As a hybrid post of sorts, Sheri McInnis and I have put a post together I would likely never have done on my own. Here we go in her words...

I recently wrote a guest post for Gordon Wilson's blog Firetok.com about why I'm going indie on my third novel. I got such great feedback, I feel lucky to have entered Gordon's blogosphere.

His blog, Firetok.com, has attracted a lot of attention for his honest thoughts about writing, inspiration and life - including guest posts from authors like Julie Anne Hacker - who wrote a great piece about the inspirational nature of horror - and Michele Barrow-Belisle who basically broke the internet with her real-life Cinderella story about selling the movie rights to her book.

But Gordon isn't just a blogger. He's an author too. He doesn't talk about it very much because he's not 100% comfortable with self-promotion. But his first novel, Firetok, was self-published a couple years ago.

I ordered it shortly after I met Gordon on Twitter. Not just because he's smart and generous and has been my personal IT department for the last few weeks. But because of the book's ratings!

86% of his reviews are five stars! Wow! And all the rest are four stars! Having stewed over my own mixed reviews, I'm truly blown away by some of these comments:

"Firetok is a quick read and full of fleshed out characters I cared about immediately ..."

"Well written thriller by unknown author. I hope he has more to come ..."

"The vividness of the story really allowed me to create the scenes in my head which is what I crave as a reader - well done!"

Someone even bought the paperback and e-version, so he could take it everywhere.

Readers have obviously responded not just to someone who's managed to publish a book - which is hard enough. But to a novelist who's written a story people really care about - with characters they actually love. It's the hardest part of being a writer - and he's already got that part down.

By the way, I just finished the book yesterday. It's mysterious, mystical and full of suspense. About one man's journey to find his destiny with the help of an enigmatic character called 'the old man.' On his way he meets crooked cops, a tough damsel in distress - and a big white dog named Firetok.

Gordon's style is part Stephen King, part Jack Kerouac - lyrical without being saccharine. The characters are unique and memorable - and the climax is killer. It's the kind of book that has a vision behind it. You're never sure where you're going, only that you want to be there. From mystical hallucinations in a cave to a team of secret crime-fighters who can get anything done, it's a thriller with a touch of magic.

I know how humble Gordon is - so I'll leave it there for now. The link is on this page.

By the way, Gordon and I have gone back and forth about this. He originally wrote a guest post for me about his journey as a writer. But when I read it, I thought his readers would enjoy the full story behind the birth of both the blog and the book. It's a story that, like everything else about Gordon, will inspire you to believe in yourself - and others, too.

I'll have to hound him for another guest post later. ;) Thanks, Sheri

I was recently asked as part of an author interview, "I see a lot of recent posts on your blog, are you ramping up for a future project?" I have a good answer, and when Sheri asked me to do a collaborative post for her, I thought it kind of ties in with the recent post she did for me, so why not expound on it.

Let me answer the question in more than one way. First, the answer is no, kind of, not really. The answer is not a yes no deal, so relax for a minute while I explain.

I was in a position for a couple of years where I was working so many hours, creative writing was not happening. I was so tired and worn out, I wrote almost nothing for quite awhile. I would write a little and no magic really happened so it did not feed itself. I was going to school so I was writing plenty of papers and business plans etc... I just wasn't writing for fun.

During this time I was playing guitar and singing with a group, so I had some creative outlet which was pretty essential to my survival. It gave me that place of mental refuge and something to work for. Over and over my wife would tell me how she wanted to get me working with her so I could write once again. The timing never seemed to be right and I pretty much saw it as a dream which would never happen.

Things happened. In a story all its own, I came home early one day without the job. I was ecstatic. Things began to change immediately. She insisted I go write something the next morning. I logged back into my blog which I started in about 2008 but had not touched in years. I wrote this and that. I found it a good way to sort out my feelings. I actually had some comments on the early posts, it was encouraging.

When I self published Firetok several years ago, I may have redefined the self part. I had help from two people who I was not married to during the process. Thankfully they were the ones who did the editing, or should I say made the editing suggestions. I actually edited it. Everything about the book I did myself. After about eight months of editing (I was working full time and trying to finish my bachelors degree full time also) I published the book through Create Space, Amazons publishing arm at the time.

I self published a book, so what happens next? Great question. We put the word out to all family and friends primarily through Facebook. I could not help but talk about it when I would meet people on the street or the hardware, this was the culmination of a huge effort. I was thrilled to achieve a life goal. I published a book. Ever since I was very young I wanted to write books. Oh crap, did I say I wanted to write books? Publishing, formatting, querying,advertising, networking, promoting... not part of the childhood dream. I will say again so what happens next? I could do a whole section on the how and why of self publish but the entire agent query thing was way too intimidating for me. It was all I could do at the time to write the damn thing. I read all the articles I could and just decided against it.

So, what happens next? Everything I read now, still indicates it is up to me to figure out how to put this book in other peoples hands. I was on about a zero dollar budget so giving away tons of books wasn't going to work. In my case the friends and family really worked out well, I was overwhelmed with support. Beyond my friends and family I still did not know how to promote the book, especially without spending a bunch of money.

So what am I doing now? I am not in any way trying to promote my first book. A couple friends convinced me to link to it here, but that isn't my goal. I look at it as a learning experience which will some day find more of its audience, likely after the subsequent books are released. I am reading every article I can about writing, genres, rules to follow, bla bla bla. I read about it and write about it. I was more than half way through the sequel to Firetok when I came to the realization I am no closer to answering the what happens next question than I was then. I pretty much put the project on hold until I get a better grasp on what the answer is. I still write just about everyday but it is more focused on the trail I create as I try to figure out how to write better and what to do next.

Has it worked? No, kind of, maybe? I have a much better understanding of the mechanics of writing, plotting, genre, tension...you get the idea. But as far as promoting the book, the single best thing I believe I have learned is this, the writing must be very good. Over and over I read experts say, a good well written book will find its audience. The not so good ones are easy to find as well. Bottom line, the book needs to be well done. The pot of gold under the rainbow is the writing itself. What am I doing then? Trying to figure out how to write better. Discovering the mistakes I had no idea I was making and trying to find a fix. I am concentrating on the mechanics and I will see where that takes me.

An unintended consequence of my quest? Beyond the learning, I have come across some very interesting people with things to say. I listen. I am  hanging out with other authors, so these are who I am listening to, but people are willing to share their experiences, which I appreciate. As much as I am sure I do not know, I still have accumulated a vast amount of knowledge and want to learn more. This is a rewarding part of my journey and I too am willing to share with anyone who wants to listen.

So how does this tie in with the rebirth of my blog? That is yet the most astounding unintended consequence I could imagine. My wife and I commute two hours a day and we talk the whole time. Whatever we have been reading about becomes the topic. One day the topic was some of the basic stuff I have learned about using Twitter. I was once so turned off by Twitter I signed out for years. I said, "I should write this stuff down." Someone else could find my "discoveries" helpful. I had read days worth of "stuff" and essentially boiled it down. I put it up on the blog and people went nuts for it. That was quite awhile ago and it was at the time my most popular post. A very humbling experience. I look at my blog stats and am 100% blown away. I don't like to use numbers because it so easily sounds pretentious. Hopefully if you have read this far you will believe its not my nature nor my intent. So when I see tens of thousands of people are visiting my blog a month, you may understand why I am blown away. Unintended consequence. I find this inspirational.

So to wrap it all up, What am I doing?

Trying to figure it all out. Trying to accumulate more knowledge so when my book is ready to be published, I will be too. Have I got a plan? Kind of, I want to figure out all the mistakes I made so I wont do them again. Does the list get smaller, not really. It seems the more I learn, the more I realize I did not know.

Bottom note- Thank you so much Sheri for the intro. I am better off for having met you and appreciate your honesty and support. Here is to future ventures.