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Winter Kills E-Book 99 Cents This Week

 [Cover of Winter Kills: A Victor Storm Vigilante Suspense Novella by T.F. Torrey]

Last week, I wrote about how my plan to write Taxi Adventure as part of the 2006 3-Day Novel Contest, and whoa, what a story of woe.

This week, the topic is Winter Kills. In 2005, planned to write the book as a prequel to the Crusader series I was writing at the time. I knew the main character, and I had already developed his backstory and relationships. I knew what had happened in that winter, though not in any detail. I wanted to develop a complete outline before the start of the contest, but time ran out and I did not. Instead, I just went with what I had ….

And it turned out better than fine; it turned out great—exactly what I’d hoped for. I worked the outline as I went along, developing just enough to be able to keep writing. As is always the case, ideas sprang into being just because I needed them. That happens all the time when I am writing, and I think it happens to other people, too. I’ve heard the phenomenon described as having the muse show up when she sees you’re serious.

In the end, I finished the book in almost its final form by the end of the contest, and though it did not win, it has sold rather well since then, and I’m not sure you can say the same about the one that did win (remember which book did win that year? Me neither!).

This week, you can snag the product of those three frenzied days of work (plus the editing and everything after) for the bargain price of 99 cents at Amazon. Get it if you haven’t already, and as always, tell your friends!

Taxi Adventure E-Book FREE Today Only

 [Cover of Taxi Adventure: A Novel by T.F. Torrey]

In 2006 I participated in the 3-Day Novel Contest, and to my surprise, I actually wrote and finished Winter Kills in the three days, a prequel to the Crusader series I was writing at the time. I was floored that I had completed the book in only three days, and amazed at how good it turned out.

So, in 2007 I decided to give the contest another go-round. This time, I wanted to write a neat little mystery featuring the drivers of a quirky taxi company: Taxi Adventure. I sketched out the preliminary details ahead of time, then blasted into the work at midnight on the Friday beginning Labor Day Weekend. I kicked off the story with driver Horacio “Race” Rivera picking up a quirky fare, and jumped from scene to scene bringing more drivers and subplots into the story.

I tried to stay positive, but by Saturday evening it was clear that the story was bigger than I had imagined, and by Sunday it was obvious that I was looking at a full-length novel, and my chances for finishing that by Monday were non-existent.

After the contest, I put the book aside for a time while I focused on completing the Jack Trexlor books. Later, when I joined a writing group, I used Taxi Adventure as my group project. I managed to work out the details of the subplots and thread the narrative together, but I also tried to appease all my reader feedback. I revised and reimagined the beginning several times, and the work got out of control. It was a nearly hopeless tangle, and I still didn’t even have a single complete draft.

Frankly, I started to wonder if I would ever get it sorted out.

But, in time, I found focus and the writings of Dean Wesley Smith.

A while later, I rolled up my sleeves and I finished it. It would have saved me a lot of trouble if I’d listened to Dean Wesley Smith first, but in 2007 I was still several years from learning of him. I’m happy with how it turned out, but not with how long it took. Even now, my brain still usually remembers it as a project on the back burner, not one that’s been finished.

Today, because of a leftover quirk in my promotions setup, you can get the book that took me years to finish for FREE at Amazon. And no, it won’t hurt my feelings if you get it for free. It hurts my feelings if you don’t read it.

So enjoy, and tell your friends.

Second Wind E-Book Improved and Available Again

 [Cover of Second Wind: An Anthology by T.F. Torrey] After a hiatus while some of its individual stories were being promoted, Second Wind is back on the market.

Also, in keeping with my new following of Robert A. Heinlein and Dean Wesley Smith, I have added several stories that I chickened out of including the first time. The new volume is complete as originally intended.

Second Wind is an eclectic collection of 48 short stories, with themes running the gamut of silly, absurd, fun, clever, ironic, creepy, supernatural, spooky, and sentimental.

Read more on its page or get it now at these booksellers:

Writing In Private

At the beginning of August I noted that I had found great wisdom in Dean Wesley Smith’s posts about following Robert Heinlein’s rules for writing and a great many other aspects of the business and pleasure of writing books. Smith writes a daily blog post in a series he calls “Writing In Public”, in which he describes the progress and problems in his current work and various other things, usually including a section called Topic of the Night, in which he talks about whatever is on his mind.

Inspired by his posts, I began to write my own series of “Writing In Public” posts. It was hard, but it went really well, and I felt that it inspired me to get work done that I would have otherwise completed more slowly.

Then, a little over a month into my series, Smith wrote a post in which his Topic of the Night section stopped me in my tracks. His message was short, to the point, and seemed to address me specifically:

TOPIC OF THE NIGHT: Don’t Say Anything

Granted, I talk here about my writing, but except for a few close friends, you are always better to say nothing about your writing process.

I’ll talk more about this over the coming weeks as I finally get going on Heinlein’s Rules book.

But just trust me. Keep your writing process, how much you produce, to yourself for the most part. And never temp the universe by saying you plan on doing so many words in a certain day.

That just becomes laughable.

It seems unlikely that he saw my posts, or that someone else saw them and tipped him off, but it’s certainly possible, and maybe he did. Regardless of whether it was intended at me personally, it was certainly directed at my activities, and he minced no words in making it clear he thought it was a bad idea.

So …

After making a point of following Smith’s advice, would it make sense for me to ignore it here? That’s what I’ve been wondering.

I haven’t made up my mind yet.

On one hand, Smith has a lot of experience and is good at figuring out the right thing to do. On the other hand, why should it be good for him and not me? Sure, there are dangers to being so honest about one’s goals and progress (laughable, he said). But the regular posts enforce a certain focus and accountability, and to be honest, it’s easy to get distracted by process over progress without them.

My first reaction, obviously, was to stop the Writing In Public posts. Writing in public is hard, and writing things for public consumption at all can expose feelings of insecurity. On the surface, his advice seems solid, and even if it isn’t for the best, it alleviates some of the work and public exposure.

Time has passed since then, however, and I’ve been wondering if Smith’s advice is best for me and my specific situation. As I wrote, the posts are extremely good for focus and production, and furthermore, I’m an adult. I’m not wondering if my work is any good, and I’m not worried about people laughing at me. I think I’m in a great place, and I think the narrative of daily progress is probably interesting for other people.

But, there is one aspect that may tip the scales. I’m soon to reveal a big and controversial series. As Smith as written repeatedly, although most long-term writers actually follow Heinlein’s system as far as not rewriting, almost all of them say in public that they go through multiple drafts, because almost the entire general public has bought into the idea that such a process is the only way to produce something worthwhile. By admitting in public that I’m following Heinlein’s rules, I’m opening myself to criticism for not following that process, even though long-term writers don’t. I don’t really care what process non-novelists think will work best for writing novels, but I wonder if publicly bucking the mythology might hurt sales of my books. It might.

Then again, in another post, I remember Smith writing about someone wondering if following Heinlein’s rules might hurt his career, to which he thought, “What career?” Is that also the answer to whether following Heinlein’s rules and writing in public might hurt my career?

Anyway, after considering this for several weeks, I’m thinking that the benefits of Writing In Public outweigh the possible drawbacks. It seems that the benefits are immediate, significant, and very real, and any drawbacks are distant, insignificant, and merely hypothetical.

I haven’t made up my mind yet.

But expect a reboot tomorrow.

Writing In Public: Year 1, Month 2, Day 5


We started out the day taking Elizabeth to her first gymnastics lesson, which was fun. Following that, I had some time to work on my stuff before we headed out to play some live poker. That took a long time, because it always does when you finish in the money and almost win. By then it was pretty late, but I had some time to write the weblog post for yesterday and most of today’s.


Yesterday I had two problems: I couldn’t figure out how to begin Threshold of Vengeance, and I didn’t know what the series would look like. This morning, I awoke with answers to both of those questions. Thanks, brain!

Most of my writing time today was spent writing down the parameters for the series. Already it is three books, with more around the corner, and the interesting thing is that each of these takes place in a different phase of the series. The characters are the same, except they are different ages in different phases, with different occupations and situations, but in each Denis Grey is thrust into the role of amateur sleuth, using his wits to solve a mystery over the objections of local law enforcement.

I did get started writing the text of the story, but I only logged about 250 words for the day. I need to build up to Pulp Speed.

On Promotion

I found an interesting post today by Kristine Kathryn Rusch on Promotion. The post is from 2011, but given that her analysis indicates that the human nature affecting the situation has stayed the same for over a hundred years (or more probably ever), her points are still valid.

Her post basically analyzes with some amusement the mythology that surrounds book promotion. It’s a great read, with a lot of excellent research, and I’d recommend it to other writers like me, if I knew any. The conclusion in a nutshell is that the best promotion any author can do for his or her book is to write the next book, and what’s more, it is only writing more books that can generate the sustained sales necessary for a career (at least for 99.9999% of writers).

That post was a breath of fresh air to me. I’ve seen a large number of authors and marketers who were involved with some success and suddenly know the secrets that any author can use to sell lots of books. These pitches strike me as almost total bullshit, but sometimes, I have to admit, I am tempted.

Her post has made me wonder about my own current plans. As you may recall, I strive to conduct weekly promotions and do outreach activities to reach new readers. The price promotions take little time and definitely spur sales, but the outreach activities take nontrivial time for debatable value. By Rusch’s logic, my time would be better spent writing another book. Actually, the math may be simple. Pretend the time required is two hours per week. Those two hours would be 2,000 words, which over 50 weeks of the year would add up to 100,000 words, two decent-sized books. Those books would be perpetual, tireless ambassadors of my work, without any further effort needed from me. Applying those same hours to outreach, however, leaves nothing to show at the end of the year. Would 100 hours of outreach effort be enough to warrant the sacrifice of two books? Not in my experience.

I’ll have to think about this some more, but I like her logic, and the simplicity of removing the outreach tasks is appealing.

Writing In Public: Year 1, Month 2, Day 6


I got up rather early this day, around seven-thirty in the morning. First thing, I needed to get the oil changed on the car, and buy some groceries. That wound up taking until past noon. Next, there was a big meeting of Elizabeth and her cousins at their grandmother’s house, so I had the rest of the day pretty much to myself. I should have kept the television off and gotten more work done, but I turned to the NASCAR race for a moment at the beginning, learned they had decided to make the cars as difficult to drive as possible, and got stuck watching that for four hours. Yikes. In the evening I worked on updating the code that handles my exports (because the previous version was broken and limping along), watched a little television with my wife, and finally got to writing late.


I was wondering how my new structure will hold up for the story that is Paper Cuts, so I thought I might write on that as well while I’m doing Threshold of Vengeance. Almost all the development for Paper Cuts has been done for quite some years, so I should be able to plow through it, provided the structure I’ve decided to use for the series with Threshold didn’t wreck it.

So, I explored, and I found that it worked fine. I got most of Chapter 1 complete, but mostly because the new structure let me use two of the opening scenes that I really liked from the first version. It needs a little revising still, but it works pretty well.

With that, I turned back to Threshold of Vengeance to try to finish Chapter 1 and get into the groove. Almost immediately, I had to find the answer to what the official name of the school in Bolivar was in the late 1940’s. So, one quick search later …

I stepped into a sticky trap. The search turned up the Bolivar New York Fan Page on FaceBook, which had tons of pictures and descriptions of historic Bolivar—all the rich detail I need for exactly what I’m trying to do. So, I got stuck there for about five hours. Yeah.

I did avoid another potential problem, though. One of the sections of the fan page deals with another novel written about historic Bolivar, We Dance and Sing by Richard Dougherty. This had the potential to chase me off this project altogether. After all, he and his work are really admired in that area. It makes me afraid my project will pale in comparison. Fortunately, those fears aren’t going to stop me, or even slow me down. For one thing, as you may recall, I’m writing my books first for me to read, and I will really like this story, so it’s going to happen. Also, I recently read Dean Wesley Smith’s article about Dare To Be Bad, and once again I think his advice is sage. So, the book is happening. All the same, it would be nice if it was appreciated. We’ll see.

In the end, I did get to work on the opening scene of Threshold of Vengeance. It was slow, because it involved a lot of calculating dates in order to describe things accurately. I only managed 500 words before calling it a night, but it’s double yesterday’s quota, so I’ll take it. I hope I can keep doubling, but the next few days will be a challenge.

More On Promotion

Yesterday I thought about Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s post on Promotion, and what that meant for my outreach activities. Today, I was thinking about her advice again, only how it applies to my website.

I currently have my website on WordPress. The primary reason for this is that 95% of all successful writers have websites using WordPress, and I thought it was important to project that image.

However, I do not like having my website on WordPress. It is slow, both for posting and for reading. It is a resource hog. It has no easy way to work off-line or to test major changes without breaking the current setup. And comments are a pain. Some people love WordPress, and I know that it is the perfect tool for some people, but … not for me.

The site that I liked best was the site I had before this one, a simple set of static pages with a weblog like the one Ran Prieur has on his site, menus at the top and bottom similar to those on Thomas Elpel’s sites. I switched to WordPress because the cool kids were doing it and it made the social shares easier and all that. What that adds up to is I switched to WordPress because I thought that it was important for my promotion efforts.

Now, after seeing Rusch’s information about what really matters to book buyers and what really works for promotion, I don’t think WordPress helps enough to warrant doing it. I think my static website is not only good enough, but perfect. It projects not just my image, but my identity.

I’ll probably be switching back to a static website in the next few days. The main problem now is that I’m no longer using the tool I used to create the static website before, and no other mainstream static website generator tools seem to be a good fit for me. No matter. I already have code that generates the content of the pages from metadata in the project files. It won’t take much for me to round that out into a full page generator.


And thanks, Kris!