Let’s Talk About Fantasy

My writing career started with Sedition, a fantasy novel about a pair of brothers trying to Sedition-WEBrescue their mother. The book went through several revisions – and so many titles it hurts my head to think about  – but in January of 2011 its story line was set in stone.

(Mostly because the publishing house would have smacked me if I tried altering anything after the Galley Proofs were done.) 

When I first started writing it, I was doing it for fun. I enjoyed stories and wanted to tell one, so I started writing snippets on 3×5 cards that I carried with me wherever I went.

Fans of the novel might be surprised to learn that Trenna Croften was not the original hero. In fact, the book began with Brigetta Isleen Chridhe – the woman magically abducted from home and dropped in the middle of a political war between a King and his sons.

I learned about Kiavana – the kingdom where the first book takes place – through Brigetta because she was just as new to the stage as I was. At the time I knew very little about writing, so I stumbled through the countryside right along with Brigetta, encountering senile knights who continually “squired” whoever happened to be the most helpful, and a prince who hid his motivations under a veneer of disinterest and materialism.

As I began to uncover the secrets of the world I was creating, Trenna Croften emerged. In fact, her first appearance was the scene where she interrupted an assassination attempt on the eldest prince. When she asked if assassins were paid well, she made me laugh, and essentially stole the book from there.

Saboteur-WEBOr… well… a whole series, as it turns out.

Saboteur, the sequel to Sedition, was released in January of 2012 and in February we will see Usurper make its way onto virtual shelves.

While Brigetta may have been reduced to a minor character in the original novel, I’m happy to report that she has a much larger role in Usurper. I had thought that writing her would be easy since I knew so much about her origins, but as it turns out I was wrong.

For the timeline of the novels, it has been over 20 years since we last saw Brigetta and she has undergone quite a few changes. She’s a Blood Mage, for one, and for another… she married an assassin. (Because apparently I can’t get away from assassins in these novels.) Her voice is different because she has changed as a character, so I had to re-learn who she was in order to portray her correctly.

Now, I recognize that it has been many years since Saboteur was released and I do UC front cover-sample-2apologize for that. Usurper was a joy to write, it truly was. But between school and being a full-time single-parent and working full-time and… ahem… my other novels (Is it weird I feel like I cheated by writing all that science fiction in the interim?)… I just didn’t have enough time to do it all.

I should take this moment to mention that there is at least one other book – Warpath – that I am constructing. It isn’t on the list for this year, but will be next year. The good news is that much of Warpath is already done because part of my problem with Usurper was that I was trying to pack two books into one.

 

 

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Happy Release Day!

41SPrUMbf+LTorven is officially released!

You can find it on Amazon right now in both Kindle and Paperback versions. However, if you purchase the paperback then you can get the Kindle version for free.

Torven is a novelette, which means it is very small – just eight chapters long. It is a fairy tale and I did write it for my eight-year-old son, so it’s safe for all ages … as long as you don’t mind a little violence.

From the back cover:

Torven knows he is no normal beast. What little he can remember of his past tells him that he was a man once, not the wolf he roams as now. And he had known love once; a love that ran so deeply he can feel it even in his cursed form.

The Witch who controls him seems to delight in his torment, and under the watchful eyes of her minions Torven can find no peace. But when a poacher comes into the Blightwood Torven finds himself with a new assignment, handed down by the Witch herself.

Unable to combat the Witch’s magic, Torven goes on the hunt only to discover that this poacher is a woman. And not just any woman, but the woman from his memory. As time runs short and the Witch’s patience grows thin, Torven must find a way to communicate with the girl, to warn her of the danger, before an even more tragic fate can befall them.

Novel, Novella, Novelette

In 6 days my novelette “Torven” will be released for sale. (That’s August 2, 2016 for anyone wondering.)

For those unfamiliar, this is my little fairy tale about a man named Torven who has been cursed into the form of a wolf and how he defeats that curse. It was written primarily for my son but given that it is a story and I am an author, I have opted to put it out for sale for as cheap as I possibly can.

Readers will be able to get it for .99 cents on Kindle OR for those who really like the feel of paper under their fingers, the paperback will be 3.99.

However, I feel the need to warn everyone that it really IS a novelette. Which means it’s a mini-book. A baby book. A teensy-tiny book.

Seriously.

It’s only eight chapters long.

Which brings me to my discussion of lengths.

You see, my original intention was to write a novella. 25-30 thousand words at the most, nice and easy for an eight-year old to consume.

But as I was working on the Outline -since I took James Patterson’s Master Class and have been playing around with the way I do this writing thing – I began to realize just how much of the story I had planned out was fluff.

So I started cutting scenes.

I started focusing on making sure each chapter drove the story forward, on eliminating all those scenes that only showed character development or world building, and then combining all that character development and world building into the chapters that were essential to the story itself.

15 chapters fell to 10 … which then fell to 8.

By the time I had finished the first draft I knew I wasn’t looking at a real Novella.

But it wasn’t a short story either.

So what the heck was it?

As embarrassing as this may sound, I actually had to research it. I’d never heard the term “novelette” before so it was a fun little surprise to learn that these little stories actually exist. (Well, maybe I did hear it in High School once but I obviously forgot.)

In any case, writing this little novelette taught me some extremely important things. You see, I’ve had a lot of editors over the years and there’s always been this fight between wanting to “live in the work” and to “experience life on a space ship” and therefore to have those extra scenes in a novel that create color and perspective … versus the need to drive a story forward and make sure your pace doesn’t snag.

It’s … really hard.

(No, seriously. Writing is hard. Don’t ever let anyone tell you different.)

In working with Torven’s outline and then watching that outline come to life on the page, I was able to understand how every chapter and every scene really CAN drive a plot forward while still allowing me to live in the work and showcase the world. And I could do it without sacrificing forward momentum.

So for any writers/authors out there, I recommend trying to write a novelette. Limit yourself to 10 chapters or less. Cut out the “fluff” chapters and add all that color and perspective to the essential moments of the story. Believe it or not, it works.

 

Writing and Business and the In-Between

As of this evening my novelette “Torven” has a completed rough draft. Given its very small length (16006 words) I have been toying around with the idea of giving it away for free or really, really cheap (after it’s gone through a rigorous editing) which has led me to the normal marketing spiel/debate.

I’ve been here before. Often.

In fact, I’d like to say I’ve dipped my toes into murky depths of marketing since Sedition was first published five years ago. (Five years? Really? Sheesh.)

I have not, however, really committed to a marketing plan. Up until this point my focus was on my craft, wanting to just write the next story and grow as an author, and while none of those goals have changed (and never will, because that’s the whole point of taking ownership of your craft) … I can say that I am going to step intrepidly out into the realm of marketing.

I started, quite comically, with a giveaway of Tapped today on Amazon. The giveaway lasted all of an hour, which … really showed me how bad I am at math. (5 books + every 5th entrant wins = about an hour’s worth of giveaway time. Just in case anyone else needs this information.)

But I learned a great deal about what I want to do in the future. I’ve set up a pretty little timetable to follow for marketing – when I want to do what promotions and at what sites – and even color-coded it … because I’m a geek like that.

I am also in the process of revamping my website … with help because I’m really not great at it.

As to writing itself …

With “Torven” done I can go back to Dead Weight, the sequel to Tapped. I’ll be revamping the outline based on the things I learned in James Patterson’s Master Class (still an awesome thing and if you write, you should check it out.)

Basically, I’ll be going over the outline once a week through the month of April. Start to finish. Tightening the plot. Adding elements of the suspense genre into my science fiction … basically implementing everything Mr. Patterson set out to teach me in 22 lessons.

I’m excited.

It’ll be fun.

And I’ll record all the mayhem here because I can … and maybe it’ll help someone else down the road.

 

The Side Project

My cork board hasn’t changed since January. According to my calendar I should be on Chapter 9, not Chapter 4, of Dead Weight. That big leap I had at the beginning of the year is now completely gone.

But you know what?

I really don’t care.

Because I’ve been working. Granted, I haven’t been working on what I said I’d be working on at this point, but it’s still words on the page.

In fact, it’s over 10,000 words of that lovely fairy tale story I began for my son. He’s enjoying it still, by the way, and it is nearly complete. I should have the full novella by the end of this month. At which point I’ll set it aside for a couple of weeks before doing a round or two of edits and then I intend to put it out for free/super cheap/whatever I can get Createspace to do there.

But I haven’t just been writing on this thing. I also opted to take James Patterson’s Master Class on writing and slowly made it through the 22 lessons there.

Why no, I’ve never written a suspense novel before, but that doesn’t mean that things within the suspense genre can’t be planted into the genres that I prefer writing. In particular, I took away from this class a very distinct outlook on Outlines that I will, at the beginning of April, implement with Dead Weight.

Since I’m only on Chapter 4 there I don’t feel like I’ll be shooting myself in the foot starting over with the Outline and doing it the “Patterson” way.

For those who have been toying with the idea of taking a Master Class like this one, I’m going to go ahead and give the “two thumbs up” and encourage you to do so. There are some things you’ve heard that you’ll hear again, but in the end it’s got some nuggets in there that you can certainly use.

In the meantime, I’ll be posting some of the Fairy Tale on the website and things because … well … it’s fun. And you can’t beat free.

Owning Your Craft – Sedition Version

I began reading Sedition to my son recently. He’s seven now and the whole Fantasy world of Dyngannon seems to appeal to him.

Sedition-WEBThat or he just really likes the sword on the cover. I’m pretty sure much of the story is over his head but, he picked it and all. (Don’t worry, we read picture books before we settle in for a chapter of this one.)

In any case, it’s been nearly six years since that book was first published and Trenna Silvanus remains one of my most popular characters. I get loads of commentary from people wanting to know when the next segment of her story is coming out (soon, I promise) and … yes, this does make my little writer’s ego fluff up in pleasure.

That being said …

If Sedition weren’t already published I would be doing a major overhaul on it.

The dialogue is hard to get through in places. There are dozens and dozens of peripheral characters whose involvement in the story itself could be richer – sometimes shorter, but richer in content at least. The exposition is clunky. The narrator’s voice bounces (particularly in regards to Brenson and Nelek, which I’m going to blame on the fact that I wasn’t handling the male POV right).

The one bright, shining light in the book so far (and we’re only in Chapter Seven) is that Trenna really is likable. She’s spunky, tough, and has a sense of humor that exerts itself in some of the oddest places.

Why am I telling you all this?

This book is out for sale. What sane writer points out the flaws of their own work in a public forum? Who’s gonna go out and buy this thing now?

Honestly?

Because any sane, professional writer also owns their craft.

I own the fact that the book I wrote nearly ten years ago (NOTE: it did not get published as soon as it was finished, it took a long time to find a home) is not as strong as the books I’m writing now.

I own that my personal style has changed with every book I’ve written.

I own the mistakes that are in Sedition just as much as I own the things I did right.

What did I do right?

Trenna.

In fact, the main cast of characters were done right; Nelek, Brenson, Faolan, Marsali, Brock. They have individual voices, concerns, arguments, and motivations. And while I remember it was complicated to the max trying to get all those individuals out into the open without making a 300,000 word book, it worked out in the end.

So this is me owning my craft. Maybe I’ll start working on a 10 year anniversary edition of Sedition and clean up some of my mistakes.

Maaaaybe.

Probably not, though. Because after Usurper is done there’s at least one more book in this series. And the Tapped series has at least 4 main books with several novellas in the queue. And I have a Civil War/Western that has been simmering on the back burning for a while now. Annnnnd … my Dragon Noir.

You get it. There’s lots going on in my head. But hey, if there’s enough interest maybe I will.

Dead Magic Release!

Witch-Born fans can rejoice today! (That’s right, I said “rejoice” because we really don’t use that word often enough these days.) The sequel and (likely) final chapter of the steampunk-magic-imbued saga has been released through Double Dragon Publishing. 

Yes, yes, I know … “But you just had your first science fiction (Deviation) released last week!”

Quiet, mongrels! You’re not rejoicing like I told you to! 

(I might be a little spirited today. The strap on my favorite purse broke and I am torn between grieving it and celebrating the new release. I apologize for any and all shenanigans.)

But no, seriously, Dead Magic is officially released. See its understated and quietly brilliant purchase link at the side of this post … Or if you don’t like sidebars you can follow this link to its brand new Amazon page

Marvel at the steampunky cover art (created by the ever-so talented Deron Douglas)

deadmagic-510

Why yes, that does appear to be a naked man in the background. See the tattoos? Witch-Born fans should automatically recognize them!

Bask, my lovelies, in the blurby thingy that must be placed on all books … 

Return to the Steam Punk world of Magnellum for the second book in the “Witch-Born” series.

Magic is gone and Valeda Quinlan knows it, she just can’t prove it. Determined to learn the truth, Valeda finds herself at the mercy of Elsie Delgora, the last known Witch to have ever seen Magic. Scrambling for survival amidst the noble Houses of Magnellum, Valeda agrees to help Elsie in return for Magic’s location. But the help Elsie needs is more than Valeda bargained for. Sent on a mission to find Lord Winslow Agoston, Valeda is confronted by powers far beyond any Witch-Born and forced to take on an even larger role in the fate of Magnellum.

In all seriousness this book was a joy to write. I had fun with Valeda and Winslow and I sincerely hope everyone else will too.