Adrian Stephens's Blog

May 27, 2014

#18 - Heroes Reborn

In August 2011, I wrote about how the makers of the television series Heroes should reboot the franchise, bringing back the original cast.

You can read that post here. The concept is not one normally taken with a reboot. Usually, when a franchise is rebooted, the makers pretend the original never happened. They begin with a new story, new cast and sometimes, new characters.

What I proposed was that NBC take the franchise back to the first episode, with the same cast and characters. The first episode would remain the same, and each episode thereafter would be a little different from the original. By the end of the first season, it would have its own identity.

Let's face it, the original Heroes concept was fantastic. It was an original take on the hero genre, and it had a lot of promise. The problem was that it got too fancy, too fast, and it went in a direction that left many tuning out. So, by rebooting the franchise, keeping the origin episode intact, the series could veer in a new direction all its own. Kind of like following an alternate timeline, if you will.

While that idea spawned from a conversation a friend and I had over lunch, neither of us dreamed it would ever come true. Until now.

In February 2014, NBC aired a teaser trailer for a new mini-series, Heroes Reborn . Since that time, everyone seems to be hypothesizing as to what exactly a Heroes reboot could mean. NBC has announced that some of the existing characters will return, but that is pretty much the extent of what they have released. Though we've learned that Hayden Panettiere is not expected to return, the question remains whether other cast members such as Milo Ventimiglia, Masi Oka, Zachary Quinto, Adrian Pasdar and Ali Larter, to name a few, will be recast in their original roles.

I think many fans are hoping as I am that "Reborn" infers they will be going back to the origin to tell the story from the beginning, but with the intent to take it in a different direction.

In 2015, the questions will be answered. An idea that spawned from lunch with a friend four years earlier may actually come to life. Until that time, we'll just have to hope. NBC may not have heard my plea, but somebody had their ear. One thing is for sure...when it airs, Heroes Reborn will have my attention.

If you haven't checked into lately, check it out to get updates on my next book, Walking with Father Time or to check out my new concept for a Marvel Universe Amusement Park. Thanks for reading!
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September 30, 2012

#17 - Composing a Masterpiece

Have you ever finished watching a movie, and as you're walking out with your friends or family, started discussing all of the scenes that made the movie great? Or terrible?

The funny thing about movies, not unlike books, one or two great scenes don't make it good. So, what makes a movie truly great? There are lots of possible answers to this question. It was really funny, the action was mind-blowing, it made me cry...

As I watch a movie, I'm subconsciously collecting scenes that I love (or don't like). My final impression of a movie will be based on that collection of scenes and how strong they evoked an emotion from me. But there is something more, something that I believe truly makes or breaks a movie.

Think about your favorite movie of all-time. If you can't think of one favorite, pick one in your top ten. Star Wars, Harry Potter, Titanic, matter what the movie you're thinking of right now, I bet it had a great film score. Yep, that's the key. Without the music that accompanies our favorite movies, they would be a skeleton of what we know and love.

Just take Star Wars as an example (if you haven't seen Star Wars, I'm sorry. You should go watch it right now and then come right back to this spot. Go on now, this is important. We'll wait!). Think about the intro when 'Star Wars' flashes on the screen (how many of you have the music playing in your head right now?). Before your first action sequence, before the first character takes to the screen, John Williams already has your attention and, if you're like me, you're excited for what's coming next.

Now imagine Star Wars without any music. None...zilch. The opening credits silence. As the Rebel Fleet waits for the Empire to blast the hull door, there is no anticipation...just silence.

I remember reading somewhere about when George Lucas was screening Star Wars to a group of friends and peers, including Steven Spielberg. The screening was done prior to the final sound effects and film score being put in place. My understanding is that the group, including Mr. Spielberg, were not overly impressed with the film, and that they didn't feel the magic that it later became. Why? The score. Not to take anything away from George Lucas, but a movie needs a strong score to truly be great.

John Williams has written many of the great sci-fi action film scores, though his range extends beyond the genre. But, there are many great composers out there who can craft a good story into a masterpiece.

For those of you who have never considered the world of film scores, consider these musicians and some of their more recognizable work (click on their names for a more complete list from

John Williams - Star Wars I-VI, Superman, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and..., E.T., Harry Potter, Jaws, Schindler's List...this list goes on forever.

James Horner - Avatar, The Amazing Spider-Man, A Beautiful Mind, The Perfect Storm, Titanic, Apollo 13, Braveheart, Patriot Games, Cocoon, Field of Dreams...

Hans Zimmer - Inception, Pearl Harbor, The Lion King, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, A League of Their Own, Kung Fu Panda, The Last Samurai, some of the Mission Impossibles and Pirates of the Caribbean scores...

The late Jerry Goldsmith - Star Trek (several in this series), Star Trek: The Next Generation, Air Force One, First Knight, Forever Young, First Blood, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Twilight Zone: The Movie...

Danny Elfman - Men in Black I-III, Mission: Impossible, Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Batman, Batman Returns, Alice in Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory...

As a huge fan of the television shows Lost, Fringe and the all too short lived Alcatraz, I have to include:

Michael Giacchino - Lost, Fringe, Alcatraz, Star Trek, Speed Racer, Mission: Impossible III, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol...

So, considering all of the amazing composers out there to make our favorite movies into masterpieces, the question begs...if you were making a movie, who would be the top composer to put your movie over the top?

I've thought about this quite a bit. For In My Shoes, I thought about it quite a bit. If I were going to take my book to the big screen, I'm thinking Hans Zimmer would be the best composer to make it great. I envision something along the lines of A League of Their Own, with a moving score that captures both the comedic and the dramatic moments with perfectly balanced emotion.

Feel free to chime in. If you think a different composer would make a better fit for my book, let me know your thoughts. If you'd like to tell me who would write the score to the story in your mind, let me know that too!

The hardcover of In My Shoes is on sale through the end of October. Check out my website or for details!

Update - Weigh in on the poll question for who you would want composing your masterpiece here!
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August 8, 2012

#16 - Torrent Downloads

It has been some time since I last blogged. There's a good reason for that. I've never really believed in blogging for the sake of saying just anything. Besides, when I'm blogging I'm not writing my novels. I'm taking a break from my writing today, because I do have something I want to talk about.

Many of you have probably heard of torrent downloads. If you haven't, there are websites out there where you can find your favorite media, be it movies, music or books, and download them for free. Aside from the fact that this practice is illegal, it's also quite risky as many times you'll find you've downloaded a virus with your free media. Funny how people dedicated to creating sites for the sole purpose of giving you other peoples' work for free usually don't have qualms about hacking your system.

If you can't tell from the above paragraph, I'm profoundly against the concept. Now, you may be saying, 'yeah, it's not like you've never done it.' Actually, I haven't. I know people who have, and they know how I feel about it. For those who know me, they know that if I want to read something, or watch something, or listen to something, that isn't available through legal means such as radio or television, I buy it. If I don't want it bad enough to buy it, then I don't need it. I would never profess to be perfect, but I do make the effort not to do things I know are wrong.

Until the other day, I wasn't actually aware that these sites were so widespread and that they provided links to books. I was made aware of this and directed to a torrent download site that was carrying my book. In looking at this site, I noticed that it provided details on how many times an item had been downloaded. According to this one site, my book, In My Shoes had been illegally downloaded almost 1900 times. On this ONE site.

My intent is not to point fingers here, or make you feel guilty if you have ever done this. What I would like to do, is inform you so that maybe you reconsider before doing it next time. I'll share a couple of things with you. First, when I sell a digital book, unless I have it on sale, the retail price is $9.99. Depending on which site I am selling it through, my take on that is usually somewhere in the $6 range. That means that this one site has lost me nearly $12,000 in revenue.

Second, being a first time, independent author, I have yet to actually sell 1900 books. So, without my permission, this one site has given away substantially more of my books than I've even sold.

Third, I have given away a lot of books, both hardcover and digital, to people and causes important to me. I wrote the book. It feels to me like I should have the choice of who I give it away to.

Fourth, though over 1900 (and this is just one site) people have downloaded it for free, if you pool all of the websites with reviews of my book, I have less than 50 reviews on the book. Not that it would make it okay, but people downloading my book for free aren't even spreading the word about the book.

I've heard lots of arguments, justifications for why it's okay to illegally download other peoples' work. It's overpriced, they weren't sure if they'd like it, those people are rich and won't notice or care...

The fact is, nothing really makes it okay to do something that is wrong. Period. If you think a book is overpriced, don't buy it. Don't steal it, but don't buy it. If you're not sure you will like it, well...that's the way it goes with expressions of art, and most things in the world. If you buy it and don't like it, review it on websites so others don't make the same mistake.

As for the rich few authors actually get rich from writing. And if they do, it's because their book was good and they sold a lot of books. They deserve the money. But, for the rest of us, every book sold is a big deal. I've done okay with my sales, but I'm not getting ready to break the bestseller lists.

Because I published independently, I purchased a large quantity of hardcover books up front because I got a better unit price for bulk. I haven't even reached the breakeven point yet. And that's okay. It's a risk I was willing to take. But, to afford that, I work a lot. Working more means writing less. I have several book ideas I am dying to share, but until I have the time to write more, they will be slow coming. $13,000 would go a long way toward helping free up my time to write more. As the author, do I really not deserve that money?

If you have made it this far, you are probably in one of two categories. Either you have felt like me and don't agree with downloading other peoples' work illegally, or you have done it before and maybe feel I make a valid argument. Of course, if you still think it's okay, please feel free to share your thoughts.

If you've done the torrent download thing before, I ask you to reconsider before doing it next time. If a book looks interesting, please buy it. If you like it, tell people. If you don't, tell people. Maybe just maybe, you'll make it possible for us authors to publish our next book a little faster. Please feel free to comment. I look forward to your responses.
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Published on August 08, 2012 23:13 Tags: adrian-stephens, books, downloads, illegal, in-my-shoes, movies, music, torrent

January 27, 2012

#15 - Fitting In (Part 2)

When I first decided I wanted to write, or I should say, when my first novel neared completion, I decided it would be important to research all of the possibilities that were available to me for getting my work out there.

I've talked plenty in previous blogs about that experience, so I won't get into it here. What I found, though, was that much like cliques in high school, everyone in the publishing industry wants to know where you fit in.

No matter whether you submit to a big publisher or you self-publish and sell through retailers and distributors yourself, fitting in is very important.

I always found this quite odd. If you want to get your story out there right now, you have a much better chance of getting published and getting shelf space, it seems, if your characters wave a wand, like the taste of blood, have wings, fangs or maybe all of the above.

High fantasy is the popular thing right now. No, not everyone likes it, but there are a LOT who do. Publishers, booksellers...they want to know what they can put your book next to. There's no place in the corner for the little book with no friends.

As a writer, I have never once thought, what can I do that is like everything else out there. Okay, I guess that's not totally true. I have an idea for an American tie-in to Harry Potter that I would love to do one day. Only because I have some original ideas I really like and think it could be fun.

And don't get me wrong, I'm not criticizing the authors who write in these genres. It works for them, and that's great. Plus, there's an audience for it.

My only question is, do we still care about stories that aren't the saturated idea of the moment? And that's the only real question for me. I'm not trying to say that my ideas are totally unique. I don't know that any idea is totally unique. Harry Potter wasn't the first story of wizardry. Twilight wasn't the first story about vampires. My first novel, In My Shoes, has had several comparisons to a modern day Freaky Friday, but with a boy/girl twist. I'm okay with that.

But where do you put that on the shelf? There isn't a body swap section at the book store. Freaky Friday is a great story, but it's been around awhile, and isn't currently taking up critical space at Barnes & Noble.

I guess what I'm hoping is, if the idea is good, and the writing is good, it won't matter that it isn't the pop fiction of the moment. We love what we love. If we love vampire stories, we are going to look for vampire stories. But, there's room on your shelf for something different, right?

That's what I'm hoping. That in this huge world, there's room not only for the popular books, but maybe the one in the corner too.
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Published on January 27, 2012 15:02 Tags: adrian-stephens, fitting-in, harry-potter, in-my-shoes, twilight, vampires, wizards

December 31, 2011

#14 - Dreams of a New Year

Last night I had the strangest dream. No, this isn't a Matthew Wilder song. If you've checked out my blog or website before, you are probably aware that I had written a screenplay treatment for a Ghostbusters III concept I came up with. If you'd like, you can check it out here. Nothing ever came of it, but I still like my story.

So anyway, last night I dreamt that I met Bill Murray. The dream was strange, and there were lots of little details that stood out yet seemed irrelevant. I also think it important to mention that I'm not obsessed with Bill Murray or Ghostbusters, and that this is the first dream I can ever remember having about him. Here goes.

It started with me noticing that Bill was driving a silver Mercedes next to where I was standing, though I didn't realize it was him at first. He said something to me, which I can't remember, but by the time I realized it was Bill Murray, he was halfway down the street. I started chasing after him. He wasn't driving too fast, just fast enough that I couldn't catch him for about five blocks.

I had the feeling that he knew I was running behind him, I don't know why. Eventually, he stopped and waited for me to catch up. When I did, for some reason I was able to just open the passenger side door and get in. Bill didn't seem particularly surprised or bothered that I just got in his car, and he just kind of stared at me as I tried to gather what to say.

But, what do you say to Bill Murray? Especially when you just got in his car without asking. I don't know, and in my dream I didn't either. I couldn't just tell him about the screenplay treatment. Let's face it, the guy has probably been inundated with people giving him story ideas, and asking if he's going to do Ghostbusters. So, I did the only thing I could think of.

"Bill, I'd like to take a half hour of your time. I know you're busy, so just go wherever it is you're going, and I'll buy along the way. You can drop me somewhere before your destination and I'll take a cab home."

He thought about it for a minute, and decided that was a fair deal. If only it were that easy. First up, he drove us to 7-11 (a convenience store for those who don't have them near you). He asked me to go in and buy him a burrito (I had a burrito for dinner last night). Inside, I decided on the bean and cheese burrito for him, since he didn't specify, which he liked.

Back in the car, Bill asked me what I wanted. I decided since I had him hooked with the burrito and all, I'd just go for it. I told him that I had heard a rumor that he was secretly filming Ghostbusters III and asked him if that was true (I don't know where I dreamt that rumor up). He hemmed and hawed and ended up telling me something about legalities and not being able to disclose.

I then asked him why he had been so hesitant about doing a third film. He mentioned that the first film had done really well and they had made him a bunch of monetary promises for the second film, but they didn't come true because the second film only pulled in $700 (don't know where that number came from). He asked me if I had seen the second film, and I told him I didn't think it was nearly as good as the first. Bill conceded that it wasn't as good to him either, which was another big reason he didn't want to do the third.

At this point I nonchalantly mentioned that I had written a screenplay treatment for Ghostbusters III. He asked if he could see it. I told him that I didn't have a copy on me, since I didn't know I was going to meet him today, but I could pull it up on my phone if he wanted.

Just as he was getting ready to reply...I woke up. I never even got to see where he was going.

I've never been one to look up dreams and their meanings, but I would imagine 'they' would say that it had something to do with reaching for goals that are not within my grasp and achieving some status I have not yet reached. Even more so, I would guess there would be something said about chasing my dreams.

Truth be told, I'm not all too worried if Bill Murray (or any of the others in Ghostbusters world) never read my treatment. It is far-fetched to think that anyone in Hollywood is going to be finding my treatment and finding inspiration.

I do have much higher expectations for my writing. This is my first year of calling myself an author. Though I have been overall pleased with the sales and reviews of In My Shoes, I have a long way to go before there will be any events in anticipation for my next work. But that's okay. I am following my dream. It took a long time to realize this was my dream, and now that I've found it, I'm not easily letting go.

All of us dream. Not just the kind we have when we are looking at the back of our eyelids. We all have something that we desire to do or be above all other things. For me it's having people out there who enjoy my writing. As we say goodbye to 2011 and hello to 2012, there is no better time than now to start making your dreams come true. But as you work toward your dreams, I hope you will all consider that everyone is out there trying to make their dreams come true. Some are unrealistic, and that's okay too. Instead of shooting others' dreams down, encourage do it to the best of their ability. Wish them luck. Offer constructive criticism. Because next time, the dream could be yours.

Happy New Year!
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December 3, 2011

#13 - Fitting In

It seems like such a simple thing. Fitting in. No matter our age or place in life, we are a society of people who want to fit in. We need to fit in. Right now, if you are telling your computer screen, "I don't need to fit in with anyone," ask yourself how hard you try to fit in with those people who don't like to fit in with anyone else.

No matter what our interests are, we like to find others who share our interests. That may not mean we want to necessarily do the popular thing, that which 'everyone' else is doing, but we want at least someone else who we can share our interests with. Whether we realize it or not, and even whether we need it or not, it gives us some sort of validation to know that there is someone else (and hopefully more than one) on this planet who sees things the way we do.

But, what about being unique? If we have this underlying need to find things in common, how can we be ourselves? I think we can all agree that just because we find people who share some of our likes doesn't mean we have anyone who shares all of our likes.

I like to read, write, bowl, golf, play piano, sing at the top of my lungs in the car, practice Taekwondo and hang out with friends. Some of you may be saying, "yeah, I like all of that stuff too." Great! I'm a diehard St. Louis Rams fan (some small part of me must like to suffer), a diehard St. Louis Cardinals fan, a St. Louis Blues fan (no, I'm not from St. Louis), a Lakers fan, a USC fan and a UNLV Rebels fan. Not necessarily in that order. I would imagine that I lost a large chunk of things in common with people from the first group above.

If any of you are still hanging on, I like to watch Fringe, Lost (when it was on), Revenge, Grey's Anatomy and...Glee.

Still have the same tastes? Let's try music. My favorites all-time would be Elton John, Journey, Queen, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson, Madonna, The Beatles. I like Taylor Swift, Daughtry, movie scores (anything by John Williams, but lots of others too) and *gasp* some Eminem (though I could do without the language-don't ask me how that makes sense).

If anyone out there checked off every item on my list, send me a message...I've always wanted to meet my twin.

The thing is, I can find plenty of people who like each and every one of the things I mentioned separately, some who like many of the things I've mentioned, and yet I uniquely like all of these things together. That's what makes None of my likes, strange as they may seem to you, bring harm to others.

Being the father of two boys in elementary school, I see them trying to make these connections with kids in their classrooms. I help out at their school one day a week, and I see how all of these kids, not just mine, are looking to form bonds with one another, friendships that they may keep for much, if not all, of their lives. It's important. Sadly, some kids, and even some adults, don't realize that they don't have to tear down others just to prove that they fit in better. If we search hard enough, we will see that we have much more in common with our enemies than we think, and we have probably a lot less in common with our friends than we realize, if we were ever brave enough to open ourselves up that much.

I'm not suggesting that everyone could or would be able to be friends with everyone else if we just tried a little harder. Some of our likes are just too different and too important to us to be able to want to spend time together. But, that's okay. It would just be nice to see that people didn't have to hate each other for their differences. Or even if it's not hate, it would be nice to see people not teased endlessly for their differences.

When I wrote the title for this blog, I was going to write about how the book industry tries to fit everything into a genre, even if it has to be forced. Could I have gotten more off track? Well, I'll save that for my next post. For now, as we grow ever nearer the holiday season, whether you celebrate, Christmas, Hanukkah, or any other holiday, I hope we can all take just a few moments to appreciate the commonalities as well as the differences of the people who we share space with.

Just a reminder that you can find In My Shoes available in your favorite formats. Christmas is just around the corner, and In My Shoes would make a great gift for your son, daughter, niece, nephew, brother or sister. Find it in the following formats:

Amazon hardcover
Barnes and Noble hardcover (multiple formats)
smashwords (multiple formats)
Sony Reader
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October 26, 2011

#12 - Writing In My Shoes

First, I apologize for being absent for a while. I've been in writing mode, which means I've been working on my latest novel, and neglecting my blog.

It occurred to me as I was deciding what to write about, and being so busy right now, that my time is as much in demand as when I wrote In My Shoes. I've had plenty of people ask me either how I came about writing In My Shoes or how I found the time to do it. It's tough sometimes. But, for those of you out there who aspire to be authors, I thought I'd share my experience.

I started writing In My Shoes around June of 2009. To that point, I had come up with some ideas and written a little something down here or there. Nothing really substantial. With those ideas, it wasn't that the ideas didn't inspire me to write, but rather at that point I wasn't sure how to develop them. I figured I would save what I had and wait for the inspiration to come to me. With In My Shoes, the idea, the story development, the characters...let's just say it was all there in my head and, for the first time, had the inspiration to do it.

I had never considered myself a writer, and I had never been one with a plethora of confidence in my ability to do anything artistic. I'm not saying I never did anything with arts...I like to play piano, sing, draw, you name it...I just never had confidence in my abilities to do any of those things.

I can't tell you the exact date, or exactly what my thought process was when the idea came to me, but I do remember sitting at my computer one day and having this idea for a boy and girl who switched bodies. The body swap story has certainly been done before. What I wanted was to create a story that specifically dealt with the awkwardness that would occur from being in someone from the opposite sex's body. When trying to determine the best age of my characters, I remembered back to the awkwardness I (and I think most people) felt as a teenager. So much changes in our teenage years. We are learning so much and are just trying to figure out where we fit in and what is normal. By the time we reach high school, I think most of us have become more comfortable and confident (if not too confident) with who we are, how our bodies work, and we are more sure where we fit in. I thought that would be the perfect place to put my the point where they think they've got it pretty well figured out.

So, I had the age decided for my main characters. I thought about what would be involved in switching bodies. I did a lot of research. I thought about how it would feel to know someone is walking around in your body. I would want to make sure that person knew everything they could about me, so I didn't end up looking like a fool. I thought about how difficult it truly would be to pull something like that off, and realized that, if it were possible to switch bodies with someone, the only way you could really pull it off without people knowing was if you had a lot of similarities to start with. I've seen stories/movies where one character was an unintelligent, obnoxious jerk, and the other was a more refined, thoughtful, intellect. could that work? I didn't think it could, so I felt my main characters should be smart enough to be able to pull it off, and have some fundamental characteristics in common.

I thought about my target audience...who did I want to read it? Everyone! Really, though, I wanted to make a story that teens could read and relate to as they are dealing with some of that awkwardness we all have experienced in our life. At the same time, I wanted adults to be able to read it and reflect back on their experiences. Let's face it, surviving our teenage years is a learning experience. We change the way we look, talk, walk...we are a work-in-progress. That's what I wanted people to get out of it, all the while, I wanted them to be able to laugh a lot. I know how it feels to read a book you just can't put down. That's what I wanted for those who were going to take the time to read my book.

In order for boys and girls, men and women all to be able to fully enjoy it, I really felt like the story needed to be told, at time, from each of their points of view. So, I wrote down, mapped out really, every key situation I wanted to happen in the story, and I started assigning them to days. I realized that, if I was strategic, I could flip the point of view systematically. I rearranged some situations, and I had my blueprint.

I had everything ready to go. I had only two problems...I had never started writing a novel (aside from the brief, undeveloped blurbs mentioned above) and I had no time to write. The first problem was easy enough to fix. I just sat down at my computer and started writing. I knew I needed to have something jump out at the reader from the start. Something that makes the reader want to read the next sentence, and the next and so on. The first couple of paragraphs were difficult. No matter how much you've read, when you start writing you've got to think about sentence structure and the voice of the characters you are creating. Once I made it through the first few paragraphs, it became a little easier. After the first chapter, even easier. In retrospect, the first couple of paragraphs weren't very good to start, but once I was comfortable as a writer, I was able to go back and clean it up.

My biggest challenge became finding the time to write. Why? I'm glad you asked! I work a full-time, Monday through Thursday job. Because I have Fridays off, I work longer those four days. By the time I get home, have dinner and spend some quality time with the family, I have about an hour to get organized and in writing mode. That's if I have not other obligations. For instance, in the Spring (and Fall this year) I coach my boys' baseball team. The time in getting them to practices and games is already quite involved, but since I coach, I have to be there for pretty much every event. I also have to prepare rosters, report scores and attend league meetings. Fridays I help out at my boys' school. My dad used to take me to lunch on his days off when I was little, which was always special to me. I have carried that tradition on for my kids. Any number of family events and house cleaning can take a good portion of my weekends.

I'm sure many aspiring writers can relate to having to squeeze time in for writing. After all, just because we want to write doesn't mean the world is going to stop for us to entertain our new craft. For me, I found my time to write primarily on my lunch breaks. Each day, I would take my notebook and write. Sometimes I would type at my computer, but usually I wanted to get away to write. Each day, I would think about where I wanted the story to go next so that, when I had the actually time to write, I was ready. When I would get home, after spending time with the family and getting the kids in bed, I would type what I had written that day, sometimes getting a little more in before I shut down for the night. On the weekends, I would squeeze writing in where I could. It took almost exactly a year, but in June 2010, I typed the last sentence of In My Shoes. It's a great feeling to get to the end of writing a novel. For me, it told me I could do it. Not just come up with an idea, not just develop characters and a story, but to put it all together from beginning to end.

For those of you who have ever thought about writing, singing, acting, unicycling, quarterbacking...all I can say is don't give up on yourself. To be great at anything takes dedication and diligence. Very rarely is anyone ever great at something from the word go. They have to develop their skill. You may not have a cheerleading section to start, but that doesn't mean you should give up.
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Published on October 26, 2011 21:30 Tags: 12, adrian-stephens, author, blog, in-my-shoes, novel, writing

September 18, 2011

#11 - The Framily Excuses

I received a text message from one of my closest friends the other day. He told me that he had finally started reading my book, and he was enjoying it. He was actually excited to tell me this. He finally got around to it, and he was burning through the pages.

When I received his text, I couldn't help but to smile. In talking to other authors, I've heard their frustrations with family and friends (let's call them framily to save space) who hadn't read their novels. They take it as a lack of support for their work.

In a way, they are right. The problem is, they fail to see it from their framilys' standpoint. Our framily have known us a long time. They know us a certain way, with a certain personality, and they know our strengths and weaknesses.

More than that, they care about us. While many authors feel that if their framily cared they'd read the book, I realize it's their caring that makes some of them hesitant to read it. Why? What if it's not a genre they like? What if it's just bad? What if it's so bad that they have a hard time getting to the end of it? Now, we'd all like our framily to have more faith in our abilities but, especially when it's our first book, is it fair to ask them to expect that we have a talent that to this point may have been hidden?

Let's face it, we all think we can write, or we wouldn't have taken the time to do it. But, just because we think
can write, doesn't make it true. Even if we have a brilliant idea for a story, the ability to develop it, create interesting characters and put it all together for a well developed novel eludes enough of us to warrant the fear.

The last thing our framily wants to do is tell us they didn't like the novel we worked so hard on. And it's hard to lie and tell someone they've got talent if they don't believe it. It's much easier to have excuses why they haven't been able to read it. It may not even be a conscious decision, but it happens.

Having had several of my framily seemingly excited to tell me that they liked my book, I recognize that it's really not even excitement. It's relief. A weight has been lifted. They don't have to lie or make excuses. They don't have to trudge through the pages. Relief.

I made a decision when I started writing In My Shoes (and even my Ghostbusters III treatment) to do my best not to put people in that position. I don't ask people if they've read my book, and I don't ask them how they liked it. It's not that I don't care, I just don't want to put them in an uncomfortable position. If they want to talk about it, what they liked and what they didn't, I'm always more than happy to talk about it. I'm proud of it, so talking about it is quite fun for me. If they gush too much, I get a little embarrassed, but I still enjoy it. And when they tell me they loved it with that hint of excitement/relief, I still can't help but smile.

If you haven't read In My Shoes yet, I hope you do, and I hope you enjoy it!
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September 3, 2011

#10 - Where's Waldo

If you've been checking out my previous blogs, you might be wondering why they tend to be all over the place. Since I'm sure you've all been holding your breath waiting for the answer, I'll keep you in suspense no more...they're just gonna be that way. I don't really see a point in writing a blog if I'm not going to be speaking about the things that interest me. For the most part, what interests me these days is the writing and publishing processes for my book, In My Shoes. But sometimes I'm going to go off topic and talk about something in left field. Hopefully, at the end, you won't feel you wasted your time. Speaking of wasting time, let's get on topic...

When people seek out to buy my book, sometimes they can feel like it's a Where's Waldo adventure. You've got to know where to look to find it. So, I thought I would share an experience I had with a major national bookseller. I've waited a while to tell the story because it's personal to me, and I didn't want to rant before I had time to analyze it better.

When I started the publishing process for In My Shoes, I spent a lot of time researching the process. I'm not one to just shoot from the hip. I wanted to do it right, and I wanted to be taken seriously. I'm willing to jump through the hoops, as long as the goal is attainable. Major reviewers and booksellers alike have guidelines for submitting your books for their consideration. For instance, many books reviewers will not consider reviewing your book once it's been published. They want an advanced copy at least three to six months prior to publication.

Booksellers also have guidelines. They all play by their own rules and as far as they are concerned, they are doing you a favor by even considering your book. So, when I started the process, I contacted one of the national booksellers, and asked them some specific questions regarding their criteria, to be sure I understood what I needed to send them. Their response was short, but I thought they answered my questions. When the book was ready, I registered the ISBN and sent a finished manuscript copy, with all of the other requested data to this seller. I over-nighted the package so they would receive it right away. Two weeks later a representative called me, told me that she just received my package, and that I did not submit an actual finished, bound book to them, and that they would not consider my book until I did. I explained that my book was currently with the printer and would not be ready for over a month, and I also told her that I had emailed them with that specific question, and their reply did not say anything about a bound book back from the printer. She replied if I wanted my book in their stores, I'll get them the copy. I did that the day I received my books from the printer, nearly a month later.

Here's the thing, though. Almost immediately after my conversation with that representative, my book showed up on their website. They were pre-selling my book, more than $6 off the cover price, and without any agreement in place with me (come to find later, they pull the data automatically from the ISBN database and start pre-selling books, whether they actually have any intent to sell the book or not). They continued the pre-selling until the release date, which I had provided when I registered the ISBN. The day the book was released, they stopped pre-selling my book, and marked it as unavailable. People who had purchased my book were out of luck (and I know people had bought the book because I had a sales ranking on their webpage). About a month after my book was for sale at
(for both hardcover and Kindle), my website and several smaller stores, the national bookseller finally placed their order for my book. They ordered one book. I had pre-sold at least that many, and had already sold plenty more than that on my website and through Amazon, but they wanted one book. So, I shipped them one book.

After selling over 200 books through other sellers, I contacted the company again, asking them to consider placing my book in their stores. My book was getting lost on their website, and I knew that people wouldn’t catch on unless they saw it in the stores. On a website, if it’s not a featured book, it has no chance. As my name doesn’t end in Rowling, Meyer or Collins, my book doesn’t have much chance of being featured, which I completely understand. So, I emailed her, suggested letting me place my books in the stores local to me. I offered to hand deliver them (so there was no shipping cost), and asked them to give it six months on their shelves to see how it did. A test market. In the stores where the book is on the shelf, people are picking it up and buying it. I also offered to forego invoicing them until the books actually sold.

I was excited when the representative asked me to call her so we could discuss it. I thought, if she’s actually asking me to call her, she must be considering it. Heck, I’d be willing to adjust my terms to get a foot in the door, so things were looking good. That was until I called her. I called her that day, and reminded her who I was since she has so many people she deals with. When she found my email, she began reading it back to me, and laughing as she read it. That’s right, she started laughing. Not boisterous laughing…just average run of the mill old laughing. Then she explained to me that is not how they work. Now, I understand that’s not how they work. But, from my standpoint, while my book is selling consistently at other retailers, my book is crawling with them. What I also understand is that, if that’s not how they work, an email with that statement would have sufficed to get that point across. If she is as busy as she says, why have me call her to go through the motions? I decided she must have needed a laugh for the day, and I was the designated fool.

So, we continue along…they sell one book, they order one book. In the time it takes my book to get to their warehouse, the book is listed as not available. In times like this, when it can be quite frustrating, I remind myself that I was able to publish my book the way I wanted, on my terms. Coming up on 300 books sold, I’m pleased with the progress. It’s a learning experience, and I’m enjoying the ride. It may take me longer, but I’ll get there. Is it worth it? Oh yeah!

So…what are you still doing here? Go out and buy my book, tell your friends, post a review! Oh, and thank you!
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August 20, 2011

#9 - Genre Soup

When you last tuned in, we were discussing the importance of giving NBC the opportunity to have a do over with Heroes.

Though nothing could be as important as that topic, we must leave it behind for something of almost as great importance...authors crossing genres.

My first novel, In My Shoes, is a teen fiction novel. Though it has appealed to men and women of all ages, it was written specifically with the teenage audience in mind. I am very proud of this novel.

Since I completed In My Shoes, I have continually walked around with three stories in my brain. Truthfully, I have about seven stories that I am working on. Four of them have been saved for later, but the three are always with me. The thing is, they are all in vastly different genres. Of the three, one is another teen fiction novel. Another is science fiction.

I started the third novel around the same time as I started In My Shoes. The story came to me out of a really bad dream. After a few weeks, I had two chapters of each story. I gave the chapters to several of my closest friends and family, who I thought would be interested in providing me thoughtful feedback. After reading both, they told me they liked In My Shoes, but they overwhelmingly agreed that I should finish the other story first.

As much as I thought they may be right, I wanted to finish In My Shoes first because the story was light and fun. I really wanted my first novel to be a fun story that all of my family could enjoy. The other story is not light and fun. It is dark and serious (and I believe meaningful) but is targeted to a non-teen audience.

So, here's my problem...what would happen if a fifteen year old finished In My Shoes, and looking for other books I've written, picked up this much darker, adult fiction novel, thinking it would be equally light and fun? That thought concerns me. Don't get me wrong, I am truly proud of how the book is developing, and I feel it has a quality message to it. It's also not to say that a teenage reader is not capable or ready to read such a book, but I still feel every person should read it when they are ready for such a story. I certainly don't want any reader to be blindsided.

What I would like to know is, what do you the reader expect from an author? Do you expect an author to stay within a genre? Now, I'm not talking about writing style either. Just genres. What do you expect from your favorite authors? I am sure there are widely varying opinions on this. I'd like to know yours.

Thanks for your feedback!
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Published on August 20, 2011 13:56 Tags: adrian-stephens, author, cross-genres, crossing-genres, fiction, genres, in-my-shoes, teen-fiction