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Misc. Writing Updates

I have several projects in the works that I wanted to tell you about. I’m aiming to have them all completed by the end of this year. Fingers crossed.

First, I’ll be releasing an anthology of short stories, which will include a new, unpublished story. This anthology will be novella size at 30K-plus words and be available as an ebook and print. (I’ve decided to use Amazon exclusively this time, as opposed to Smashwords.) The compilation will include “Someone in the Circle,” which took second place in Robin Parrish’s Infuze Magazine first-ever print anthology, “When Bill left the Porch,” first published in Relief Journal, and “En Route to Inferno,” a tale of faith, fire water, and college kids on a road trip to the outer edges of the Twilight Zone, published in The Midnight Diner.

NY Times best-selling author Tosca Lee has graciously provided a wonderful  endorsement for this anthology. Thanks Ms. Lee! I’ve tentatively entitled it “Subterranea: a collection” after my short story of that name. Here’s a snippet from Subterranea:

From an unspoiled place where magma and molten rock spread out a sheet and belch fiery strands through granite chimneys, it rose, grappling for footing. As the first rain watered the earth, awakening flowers, vines and slumbering invertebrates, so this shower stirred a tale, long dormant, entwined in my genetic fabric. A tale of woe, of desecration, of a covenant between the Land and the living broken by blood and greed and disregard. It was the sound of sumps and pistons leeching life from the soil and spewing back the exhaust; it was the smell of limbs and ligaments hewn from their stalk, of blood and munitions, of rotting landfills and sewage plants; it was the sight of vast deforested realms, stripped and paved for online casino and gated communities. It was the cleft between homes.

It’s an ode to the Haunted Earth. The anthology will include a total of nine stories. I’m currently doodling with cover pics. (For those of you with a visual eye and/or have experience with cover design, which of these iStock pics catch your eye — this one, this one, this one, or this one?)

Next, I’ll be developing a Facebook Author page. This is a long time coming. Frankly, the thing that’s made me most reluctant to do this has been that I enjoy what I’m doing on Facebook now. I have a good amount of friends and like the interaction. Many authors typically start on FB, grow a following, then realize they have to start an Author page, stop posting to their first account, and start channeling everyone to their new page. I’ve never liked this. I like being able to talk about something other than my books. Faith, culture, philosophy, politics, music, family pics, whatever. So what do I do?

I recently heard an interview with thriller novelist Brad Thor. Thor is very outspoken when it comes to political and global issues. The interviewer asked him how he balances his political opinions with his social media presence. Thor talked about how his publisher asked him to chill with the online political diatribes. The author said the issues were too important for him to not speak out. The solution? Brad Thor uses his Twitter account to share everything, including politics. His Facebook page is devoted entirely to Author / Book related stuff.

Which gave me an idea of having two Facebook pages — a friend Page (my current page) and a Fan page. This way I can keep doing what I like to do (debating religion, philosophy, cultural commentary, posting family pics, etc.),  while slowly building an Author page (where I’ll discuss writing-related issues, promotions, news, etc.). The trick will be interfacing both pages. Anyway, that should be coming soon.

Finally, I’ll be revamping this website. Thanks to you, deCOMPOSE ranks pretty well. I’ve sustained a Google ranking of 4, an Alexa under 1 million, and am in the Technorati Top 100 Religion blogs. I just finished my highest traffic month ever (16,718 unique Visitors). Not saying this to boast. Part of this site’s success goes to you. I love the community of commenters here and have developed many, what I feel, are more than just cyber-friendships.

Letters like this one I recently received keep me going too. It’s from a reader who’s doing her MA on the Christian publishing industry and asked to reference this blog. She writes:

I’m in the process of doing research for my MA thesis in Modern History & English. I’m investigating whether the aims of the Christian publishing industry have changed since its initial emergence in the Bible and tract societies of the early 1800s. Although I don’t agree with the views you take on absolutely everything you write about on your blog (I’m a fan of bonnet books, and I’m partial to a complete absense of swearing in my Christian fiction) I think you have a lot of relevant arguments about the current state of the industry, who the driving force behind the market is and the two “camps” of Holiness and Honesty. Although I’m not 100% certain what direction or form my project is going to take at the moment, I’d love to quote some passages from your blog as examples of current views and concerns about the industry from the perspective of a published author in the genre.

This letter may seem less than praiseworthy. I dunno. I derive unique satisfaction knowing that stuff I’m doing here is helping people to grapple more deeply with issues. My wife swears this is a medical condition. I think it’s a spiritual gift. 🙂

All that to say, I’ll be redoing my header, some tabs and layout tweaks, and hopefully adding some multi-media. We’ll see. I’ve been thinking more deeply about monetizing this blog. I just invest too much time and energy, and am beginning to feel it’s poor stewardship not to gather some advertizing. Also, one of the things I culled from the ACFW conference is how important and useful email newsletters are for authors. I’ve been leery to start an author newsletter for the simple reasons that 1.) It’s one more thing to do, and 2.) I want to do it well. Nevertheless, I’m feeling like I need to bite the bullet on this one.

So I’ve got a lot on my platter as we enter the final quarter of 2012. Once again, I want to thank all of you who follow this blog, have taken time to comment here, and have invested your time and treasure to purchase, read, and/or review anything I’ve written. Thanks and grace to you!

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{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Bobby October 1, 2012, 7:55 AM

    I’d certainly say a few adverts wouldn’t hurt. When I was heavy into my blog, I wondered both if it was worth it and if it was its own way of “selling out,” but I don’t think so. Especially if you don’t drench your site in them. I’ve seen blogs and websites that do so…now that’s annoying.

  • Pauline October 1, 2012, 8:25 AM

    Hi Mike! All excellent news, congrats! Weighing in on the stock pcs you posted, I like the last one best — it has a ghostly feel…

  • Katherine Coble October 1, 2012, 8:34 AM

    Doesn’t everyone (who isn’t blind) have a visual eye?

    • Katherine Coble October 1, 2012, 8:44 AM

      I just cannot resist. And my editorial mode is in high dudgeon after some of JK Rowling’s po4nier lines in the new book. (Grubs do not have cocoons and gossamer doesn’t shimmer.)

      All the wordnerdery aside, this graphic designedly will tell you:

      1. I like pic #2 , but the b/w is too colour-reminiscent of Winterland. Since you’re doing marketing online you’ll need to avoid that visual confusion so that you differentiate your products.

      2. Pic #3 is my favourite. Blue is a compelling colour for horror, because it isn’t seen as often as the Halloween palette (black/orange/green/yellow). I think it’s the strongest, and the most evocative of ghosts.

      3. Pic #4 is just way too generic. Your book will look like every third book out there, which might be okay for brick and mortar book sales but is deadly online.

      So my vote is for the man hunched against the blue background.

      • Mike Duran October 1, 2012, 9:10 AM

        “Visual eye.” Now that you say that…

        Good point about avoiding similarities with Winterland. And I also like the blue in pic #3.

  • Jessica Thomas October 1, 2012, 9:06 AM

    Congratulations on those blog stats! Wow!

    When you talk of a Facebook page, I become leery because I have been hearing bad things about fan pages these days. However if you’re talking about creating a separate Facebook account for writerly stuff only, that would be different. For the life of me, I thought I saw a post about the extinction of Facebook fan pages just this morning…but I can’t find it. Maybe I dreamed it. Anyway, here’s this in case you haven’t seen it yet: http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/can-facebook-hold-your-fan-page-hostage-fallout-from-the-ipo-debacle-how-it-affects-you/

    For your photo options, I was reading your post on my phone, thus the photos were rendering thumbnail size (which is the size people will likely first see). With that in mind, #1 struck me as instantly creepy and I felt I got the full visual even though it was small. I couldn’t tell what #2 and #3 were, so there was no initial reaction. I had to zoom in to figure it out, and by that time, the moment was already lost. #4 was effective as a thumbnail image, but it didn’t give me the instant creepy feeling that #1 did, and I wound up zooming in because it looked like there was some detail I was perhaps missing.

    • Mike Duran October 1, 2012, 9:22 AM

      Thanks for the link, Jessica. I’ll have to look more closely at it. I haven’t heard many opposing voices to Author pages on FB. I realize it would take a while to build anything significant and have approached my social networking, thus far, as slow and steady. Rather than friending anyone who breathes. Either way, I’ll look into the downside more. Bottom line is I like what I’m doing on FB now.

      Good point about the thumbnails, also. Right now, #1 is my favorite. My only hesitation is that it looks too creepy. Four of the stories are explicit horror. A couple are tweeners. A couple are sci-fi / space operaish. So I wouldn’t want the cover to miscommunicate the overall tone of the book.

  • Kevin Lucia October 1, 2012, 9:16 AM

    Available in print? SOLD.

  • Jill October 1, 2012, 10:47 AM

    Congrats on your new endeavours! I look forward to reading your book of stories. Okay, I can’t stand i stock images because they all look like generic i stock images, but if I had to choose, it would be between 2 and 4. Sorry, I’m kind of a snotty purist, but cover art doesn’t make or break my decision to buy a book (esp if I’m familiar with the author).

  • Rebecca LuElla Miller October 1, 2012, 1:18 PM

    Two things, Mike. FB pages don’t have the capacity to chose them as “close friends”–the designation I use for people whose updates I don’t want to miss. Hence, unless I go looking, a lot of the pages I’ve “liked” post things I never see.

    Second, I can’t help but wonder how email newsletters will benefit someone like you who has such an active web presence. Will people who do not have FB or Twitter, or who do not visit your blog, likely sign up for your newsletters? Will you have new and different content? I don’t read your Goodreads posts, for example, because I’ve already read them over here. So the question I think you’d need to consider is whether or not a newsletter will reach a different group of people than you’re already reaching. Maybe. But because of the time commitment, I’d want that to be a significant number if I were you. And how are you going to get such people to sign up in the first place? Through Facebook? Twitter? Which means they are already following you …

    Re picture: I think Explorer is interesting. Black Hole and Devil, I’ve seen versions of before. Haunted Building seems like the best one for the collection of stories you described.


    • Mike Duran October 2, 2012, 5:01 AM

      Becky, I commented a little more about this below. You bring up good points about an author newsletter. You asked, “the question I think you’d need to consider is whether or not a newsletter will reach a different group of people than you’re already reaching.” Please don’t mistake me as some big advocate for email newsletters. I’d be happy not having to do one. But I don’t think the point of a newsletter is to “reach a different group of people,” but to draw them in more. I am constantly hearing from people who read my blog but never comment. So other than 1.) Comments and 2.) generic Visitor stats, there’s no way to tell who’s REALLY interested in what I’m “selling” (both literally and figuratively). Also, there is other content an author can provide to newsletter subscribers. Things like promotions, offers, advanced copies, there’s really quite a bit. All that said, my main hesitation is not that I don’t think it’s a good idea, but because I just don’t have the time.

  • Iola October 1, 2012, 2:20 PM

    On the cover photo’s: I like #1 and #3, but I read romance so am probably not the target market…

    I agree with Rebecca on author newsletters. I’m not convinced of their benefit for an author who also blogs, is on FB, Twitter etc… The only one I subscribe to is one from an author who has become more of an online friend, so I signed up out of friendship.

  • Mike Duran October 2, 2012, 4:46 AM

    Becky and Iola, on author newsletters… the one point that advocates drive home about them is that it’s almost as close to actually quantifying who’s interested in your stuff as sales. It’s a layer above being a lurker or a casual blog reader or social media follower. When you agree to sign up to receive an email from an author, you are essentially “buying in.” Maybe industry folks make too much of this. I don’t know. But it is something I consistently hear.

  • Lisa Godrees October 2, 2012, 7:49 AM

    I like the black hole and haunted building photos best. I’m not sure what look you’re going for – black hole makes me think of God with the light cascading down into a dark place. The haunted building photo reminds me of the spirit world.

    Of the books you’ve written, which is your favorite and why? I haven’t read any of your books yet but I’d like to. Just wondering which one to start with.


    • Mike Duran October 2, 2012, 11:17 AM

      Well, I don’t really have a favorite. But you knew I’d say that, right? The Resurrection is more linear, in the supernatural suspense/ spiritual warfare mold. The Telling is more adventurous- more characters and speculative / horror elements. So it kind of depends. Honestly, my wife, who doesn’t like horror, enjoyed The Resurrection more.

  • Teresa R October 2, 2012, 9:38 PM

    I like #2 and #3. The black hole looks more “inviting” to me, while I do like the blue in the explorer

  • Lyn Perry October 4, 2012, 8:05 PM

    Congrats. I think I’m up to two unique visitors a month now. 😉

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