Map Compass

Maps, Books, and finally, really coming soon.

Maps. I love maps. As a child I remember spendings hours pouring over maps in Lord of the Rings. I loved the maps. I wanted to know what each thing was, what each section was. Maps, to me, bring the world that I’m exploring into focus. It shows me just how much more there is that the little part that the story touches. Maps give me the key to fleshing out what the writers imagination has created.

So of course I needed maps for ‘Blood of a Fallen God.’ I’ve shared these on social media, but not here for some odd reason. So here they are, two maps. one of the land of Palnor, one of Ture, the Capitol of Palnor.

Map of Palnor
Map of the Land of Palnor
Map of Ture
Map of the capitol of Palnor, the city of Ture

Hope you like them as much as I do. In other news, the book.. is just waiting for cover art! Once that is done, I’ll be sending it out to those who have agreed to do pre-release reviews for Goodreads, and finally, the Book will be done. At least book one. It’s been nearly two years since my last book release, and I think I’ve learned a lot since then. I hope so. Stay tuned on that front.

I am looking forward to seeing what people think of this book, it’s by far longer than anything else I’ve written, and I’ve thrown myself into it in ways I did not before. But hey, everyone has an opinion 😉 So if your reading this, and you’d like an advance ebook copy and willing to put a review up on Goodreads, let me know. I’ll be happy to send you a copy. I expect book official launch to be 5 weeks or so after the review copies go out. That *should* be enough time.

AI

AI and Faith

Let me start by saying, I’m not scared nor bothered by the idea of AI. In fact I find the idea rather interesting. Though in truth, I doubt we will ever create a true ‘Artificial Intelligence’ ever, and certainly not in my lifetime. I do think we will create some really interesting ways to doing things with neural networks, and pushing the boundaries in how a computer system and software works out a problem. But true artificial life? No.

However, when I was thinking about what to tackle next as a writing project, (Since I’m querying Blood of a Fallen God now) I wanted to explore something a bit different. I don’t consider it horror, but sci fi thriller. Imagine a starship, small unassuming, on that ship, built into that ship, is an AI. This is a new AI, one created by another AI. It’s not connected to us, to humans the way older AI’s are.

This AI discovers religion, faith. What would something like this do? Would it embrace the good? Charity, honesty, selflessness? Or would it turn dark? Would it, not being human, place itself outside the rules for humans, as it’s not one? Would it decide perhaps, that it is more? An angel? Or.. a devil? The crew, trapped onboard, with an AI who has decided it is a devil, or even the devil, above them, to punish them, purify them?

The tentative title, ‘The Stars Burn Cold’ is in the works now. three days or writing, 5894 words done. So far, so good. I think after I finish this I’ll go for something lighter by far, as the dark tones of Blood of a Fallen God, now followed by this book is enough for me for now! I have an idea, just have to explore it more, but that’s for the future. Now, the world of AI, Faith, and outer space calls to me.

INTP Stresses

INTP – Fiction writing

I’m a fan of Myers-Briggs, if only because it does, for me, encapsulate a lot of my traits both good and bad. When I was younger I came out as an INFP, but for the last 15 years or so I’ve been an INTP, and haven’t deviated from that as of yet.

But as an INTP, some of those traits both help, and hurt writing fiction. And because I’m me, I wanted to write a blog post exploring that. Besides, it’s my blog, I can write what I want. *Insert maniacal laugh here*

So INTP’s are logical, clear headed, and tend to strongly make decisions based on facts and logic. This overall serves me well, as once I get the facts, I can make clear decisions. I almost never second guess myself once a decision is made, though getting to the point of making the decision can take longer than I’d like, if only because I’m gathering information.

Writing as an INTP has it’s challenges however.

  1. I tend to keep almost everything in my head. – Good or bad is subjective, for me it’s only a challenge because I fall into trying to lay it out mentally. I always fall back to seeing a story as a tree. The trunk is the main plot, branches are subplots, characters are twigs, events are leaves. Everything grows together, in a system. I like systems.
  2. Emotional writing – this is my biggest weakness. My characters tend to reflect my own reticence with basing decisions on emotion. While I’ve gotten a lot better about this, emotional aspects of my characters is something I have to force myself to expand on. If only by saying to myself – if I were in this situation, how would I NOT react?
  3. Talking about my writing – I do write about it easily. But I HATE talking about my writing. I don’t like to even describe it. I’ve found myself unwilling to even acknowledge that I DO write. I actively try to find ways to avoid attention.

Those three challenges can be overcome of course, and I’m trying hard with #2, and some with #3. The first point will be a sticking point for a while I think LOL

Being an INTP has some advantages as well however, I’m very good at not making consistency errors. Meaning, if I say something in chapter 3, it needs to line up when the subject is brought up again in chapter 38.

There are other advantages, I don’t get into things like mood boards, music playlists, or arguments over best program to write with.

*NOTE* Some of those things are essential to some writers, I’m not knocking them at all, but for me, and my process, they are fairly useless. I write with total silence or at most white noise. I write with just Word, and I’m still not clear on the use of a mood board.

Twitter

Pitching… and a hit?

So I did a thing. I pitched my book. And pitching was easier than I thought. Way back when I thought that Kindle Scout would be around, the plan for ‘Blood of a Fallen God’ was for me to attempt to get this book traditionally published. When Kindle Scout went away, (see here) I was not happy. I hate selling myself and my work in the direct way, I never was a very good salesman, makes me feel slimy. Maybe it’s just the salesmen I’ve met in my life that make me feel that way.

But anyway, once I finished Blood, I didn’t know what to do. I could self-publish again, but since I’m crap at marketing, did I want to just throw it out there and have it do nothing? Again? No, I didn’t want that. Then, I remembered, pitwars/pitmad. Where you make up short pitches, tweet them with the appropriate tags on the right day for agents and publishers to see. If they ‘like’ your tweet, then you send them the requested information, and see what happens next.

I like this because I don’t feel like I’m forcing my way into their awareness. I know that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but for me it works. Pitwars is a bit different animal, maybe I’ll write a blog post on that down the road, but the next pitmad was coming up.. March. I can do that, I can get ready, give me a month to perfect my query letter, my synopsis, etc.

Then I found out #SFFpit.. the morning of the event.

SFFPit is like pitmad, but just for SciFi/Fantasy. I had no query letter, no synopsis ready, but I pitched anyways. And got likes! More than one, more than 5, less than 10. So in one day I put together a synopsis, a query letter, and sent off the requested info.

I’ve gotten one full request so far, and the others haven’t answered back yet. I’m a bit surprised. Nothing may come of all this, but still, it’s good to hear from an outside source, who doesn’t know you, that your first three chapters were great, they love the story, and that your writing is very good.

So, maybe pitching isn’t so bad after all.

Dusty book

Bit dusty in here, time to change that.

So it’s been what, 6 months since I updated the blog? That’s sad. Dusty old posts, full of promise and hope, and then silence. Well I’ll change that now. Not sure who even reads these but here’s what’s new, what’s happening, and what my current plans are.

What’s new?

Well, not a lot. I’m still editing Blood of a Fallen God, though I’m close, very close to being done. I have a page of sections I’ve noted down that I want to improve. More emotion, better wording, clarification, and a small plot hole. I hope to have those changes made sooner rather than later. I’ll go into why later on.

What’s been happening outside that?

Well my day to day life has been busy, but good. Kids getting older, lots of trips to Disney (thanks to winning annual passes) trying to get into better shape, via the rowing machine. I bought one right before Christmas, and while someday I hate it, it’s been a great workout. And while I haven’t lost a ton of weight on it yet, it certainly does a good job toning things up. My biggest issue with exercise has always been me getting bored with whatever I’m doing. I’m working to stick with this, but we shall see. So far, so good at least.

What’s the current plans?

I’ve been giving a lot of time thinking on this. My goal with this book was always to try and get it published via Kindle scout. But since that program is gone (booooo!) I’ve been unsure what to do. Self publish again? Traditional publishing? I was torn. I think however I’m going to throw myself into the world of #pitmad. Pitch the book to agents, see if I can move this forward this way. I have no idea what exactly I’m doing, but I think that’s a good thing. Gotta grow someway, right?

I’m also going to try and be more active here, and on social media. I’ve always been so bad at marketing, but mostly because I always feel like I’m ‘bothering’ people. I’ve got to get over that. So, I’m going to try.

So that’s what’s new with me? What about you?

Dice

Creativity, Writing, and Role Playing Games

Creativity or at least trying to have a creative outlet was the whole reason I started writing. (You can see more about that here.) I like having that outlet, I find it enjoyable, even if this go around has been far longer than normal. But I digress. See when I was younger, much younger in fact, I was pretty heavy into D&D, or for you reading this who don’t know what that is.. Dungeons and Dragons. I loved it, classes, races, exploring fighting, done all in a story telling environment. It was all pretend, and it was all fun.

My son has started exploring that world, and I’ve been along for a ride somewhat. What’s interesting to me now, is how much it’s all changed. Now I played what’s known now as “1st Edition” rules. Old school. Like 6 races, a dozen or so classes, that’s it. These days there’s so many variants, half-breeds, sub-races, etc that really, I can’t keep track. My reaction to this has been interesting. One one hand it’s pretty cool to see SUCH a huge range of choices for a player.  You want to be a half jinn warlock in a pact with a fae lord? Sure go ahead.

But on the other side I kind of feel that SO many choices ruins a chance for the player to explore other aspects of role-playing. Finding new ways to make a character unique. Here’s my personal example..

Back when I played,my favorite character of all time was a Dwarf Fighter. Boring you think? Predictable? Not at all! See this particular Dwarf (Named Barstile Ironpeg, a name I’d use many years later when I got into MMO’s) had a quirk. He was deathly afraid of Doppelgangers. In D&D terms a Doppelganger is a monster/creature who can basically mimic any one. Copy them and BE them, until discovered. They don’t have to be evil, and a great many aren’t. But in my characters backstory, an evil doppelganger had tricked his village into letting him in, and he betrayed them to a band of gnolls. Ever since Barstile was constantly worried that everyone he met MIGHT be a doppelganger. He spent every drop of treasure he could get on making sure people weren’t. if I had a good DM who went along well with this quirk, things got really interesting. I even got to the point once where I’d have Barstile stay up till everyone else was asleep and take a blood sample from each other character and use a “magic” item he bought that was supposed to tell him if they were a doppelganger or not. (Note: it was a fake magic item, Barstile was easy to dupe that way)

The reason I bring this up, is that in a lot of fantasy/sci-fi I read, I don’t see a lot of this sort of thing. Giving something common a quirk, a twist. Instead I seem to find a lot of crazy rare races/powers/etc, but yet they act fairly normal. Taking this farther, in my current WIP (Blood of a Fallen God) one character, in this world of dead gods, creatures, and (rare) magic, has turned to drug use to cope with something. It’s not working out for him, but it gives what could be a ho-hum story line something to bite on. Creativity can be mental, not physical.

 

Lesson: Don’t be afraid to take something normal and give it a twist, instead of making something fantastical, and making it normal.

Annoyed, and maybe a bit embarrassed

OK, so I haven’t updated the blog in well.. a long time. A VERY long time. There’s a few reasons…and for my being annoyed.

  1. I got lazy. Yes, the number one reason is the fact is.. I got lazy. I didn’t have anything really interesting to say, so I didn’t say anything.
  2. Rewrites are a pain. Yes, I’m STILL doing rewrites and edits on Blood of a Fallen God. It’s taking forever.
  3. I’m working on creating my own covers again. I was going to pay for a cover for Blood, but… I don’t want to spend the money. LOL

So those are the three reasons I haven’t updated the blog. That’s why I’m a bit embarrassed, because honestly, they aren’t good reasons. They are however NOT why I am annoyed.

Now I found out about this back in early April, .. Amazon Scout.. is no more. Now this really annoyed me. My ‘Master Plan’ for BOAFG (As I’ll call the book for short) was to write it, get it cleaned up, and submit it to Kindle Scout. I really wanted that shot, that CHANCE at getting it published under the Amazon Imprint for Sci-Fi/Fantasy,  47North. Amazon’s publishing contract is a VERY nice one, and very generous to writers. Yes I knew it was a long shot, but hey.. it was nice to have a goal.

However, back in early April, Amazon stopped taking any submissions, and in fact are shuttering the whole thing. Hence, the annoyance.

I don’t blame them in many ways for shuttering it. I did read after the fact that of all the submissions they’d taken over the years, they only picked 238 over 4 years for publication. Those are VERY long odds. But still, I really liked the idea of finding new writers/authors based on what readers think, rather than jumping through the whole agent/publisher fight.

Yes, I’ll continue to self-publish. But I’m HORRIBLE at marketing, and I can’t afford to really pay for it either. So truthfully the end of Kindle Scout is the end of the chance of me really doing this full time… Which I guess.. is ok. Not ideal. Not what I wanted. But, OK.

Wall o Doom

2017 – A look back in walls, delays, and writing fails

2017 was not a banner year for me as a writer. It started off not great and never really got moving. To start with, January 2017 saw books sales fall like a brick. In particular, the second book in The Echo Worlds series, titled Bridgebreaker, was not doing well. I was am still rather proud of the book. I had really taken feedback and good criticism of the first book, Bridgefinders into consideration, and had written something I though had the story I wanted, but carried a more emotional ‘umph’ than the first book had possessed. But by January 2017 which was 4 months after the second book had come out, it was apparent that the book wasn’t doing so well.

I did a massive ‘blitz’ in terms of using book lists, advertising services and the like to give sales a pump. In retrospect it was totally a foolish move, as I signed up for to much all at once, and it became nigh impossible to figure out which service was working, and which was a waste of what little money I had to spend on the marketing. On top of it, it didn’t really help much and sales stayed flat for the entire year of 2017.

This did harm my motivation a bit, so I sort of pushed off the third book of the Echo Worlds, which I had been planning on writing right away, to explore something else. I had a few ideas floating around, but only one I had fleshed out to any degree. With my normal goal of two books a year, I pushed forward with writing something called “Worker Road”, a post-apocalyptic story. However about a quarter into it, I realized I was struggling with the story. I was having a hard time with the main character, and after several weeks of back and forth in my mind, I shelved the story. I may pick it up again, someday….Maybe.

So, now a bit more discouraged, I sort of started looking at some previously started but never finished stories I had floating around. One a YA sci-fi book, and the other a fantasy novel I hadn’t really fleshed out other than to know it involved Blacksmiths. The YA book I had previously started and shelved in 2016, and I still had a core of a story. But after reading through what was there, the knowledge became quite clear, I’m not a YA writer. I wasn’t much of a teenager when I WAS a teenager. To serious for my own good, I tended to find some of the antics of my peers to be.. annoying. And so, writing YA was a struggle, as I tend to color my writing with a main character who was to serious by half. That story still sits, half done. I might take parts of the ideas for that one and use them else where, someday.. Maybe. 😉

So, the fantasy novel, revolving around Blacksmiths. With a working title of ‘Forgemaster’ I started fleshing out some basic ideas and tenets of the world. It quickly became obvious that this was going to be a large undertaking. Fantasy novels can be that way, as the need to describe and inform a reader about the world they are exploring becomes much more important than what I had been writing before, namely “Modern Fantasy”, meaning stories set in our normal day to day life, but with a magical fantasy element thrown in.  But having got some basic rules laid out for the world I was creating, and a few notes about the plot, I dove in.

Now, if anyone actually reads this, you should be aware that I’m not a outliner by nature. Or as I prefer, I’m not as George RR Martin described it, an Architect. I’m a Gardener. I take the seed of an idea, and jsut let it grow as I write. Or I should say that’s how I THINK I write. As working on this Fantasy book made very clear to me, I’m much more a hybrid of the two.  Forgemaster, which quickly had it’s name changed to “Blood of a Fallen God” became a beast. I realized I wasn’t just working on a fantasy novel, but an EPIC Fantasy novel. Sweeping of breadth, a great many characters, a large number of subplots that intertwine. I had to step back and really change the way I was going to write, as simply, there were to many things to keep track of for me to be a Gardener all the way, at least for me.

Around this time, l hit a wall. Writers block times a hundred, a wall just stopped me, and stopped me cold. I had no ideas, and the discouragement I felt over both Bridgebreaker, and some decisions I had made in terms of the first book, Bridgefinders, spilled over into me just not wanting to write. And I didn’t want to.  I was busy at home with the kids and family, Summer vacations, and major expenditures,  and new distractions, made it less enjoyable to write. And so I stopped. For two months. I was unmotivated, and the few times I tried, I just couldn’t get anything out and into the work.

I honestly began to think about walking away from writing, and diving into other things. Crypto-currencies, a few home projects, and some other things started to absorb what had used to be writing time. While I enjoyed the mental break from writing, there was always hanging around a vague feeling of guilt for not staying on top of it. I pretty much abandoned twitter, and all social media work and outreach, and let it sit.

Then one day while swimming in out (new) pool, an idea for how to solve a problem in the Blacksmith story, Blood of a Fallen God, hit me. As is normal for me (and many others) I wasn’t even thinking bout writing, but the idea came to me, and wouldn’t leave me alone. So, I wrote it out and down, and just like that, it all started to flow again. I was past the wall, and moving forward. I started making a fair amount of notes as I wrote to keep everything straight in my head and in the story, who was who, what did the character want and why? What did they know about what was REALLY going on,  etc.

The rest of the year flew on. I hit another small wall in lake October, but I didn’t walk away, and soon was past it. I already knew I wasn’t going to meet any part of the goal of 2 books in 2017. This bothered me because I always had met that goal, but considering the breadth and length this book was shaping up to be, I still was OK. And finally in December of 2017, I finished the first Draft of Blood of a Fallen God.

I quickly put it away, and didn’t look at it until after Christmas had passed. I needed a break from it. This wasn’t a wall however as I spent the time jotting down some other ideas, for books to explore after this one, including returning to the Echo Worlds, and getting the third book finally done and out.

 

So that’s where I am now. I’ve started the rewrite/edit phase, and clean up of notes. As of this blog post, I’ve already reduced BOAFG from 189,433 words to 174, 122 words. I’m being a bit brutal in the cutting phase of things, but I think that’s needed. This book is almost three times the size of a normal story I get out there and I want it to be as focused as it can be.

Next week I’ll do a goals of 2018 post, but for now, theirs 2017, my wall from hell.

Ink

Book Blurb – Blood of a Fallen God

So in between rewrites, edits and trying to figure out what I’m going to do about a cover, I have been working on the book ‘blurb’ for the back of the book, and for it’s Kindle Scout listing, etc.  I always find this hard for some reason, so I’m putting this out and hoping to get some feedback…Book Blurbs are hard!

 

 

“Two Gods went to war with each other, and both fell in that war. The death of two Gods changed the world, and allowed for power to be seized, and fate to be changed. Now hundreds of years later, the post Godsfall order is under threat. Forces and people have started down a path that will change the world again, for one simple reason…Gods don’t stay dead forever.

William and Duncan Reis are cousins, and the last two members of the Reis family line. A family line descended from the last Forgemaster, the blessed of Amder, God of the Forge and Creation. A family line that has been watched and kept ignorant of its place, and what it could do by those who crave power more than piety.

Zalkiniv is the near immortal High Priest of Valnijz, the God of Blood and Rage who fell in battle with Amder so many years ago. Seeking only the return of the Blood God, Zalkiniv has worked for centuries to make that one thing happen. A chance discovery has accelerated his plans, and set into motion the possible return of Amder as well.”

 

I always find doing a  book blurb kind of hard because it’s such a fine line between giving the book away, and yet trying to entice readers to have interest. This is an ‘epic fantasy’ book, long, multiple characters, multiple settings, and several intertwined story lines. Multiple POVs.. all of it.

 

So, feedback?

One book

One book, or Three books

One book, or three smaller books?

Recently I did a full read through of what I’ve done so far on ‘Blood of a Fallen God‘ this epic fantasy story I’m working on. And realized I had some really good break points in the story, which meant if I wanted, I could break it up into three books. There’s advantages and disadvantages to that however, and so I went on some social media to ask. What was interesting to me was the while the voting actually clearly favored breaking it up (78 to 12) the comments were mostly in favor of keeping it as one large book. Note, the people I was asking were, for the most part other self-publishing authors, and if there’s one thing a group of authors will do, is come up with 1001 different ways of doing the same thing and being 100% sure they are in the right.

Some of the comments were somewhat amusing.. the idea that for something to be an “epic fantasy” requires a certain word length I found rather funny.  But I guess if you think length of story means it’s epic, sure.. though that’s not where I go. Epic fantasy to me means a grand story, covering multiple locations with multiple characters. Now this usually means a larger story, but that doesn’t really mean a minimum word count.

But I digress.

Advantages to breaking it up:

More $. Fact is, three books will, traditionally make you more $$ than one. Assuming the price points are good.

More reviews (hopefully)

Lets me say I’ve written 10 books instead of saying 7 *heh*

 

Disadvantages

Costs are higher.. instead of one cover, I have to provide for three.

Usually a single book that large costs a fair amount more to buy.

If you don’t publish all three at once, it becomes a pain for readers to wait.

 

The other side is break it up into three, but publish them all at once as both separately, and as a ‘box set’. Nice idea.. but…

I want to put this out over kindle scout. I don’t think that strategy will work there.

 

I think I’m leaning towards putting it on Kindle Scout as one book. If it doesn’t end up getting ‘picked’ then I’ll break it up into three and sell it as three seperate books and a ‘box set’ that way I’ll get the best of both worlds, so to speak.