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BYU Football Conference Future

In college football there are the haves. And the have-nots. It's a class system and unfortunately for me I happen to cheer for a team (BYU) that's been left out (a whole series of posts in and of itself).

Assuming none of the "haves" are going to invite you to join the party, the best thing one can do is to try and change your own situation. This is what my proposal would be and it all starts with the best of the current "have-not" conferences the AAC. 

Current Membership:

  • South Florida
  • Central Florida
  • Temple
  • Connecticut
  • East Carolina 
  • Cincinatti
  • Navy
  • Memphis
  • Houston 
  • SMU
  • Tulane
  • Tulsa

The first thing you have to do is get the best available schools from the other have-nots to join. You immediately invite:

  • BYU
  • Boise
  • San Diego State
  • Colorado State

Now that's an interesting 16 team league. If you wanted to be really smart about it, you could dump Tulane and Tulsa and get UNLV and Air Force. Better markets. But that's not 100% necessary. 

Now we have a 16 team conference and those are kind of tricky. We also have the problem of trying to convince Boise and especially BYU to join and take a pay cut. That's a tough sell. Money is everything to have-nots. So we have to get creative with conference money distribution. You can solve that by essentially incentivizing teams to be better (and an easy way to pay your best brands more all the time while sounding even). And maybe even toss them some guarantees but more on that later. 

The first thing we need to tackle is how to arrange and manage such a league. 16 teams is too much for a single season of football. There aren't enough games. So what we do is use the "pod" idea, except we don't call them pods because that's a crappy name. We call them "divisions" What's better than competing for a conference championship? A division championship. Man. Now we have something to play for. 

This is what the divisions look like. Mostly geography and competitive split when possible. 

WEST - Football power heavy for sure. Good division games and the division race is going to be competitive most years.

  • BYU
  • Boise
  • SDSU
  • CSU

EAST - The Florida schools are in Florida so they could threaten anytime they have a good coach for a couple of years. A good rivalry between the two top programs makes things very interesting.

  • UCF
  • USF
  • East Carolina
  • Tulane

SOUTH - This is the Texas division. Houston is a huge market, smu is usually alright, and Memphis has been competitive the past few years. I like the balance here.

  • SMU
  • Houston
  • Memphis
  • Tulsa

NORTH - The weakest of the football divisions is my guess. But Navy has been good for about 8 years, Cincinnati has potential. And temple and uconn have both had decent seasons in the past few years. 

  • Cin
  • Uconn
  • Temple
  • Navy

So now we have our divisions. It's a true "American" conference. And undeniably the strongest of all the have-nots. With that lineup there should always be at least a few teams ranked every week. It's missing the blue bloods (USC, Texas, Alabama) ETC that the other conferences has. But, on average it's as good as the rest of those conferences lower teams (Oregon State, Kansas, Vanderbilt, Rutgers (I could go on). 

The biggest thing this alignment has to accomplish is a much better TV contract. The big boys get 30 million a year for each team. The goal for this would be to get at least 8 million per team. Enough to scrape by. 3-4 million is not enough. It's a really bad time for TV contracts but you have to hit that number. 10 million would be the dream number. 

Now, to hit that number you are going to have to do things differently. You have to do something that other conferences with less that 16 can do. And that's to have a dynamic semi-final week.

That's the big win.. Right there. 

So the way the football schedule would work is that two divisions would be appointed "Home" divisions for that year and two would be "Away" divisions. For the sake of the argument think of it like this. 

  • West - Home 1 
  • East - Home 2
  • South - Away 1
  • North - Away 2

The rest of the schedule would play out as follows. 4 games out of conference (with by-laws to encourage playing as many p5 teams as possible, more on that later). Then you would have 7 scheduled conference games. You play everyone in your division, and then you play an entire other division. 

So Home 1 would play all the teams in Home 1 and all the teams in Away 1. And Home 2 would play all the teams in Home 2 and Away 2. 

Then on the 7th week you have a semi-final playoff. The way it works is the "seeds" from each division would then play the seeds from another division. The Home Teams get to play at home (so they can build their schedules to get the right amount of home games every year. Works perfectly, you just don't know who the opponent is until the week before). 

So Home 1 first place, would go up against Away 2 first place. That means it's a team they haven't played that season. Home 1 second place, would play Away 2 second place. That creates a really dynamic set of games for the TV agreement. 2 conference semi-finals. THAT'S GENIUS. And hopefully worth a few million each for the TV contract as well as lots of buzz. 

The winners of the first place matchup would then play a championship game on championship week at the highest AP ranked home team (As to give them the best chance). That is an automatic strength of schedule boost. And will bring in more money AND will hopefully guarantee that the winner of the new AAC will always be the top ranked Little-guys team and will get a place in the big bowl games. That is important for money reasons. It's all about money.

This is doable. That is the path to scheduling that makes a splash, brings in more money, and adds so much more intrigue to the schedule. So this is what a sample BYU schedule would like every year. 
 

  • Eastern Washington (FCS tune up school)
  • Utah (P5 rivalry game)
  • Tennessee (Marque game)
  • BYE WEEK
  • Utah State (first weekend of October).
  • Colorado State
  • SMU
  • Memphis
  • SDSU
  • Tulsa
  • Houston
  • Boise State (The big division rivalry week. BYU vs. Boise, UCF vs. USF, Houston vs. Memphis)
  • Navy ( Sem-final vs the North's best team)
  • UCF (Championship game hosted at the top ranked school)
  • Stanford (BOWL GAME, hopefully the bowl tie-ins will be better with a more intriguing conference.)

That is a pretty darn compelling schedule if you ask me. Tough. But winnable. The semi-final, division championship games, and the conference championship game has to bring in more money. Also, the way that's set up makes it very unlikely the championship game will be a rematch which is great for intrigue purposes. 

REVENUE DISTRUBUTION

Any conference that does equal shares is silly. The Pac-12 TV contracts aren't for Oregon State vs Arizona State, they are for USC. That's it. USC should be making way more than the other schools. I believe more schools are going to start to see that (like Texas does already) and that's going to cause lots of changes. 

This new American Conference would need to do something similar to make sure the big brands ( BYU, Boise, ETC) were incentivized to join and stay in the league. And the way you do that is with commission sales. You pay people for being better. That gives the worse schools even more incentive to invest and try to better themselves. 

The way it works is that 50% of the TV contract is distributed equally. So everyone gets at least a minimum pay day. After that the remaining 50% of divided based on a "point system". At the end of the year the you take the remaining 50% of money and divided that by how many total points there are, and that's the percentage that the schools earn. Simple enough. 

My proposal for points would look something like this: 

  • 10 points for beating p5 school (this is to grow the conference's perception. Huge)
  • 3 points each ooc FBs win (beating the other little-guy conferences is important)
  • 1 point FCS win (not losing to a FCS is key)
  • 2 points ranked in ap in single week (If you're good, you're driving value, you deserve to be paid)
  • 5 points for national tv ( if you're on TV you're making the contract money. Not other schools)
  • ?? For academic success ( can throw out some token something here to make it look like academics matter. They don't. )
  • ?? Attendance (another possibility. If you sell out or something you earn some extra points)
  • 3 points for each game that you are better than last year's record. (incentivize people to win)
  • 5 points for a bowl win (can be combined with upper points)
  • 15 points for major bowl appearance (Cotton, Fiesta, Rose, ETC)

Something like that. So you can see, if you're on TV and you're good you are going to get the lion share of those remaining dollars. Pretty powerful incentive to be better. AND a great way to pay the better brands you have more money while being "fair". Ideally this would push BYU from 8 million a year to something like 10-12 million. That's interesting enough to leave independence behind. 

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

Third tier rights would be available to each school to do whatever they would like with. Sell them to a group network. Have your own station (BYU TV). Or sell them to Facebook for like $50. Whatever you want to do. This is another great way to help the big brands make more money. 

You'd also likely have to include a clause for BYU and BOISE that they will always make at least as much money as they are making on their current contracts. Basically de-risk the jump for them. Should be easy to do with the new contract and innovative payout system. this guarantee only needs to last through the first contract. After that, the guarantees can go away. 

And minimum standards of membership would need to be installed. People have to invest in facilities, recruiting, coaching, ETC. Everyone has to elevate their game to separate themselves from the other lower conferences. This is very important. Maybe you go as far as you have clauses that schools that don't invest to the minimum, or are perennial losers could be kicked out of the conference and replaced with a better school (UNLV, New Mexico, Army, Air Force, ETC). Another way to keep more intrigue. 

BASKETBALL

The only other sport that matters. This is pretty easy to work with. Essentially you pair the divisions again (Home 1 with Away 1) and you play all of those teams Home and Home. Then you play the other two divisions only once. 4 away and 4 home. Then you have a big conference tournament and hopefully get a bunch of schools into the big dance. 

Things get a little more complicated with the affiliate members (witicha state) and Navy not playing all sports. I think you leverage this though. And maybe add a couple more all-star basketball schools as non-football members. 

Add Gonzaga in the West and have Navy play all sports, or grab another school out East that is great at basketball. This makes a really compelling basketball league. With a number of schools that are always very good. UCONN, Gonzaga, Witchita State, SDSU, SMU, Cincinnati, fringe BYU. We're talking about 5-6 bid league potentially. That's pretty great. 

Basketball revenue would likely need to be distributed with it's own point system that makes sure the blue-blood basketball programs are getting more money for their efforts. Mirror football for all I care. With a little bit of tournament success this could be a big revenue generator for the conference. 

OTHER SPORTS

They don't matter. OK. They do matter a little bit in that you have to make sure they don't spend too much money on travel ETC. I'm open to any solution here. Join your division for other sports with another nearby conference. WAC or MWC for the West. OR, just have them play HOME 1 and AWAY 1 and you only see the other half of the conference at the end of year tournament or something. People try to make this an obstacle all the time. It's not. Plenty of ways to fix this issue. And once again, they don't really matter.

CONCLUSION

I'm a genius and should be made commissioner. I'll do it on the cheap side too! (500k). I absolutely hate the idea of BYU going back to the MWC, or even joining the AAC as presently constituted. However, assuming that the Big 12 isn't going to call this is the best way forward. I loved the MWC back in the day when it felt like it was fighting for inclusion. I think this new AAC would have a very similar feel and would make the case to be considered a P6. It might never be the top ranked football conference, but I think there's a real chance it could be 4-5 on any given year depending on what the other conferences are doing. 

Admittedly, it all depends on that TV contract though. If you take this proposal to the networks and they say no, then you don't do it. It's that simple. If BYU can make more money in the new AAC and get a conference with bowl tie-ins, ETC. There's no down side, especially if there is a valid P6 push (lawyer up if you have to). 

 

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I wrote another book. Introducing Vagrants!

vagrants_cover.jpg

Available September 18th on all major retailers for Free! (Pre-order currently available) AMAZON   APPLE IBOOKS  BARNES & NOBLE  GOOGLE PLAY  KOBO

It's the best book I've ever written. And it's exactly the type of book I want to write. It's Science-Fiction. And it has magic. Super bad killer robots. Some super hero elements. A little speculative philosophy and scenes that weren't easy to write.

I spent a long time writing this one and I'm proud of it. It's going to have a huge launch week and hopefully a long successful run near the top of the charts. It's free through this Friday night and I'd love for you to snag a copy and let me know what you think of Vagrants. 

Here's the pitch for convenience:

The twelve original AI’s were Gods and their war with one another decimated the planet. But the Apostles didn’t conquer Earth, we gave it to them. 

When they finally stopped fighting each other, nearly 10 billion people had died. In the remnants of society Jeff is sworn to help protect his brother's family from all threats human and robotic. But living within the fragile human coalition in a world of robotic gods is not easy. He knows it’s only a matter of time until an Apostle, or even worse, a vagrant with their miracles, destroys his community once again. 

Vagrants is an epic science-fiction series where multidimensional magic is humanity's only hope against the robotic Gods. Perfect for readers who love determined characters facing incredible odds, giant robots, and captivating magic sequences. 

LENGTH: 395 Pages

 

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Two Years

On August 11th 2015, my first novel Freelancer was published by Kindle Press. That means I've been an author for over two years. That's wild. And I think wild is a good word to describe how those two years of authoring has been. 

Being an author is not a vey good past time. To just be honest. It takes a lot of time, contrary to popular belief it's very difficult to be good at, it's fantastically competitive, there will likely be people who's reviews of your work make you feel not good, and there's a good chance you'll lose money on the venture. 

It's not all bad though. Thousands of people have read my stories. 114 people were kind enough to leave a review on Freelancer over the years and it's sitting at 4.5 stars on Amazon. Occasionally I get to buy my wife dinner at Jimmy John's with the money the books made. Which is also very cool, because Jimmy John's makes a mean sandwich. 

So to celebrate this anniversary, I've decided to continue to take a fledging new author under my wings. Jacob Wall-Ling is going to release his first novel in 3 days on all major platforms. That's a big deal! And I'm excited to welcome him to the JakeNotJacob blog.

JACOB WAL-LING: Was that the start of the interview?

JAKE LINGWALL: Sure. What can you tell us about your new novel, THE WHELMING PROSPECTS OF THE POST-ZOMBOCALYPSE WORLD?

JACOB WALL-LING: I can confirm it's a book.

JAKE LINGWALL: That's helpful... 

JACOB WALL-LING: It's already a best seller. I can say that as well.

JAKE LINGWALL: Can you? Because it hasn't even been released yet...

 

JACOB WALL-LING: BAM! Look at that. Number one in it's category. Best Seller confirmed. It's also received the Jacob Wall-Ling 2017 Book of the Year Award. Very prestigious. 

JAKE LINGWALL: No reviews yet though. 

JACOB WALL-LING: It's left the advanced readers speechless.

JAKE LINGWALL: How do you think you'll handle those first reviews? Especially the really negative ones.

JACOB WALL-LING: Like a grown adult. I'll probably sue for defamation, impersonating an officer, and mislabeling products as gluten-free. 

JAKE LINGWALL: Well, if that doesn't entice readers I don't know what will. 

JACOB WALL-LING: The problem with most books is that they spend too much time focusing on the wrong things such as character, plot, setting, word choice, coherency and all that.

JAKE LINGWALL: I didn't ask you a question...

JACOB WALL-LING: I've also found that despite popular opinion, dressing up as a sheep and spending a few weeks trying to convince the herd to adopt you, will not in fact heal your emotional problems. Turns out that sheep are a very prejudice species. Well, that's all I really wanted to say. This interview is over. I'll send you a bill. 

JAKE LINGWALL: That's not how this works. That's not how any of this works. That being said, you can download Jacob's debut novel for free for the next week. 

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A great honor... ish

I've been writing books for a few years now. 

At one point I was an international best seller (somewhere in Canada for a few minutes. On Amazon. It checks out). 

I like to think that I have some accomplishments outside of writing as well. I have a couple of degrees. I won an elementary reading competition in 2nd grade. I once ate 5 sushi rolls in one sitting. You know, pretty prestigious stuff. 

 

HOWEVER THIS TOPS THEM ALL BY A LONG SHOT

 

Ok. Maybe not by that much. Or even at all. 

Without further ado, I am pleased to announce that for the first time in my career I have the honor and pleasure of being cover quoted. I superlatived?

Even more impressive, I managed the feat without any proper training, or guidance. I'm a natural. My proudest accomplishment can be seen below:

 

Pretty good right? I think I nailed it. The author Jacob Wall-Ling, reached out to me and I was so honored that I even agreed to host his digital presence on my own website. That means you'll be able to find his books, and blogs posts here as well. It's like two authors for one! One good one (me) and one... well. Other (Jacob). 

More to come! But if you're interested in reading an advanced copy of Jacob's work leave a comment or message me and I can get you set up. 

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A thought on NBA Parity Problems.

NBA is broken.

And it's shame because it's the only sport going right now that I have more than a very passive interest in. Perhaps, the best solution would be to try and convince myself to take up hockey or baseball. But I was born in a desert, in a state with no baseball team. I can only do so much. 

Anyways, back to the NBA. 

PROBLEM

The NBA playoffs have been a spectacularly uninteresting event. There has been no drama, excitement, or interest (save fans of the top teams who enjoy watching 40 point blowouts). I believe this is a very serious issue for the league. NFL, NFL, MLB, MLS, NCAAF, NCAAB have way more parity than the NBA. It makes their product uninteresting. When every team seems like they have a chance to win, the nation wide excitement goes up. 

So, the current problem is that NBA teams can stock pile the best players. They've tried some solutions to fix that such as having a salary cap, and letting teams offer their star players more money than the other teams. But neither of those solutions even come close to working. Kevin Durant left the team that had invested in him for a decade to go join a team already stocked with top tier players and championships. That's a great move for him, winning helps the brand. And the brand helps the massive shoe deals (where players really make the money). 

So one solution to fix that would be to remove "Max Contracts" all together and just let teams bid on players as much as they'd like. I don't think that solves the Kevin Durant problem. So here is the start of my thoughts on the subject.

SOLUTION

The NBA adopts a "tiered salary" strategy. Meaning, that player pay is dependent on their tier and that's it. Let's say that the max a team can spend on its players is 120 Million (although you could just go straight profit sharing instead. Pay the players out of a league salary and base everything off of percentage points). 

TIERS
TIER 1 - 30 million yearly salary - 4 or 5 year contracts - max 1 players per team. 
TIER 2 - 20 million yearly salary - 3 or 4 year contracts - max 2 players per team.
TIER 3 - 10 million yearly salary - 2 or 3 year contracts - max 3 players per team.
TIER 4 - 5 million yearly salary - 1 or 2 year contracts - max 4 players per team.
TIER 5 - 1 million yearly salary - 1 year contracts - max 5 players per team. 

*The OR is a player option, meaning they can opt in or out depending on market availability of slots, and when they want a new contract. 

ROOKIES
First Rounders start in TIER 4 and second rounders start in TIER 5.

Now, when a player's contract is over, they can only choose from places to play that offer them the highest tier available. The players current team has the ability to match a tier offer, which would force that player to accept that deal or retire (NFL franchise tag type thing.)

So, Kevin Durant is a TIER 1 player, and the warriors can offer him a TIER 1 spot, however, OKC would have matched and he would have stayed in OKC (likely for the duration of his career), but then would likely have lost Westbrook. 

This would prevent any team from hitting the magical "Big 3", because the only way they could get 3 TIER 1 level players would if if not other team in the league wanted to offer two players a TIER 1 contract, and you were able to get players 2, 3 as a TIER 2 players. 

That means no Miami Heat. No Boston Celtics. ETC. It also guarantees that each team in the league would have the chance to franchise their best players and keep them around as long as they are viewed at market value (as defined by other teams offers). I think this redistributes the talent in the NBA in a pretty interesting way. Can Cleveland keep Lebron (TIER 1), and Love (2?), and KYRIE (2?)? Unlikely The warriors are sitting on 4 TIER 1 players right now. With the right contracts they might have 3 of them still (maybe Curry had a TIER 2 because of his injuries), but he would be moving to TIER 1 this summer, so they'd be forced to move some of their other players. 

AND here's the thing, they'd still have an advantage right? Because they would get to choose which guys they kept, and who they wanted to trade out, AND no other team would have more than 1 TIER 1 players. There would be no limit on who you get back, or salary matching, because as long as teams involved in trades meet the TIER requirements they're good. So maybe they ship off Draymond Green and get back a bunch of lottery picks or TIER 3 guys they want in return. 

ISSUES
Injuries would be somewhat of a problem here. You'd probably need some sort of IR, or the ability to sign more TIER 2 players if you can't fill your TIER 1 spot. Balance could be worked out. 

It doesn't fix the fact that basketball is unwatchable sometimes do to the involvement of the refs and their need to call so many fouls. Hopefully technology can fix that.

IMPLICATIONS

There are 30 NBA teams. So that would mean that there could be a max of 30 TIER 1 players. Maybe that's too many slots because there is a huge difference between LeBron and Derozen. Hopefully that would work itself out by teams not wanting to commit to TIER 1 players and provide those upcoming TIER 2 players a real choice of where to go to be TIER 1 if their current team didn't want to match. According to NBA Rank the top 30 would look like this:
 

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Last Jedi Theory

The trailer just came out. I wanted to write down my predictions for the story based on the 2 minute trailer to see I am right in the future. This post contains full spoilers for The Force Awakens, as well as the Last Jedi, because I'm pretty sure I'm right. 

In short, basically it's the Empire Strikes Back.

1) Luke has discovered some sort of hidden truth about the Jedi. We see a map with the Jedi symbol on it, and we see light shining later on a series of books that seem significant. At the end of the trailer Luke says "It's time for the Jedi to end." I believe that means he thinks they need to be "more than Jedi" or that Jedi as they know them, aren't what was originally intended from the books he discovered. 

He helps Rey learn this knowledge for herself (force cave like experience). What that knowledge is? I'm not sure. Part of me thinks it's that the force was never meant to be used for violence. (Rey says she sees violence in the future or something). And perhaps, Luke has become a pacifist that doesn't want to train Rey to be violent, but she insists maybe? This part is a little weaker. But the top part is solid.

I'm a little worried about the "Rey has to teach Luke what it means to be a Jedi again" trope. And that he'll rediscover his jedi'ness from seeing her do heroic stuff. Would feel cliche, but I guess that could work too.

2) The basic plot line is that Rey is being trained, but the bad guys want to get to her. So they set up the trap. We see shots of Poe being suprised and the bay with his x-wing getting trashed. Later we see storm troopers and Captain Phasma walking over that still on fire bay (I think). They're doing this for one reason, to capture the still knocked out Finn. They know that Finn came to save Rey, and that she will do the same. So basically, they take the unconscious Finn and use him as bait to Rey to come and save him (fall into the trap). 

Exactly like Empire Strikes Back. Luke was being trained, he leaves to save his friends. Same things happen this time, but with a few twists probably. Maybe Luke comes with her rather than Yoda just chilling in the swamp. 

This would be sort of a let down as the Force Awakens followed A New Hope so closely, but why wouldn't they keep that formula going with their most beloved move (Empire Strikes Back)? 

3) Poe's x-wing gets destroyed which means he's going to get some super special, new ultra ship. For toy marketing purposes. Pretty confident on this one. 

4) The Kylo Ren destroyed mask is a little perplexing. I'm not sure I've figured out how that plays into things? Maybe it's a sign of redemption. Or maybe he refuses to take the honor of being like Vadar until he defeats his foes. And he destroys his mask until he can beat Rey (which is why he sets up the trap). 

Anyways, loved the trailer. Red dirt was awesome. Space battle was awesome.

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Querying = Whiteboarding

Querying is like Whiteboarding. 

For years engineers have been cursed with whiteboarding interviews. Essentially, you have a bright talented young engineer wanting to work at a fine new company. She comes in, ready to show off her prowness at writing the kind of code they need. Inevitably after a few get to know you questions and making sure that she really does, actually, want to change the world -- however the company she is applying to is changing the world (never was a tech company that wasn't) -- they ask her to prove her programming skills by drawing on a whiteboard with a marker, in front of a crowd of esteemed engineers deadset on proving they are smarter than her. 

Sounds like fun right? I know you're probably thinking something like this "Wow, answering questions on a whiteboard seems lame, why wouldn't they just ask her to program for them, or with them, to prove she knows what shes doing?" Well, because that's not how they got their jobs. 

I've never met a single engineer that thinks whiteboarding is a good idea, or enjoys it. But, I've never done a technical interview without it. It's sort of stunning. 

I was reminded of this process as I've sent out queries to agents that I might want to partner with on my books. Authors hate querying. I've never met one that thinks querying is a fun or a good idea. And, I've seen countless quotes from people on the other side saying how it's a broken process, and how queries don't necessarily reflect the work of the novel they might actually publish. 

But we do it anyway. And there are websites, and blogs, and critiques, and evaluations, all geared toward not making your novel better (the actual product), or even the marketing material (what sells your product), but to make your query better. The thing that the people receiving them don't actually even appreciate (from what I can tell, I make no effort to hide my ignorance). 

Seems like a pretty broken system. But it's what we have. 

And I suppose it works. Eventually, people that have written a home run novel, also figure out how to write a home run query, and their books finally get a full evaluation. Just like good engineers eventually get jobs, even if they stink at whiteboarding. 

In more parallels for interest: engineers that don't actually know how to code but have a big twitter following get jobs, just like authors with big twitter followings get deals. 

Anyways, this isn't a complaint or a claim that I've written a home run novel or that I'm a rock star engineer. I just think its fun to see how similar industries are. It feels like there should be a way to make both systems better . . . 

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The State of Lingwall Address

An author that is incredibly more successful than I am, Brandon Sanderson, writes a post at the end of each year updating his fans about all the different projects he has in the works. I’m not nearly as prolific of a writer, but I thought a few of you might appreciate an update on the novels I am working on.

I have the luxury of having an amazing full-time job that I love, which pays all my bills, but it has the unfortunate side-effect of taking most of my time. That means I really have to push myself to release two novels a year, which I have been successful in doing the first two years of my author career. I wish I had more time so I could write all the novels I have in my head at once, but for now I have to make some choices on what I work on and what I don’t work on. With that said, here is the start-of-the-year Jake Lingwall novels update.

 

FREELANCER SERIES

I wrote Freelancer at the end of 2013, which was the start of my author journey. Over the course of the years I wrote two more novels in the series, The Unseen (Dec 2015) and FAI (July 2016) and released them. The series was published by Kindle Press via Kindle Scout and they have been great partners. The series has sold thousands of copies worldwide and garnered over a hundred reviews.

I have to step back and read those sentences again sometimes. When I started writing novels a few years ago I was convinced they would go the way of the average Amazon title, selling less than 10 copies total, and I thought that if one person liked any of my books it would be a great success. So the Freelancer series has been a delight to publish. I’ve loved to read the reviews (even the mean ones!) and see the response from readers.

Financially the books have more than broke even after cover art (custom art FTW!) and editing, but not by much. Luckily I have the day job to pay the mortgage, but I still consider the series to be a runaway-success for me as I don’t write for profit. I know a few people have asked about the financial side of things as they have followed my author career, and that’s the update. I’m not getting rich off the novels, but at this point, I make a little each month off all three of them.

I’m finished with the Freelancer world for now. I’ve told Kari’s story and I’ve moved on to other projects. I’m not ruling out a return to the series if sometime down the road I run across a story that I have to tell. But, don’t expect to see any more Freelancer novels any time soon.

 

THE HISTORIES OF NEWTEN

The second book I released in 2016 was Epoch Shift. I love the setting, story, cover, characters, all of it from this novel. It was a pleasure to write and I’m glad I released it. The experts say not to mix genres, but I like Science-Fiction and I like Fantasy, and I plan on writing in both genres in the future. That being said, Epoch Shift was my first foray into self-publishing and it has been a great learning experience. Unfortunately, Epoch Shift, hasn’t found the broad readership that the Freelancer series did, but the people who have read it have been very enthusiastic about it. Despite selling less copies, I’ve heard more positive feedback about Epoch Shift than any of my other novels, which is incredibly rewarding.

With my ability to only write about two books a year, I have some bad news. The second book in the series has been postponed until at least 2018. I have other projects right now (below) that I’m working on, and I can’t tear myself away from them. I’m not letting this series die, but it’ll be a year or so before the next novel is released. I think that fits the EPOCH scale of the series anyways. I’m still really excited about this world and I think you’ll love the next book when it comes out.

 

VAGRANTS

This is my primary project at the moment and I’m super stoked about it. It’s a Science-Fiction series set in my favorite kind of apocalypse. Robots. But with magic. It’s going to be a trilogy and I couldn’t be more excited about it. It’s for an older audience (Adult) as compared to the Freelancer series (Young Adult) and The Histories of Newten (New Adult), which means it’s a little darker, but boy is it cool.

I’ll have a lot more to say about this series in the future, but for now I’ve finished a few drafts of the first novel and I just passed 5,000 words into the sequel. The plan with this series is to try to find an agent and a big publisher so it may be a while before these books are released, but I think they’ll be worth the wait. As I said, more info to come.

 

UNWONTED

This is the novel that I wrote during NaNoWriMo this past November. It’s a zombie-comedy novel filled with a bunch of jokes that I think are funny. I’ve never written anything like this before and it shows. The first draft is finished, but it needs a lot of work. Once I finish writing Vagrants 2, I’m going to do another draft of this novel and self-publish it before October. Don’t get your hopes up too high about this one, so that you can be pleasantly surprised. =)

 

BOOK TRIBE

And this isn’t a novel at all, but I’m really excited about it. I’m working on an App that combines my love for coding and data with my love for novels. Basically, it’s a beta-reading on steroids application that I’ve always wanted. If you’re interested in beta-reading some of the stories above and helping me work out some of the kinks in my application of the future, let me know and I’ll get you hooked up.
 


2017

That’s it. That’s all I’m working on. I have a list of about 9 other novels that I think are really interesting, but given my pace of writing, it’ll be a long, long time before they are even worth mentioning here. But, I’ve loved writing stories for my readers the past few years and I grow more passionate about it every year. 2017 is going to be the best year ever for my books, and I hope it’ll be the best year ever for you.


Thanks for reading!

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NaNoWriMo

It's NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth. Take the capitals and you get this obnoxious and hard to pronounce term for a month-long challenge to write a novel. The idea behind it is that if you write 2,000 words a day, for the 30 days in November, at the end of the month you'll have a 60,000 word novel (check the math). 

Pretty cool idea right? I thought so in 2013 when I wrote the first draft of Freelancer in November. I cranked out 2,000 words a day, even writing a few thousand on Thanksgiving, to finish my first book. It was a pretty terrible manuscript when the month was over but I had something. I had written a novel and it was a great feeling.

 Fast forward a few years and I've published 4 books now in various genres and of various lengths. I actually wrote another novel for NaNoWriMo 2014, but I didn't feel like that book was publishable. It was called Shadow Trodden and eventually, I want to dust it off and rewrite it. But not this month. 

That's right, for the first time since 2014, I'm going to do NaNoWriMo. That means 2,000 words a day, no matter what. My main target is a new project that has been tentatively called "Zombie Comedy". It's a new genre, and honestly, I have no idea if I can write anything funny or not, but I'm excited to branch out and give it a try. 

Oh, by the way, NaNoWriMo is open to anyone. If you've ever considered writing a book, today is a great day to start.

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Epoch Shift Follow Up

First things first, the bad news: Epoch Shift did not get selected for publication by Kindle Press. 

I did mention how I thought that this novel might not be a good fit for them currently, and it turns out that, that gut feeling was accurate. It was actually written with the intention of being self-published to help build my mailing list, it was only a late decision to give Kindle Press a chance to look at the novel. 

I have no regrets about the process, as it still provided me a platform for thousands of people who otherwise wouldn't have seen my novel to get an early look at it. In fact, by page count and trending hours, it was my most successful campaign yet, so I'm super encouraged by that feedback. 

The good news? Epoch Shift has been published on Amazon is now available to the general public! In many ways self-publishing is a better fit for this particular novel and I'm excited to see what happens with this new series. 

Check it out on Amazon!
 

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Epoch Shift

So, it seems that I write novels at about the same pace I write blog posts. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not, but what it does mean is that I have another novel ready to be published. 

This one is called Epoch Shift and it's currently up on Kindle Scout for nomination You can read the first few chapters over on their website and secure a potential free copy by nominating it. 

The short pitch for the novel sounds like this: 

A thousand years ago humanity crash landed on a dangerous new planet filled with as many wonders as dangers. The human race settled the only place on Newten where they could survive, a canyon. But when the shared dream predicts a dire fate for their refuge, Elle and Jak set out to save their people by any means scientific or magical. However, the exploration of Newten leads to discoveries that change the future and the past.

Pretty cool right? I thought so anyways and I'm really excited about this book. It's the first "fantasy" novel that I've thought good enough to publish (I have a couple in my trunk that will never see the light of day) and I think it does some really fun things. I'll write more about those in the future, but you can notice from the excerpt that each chapter starts with a message from recorded history (either private or public). I've always loved fantasy novels that feel like they are part of a rich, storied history and that's what I aimed for with this new novel/series. 

A few things related to the novel that you might find interesting

I love the cover and it was done by a concept artist who lives in England. I had to pay for this one in pounds, before the brexit, but I think I got my money's worth. Most illustrators will talk about either having a "wide shot" or a "close up" on the cover. I think the data says that the "close up" look at a character sells better, but I really wanted to do a wide shot to show a bit of the scope of the novel. I think it also highlights the "fantasy + sci-fi bits" concept of the novel. 

The target audience for this novel is "New Adult." I'm going to be honest with you, I'm not entirely confident what the difference is between "Young" and "New" adult, but from what I can tell "New" adult is intended for a slightly more mature audience. There's more violence and action in this book than there is in the Freelancer series. 

I say "potentially receive a free copy" because I'm not super confident that this is going to be a book that fits Kindle Press or not. There's no doubt in my mind that it's a better book than the ones I wrote in the Freelancer trilogy, but there is a lot that goes into deciding whether a book gets a contract with a publisher or not. I've enjoyed my relationship with Kindle Scout / Kindle Press and I'd love to continue that partnership, but I wouldn't be surprised if they don't have the right editor/fit for it at this time. So give it a nomination (I'd appreciate it) but don't be surprised if I end up self-publishing Epoch Shift. No matter what happen's you'll see Epoch Shift available on Amazon in the near future!
 

 

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FAI - Freelancer Book 3

JULY 9th, 2016

At long last, the Freelancer series is complete. FAI, Kari's finale, is launching this weekend, just shy of a year since Freelancer was first published. It's crazy to think that this will be the third book I have published when a year and a half ago, I wasn't certain if I'd ever publish a novel. 

The last year has been filled with many learning experiences, from editing and honing my skill as an author, to learning about the business side of publishing. There are too many lessons to share in a single blog post, but I think I'll write more on those lessons in the future. For now, the most important thing I've learned is patience with the process. Publishing books is hard and slow. Writing the first draft of the novel isn't very difficult, spend a few months writing a couple of thousand words a day and in no time you'll have a story. 

After that it's the endless editing, handling feedback, paying for covers and professional editing, and eventually struggling to find people who want to read your hard work, that actually take the most patience. 

That being said writing is an amazing experience that I recommend to everyone. As long as you are ready to be patient and don't want to make tons of cash. =) Freelancer has sold about 2,000 copies at this point and has yet to turn a profit. The Unseen has sold even less, but I still consider the books a great success. The reviews are strong and people out there love the story and characters which makes it all worth it. 

Anyways, back to the big news at hand. FAI is launching this week! Every book in the series is unique and was an accomplishment in its own right. I set out to write a story about a different kind of Young Adult protagonist, one with strong technical skills, and I think I accomplished that. I was also committed to having each book the series be self-contained without any cliff hangers, and I also hit that goal.

A good format to talk about the book is a QA, so here are some self-interview thoughts about the final novel in the Freelancer series. 

Q. The Unseen picked up a few months after Freelancer, what's the time gap between books this time and what has Kari been up to?

A. It's been a while since The Unseen. Well over a year and Kari has been busy. At the end of the last book Kari wanted to take some of the concepts of Valhalla that she admired and turn those into a place of good instead. This gave her the idea to start a school with Motorcad that would rectify the problems of her own education, as well as solve the false promises of Valhalla. 

And we know that Kari is very good at achieving her goals, so that's what she's been up to. Trying to stay hidden from the government while setting up a school is tricky though.

Q. As you look over the series, and FAI in particular, what are you most proud of?

A. I really wanted to write something that was different than the blockbuster YA novels and I think I accomplished that. I also wanted to show people that creation and coding can be fulfilling, fun, and ultra-cool. Hopefully, I succeeded in inspiring people to think about the possibilities of tech/code in the future. 

As far as FAI is concerned I'm quite pleased with how the novel turned out overall. More than the previous novels, this book needed to be tightened and refined. There were so many things I wanted to pour into this novel that it took a lot of discipline to keep it focused and on track. Don't think that means this book is lacking in content, in fact, it's the longest of the series by word count,  it just really moves.

Q. You say this is the end of the series . . . are you sure? 

A. I think so. I've told the story that I set out to tell at the start of the series and I'm very happy with how everything landed at the end. Some people might not agree with me, but I think Kari deserves a rest after all she's been through.

I'd actually love to write more in the Freelancer universe, so maybe someday the right story will come to mind and we'll see Kari again. But for now, I just hope everyone loves the final book in the series as much as I do!

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Kindle Scout Round Two

The Unseen, is officially up on the Kindle Scout website!

 I described the campaign for Freelancer as "the longest 30 days of my life." Turns out, I was wrong about that for so many reasons, but the sentiment remains. Why would I possibly put myself through that harrowing process again? Because Kindle Scout is awesome and Kindle Press is a fantastic publisher. That's why. 

In fact, it's only because of the amazing response that readers have had to Freelancer, that The Unseen even exists. I wrote my debut novel to be completely stand alone. I hate cliff hangers and wanted Freelancer, to be a satisfying journey in its own right. However, I fell in love with the characters and when other people did too I knew I had no choice but to write a sequel. 

So now we have book 2, The Unseen, out in front of the world. Thirty days of me checking the "hot and trending" category every hour at quarter past the hour to see if my work has made the cut. Despite how stressful the process is, I couldn't enjoy it more (weird I know). I love that my readers get a copy of my finished book for free and that I get to be part of such an amazing community. Here's to hoping this campaign goes as well as the last!

Please, do me a huge favor and nominate The Unseen, on Kindle Scout. (Click Here!)

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Boys State

Political season is starting up again and it reminds me of my short political career back in high school. For one week, I was shipped up via minivan to Weber State University for Utah Boys State. 

Boys State is a program designed to teach high schoolers (there is a girls state too) about how government works and the importance of being involved in the political process. They set it up so that boys from all over the state are grouped together in "cities" first. Those cities were about 20, seventeen year old boys who occupied one floor of the dorm tower for the entire week. 

It didn't take me long to figure out it was going to be a slow week. Governments are boring enough but at least what they do is real (or so they say). So, I set out to liven things up. 

After a short, compelling campaign of a two-minute speech I was elected mayor of my city. This gave me ultimate power over the peasants I ruled over. Unlike other politicians, I set out to make real change. 

I outlawed going poop on our floor as it smelled too badly. Shortly there after I formed a SWAT team and had them raid the other floors for any luxuries that were attainable. I tried to declare war on the floor below us, but apparently that wasn't allowed. I declared our city the greatest city on the face of the boys state planet and declared our motto "We're better than you." 

It didn't take long for the other cities nearby to grow intimidated by our striking ideology. They tried to ban us from their bathrooms, so I ordered my SWAT team to block the elevator doors so no one could use the elevator in retaliation (some poor luck for the boys on the twelfth floor).

My loyal citizens pushed me on to run for state senator where I was absolutely crushed in a general election. I only had the votes of my city and no one else. 

The moral of this story: don't know. Sitting here at the end of the post, it doesn't seem to have much of a point...

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Overnight Best Seller

Freelancer, launched last night making me an officially published author. Pretty exciting times. I'm not sure when being an author became something I wanted to be. I remember starting to write a book about magic swords way back in the day. I made it like 2 pages and gave up for the next 15 years. 

But now, after a couple of real work, I'm a real author. My book has been available for pre-order for about two weeks now. I've come to learn the Amazon sales rank well already. It's their magical formula that determines how many books are selling better than your book. I debuted at 35,000! That didn't really impress me then to be honest. But then it fell over the coming days and even hit as low as 300,000 <--- Not Great. 

But, it climbed the last few days and has been chilling at around 70,000. But that was when it was in pre-order. I fell asleep last night before my book launched expecting to see that number jump in the morning. Who knows, maybe it would even be an overnight best seller!

Turns out it wasn't even an overnight seller. 

The sales rank dropped down to the low 100,000's this morning. What a dissappointment. I guess I'll have to learn the hard part of being an author now that I have a book published: trying to sale it. 
 

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Germs

I have never been a germaphobe. 

But now that Ellen doesn't really have an immune system all I can see in the world is germs. In fact, it's gotten to the point where it's really changed my perspective on everything. I used to see human beings, now I see walking death bombs of germs and communicable disease. And children... it's a miracle they are alive the way they throw caution to the wind and put anything in their mouths.

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Electric Lawn Mower

I bought a new house last year. When I say "new" house I mean, "new new". Which has been great. 

Except newly built homes don't come with yards. 

So I bought a yard. I liked the idea of putting in a yard myself, but I didn't like the idea of actually spending all that time to put it in. Now, we have a yard and it's beautiful. We love it. We play soccer with our puppy dog Otto. We kick the ball back and forth across the grass and he chases after it. It's adorable. Last night, we even set up a projector and watched a movie on the side of the house. It was also wonderful. 

But, I didn't own anything to take care of my yard. So I had to buy a lawn mower, weed wacker, rake, fertilizer, weed killer ETC. 

After having to buy so many things, I really didn't want to hassle with buying gas every other week to power my lawn mower. Plus, electric mowers are quieter and save the planet. So win-win-win. Except, they are way more expensive. =( But, with the gas and hassle savings I figured it would pay off. 

So here we are a month later and my charger for the battery dies. =/ Now I have to send in a warranty claim and go through all of that process. 

Makes me wish I would have just bought a gas mower instead. Sometimes it's so hard to save the planet.

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Kindle Scout

Freelancer, is finally up for the world to see via-preorder and the people that nominated it for publication all have their free copies. It's a significant milestone that I think it worth reflecting on. In fact, I think it's worth a retrospective on the entire publishing process. So, here we go from the beginning. 

November 2013

November is national writing month. I don't usually care one bit about all the fake national months/weeks/days but I had been wanting to write a book for a long time so I thought I would give it a serious try. I had spent a few months earlier that year trying to write an epic fantasy. After 90,000 words I gave up. It was long, boring and still needed months more of writing. So, in November I started over, working on an idea I had for a long time. Every day in November I wrote ~2,000 words. I even wrote on Thanksgiving. I was very pleased at the end of the month to have a finish novel. 

December 2013

I sent my new manuscript to my alpha reader (my little sister Jill). She had some great feedback. I realized the book needed a ton of work as my writing was poor and the story had some problems. I fixed those problems up over a few months and sent it to some more readers. 

Early 2014

More readers had more great feedback. I realized there was EVEN more wrong with the book. At this point, I gave up on it. There was too much work left to do and I was confident it wasn't going to go anywhere.

Mid 2014

My sister and my mom kept asking me about Freelancer, and what was going on with it. Their continued interest in the book made me believe in it again. I did another round of editing and sent it in to a local publisher. I figured they would blow my query letter off and that would be it. But to my surprise they asked for the full manuscript. This freaked me out. I knew the book had problems so I tried to hurry and fix them all with another major revision. I blasted through it in three days and didn't feel like I had time to edit my changes, so I submitted my full manuscript. 

Late 2014

It had been a few months since I submitted my book to the publisher and I hadn't heard back from them. So, I looked in to it more and realized I had made a very un-tech-savy mistake. I had replied to a "doNotReply" email address. (Quick Side Bar: Why do these exist? What a horrible customer experience. Businesses should never have a DO NOT REPLY email address.) It was a terrible mistake but my fault. I frantically emailed them with the full manuscript, still filled with the errors from my rushed revision. It was promptly rejected.

Early 2015

It was only after I finished another novel that I realized that Freelancer, was actually pretty good work. In fact, I think it was really good. Despite being rejected by a published I started working on it again. I polished the draft a few more times. Then I had my friend Julia help me edit another time. It's then that I discovered Kindle Scout. It seemed like an awesome program that was flexible and innovative. I wanted to be a part of it so I submitted Freelancer.

February - March 2015

The Kindle Scout process was grueling. 30 days trying to scrounge up enough votes to stay hot and trending was very difficult. I asked my friends, family, coworkers, social media networks. And that was good for about one week. I had my students vote for it and even offered them a prize if they got more people to vote for my book. That bought me another week. Then things, got pretty desperate. I started posting youtube comments on videos, creating threads on reddit, submitting my self-designed cover to dribbble. I did everything I could think of for votes. 30 days is a long time. But, eventually it ended and I got the news that my book was selected from my buddy Tyler while I was playing video games with my brother-in-law Trent. 

April 2015

I edited the book myself one more time. Then I purchased a round of editing from some professionals. My writing is technically weak, so I really wanted some more eyes on it. A month after being selected I submitted my final draft to Kindle Press. They got back to me within a few days about the next steps in the process. Unfortunately, it was at this time that my sweet wife was diagnosed with Leukemia. I told Kindle Press that I wouldn't really be able to do much as I needed to focus on my family and they were completely understanding. They told me they would redesign my cover and get back to me. 

July 2015

After a few months of radio silence, mostly spent in the hospitals, Kindle Press got back to me with my new cover. It's the one on the book now that looks kind of like the matrix. I was pleased with it and told them I was ready for publication. They green lit the book and now it's up for pre-order. 

So what happens now? 

Since this is my first book I've ever published I'm not quite sure. As far as I can tell the name of the game is to rack up reviews and get as many sales as possible. Really though, I just want to know if people like the story. I put so much work and effort in to Freelancer, that it's not about the money. In fact, I wouldn't mind if it was listed as free and I never made a cent from it. I just want people to read my book and let me know what they think. So now, I nervously wait for reviews to come in, to discover whether people think all my effort was worth it or not.

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Welcome to the new site, again!

I think this is the 10th iteration of my personal website in the last two years. I always have a reason for redoing things. Either my hosting was up, or I needed to write it for a project, or I wanted to learn an language or any other number of things. 

This time, instead of writing it from scratch I've decided to just use a professional service. They are good enough and cheap enough now that it makes a lot of sense. While I enjoy having complete code control over my website, I find that I don't spend enough time getting my personal user experience high enough. Meaning, that it becomes to difficult for me to post new updates and features without going through a whole build process that I don't automate. 

For the non-tech person, that means I don't put in enough work to make posting updates easy.

So we'll see how squarespace treats me. So far, I've been quite pleased with it. 

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