Bill's blog. Writing, guitars, gratuitous Simpsons references, you'll find i​t all here. Almost certainly a waste of time for both you and the author. On the internet, that's actually a plus.

Would you like to beta read my novel?

I finally finished writing my new novel, Challengers. Now comes the part when I send it to people I trust who'll read it and tell me what works and what doesn't. That said, I also need to hear from people who are less familiar with my work so I can see how it sits with a wider audience. If you're interested in being one of those people, here's the gist of the book:

tl;dr version: X-Men meets Friday Night Lights

Longer version: Eighteen-year-old Cody Hawthorn had waited his whole life to go to college to learn to be a superhero. Sadly, he's just not super enough. Top-tier universities find his 2,000-pound bench press rather pedestrian. He can run 40 mph? Yawn. They'd love Cody if he still knew how to fly, but a nasty injury cost him his ability to get airborne.

Cody had resigned himself to studying history and teaching high school in his hometown until Piedmont State University finally offered him a scholarship to double-major in history and heroics. When he gets to campus, Cody wonders if he made a mistake--among his new team of magicians, gravity manipulators, luchadors, and a cybernetically enhanced bear powered by Google Android, Cody's the worst student in the program. At least Cody gets to study under his childhood idol, Orion. 

Orion, the greatest and most powerful hero the world has ever known, is retired from active duty at forty-one years old. In his prime he had the strength to move mountains and the toughness to withstand an atomic bomb. However, his career of fistfights and crashing into buildings has left his body a wreck. When he's not nursing a dependency on painkillers, he stays busy as a faculty member at Piedmont State. However, it's a much tougher place to work than he'd expected. Piedmont State is like if you infused Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters with the bloated bureaucracy of a public university, and replaced Professor X with Bear Bryant. Orion's clashes with his boss (and the fact that, as an educator, he couldn't teach a dead man to sit still) have him on the verge of getting fired.

Both he and Cody are going to have to get their acts together because Orion's old nemesis, Claude Lafitte--the self-proclaimed Emperor of Louisiana--is still in his prime and planning to start a second Civil War. But how can either Cody or Orion save the day when they can barely keep their positions on campus?

Sound interesting? Want to take a crack at this? Read on.

What I'm looking for:

  • Your overall impression
  • What you liked
  • What you didn't like
  • Places you got bored
  • Stuff that confused you/didn't make sense
  • Characters you particularly liked and disliked
  • If people do anything unbelievable or ridiculous
  • Do the plot twists work, or did you see them coming?
  • Whatever else you feel like mentioning

What I'm NOT looking for:

  • Proofreading. Obviously spelling and grammar are important, but the book will probably change a lot between now and the final version. Pointing out the comma splice on page 137 won't be a good use of your time if I end up overhauling or deleting that entire chapter anyway.

My ballpark turnaround time is by mid-August. If this sounds like your cup of Gatorade and you've got some spare time, fill out the contact form and I'll send it your way. Either way, thanks for stopping by, and I hope you're reading something you enjoy.

Your NaNoWriMo Road Map: My New Column

Check out "Your NaNoWriMo Road Map," a day-by-day guide to finishing your novel for National Novel Writing Month. Read up on some gems like these:


Day 3: The words are coming more slowly now, which is to be expected. Give yourself permission to write poorly in the name of getting words on the page. When you read it later, you just might surprise yourself with how your protagonist exhibits the mannerisms of your cat. Word count: 1,100.

Day 10: Coffee and soda and candy and cookies and whee! Word count: 3,200

Day 11: Beer and whiskey and potato chips and cigarettes and uuunnnggghhh.Nineteen words.

Day 14: Your blood is now twenty percent espresso. The pizza guy visits your house more frequently than the mailman. You’re sleeping five hours a night. These measures feel extreme, but the extra free time will seriously boost your output, right? Word count: 800 words.

Read the whole thing at Writer Unboxed.

Your NaNoWriMo Road Map

I got an agent!

Evan Gregory, known far and wide for his agenting skill and great taste in books.

Evan Gregory, known far and wide for his agenting skill and great taste in books.

I now officially have a literary agent. Evan Gregory of the Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency has taken me on as a client after reading my mystery novel The Other Van Zant.

For the benefit of folks who don't know the intricacies of the publishing industry, here's why getting an agent is a big deal for me: 1. Big publishers buy almost all their books through literary agents (not in all cases, but most cases). 2. Agents only get paid when they sell a book, so they tend to only take on clients with books they believe they can sell (it also means they're highly motivated to sell it). 

I'm really glad to have somebody do the wheeling-and-dealing portion of the publication process for me. All this stuff about foreign rights, remainders, subsidiary rights--is that even a real thing? I didn't start writing so I could negotiate contracts, and I wouldn't know what a good deal looks like if somebody rolled up the contract and swatted me in the face with it. You see that analogy I just made? That's my best guess for what a good deal looks like. Now I've got Evan here to handle all that nonsense so I can get back to the hard work of writing about a wannabe rock star who solves mysteries, and college curriculum for aspiring superheroes.