What a Wonderful, Strange Trip It May Be


On Monday, the Kindle edition of my novel Little Flower of Luzon was available for free download at Amazon.com. Today is Thursday and the response has surpassed by initial expectations. And for that I am grateful beyond all measure.

The model I envision is this: a certain percentage of those who download my novel for free may leave a review on Amazon.com. Those reviews can be favorable or not (I admit that I have purchased books despite negative reviews). Of those total number of people I am banking on each one perhaps telling friends, family, coworkers, reading groups, etc about my book. And again a certain percentage of those who hear by word of mouth may in turn purchase my book (Kindle e-book or trade paperback). Or at least I hope so.

So, if you are out there and you are looking for a good free read and you have a Kindle device you can download my novel right now. If you don’t have a Kindle then you can download the Kindle Reader app at Amazon.com for your laptop, your desktop, or even your iPhone and read my book. And if you do I implore you to please leave an unbiased, honest review at Amazon.com in the future.

Of course, if your like me and love the feel of a physical book in your hand then you can purchase Little Flower of Luzon in trade paperback. And if you do I will be in your debt.

The free download ends Friday night at 11:59pm. Or, if Amazon.com is slow to update their systems, you might sneak by shortly after midnight.

I would like to thank everyone who has downloaded a free Kindle edition so far, and I encourage everyone to do so. Originally, my goal was to have 100 readers download my novel. As of this writing, nearly 200 readers have downloaded the free Kindle edition.

My limited advertising thus far has been on Facebook, Twitter (follow me @obrienwriter), and of course here in my humble blog. Next month, I hope to step up my advertising through other avenues. For now, I am content to know that nearly 200 people have downloaded Little Flower of Luzon. If they tell two people and so forth and so on, then who knows what wonderful, strange trip this may turn out to be.

Beautiful Confusion: Outlines and Other Processes

Often people ask me how extensive my outlines are for stories or novels I write. It’s at this moment that I look at them with a blank look, my best Lebowski impression when he’s seated at the desk of the Malibu Police Chief, and ask, “Outline?”

The truth is I am more of the organic type when it comes to creating fiction. In the past I have tried to outline a novel from beginning to end. It felt too…constricting? I blame Gilbert Sorrentino and his novel Mulligan Stew. I read that book years ago (and no I make no claim to have “gotten it”…much the same way with other writers like Pynchon, Cortazar and others). Anyway, I think that’s what planted the seed in me where I let my characters take me on the journey. At least I think that’s what happens. Or maybe it’s some subconscious reaction to being on guided tours when I was a boy.

It helps to know how my story will begin and how it will end. Actually, no. That’s not true. I often don’t know how things will end. I guess that’s the beauty of it. Or the confusion of it. Or maybe the confusing beauty of it? Beautiful confusion? Whatever the case, it works for me.

I have done the journeyman legwork, reading Campbell’s Hero With a Thousand Faces along with a small hill of quality books on fiction writing. I have read good fiction, bad fiction, trashy fiction, you name it. I am a firm believer in learning from it all; either to know what works or what doesn’t. More importantly, I am still learning. Along the way I have written some pretty horrible stories, and some gems I am proud of.

Other writers may be different. Other writers may, right now, have sticky pad sheets or index cards of all shapes, sizes and colors pasted to their walls; or if they are more tech savvy perhaps they use a spreadsheet program or one of those fancy expensive outline programs. None of this is bad. There is really no right or wrong. Writing is a process of discovery. If it was anything else, like brain surgery or plumbing, I would have given up years ago.

The other thing I do is write first drafts in longhand. Call me a dinosaur, but that’s how my mind works. I do jot notes down from time to time, but mostly I like to let it stew a bit before I even put something down on paper.

I would like to hear from other writers. What’s your take? To outline or not to outline? And if you do outline how extensive is it? Or if you’re more like me what’s your process?

Leave a comment. Thanks.

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