Monday, July 28, 2014

Picking up the series

My first published novel was a crime story called Majoring in Murder. It was meant to be the first book in a series, about a college student turned hit man. I published it in 2011, at a time when I was really big into reading crime stories. Since then, my interests have meandered through southern literature, fantasy/sci-fi, mystery, and then back to horror, where stories within me begged to be told. I obliged, telling some of those stories and began writing several more, across various genres.

Recently, I finished my first rounds of edits on a horror novel I mentioned some time ago called What Goes Around, which I am very excited about. I'm just waiting for my first beta reader (read: wife) to go through it and provide her feedback. In the meantime, I planned to return to some stories I've started and continue to work on those. However, I've detoured from that plan. Currently, I don't feel motivated to work on those stories, for reasons I'm not fully cognizant of; it's just how my writing process works. Instead, I looked over my various notes, folders, etc. on the small external drive where all of my worlds live and found that my hit man series needed my attention. The inner workings that dictate my writing--my muse, if you will--raised the flag, signaling me to start writing the second book in the Jason Mashburn series; it was time.

Long ago, I had jotted down a high-level road map for where I wanted the series to go, what each subsequent book would tackle, and then I walked away so that it could mellow. When I came across those notes a couple of days ago, I felt that Jason had time to mature (so to speak), which is what I intended. In the first book, he was a naive, yet deadly, young man. Throughout the series, I would like the reader to watch Jason grow and mature, become more adept in his skills, and understand the motivates behind his decision to return to the business. In a sense, Jason is like me as an author. I was naive and cocky during the writing of that first book and, with the passing of those years and more writing experience to my credit, I like to think my skills have improved and I've matured as a writer.

It is my hope that, for readers who don't care for series, each of the books can stand alone to tell a cohesive story; that each book can be read out of order, able to allude to any necessary details from the previous books without breaking the plot. As for readers who progress through the series, beginning with the first book, I want them to witness Jason's metamorphosis throughout the arc; from naive student to hardened, calculating executioner. Overall, I hope to maintain the reader's sympathy and understanding for Jason, which is difficult to do when your main character is a contract killer, but I think I managed to pull it off in the first book.

So, that's what I've recently been working on, the next book in the Jason Mashburn installment. Tentatively, I've titled the story, Extracurricular Activities. I hope it turns out the way I envision it. More importantly, I hope you, the reader, enjoy it!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Paperback book giveaway

I am currently holding a book giveaway on Goodreads for my novel The Old Royal. I will be giving 5 signed copies to some lucky individuals. The giveaway ends Aug. 23, so don't delay to sign up for your chance to win.

Anthony Jessup is a daydreamer who works at a dead-end help desk job. His greatest fantasy is to become a famous novelist like his idol, Roger Kurrey. However, Anthony's stories receive more rejections than accolades from editors. When Anthony receives an old Royal typewriter as a birthday gift, he soon learns that the typewriter is more than meets the eye. Armed with the ability to alter the past, Anthony realizes that he can fulfill his dreams. But, to do so comes at a cost. If you could change the past, would you? If so, at what cost?

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Old Royal by J.R. McLemore

The Old Royal

by J.R. McLemore

Giveaway ends August 23, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Metamorphosis: introspection and retrospection

Tomorrow is Independence Day. I'm sitting here doing quite a bit of reflecting, evaluating, and looking toward the future lurking on the horizon, but it's hazy there and hard to make out. I have more time now for this sort of thing, since I lost my day job last week. Losing one's job is a stressful thing; I'm convinced there're stages to it like mourning a loss. I was mad, blamed myself, blamed others, felt humbled, experienced optimism, and well, now I've just accepted it. It is what it is. Life is simply a large maze with unexpected hurdles. Everyone experiences ups and downs. It's how we deal with the downs that shows the world who we really are, our true character. In the face of this, I've tried to remain diligent in my math and language studies as well as continuing with my writing/editing. In addition, I've done a good bit of looking inward and at my past. It's comforting during a time like this to see where you've come from and how you've (hopefully) improved as an individual. I like to think I've done pretty well and hope that I can continue to grow and become even better.

There've been plenty of times when I've neglected this blog. After all, who am I? Does anyone really read the things I say here? These are questions I ask myself a lot. I want to be a successful writer (whatever that truly means). I'd like to have a fairly large audience who I can interact with (much like Christoper Moore does--now there's a good author role model!) However, much of the time I just feel like a voice quacking in the void. I'm that tree falling in the forest with no one around to hear me.

I know I'm just one in several billion trying to stand apart and I'm self-conscious when it comes to marketing; it's absolutely uncomfortable and dreadful. It's often daunting and sad to think about, but think about it I do. These feelings are more prevalent during my down moments. At higher times, I meet someone who has read one of my stories and reaches out to me to talk about it (this is a grand experience! For me, they are also very rare).

Today, I looked back on the first post I wrote in 2009. It's odd to go back and read things you've written years ago, like glimpsing the mind of a naive you. My feelings while reading that first post are what helped spark this post. I may sound depressed and somewhat bitter, but, really, I'm not. I'm excited by what the future holds for me and my writing. I'm still editing What Goes Around and am nearly ready to hand it off to my beta readers. I have no intention of using this post to vent frustrations and/or petty grievances. I apologize if that's what it seems like. Basically, I just want to express the way I feel when faced with a transitional opportunity (the metamorphosis) that can come from a negative experience like this.

Instead of burying my head in the sand or throwing a pity-party, I want to use the time to get some things done. Finishing this book for one! In the meantime, I will continue doing all of the things I did previously: improving myself and my writing. Another job will come; I know it will, so I'm going to take one day at a time and enjoy it. So, it is with optimism that I put my foot forward toward that hazy future lurking on the horizon, with every intention to seize the day!