The Closeout Kings is in the hands of beta readers

Based on all the feedback on Facebook, here, and in the non-internet world, this looks like the winning cover.

In the hands of beta readers

I put out a call for beta readers for The Closeout Kings on Facebook, and I was pleasantly surprised by the response.  As a result, the early first-revised draft of the book is in the hands of 20+ readers.  I’ve never used that many beta readers before.  At most, I’ve used a half-dozen, so it will be interesting to see the results.  I created a survey on Polldaddy that allows the beta readers to anonymously rank the general elements of a story (character, plot, setting, humor, etc.), and I also gave them the opportunity to leave detailed comments about any issue they want to address.

I’ve already gotten some excellent feedback on dialect, firearms, trucks, and other details. These are factors that are as important as the major aspects of storytelling, and are incredibly helpful.

The book is almost 84k words, so I don’t anticipate I’ll see a significant number or survey results for a couple of weeks, so that leaves me some down time to hop on other projects.  Those other projects include Book Seven.  I’m going to play around with some plot points and see if I can pull together a full skeleton of the story.  This is Oz’ finally journey, and I’m somewhat terrified I’m not going to do him justice.

I may also take a look at The Tree Readers again.  It’s become an epic Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel that is currently well over 100k words, and by my estimation, it’s only about 2/3 of they way done. Given that it’s taken years to write, I don’t see myself rushing to get it done now.  It’s one of those manuscripts that I may finish, hand off to my agent and forget about it.

That’s my state of writing report for now.  Stay calm and keep reading.

Why am I reading with a southern accent?

Tennessee Ernie Ford: "It was a dark and stormy night, y'all."

Tennessee Ernie Ford: “It was a dark and stormy night, y’all.”

If you’re familiar with Bad Way Out, you know that the grammar of the narrator, ER Percy, is horrible.  He’s a hillbilly with no use for fancy talk.  So it’s understandable that you read that book (internally or aloud) with a thick southern drawl (as the extremely talented narrator Mr. Nate Daniels did in the audiobook version).

The Closeout Kings is told using a third person omniscient narrator. All the characters are decidedly hillbilly, but the narration is a simple, straight read.  So why then am I reading it with a southern accent?  It doesn’t make sense to me, but every time I pick up a couple of pages and read it I become Tennessee Ernie Ford.

I may have to record a reading and post it to totally humiliate myself.  Maybe then I’ll drop the dang twang and start reading it like a normal person.

BOOM! The first draft of The Closeout Kings is done!

I just typed “The End” on the first draft of C. Hoyt Caldwell’s next book, The Closeout Kings! And, it is such relief! This one has been hard because of the subject matter.  Trying to make a story about human trafficking enjoyable is as hard as it sounds.  Is it any good?  No.  Not at this stage.  This is the first draft.  First drafts are normally dreadful.  I have some rewriting to do, but the story officially has a beginning, middle, and END!

You’ll notice two things about this post. One, I called the book The Little Deputy and the Closeout Kings in a previous post.  The little deputy has been pulled from the title.  Not because she’s less important than the closeout kings, but because graphically I couldn’t pull off the long title when it came to designing a cover.  Plus, The Little Deputy and the Closeout Kings sounds a little like a children’s book.  It just doesn’t fit the genre.

The other thing that you’ll notice is that I’m talking about C. Hoyt Caldwell on my R.W. Ridley blog when in the past I said I wouldn’t unless something big happened.  Well, completing a first draft is big so there.  Stop judging me.  There’s a possibility that I may rescind that rule anyway.  I haven’t made a final decision yet, but I am leaning that way.

Now for the fun part.  I created a couple of cover options for this book, and posted them on Facebook.  I was stunned and pleased by the great response I got from my Facebook Friends.  They gave me some really good feedback and based on that I’m down to two possibilities.  Take a look and let me know which one you like better.  I’ve made them about the size they’d be on an online retailer’s website because that’s where about 99% of my sales come from.

Do you like cover A or cover B?

Do you like cover A or cover B?