Friday, December 21, 2018

The Holidays are Here!

Welcome everyone!

Today is the first day of winter! And with that comes all the delightful madness of the holiday season. As a result, I won't be posting many messages over the next few days. After the new year, I'll be back with more posts about my setting and with new art to show off. Can't wait to see you again. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!



Thursday, December 20, 2018

Dwarf Caves

Welcome everyone!

Today, I'm going to talk about the dwarf caves in the north of the map. Dwarves are spread out all over the mountains and hills in the Celandine Valley, but their greatest treasures are hidden in these caves in the North.

The caves are laden with traps and illusions that keep gold-lusting travelers at bay. Huntsmen do not enter for fear of losing themselves in the labyrinths the dwarves have wrought. It is in these caves, however, that dwarven magic is at its strongest.

Dwarves love to strike bargains, duping valley-dwellers into exchanging something valuable and permanent for something fleeting and unsatisfying. The walls of these caves can be made suitable for something called "dwarf-root" which is actually a type of fungus. The root dulls the mind of humans but enhances the dwarvish connection to the nethereal realm, where Lord Dreadstone gets his power.

The strong connection to the nether in these caves allows the dwarves to conjure up false miracles that offer solutions to any problem a villager or traveler might face (should they be brave enough to enter the caves in the first place!).

Dwarves promise to mend broken relationships, satisfy debilitating addictions, erase any and all debts, and so much more. The dulled minds of the victims believe in these supernatural marvels in the vain hope that they have discoverd an easy solution to their problems.

It rarely works out well for any who enter here. Mercifully, the caves are long journey from Vitalba Village, and even finding them, once one is in the vicinity, is difficult. Thus, relatively few villagers suffer the catastrophes of making bargains with dwarves in theses unhallowed caves.



Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Lake Serenity

Welcome everyone!

There is a river running through Celandine Valley. It pools into a large lake in the northeast called Lake Serenity. In the warmer months, animals of all types come here to drink in the mornings. The villagers have built a small dock and there are a wide variety of fish living in the lake. During the winter, brave souls that make it this far can find the lake an ideal place for skating and ice fishing.

From time to time huntsmen are called to drive out dire wolves or giant spiders that make their way here from the Haunted Forest or to defeat a magic-user who’s come to spoil the sparkling waters for some nefarious purpose. Still, the threats here are generally few, and if called, the huntsmen usually welcome it as a break from the dark terrors of the woods and swamps.



Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The King's Road

Welcome everyone!

Today, we continue our tour of Celandine Valley. There is only one main road in all of Celandine Valley: King’s Road. It connects the end of Everpass Road in the north to the wetlands in the south.

It was once a great trade route. Exotic spices would come from the kingdoms of the south and durable items like swords and sculptures would come from the north countries along this route. The people of Celandine Valley prospered greatly from the trade. But the swamps in the south eventually swallowed the southern portion of the road. There was an attempt to build a new one but faster sear routes eventually made the people abandon any effort to replace King’s Road.

The people of Vitalba village still maintain the section that runs near their town and to the mines. Merchants still use it to trade with the villagers and occasionally a politician or explorer will find his way along its dusty paths to the village.



Monday, December 17, 2018

Everpass Hold

Welcome everyone!

Today I'm going to start talking about the locations in my map. First up is Everpass Hold.

While Everpass doesn't actually make an appearance in this book, the characters do talk about it. The hold is a massive keep carved into the side of the grey mountainside in the north of Celandine Valley. It was constructed hundreds of years ago under the watch of one of the valley's greatest huntsmen: Osmajure.

Osmajure wanted to ensure safe passage for travelers and merchants from the outside world, and so commissioned artisans from the city (now lying in ruins to the west) to create a refuge large enough to protect and succor those who passed through the narrow corridor in the Everpass Mountains. This is the only way into Celandine Valley from the outside (or so everyone thinks).

The Keep has a large dining hall and a sumptuous great hall. Travelers are served with warmth and food year round and allowed to stay as long as they need, though the huntsmen that guard it will encourage them to further explore the valley below. Travelers have become scarcer and scarcer over the centuries, so quite often, Everpass Hold is mostly empty.

Tunnels weave in and out of the mountainside leading to overlooks and sleeping chambers. A large section of chambers that overlook the south were sealed off generations ago. The reason,though, has been lost to time.

Everpass Hold is a nice place to rest and recuperate, but not a location meant for long-term stay. There are far more interesting places in the valley to explore and much more congenial places to settle.

That's all for today. Be back tomorrow with more! :)



Friday, December 14, 2018

Firday Map Reveal!

Welcome everyone!

Here it is! This is the setting for my story. It all takes place in this small valley beginning at Vitalba Village and wandering all over. I'll detail each site next week, but for now, have a look at what the artist produced:



Thursday, December 13, 2018

Just a Reminder - Tomorrow is Map Day!

Welcome everyone!

Tomorrow I'll be revealing the map for the setting in my fantasy novella. Next week, I'll be describing some of the locations that are marked on it. Can't wait to show you! It's great :)



Wednesday, December 12, 2018


Welcome everyone!

I just finished up commissioning the last bits of art for my book. Every time I go through this process it surprises me just how difficult it can be emotionally.

I'm looking at my sketches for what I want, and they're terrible. I have no artistic talent at all. A fourth grader and draw better than me. I'm browsing through artists, none of them do the exact kind of work I want, which is shocking really since I'm just looking for black and white fantasy stuff. So I have to choose one and hope for the best.

Then I have to contact the artist. Write up a description, attach my sketch, and maybe a screenshot from a movie or game that will help better communicate what I want. Then I have to wait to see if they'll accept the job. Then wait again as they work on it. Anxiety!

That waiting time is killer, because I'm unsure of how it will turn out. Will I like it? Will I hate it? Will it be good enough to use? I imagine as I get more used to this, I'll develop a tougher skin. I won't worry about it so much. Hope so...but kinda doubt it.

But I'm closing in on the deadline: January 3rd. that's when my book goes for cover and layout. Everything has to be done by then. Will it? I don't know. Stay tuned.

And speaking of something that's done, don't forget! This Friday I have my map reveal. I can't wait to share it with you. I think it's AWESOME!



Monday, December 10, 2018

The In-Between Time

Welcome everyone!

I'm stuck waiting right now. My book goes to the cover artist in just 25 days. The last bits of artwork for my book are about to be finished. The MAP IS DONE! And here I am, just waiting.

I've been researching book launches for a while now. I'm full-time employed and love my job, so there's a lot I can't do. A daily or even weekly YouTube video, for instance, would stretch me way too thin. So, I'm looking at other options.

I'm excited for my book to come out but exhausted at the same time. I've been banging away at it for three years now and realizing my dream is still over two months away. It's like waiting on the edge of Christmas or your birthday as a child. Everything becomes tedious. I'm a little grouchy. I just want to GET THERE!

Ah, oh well. I suppose I should enjoy this time. Everything changes once the book is out. It will be time to start the sequel, and the whole process begins again. Hopefully, though, the lessons of the last three years will make the second go-round easier.



Friday, December 7, 2018

Goals for the Weekend 2018-12-07

Welcome everyone!

I have another busy weekend ahead of me. Saturday is completely shot. I won't have time to work on anything at all. But still, here is what I hope to do:

  • Update marketing plan
  • Join new social media networks
  • Catch up on podcasts I've missed
  • Get some actual writing done
If I can do all that, I'll be happy.



Thursday, December 6, 2018

An Update on my Map

Welcome everyone!

I just saw the latest draft of the map for my setting. WOW! It is amazing. I think it will be ready next week, so I'll share it next Friday if at all possible.

The artist has done a wonderful job. She captured every little detail I wanted, and little details matter in this case.

I think that thing that excites me the most is that someone else illustrated a thing that came from my own imagination. I don't believe anyone with whom I've talked about being an author has mentioned this feeling. When you see your world manifested by someone else's skilled hands, it moves you. It really does.

I've been to Barnes and Noble several times over the last two years to check out maps in other fantasy novels. For the most part, I haven't been very impressed to be honest. I like the one in the Shattered Sea series by Joe Abercrombie, but many of the others just lacked a lot of the types of details I find mentally stimulating.

I'd definitely stack my map up against any map for a setting of similar size. I could not be more thrilled to put it in my book.



Tuesday, December 4, 2018


Welcome everyone!

I am now the proud owner of two ISBN's!  Man, that makes this whole thing seem serious. It's one of those steps you really can't take back and says, "Hey! I got a book coming! And it's going to be in print!"

I think one of the things I'm looking forward to the most is placing my hardback on the selves of my library at home. It will be next to all the classics I own and love. Me, Troy M. Costisick next to Dickens, Tolkien, Dostoevsky, Golding, Poe, Stevenson, and all the rest.

I can't wait to share it with you. I'm less than a month away from submitting my book to the cover and layout artists. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. But at the same time, it's all very exhilarating.



Monday, December 3, 2018

Hard Truths of Self-Publishing

Welcome, everyone!

Going through the process of publishing my own work of fiction has certainly taught me a lot. The biggest lesson I'm learning is that everything takes longer and costs more than you'd think.

I'll do a more detailed post down the line, but let's look at a few items that I've purchased and how long it took to get what I wanted.

==Interior Art - Roses==
Original Estimated Price: $35
Final Price: $125
Original Estimated Time to Completion: 7 Days
Final Time to Completion: 18 Days

==Interior Art - Hunting Lodge==
Original Estimated Price: $20
Final Price: $39
Original Estimated Time to Completion: 4 Days
Final Time to Completion: 21 Days

==Map for Inside Cover==
Original Estimated Price: $25
Final Price: $57
Original Estimated Time to Completion: 15 Days
Final Time to Completion: 30 Days

==Cover and Layout==
Original Estimated Price: $540
Final Price: $724
Times are still TBD

So bleh, there you go. However, to put all this in perspective, that's a small price to pay to get what I'm getting. The art and map and all that stuff aren't necessary, and I could have found cheaper alternatives for cover and layout. So it's not the dollar signs that should really bother you, it's the time. Everything has taken 2-3 times as long to get done. That shocked me. I am, by nature, a cautious person, and as a result, I try to leave as much margin for error as possible. Thank goodness. I'd be really panicking right now if I didn't.



Friday, November 30, 2018

Goals for the Weekend 2018-11-30

Welcome everyone!

This weekend, I am determined to get my ISBN numbers and build my marketing plan. I'm in the middle of working out some inconveniences in my personal life, but I think I can manage those two things. ISBN's should be pretty simple. I'll let you know how it went on Monday :)



Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Stories Are True

Welcome everyone!

As I've researched how to write a novel, I've come across numerous stories of writers who had to overcome terrible personal hardships to get their book published. Often times those hardships had absolutely nothing to do with publishing a book. I chalked it up to authors just being more in-tune with their emotional state and perhaps prone to over-dramatize things. Well, I'm here to tell you, all those stories are true.

Two weeks ago, I wrote that I had a bad day. The full ramifications of that bad day are now known. They aren't catastrophic or end-of-the-line type things. Just very difficult for me personally. The personal, monetary, and opportunity costs are going to be difficult to bear. But I will bear them.

My book is coming out. I'm going to get there. I'm thankful for all of you who have reached out and lent emotional support. I need that. Good luck out there, and remember to believe those stories authors tell you. I didn't, and I wish I had.



Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Moving Forward

Welcome everyone!

Had a good discussion with my layout person. It involved some disappointing news. Disappointing, but clarifying. So now, I pretty much know what I have to do in December. I may have to take a day or two off work to get it completed, but it will be worth it. I can't wait to be through on the other side.



Monday, November 26, 2018

Back from Thanksgiving

Welcome everyone!

I'm back from Thanksgiving. It was a lot of driving this year to go and visit family, but it was time well spent. I'm recharged and ready to take on the finishing touches of my fantasy novella.

My booking questionnaire is finished! That's a big load off my mind. I'm in contact with my layout artists sorting through the details. I just got an update from my map-maker, and the map IS LOOKING SO FREAKING COOL RIGHT NOW!

Things are really coming together. Super Secret Project #1 is now about a third of the way done. Super Secret Project #2 is under way. Final edits are complete.

My marketing is still behind. That's where I really have to try to focus, but it's not easy. I don't have much of an author platform yet (except you guys!), so that's where my efforts are going to be concentrated next.

Anyway, hope you have a happy holiday season. Be well everyone! :)



Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Book Art! - The Hunters' Lodge

Welcome everyone!

Today, I have an art reveal. It's a hunters' lodge that features prominently in my book. Have a peak:

I'm not sure if/how I will use it when it comes time to publish. Honestly, the artist didn't make it nearly big enough. I feel that might be my fault since I just gave her the descriptions from my fantasy novella. I should have written a big long description myself.

Still, I think it looks nice. It captures all the details I really wanted and fits the architectural theme I was going for. We'll see what happens.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed looking at it. I'm going on vacation again for the rest of this week, so I won't be posting much if at all. Vacation means stoppage of work, yet again, which I find disheartening.

When I get back, it'll be time to put in some hard work in order to get ready for cover design and layout. I can't wait. I've gotten really tired of not having this book out on the market :)



Monday, November 19, 2018


Welcome everyone!

I had such a bad week last week that I forgot about my art reveal! I'm so sorry about about that! Let's schedule it for tomorrow then. I'll be hitting the road for the American Thanksgiving holiday Tuesday evening, and I won't be back until very late Sunday. So, I won't have any time this week to post anything else.

So let's look forward to that. New art tomorrow! (if remember lol)



Friday, November 16, 2018

Goals for the Weekend 3018-11-16

Welcome everyone!

This weekend will be silly busy with preparations for Thanksgiving, so I'm not going to have much time to work on my writing projects. However, I'm going to attempt to do the following:

  • Finish booking questionnaire
  • Give my final draft one last read-through
  • Sign up for additional social media accounts
If I get all that done, I'll be thrilled.



Thursday, November 15, 2018

Is it Friday Yet?

Welcome Everyone!

Man, I need a weekend. I've made some progress in my upcoming projects. It's not been easy. Yesterday and today have been tough. But even in tough times, writers have to keep going. My January deadline to submit my book to the cover/interior design folks is getting nearer every day. My marketing projects are starting to pile up. And those pesky holidays are nearly upon us. I'd appreciate all thoughts, prayers, and well-wishes for the next couple weeks. I have a lot to do and plenty of hurdles in my way.



Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Had a Bad Day

Nothing serious or catastrophic. Just very disappointing. It will make life difficult for a while.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

No Better Time to Be a Writer

Welcome everyone!

Yesterday afternoon, a colleague of mine lamented that anytime someone has a question now-a-days, they just look it up on Google. And I was like, "Well....yeah!"

When I started the process of writing my fantasy novella, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I had some vague understanding of the Freytag pyramid and what not, but no apprehension about what it took make a book.

I learned all that by looking it up, reading articles, listening to podcasts, and watching videos. How else was I (or anyone for that matter) supposed to learn? It's not like I could sit at the feet of Stephen King or something and learn apprentice style!

So it somewhat baffled me why my co-worker thought "looking it up on Google" was a terrible thing. If an individual wants to learn something, it is possible to do so now in an independent and self-directed way. There are limitations, of course. You aren't going to learn to perform surgery on YouTube, but you can learn ABOUT surgery on YouTube. That's never been possible before.

As far as writers go, now is a great time to become one. There are so many terrific people out there sharing their knowledge and experience FOR FREE with anyone who cares to catch their podcast or watch their video channel. Becoming a published author has never been more achievable, and I for one am incredibly thankful to all those who have helped enable me.



Monday, November 12, 2018

The Drawbacks of the Holidays

Welcome everyone!

I made some tremendous progress on my projects this weekend. I had a good chunk of Sunday and nearly all of Saturday to work on them. The result was about 18 hours worth of work completed and total exhaustion by the end.

I'm gearing up for my marketing push toward my release date in February. But here's the problem: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's. Now, I'm not a Scrooge that hates holidays and thinks that Christmas is a day's pay without a day's work. The issue is, I do a lot of traveling over the holidays. My family is spread out all over the eastern United States. I might drive 12 in a day, for instance. Then, of course, there's time visiting and having fun.

All that translates into precious little time to work on my book and gaps when I might be able to use social media. I'd really like to step up my efforts, but I know that consistency is absolutely important to building an audience.

The weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's are going to be completely shot for me. I won't have much time at all. So, I'm thinking about waiting until 2019 to start. That's probably too late, but I want to be reliable. Holidays make that impossible.

So, I'm kinda stuck. Maybe I'll have an idea between now and then that will solve the problem. We'll see.



Friday, November 9, 2018

Goals for the Weekend 2018-11-09

Welcome everyone!

It's Friday again, so it's time to talk goals for the weekend.

  • Email layout guy about stock art for the interior
  • Continue to develop author-platform project #1
  • Complete Skillshare class on marketing
  • Get in some reading (currently reading Half a King by Joe Abercrombie)

Hope your weekend is productive and successful!



Thursday, November 8, 2018

Too Far Off and Not Enough Time

Welcome everyone!

Today I'm struggling with two very contradictory feelings. That is, my publication date is too far away and I still don't have enough time to get everything done I want to get done.

The reason I say the publication too far off, is that I really want to get to the end of this part of the process. It has been a very long journey. I started writing notes for this story three years ago. I completed the first draft 24 months ago. And it's still three months before anyone will be able to buy my book. I just can't hardly stand waiting any longer.

At the same time, there is still so much to do. I need to finish a class on Skillshare. I need to get the map done. I need to come up with a cover idea. I need to get my marketing plan in order. And about 30 other things. It's crazy!

Sometimes, a feeling sneaks up on me that I'm biting off more than I can chew, that I should have aimed a little lower for what I wanted. Then I smack that idea right out of my head. I want it all, or at least, I want to experience it all. Writing a book and publishing it is so hard and such a rare thing, there's no reason to go only half way. I'm going all the way, even if it ends in disaster (I don't think it will, but it might). So no fear from here. My head is down, and I'm pushing my way through.



Wednesday, November 7, 2018

More Book Art Coming!

Welcome everyone!

Looks like I will have some more book art ready for you next week. I really like what I have to share, although I'm not sure if I will end up using it in my book. I'll have to explain why when it's ready.

Speaking of book art news, I have commissioned the map for my book. I am REALLY nervous about this. The map, I think, will be very helpful to the reader in understanding the plot of my book.

Naturally, in a fantasy story, there will be a journey. When you're naming off wild places full of new names and weirdos, it helps to give the readers something to anchor their imaginations on. A map can do that.

I'm nervous because it will take the map-maker nearly a month to get it done. I don't expect to have it until December 5th, and even then, it might require revisions. That might add another 10-14 days. Who knows?

I have to have my files completely ready to go and turned into the my cover and layout artists by January 3rd. That's cutting things awfully close. I don't like cutting things close. I like having them done way ahead of time; hence, why I have my final draft complete in November.

I'm tempted to commission a second map from a second artists just in case, but that's an added expense I don't wish to endure right now. We'll have to see.

Until next time...



Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Joining Organizations

Welcome everyone!

Yesterday, I started the process of creating accounts with several organizations. First, I made an account with Storiad. This is a website that helps authors market their books. It looks fantastic, and I've only just scratched the surface of what it offers.

Next, I created an account with IngramSpark. This will be the company I use to print my physical books. They are very professional and helpful. I can't wait to see the proofs!

Third, I investigated The Alliance of Independent Authors. I see that membership with this group offers some lucrative discounts (with IngramSpark for instance). I haven't signed up yet, and I'll explain why in a moment.

I joined Skillshare and have already taken a class about launching a book.. Building my author platform is next.

Finally, I created an account on GoodReads. It's not an author account yet. I think I have to actually have a published book to qualify for one of those, but it's good to go ahead and get my profile set up and review several books I've read.

Still to do: Amazon Author Page, iTunes, WeMe, and probably a few more.

One thing I have haven't done yet is spend any money. The full Storiad experience is $35 per month and the membership I want at Alliance of Independent Authors is $99 a year. My book doesn't come out until February, so I'd be looking at spending about $250 just for access between now and then. That's a lot right around the holidays with my cover, interior art, map, and proofs yet to pay for. I'm going to do it, I just have to time it right.

Anyway, I'll keep you posted on how it goes and my experience with each of these.



Monday, November 5, 2018

I did it!

Well everyone, I finished all the edits from my proofreader on my gothic fantasy novella. That's right, I now have in my hands the final version that will go to publication. FINAL DRAFT COMPLETE!

Now, I imagine I might catch a few errors here and there before February, but those will be the only changes going forward. Getting my book done this far ahead lets me turn my focus to some other things. October was a bad month for me as far as my goals for the month went. Here's a list of everything I wanted to do:

  • Start Podcast
  • Get Map Art
  • Research ARCs
  • Finish Final Edits
  • Cross-post blog to all social media
  • Establish Good Reads Page
  • Get half or more of booking questionnaire done

As you can see, I only accomplished two of those things. Final edits are done also, but I didn't finish them until November 4th, so I can't cross them off for October. All the stuff I didn't get done now gets added to an already busy November. I hope I can manage.

I'm not going to focus on the negative, though. Here's the bottom line: I have a final draft of a book. I have the FINAL DRAFT of a BOOK!  I did it. I started this project three years ago, I've gone through the fire, I've been tested, and now I've come out the other side with a product I'm proud of and can be excited about. I know you'll be excited about it too once you get to read it.

Thanks for all your encouragement and support. I really love the messages I get on my social media accounts. You guys have really kept me going. I look forward to sharing with you all the details about the plot, characters, setting, and how my book fits in the genre as a whole. See you soon!



Friday, November 2, 2018

Goals for the Weekend 2018-11-02

Alrighty, this weekend, I hope to do the following:

  • Line up the map maker
  • Line up indie author organizations to join
  • Get some rest
Good luck to all of you this weekend!



Thursday, November 1, 2018

Didn't Quite Make It

Well, I didn't quite get all the edits done before time ran out on October. I'm down to the last 30 pages or so, which isn't bad at all. I'll almost certainly get done with them before the weekend. Then, I can FINALLY get to work on my marketing. Ugh, it's been so hard waiting to do that, but I really needed my book finished so I could devote my whole mind-space to that project.

Looks like I'll have some new art to share with you next Friday. It's looking good, though, I'm not sure how or if I'll use it. Next up, will be the map for my setting. I hope I can find a good cartographer for it.

Anyway, I hope all of you are doing well. Happy Holidays! (I think I can say that now, right?)



Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Thus Went the Edits

Today I'm hard at work editing my book. I'm currently on chapter 13 (there are 21 chapters total). The corrections from my proofreader look pretty reasonable. There are some I'm rejecting though, and I think that's important moment of growth for me.

I'm becoming more confident in my writing, and while I realize I still have a massive amount of room for growth, I am finding my own voice. So if you're working on a manuscript, let that strengthen you: you don't have to accept every suggestion you and when you start rejecting them, that's when you know you're getting close to the end.

I'm really going to work hard the rest of the day and evening. I set out with the goal to have all edits done by the end of October. There's still a chance I make it!

I've ignored social media completely today, except for this moment to take time to check in with everybody and let you know that I appreciate the well-wishes I've gotten lately. Thanks to all those who've contacted me privately with encouragement. Know, that you have made a difference! Love ya :)



Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Great News!

Great news, everybody! My proofreader got the last chapters to me!!! Haha, so now I can finish up the (**takes in a deep breath**) FINAL DRAFT! Yes, in just a week or two I will have completed, finished, and concluded writing my very first fantasy novella.

Man, I am excited. I wasn't expecting them. I thought it would take her another couple weeks. So yay! I've still got a million obstacles still between me and publication, but at the very least, the writing is done. So, next steps after that:

1) Get the ISBN's for my physical copies. This will be the next financial outlay I have to make, and probably the third most necessary one right after securing professionals to do my cover and my layouts.

2) Get a map done. I have to have a map of the setting for the readers' sake. I think it will really help their comprehension of the events in the story.

3) I need to brainstorm cover ideas. At the moment, I'm still at a loss. My book gets submitted to the cover company ( in January, so I do have a little time.

4) I need to complete the questionnaire the cover company gave me.

5) I need to move on with my supplemental projects and marketing (more on that soon).

So that's what's coming up. Anyway, please rejoice with me that the end of the dark tunnel that is writing and revising is within sight. I'm wishing you all the best on your projects as well. Good luck out there! :)



Monday, October 29, 2018

A Successful Weekend

I had a great and productive weekend. I hope you did too. I was able to accomplish all my goals, which were quite a few, thanks to not having any real outside commitments or catastrophes for the last three days. Woohoo!

So as the leaves finally change, it's time to change my own outlook and start gazing forward: November. By the end of November, I really want to get all the final editing of my fantasy novella done. I'd like to get the map of my setting finished. I need to secure the ISBN's for my physical books, and I need to begin the next phase of my marketing.

I think I can do all that. Well, I guess it doesn't matter if I think I can, I BETTER do all that! I'm still on track for a Feb publication. I'd appreciate all thoughts, well-wishes, and prayers in meeting that goal. I'll be rooting for you too!



Friday, October 26, 2018

Goals for the Weekend 2018-10-26

Okay, so this weekend, I want to do the following:

  • Visit ailing grandparents
  • Complete corrects to chapters 8-12 in book 1
  • Complete rough drafts for Secret Project #1
  • Compile marketing plan
That's an awful lot for a single weekend, but I'm starting to feel the pressure of running out of time. I really have to knuckle down and get the big projects out of the way, so my launch is as stress free as possible.

Anyway, you have a great weekend. I'll be rooting for ya! :)



Thursday, October 25, 2018

Breakthrough Last Night

Last night I had a terrific breakthrough. I know I've talked lately about this creative dry spell I've been going through. There's no one single thing that caused the dry spell, so there was no single or easy solution. But last night, the writer's block broke.

I felt inspired again, and I'm not the type of person who just waits for inspiration. I've written thousands and thousands of words without the muse whispering in my ear. But last night was the first time since September 8th that I've been able to write any new, original material.

I've done some chapter rewrites and a whole lotta editing in that span, but no new material. You see, I'm already working on the sequel to my novella, and I was making good progress until September 9th. That's when something died a little inside of me, and I couldn't figure out what.

Honestly, I still don't know what it was. I was beginning to panic. "What if I can't write again?" I asked myself. Would my planned series never get finished? After last night, I feel more confident. I didn't get 3,000 words or anything. But I finished a chapter, and it was fun and it was great. I can't wait to do it again.

So this goes out to all those #amwrting and #aspiringwriters out there. You may experience writer's block, but if you stay strong and keep the faith, you will come through it. Don't give up. I believe in you!



Tuesday, October 23, 2018

My Novella is a Genre Hybrid

Earlier today, I read this article by Paul Goat Allen. In it, he discusses how up until the 1990's, books were strictly written in and limited to a single genre. Publishers, editors, and booksellers were not at all interested in what we might today call a Genre-Mashup. You might be able to go back to the pulp era of science fiction and find a few examples, but those examples are limited and never attracted widespread popularity or recognition. The 1800's might have had a few examples as well. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court and Journey to the Center of the Earth come to mind. But other than that, it really wasn't until Stephen King's "Dark Tower" series that genre-blending hit the mainstream.

One of the concerns I've had about my novella is that it's a genre hybrid. I take some of the classic horror tropes from Halloween monsters such as werewolves, vampires, zombies, witches, ghouls, etc. and match them against what are essentially the Dunedain rangers from Middle-earth. It has the plot elements of horror you'd expect: strange disappearances, duality of mankind, transformation, deformities, descents into dark places, animal familiars, and so on. It also has classic fantasy motifs such as ancestral swords, magic metal, strange religion, ruins from a bygone era, magic spells, and more.

I was concerned because I've read in several places that genre-bending is discouraged. Several editor and author blogs go so far as to advise writers to keep the hybrid nature of their novels a secret: just let the audience figure it out and whatever you do don't tell a publisher. They also said that genre-bending is gimmicky and amateurish. Well, I am an amateur, so I suppose appearing amateurish was inevitable.

Anyway, after reading this article, I feel much more confident about my work. I've never really been ashamed of what I've written, just nervous because it goes against convention. Actually, that's not 100% true. I follow genre conventions for fantasy pretty closely. I don't feel practiced enough yet to break them. Anyway, I enjoyed this article and hope it's encouraging for other authors out there as well. You don't have to conform to tradition to produce something you're proud of. Follow your own vision.



Monday, October 22, 2018

The Music of my Inspiration

Today I thought I would share some of the music I listen to in order to get into the world I'm creating for my fantasy novella. It's somewhat unconventional, I think, but it helps free my imagination to wander in the my setting.

First up is Garmarna (a Swedish folk-rock band):

Next is Lorena McKennitt:

Finally, is the soundtrack for Endless Legend by Fly-by-No:

These artists all have a particular droning sound that calms my senses and helps my brain focus on a singular image that I usually use as a gateway to my world. I should probably talk more about that gateway in the future. Anyhow, please enjoy the music! :)



Friday, October 19, 2018

Book Logo

Hello everyone! I'm pleased to finally present my book logos. These will be small and go on the spine and inside flap of the hardback. They're fairly simple, but fit with some of the aesthetic themes of my book. The letters are meant to look like they have thorns. I wonder if I succeeded at that.

The initials in the logo don't stand for Human Resources. I'm not sure I've publicly revealed the title of my book yet, so I'll keep it on the down-low for now. Anyway, I have a silver and gold version of the logo since I don't know what the lettering on my book will be yet. That'll be up to my cover artist.

Thanks for checking in with me. I'll be revealing more details soon!



Thursday, October 18, 2018

Soldiering On

The edits continue. I got a couple more chapters from my proofreader. I'm currently on chapter 8 and she's given me everything through chapter 12. So, that's some progress, I guess.

I really hope to have this finished by early or mid November. I've got other things I want to move on to, and being SO CLOSE to the end but not quite there is excruciating. It's like being a kid on December 20th. You know Christmas is close, but the actual day is still so far.

For the most part, I'm pretty happy with how my manuscript is doing in the proofing process. I'm not getting a whole lot of corrections, though a few of the things I do have to change are rather embarrassing. They're silly mistakes I shouldn't have made.

Anyway, today looks like a busy day. I have some extra meetings that will run late after work. I'm still going to make time for my book, though. It's so important to do it, not just try to do it every day. My timer is working well as far as forcing me to sit at my computer and at the very least stare at my work. The real test will come when I have to start writing new content again.



Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Had a Busy Day

Wow, today was full. I had so much stuff coming at me, I could hardly handle it. I wanted to post something sooner, but life would just not give me a break until just now. Whew, glad this day's almost over.

I'm making good progress on the next stage of my marketing. I've got to find some time to do some more research. Maybe this weekend. But anyway, I'm exciting about the next thing I'm going to be doing. Stay tuned for more details soon.

Also, just a friendly reminder, I'll be revealing a new piece of art this Friday. It's nothing spectacular or particularly amazing -- at least, not as gorgeous as the roses I revealed earlier -- but it's still important to me. As I get nearer and nearer to publishing, I'm discovering so many little details about books that I never even knew existed. This piece of art will address one of them.

So anyway, I hope your day is going better than mine. Take care of yourselves out there and we'll speak again soon :)



Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Tried a New Habit Method Last Night

Yesterday, I talked about the importance of forming good habits. So I went home, pulled up the timer on my phone and set it for an hour. I had three things I needed to accomplish. I needed to work on some of my non-writing career stuff, spend time reading and hanging out with my daughter, and then get some writing done.

I hit the Start on the timer. For an hour, I worked on my non-writing stuff. That hour went so quickly, I could hardly believe it when the alarm went off. I didn't get everything done I needed to get done, but I cut it off after 60 minutes. I was determined to be disciplined.

I reset the timer for an hour and called my daughter into the room. We read a book together, built my new desk chair together, and then talked about her day at school. This hour also went by quickly, much to my regret.

I got a few things around for the next day, and set the timer on my phone for another hour. This was the hour I would use to work on my book and my marketing plan. THIS HOUR TOOK FOREVER!!!!

It was so hard to focus, to force myself to punch words on my keyboard. To form complete sentences was excruciating. My mind wanted to rebel. It wanted to watch videos, peek at the news, flirt with my wife, anything except write. But I made myself do it. For 60 minutes my eyes did not wander from my word documents except to double check some things on or wikipedia.

At the end of it, when the alarm went off, I was so relieved, like finishing a race. But I did it. I plan to repeat the exercise tonight. I imagine it will be just as hard, but hopefully, I will get to the point where I don't need the timer anymore. But for now, I need something to hold me accountable, and a machine is all I got.



Monday, October 15, 2018

Getting Back Into Things

Good to see everyone again. I'm back from vacation, and things are a little rough. Nothing kills your drive to work on a book than going on a long trip. I've heard it said that the most important thing an author can do to ensure publication is to form good habits, and that's the truth. And when your habits get broken, it's so hard to get back into the swing of things.

So here's where I stand. I've got a couple new pieces of art from the artists I'm working with. I'm not 100% happy with them. Probably more like 90%, which sometimes is all you can hope for. I'll share one piece of art with you this Friday, and the second next Friday.

I'm preparing my marketing strategy now. Honestly, I've been working on it for the last month, but now I'm increasing the scope of it.

Soon I'll be adding a new feature to my online presence. I've got all the skills I need to get it done, it just requires a lot of discipline. I've got to develop the habit of doing it consistently. That's where I'm going to struggle, but I look forward to sharing it with you.

Anyway, I'm back from my trip, and I'd appreciate any well-wishes on my efforts to get my book published. I'm gonna need them!



Thursday, September 27, 2018

Fall Vacation

Today is my last day of work for a while. I'm going on vacation and won't be back for well over a week. I'm telling you, I need the break. I am so worn out right now.

Things are coming along well with my book. Hopefully, by the time I get back, my proofreader will be finished, and I can start making final corrections. It's time to move on to the next phase: marketing. I'll be sharing what I learn about that as I go along. Hopefully it will be helpful to any #aspiringwriters out there.

Anyway, it will be a while before I post again. When I do, updates for my project will start coming fairly quickly. There's only about 4 1/2 months between now and launch. Wish me luck! :)



Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Solved a Problem!

I'm not just writing one book. I'm writing a series. That's a bit of a spoiler, but not much of one, I think. I'm under the impression in the fantasy and sci-fi genres, people expect sequels. As a result, I'm writing my first book with that in mind.

I've been struggling with a particular story thread, and it basically stopped me from writing anything new. I just could not reconcile it with my overall story goals. It involved a tree that granted wishes. The imagery of the scenes involving the tree are incredibly vivid in my mind. I want to show my readers the moss that grows on the park, the rotted cavity at the bottom where you place something precious to buy a wish, and how the branches look like hands reaching out to embrace or, perhaps, restrain.

But it just doesn't work. The whole story-line involving this thing is redundant and interferes with the main plot, so I can't include it in my upcoming works. I've decided to cut it. The seeds of this subplot were going to be sown in my upcoming novella, but now that has to go too.

Sometimes as a writer, you have to chop out parts of your book for the overall good of the story. That's painful. I really hate to do it, but now I realize it's the right choice. I'll save the idea. Maybe I'll be able to use it in the future. Doubt it, though. Some things just aren't meant to be.



Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Another Illustration Is Coming

A couple weeks ago I showed off the roses of my book. I have another illustration coming soon. It's a location in my novella, an important one. I'm not sure I'll use it in my final draft, though. It's not turning out exactly the way I want, and even after the artist finishes the revisions I requested, it might not be right. I plan on showing it to my beta readers to see what they think. Anyway, I'll very likely reveal it once it's ready one way or the other. Stay tuned! :)

Oh, and here's a hint:



Monday, September 24, 2018

Arguing is not the Right Course

Good news! My proofreader is now about half done. I'm very thankful for that, but I did get into a bit of an argument with her about a relatively minor point this weekend when she asked for clarification. That was wrong.

When getting feedback from anyone, it's very important not to defend yourself. First, it makes you look weak. Second, it may inhibit them from giving you honest feedback in the future. And if it does inhibit them, you're going to lose out on something important: the truth. You need that pure and honest feedback. A "good job" and a pat on the back are worthless when you're trying to improve your writing.

IME, the best course of action, if you disagree with something a beta reader or editor says, is to acknowledge their feedback in a positive way and move on. Hopefully, you've been clear with anyone who works with you that you may or may not accept all of their suggestions. So, you're free to reject them later without debating whether or not their feedback is correct or useful. As a result they feel edified that you're actually listening to them, and you maintain the right to reject suggestions you don't like guilt free.

It's been tough swallowing my pride at times during this process. I've been so blessed to have some great beta readers who weren't afraid to tell me the truth and risk hurting my feelings. I've grown more accustomed to the brutality of beta reads and editing, but still, I slipped up this weekend. I'm going to try to not let it happen again.

Here's hoping!



Friday, September 21, 2018

Weekend Goals - 9-21-18

Alright, so this weekend I hope to delve deeper into research for launching a first book. I have about a dozen videos to watch and three articles to read. I also want to brainstorm more about my book's cover. Maybe I should try doing some of my own mockups and seeing what they look like. Finally, I need to get some sleep. I'm running pretty ragged right now, and I really need to recharge my batteries. Fall is almost here, and it's my favorite time of year. I want to be able to enjoy it and finish up everything on my novella.



Thursday, September 20, 2018

Playing Well With Others

Setting goals for yourself as a writer is really important. My goal was to have the final draft of my book done by the end of September. I won't make that goal, and the reasons for that are entirely out of my hands.

The further you get into your process of writing, producing, and publishing a book, the more people you're going to need to get the job done. You'll email back and forth with artists, layout specialists, editors, beta readers, customer support, printers, and so on. I have a lot of great stories to tell, but since I'm in the middle of working with these good folks, I haven't had the benefit of reflection on how our interactions have proceeded. So, sadly, the stories will have to wait.

But what I can tell you now is that when you are dealing with so many different people (I've worked with people on three different continents so far to get my book done), it's inevitable that disaster will strike. And I do mean disaster. Family illness, hurricanes, traffic accidents, financial corruption, are just a few of the challenges the people you collaborate with will face. I like to call them "unlikely inevitabilities." The odds of one of these things happening to any individual in the world populace is infinitesimally small. However, they absolutely will happen to you when you're trying to produce your book, especially if you're trying to do it right.

So what can you learn from my experiences? One, treat others with respect. I'm going to write about treating your book as a business down the road, but people are frail and fragile, and we're all in this together. I know they promised you a thing by a certain deadline, but when their life is shattered, you have to be understanding.

Two, build in lots of time for each stage of your project. You absolutely must have margin for error, because errors are going to happen. I don't anticipate my book being out for another 5 months, but even then, I feel like I'm cutting it close (and I'm on the final draft). Emails can take days to get answered. Drawings might need to be revised. Covers aren't perfect on the first mockup. You have to allow humans to be human, to make mistakes and to have a chance to correct them.

Three, build a support team around yourself with people you really trust. You're going to freak out. You're going to worry. You're going to doubt yourself and doubt the intentions of the people you work with. In those times, you need someone to help keep you grounded - to remind you of your goals and your values. I can't stress this enough.

If you're writing, I wish you the best of luck. I hope my experiences can help, even if it's just a little. Stick with it. I believe in you :)



Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Brainstorming a Cover

One of the most excited and most intimidating aspects of this process I've dealt with so far is my book cover. I'm working with a fantastic company with a lot of experience at making some gorgeous covers. I'll talk more about them down the road, but at the moment, I'm very intimidated. Their skill is beyond my imagination, and right now I have no ideas at all for my cover.

Thankfully, they have provided me with a five page questionnaire that asks for all kinds of different details concerning my novella. It's very time consuming to write, but at the same time, it's clearly getting me ready for publishing. I'm new at this, so naturally there's a lot about producing and selling a book I don't know yet.

So while I'm very nervous about beginning work on the cover, I'm feeling more and more prepared to be a published author. I'll be sharing more details about cover ideas in the future...once I generate some. Anyway, here's a sample cover from the company doing my book: