote about their first annual U.S. conference, WordCamp US, in my hometown of Philadelphia. WordCamp US was back in Philly this year, attracting about 1,800 attendees and a gang of dinosaurs to the party.
WordCamp was a blast, obviously. I only got to attend the second day (Day 1 was Friday and would have interfered with my day job), but I listened to a few great talks.
Dennis Hong did a hilarious and yet scary (hil-scare-ious?) talk on the dark side of democratization. The idea is that while the internet has enabled anyone to publish, this may not always be a good thing. The sheer amount of content now produced promotes skimming over thoughtful reading, he said. Also, thoughtful, well-reasoned analysis often loses out to cat pictures and emotion-based pieces that get us all riled up — and may not even be true.
While there are no easy answers, Dennis had some advice to make the internet a more friendly place. When something online angers you, take a deep breath before you share it to your friends. Be stoic like Yoda, he said, and decide if it’s worth sharing — because all you’re doing is helping the video go viral. If someone is being ridiculous online, don’t engage in a shouting match. It’s better to be patient, empathetic and take the conversation offline. If you’re creating content, it’s okay to grab a reader’s attention with a flashy headline, but make sure the content that follows is thoughtful and accurate. You can read more about all this on Dennis’s website.
I also learned a bunch of interesting facts from Maile Ohye from Google. Did you know that 65% of India — or about 864 million people — are not yet online? That’s a lot of people still to join the internet! Not only that, but 60% of the world’s traffic is still 2G. It’s important to keep these facts in mind when building a website, Maile said. Also, here’s something to look forward to next year — she said Google will be demoting mobile website that display pop-up ads blocking your view of the content! Woo! Those sites are way annoying!
Which brings me to another fun fact from Maile — 53% of visitors abandon mobile sites that take more than three seconds to load. Sounds a little impatient, but thinking about my own behavior I probably do this as well. I guess with all that democratization of content, we just don’t have time to wait around.
So here’s an end-of-summer jam you may not have heard. It’s “El Matador” by the band Semisonic. Yeah, those guys who did “Closing Time” and “Secret Smile.” This one is off their severely underrated follow-up, which was their final LP as a group.
It’s hard to believe summer is coming to an end. Also hard to believe this was my first full American summer since 2011. My wife and I moved to Australia at the start of summer 2012, which meant that it was winter there. We came back at the end of (American) summer 2015, got a lick of the sun, then dove straight into the autumn leaves.
I’ve had a productive year since returning to Philadelphia. After regaining my bearings (I can order a “coffee,” and no one asks what kind!), I spent the first few months doing freelance work for Technical.ly Philly and a few other places. I made a brief sojourn to India (and wrote a tech story about it). In March, I got a full-time gig at Communications Daily as their Philly-based states reporter.
Lately, I’ve been looking with anxiety at my long-sleeve shirts. Soon I will get/have to wear them. We’re racing toward winter and the year 2017. I don’t know exactly what the new year will hold, but my aim is to make it a big one. As Semisonic sings in their end-of-summer classic: “Time keeps pushing me on now, and I’ll ride this wave to the end.”
P.S. If you like my novels, check out the show Mr. Robot. It’s a tech-fueled dystopian rush.
What a rush! On Saturday, I pitched two literary agents on my next novel, The Wanderer and the New West, at the Philly Writing Workshop. I also learned a great deal about the query process in a series of talks by Chuck Sambuchino from Writer’s Digest.
I’m excited to report that both of my pitches with agents went well, and I will follow up with them soon. While I can’t say for sure what will happen, it’s encouraging to get such a positive response to my novel’s concept.
Doing all that pitching forced me to hone my one-sentence pitch (a.k.a. “logline”). The Wanderer and the New West is a 100,000-word Dystopian Western about a gunman seeking redemption in a future America where the government has strengthened the Second Amendment and individuals make their own justice.
Hey, I’d read it.
Oh, and I guess this is a good time to tell you that editing is finished! Following two rounds of content editing, my editor Rachel sent me the final technical copy edits. And let me tell you, this thing is looking polished. If you are a writer, I cannot recommend enough the value of a good freelance editor.
If you want to keep up to date on the new book (and get my first novel for free), please join the Underground, my monthly mailing list for fans of my work. I can’t wait to share my new novel with you!
Told from the unique first-person perspective of an amnesiac, acclaimed novel We, The Watched places the reader in the shoes of Seven as he struggles to go unnoticed in a surveillance society and discover his true identity. Seven enters a dystopia where the government conducts mass surveillance and keeps a Watched list of its own citizens. The Church has become as powerful as the State, and people who resist are called Heretics and face execution.
I want to address the reviewer’s one criticism about sexism on the part of the protagonist. The reviewer makes a fair point here, and it’s something that I consciously improved upon in the sequel, Divided We Fall, and my writing since then. I definitely take these kinds of concerns seriously, and I’m glad this criticism did not stop the reviewer from recommending We, The Watched as a must-read.
Hope you enjoy We, The Watched — I can’t wait to read YOUR review!