Gone DIGITAL……

Well, good news on the publishing front.  After weeks and weeks of formatting, frustration, and re-editing, Three Degrees of Separation is finally live as a Kindle book!  It has been a long couple of weeks as I learn to format my book so that it meets the HTML criteria necessary to be read cleanly as a Kindle book, and I’m so happy to see it.  I downloaded the book and couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear.  It was just like seeing the book published for the first time.  Everywhere I go lately, I’ve been seeing people with a Kindle, Nook, iPad, or Sony Reader.  While this is just for the Kindle so far, the other formats should be ready by the end of the week.  As soon as they are approved and uploaded, I will format The Devil You Know.

There has been something about this process that has really re-invigorated me.  For the last few months, I’ve really kind of drifted away from writing books.  I have felt as though there is too much for one person to do to market and promote a book, that it began to feel like a daunting and impossible task.  It was my beautiful and brilliant wife who reminded me why I write in the first place.  I write to create a story that hasn’t been heard before, put it on paper, and offer it for others to read.  Formatting Three Degrees of Separation really helped me to get back to basics and re-acquaint myself with the characters I love and the story I believe in.  Now, I’m so excited to format The Devil You Know and then get back to working on my third book, Learned Behavior.  It is such a great story and is going to be sooooo good!!!

So, Timothy Lassiter has gone digital!  If you have a Kindle (or Kindle for Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad or any other device) I urge you to check out Three Degrees of Separation and purchase it for your digital library.  If you haven’t read it before, you won’t be disappointed.  I promise.  If you’ve read it before, don’t hesitate to download it.  You never know when you are going to need a good detective novel!!

New Image, New Website…

I’m so pleased to announce the launch of my new website at http://www.timothylassiter.com.  I know I’ve had a website for some time, and it has had two other versions before this, both a little flashy and a lot distracting.  However, thanks to the creativity and brilliance of Alison Marie, I have a new website that better reflects me and the kind of author I want to be.  Finally, I have a site that will allow me to connect with my fans and readers more completely.

The site is up and running, and looking great.  However, what you see now is just the beginning of what we have to come.  New events will soon be posted on the site, along with ways of adding you input and ideas to the mix, even helping me to title my next Nicholas Grenier novel.  All of this new stuff will be coming over the next few weeks.  So you’ve got to keep checking in.

Check out the new site and see what great work Alison has done to interpret my vision and make it real.  I’ll keep you updated as to all the new and exciting events as we add them to the site.  Have fun and keep checking back!  Thanks.

Creating an eBook

Over the last few weeks I’ve been learning more about what it takes to make an eBook, or a digital version of my books for sale on Kindle, Barnes & Noble nook, Sony reader, or Apple iBook.  At first, I was certain that it would take nothing more than scanning a PDF version of my book and submitting it to the organization specific to the type of reader.  As I learned, I couldn’t be further from the truth.

There are many ways to go about submitting your work to be published in a digital format, but preparing and formatting the work so that it can be transferred into the digital format used is quite another story.  The formatting systems for creating an eBook all use HTML, a version of code that I am deathly afraid of.  I’m a visual person, and I need to see things in a visual fashion, the way they are going to be for me to be certain that I have everything right where I want it.  Writing is no different, and the thought of putting my books into a version that could be accepted by HTML felt close to impossible for me.  Thankfully, I was able to find website support and information on how to make my books passable to translate into an HTML format.  Now comes the tricky part.  I’ve got to reformat all the work I did in writing the books so that they will be accepted by the formatting software.  The work will definitely be worth it in the end; more and more people are reverting to eBooks for their cost effectiveness and the ever expanding market of software that provides books in digital format.  However, the process of changing everything over is going to be long and tedious.  I’ve spent 30 minutes working on Three Degrees of Separation and I’ve only gotten 19 pages completely reformatted.  19 pages out of 306.  It’s going to be a LONG process.

I’ll keep my head up and keep everyone posted!

A New Look…

So, as you may have noticed, there is something new going on with my blog.  In a visual world, first impressions are everything. I always thought that the hardest part of being an author would be writing the book.  I was very, very wrong.  The hardest part of being an author is promoting yourself, publicizing your work, getting your name out there.  I never thought about the fact that even though I had written the book, people weren’t going to know about it unless I did some advertising.  But, how do I advertise.

When you self-publish or go through a small publishing company, an author is not going to get the big publishing house support that we all imagine.  I imagined myself getting phone calls from my publisher or agent, telling me where to go for signings and speaking engagements.  However, this is not necessarily the case.  Even though my book was on all the national and interational databases, for some reason Borders and Barnes & Nobles were not knocking down my door.  What do I do?  You market!

So I read every self-help, self-publicizing, self-promoting, self-advertising book I could get my hands on.  I spent more money on “how to” books than Borders had actually sold of my own books.  I have done everything the books suggested, and each suggestion has been well worth it.  Some ideas were common sense; contact local media outlets, call local bookstores, reach out to book clubs and libraries.  Other ideas let me in on a world of advertising that I had never known existed.  All of the ideas and suggestions led to getting the word out about my books, making them worth every dollar I spent.

However, when it comes down to it, there is no better marketing than word of mouth.  There is something about someone you know and trust suggesting that you invest your time and imagination into a book.  It is advertisement that always hits the mark, and is passed down to others.  It is the cheapest, most effective marketing I have ever seen.  However, you still have to get your name and information out to people, especially people you don’t already know.  That’s where a little bit of technology comes in.

I made a generic website, put together a blog, but it was my beautiful and creative wife who reminded me that my website was a first impression, and generic was not going to sell books.  A generic website was not going to relay the complete, polished story that I was trying to convey.  Alison offered to show me what a polished website could do and say, and this blog look is the first step.  First thing, a logo, and I have to say, the logo alone is extremely exciting.  With the new site being put together, I can only imagine how much fun we are going to have promoting and talking about Three Degrees of Separation and The Devil You Know, as well as the work yet to come.

Stay tuned, there is a lot more on the way.  Let me know what you think of Alison’s work so far!!

Tim

And it’s a……..screenplay!!!

Many writers I’ve talked to have likened the completion of a project to giving birth.  I’ve always thought that was strange, mostly because I could not possibly understand what it feels like to give birth, not to mention the nine months of upheaval that comes with it.  All I know is that tonight, I completed my fifth MAJOR writing project.  Sure there have been hundreds, maybe millions of little projects in between, but this is the fifth major one, and it’s a very personal achievement for me.

Three months ago I had an idea.  I wanted to write a screenplay.  I’ve always wanted to write a screenplay, always thought I would be good writing movies.  At first, it seemed as though it would be simple to do.  I mean, I wrote two major detective novels.  Each one ran about 500 pages, hundreds of thousands of words between them.  A screenplay is simply dialogue, that would be so easy.  All I ever do is talk.  I quickly learned that screenplays were so much more, and I had underestimated those who write them.

It took me until the beginning of this year to get up the courage to start again.  I studied every major work that was on bookshelves.  I memorized the words of Syd Field, I integrated the strategies of the late, great Blake Snyder.  I read and re-read every book I could get my hands on.  By January, I was ready.  I sat down at my laptop and began to type.  Every time it came out wrong.  I wasn’t doing something right.  Finally, after reading my tenth screenplay while watching the movie, I realized what it was.  I was not seeing it through the eyes of the camera.

When I write a book, I see the scenes play out, but writing a screenplay is very different.  It’s not just seeing the scene play out in your mind, it is recording the details of every movement, every facial expression.  I had to leave the character’s thoughts behind and focus on the intricacies of what they DID.  What’s more, I had to see it through the camera.  I had to see what the camera would see.  I had to write what the audience would see.

Suddenly, my little screenplay became so much more.  Thinking like the camera became like second nature to me.  I quickly learned what was possible and what was not possible.  I had to think of angles, images, lines, where characters were standing, what the audience was seeing and if it made sense in the image and story.  In spite of all of this, the story grew.  The basic structure of the story which I had worked and re-worked to fit outline of a beat sheet began to take new life as it grew off of the outline and became an actual story.  I could see each scene in my head, and soon I not only had the beginning, I had the middle and I could see the end.

In the middle of writing anything, there is real life.  There is the everyday that one must contend with in order to keep writing.  Work, school, being a husband, being a father, trying to succeed at all of them.  All of these things are so much more important than a simple writing project that may or may not (odds are against you) get noticed by someone and become a feature film.  There were the mood swings that accompany being called upon (Daddy, Daddy, Daddy) by your daughter who just wants you to listen to her play the guitar but you are “in the zone”. There is the going over storylines, ad nauseum, with your wife until she gets a glazed look in her eyes.  I don’t even think my wife knows what my screenplay is about!!

At the end, there is the deadline, whether self imposed or set upon you by an agent or studio (you lucky devil).  Mine was self imposed.  I knew if I didn’t set a final date, the screenplay would never come.  It would just continue growing in the womb of my mind until my brain exploded into a million pieces.  I sat down, I took 24 hours, and I pushed it out.  I typed, typed, typed, got tired, tried to go to sleep, couldn’t, typed, typed, typed and then finally, there were only 5 scenes left in the 3rd act.  Amazingly, everything was fitting neatly into the 40 scene, 90-110 paged requirements.  This couldn’t be right, but no, yep, it is.  This is happening.  We are almost there.

Finally, give it one last, three hour push.  On the second to last scene, I get teary because I am writing what I’ve heard in my head all along.  The culmination of all the sleepless nights, waking up at 3am just to jot down an idea, trying to convince your wife this it time well spent, telling your daughter to give you 5 more minutes and you’ll come up and listen to her song; it was all here on paper.  It is all as it is supposed to be, all as you were convinced it would be.  Now it’s there, you hit SAVE.  It’s done.

I’m left feeling a little empty right now.  I finished the screenplay a little over two hours ago, and I sit here writing to you because I feel like I would be swallowed up by the emptiness of no current project if I were not to sit and not type something.  There is so much more to do now.  Edit, re-work, submit to WGA and get copywrite protection, submit to agents, producers, anyone who will listen.  I know it is not over, I know that this is just the beginning.  I still have to nurture it and watch it grow into what it will become.  I have to guide it and set it on the path and hope that it will make the right decisions and end up as a happy little feature film.

I realize now that a writing project is like being pregnant, and finishing it is like giving birth.  You work so hard to make something perfect and not make any mistakes that will affect its development.  You go through the emotional pain of finishing and packaging a project you have nurtured for months, or sometimes years (props to James Cameron and his belief in Avatar), and then you are left with this screenplay that can be anything you want it to be, and you “parent” it along the way to becoming whatever it will become.

So tonight, I am the proud papa of a….screenplay!!

Off and running with the screenplay…

Well, as per all of my other New Year’s commitments, I am off and running with my screenwriting, which I am loving, by the way.  I have to admit that I originally thought that this was going to be one of the hardest things for me to do, write a screenplay.  I mean, you are talking about condensing something that I could have made into a 500+ page book into a 90-110 page screenplay.  I really did not think it could be done, not with how verbose I am.  However, after studying the in’s and out’s of screenwriting, I am finding that it is very exciting and gives me an entirely new perspective to both writing and the movie business.

When I am writing a novel, it is very easy for me to see the scene in my head and to write exactly what I am seeing.  In a novel, I have to write the scene, the detail, the background, what the character is feeling and thinking, and the dialogue.  However, in a screenplay, it is 90% dialogue.  I don’t really have to worry about conveying the details about how the character is feeling because that is what actors are for.  I just have to set the scene, the time of day, explain the action, and get right into the dialogue.  I am currently outlining and prepping the screenplay as we speak and I am up to act two.  I could be done with all the prepping and outlining by the end of the week, which means I could have the entire thing written by the end of next week if I did nothing but screenplay day and night.  At least I’ll have the entire first draft ready for the end of January.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love my detective novel writing.  I am a novelist first and foremost, and I think that I always will be.  That said though, I think that screenwriting is providing me an entirely new way of thinking and expressing myself.  If I end up being successful with this, I think the next project outside of detective novels might be to write a television pilot.  We’ll see what happens.

Let me know what  you think.  For everyone who has written and book or a screenplay, I would love to hear your experiences.

Tim-

New Year, New Resolutions, New Plan…

New Year’s resolutions simply kill me.  Whenever I make them, I end up breaking them; and it’s not like I didn’t know all the last year that I needed to do something.  Why does it take a new year to give us the inspiration and motivation to do what we’ve known we needed to do all along?  I think it is because of the novelty of the New Year.  I mean, it only comes around once a year, so I guess we feel full of hope and renewed.  For some, the New Year represents a “clean slate”, the ability make drastic changes in life without the hassle of all the questions.  “Why did you take up exercising?”  The answer is simple, New Year’s resolution, and no one can say anything to trump that.

Sadly, I have a number of New Year’s resolutions that I’m already trying desperately not to break.  Beyond the normal fan favorites of working out, exercising, and eating healthy; I have some professional goals that I feel as though I have to meet.  I have to finish writing my third book.  Usually it only takes me two years from starting a book to seeing it on the bookstore shelves.  However, life events has postponed this book.  Actually, postponed is not even close to relating how delayed I actually am.  While many of the personal changes that happened in my life last year are no longer an issue, I have also devoted myself to another project; my first screenplay.  Now that I have added another project on to this year’s list, I am beginning to worry about completing either of them and having the same type of lack of productivity this year as I did in 2009.

So how do I stay productive and not become one of the millions who breaks my New Year’s resolutions?  I think it is simple, routine.  In psychology, I learned that if a person wants to incorporate something new into their daily routine, like exercise, they need to do the activity at the same time for roughly the same amount of time, every day for three weeks.  After 21 days, the mind fully incorporates this new activity into the normal daily routine and it is no longer a “chore”.  Well, that is what the psychologists say and I guess it can’t hurt to give it the full three weeks to see if they are right.  I need anything to really get a good routine going, and if this is the most natural way, then I am willing to do it.  I’ll let you know what happens.

Is anyone else struggling with New Year’s resolutions?