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Read The First Chapter (and the Prologue)!

point of escape-final
Starting today, you are able to get a sneak peek at the The Point of Escape.  I’ve made the Prologue and Chapter 1 available on the 4-Hour Novel page of this site. Hope you enjoy!

Over the next several weeks I will continue to reveal chapters for those who want advance access to the novel.

And, for those of you who don’t want to wait a week for Chapter 2, I have a special deal.  Just sign up for my mailing list by clicking here.  Fill out the form and I’ll send you a PDF of the first four chapters today.  I’ll also be sure to send you periodic updates and information about upcoming projects (and I promise not to flood your inbox!).

But don’t wait.  On launch day (July 31! tick…tick..tick…) I will be taking down all advance chapters and ending the mailing list offer.  Amazon rules.  So, happy reading, and don’t forget to sign up for email updates!

Full Cover Reveal…..and a Launch Date!

Point of Escape-Full Cover Final - Crop

Here it is!  When I decided to offer hardcopies in addition to ebooks, I went ahead and asked my cover designer to work up the spine and back cover.  I think I said something like, “I have no idea what this should look like!”  No problem.  Less than a week later, this image arrived in my inbox.  True to form, Ares had produced a beautiful design with minimal guidance.  Perfect.  And thanks again, Ares.

And it arrives just in time because………..the release date has been set and is fast approaching.  Yes, folks, at midnight on Thursday, July 31st, The Point of Escape: A 4-Hour Novel will be available for purchase on Amazon, either as a Kindle ebook or in hardcopy.  Yay!  Between now and then I will share with you more about the book and the deals I’ll be offering.  In the meantime, enjoy this new visual and mark your calendars!

We Have a Cover!

Thanks to graphic designer wiz Ares Jun, “the novel” now has a cover:

point of escape-final

He banged out this cool design with only this to go on:

Ares,
Here’s what I have in mind. I’ve attached a document that describes the novel’s plot in detail. What I can add here are some of the major themes and images.

Themes:
Escape
Self-direction (versus taking orders)
Challenging rules that we or others impose.
Finding purpose

Images:
Office cubicles (grey and anonymous)
Tim Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour Work Week, second (2011) edition – the cover is orange and red.
Jerrod releasing from a trapeze bar

I imagine a cover with a color drawing of a typical office full of grey cubicles, but with the one in the foreground somehow glowing with the colors of Ferriss’ book, the light perhaps coming from something that could remind a reader of its cover, such as a palm tree.
Please let me know what you think about the concept and the timeline for completing a cover.

Best,
J.F. Hussey

I tell you, the man’s a genius. From the grey anonymity of the cube farm, to the hopeful glow emanating from the background, to the subtle nods to Ferriss’ own cover, I’m very pleased with the outcome. Thanks, Steve Konkoly, for the introduction.
So, you’ll be seeing lots more of this graphic from here on out. And – with any luck – you’ll be seeing it on Amazon very soon!

Progress and Good News

First the Progress

Just yesterday I completed the editing process for the first draft! It came in at just over 68,000 words and 270 pages, about right for suburban comedy escape-reading. I immediately sent out the text to my intrepid readers, one of whom replied by attaching the memoir she’s working on for me to edit. Fair enough, and a really interesting story – about adopting five girls from the Ukraine. I can’t wait to wade in.

In the meantime, though, I have some non-writing tasks to tackle, including updating this blog (you’re welcome!), getting together with a cover designer (I have several I’ll be exploring), and coming up with a bloody title for the book (which I’ll have to do before said cover is designed). It’s been a challenge – and a daunting one – trying to encapsulate the essence of the novel in a few words. All I know so far is the subtitle: A Four-Hour Novel. Which brings me to:

The Good News

I heard back from Tim Ferriss’s people, namely Donna, his assistant. Apparently adding “Copyright Question” to the subject line gets people’s attention.

Anyhow, the short version is that I’ve asked permission to quote from The 4-Hour Workweek, that Tim makes these calls personally, but that he is out of pocket for the next few weeks – apparently filming a new TV series. Donna promises news as soon as Tim emerges and has a chance to wade through the stuff that’s piled up in his absence. Glad to be part of that problem.

So, fingers crossed and prayers, please! With a little luck – and maybe some Divine intervention – I’ll be able to report an important green light in the coming weeks.

Cheers,
JFH

YAWP!

It’s done, folks. Still needs editing, still full of “tk” (look it up), but the first draft, as of just a few minutes ago, is done. And 11 days ahead of schedule.
Now on to editing.

A Shirker’s Dream?

Or, Is Jerrod Beams Just Another John C. Beale?

This Monday, Slate published a short article that attracted my attention because of the superficial affinity between its subject and the main character in my as-yet-unnamed-but-almost-finished novel. Yes, I know I’ve got to get on that. But about Beale….and Beams.

Apparently, Mr. John C. Beale was a highly-paid EPA scientist who managed to pull the wool over his bosses’ eyes, and enjoy months out of the office goofing off, while never doing a bit of work. His secret? Claiming that he was doing secret work for the CIA. Talk about bold. The full story is here.

In contrast to Mr. Beale, our more understated (not to say prosaic) Mr. Beams simply manages to escape the confines of 9-to-5 and of his cubicle while STILL getting his work done. Granted, he spends far less time doing it, and doesn’t actually do it all himself – having farmed out most of his responsibilities to a virtual assistant. But he proves far MORE effective than he was when he ascribed to the butts-in-seats school of management, as he does when we first meet him. Not exactly your model Federal employee, but that probably says more about the model than about the employee.

And speaking of meeting Jerrod Beams, the first draft of the novel is days away from being done; my goal of finishing up before New Year’s Day is well within reach, and I should actually be at the editing stage before Christmas.

Shortly thereafter, I plan to begin releasing chapters of the work on line, both here and on Facebook, and perhaps for the readers of a few selected message boards. In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from the character sketch I drew of Jerrod when first planning the book.

 

One-Paragraph POV Summary: Jerrod Beams
The dullness, the monotony of my life first became apparent to me as I droned to work in DC, where I contributed to the hive-collective. The hum of tires on the Beltway concrete had for years filled the hollow space that was my life; now I heard an echo. I had sounded the Void. Seeking “escape,” I found inspiration in Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek, and stepped through the looking glass. I didn’t know what I wanted to escape to, just that I wanted to escape from, which was good enough for me. Or so I thought. I cleared all the fillers from my life, from the hum of my tires (telework reduced it, then remote work eliminated it), to the 10-year-old moving boxes in my garage (I can park my car in it!), to every unnecessary email twitch. Following Ferriss’ advice, I started my own business, which grew rapidly, as did that Echo inside me and the unease of my family, until Panic! I retreated to the safety of my office, only to discover in the midst of bureaucratic conformity the strength and peace necessary for a self-directed life.

 

Until next time, take care and Merry Christmas
JFH

Word Count Update: 48,179

Some time around 5:30 this morning, I hit 48,000 words, and kept going until a certain little someone came groggily stumbling down the hall, rubbing his eyes and saying, “I want to be with you.”  Hard to say no to an adorable toddler.  He was happy to sit next to me at the breakfast bar for a few minutes of editing, but then that was all she (he? I?) wrote.

Exposing Yourself

Yes, the title was a shameless attention-getting ploy.  Sue me.

Kidding aside, the naked feeling of showing your work to Others is undeniable.  After months of closeted safety, your private thing is no longer private.  Or, rather, it’s still QUITE private, but is now in semi-public view.  Even if you have been writing with an audience in mind all along, the experience is not to be had without trepidation.

Which is a longish way of saying that early segments of The Novel have been released to readers.

How long has it been under wraps, prudishly hiding its shame?  Well, early work started in February of this year, following the Snowflake Method.  I’ll have more to say about this approach at another time, but suffice it now to say that the steps Randy Ingermanson leads you through are exhaustive and can be exhausting, especially if you have distractions in your life…like a family, a day job…you know.  By early May I had all of the plotlines, character sketches, summaries and scenes done, and began drafting.  Five short months later, the first draft was about 75% done, and it was time to get some feedback.

So, I polished up the Prologue and the first two chapters, and hit up a handful of friends to take a look.  Some are scholars.  Some are not.  Some are producers of creative fiction, others just consumers.  I chose the mix on purpose, being interested in how people of differing backgrounds would respond to my work.

So far the results have been gratifying and enlightening.  Two of the four readers have provided comments, and I’m meeting with a third for lunch this Friday to talk it over (leaving one miscreant ne’er-do-well to step up his game.  Yeah, I’m talkin’ to YOU!).  The short of what I’ve learned, though, is that Yes, the main character and his story holds the reader’s interest, and, Yes, my prose is lively enough to do the same.  I’ve also gotten some good substantive and stylistic suggestions that have improved the end product.  Which, of course, is the whole point of exposing your work to the light of day.

In future posts I’ll open up a bit more about some specifics of what I’ve learned from this process.  And maybe even flash a little text on the screen.

Yes, that’s what we call a tease.

A Query: I’d love to hear how other writers handle the review/feedback process.

The Inaugural Post

It’s another dark morning, and once again my head is ringing with the aftereffects of my day job, of staying up too late and of rising too early.  Welcome to my life, and welcome to my website.

What do I hope to accomplish with these pages?  It’s a question I ask myself often: when I’m writing for myself and for others, and now, again, as I steal a few moments from the novel and type out this post and watch the sun rise in its typical Maryland glory.

Well, I’d like to introduce you to my life, and to the processes by which I bring my life to my writing.  I’d like to show you some of that writing, too.  And I’d like to take the occasional opportunity to comment on the news of the day, or on a good book, or on some writing technique, or any other tidbit I stumble across, as it relates to one project or another.

For today, though, let me simply (very simply, Maya Angelou would say) say, “Hello.”  Welcome to my site.  I hope you visit early and often, to follow the progress of my writing, and to leave a little of your own wisdom in the comment lines.

Cheers,

JFH