During my cabin stay in Idyllwild-Pine Cove, I didn’t write the 30,000 words I had hoped for. I only netted 3,779 new words over five days. But I still think the retreat was a success for four reasons. The first is that I completed the first two chapters of the book. The second is that my beta readers loved the chapters (and they didn’t dislike Orly for what she does in Chapter Two). The third is that I’ve created momentum to keep going. The fourth is that I only needed extra anxiety medicine on one day during my stay.

I was supposed to be there for seven nights, but I only stayed for five. The isolation got to me. Even though I don’t generally interact with strangers in public, I still like to see that they’re there. I wanted to write where it was familiar—Starbucks store 20537. And so I left Thursday morning. It’s Sunday now and I’ve added 1,215 new words. I also began writing a story about Orly before she meets Yelena and her friendship with Abdul-Samad who is mentioned in Chapter Twenty-Two of The Scribbled Victims.

I also sent out a newsletter for the first time in a long time. I received many responses from readers which made me very happy. I’m going to try sending a newsletter once a month. Click here if you’d like to sign up.

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Late this afternoon, I arrived in Idyllwild-Pine Cove where I rented an A-frame cabin for a week so that I could write without distraction. I plan to work on the third book in the Black Wax Vampire Trilogy, although I also have a short story on my mind about Orly before she meets Yelena.

My goal coming here was to write 30,000 new words. I looked back at entries in my personal blog from the end of July 2015 when I took a similar trip to Bainbridge Island, also to write in solitude, also from a Saturday to Saturday, and noticed I also had a goal of 30,000 words. I remember I went on that trip because I had eight chapters of The Scribbled Victims and was stuck. I was struggling to figure out the mechanics of how Yelena would be able to adopt Orly. By Monday, I wanted to trash the story. But Tuesday, I spent a day in nature and then sat back down Wednesday and kept at it. On Thursday I had a breakthrough: Yelena would not succeed in adopting Orly. Once that dawned on me, I was able to keep going. I didn’t come anywhere near 30,000 new words, but by September of 2016, I finished writing the book.

As I mentioned in my two previous posts, my depression has been bad lately. My psychologist and psychiatrist are concerned about me being isolated for so long. My anxiety has been bad as well, but my anxiety was also bad in Bainbridge, and on that trip I succeeded in taking only three Klonopins and as I said, I had the breakthrough I needed. So, I’m hoping for a very good and serene writing week, even if I don’t hit 30,000 words. It’s just a number. It’s just a goal to keep myself motivated. I already have a good start. On the winding mountain road that brought me here, I acted out a scene, and when I arrived, I wrote down the last lines of a character who won’t live to see the end of the third book.  

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Monday, my interview on the This Is Writing website posted. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to be on their website. Today, I did my first podcast interview for the Working Title podcast. I was so nervous and spent my last session with my psychologist talking about trying to overcome my shyness and gain enough confidence to do it. Speaking publicly is not something I look forward to, and I was particularly worried about coming off as awkward, stupid, or full of myself. My hands and head were sweating when the interview began, but about halfway through it, I realized that was no longer the case. The interview lasted fifty-three minutes and time just seemed to fly by. The interviewer said I did a great job, so I’m hopeful that when the episode airs in October, I’ll sound okay.

One thing I mentioned in the interview was that I stopped checking my book sales and reviews. I had been in the habit of obsessively checking them daily, if not multiple times a day. But I realized doing so wasn’t good for me mentally. Though the majority of my reviews on The Scribbled Victims are positive, when I read those reviews, I don’t allow myself to celebrate them. Conversely, when I receive a less than favorable review, I’ll dwell on it for days. The same goes for book sales. I don’t celebrate the days I make sales, but feel dismal on the days when I haven’t made a single sale. In other words, I’m in the habit of focusing on the negative.

It hasn’t been easy to break the compulsion to check my reviews and sales, but mentally, I have definitely seen the effects, and they’re definitely positive. I’ll eventually have to check my sales however, because I pay someone to manage my advertising campaign, and their payments are based on my book sales.

Even though I haven’t read my reviews in quite a while, a reader actually took the time to send me an email today which read:

Robert,

I read so many books. Mostly horror or fantasy, bizarro or new weird fiction; as long as the writing is incredible. I have read so many authors, Harlan Ellison being my favorite as well as others…

I have to tell you- You are an incredibly gifted writer. This book is so well written it is beautiful the story and characters.  Just magic. I can’t wait for your next book. 

Thank you for writing such a great novel and sharing it with me. 

Ron ******** 
Queens, NY

I’m going to do my best to celebrate that email.

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I’ve continued to write on paper and I think I’m close to having the full story for the final book in the Black Wax Vampire Trilogy. I had a breakthrough idea today, a way to make my readers really feel something. I feel so motivated and overcome with passion for this new book that I feel like I could write it all in a week if I went away somewhere peaceful. I did that in 2015 when I was stuck on a particular part when writing The Scribbled Victims. I spent a week in a house rental in Puget Sound. It was perfect and I found a solution to the problem on the fourth day in solitude. I know I couldn’t possibly write the whole book in a week, but the sound of getting away somewhere to write sounds very appealing. I just have to pick a time and place.

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I’ve been busy as an author lately. As I mentioned in my previous post, I was interviewed by two websites. The Orange County Readers website posted my interview and a review of The Scribbled Victims this week. You can read it here.

Also in my previous post, I mentioned doing a photo shoot for new author photos. I finally selected one and posted it to my social media. I intend to use this photo for the interview with the This Is Writing website as well as the back cover for the redesigned cover of The Scribbled Victims and the cover of Scribbling The Eternal, when it is released. I decided to go with a black and white image this time.

Author Robert Tomoguchi
My New Author Photo

Speaking of new covers, I will soon be releasing a new cover for The Scribbled Victims. I had been very happy with my current cover as it looked like literary fiction. However, as my designer had become too busy to work on my projects in a timely manner, I had to make the very tough decision to find a new cover designer. As I am working with a new designer, I decided to go with a new look for the entire trilogy. The new covers will feature an image of Orly, but I have high hopes the covers will still look like literary fiction or general fiction, rather than paranormal or fantasy.

Because I had find a new cover designer, this also meant I had to find a new designer to typeset and design the interior of Scribbling The Eternal. (My original designer had designed both the cover and book interior.) Because this is a trilogy, it was important to me that the interiors of all three books matched, so I had this new designer go back and re-typeset and design the interior of The Scribbled Victims. This new design will be used for all books in the trilogy. I just reviewed the second proof of the interior today and only had one change request, so I think the new interior will be finalized very soon.

The text for Scribbling The Eternal continues to be edited, but I am still hopeful for an early fall release.

More to come.

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I’m vacationing in Amsterdam, so I haven’t been able to write every day as I had been. But today, I finally found some time to hang out at a three story cafe and write until I felt too shaky from all the coffee I drank. I believe I finally found Candy’s voice. 

There is a similarity between this narrative and the narrative in The Scribbled Victims. Many readers of The Scribbled Victims don’t realize immediately that it is Orly narrating the book. I drop a hint at it in the very first chapter when she interrupts her storytelling to say that she wished that she looked like Yelena. Because of that, a reviewer criticized me of switching from third person to first person, even though it was first person all along. 

Anyhow, Candy will be narrating the story of a man named Burrows, but similarly it is all in her voice. It should be more clear from the get go this time. Who knows, maybe this style will become my thing. 

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This is my second of two weekends I’m stepping away from working on Scribbling The Eternal before I give it my final read. It feels so strange not to be writing, although I’ve been doing poetry exercises from the book I purchased The Poet’s Companion. Writing poetry has been an interesting experience already. Though it is writing, the approach to it feels different. The thinking and daydreaming even feels slightly different. I don’t know that I can put the differences into words (which I suppose is a problem, being a writer, but oh well). At any rate, I’m enjoying it. 

As I was falling asleep last night, it came to mind that the phrase “my darling tragedy” might not have made its way into my new book. The term of endearment was one issued by Mirela Cobalcescu, describing Orly Bialek in The Scribbled Victims. This morning I checked the manuscript and discovered that the term was not used in the new book. 

My checklist of things to address in my rewrites was cleared two weekends ago, but when I do my final read next weekend, I’m wondering if I will find a place where I can insert it. For I do love that term for Orly so much.   

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Around 4 p.m. today at Starbucks, I finished writing Scribbling The Eternal. It took twenty-six months to write and was completed at just over 125K words, so it’s significantly longer than The Scribbled Victims which was 82K words. 

I feel excited, but the feeling of relief hasn’t hit me yet. 

I’m going to not look at the manuscript for a couple of weeks and then do one final read through before I hand it over for editing. 

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It seems The Scribbled Victims is finally gaining word of mouth. I can see on Kindle Unlimited that about 3,000 pages are being read every day. I just hope it continues (and grows).

It was my plan to do a photo shoot at the end of September to create a new cover for The Scribbled Victims as well as create the cover for Scribbling The Eternal for when it releases. Though I love my current cover, I thought my books would gain more visibility if I put Orly on each book cover. I’ve spent months preparing for this photo shoot–arranging a studio, finding a photographer, hiring a model, finding a special effects artist to make fangs and do blood make up, and purchasing costumes. Everything was coming together until last week, when I found out that Amazon will not allow me to advertise a book if the book cover has blood on it. I can have a book cover with blood on it, but I just cannot use AMS (Amazon Marketing Services) to promote a bloody book. 

Well that sucks. These are vampire books. How can I not have blood on the covers? 

Since word of mouth is finally happening, part of me thinks–fuck it, just put blood on the cover anyway. But the conservative part of me doesn’t want to limit my options in the event I want to use AMS in the future. 

I also just read this book called Mastering Amazon Ads. I didn’t think it was written very clearly, but I did glean some helpful advice from it. One thing I really dread (and that I think many authors dread) is the thought of rewriting the blurb on the back of their book. This was stressed heavily in the book. I’ve rewritten mine a couple times already, but I suppose there’s always room for improvement. So I just ordered a book that is solely about writing your book blurb. I hope it’s helpful and that I can approach the rewrite of mine with an open mind. To be completely honest, I wish I could just hire a professional to write it for me, but I don’t know how to go about finding a professional blurb writer, let alone vetting one out. 

But stay tuned…a new cover and a new blurb are on their way. 

-Robert Tomoguchi

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