Category Archives: ROW80
New title for EyeCU is The Woodsman! Plus, a cover reveal!

TheWoodsman_1600x1000Hey there, everyone.

I have great news!

I’m almost done with EyeCU, and it’s been given a new title and an official cover!

The new title is should set the tone better for the novel I’ve written: The Woodsman.

The cover design is courtesy of Victorine E. Lieske of Blue Valley Author Services; my talented business-partner there.

I’ve been laboring away on this novel in various stages of production for about thirty-three months: almost three years! Yet that journey is finally about to come to an end.

If all goes well, I’ll soon be announcing the book is available for pre-order on Amazon, perhaps as soon as this week sometime.

Furthermore, the book will also be made available in print via CreateSpace, for those who still love print over eBooks.

The pre-orders should start soon, but the official release will be on a yet-to-be-announced date in October; that’s when the book will go live and all pre-orders will be delivered automatically to the Kindles of those lucky pre-order fans.

I’ll post again when the book goes up for pre-order, with more details on The Woodsman.

Until then, enjoy this cover reveal!

SHADA to beta-readers, pondering strategies

My second novel, SHADA, is now in the hands of my trusted beta-readers. As of around 6 AM CDT this morning.

I took some extra time since Sunday’s post to really polish the draft up one more time, out of respect for the time of my beta-readers. After all, why should I ask them to find the stuff I can easily find on my own, with a little extra effort?

My new editor for SHADA tells me he’ll have the novel turned around in a couple days for me, once I pass it on to him. I’ll do that after I get the feedback back from my beta readers.

As I’m set to release my second novel, and the first that has its origins in the present, and represents the beginning of an ongoing series, I’ve been contemplating my approach to this blog.

I love letting readers know what I’m working on; but the audience for my weekly efforts might not be the same as the audience for my novels. So, inspired by John Locke, I’m thinking about posting here less often, but more effectively, by directing my blog entries here directly at my readers.

For my fellow writers, I’m thinking about moving this sort of content, of interest to my fellow writers, over to my catchall blog focused on writing and reading, But I won’t do that without some warning.

What do all of you think? Would you follow my weekly ROW80 posts just as willingly at another domain, so I can dedicate my author site to the interests of my readers? I welcome your feedback.

Posted on August 3, 2011, 4:11 PM By
1 comment Categories: ROW80 Tags:
Second Sunday update

Wow, things went very swimmingly today.

After conquering the climactic scene of SHADA, I became very motivated and productive. I wrote a couple thousand more words, wrapped the novel in a bow and typed: THE END. In its current draft, the novel runs just under 30,000 words. That’ll change as I send it out to beta readers and my editor, I’m sure.

I’m still probably a month away from seeing SHADA reach publication, but this is an exciting moment in the history of this short novel. So it’s time to update my Round 3 goals:

DONE 1. Finish SHADA, the short novel prequel to EMBER.

The deed was complete around 5 PM CDT on Sunday, July 31.

DONE 2. Send SHADA to my beta readers.

Technically, it’ll be done before I hit the sheets tonight.

DONE 3. Audition editors and select one to handle duties on SHADA, since my regular editor is unavailable.

Did this earlier this week. I think I’ve found the editor I’m looking for, so I’m counting this as done.

That just leaves the following. I’ve pushed some of my tasks until after the move because my wife and I have a lot to do yet to prepare for the move. So… there’s that.

4. Revise SHADA based on feedback and send to editor.

5. Move to Oregon.

6. Revise SHADA based on editor’s feedback.

7. Publish SHADA to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

8. One-week blog tour supporting release of SHADA.

9. Following move, publish print/CreateSpace version of SHADA.

10. Work on EMBER whenever I have time to fill out Round 3. Attempt to finish EMBER by the end of Round 3.

Wow. Just… wow.

Never tell me that everything in a novel has to be obsessively plotted out and planned. Not after what I just experienced today.

When I began writing this afternoon, I was well over 25,000 words and the big, climactic scene in SHADA was about to begin. I was completely at a loss as to what to do with it. I know the typical expectations of the paranormal suspense genre. I understood the conflicts and inner turmoil that had brought all my characters, but especially Ember, to this point. And the best idea I had involved a vague notion of EVPs or a floating Ouija board spontaneously responding to questions.

In other words, cheesy genre concepts I wasn’t completely happy with. And even what I had written so far was evidence of my aversion to those solutions. It was as though my creative instincts were telling me no, even though my conscious mind had no firm Plan B waiting in the wings.

But I began to write, and, well…

…don’t tell me that everything in a novel has to be obsessively plotted out and planned. It doesn’t. It just doesn’t.

As I was writing, I just let the characters and the situation take over. I wrote without thinking about it. I wrote the moment and just let things happen.

And a solution appeared.

I’d love to tell you about it. Really, I’m burning up here with anticipation to see what others think of it. I want to shout for joy and share this experience about how I solved the biggest conundrum in all of SHADA … what to do with the climactic scene … and how the best possible, most unexpected way of handling things just … appeared on paper as I wrote.

It’s a perfect, perfect moment that, in a real out-of-left-field way, but in a way that completely works, just does everything that needs doing in a way that will take readers by surprise and, hopefully, leave them satisfied.


If I did that … if I shared what appeared as I typed the scene out here … it would spoil the entire SHADA short novel. Absolutely ruin the surprise. No, this is something I simply have to keep to myself. It has to be part of experiencing the story, or it might never make sense. And it certainly wouldn’t be fully appreciated out of context.

No, I’m keeping my trap shut on this little tidbit. If you want to know, you’ll have to wait until SHADA is released. You’ll have to buy the book and read it for yourself. And since it’s going to be released at only $0.99, there’s practically no sane reason not to.

But that’s a ways off yet. I am at just over 27,000 words and have a few thousand more to go before everything wraps up, giving the novel closure. Then there is the beta-reading and the editing and the revisions yet to come. But trust me, I can now say with full confidence, it’s going to be worth the wait.

SHADA has a resolution that will take you by surprise. Guaranteed.

And until I actually wrote it, I never even saw it coming.

So, again, never tell me that everything in a novel has to be obsessively plotted out and planned. Not after what I just experienced today.

SHADA over 25K

Well, I’d love to report that SHADA, the short novel that will introduce the EMBER series to the world, is complete at this point. But it’s not.

At the moment, SHADA is over 25,000 words in length, but the novel’s just now reaching its denouement. It will definitely last through the 30,000 word benchmark, and could even see 35,000 words on the horizon before it’s done.

This is not a result of poor plotting or anything like that; it’s a result of me not wanting to hurry the story along. I want to give the narrative room to breathe and be a reflection of the lives of the main characters, rather than a headlong rush to the closing action and a hurried finish.

I’m fully committed to making even a short novel feel like a complete story, a complete and unique experience all its own. That is why SHADA is stretching out the way it is. Sure, I’d love to be done with the story, move on to the next step and start saying when the short novel will debut. But I can’t. Not until the story is done. That’s not something a writer wants to rush through.

Posted on July 27, 2011, 10:39 PM By
3 comments Categories: ROW80 Tags:
Print version of MOST LIKELY approved, available

Today, my second proof of MOST LIKELY arrived from CreateSpace and everything looked gorgeous. So I approved the book and, well, it’ll take a few days to show up on Amazon and a bit longer to proliferate out, but the book is available and has ISBN numbers that will allow those interested to order it from any bookstore, as well as online sources where print books can be found.

But for those who are impatient, it can be ordered right now, direct from CreateSpace, here. I have to say the book looks far better, far more impressive, far more professional, now that every chapter starts on a right-hand, odd-numbered page.

As for SHADA, the story has progressed a couple thousand more words and is showing signs it could run as long as 30,000 words instead of 25,000. So that’s my check-in for now.

Closing in on the denouement

Well, I have another “late” weekend update on my ROW80 goals. I haven’t been making the steady progress on SHADA that I’d hoped, but in my defense, my wife and I put a lot of energy into our move to Oregon late last week. We selected an apartment and secured a lease and have had to fill out a ton of paperwork online.

We did not have the budget or ability to go to Oregon to select an apartment in person, so we’re doing this kinda blind, but with all the information available online these days, we have a pretty good sense of the place. And last night I worked on a packaging task that look longer than I thought.

And of course, I was dealing with receiving my first proof of MOST LIKELY from CreateSpace, making corrections, submitting the changes, and updating the eBook versions to boot, so…

Yeah, bottom line, I’ve made progress but SHADA isn’t finished just yet.

However, I did write something like 2,500 words since last check-in, so I’m now over 20,000 words comfortably and can just relax into letting the story finish up without wondering whether I’ll reach my minimum length goal. I’ve met it.

The good news is that I’m closing in on the denouement, the climactic scene, which is, of course, the seance itself. It may not play out quite like longtime fans of paranormal fiction are accustomed to; but since The Body by Stephen King is my distant inspiration, that ought not be a huge surprise.

But there are many interesting developments in that scene, and in the closing action that follows. Hopefully no one will hate it! And that’s where things stand right now. See you all again on Wednesday!

Past a significant benchmark

I’m not yet done writing the first draft of SHADA, but last night I passed a significant benchmark.

You see, for a long time, I’ve been describing SHADA, the first installment in the EMBER series, in this shorthand way: “It’s like Stephen King’s ‘The Body’ with a female cast.”

Now, I don’t mean that I’m templating King’s plot precisely, or that it follows his novel on a stroke-by-stroke basis. I only mean that it’s of a similar spirit; in his tale, four boys go hiking and camping on the final summer before they enter high school and grow apart, with the goal of seeing their first dead body.

In SHADA, I spin the tale of four girls who go hiking and camping in the final summer of their shared friendship. One of the girls is a year older, and another, a year younger, but two of them, including Ember, are in their final summer before high school. Their goal isn’t to see a dead body, but they do have a similarly dark goal… which I won’t reveal here just yet.

I’ve been having fun writing SHADA so far, telling a generous tale and building out the lives of these four girls. And even though I am not following “The Body” as a strict template, I’ve been feeling like SHADA has been lacking … something. Last night, I finally reached the point where I realized what it was.

At one point in THE BODY, the boys gather around a campfire and writer-to-be Gordie LaChance spins a tale of his own creation, the funny and yet very gross fable called, “The Revenge of Lard-Ass Hogan.” While some have claimed the story is an example of King trying to wedge a tale he wrote when he was younger into another work, I don’t agree; the Lard-Ass story matches the tone and themes of “The Body” and tells us something about Gordie himself. Also, it’s exactly the sort of funny, gross-out tale a group of young boys might enjoy on a dark night gathered around a campfire.

As I reached that “gathered around a campfire” moment in my story, I knew my four girls needed a similar moment. They didn’t needs a tale like Lard-Ass Hogan’s, but they needed a story to tell.

Without planning, I began writing and the elements of just the right sort of tale for SHADA began to form in my mind. Before I started, I had already written for a couple hours (and close to 1,500 words), but I knew if I called it a night at that point, the moment would slip away from me.

So I began writing.

There was a mythology of Hope, WI, that I wanted to build out, revolving around a landmark that plays a key role in both SHADA, and the first long novel in the EMBER series, EMBER. That bit of mythology revolves around the Elk Ridge River Bridge.

At some point in the past, at least fifty years ago, a kid used the bridge as a diving area into the river, and died in one fateful dive. I had settled into the idea that this was just a parent’s tale, a way to get their kids to stay off the bridge and not engaging in the risky activity of diving off it, since the river, like most rivers, has shallow spots and then a drop-off into the deep, where a dive from that height would be safe.

But I began asking myself: what if there was a kid who’d died jumping off the Elk Ridge River Bridge? What would make him do such a thing? And how would his tale be told and retold so that, by the time my girls gather round the campfire to spin it again fifty or sixty years later, it has the feel of a campfire tale, and not the sad reality of a decades-old news headline?

Thus was born, in the wee hours of this very day, “The Legend of Abe Windler.”

I won’t go into the nature of Abe’s tale, here, but it’s a fascinating and tragic tale that fills out SHADA just right, and gives my work in progress that necessary “Revenge of Lard-Ass Hogan” moment, while still maintaining my tale’s own unique identity and tone.

By the way: my Abe Windler tale added about 2,000 words to my word count, putting SHADA well into the 19,000-word length region and allowing me to see the 20,000-word benchmark nearby. That’s significant, because once my short novel has reached 20,000 words, I can just relax and know that it’ll be “long enough.” For pacing reasons, I’m now relatively sure SHADA will end up reaching closer to 30,000 words than 25,000. Too much tale left to tell.

But if you’re interested to read more about the Legend of Abe Windler now, good. Look for SHADA, coming soon to an e-Reader near you, later this summer!

(In the words of Bugs Bunny, “Aren’t I a stinker?”)

My CreateSpace Adventure!

I’m a bit behind on finishing the draft of SHADA that I’ll be sending out to beta-readers soon, but there’s a reason for that. I’ve been finalizing the interior formatting of MOST LIKELY for CreateSpace. One would think it’s the simplest thing in the world, considering CS offers MS Word templates that a pre-programmed, and for the most part it is pretty simple.

Unless you have graphics on the book’s interior pages.

You see, Microsoft decided to be “helpful” as of MS Word 2007, but making Word auto-compress imported graphics. Why? Well, it seems Microsoft decided that most printers don’t really “use” dpi resolutions above 200, so to save file size, Word auto-compresses graphics you call into a Word document down to 200 dpi, at the maximum.

The problem is, CreateSpace needs all graphics to be at least 300 dpi to print well.

This is a known issue and the CreateSpace forums have discussed it at length. There are two or three different “fixes” to get Word to stop compressing the graphics down. The problem? I tried them all, and it doesn’t work on my copy of Word 2007. None of the fixes do.

Because even if Word doesn’t auto-compress, it compresses when you save to PDF. And Word 2007 doesn’t let you choose the resolution of the images when you do save to PDF. Because Microsoft knows better than you, and better than CreateSpace.

Now, in my book, only the title page has any graphic elements; the interior title page is something I could have done in a normal font without the use of graphics. But my wonderful cover artist had a top-notch idea to make the book look more professional: use the titling he created for the cover on the title page, so it’s a consistent look.

Wonderful idea, and I fell in love with the idea. But it requires graphics on that first interior format page. Ugh!

After trying to get Word to do something it stubbornly refused to do, which is to simply LEAVE MY GRAPHICS RESOLUTION ALONE, I started problem-solving by the use of other programs.

One person suggested using OpenOffice, because OpenOffice allows you to set graphics resolution when you save to PDF. I downloaded it, installed it, and tried it.

OpenOffice does allow that… but it couldn’t handle the WHOLE document, because it messed up the MS Word-specific CreateSpace template on other pages. But the title page looked fine and was at the proper resolution.

So I exported just the title page to PDF via OpenOffice. Wonderful!

But now I had one PDF for the title page, and one PDF for the whole document. And CreateSpace only allows you do submit a single PDF file for interior formatting, not multiple files. Ugh.

So I needed something that could merge the two PDF files. I found a freeware solution for that, called Adolix Split and Merge PDF. Which did indeed create a new, merged file. But I’d forgotten that the main document file still had the old title page. Grrr. I suppose in hindsight, I could have fired up MS Word, and re-created the main document file while excluding the title page. But by now it was past 3 AM and I wasn’t thinking clearly, so that didn’t occur to me.

So, I decided to try out a cheap alternative to Adobe Acrobat X, called PDF Pro 10. It had a 15-day trial period and I figured if it works, maybe I’ll get it, because it’s worlds cheaper than Acrobat X.

So I opened my new, merged PDF in PDF Pro 10, and deleted the second, low-res title page and re-saved the document. It worked! No watermark inserted, nothing terrible like that.

So I finally had something to submit to CreateSpace that might have the title page at the right resolution. I re-uploaded the new interior formatting PDF to CreateSpace and finally hit the sheets around 5 AM.

Around 2 PM today, CreateSpace emailed me: it went through pre-flight with no issues at last! So, my proof is now on its way to me. Yay! But what a load of crud, ultimately. If Microsfot would try a little less hard to be helpful, I could have done all this in MS Word 2007 and had some time left over Sunday night for this ROW80 check-in and for working on SHADA.

First Round 3 Check-In for Craig Hansen

Okay, so when I started ROW80 Round 3, I was approximately 10,000 words into my EMBER prequel, the short novel I’ve decided to call SHADA. SHADA is a short novel is feels like it’ll wrap up somewhere between 25,000 to 35,000 words. That’s a decent length for a short novel.

As of check-in time tonight, I’m at 13,811 words, which is pretty close to reaching 2,000 words a day, which is what I’ve set my copy of FocusWriter 1.3.3 to track me at. I’m hoping to grow that total be leaps and bounds this week and be in a position to ship the tale off to my beta readers early next week.

I’d write about more than just this, but for the moment I’m in a good groove writing-wise and I also have some contract work I need to make progress on, so forgive me if I keep this brief. See you all Sunday, by which time I should be at around … 21,000 words or so and closing in on the resolution of SHADA.

Posted on July 7, 2011, 12:00 AM By
Categories: ROW80 Tags: ,
ROW80 Round 3 Goals

Coming off what I have to count as a very successful Round 2 of ROW80, I was unsure how ambitious I wanted to make my goals for Round 3. After all, I will be moving my family to Oregon right smack dab in the middle of ROW80 this round, and since I’m starting out in Minnesota, this will be no small move.

The physical travel we have estimated at four to five days, since we want to take in some sights along the way. (Also, my 88-year-old father will be with us … he’ll be 89 by then … and we don’t want to press across country so hard that it stresses him out.)

Still, I have several things I want to accomplish this round, both before and after the move, even though the move itself will take me out of the game for a full week, and slow me down for at least an extra week on either side. So, with that in mind, here are my Round 3 goals.

1. Finish SHADA, the short novel prequel to EMBER.

2. Send SHADA to my beta readers.

3. Audition editors and select one to handle duties on SHADA, since my regular editor is unavailable.

4. Revise SHADA based on feedback and send to editor.

5. Revise SHADA based on editor’s feedback.

6. Publish SHADA to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

7. One-week blog tour supporting release of SHADA.

8. Move to Oregon.

9. Following move, publish print/CreateSpace version of SHADA.

10. Work on EMBER whenever I have time to fill out Round 3. Attempt to finish EMBER by the end of Round 3.

Final ROW80 Round 2 Post

So, I’ve been thinking about what I wanted to write about for my final post in A Round Of Words In 80 Days, Round 2 (ROW80) for a couple days now and I can’t say I have a lot of certainty about it even as I begin putting words in the WordPress frame here.

Certainly, I’ve accomplished a lot in the last 80 days. I’ve completed MOST LIKELY and brought it to market. And as of Thursday, June 23, I’ve completed the first month of MOST LIKELY being in retail release on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

Here are my sales results so far.

On Amazon’s US site, I sold five copies in May, and another six copies in June so far. That’s 11 copies in the Amazon US store.

Additionally, I’ve sold 2 copies (both in June) on Amazon UK, and 1 copy on Barnes and Noble (in May).

That brings me to a 30-day sales window total of 14 copies, which isn’t too bad. The blog tour I’m on this week is increasing my visibility so hopefully the numbers will improve from there.

Outside of MOST LIKELY, which was my major accomplishment, I’m about 7,500 words into the EMBER prequel short novel I’m working on. I’m expecting it to be on the long side of things, closer to 30,000 words than 20,000, so I’m not quite one-third of the way done. But it’s really starting to take shape and my goal is to get the story finished and out to my beta-reader team in July. Whether the book can make it to market in July remains to be seen, but I can tell you it’ll go up for sale sometime during ROW80 Round 3.

After the EMBER prequel, which I may or may not give the title SHADA, I think I’ll focus my attention on finishing EMBER, as well as on my Messianic theology project, DATING THE MESSIAH. I haven’t forgotten about IDEA WAREHOUSE, but if SHADA takes off, I want to get EMBER out on the market as soon as possible, to take advantage of any momentum it may generate, before veering off into non-EMBER-related projects.

So things are going well, and I’m making great progress. I owe a lot to ROW80 for instilling in me the good work habits necessary to make a go of things as a full-time writer. So you can bet I’ll be back for Round 3 on July 4.

Again, I’m not going to be inactive in the meantime. I can’t afford to be. So come visit me often. I’ll be here. And I’ll still be here on July 4, when Round 3 gets underway, too.

One note: there will be a two or three week period of relative inactivity in August, because I’ll be moving my family to Oregon from about mid-August through early September. We hope to settle in as quickly as we can and re-establish our routines, but since we’re leaving a lot of our possessions behind, let’s be honest… there will be an adjustment period.

So I hope to get the CreateSpace paperback version of MOST LIKELY, and both the eBook and paperback versions of SHADA out before the big move. But I doubt I’ll finish anything more than that, until after the move. So EMBER itself is now looking like a fall release. Maybe October? We’ll see.

Anyway, in the meantime, dear readers… enjoy the summer, keep reader, keep buying indie authors, and if you have a chance, make sure my books are among those you choose. I’d certainly appreciate it.

All best. ROW 80, out, till July 4.

But I’ll still be posting to my blog in between now and then…

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