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How getting a Brazilian saved Balloons of the Apocalypse! (It’s OUT!!!)

Today, August 30th, 2014 is a momentous day.

You know how it goes. Girl meets boy. Boy joins a classical music worshipping cult. Girl never sees boy again, until years later when she stumbles across a street orchestra playing for food, and there he is. But she's happily married now, and he smells really, really bad.

As always, only Marlowe, spacewoman Nina, and a sham wedding can stop a dangerous Beethoven cult bent on world domination.

The second Capaldi Doctor Who episode aired.

It had daleks.

I liked it. And Capaldi as the Doctor.

So a momentous day indeed.

On a completely unrelated and nowhere near as momentous note, Balloons of the Apocalypse is now available.

The third installment in the Marlowe and the Spacewoman series, it has it all:

Words.

Sentences.

Paragraphs.

Mystery.

Exotic locales.

Marriage.

Major character deaths.

Steam-powered pigs.

Zeppelins.

I won’t bore you with the details, even if this is the promotional blog post announcing the release. Click on the Balloons of the Apocalypse link to learn more.

(I really hate self-promotion.)

But I will reveal to you the Brazilian connection to this book’s release.

I admit, I’d been in a rut for the last year or so when it comes to this book.

The day job, my marriage, my young kids, they sucked the life out of me.

No offense to the Missus or the kiddos. Or the day job, in case my boss is reading this.

It’s just these things are big responsibilities that take a lot of time and effort to do right.

And let me tell you, facing the prospect of losing your day job, Missus, and/or kiddos, you find yourself wanting to do it right.

Needing to do it right.

And getting dirty looks from coworkers, spouses, friends, family, and kiddos who expect you to do it right.

Talk about pressure.

That plus my previous books never magically turned into best sellers, so I reached this point where I was all, “Screw it. No one cares. I’ll never be a rich and famous author. Why bother, especially when there is a diarrhea-soaked diaper for me to change?”

Wait, make that two.

Dammit.

So I stopped working on and thinking about Balloons of the Apocalypse.

I could claim I was letting that field lie fallow, but I’d be lying.

I’d given up.

The light had gone out from my authorial eyes.

I’d developed a major facial tic around books in general.

I was done with writing.

And reading, since it reminded me of writing.

Then the Brazilian showed up.

Well, not so much showed up as appeared.

OK, not even appeared. More like lurked.

Eh, maybe lurked isn’t the right word.

I’ll explain.

I started noticing blog hits from Brazil.

Now I’m not going to say I don’t get huge volumes of traffic on my blog that would make it impossible to link a referrer to a visiting country, but it was pretty clear to me that not only was this repeat visitor a repeat visitor, but the Brazilian always came to this blog via ianmdudley.com.

(Don’t click on that. You’ll end up here again. Really. I promise.)

Not because of a search term (hello ‘Blake Shelton naked’ people!). Not through twitter. Not via facebook.

The Brazilian was going directly to my website, which redirected him or her to this blog.

For the longest time, I thought, “I’ve got this huge fan out there, desperately visiting my web site every day to see when Balloons of the Apocalypse will finally come out.”

My initial response? “Schmuck. You’re in for a helluva wait.”

But after a few days I began to feel bad.

Then sad.

Then guilty.

I was ruining this person’s day, every day, by not having the book out for him or her to read.

I think the last straw was Brazil’s elimination from the 2014 World Cup.

Now the Brazilian had endured enough.

Now I had to offer the only salve that could possibly help heal this broken, crushed, disappointed fan.

Now I had to finish and release Balloons of the Apocalypse.

So here it is. Two more editing passes and some minor re-writes later, and it is out in the world. Ready to languish on virtual book shelves, untouched by anyone.

Because two days ago I learned the truth.

Don’t ask me how. My methods are proprietary and the amount of money I spent too vast to mention anywhere the Missus might get wind of it.

(Remember that whole ‘doing the marriage right’ expectation thing?)

In a seedy sports bar on the less reputable edge of São Paulo, there is a bathroom with an ignored OUT OF ORDER sign (in Portuguese, of course) on the door, with the words, “For a good time, go to ianmdudley.com” scrawled, also in Portuguese, by the way, above a cracked, leaking urinal.

Learning that really took the piss out of me. But I was too far along in the publication process to stop.

So now I raise an angry fist while facing southeastward, and I shake it angrily at you, Brazil.

You broke an innocent man. You crushed his spirit. You made him burst into tears every time he walks up to a urinal.

Which resulted in a visit from HR at work.

(Remember that whole ‘doing the day job right’ expectation thing?)

On the not-so-off chance I lose the day job and find myself saddled with alimony and child support payments in the near future, please, please, please consider buying a copy of my book.

And the next time the guy at the urinal next to you bursts into tears, remind yourself:

“There but for the grace of a Brazilian go I.”

Bloody Brazilians.

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Balloons of the Apocalypse Cover Reveal

Everything looks to be on track for the release of Balloons of the Apocalypse, the third book in the Marlowe and the Spacewoman series.

(That’s e-book, mind you, I have more work to do before the paperback is available. Say another month?)

And now, with minimal further ado, the cover!

Just one minor ado. Release date.

30 August 2014.

That’s this Saturday.

I’ll post links, but you’ll find it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. And, if all goes well, Smashwords.

Shudder.

I hate the Smashwords meatgrinder, but I like their distribution reach.

And I sell more books there than on Barnes and Noble.

Sad, that.

OK, done with the ado. Here’s the cover.

You know how it goes. Girl meets boy. Boy joins a classical music worshipping cult. Girl never sees boy again, until years later when she stumbles across a street orchestra playing for food, and there he is. But she's happily married now, and he smells really, really bad.

As always, only Marlowe, spacewoman Nina, and a sham wedding can stop a dangerous Beethoven cult bent on world domination.

Artwork done by the same artist who did the previous two covers, smokewithoutmirrors. She does fantastic work. I highly recommend her to anyone looking for a book cover.

Or a vanity portrait. I printed mine out to wall size.

Scares the crap out of the dog.

Along with the cover, I thought I’d ramble a bit about the editing process, since I learned something new this time.

Well, maybe not new. Just something I wasn’t conscious of before.

When I write a book, it takes forever to get it done. Quite literally years.

OK, that I was conscious of. Everyone who knows me is conscious of that!

Part of this is my fear that people will hate my work, and so I revise and revise and revise, trying to present the first copy to beta readers as a fait accompli.

It never is.

I’m getting better. Marlowe and the Spacewoman went through ten revisions (I think, maybe eleven) before I published it. It also took me close to ten years from first draft to published.

The second book (short story, really) actually took longer, but I started it before the first book.

Don’t ask. It’s complicated. And I abandoned it for a large part of that period.

I started this book five years ago? Four or five.

Either way, an improvement.

And considering I had kids in the middle of all that, kinda impressive.

What I discovered this time around is that taking my time really does work wonders.

Because I finish a draft and let it lie fallow.

I don’t read it for ages and ages.

And by the time I get around to it again, it’s fresh and new and not in my head. So I can read it with a clear eye.

This helps me see problems. Typos, grammar goofs, misused words.

But not well enough to forgo other readers.

Beta readers are essential, because some biases are so ingrained that you are blinded to the problems they cause.

No matter how long you wait between reads.

I went about a year between penultimate read-through and ultimate read-through. And found lots of the above-mentioned, typical goofs.

And the blind bias stuff? My betas found a heartbreaking number of problems, which they dutifully reported back to me.

I think, with their help, I addressed the worst of that.

But I did have a couple of big surprises.

After I started the last read-through, I found myself thinking about the book a lot.

Usually when I was trying to fall asleep.

Annoying, that. Especially on a work night.

But that’s not the surprising part. I always obsess over current projects.

It was the couple of major plot holes I discovered. Things that happened (or didn’t happen) which simply made no sense.

The sorts of things, that, when I see them in other books, make me go, “Man, this author is lazy. He didn’t bother to think things through. Shame on him. I will find out where he lives and burn his house to the ground.”

I was stunned to discover them in my book. I’m not lazy, but I certainly hadn’t caught them in previous read-throughs.

More alarming, neither had any of my beta readers.

Actually, the fact that they missed them too makes me feel a little better.

Fortunately, I was able to patch the holes pretty easily, once I applied myself.

I also struggled with how to open the book. I tried three different openings.

The final one? Came to me while I worried about it.

In bed.

Trying to fall asleep.

So that’s my process:

Crank out a first draft, wait approximately one earth orbital period, and edit it.

Worry about it in bed.

Repeat until I have enough confidence to share with beta readers.

Worry about it in bed.

Stare at their feedback emails for several days before working up the nerve to open them.

Worry about it in bed.

Marvel in the description of issues I wouldn’t have detected if they’d come up to me, kicked me in the family jewels, and said, “Oh, pardon me, I didn’t mean to do that.”

(My issues are very polite.)

Worry about it in bed.

Edit again.

Worry about it in bed.

And again (the editing, that is. Oh, and the worrying too.)

Then, just maybe, I’m ready to publish.

There is only one drawback to my approach.

OK, two if you count sleep deprivation.

After several read-throughs of one of my books, it starts to feel old.

Not fresh.

Done before.

(Because, well, it has. In the previous drafts.)

So by the time I’m ready to publish, I don’t feel a lot of excitement.

This is bad, because publication time is when you’re supposed to promote it.

So now I have to promote and rah-rah-rah a book that, for me, feels tired and worked over.

And worry that everyone else will feel the same way.

I don’t think I’m going to be sleeping well for the next few nights.

 

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