Ridiculous Announcement: I Am Publishing a Book

Hello internet. I have a ridiculous announceah shit I already gave it away in the title. Yep, that’s right, I’m publishing a book. This book, specifically:



Yeah, that’s my non-internet name. Proof of Life is a YA novel I’ve been working on for quite a while now, and within the next week it should be going up on most major eBook channels – Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, etc – as well as being distributed through Smashwords. Here’s the elevator pitch:

Who’d have thought cheating death would be so complicated?

Zoe Victoria isn’t sure how she feels about her classmate Sean. There’s his so-called personality; half gallant gentleman, half angry little twerp. There’s the issue of him being six inches shorter than she is, making for frequent nose-to-collarbone conversations. And there’s the fact that he’s the grim reaper.

Well. A grim reaper, at least; apparently one of many at the Agency, sworn to police the ethereal world and carry on with all that reaping business. And honestly, even that wouldn’t be a deal breaker; after all, Zoe has her own bone to pick with mortality, and cheating death seems a lot more reasonable when death is short enough to stuff in a locker. But as Sean’s new assistant, Zoe is quickly learning that conviction alone can’t change fate – and that saving lives might just put her own life at risk. Between hunting down supernatural psychopaths and rescuing people from certain death, it’s looking like Zoe might be getting a crash course in life expectancy.

I know, ew, one of those paranormal romance deals all the kids are yammering about these days. Obviously I may be slightly biased here, but I think it’s a pretty okay story anyway! You know the kinds of things I care about in stories, and I hope you’ll find some similar things to care about in this one. Two main characters I am absurdly fond of, lots of banter, romance, action, suspense, etc etc etc. All narrative food groups will be represented.

Proof of Life will be on sale for $4.99 USD or whatever your local equivalent may be within the next few days, or possibly right now. Here’s a link to the Smashwords site (plz buy from here they are nice about royalties) where you can either buy it now or check out the first 20% for free, and I should be updating with a link to the Amazon site within the next day or so (EDIT: here’s that link for the US store, though it should now be available in all territories). I’d obviously love it (and you) if you bought a copy, but don’t worry about the site – all the work for Proof of Life is already done, so I’ll still be up to my usual shenanigans. I’ll keep the site posted with announcements announcing its availability as things progress, and I’d love to answer any questions any of you may have in the comments, on twitter, or on ask.fm. This is absolutely, far and away, many times over the biggest, most ridiculous creative project I’ve ever worked on, and I am absurdly excited to actually be sending it out there. Hope you enjoy it!


I’ve started getting reviews and feedback, so I figured this would be a good place to gather some of that! Feel free to comment with your own responses, and I’ll add them to the list if you’d like.

Responses to Proof of Life:

My first full review, on Amazon.com

Hey, just wanted to say that I thought your book was a fantastic read! I read it last night, pretty much straight through. The whole dual first person narrator thing was really cool and well done. It was fun trying to figure out which head I was in at the start of each chapter, before it was plainly stated. As someone who loves to argue for fun, the banter between Sean and Zoe was very fluid and enjoyable. Also, the “I don’t need help/protection” trope has always been really annoying to me, and you were able to show just how stupid it is, but also show that it is not present for no reason.

I finished your book last night and really enjoyed it. It had great characters balanced with some serious themes and your usual great writing style–I’d recommend it to a number of people.

51 thoughts on “Ridiculous Announcement: I Am Publishing a Book

  1. Congrats on finishing the book, first off! As a writer myself, I know it’s no easy task to just get that many damn words on the page.

    I might pick it up just because I’m interested to see how well someone who understands the principles of storytelling like you do can wield them to tell a good story. 🙂 I have faith!

    And, a question, if I may: to what degree, if any, did your love of anime and all the anime you’ve watched have on the writing of the book?

    Best of luck with the selling! I hope it becomes wildly popular, you becoming stinking rich and can spend the rest of your days watching and writing about anime (Just kidding, although it might be fun for like a month).

    • Writing stories is really hard! It’s kind of amazing how much you discover during the writing process – a lot of my rules of storytelling actually come from painful trial and error over years of writing my own stuff.

      As for the anime inspiration, it’s definitely there in a few ways, though perhaps more structurally than on a character or theme level. I’d actually originally intended it to be a more pronounced influence, but I think my own priorities as a writer led me elsewhere. But yeah, no question there’s some influence there!

      • I hear you, man. I’ve been forced to do reflections for my creative writing classes this semester, and while I hate them, I’m also looking back at the problems I had when writing my novel/script/etc. and going, wow, how did I figure out how to deal with that problem?

        Interesting that it came through on the structural level (and that makes me even more interested to read the book), also I suppose it makes sense that you would have your own goals for characters and themes rather than letting those be defined by anime.

  2. That’s amazing man! I love your essays and write ups so I’ll definitely try to check this out. I used to dream of publishing my own stories back in the day so this is kind of inspiring. Got any tips for a young English major?

    But honestly this is super cool. Congratulations!

    • Thank you! Man, writing tips…

      I think one of the biggest, most important things for me to learn was to not be precious about my writing. When you start out writing, you’re bad – real bad. Even the things I thought were most distinctive and “me” about my writing were generally just flaws, things that distanced readers from the truth I actually did want to convey to them. And so you gotta learn to take criticism really well, and to translate how something is not working for someone else into how you can improve. Developing your own style is important eventually, but I think people discover their own strengths gradually – first, you gotta fight your own ego the whole way, and kill a lot of words, sentences, and ideas you thought were great. Always ask yourself who you’re writing for, and if you want to make your work meaningful to others, you gotta work hard at it.

      I’d also just say write a ton, I guess. Write and read and write and read and write and read some more – it is absolutely required for anyone to write many, many, many pages of bad prose before they begin to break through into okay stuff. That’s not a bad thing! Enjoy it, don’t horde your ideas, write about whatever you find compelling. Keep a notebook or a notepad app and jot down ideas that come to you. Write to improve, of course (eventually that harshness I was talking about in the first paragraph has to be an active component of your writing, after all), but whatever you do, don’t stop writing.

      Writing a lot also allows you access to a great exercise – reading the kind of stuff you were writing two hundred pages ago. Writing may seem like a slow slog of improvement, but you do improve, and the better you get at writing, the better you can see all the funny, embarrassing things you used to do in prose.

      Finally, I sort of included it in the second point, but getting good at writing requires reading writing that is very good – you can’t evolve past your influences, and if you want to have a broad and powerful literary toolbox, you gotta read the best stuff out there. Don’t read stuff that’s impenetrable to you, but read the most renowned stuff that is accessible to you, and eventually this stuff will get easier, and you’ll see why the best writers are considered the best. I think Kurt Vonnegutt’s really great and also really accessible, if you haven’t read his stuff. Personally, a couple of my gateways to great literature were The Sound and the Fury and a bunch of Shakespeare, but I was lucky enough to have a teacher who knew how to make Shakespeare approachable. I might also check out the books The Left Hand of Darkness and One Hundred Years of Solitude – they’re both gorgeous and still entertaining page-to-page.

      Hope some of that helps!

  3. Hey, sounds nice and funny to read. By the way, if you have bias against YA paranormal romance deals and such, then how did you come with the idea of making one yourself? Do you have any special inspiration of making these? Do you want this to become an animation or something. I´m sure it would be great!
    If I had money I would buy it for sure!

    • I’m not really being serious about my bias against the genre – it’d be pretty crazy to spend this much time on a project I didn’t think was awesome. As for inspiration, I dunno – I think this has a bit of my worldview in it, along with a lot of scraps from various other works that have inspired me, and it’s all run through the blender and twisted into my own voice. I wouldn’t say one single thing inspired this one.

      I think this story actually would work fairly well as an animation, but that’s not really in the cards, so it wasn’t something I was considering. But yeah, it’d probably make a fine 12 episode series.

      • That´s nice, if you want something to be good as an animation, it had to have serious amount of interesting point of view of the things happening for it to success. When you write your characters, you think of them as living beings? enough for them to perform their role as if they were actors?
        Also, you talk a lot about the importance of the thematic in a story. What kind of thematics do you manage in yours? I´m sick of all those twilight wannebe books out there.
        Is good that your story deals with a different kind of monster. But also, I wonder, what kind of focus you have for this?
        because many YA novels with monsters forget about the real deal of being a monster, not superpowers or immortal life, but the struggles and what really makes them monsters! Do your story show the dark side of the world you created? Just curious, not complaining or anything. I hope this can become a hit!

        • With characters, I basically start out trying to get their base construction, values, and personalities down, which will then guide my outlining of how the story will progress. As I’ve said before, narrative should generally be the direct result of character fundamentals – conflicts that drive plot should be critical to who the characters are. One easy shorthand for writing characters this way is figuring out what they want (i.e. what they consciously seek in the story) and what they need (i.e. what that conscious seeking is actually a symptom of – the hard lessons they need to learn to grow as people).

          As for themes, I don’t really want to spell out my intentions (as I’ve said before, one of the great things about art is that it can mean different things to different people), but there are a variety of ideas I explore from a few angles throughout. The book’s definitely got a few core thematic priorities.

          As for monsters/powers, the book’s pretty ambiguous on the value of the “powers” involved, but it sticks pretty closely to the personal scale. It’s a character story, unsurprisingly.

          Thanks for your questions!

    • We’ll have to see about recognition! I spent a long time soliciting agents before deciding I just didn’t need to stick with the old publishing model – since then, I’ve basically done it myself, just working with other people to get the cover and device formatting done. I’ve had a whole bunch of people proofread it for me though, and have gone through more drafts than I ever would have imagined.

  4. Well, congratz man! Sounds interesting. Do you have plans to make this a series/saga of sorts or is this a stand-alone?

    • Thanks! Proof of Life works fine on its own, but I also have the outline of a trilogy if there’s a bunch of interest in the first one. Just kinda depends on how this turns out!

  5. I’m definitely going to pick this up in the near future, and am really excited and surprised to see this come out of nowhere.

  6. 13 chapters in and enjoying it so far. You have a gift for writing the kind of humor that actually makes me laugh; the grizzly bears and musical chairs line, for example.

    Deeper impressions will wait until I finish it.

  7. Hey, congrats!
    As someone who has been reading your stuff for a while now I’m very interested to check how a whole book by you would turn out. Just got it from amazon, and will be reading it this week.
    Best of luck!

  8. I don’t suppose there’s a way to read an exerpt? The premise is intriguing and I’d love to be able to read your writing!

  9. Quite amusing that bloggers are self-pubbing their stuff. r042 has a novel out too (ask him about it).

    I’ll pick this up and tell you what I think of it, if that’s fine with you.

  10. Awesome!
    This is certainly not the type of premises I’m used to ahah. Will get it during the summer. I like your essays writing style and knowing your priorities it makes me very curious. It will be my first E-book I usually buy hard copies of everything I read.

  11. Bought, looking good so far…. But I have one question: Did you think about not going with the typical “there’s only one supernatural agency so I might as well call it The Agency” (replaceable with “The Organization”/”The Order”/”The …”)? Because this, probably mostly through its insane prevalence in anime and manga, has come to bother me unreasonably much^^.

  12. Congrats! This is definitely a surprise, but as a long time reader of your blog I have to say I’m pretty excited to give this a shot. Will be purchasing soon!

    And, as others have asked questions, I of course have one as well. Now that you have completed work on this book, do you have any plans for more? Not necessarily a sequel, but something new entirely? Just curious!

    • Glad to hear it! I’ll definitely start working on a new fiction piece soon enough, though I don’t yet know what form it’ll take. Could be a sequel, could be an entirely new piece, or I might just recuperate with some short stories while gearing up for the next thing. Whatever it is, I’ll announce it here when I’ve actually got something to show.

  13. I like these kinds of stories, and $5 is not much, so I’ll definitely pick it up when I actually have the time to read it. I’m sure it is much harder to write your own stories than criticize/deconstruct/etc. others, and congratulations on publishing a book.

  14. Hmm, the testing 20% in Snashwords isn’t working for me either. I’ve tried both Dropbox and Email, and waited a few day, but neither seems to send me anything.

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  16. Hey there! I finished reading your book (well, about a week ago actually) and really enjoyed it. Sean and Zoe were fantastic characters, who felt real, but I also liked how the more minor characters like Chloe got characterisation as well. Switching between viewpoints was a clever idea, because it allowed me to fully experience the characters, especially during their key moments. There was always an undercurrent of tension, if not outright, which kept me engrossed. The physical conflict was good, but the verbal clashes and internal conflict stood out to me the most. This was awesome for me because my tastes lean towards conflict through words as opposed to action. I also thought the dialogue and banter was done well, and I enjoyed the sprinkling of humour.

    There were a couple of things I found a bit confusing. Sometimes it was hard to tell who was talking when there were consecutive dialogue lines. I always managed to figure it out from the context and content of the sentences, but it did remove me from the story somewhat. I also had a little trouble with some of the magic-related things, but I’ll put that down to my bad habit of reading super fast 😛

    But overall it was a really good read, money well spent. Thanks for advertising the book on your blog, otherwise I wouldn’t have known!

    P.S. Sequel when?
    P.P.S. Did you give Zoe your taste in music?

    • Also it was funny, I could actually recognise your writing style. Particularly when you were setting the scene. I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen to me before, haha.

    • Very happy to hear you enjoyed it! My own preference for verbal and character conflict is probably pretty clear in my criticism, so I’m glad that came off well in the book. I actually have a sequel outlined, I just need to find, uh, a thousand free hours to write and edit the thing. And Zoe actually has pretty close to my high school self’s taste in music, along with my high school self’s insistence that her music taste is the best and everyone else’s sucks 😛

  17. It’s awesome to hear that you’ve actually written a story of your own, I’ve found your analysis of storytelling and perspective on a lot of series very insightful so I’m curious to see how a story that you’ve made will turn out. One of these days I want to buy the book and give it a read myself, I imagine it’ll be quite worthwhile and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.

  18. Finished it!

    It was pretty great. I loved how you developed the relation between both characters it felt very natural and human. The banter between them was great; especially liked the whole kiss scene. Also liked how you used the Ether has more than a simple magic system. It actually reflected the themes giving it weight and purpose.

    Small question about the ending (spoilers): While it’s not really important for the overall picture… I was wondering what the directors reasoning was at the end. If Zoe had accepted his offer I fail to see how anything would have been resolved for him. Maybe it was just bluff ? Since ”agent hunters” (I don’t remember the name I actually finished it a good while ago) still go to collect standard souls at times and Zoe and Sean actions/knowledge would remain a problem.

    • Recommended it to my sister since she usually enjoys those kinds of premises. She didn’t get into it.. She found the style of writing too odd to her liking. (It’s true that your style felt different from the norm though I personally enjoyed it)
    • Glad to hear you enjoyed it! As for your question, obviously SPOILERS AHEAD:

      The Director didn’t really know the specifics of Zoe and Sean’s motivations – he just wanted them to stop what they were doing, and to appease his higher-ups, so he could avoid having any more of his agents put in danger. If Sean were gone and Zoe did as she was told, he could reasonably say that the “problem had been dealt with” for his higher-ups. This isn’t really what he would have wanted earlier on, but Sean/Zoe’s actions kind of forced his hand – the best-case scenario for him would have been “fast-track Sean through this hierarchy so he gets promoted again and out of danger before his ethics become a problem,” which was likely his original goal.

  19. Lucky you, I’ve always dreamed of publishing a book. I’m working on one now, but it’s not going on too well. I can’t think of the next sentence to write, I mean like, I know what I want to write, I just can’t write it doen and make it sound good. Got any tips for a really young, want to be writer?

  20. I would love to read this one day. It sounds really interesting.
    Is there any chance for it to be published as a physical copy, I do not own any kindle device and do enjoy reading books the old way a lot more.

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