Joshua C Cook

Author, Husband, Father, IT Manager

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.

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.

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, 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.

A Prologue…

A prologue to Blood of a Fallen God…

 

 


Age of the Forge

1237 ADR

 

Simon Reis walked across the already muddy ground carefully. The stink of battle already hung in the air from the earlier skirmishes, but he knew this was all coming to a head soon. He carefully picked his way through the camp, keeping his head down and covered, his leather cloak and hood keeping his face from being seen but still giving him the authority to not be stopped. His cloak, the day to day wear of a ForgeMaster of Amder meant he was not to be bothered.

He was glad for the large hood however, he didn’t want the soldiers to see his face. Simon wasn’t just a ForgeMaster, he was the recognized chosen Maker of Amder. The living Avatar of Amder made flesh so to speak. He could feel the god in his head, even now. Amder didn’t always make sense to Simon, but he was a God after all. Simon had always thought of it as being a noisy room, and only if someone starts to talk directly to you do you pay attention.

Simon continued through the camp, heading towards the prime forge. The Tavalian army being the seat of Amder always traveled with a nearly full foundry. Thanks to the ForgeMasters it was a marvel of engineering. Collapsible, and easy to store, but yet full featured enough that with enough raw materials, they could pretty much guarantee that they could make anything the army needed. As a result the Tavalian army was considered one of the most well equipped and well armored military forces the world had ever seen.

Simon finally reached the foundry, his boots muddy and stinking of the accumulated debris of horse, man, and blood. The guards at the foundry passed to let him in, as he passed by and headed towards the command tent. General Ashton stood arguing with Gerald DelFarn, High Priest of Amder. Simon grimaced upon seeing DelFarn. The ForgeMasters had always been at odds with Amders priesthood to varying degrees. DelFarn was simply the most recent High Priest who felt that the ForgeMasters should be part of and subservient to the Priesthood.

The Priests had always chaffed at the powers that Amder gave his ForgeMasters. The ability to forge weapons that never needed sharpening, to make items that never seemed to tarnish, to make new and wondrous machines. The Priesthood in contrast could fix things, by virtue of the Heart. The gem, known only as the Heart of Amder had been part of the Priesthood for as long as anyone knew.

The legend of the gem stated that in the very distant past Amder only had the ForgeMasters. 8 men and women, dedicated to him and the forge. One would be the chosen Maker of Amder, and have the secrets of Amder entrusted to him. But as the worship of the Forge God spread throughout Taval, the ForgeMasters had no desire to run churches and the like. They beseeched Amder to create a Priesthood, separate but equal from the ForgeMasters to run his church. Amder agreed, and created the Heart himself, out of his own blood, to give the Priests a source of Power.

And Simon thought with a grimace, setup a power struggle that has lasted for over a thousand years. General Ashton noticed him first and raised a fist in salute. Simon liked Ashton. He was a solid military man, and appreciated the edge the ForgeMasters gave his army. He also unlike other officers Simon had worked with didn’t come up with unreasonable demands for the Foundry.

“Hail Chosen!” General Ashton said with a grin. Simon glanced at DelFarn, rewarded with a tiny glower that flitted across DelFarn’s face. Simon knew that General Ashton has done it on purpose, yet another reason to like him. “General Ashton, High Priest DelFarn.” Simon replied, giving each a small bow as he approached them. “ForgeMaster Reis.” DelFarn replied, purposefully not mentioning his status as Chosen. Simon let it go, knowing DelFarn had only done so strictly to get under his skin.

“Looks like the main force of the Chalzik Horde will be here today, and we can end this in one fell strike.” General Ashton said “The scouts report a large force to be sure, but as they are coming out of the Eastern Scrublands, they will hopefully be a less than fully rested and fed force.” Simon nodded, the Horde had crossed the scrublands after rampaging through two of the Eastern kingdoms and utterly running them. Driven by their bloodthirsty God, Valzinj, the horde, while not a proper army, were a large and unruly force.

But now they came against the Skyreach and the Tavalian army. The Skyreach Mountains, rising high into the air behind Simon were the Eastern border of Taval, and one of the largest and most diverse mineral and metal mining areas in the known world. It was the primary reason Amder based his worship here in Taval.

“The ForgeMaster and his associates I’m sure will be ready for their part in the fight.” DelFarn added, with a tight smile. “The Priesthood of Amder will stand ready to heal, and bless those who fall in Amders name.” Simon resisted the urge to sigh. He was sure the Priesthood would of course, but he knew DelFarn would not. He wished Amder paid more attention to the Priesthood, but their leadership was strictly a political one, which is why he got saddled with dealing with people like DelFarn. For his part he was sure DelFarn thought of the ForgeMasters and him the Chosen as usurpers to the power of the Priesthood, and fools for how they used their gifts from Amder.

The ForgeMasters, all ten of them, were granted a tiny portion of Amders power. They used that power in service to not only the crown of Taval, but the common people of Taval. They freely made items as they were needed for the common folk, with no charge. A ForgeMaster made item may last for years, even generations with no sign of any wear. Oh to be sure, sometimes ForgeMaster made items did break, usually when taken to far from Taval. But the ForgeMasters wanted it that way. It kept them safe in Taval, and kept Taval strong, and protected.

“Yes, we will ALL do our parts” Simon said, with a bland smile. “Do you need anything from the Foundry for today’s battle General Ashton?” he continued, pointedly ignoring DelFarn’s attempt to make another comment. “The ForgeMasters stand ready to provide anything you need.” General Ashton, sensing that the sooner this meeting ended the better, not wanting to get in-between the two factions of Amder worship, provided Simon with a list of some additional weaponry and catapult changes. “Very good General, this will be ready in under two hours.” Simon replied, and turned on his heal and left. General Ashton turned to DelFarn and watched as DelFarn started after Simon Reis.

“He’s a good man DelFarn, I don’t understand why you fight like this.” General Ashton said as he went back to his maps. “A man? Maybe. Good? Maybe.” DelFarn replied, with a right smile and slight bow, DelFarn took his leave of the General and went to make his own preparations for the coming battle.

Simon felt the horde before he saw them, the very ground shook with their steps. Simon wasn’t sure if it was part of being the Chosen of Amder or just that there were so MANY of the horde. They darkened the land, swarming towards the Tavalian lines like suicidal ants. Simon and the other ForgeMasters had completed the work General Ashton had asked them to only 20 minutes before, and had been pacing, waiting for the coming fight. While ForgeMasters didn’t normally get involved in the thick of battle, each was armed with their hammers. A ForgeMaster upon being raised was gifted the insight to make his or her own Hammer of Amder. Magical items, they were both Forge Hammers and weapons. They would resize to whatever was needed when creating, but in the case of battle, they became large two handed hammers, each with its own look, based on the desire of the creator on the hammer.

Simons hammer was worked into the bearded face of Amder in a silvery metal. He had rarely used it to fight with, but he knew today he would probably have to.  Simon surveyed the rapidly approaching horde, by Amders brass ones, there were a lot of them. He steadied himself, he was the Chosen of Amder, with the well trained and best equipped army in the world.  A Horde of Eastern blood lusting ragtag fighters and bezerkers were no match for the Tavalian army, though while surveying the roiling mass of enemy fighters, he wasn’t totally sure that he was correct.

Simon noticed the change in the air before the silence fell across the battlefield. Anticipation seemed to fill the space between the two armies, one a carefully laid out force, gleaming steel and iron, discipline and confidence given form. The other, a mass of ragtag fighters, armed with any random assortment of equipment, some clean, some not. Though he could not see their faces from this distance, Simon pictured them as crazed zealots, their prayers to their Blood lusting God being the wholesale pillaging and destruction of everything and everyone who stood in their way.

With no word or sound, the Horde surged forward, again reminding Simon of nothing more than a carpet of ants, eating everything in their path. If the Tavalians did not stop them here, the horde could go through all of Western Dorus. The stand had to be here and now. The mountains would help funnel the horde into the Tavalian army, they just had to stand and kill.

The clash of the two forces was near deafening. Simon was used to the sound of metal on metal, but this dwarfed the sound of the forge. Add the screaming and howling of the attackers and defenders, the moans of pain and death, and the noise was almost unbearable. Simon stood and watched the battle from the Foundry site for now. He could see General Ashton watching the battle from the command pavilion, shouting orders and sending pages running to each brigade. High Priest DelFarn stood next to General Ashton, looking somewhat surprised and pale for once. Simon shook his head with derision, DelFarn had probably expected this to be a simple fight. Truthfully Simon was somewhat surprised at the size of the Horde that had made it through the scrublands. But it didn’t matter, they had to stand here.

Hours passed, and Simon and the other ForgeMasters watched. Slowly but surely, the tide was turning towards the Tavalian force. The Horde had the numbers, but the Tavalians better equipment, and far better strategy was slowly forcing the Horde into the main body of the Tavalian army, where they were being wiped out. Simon was starting to relax somewhat, though he knew that he and the other ForgeMasters would be busy after the fight reforging weapons and fixing damaged catapults and other gear. Simon had just about decided to stand down, when the roar came.

Rage incarnate. That was all Simon could think when he heard it. Raw unbridled rage and destruction. Simon turned to the battlefield once more and went pale. Behind the Horde, stood a blood red scaled figure. Valzinj, the God of Bloodlust and Rage, had come to the battlefield personally. Simon knew instantly, that this was not supposed to happen. The Gods did not interact personally with the world, it was forbidden. But there stood Valzinj, regardless of whatever rules were supposed to deny it. The Horde surged forth, renewed in their rage. The Tavalians stunned at the sight of an actual God on the battle field quickly fell back, you could feel the panic start to surge through the Army. Simon looked at the command tent, General Ashton stood pale faced, and unsure. High Priest DelFarn was nowhere to be seen, Simon wondered if he had simply fled.

Simon Reis, ForgeMaster and Chosen of Amder, was at a loss of what to do himself. But at that moment, instructions from Amder filled his head. Simon went down to both knees, both wonder and despair filled him. He knew that that moment his life was gone. But if Amder’s plan worked, Taval and the rest of the world might still know peace. He despaired of never seeing his family again, but if the Horde got through, they wouldn’t have a life themselves. Quickly Simon turned to the assembled ForgeMasters and explained Amders plan. Their eyes widened but they as one nodded their agreement.

Simon steeled himself, he imaged this was going to hurt, a lot. Simon stripped down, but for his hammer, he walked towards the main reservoir of molten metal and stood in front of it, looking into its red roiling depths. With a deep sigh, he nodded to the assembled ForgeMasters and one at a time, they threw their hammers into the pool. Each hammer seemed to alight in the pool and melt slowly. The metal changed colors with each hammer, getting progressively lighter, from a deep angry red, to by the last hammer other than Simons, had progressed to a bright silver, with gold and copper highlights. Simon turned to each ForgeMaster, and nodded, as one by one they touched his hammer, and collapsed. The Hammer glowed with each transfer, removing the spark of power that Amder had given each ForgeMaster.

Finally Simon Reis, ForgeMaster and Chosen of Amder turned to the now glowing white pool of metal and stepped on to it. He did no sink, he did not burn. The metal flowed over him, and he grew. He grew in size, and shape until, Simon Reis was no more. All that stood there now, was the Avatar of Amder, God of the Forge.

Twenty feet high, glowing metal and holding a large Glowing Hammer, the form of Amder stood, looking across the already blood-soaked valley. Valnijz looked back, scaled, reptilian spirit, but upright as a man. Neither form spoke, but those who survived that day swore that some communication passed between the two forms, some way of talking that only the Gods could know of. A scream rent the air as the Blood God leaped forward, only to be met with a blow from the Hammer that Amder carried.

The two titans joined battle as their followers ran. Not even the Horde in its lust for blood and battle dared to stay where the Gods themselves fought. Valzinj leaping and clawing at Amders metal form, his red scaled skin glinting in the afternoon sun. And giant metal Amder, swinging his hammer, each blow shaking the very earth if he missed, or a bruising scale breaking hit when it connected. Amders form was not without damage either, the claws of Valnijz scraping long furrows in a metal form that would normally be impervious to harm.

The fight went on for hours, with a handful of mortals on each side watching. The Blood Chiefs of the Horde on one side, and General Ashton and High Prelist DelFarn on the other. Finally the two forms parted and started at each other. Amders form was more scratches and gouges than metal, and occasionally liquid metal would flow from a crack. Where it touched ground, a slivery crystal would sprout, glowing with its own inner light. Valzinj was bleeding from half a dozen wounds now, and where his blood fell, a red mist erupted, and corrupting everything it touched to crave blood.

Without a sound the two Gods rushed at one another, Valzinj claws finally piercing the Chest of Amder, and Amders hammer finally bursting the head of Valzinj. Both forms fell to the ground with an earth shaking thud, and slowly began to dissolve, filling the surrounding earth with  a mix of pure silver crystals and a noxious red mist.

And so, at the Battle of Skyreach did fall the ForgeMasters and Chosen of Amder, leaving only the Priesthood behind.

 


 

 

A taste of what’s coming….

I actually wrote this quite a while ago, over a year ago. Originally to help me get into the ‘world’ I was creating. I’ve cleaned it up some, and have decided to make it the start of the new book.

 

–Josh

Getting it done.. or Why I have more patience with big name authors

So..

As anyone who reads this knows (all 3 of you haha) I’ve been working on Blood of a Fallen God or #BOAFG (Hashtag powa!) since the beginning of the year. The last book I actually finished was Bridgebreaker back in September of LAST year. Now part of me feels like a bit of a failure in terms of not getting the book I’m working on out yet.  Guilt even.

As I’ve alluded to in the past, this book is a different animal, it’s far larger, and that’s putting it mildly. The first draft is shaping up to be three times the size of the first draft of Bridgefinders. This is also a far more complex book in terms of world building, characters, and plots and subplots. Being my first full stab at epic fantasy, set in a fantasy world that’s very different than our own, I don’t think I fully understood how much more detail I needed to interweave into the story, without delving into the trap of doing four or five pages of description, which no one really likes. Now I have all those descriptions but for me, as notes.

However all of this has done something that has made me rethink some of my past thoughts and criticisms of some of my favorite authors.

I love Game of Thrones. Both the books and the TV show. I enjoy both and don’t take ‘sides’ on the which is better drama. Both are enjoyable for me for what they are, full stop.

But…

I’ll be honest, before tackling this book I had gotten impatient with George RR Martin, really impatient. He’d been working on this next book for years now, how can it take so long?? I mean I’m a less than tiny fish in the book world, but I can push out two books a year! (Self satisfaction is bad stuff.)

Yeah.. Epic or High Fantasy, is.. complicated to write. When you’ve got that many characters, with that much going on, just cross checking to make sure what’s going on over here, makes sense based on what happened six chapters ago with totally different characters gets complex. Then that short conversation two characters had back at the beginning of the book needs to work with something that happens at the end, etc etc.

 

It’s a web. And as a beginning/struggling/wanna be writer, I’ve already learned the hard way that if you make ANY mistakes there, a reader will find it, and use it to bash you over the head 1001 times, just because they can.

I had the same thoughts back when the late Robert Jordan was writing the Wheel of Time series. Loved the books and was impatient to read the next one.

But here’s my mea culpa, it’s complicated, and can really take up a lot of thought and mental power to keep it all straight even WITH copious notes.

 

As for the sign above…

I’m still working on the first draft.. I’m VERY close to done, but not there yet. Finishing does mean just getting it written.. finishing means rewrites, editing, clean up, proofreading, beta reading, another round of clean up and rewrites, cover art, etc. etc.

And THEN I can finally submit to Kindle Scout (Click the link to see what I mean by that..) and hope for the best.

I’m proud of this story.  I think it shows my growth as a writer, and not because of length. But because I think the characters are more alive, the plot is better, and there’s more.. emotional impact peppered through the story to keep the readers interested. I’m really looking forward to the first time someone gives me feedback on it.

But first..

 

I need to finish the damned book!

 

–Josh

Social Media, I’m not good at it.

So… it’s been a while oh Blog of Mine. I’ve also been sparse on Facebook page updates, Tweeting, and forget my never used Instagram account. Here’s why…

I’m bad at social media in terms of my writing. I just am. I have a few ideas as to why however.

 

  1. Age. I’m 43. While not ‘old’ at least in my head not old, I grew up in a different time. The idea of constantly broadcasting my thoughts, hopes, irritations of writing holds no appeal to me. I find myself having to FORCE myself to do updates. For personal stuff I do updates a lot, but that’s personal. Those are family, and good friends. It is, to me, ‘different’.
  2. Not having anything overly interesting to say. While I’m working on a book (or books) I don’t have anything other to say than ‘Hey, still writing.’
  3. I’m not a conversation starter. One of the things I know about myself is I’m not a person who likes to start a conversation. I’ll gladly join in, adding anything I can that’s relevant, and somethings that aren’t if I get to rambling. But I starting that off isn’t my thing. It works this way in face to face stuff as well. I’ll smile and nod, but very rarely actually talk first.

All of this makes social media ‘outreach’ hard for me. I know other people who are trying the writing game who can post 25-30 times a day and seem to have no issue with it. Me? I usually rewrite a tweet 40 times if I’m starting it, and half the time delete and send nothing thinking ‘That’s stupid.’

I’m not anti-social, though I am an introvert. But I have always found that aspect of the writing game hard. It’s probably why I find marketing hard. I simply think that anything I might write about when I’m not doing a release or a cover reveal, or anything like that to be kind of pointless. I know it’s not ACTUALLY pointless, but my built in reaction is “No one wants to hear this.”

I wish I was better at it. Maybe I’d sell more books, or have a better platform when I DO a release.

I’m going to attempt to do better.. but I’ve said that before.

I’ve tried various software tools to automate it more before. Auto twitter posts, Facebook page posts, something, anything… but it boils down to me just not being.. excited by it. Interested in it.

So..anyone got any advice?

 

–Josh

 

Blood of a Fallen God. News, and bits of Information.

Blood of a Fallen God has somehow become my ‘fantasy magnum opus’ in terms of both size and detail. I literally have 33 pages of notes about the world, character relations, and timelines so I can keep everything both clear to me, and much more importantly, clear to the reader. The last thing I want is to fall into what I call the ‘War and Peace’ model of fantasy writing where the reader can never figure out who a character is or why it’s important.

Because of this #BOAFG (My self made Blood of a Fallen God hashtag..) will have a glossary, if only to help make things clear to the reader.  Which of course brings forth a whole new set of thought questions about what do I make sure is in the glossary and what can I safely leave out. Gah!

Anyways, besides the actual story, I should be getting the maps finalized soon. I’ve decided to share ONE of the three maps when that happens. Also, mostly because I want to, I will be doing a daily tweet about a single god in this fantasy world I’ve created. I started today May 11, 2017 with the big bad himself, Valnijz.

But JUST in case someone see’s this and didn’t see that..

Valnijz: The Scaled One, God of Blood and Rage. The Destroyer. One of the two ‘dead’ gods, Valnijz still has a very large cult like religion utterly devoted to him. More like a death-cult than anything else, they seek more than anything to return Valnijz to life for the sole purpose of killing all of those who do not follow him.

 

Blood of a Fallen God has in many ways stretched me as a writer.  It also has made me realize I owe a thought of apology to writers like George RR Martin and the late Robert Jordan. Epic fantasy takes, more than anything, TIME. And lots of it.  Next post, will cover Amder, the God of Craft and Creation. Maybe the map reveal as well, if it’s ready.

Keep reading, writing and enjoying life!

 

–Josh

 

P.S. If you are looking for something to read… don’t forget the Bridgefinders books!

Where have I been?

So where have I been? I’ve not updated the blog in over a month, Facebook as well. There’s been a couple of things going on, and though there’s not a lot of people who visit this tiny corner of the web, hey it’s my tiny corner, and I’ll share!

  1. Work – I currently have a great job, and I mean that. I work as one of two IT support people at a Tax/Bookkeeping/Auditing group here in Florida. However,  until last week it was ‘Tax Season’ which is usually the most busy part of the year.  I wanted to keep up with things, and I did at first. Tax season runs from January through to Mid April. Sadly for me, the closer we got to the tax deadline day, things got busier, so no blog updates, and very little social media items done.
  2. Allergies/illness – So as I mentioned I live in Florida. Seasonal allergies aren’t anything new here, but this year was a beast. Much worse than normal, and I spent two  plus weeks coughing up a lung and blowing my nose every 10 minutes to breathe. Not fun, not pleasant, and not overly conducive for writing, or again social media. All better now, thanks to the end of ‘Pollen Hell 2017’
  3. The Wall – This was the final reason. I hit a wall. Meaning a combination of poor book sales and writers block made me so profoundly unmotivated to do anything with my writing for a bit. I simply did not care, nor did I have the energy to move through it at the time. The good news is that I’m past that now. I had some sales (unexpected and happily.) and I got through my writers block.

 

Blood of a Fallen God is back on track, and I’m working to get this first draft done and put away. I’ve some cover stuff to look into, maps to finish off, and a few other things. I’ve also got Book THREE ( I like saying that, hence the caps) in the Echo Worlds series to finish, and then that stand alone book called ‘Timetable 93’

So I’m back, I’ll update the blog at least twice a month moving forward, and try to be more active on twitter and my Facebook page.

Here’s to taking that next step!

So that’s where I’ve been.

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