Thursday, October 17, 2019

Emerald Gate Printout

Just printed out the finished draft of The Emerald Gate! Cat tail... because cats.

I will deliver it to my mom for a first proofread before putting it into book form and sending it off to my “Alpha Readers.” This is a change from my usual process. I’m tired of sending off manuscripts I think are well proofread, only to discover they’re riddled with errors. This time, I hit it with Grammarly and am sending it to my sharp-eyed mom, before my Alphas see it.

The Alphas will give it a good story (and writing) critique before I send it off to my Betas. The Betas will give me a “reader’s eye view” of the book, and will hopefully catch any grammar errors that have slipped through the process.

I’m hoping for a January 15th publication date. This is the fifth (and last) book in The Orb series!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

New Mulan Movie

The teaser trailer for Mulan looks great! I love that they're not going to a 100% remake of the animated movie (like they did for Beauty and the Beast) and are instead trying to stay true(r) to the original Mulan legend. That means no Mushu the Dragon or song and dance routines. I know some people are upset about those changes, but if you want them, just watch the original animated movie. So far, I'm really looking forward to the movie.

Here's my one small complaint... and it's one I have with almost any movie that includes archery. Why can they NEVER get archery right? Bows strung backwards, incorrect technique, shooting three arrows at a time, ridiculous results... the archer in my cringes at what I see.

In my novels I try very hard to maintain the willing suspension of disbelief for my readers. That means keeping things realistic. WHAT? REALISTIC? BUT YOU WRITE FANTASY NOVELS!

The willing suspension of disbelief mean creating a world that follows rules. Yes, there are magic and monsters in my world. And I worked very hard to explain their existence and to give them a realistic framework they must operate under in that world. Breaking the framework (the "rules of the world") means losing that willing suspension of disbelief in the reader.

Not only do I try to be "realistic" in my creation of fantasy elements of the story, but I try my best to be realistic in my depiction of the non-fantasy elements. Things like technology, weapons, fighting styles, economics, politics, and the climate. In order to keep a reader of viewer absorbed in your story, you have to keep everything within the story consistent with the rules of the universe the story is set in.

When I started writing Eternal Knight I knew a lot about archery, but I didn't know everything I needed to know. So I started doing research. That research led to me taking up archery and even bow making.

The problem is that every time I see bows depicted in movies or books, I can help but to become an instant critic. This pulls me out of the moment and I lose my willing suspension of disbelief. I'm no longer absorbed in the story because my mind is cringing at what I'm looking at.

So what's wrong with Mulan's archery? (And, by the way, the most famous Hunger Games promo photo is far worse). 1) She's using a Mediterranean/European draw (drawing the string with her fingers) instead of an Asiatic draw (drawing with her thumb/thumb ring). 2) The Mediterranean draw only uses three fingers and you don't wrap your knuckles around the entire string. 3) The Mediterranean draw places the arrow on the other side of the bow. 4) Bad form. Raise that elbow!

I guess it's just not worth the expense to get archery right in movies. They figure that the number of people who will notice is not worth the effort of getting it right. But how much effort would it take to get it right? An hour of instruction with your actors would make a huge difference.

In conclusion:
1) I'm really looking forward to the movie.
2) I'm very happy with the changes from the animated movie.
3) The willing suspension of disbelief is really important to me.
4) Mulan (and every other movie) gets archery wrong. (Please tell me of a book or movie where they get it right).
5) I'll just cringe my way through the archery, because the movie looks like it's going to be great.

Wow, that really escalated! I thought I was going to write a paragraph about the new Mulan movie.

Have a great day!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Bad Blogger!

Wow! I'm a bad blogger!

What have I been up to?

I've been editing The Emerald Gate, which has involved some chapter rewrites as inspiration has required. I'm very happy with the book, but somewhat unhappy with the pace of progress. I find editing harder to do on a consistent basis, unlike writing. With writing I can sit down at a set time every day and make progress. Editing... is different. Editing is done in fits and starts and can be much more difficult as you work to improve what you've already done.

I've also been playing a lot of Dungeons and Dragons. By "a lot" I mean once a week for three hours. But as Dungeon Master there's a lot of prep work that goes into it. The good news is that my turn as DM is coming to a close and my buddy Mike is about to take over. Time to pull out my character sheet and become reacquainted with my elf Paladin/Bard, Keldan Faesuun.

I've also been doing teacher stuff, dad stuff, husband stuff, and homeowner stuff. I'm seriously going to have no problem being a retired person (someday). There's always something to do. There's always so much I want to do. I need more hours in my day.

When will The Emerald Gate be published? I'm wary to give a  date as I'm so often wrong. This fall seems like a good answer. With the school year coming to an end and Amelia heading off to climbing camp, I'm going to have a lot more writing time available to me in the near future. I'm looking forward to digging into the book and making some real progress.

Monday, January 7, 2019

The Dromost Gate arrives in Ten Days!

I'm very excited to announce that The Dromost Gate will be published in ten days! It is currently available for pre-order on most online ebook retailers for $.99. It is not available for pre-order on Amazon or Google, but will be sold at the reduced price for the first 48 hours after release.

A huge shout-out to my critique partner, beta-readers, and proofreaders! I couldn't have done it without you.

Monday, December 31, 2018

My Best Books of 2018 List

I didn't read a lot of books this year, but the ones I did read were excellent. Many of them are series and I'm looking forward for more to come from those authors. And here we go...

I actually haven't finished this one yet. I'm half way done and won't manage to finish by midnight. That's OK. I've read enough to know that it's one of the best books I've read this year. Great world building, cool characters, and... assassins.

Again, great world building, great characters, and this one has mech armor! Don't get me wrong, it is a pseudo-medieval world, but it includes clockwork technology that you wouldn't find in the Middle Ages. My only complaint is that the book was too short!

Christian Cameron is one of my all-time favorite authors. He writes historical fiction under his own name and fantasy as Miles Cameron. He has an incredible talent to paint a vivid world that really captures your imagination. I love his medieval historical fiction series that starts with The Ill-Made Knight and continues with the latest book, Sword of Justice. If you like your fiction set in ancient Greece, I highly recommend Killer of Men. It is one of my favorite books. Fall of Dragons is the final book in the EPIC Traitor Son series. Cold Iron is a fantastic start to an entirely new fantasy series.

Mark Lawrence puts the grim in grimdark. I read the entire Broken Empire series this year. I'll be honest - I almost didn't get through the first few chapters of the first book. It was really grim. The protagonist was really unlikable. I stuck with it and was richly rewarded. There's a reason why the protagonist is so dark. The more you read the more you get pulled into the character's backstory and the more you want to find out what's to come.

Wow! Loved this book. It's like reading the best Dungeons and Dragons adventure you can imagine. The world building, like that in the rest of the books I've listed is great. Unlike the others, Kings of the Wyld doesn't take itself too seriously. This is a very funny, action-packed book. Despite the humor it has its serious, tender, and even tear-jerking moments.

This, and its sequel, Arm of the Sphinx, were my favorite books of 2018. Terrific, unique setting combined with an unusual protagonist, Senlin Ascends was a refreshing surprise. It isn't epic my usual epic fantasy. It has a steampunk/Gulliver's Travels feel that made it a really unique read. I can't recommend it enough!

What I'm really excited about is the fact that all of the above authors have more books for me to read. Well... almost. I have to wait a month for Bancroft's The Hod King and I've read everything that Cameron has published. The good thing about Cameron is that he's a prolific author - which means I won't have to wait long for something of his to appear.

I hope you all have a wonderful 2019! Happy New Year!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Another One Done

The Rough Draft of The Emerald Gate is done!

Well, it's been done for a week, but I'm just getting around to blogging about it.

In fact I'm about 50% done the first run through on its way to becoming the First Draft.  It looks like this book will require two rounds of edits and a trip through the grammar checker/spell checker before its fit to be called a First Draft. Let's say another week....

How did I get here? Let me show you...

The rough draft took 97 days to write. This was a record for me. I started as soon as I sent The Dromost Gate off to my critique partner and just didn't stop. I wrote every single day and averaged 1,532 words per day.

Is that a lot of words per day? Well... it depends. With a full time job and a busy kid it is. If I was a full time author I'd hope to double that number (at least). For someone writing on evenings, weekends, and days off, it's a pretty good number.

Right now The Emerald Gate weighs in at 148,650 words. This makes it the second longest book in the series. The Dromost Gate (First Draft) is a hefty 204,000, but will lose some weight in editing.

What's next? 1) Get Book 4 back from my critique partner and start working on the Second Draft. 2) Put Book 5 into the hands of my critique partner.

When will you see a book? September? Maybe? That's what I'm hoping for.

I'm super pleased with how well the writing went with The Emerald Gate. It has me very excited for my future writing projects -- of which I have many!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Emerald Gate Progress Report

What's this? A progress report on Book Five before Book Four has been published?

That's right. That's exactly what you're getting.

With each of my previous novels I've waited until after the novel has been published before starting the next novel. With Eternal Knight I was waiting for the massive success of my international bestselling novel to motivate me to write a second novel. After all, I'd put years of effort into a first novel. Why would I write a second if the first wasn't a huge success?

I didn't know much about publishing back then. Especially indie publishing. I didn't know that having a hugely successful first novel was about as likely as getting hit by lightning AND an meteorite on the same day.

Well, I sort of knew it. I was still hoping it would happen to me. The huge success part. Not the lightning and meteor.

The path to success is writing good books and following them with more good books. And you need to do this as quickly as possible. Indie readers don't want to wait around for a next book. They want it YESTERDAY.

It has taken a little while for this to sink in. However, I think I have the message now.

I finished writing The Dromost Gate forty-two days ago. I'm forty-two days into writing The Emerald Gate. Forty-two of the most productive days I've ever had as a writer.

I've once again gone back to my practice of keeping a spreadsheet of my writing. I find it highly motivational. The "start" and "end" numbers are my daily word count for The Emerald Gate. As of today I'm 63,481 words into a planned 120,000 word novel. Just yesterday I passed the halfway mark and my critique partner is still reading the first draft of The Dromost Gate. 

It is very likely I'll have finished writing the rough draft of The Emerald Gate before The Dromost Gate is published. I think this is very exciting. It means The Emerald Gate will be published just months after the previous novel. 

What will I do the day after I've finished the rough draft of The Emerald Gate? I'll start writing my next series. That will have to wait for another blog post. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Three Book Reviews

The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids

By Michael McClung

4.5/5 stars

This was a super entertaining fast-paced novel. Part fantasy, part murder mystery, the entire novel is set in a single city. I found Amra to be a great protagonist – she’s a thief with a code. A cat burglar rather than a killer, she still very good in a fight. There are demons, magic, and a very cool wizard sidekick as well. I thought the writing was very good. It never bogged down and moved along at a nice clip. I will say that the first half of the novel was stronger than the second half. The first half the novel blew me away. Still, it was an excellent read and I highly recommend it. I think fans of The Lies of Locke Lamora would really enjoy this novel.

Prince of Thorns

By Mark Lawrence

5/5 stars

I’d never read a Mark Lawrence novel before and thought I’d give this one a shot. I was very confused when I started the book. I thought it was supposed to be about a prince trying to recover his throne. However as I read the first chapter it seemed to be about a murderer and rapist. I thought that maybe I was getting a chapter from the antagonist’s point of view. Then I started chapter two and it was the same POV from the same villain. I stopped reading part way through chapter two when the protagonist described a rape he’d participated in. I thought to myself that there was no way I was going to read 300 pages about this @#$#  @#$%$.

If it had been an unknown author, I probably would have stopped at that point. However, Lawrence as a terrific reputation as an author, he’s hugely supportive of other authors, and I’d just spent money on a book and was ticked off that I’d only read a chapter and a half. So I kept reading.

And it kept getting better. And better. And better. As it turns out there a reason why the protagonist is a murdering @#$#%.

The writing is excellent. The story is engrossing. The world building is intriguing. Lawrence writes terrific action scenes to top it off.

Be forewarned, the book is very grim and very dark. If you can get past that, I think you’ll love the novel.

Senlin Ascends

By Josiah Bancroft

5/5 stars

Wonderful. Start to finish a terrific book.

A steampunk fantasy set in an unknown era, the novel follows bookish Thomas Senlin as he attempts to locate his missing wife in the Tower of Babel. Each level of the tower is its own unique world that poses new challenges to the completely ill prepared Senlin.

Senlin Ascends is a super-unique, super-creative work of fiction. I loved the characters, the writing, and the world. Buy it. It’s fantastic.

Friday, December 29, 2017

No longer exclusive

I've made a big change. A few years ago I made the decision to have my books sold exclusively on Amazon. There were some financial incentives. In return for exclusivity, Amazon entered me into their Kindle Unlimited program. However, the exclusivity side of things always irked me.

Not any longer. I've "gone wide." All of my novels are now available at Barnes and Noble, Apple, Google Play, Kobo, Smashwords, Scribd, and others.

Eternal Knight is on sale for $.99. Child of the Knight and Shadow of the Knight cost between $3.49 and $3.99 depending on the retailer.

What a relief! I've felt like I've had my arm twisted behind my back. (I did it to myself!) I'm very happy that my books are now available to anyone who wants to buy them, no matter what the platform.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

I have a demon

I have a demon.

My demon's name is Procrastination.

There are some of you out there who share this demon with me. Others of you just don't get the mind of the procrastinator.

If you haven't already seen this, please take a few moments and do so. It is worth it.

Really, watch the video. It's great.

Procrastination is something I've been dealing with for my entire life. My instant gratification monkey is very powerful. I'm very lucky World of Warcraft didn't exist when I was in college. I shudder to think what it would have done to my GPA.

Of course, I blame the game when it really is all on my shoulders.

You'd think procrastination would be more enjoyable. Isn't skipping your work to play games (or read a book or watch a movie...) a lot of fun? It isn't. Deep in your mind, you know that you're doing something you shouldn't be doing. The guilt from this knowledge makes the procrastinating less fun.

Why not do your work first? Just do the work and reward yourself with a game? It's the responsible thing to do.


I just can't stop myself. Pretty pathetic, huh?

One of the most powerful messages in Tim Urban's Ted Talk is that procrastination is at its worst when there are no deadlines. As he says, deadlines wake up the panic monster. A looming deadline forces the procrastinator to GET WORK DONE. Is the work as good as it would have been if you hadn't procrastinated in the first place? Of course not. But it gets done.

What if there's no deadline? Well, if there's no deadline panic never takes over and the work never gets done.

What kind of activities don't have a deadline?

Learning to play an instrument.
Learning a foreign language.
Learning to be an artist.
Getting a degree.
Getting in shape.

Why isn't my fourth novel done yet? Trust me... it could have been finished a long time ago. Over a year ago (at least). Why isn't it done? Instant gratification.

Unfortunately for the readers waiting for my next book, I don't feed myself with book royalties. If I did it would have an instant impact on my writing output. There would be a DEADLINE: Don't write and you don't eat. Don't write and you lose your car. Don't write and you get evicted.

I have a day job that I love. This means there is no writing deadline for me. I can take as long as I want to get my next book done.

I want TO HAVE FINISHED writing my novel. It's the finishing it that's getting in the way.

One of Tim Urban's visuals is what he calls a Life Calendar. He projected an image that showed one block per week of a ninety year life. It really wasn't a lot of blocks. That image fascinated me. You don't think there's a deadline to accomplish the things you want to do in your life? Our Life Calendar is an inescapable deadline.

I took his lifeline to heart and made one of my own.

I'm a positive thinker, so I made mine 100 years long. Each block is one week of a one hundred year life. I took things a little further than Tim Urban and then went and put a hash through each of the blocks I've already used.

The paper is at a slight angle. It doesn't look like it, but once I finish the current line I'm half way through my blocks.

I made a motto to go with my Life Calendar:


Is this depressing? I don't think so. I think it's inspiring. What am I going to do with this day? Am I going to waste it or am I going to make something of it?

Once it's gone I can never have this day back again.

After today I have one less day to live. 

For the past three weeks it has been my motto as I've awakened each morning at 4:55 AM to run my morning 5K. If I don't run today I've missed that chance forever. That day is gone. It is also my motto when I sit in front of the computer to work on my book after a day of being a teacher and a father and a husband.

What do I do when it's 9:00 PM and my instant gratification monkey is saying, "How about a game of World of Tanks? Won't it be fun?"

For the past three weeks I've looked at my Life Calendar and said, "F@#$ off, Monkey. I've got a book to write and after today I have one less day to live."