April 02, 2014

"The Psi Squad" Press Release

Below is the official press release for "The Psi Squad and the Atherton Ghost." So far, at least one newspaper has run the release (see The Pilot: Psi Squad Press Release), which is one more than ran a release for the first book. Of course, it might have helped if I had written a press release for the first book…

Without further ado, here it is!

North Carolina Author Releases Second Book in Series

Pinehurst NC, March 2014 – North Carolina author Mark Feggeler has released the second book of his middle grade paranormal adventure series, “The Psi Squad.” Available in paperback and for Kindle, “The Psi Squad and the Atherton Ghost” is a family-friendly book that continues the story of three middle school students in Durham, NC, who discover they have extra-sensory abilities.

The series is told by twelve year old J.B., a sixth grader living with his grandparents and who regularly sees spots before his eyes. As he settles in to his new surroundings, J.B. becomes friends with two fellow students who help him realize the spots may be more than they seem. Although there are nine books planned for the series, “The Psi Squad” began as a single book written for Feggeler’s children.

“Children’s books tend to skew either toward very young kids or teenagers,” Feggeler said. “I wanted to write a story that was suitable for a middle grade audience and then make it a relatively quick read. Once that first book was written, I thought it might be great fun to write a series of books about these characters.”

“The Psi Squad and the Atherton Ghost” keeps its focus on the middle grade audience (ages 9 and older). Similar to “The Psi Squad: Book One,” the sequel is less than 100 pages. Although the book is at its core a ghost story, the author is careful not to use gory imagery or profanities.

"The stories are about the characters, not about scaring the reader," Feggeler said. "Much of what the characters experience are things I learned about twenty years ago when I worked part-time for a parapsychology researcher. In that regard, I like to think there's more science to these books than scares."

A resident of Pinehurst, NC, Mark Feggeler studied writing at college and is a former journalist. He returned to writing fiction in 2010 and has since released three books. He also maintains a blog titled “Ramblings of a Very Pale Man.” Both books in “The Psi Squad” series are available in paperback or for Kindle at Amazon.com. Paperback editions are available through The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, NC.


March 10, 2014

Psi Squad 2 -- Now Available!

Get your copy now!!!

"The Psi Squad and the Atherton Ghost" ebook is now available at Amazon.com. Click the link below to go to the site and purchase your copy for only 99 cents!


Book Blurb:
After their first adventure, our three heroes haven't exactly managed to come together as a team. The newly formed Psi Squad club seems doomed before it even has a chance to get started. Until, during a field trip to the historic Atherton Homestead, strange things begin happening that will require the combined paranormal skills of J.B., Rhea and William to find out what's going on. 

"The Psi Squad and the Atherton Ghost" is the second book in "The Psi Squad" series of paranormal adventures for reader age 9+.

March 06, 2014

Psi Squad 2 Set for Release!

No more waiting!

I will be hitting the PUBLISH button on "The Psi Squad and the Atherton Ghost" next Tuesday morning, March 11. By the end of the day -- the digital gods willing -- the book should be available or purchase as an ebook from Amazon.

Shortly thereafter, the paperback will also be available from Amazon.

February 13, 2014

The Year of $100

One-hundred dollars.

That's roughly how much money I earned last year as a direct result of my writing. Three books and this blog as a platform to tell the world about them and all I managed to make off those books was one-hundred dollars. Sounds about right to me, and let me tell you why I think so.

For starters, I ain't no Shakespeare.

I realize that, as an author, I should be the first person shouting from the rooftops about why you should buy my books. I should be that person you avoid at parties, the one who'll bore you to tears with details about the painstaking care I took to plan out plot twists, afflict my characters with bizarre yet endearing traits, and leave the story dangling precariously at the edge of a precipice so the reader achingly yearns for the resolution offered in the sequel. But, even after years in sales, I've never been a fan of the hard sell.

What do I think of my books? I like them. I enjoyed writing them. They were fun to outline, fun to write, and fun to edit. I had a good time creating the covers. And while they are far from perfect, I think you might like them, too.

Secondly, I never planned to make a living off this.

Hobbies should be just that -- hobbies. The problem I see is when people experience the smallest taste of success or attention, they tend to run wild with it and get way ahead of themselves.

One of my lifelong dreams was to write a book. Just because I realized that dream doesn't mean my book is any good, or that I deserve legions of adoring fans tripping over themselves to hand over their hard-earned money. That I have a collection of blog posts and two finished fiction books to my name (with a third coming out in the next few weeks) means just as little. All I did was find the time in my busy schedule to indulge in my hobby. Nobody owes me anything for that. It's the difference between chasing your dream in the hopes of realizing fame and fortune and chasing your dream because it brings you a sense of fulfillment.

Sad to say, on those occasions when I do peruse the blogs and websites of authors with similar track records to mine, it seems these authors spend far more time than I working the market, buying ads, attending book signings, managing social media, and for what? So they can end the month having sold seven copies of their books on Amazon? No, thanks. I have far more important things to do (like spend time with my family and earn real money by being good at my real job).

Thirdly, I'm cheap.

If my hobby were wood-working, I wouldn't spend hundreds for a professional to design the rocking chair I planned to build in my basement. If my hobby were painting, I wouldn't seek out a mentor at a national art gallery for pointers on how best to paint a picture of my dog.

Likewise, with writing as my hobby, I'm not about to spend hundreds of dollars on cover designers and editors, regardless of how many times established authors tell me I should if I want to be taken seriously as an author. I'm a hobbyist. By definition, I don't give a crap if people take me seriously.

Of course, I do feel warm and fuzzy when people compliment my books in reviews, or tell me in person that they enjoyed reading one of my books. I'm not immune to feeling a sense of pride or accomplishment when someone shows appreciation or admiration for what I've created, but I try to keep it from going to my head. Publishing success (either through self-publishing or traditional publishing) is, like any other success in life, equal parts hard work and luck. Call me a no-fun practical stick in the mud, but I'd rather put my energy into my day job which yields success in the form of a paycheck every two weeks.

So, at the end of the day, I enjoy writing and hope that my skills improve with each book I complete. If what I write brings a few fleeting moments of enjoyment to friends in my neighborhood or strangers halfway around the world, so much the better.

© 2014 Mark Feggeler

February 06, 2014

Ready for Beta!

"The Psi Squad and the Atherton Ghost" is officially ready for beta readers!

It's remarkable to think I started this project roughly one year ago, almost exactly. When time is precious, as it increasingly proves to be, it can be difficult to find bits of it here and there to write, edit, rewrite, re-edit, and do all the other things involved with the creation of a book. Among those other things are putting together a cover and preparing the text for ebook and paperback formats.

Unlike the first "Psi Squad" book, which was mostly written late at night when the rest of the household was nestled snuggly in bed, this second installment in the series was written during early morning hours, and primarily on Tuesdays. I'm not sure if the change in writing schedule is in any way reflected in the narrative, but I definitely felt more capable of the task in the morning. Perhaps it's a sign of my advancing age that I can no longer burn the candle into the wee hours and stay focused.

In any case, I found "The Psi Squad and the Atherton Ghost" a thoroughly entertaining book to write, if for not other reason than it changed my expectations of the series.

The first book set the stage, almost literally. You met the primary characters -- J.B., Rhea and William -- and were introduced to the semi-fictitious world in which they live. Those were the only goals of the book, and I believe they were well achieved.

This second book takes what has been set up and sets it in motion with character arcs and plot developments that will span the next seven books. But it's early, yet, and I don't want to give away any secrets.

Watch for the book on Amazon in the coming weeks!

January 23, 2014

Wrapping Up Book Two

Only one more chapter left to read to the focus group (my sons) before taking all my notes back to the computer for the next round of edits. 

So far, there haven't been any significant problems identified. The worst was tonight in Chapter 10, in which I caught myself rushing through a scene. I forgot to apply the brakes as the adventure draws to a close in order to avoid going into the final chapter at full speed. If that's the biggest challenge facing me, then I'm in pretty good shape.

For my money, I'm quite pleased with the trajectory of the storyline and the balance between the paranormal adventure and the character development. I would be lying if I said I was never concerned about the potential depth of the relationships between the three main characters. Would J.B. seem too bland? Does William come across as too much of a sidekick? Does Rhea's foul-tempered angst make her unlikeable? And for all my worrying, once I found the correct situations in which to place them, the characters' personalities became apparent and they made it easy for me to represent them on the page.

I'm also a big fan of a couple new characters who pop up in the book. It's always interesting when a minor character suddenly helps serve a purpose beyond your initial expectations. One character, in particular, resulted in a redefining of the "Psi Squad" club for future installments in the series. Not that the outline of the planned nine-book series has changed, just my understanding of who makes up the secret club and why.

So, one more chapter to read aloud, then on to final edits and reviews before formatting the content and finalizing the cover. Keep an eye out for "The Psi Squad and the Atherton Ghost" on Amazon in the coming weeks!

January 05, 2014

Edit Me, Big Boy!

You might know that I've written and self-published two books. One is a murder mystery written for an adult audience ("Damage"). The other is a paranormal adventure for middle-grade kids ("The Psi Squad").

Well, I finally finished the first draft of the second book in the "Psi Squad" series and am set for the most rewarding part of the process -- edits and rewrites. Writing a book is like assembling a model with parts that fit roughly together, leaving bumpy bits and sharp edges. Editing and rewriting are like taking sandpaper and paint to that model to make it all smooth and pretty.

It's good to have a high opinion of your writing while you're writing it. After all, if you aren't excited about writing your book, you can't really expect anyone else to be excited about reading it. But you can't let it bring you down when, upon review of your completed first draft, you quickly begin to realize it isn't the masterpiece you hoped it would be.

The other night, for example, I read the opening chapter of the new Psi Squad book to my sons. I had already performed a quick and sloppy edit on chapter one and believed it to be in excellent condition. After reading it aloud -- one of the best things anyone who writes anything from an epic novel to an off-hand Facebook post could ever do -- it became clear there were at least three harsh transitions and a moderate amount of unnecessary verbiage.

All this despite the fact my editor had already reviewed the material and assured me it was error-free. In fact, I believe the words "perfect" and "no mistakes" passed his lips several times. I know you're thinking "get a new editor," but that's easier said than done, since my editor is half of the twins that are my sons.

Noah (the Italian) is an avid reader and connoisseur of some of the finest literature ever to pass through a middle school library. According to the asinine Lexile system presently being thrust mercilessly down the throats of students in our school district, he is a sixth-grader who reads at a college freshman level. Mind you, he is still expected to show growth in his reading skills, which means he is required to consider reading books that fall within his lexile range such as those by Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Leo Tolstoy. Or, he can read a nice nonfiction book, like Stephen Hawking's "The Origin of the Universe." But I digress…

In short, Noah got the job of editing my manuscript for three reasons: Nepotism, No Cost, and Begging. (I should point out that he begged me to let him edit the book, not the other way around.) He pestered the living daylights out of me for months about wanting to edit the next Psi Squad book, although I suspect his motives were less of a helpful nature than they were selfish. He wanted to read the book before anyone else, most especially his twin brother.

His "editing" of the first few chapters magically required no red ink and resulted in not a single criticism. He found no typos, no grammatical mistakes, no incorrectly used character names, and no plot holes. This is what happens when you hire a drooling fan to do the job of a slash-and-burn critic. Fortunately, the errors I am finding while reading the book to the boys are easily rectified. Even better, the boys chuckle when they are supposed to and I haven't had to explain any parts of the book to them after the fact.

Now that I know better than to trust a twelve-year-old who loves me to edit my book, I can start searching for a proper editor. I wonder if my Mother would be interested?

© 2013 Mark Feggeler