Sunday, July 22, 2012

Simple Pleasures

We drove up to Lake Elsinore yesterday to catch a minor league baseball game. The Storm is the lowest ranked (Class A) professional baseball team - three steps below Lynn’s beloved Padres, which are several steps below the team they were a couple of years ago when they were in contention. For simple straightforward sports entertainment, it was hard to beat. After talking about our night out over breakfast this morning, we think there is an analogy to books.

Major league baseball in is the process of losing itself to spectacle and hype. In order to compensate for the outrageous ticket, parking, and concession prices, the most poetic of sports is being drowned in show. The major league owners feel compelled to “razzle dazzle” in order to compensate for soaking fans over, what many times is, an inferior product. This is certainly the case for the Padres. Not so the Storm. At Lake Elsinore, the wonderful and fanciful game of baseball is still the central attraction. Sure they have fun between innings, mostly by getting the kids who’ve come to do crazy stuff on the field, but what happens while the players switch sides is a warm wholesome compliment to the only American sport that suspends time while the game is being played.

We think something similar is happening with mainstream publishers. In order to justify their bloated overhead, the process of choosing, producing, and marketing their books feels like a Roman spectacle rather than a straightforward generation of literature. Like minor league baseball, it is left to independent authors to provide a purer product – a story worth reading.

Also like baseball, books can be wildly inconsistent, but, good or bad, are more likely worth the time and money, when not burdened with weight that comes with unsustainable overhead. When you’ve only paid a couple of bucks, there is an “oh well” attitude when a player, writer, umpire, or book producer makes a mistake. There is also a real thrill when someone does something wonderful on the field or between the pages. When it costs five times as much as it should, the inevitable mistakes in print or on the field seem inexcusable while the wondrous never quite lives up to expectation.

While driving home after watching The Storm wither under perhaps the most inconsistent strike zone we’ve seen called by an umpire, we listened to the Padres lose by two in twelve innings. Even with the announcers hyperventilating over some great plays by both teams that drove the game into extra innings, we were more disappointed by the major league game than we had been by the Lake Elsinore home team that had been outperformed all night. It was a real joy to pay $12 for the best seats in the stadium and relish America’s past time on a warm summer’s evening rather than drown in all the expensive, extraneous, and superficial fluff in order to hunt for baseball with the rest of disappointed fans.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Stealth Novel

It is coming up on 100 days since we’ve released our fantasy novel, The Dragon Princess and, frankly, we are surprised by its silent reception.  While we understand that we are not JK Rowling, our other two novels got a certain amount of social network chatter and at least a few Amazon reviews by this time. But, except for the first few days after the release, there hasn’t been anything at all about our latest work.

Of the first three books, we think The Dragon Princess is the most accessible. We deliberately kept the content “family friendly” and believe that this title can be recommended to middle school readers providing their reading skills are up to the language we used. We’d dreamed that by now we would have learned of parents reading the work out loud to their pre-teen children and fantasy readers of all ages enjoying the world we had created. But so far, that hasn’t come to pass.

Maybe The Dragon Princess isn’t as good as our other two novels and our loyal followers are trying to spare our feelings. We hope not. We would rather hear our readers’ honest opinions than to hear nothing. We really don’t think the book is a turkey. The novel was developed over a longer time and received twice the number of advanced reads as the other two titles. There was no hint that the story suffered some fatal flaw. In fact, at least one of our special advisors said it was her favorite of our works. So the post-release silent treatment is all the more baffling.

We want to believe that all three of our novels are great summer reads, but, if we had to choose one, we would recommend The Dragon Princess as our best novel for a summer escape. If you’ve read it, let us know if you agree. If you haven’t read it yet, jump over to our website ( and get an e-copy by choosing one of the links behind the cover on the home page. We think you’ll enjoy the experience. If you do, tell us. If you don’t, tell us that too and we’ll figure out a way to make it up to you.  

And, while you’re at our website, if you haven’t taken advantage of a free copy of Bobbie Titan in the Mark of Kain, here is your reminder that it is still available for one more week. (

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Stepping Into It

We know we’ve mentioned about a half a dozen ideas for the next book after our Bobbie Titan sequel, but nothing has been gelling. So we were out for another walk through the Safari Park discussing our collective mental block when we came up with an idea that got us both excited. We decided to try and write a second chick-lit book with absolutely nothing that would be impossible like Cupid or super powers. Just everyday people finding out about the extraordinary feelings we all have and, sometimes, share with one another. And we decided on a theme - walking.

We enjoy walking through all parts of San Diego County. Downtowns, backcountry, normal neighborhoods – it seems everywhere we stroll in our expanded backyard, we find something interesting to see and discuss. Then it dawned on us that this would make a great vehicle for an everyday love story. We got so excited by this thought that we stopped in one of the great downtown Escondido bistros, broke out a map, and started figuring out how various local walks might fit into our story line.

The current working title for this new novel is Stepping into It! and we are already breaking new ground. Previously, Evans has outlined all of the manuscripts and sought Lynn’s approval after the first five thousand words or so. This time she is helping to design the story from the very beginning. Since she is a little nervous about this, she’s asking for your help. If any of our loyal followers know a great place to take a walk, let us know. Again, we plan to have the story cover all environments within San Diego, so where you like to put your feet doesn’t have to be one of the great trails out in the backcountry.

The other thing that’s different this time is that we are planning on taking you with us through the whole process. So look for parts of the story to show up in this blog from time to time as well as descriptions of our ups and downs while we build a story worth telling. And don’t be surprised if we come back for more story suggestions. We obviously believe in the collaborative process and, since we are trying something new, we think getting your advice as we go might lead to something exciting. We’ll see. In the meantime, go out on your own and then tell us how it went. Who knows, your steps could be mirrored in our new book.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Next Story

Since last we’ve blogged, we’ve been working on the sequel to our first novel, Bobbie Titan in the Mark of Kain. It’s now just about ready for the professional editor. And the exercise of reading through the manuscript after putting it aside for half a year has renewed our faith in our ability to tell a story. It’s entitled Bobbie Titan in the Alternate Way and it is even more fun than our original collaboration.

We think sometimes authors are too timid with sequels. When the readers like what they did the first time, some writers are afraid to take chances with the second book. The early drafts of this book were that way. Luckily, we decided that we owed it to ourselves and to our faithful followers not to get too cozy with the original narrative and we decided to take some chances. We’re not sure the story would have ended up the way it did if we were writing it under contract with a traditional publishing house.

Maybe it’s a little too daring, but we don’t think so. There were some important social commentaries we wanted to sneak inside a teen adventure novel and to do that we needed Bobbie to explore areas many young adult novels stay away from. So, even though this book wanders further into science fiction, we think that what happens inside Bobbie’s head and heart is closer to what happens to many teenagers as they begin to tackle what it means to become an adult.

Now comes the tedious part. We need to make sure all of the pieces are in the right place and send it off to the editor. When we get it back we will have to read through each comment and make sure any changes are reflected consistently thoughout the entire manuscript. Then comes the final editorial proof, our final edit, creating the cover, writing descriptive paragraphs, updating our author biographies, and getting all this to our publishing agent. After that comes your chance to read the new Bobbie Titan and to let us know if we made the right decisions regarding our fictional heroine and if you like where the story is going.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Time To Reflect

It’s been a year since we independently published our first novel, Bobbie Titan in the Mark of Kain. Yesterday we did one of our favorite things and went to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (we still think of it as the Wild Animal Park) to just walk around and discuss what the year has meant and where we are going from here as authors.

Some of the discussion highlights won’t come as news to our loyal followers. We greatly prefer developing novels than trying to market them after they have been published. We still like being independent writers with its inherent freedoms, but we realize that it is a lousy way to make a living. We are still delighted when we get a favorable review, especially when it is from someone new.

Some insights caught us by surprise. After a year of polishing three manuscripts to the point they were ready to be published and working hard on a fourth before deciding it would never meet our release standards, the passion to generate a new novel currently doesn’t burn as hotly as it did last year. Some of this is due to the fact that we had years’ worth of drafts already written by the time we released Bobbie-1 and now we are faced with the task of starting from scratch again. This week we’ll be starting our second round with the Bobbie Titan sequel, and after that we have nothing near ready to send out to our advanced readers. We have plenty of ideas, but the desire to work and rework those ideas into something worth reading isn’t as strong as it once was. Some of this might be attributed to burn out. We have been pushing pretty hard. But some of it might be due to the novelty having worn off. After this rework of Bobbie-2, we’ll have to see if we start waking up in the middle of the night again because the new story won’t let us sleep until the ideas in our heads have been transferred to the electronic page.

While we wrestle with our future as writers, we thought it would be nice to celebrate our anniversary with a giveaway. So, from now until the July 4th holiday, we are giving Bobbie Titan in the Mark of Kain away for free. While we know all of our loyal followers already have their copy, this will be a chance to recommend us to someone new. For details, GoHere!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sweet Miss Jillian

As our loyal fans will know, we aren’t afraid to make our heroines undergo some pretty radical transformations. What might not be common knowledge is that we’ve seen some transformative changes in the young people we know that are every bit as incredible as those we put our fictional characters through. And for all of these changes we’ve witnessed, perhaps none have been more remarkable than the changes experienced by our niece, Jill.

Jill has always been pretty and, until recently, she seemed destined to grow up a beautiful airhead. During most of her time in school, Jill was the bane of her overachieving mother’s existence, since she happily avoided anything that was remotely mentally challenging. It was a daily struggle to get this lovely girl to do any homework at all, and even the idea of completing anything challenging, like math or science, was absurd. It got so bad at home that Jill would regularly come to our house for after school studying just to ease the tension at home. While we were no better at getting her to complete her school work, it was a lot more pleasant around our kitchen table having snacks and listening to all the reasons why it would be impossible for our lovely niece to finish her class assignments.

Then, seemingly overnight while she was in high school, Jill decided she was a genius. The next thing we knew she had not only caught up all of her old coursework, but she was acing all of the advanced courses she was offered. She’s still gorgeous and laid back, but now she attends a university on scholarship and can’t decide if she wants to pursue advanced studies in math, physics, or perhaps something involving artificial intelligence. Her vocabulary is now so advanced that not even her mother understands the jargon that spills out from around her still knockout smile. We keep searching the USB port we figure is located on the back of her head somewhere since we think Jill’s mom traded her in on a robot when no one was looking.

Whatever it was, Jill’s changes were no less spectacular than what we put our fictional characters through. And, while we admit we were taken completely by surprise, we couldn’t be any more proud of our wonderful niece.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Love and Enlightenment

As our loyal followers will know, we believe in the empowerment of women, especially young women. It seems that many of today’s ills start with people treating others as less than fully human and for millennia this had its roots in the idea that females were not equal to males and could be treated like property. Even fifty years after the pill gave women control over their reproductive lives, so many young women think that they must swallow their natural personalities and “act like a girl” in order to find love and fulfillment. It drives us crazy when this happens and we wonder what happened to all the fine and fiery feminists we knew growing up and why they aren’t teaching their daughters better.

That is not to say that we think all men are scum. Sometimes, young men just haven’t been given the opportunity to figure out that love among equals is so rich and fulfilling. They’ve been told to “act like a man” by older males who desperately try to mask their own insecurities by shunning any real emotion and treating their mates as servants to their base needs. We rejoice when a young man manages to break free of these sociological shackles, often fastened to him by his father, and learns how emotional vulnerability can lead to real character and lifetime fulfilling relationships. We think there is yet hope for humanity every time a young man learns to open his heart and tell his lover, “You complete me.”

We get into some of this in our next installment of the Bobbie Titan series. There is still plenty of adventure, but Bobbie is older and we make her come to terms with her feelings over the people close to her. And, because we can, we force Bobbie on to both sides of the equation. She has to deal with both her dominant and submissive personalities when it comes to love. To help her with this we’ve added a new character, a young man with noble ideals but less than perfect execution. We also pump up one of the supporting characters from the first book and let Bobbie confront the age old problem of something new and exciting versus something old and comforting. Of course, due to Bobbie’s powers, this confrontation is supercharged.

So in a little less than a month we will pick up Bobbie Titan’s tale and complete the work necessary to provide the sequel to The Mark of Kain. Our advanced readers still have a few weeks to finish their reviews and give us their comments. After that we’ll dive in and once again breathe life into our characters so by late summer or early fall, everyone will get the chance to find out what Bobbie is getting up to in Oregon. And you can bet that our heroine will learn that being true to who you are is the only way you will find real happiness.