From Rick:

This week I’m doing something different, actually several somethings different. Not only is this a guest blog from YA fantasy author Kevin McGill, but I did some digging on the Internet and pulled up a few links to provide additional information and insights into this new author.

A few weeks ago, I invited Kevin to do a guest blog here. Well, Kevin is a busy person these days, as you’ll soon see. I had him scheduled for this past Monday, but when I sent him a reminder notice I forgot to add the date the blog was due, and he thought it was April 24.

To atone for my screw up, I’m posting him early because he has a contest deadline involved. I wanted to be sure our readers had plenty of time to respond.

Kevin is the author of the YA novel, Nikolas & Company: A Creature Most Foul, which can best be described as steampunk-ish adventure fantasy–a very delightful one, I must add. We’ll talk more about it shortly. I’m going to let Kevin have the floor here for a bit before I dig into his dark past. 🙂

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From Kevin:

Nikolas Lyons: Our Hero

OK. I’ll just say it. Nikolas is MY hero. A little background, first. Most of us writers fall into the same trap. We become obsessed with the market and try to write to please some aspirations of being a best seller. When I first developed this story, Nikolas was actually called Daniel. And because I was both a fan of Harry Potter and had read all of the current market trends of ’06, I decided that Daniel needed to be a nerdy, passive kid. His brother (Sam) would be the plucky, heroic type. One hundred thirty pages into writing Daniel I realized something.

Life wasn’t worth living.

As much as I loved Harry Potter, I couldn’t write Harry Potter (who, to be fair, becomes more brave and courageous as the stories continued). As a writer, I couldn’t spend countless hours in the headspace of an angst-ridden boy. More so, I just couldn’t believe the meek, reserved kid like Daniel could be the hero I had envisioned for my protagonist. I know it had been done before, but my desire to write this story, and frankly my ability to write it came to a grinding halt.

So, I switched the characters. Changed Daniel’s name to Nikolas and Sam’s name to Tim. And made Nikolas the look-before-you-leap character, and Tim the whiney, chip-on-your-shoulder character. Then I started to have fun! Suddenly, my way became much more clear as the story went.

A little more biography on our character, though. Nikolas is the younger of his paternal twin, Tim. While he’s only fourteen, he’s built like a seventeen-year-old quarterback. If he wasn’t so obsessed with getting off planet Earth, and back to the lunar colonies, he would probably have joined the football team. Nikolas’ greatest strength is also his greatest weakness. He believes. And because of his power of belief, he sees everything black and white. Therefore, he cannot stand for complexities and uncertainty. He sees life as one big mess to which he is always trying to overcome. If everyone could just simply cut out the drama, life would be so much simpler for Nikolas.

–Kevin McGill

Also, I launched my book into space! Just as Nikolas and company traveled to a mythological moon through space, so did my book (well, near space).

(We’ll get to that part, shortly, Kevin.)

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I first heard about Kevin McGill a little less than a year ago in a Facebook chat group of indie authors. His promotional ideas immediately caught my attention. Previously I had not been overly impressed with the promotional attempts by many indie authors, who had decided to delve into the new waters of self-publishing without a clear sense of the work involved past the writing: editing, cover design, promoting yourself. Kevin had been extremely smart in his approach. While many newbie authors were concentrating on simply getting their novel out there, Kevin had given a lot of thought to the pre-promotional aspects.

First, he had found an artist who could produce truly stunning work for his cover. Second, he realized that you can’t (or at least shouldn’t) launch a book in a vacuum (with no pun intended on his recent space launch). He created an impressive book trailer, which departed from the slide-show-set-to-music style of many such trailers. The multiple voices–in character–in the trailer were a touch of genius. You can (and should) watch it here this very instant!

Nikolas & Company Trailer

Continuing his brilliant marketing ideas, late last summer Kevin released a free teaser of the novel in Amazon’s Kindle Store in the form of a first-fifty-pages sample that he called “Nikolas & Company First Look.” I’d already been impressed enough by his trailer and well-done promotional podcast (allegedly done in a secret location that he claimed was inside the left nostril of one of the presidential faces on Mt. Rushmore–and I bet he’s tried to forget that one. I suspect the podcast has been deleted since I was unable to locate it again.).

If you check out Kevin’s Website, you find this charming little quote in his ABOUT section:

“Kevin knew he liked this writing gig when 3rd grade classmates paid him two bucks for every story he wrote. Unbeknownst to him, the students turned in the stories as homework assignments (If Kevin had known, he would have charged double). His literary operations were exposed because the monkey scribble was undeniably Kevin’s handwriting. Unless, it actually was monkey scribble. Kevin was cast into detention. But, being the industrious boy that he was, detention served as a place only to imagine more fantastic worlds.”

[SIDE NOTE: At that age, I too had a flare for writing fiction (with some assistance from Mom), except mine were confined to anthropomorphized tales about our two pet Siamese cats. You have to remember that I’m a bit older than Kevin and that YA fantasy literature pretty much did not exist back in the late 1950s. Even YA sci-fi was a rarity.]

I suspect that Kevin had little idea at that tender young age that he’d be writing a novel. Or maybe he did.

Last November, Kevin managed to get interviewed on The Book Cast. You can listen to the interview here. It’s about 13 minutes long, but it gives insights into the story and Kevin’s writing process.

Kevin on The Book Cast

Two years ago, he was interviewed on the “We Do Write” blog. This was at an earlier stage of the novel’s development, and Kevin talks a bit about his decision to self-publish instead of going the traditional route.

We Do Write Interview

Now you can watch the space launch, which I think is totally cool.

Nikolas & Company Space Launch

Kevin is sponsoring a contest where you can win a Kindle Fire. Guess how far away it landed and win a Kindle Fire by going to the link below. Don’t delay because the contest ends soon.

Nikolas Space Book Contest

Finally, don’t forget to check out the Nikolas and Company website: Kevin’s Website.

Please consider supporting his work by purchasing the novels. You can find the links to them all on his website (link above).

Some of you astute readers will notice that the book cover for the original release (Nikolas & Company: A Creature Most Foul) is different from the current release. That’s because Kevin realized that a 500-page novel might be a harder sell to readers and decided to break it up into smaller sections.

By making it a series (and I believe he’s planning more books beyond these), he stands to grab and keep his audience, something very important for any author. One of the worst mistakes an author can make is to publish a novel and not follow it up with another soon after. You never want to give readers a chance to forget you, or you might have to start over. Most bestselling authors succeed by continuing to produce new books.

I consider myself privileged to have read the whole novel, though. I’m a fan already, and I won’t hesitate to purchase anything he writes in the future.

I want to thank Kevin for taking time from his very busy schedule to join us here at Write Well, Write To Sell. Most of all, I want to commend him for the outstanding job he’s done with innovative promotional ideas. I’m excited to see where this takes him and wish him much success with this project and hope he’ll visit us again to share further insights.

–Rick