Tag Archives: Terri-Lynne Smiles

Multiplayer: What’s the worst thing that can happen to you?

I’ve been struggling lately. People find out I’m an author of a soon-to-be-released novel, and they gush about how neat it must be to write a book. That part is neat, although with the kind of novels I write, that my writing partner John C. Brewer writes, and that PlotForge will publish, the writing is vastly harder than any non-writer suspects. Still, that part is fun and extremely rewarding.

But lately, my time and attention have been parsed and reparsed and pulled like taffy between the business end of PlotForge, the marketing of Multiplayer, the preparations to market Foreseen, and – the most difficult part for me – increasing demands and stress from my day job. The result was a melt down.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t one of those head-spinning-around, yelling, hysterical all-at-once sort of meltdowns. Rather, it left me sullen, disagreeable to everyone, and worst of all, unable to write.

It took a few days to recognize the problem, but that was even worse. Then I thrashed around for two more days, frantic at the unending demands on my time and mental energy.  But today, I feel like an idiot.  You see, the answer was staring me in the face the entire time. Multiplayer.

Near the beginning of Multiplayer, Hector West’s mother challenges him to figure out what the worst thing is that can happen to him. Through all the obstacles and threats he faces in the story, it isn’t until the end that the answer smacks him in the face.  I won’t give any spoilers for those of you who haven’t read it yet, but at that moment, Hector saw:

“How quickly things could change when you realized what was important. And what wasn’t. Now he understood; dying wasn’t the worst thing that could happen to you. It wasn’t even close.”

I can’t answer what’s important for you, but I know what’s on my list – and those aren’t the things that have been consuming all my time. I’ve been swept up in the demanding minutiae of my life – important minutiae, but not really what matters. This doesn’t solve the problem of more demands than time, but it gives me a framework from which to make rational decisions, and ones that will give me the mental peace to keep going.

John C. Brewer and Hector are right.  Dying isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you. Forgetting what’s important is.

John C. Brewer’s Debut Novel, Multiplayer, Published

PlotForge’s debut novel Multiplayer was released today and is available for immediate download from Barnes&Noble for the Nook and from Amazon for the Kindle. The print version is due to be available from Amazon.com within the next week or so and will be available from Barnes&Noble a few weeks after that.

Multiplayer is the brainchild of rocket scientist, soccer player, motorcyclist, and all around Renaissance man, John C. Brewer. While John may not be the most interesting man in the world, he may be the most interesting man in Alabama.

Several years ago, Mr. Brewer, the father of three sons separated by a total of 30 months, began looking for books for them to read as they progressed beyond picture books. Numerous trips to the bookstore and searching online resulted in few titles that would interest a young man. “Beyond Hatchet [Gary Paulsen] there just isn’t much out there,” he recalls saying at one point. Of course Harry Potter helped fill that void, but he had the same reaction as the Big Six (major publishers) after the final book came out: “What next?”

John had already been writing for a few years and, seeing an untapped market, decided to try his hand at youth titles. But not the ‘pink’ titles you’ll find on the shelves if you go to your local store. But not specifically “boy books” either. John knew that while the market was large, it was also a potentially difficult nut to crack. So what John eventually landed on was books that just tell a great story.

“I was at the Screen Writer’s Expo in L.A. a few years ago,” John says, “and Andrew Stanton was talking about Finding Nemo and Pixar and the way Pixar develops their stories. They don’t aim for the usual markets. They don’t try to make a specific group happy. They just want to tell a great story. A story they would like to see.” John said that’s what he wanted to do. Interestingly, he points out, while Pixar was started by LucasFilm, the principles were not movie executives but experts in computer graphics. John is a rocket scientist.

Sadly, the publishing industry is at a point where they find themselves financially unable to take risks on anything really new. All the large publishers are publicly traded, and while they have magnificent distribution systems, they are beholden to the stockholders to show a healthy bottom line. What this means is that they can only sign books which have an established product base. While everyone is looking for “The next Harry Potter” most acquiring editors are afraid to put their job on the line to find it. Publishing is very much a business in which it is safer to have guaranteed sales of 10,000 titles, than a potential sale of 100,000.

After they were unable to find a traditional publisher, John and some other writers formed PlotForge, Ltd. Their stated intent is to become the Pixar of books. Multiplayer is their first title and they are due to release another in the next three months or so. Foreseen, by Terri-Lynne Smiles is about a mind-reading college kid who not only gets her dream, but the nightmare that goes along with it. Before the end of 2012 they hope to have a half-dozen titles available for eReaders and in print.

So if you’re looking for a great story; if you’d like to recommend something to your kids who’ve given up on reading for entertainment; if you are a kid yourself, old or young, who is interested in popular culture and where it is leading us, give Multiplayer a try. And, John asks, if you wouldn’t mind, he’d appreciate it if you’ll write a nice review on Amazon or B&N. It’s all about the numbers these days and John Brewer and PlotForge, Ltd. hope to rise above the noise.

Testing the Markets – With Your Help!

The first two novels from PlotForge aren’t coming from one of the traditional Big Six publishing houses.  These are well-written, have rivetting stories and interesting characters.  But they will never be picked up by traditional publishing because the primary audience of one is teen boys, and the other appeals to college kids – that is, new adults roughly in the 18-25 age range.  So, what’s the problem?  Conventional book marketing wisdom says teen boys don’t read, and college students won’t read anything other than what’s been assigned in class.

The question we asked at PlotForge:  Why not?

To us, it’s a chicken-or-the-egg question.  There isn’t much to track in the buying history for these two groups.  But is that because they don’t want to read or because there hasn’t been a lot out there that interests them?   All of our anecdotal research from you, the readers, told us one thing: These groups are hungry for novels that are relevant to them.  And now, with your help, we are preparing to test that research.

Author John Brewer’s novel, Multiplayer, will be released in a few weeks.  It’s a story about a normal, bike-riding, soccer-following, video-gaming teen who is justifiably angry about the evil he has encountered in his life.  But through the interplay of his online world with real life, it turns out that blind hatred, no matter how well-founded, may be the greatest evil of all.  John will be talking a lot more about his book in the weeks to come.

My novel, Foreseen, which will come out a couple months later, is an action-packed love story involving quantum mechanics.  Huh?  You read it right.  My college-aged readers say it perfectly captures the flow of their lives, following characters who are taking steps from the egocentric world of teenagers to the multi-centered reality of being an adult.

Multiplayer and Foreseen.  Very different books for overlapping markets. If you know people who you think might be interested in either of these novels, pass this blog along.  Ask them to find PlotForge on Facebook, follow along with this blog, or they can follow John and me on Twitter, as we test these exciting markets.  Whatever the result, by putting out these books, it’s you, the reader, who get to decide.