My first novel is done!

My first novel, Death from Above is done. I’ve got some final proofing before it becomes available, but it’s done and should be out in the next couple of weeks. If you’d like to be notified when it comes out, please sign up.

Tourists have stolen the sacred codex of the Mayan sky god Q’uq’umatz. Now airliners are falling out of the sky and it’s up to NTSB investigator Jennifer Lynch to figure out why.
When the stolen codex keeps showing up at crash sites, Lynch teams with Mayan expert Max Gutierrez and oddball Homeland Security agent Lizard Wong to try to solve the crashes.
With both terrorists and the FBI hunting for them, can they figure out how to return the codex and stop the crashes before hundreds more die?  

A little background on this, I read…a lot. 100 books a year a lot. Some of them are breathtakingly good. Some of them are old friends. Some of them suck. Long before self publishing and eBooks I read a couple of really crappy books, from big publishers, by big name authors. I was convinced that I could do better than that. I started to write one serious novel and chucked it. After writing a couple of non-fiction technical books with Packt Publishing, I figured I would try again. It took 3 years of part time plugging in between work, life and 2 more technical books, but it’s finally done.

They say write what you know. I already did that with the technical books. I read fiction to be entertained. As a consultant I spent a lot of time on airplanes so I rolled that experience into my fiction. Death from Above isn’t Hemmingway, but it will keep you entertained. As long as it does that, I’m happy.

If you’d like to be notified when it comes out, please sign up.

First Novel Notes to Self

So I’m finally happy enough with my novel to start showing it to people. I have a few notes for myself that I wanted put down here.

  • I helps a lot if you just pick a tool and stay with it. I started in OneNote, moved to Word, then to Scrivener and back to Word. Some of that was trying to reconcile how to write in on odd places and times mixing between a laptop, iPad and iPhone. The problem is that the formatting still gets lost switching between applications. When that’s line spacing over a hundred pages it really sucks.
  • Don’t format anything until you are finally done. Keep it all in text. Formatting is a productivity trap that can be worse than Twitter or Facebook.
  • Use beats. I’m not a super heavy outliner, but I’m a sucky pantser. Beats help me figure out what to write next.

Now I’m hunting for more beta readers.

The Year Without Pants

I’m a huge fan of Scott Berkun’s Confessions of a Public Speaker. It’s the primary book I recommend for people doing presentations for the first time.

In Scott’s latest book, The Year Without Pants, Berkun trades his speaking, writing and consulting life for some time working at Automattic, the creators of blogging platform WordPress. I’ve done the consulting, industry, consulting dance and it’s both fun and scary to be responsible for what you recommend. Its even more fun in The Year Without Pants because WordPress is not a normal working environment. It a highly distributed, independently motivated environment.

Berkun does a fabulous job of relating what worked and where he made mistakes. The stories are relatable and funny. I felt like I was the silent extra member of Team Social. There is a great human/everyman quality to his writing. Berkun doesn’t try to force what worked at Microsoft on WordPress or what worked at WordPress on another company. He fits bits and pieces of what has worked other places into the unique WordPress culture.

I came away with a new appreciation for the effects of corporate culture and the  trade offs that culture decisions create. These were thing I knew, but Berkun manages to articulate them in a clear and approachable way.

The Year Without Pants is easily the best nonfiction book I’ve read all year and it’s better than most of the fiction. Just buy this book. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll take your pants off.