Thursday, December 19, 2013

FINISHED! (Revisions)

Just finished my revisions on Child of the Knight tonight. Wow, it feels good to write that.

What's next?

I send it off to my three critique partners to be put through the meat grinder. It is their job to make it into a better book by telling me everything I have done wrong. Time to put on my armor as getting a thorough critiquing can be a brutal process!

How long will it take? They have as much time as they want.

After that I re-write as necessary and send it off to the next round of readers. This is stage one editing where I don't ask for story advice, but I am looking for writing advice. This is where serious polishing goes on.

Another round of fixes and I send it off to some trusted proofreaders. Time to find mistake that have made it through the process.

And then to my copy editor for one last look before publication.

We are still two months (at least) from publication, but tonight was a big step on the path.






Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Progress Report

Hooray for snow days!

Amelia had a friend over and they spent the entire day outside playing in the snow. Which gave me loads of time to work on Child of the Knight. I finished revisions on almost four chapters today, bringing me up to chapter thirty. Ten to go.

Revisions means that I am making story corrections to make certain that all three story lines mesh with each other. So far, so good.

Challenges:

Names- wow, there are a lot of them. Minor characters mostly. When I wrote the manuscript I used XXX, YYY, ZZZ as a filler for people I didn't feel like naming at the time. There are a lot of people getting names right now. I have a spreadsheet to keep track of all of them.

The mercenaries are Idorians. No big deal, except in the first draft of the novel they were Saladorans. Now I have to change 90% of my "Saladorans" to "Idorians", but can't do it universally as there are still plenty of Saladorans in the novel. An added challenge is that Idorians don't speak Saladoran when they talk to each other. I've had to make up a new language for those times when they speak with each other.

She knows what? With three points of view, I have to keep track of which characters know what piece of information. Hadde doesn't know everything Maret knows.

How many arrows? Jeez, keeping track of inventory is a much bigger challenge in this book. I can't tell you why, but it is.

What's next?

Ten chapters of revisions. The pace is getting faster as I get to more recently written chapters.

40 chapters of spell check and grammar fixes. Whew... I turned off spell check when I wrote this one. I didn't want to be bogged down with little details. I thought by turning off spell check I would write faster. I think it worked. I can't wait to see what happens when I turn spell check back on.

Correcting grammar... not my strong suit. I'll do the best I can and hope I'm not too embarrassed by what my critique partners discover. 

Overall I am very pleased by my progress right now. I've blown every timeline I've put out there, so am loathe to try it again.

So I'll do it anyway....

Revisions finished: Soonish. Before the new year.
Get critique back from critique partners: When they get it done.
Second round of revisions: After that.


Best,

Matt




Wednesday, October 23, 2013

FINISHED! (the rough draft)

I officially released Eternal Knight on May 1st of 2011. Wow! It was great! What a wonderful feeling to send a book off into the world.

Of course I dreamed of a best seller, book deals, movie deals, the whole nine yards. Hey, I write fantasy, can you blame me? I have an imagination.

The rational part of my brain (there is one) told me that those things were not going to happen. And the rational part was right.

But many wonderful things did happen. Readers liked Eternal Knight. Not just friends and family, but strangers. It is an incredible moment when a complete stranger says that they liked something you created. It is even more amazing when they ask for more.

And this is where I made a mistake. I worked at promoting Eternal Knight instead of working on the second book. Why?

Part of me was looking for motivation in big sales numbers. I thought the demand for a sequel would drive me to the computer. I'll be completely honest... if Eternal Knight had flopped I probably would have stopped writing. I had invested so much time into Eternal Knight I could not imagine another such effort.

The sales didn't come. But good reviews did. And several of the early reviews were from book bloggers - people who read and critique a lot of books. And these were book bloggers who weren't afraid to give out bad reviews.

And then friends, family, and fans started asking when the next book was coming out. And my response was, "I'm working on it." When I really wasn't.

Unless you count thinking about the book as working on the book. And I was thinking about it. Because even though Eternal Knight works as a stand-alone book, it was never intended that way. There was more story to tell.

It wasn't until March 26th, 2012 (an eleven month break) that I got back to writing again. And since I work best with goals, I decided to set a goal of 1,000 words a day. It turned out to be overly ambitious, but I thought I would give it a go. I also decided to track my progress on a spreadsheet. Here are the results plotted on a graph:

The horizontal axis is the date. The vertical axis is the estimated number of days remaining to complete the novel. I used the formula (word count goal - current word count) / (average word count) to come up with the estimated days until completion. My original goal was for a 100,000 word novel. Let's say I was 50,000 words into my word count, and averaging 250 words per day. It would look like this (100,000 - 50,000) / 250 = 200 days until completion.

My original plan was to write 1,000 words per day and to finish a 100,000 word book in 100 days. It didn't quite work out that way. It took 578 days to write Child of the Knight!

Most of the writing was done in three bursts.

Phase One: March 26th - June 4th, 2012.  52,000 words. Why did I stop? Summer started. You would think summer would be a perfect time for a teacher to write. Maybe, but not for me. My wife works and during the summer I am home with Amelia. And summer is filled with evening swim meets, vacation time, and late evenings with the family. I work best on a steady schedule. Summer broke me from my schedule.

See that long rise on the graph? That is my average word count dying. I was averaging 758 words per day before that climb. 246 days later my average word count was a dismal 174. Given that pace the book would take an additional 410 days to finish.

Phase Two: February 6th - June 14th, 2013. 58, 000 words. February and March were huge, with constant writing and great progress. Average word count climbed and days until completion plummeted. April, May, and June were more sporadic, but progress was still made. And then summer hit again.

Phase Three: September 5th - October 22nd, 2013. 13,000 words. A new school year and a fresh start. I knew I was close and was driven to get the job done. Final word count: 123, 435. Average words per day, only 220. I can do better.

Eternal Knight took twenty-three years to write.
Child of the Knight took a year and a half.
Book Three will take even less. I know it will because I know what it takes now. Ideas are not the problem. Story is not the problem. Devotion, focus, drive... there is the problem. And those are problems I can beat.

What is next for Child of the Knight?

1) My revisions. I need to re-read the manuscript, proofread, make changes, and generally clean things up.
2) Give the manuscript to my (3) critique partners for comments and criticism. Make changes based on their evaluation.
3) Give the book (now I'll call it a book) to my (3) first round editors. Listen to their input and make corrections.
4) Give the book to my (3) proofreaders and hope they don't find too many issues.
5) Give the book to my (1) copy-editor. Please, please be a clean manuscript at this point!
6) Typeset and publish.

How long? I cannot imagine it taking less than three months. How long could it take? Five? And while much of the process is going on, I will get to work on book three.

In any case, writing the last word of my rough draft was a wonderful feeling. Can't wait to dig in and start my revisions!








Saturday, October 19, 2013

Does EK read like a movie?

Eternal Knight received this review on Amazon the other day. I don't normally share reviews, but I thought this one was kind of cool. The reader seemed to really "get" Eternal Knight. And by "getting" it, I'm not talking about the story, I'm talking about the style. When the reviewer said EK "reads like you can already picture it in your mind" or that it "reads like a fantasy movie" that is exactly how I felt when I was writing it.

Not delving too deeply into details isn't entirely intentional. I tend to focus on story and try just to give enough detail for the reader to create an image in their head. Sometimes I don't put enough brush strokes in. I find adding the little details that flesh out a scene to be one of the most difficult parts of writing. That's where great critique partners like Kemp Brinson, Ann Emery, and Mike Shultz come in. They are great at finding just the right details to make a scene come to life. I couldn't write without them.

The review (from an Amazon reader):

"One of the things I enjoyed most about Eternal Knight is that it didn't overwhelm me with details that keep me from reading a lot of other fantasy novels. Overly detailed descriptions of the character's clothes or actions, or setting the scene, etc... this book has none of that. The story reads like you can already picture it in your mind. It reads like a fantasy movie instead of a fantasy novel, if that makes any sense.

It's also not "magic heavy." Even the few characters that have access to magic have very believable limits. There's no, "Well, I dropped my sword, so I'm going to wave my arms... and drop this mountain on you." There's no "easy fix" by magic in this book. Both the internal and external struggles are realistic.

Looking forward to the sequel!"

By the way, I am currently writing the epilogue to Child of the Knight. Not too long and I'll turn it over to Kemp, Ann, and Mike.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Oh, Canada, eh?

A week ago I packed up the family and took them to Canada.

Canada? Why there?

I'm glad you asked. You see, I wanted to visit Canada before it completely ceases to exist. Canada, my friends, is on the brink of collapse.

How do I know this? There are two important signs: Canada has both publicly provided universal health care AND same sex marriage.

There you go.  There are not two more certain signs of apocalypse than these.

We raced up the PA Turnpike to New York, got on Route 81 (argh, #@$#%. #$%$, ^&;*^@!!!), hooked a left onto Route 90, and there we were (eight hours later), crossing the Rainbow Bridge (really pushing that gay marriage stuff, eh?) and entering Canada.



I was a nervous wreck as we approached customs. I was entering a foreign country with weapons in my car. As we approached the booth I took off my sunglasses and forced a smile.

"Bonjour," said the woman in the booth.

I froze. What the hell does "bonjoor" mean? She was speaking Foreign (which I had been warned some Canadians speak).

"I don't have any weapons!" I screamed. "At least not real ones, like bombs and machine guns!"

"Please pull over to the fortified concrete enclosure," she said.

Six hours later we were on or way again. As it turns out is it totally legal to bring bows and arrows into Canada for target shooting purposes.

A short drive and we arrived at the Niagra Kampground of America.  Notice the spelling? Canadians spell Campground with a "K". Just plain silly. Otherwise their English is pretty good. I don't know what was up with the woman at the border.


We got out of the car and a horde of mosquitoes swarmed my daughter and attempted to carry her off. As I later came to understand it, being carried off by mosquitoes is one of the first signs that you are in Canada.

After dousing ourselves with DEET and setting up our tent we made our way into town. Once there we immediately donned the national costume of Canada in an effort to blend in. We didn't want to be too conspicuous as foreigners.



Thinking we could see some of the country by boat, we hopped a ride on the Maid of the Mist XVIII (I won't kid you, I was a little concerned about what happened to the other eleven Maids). This was the shortest, dumbest tour ride I have ever been on. We went about 200 yards (they call yards "meters" in Canada) and ran into this:





For about fifteen freaking minutes the captain tried to find his way around the waterfall before he finally figured out there wasn't one. (Duh). In the meantime we all got soaked, but Helen and Amelia thought it was fun.



I know it is pretty much the same picture from before, but in the first one they are dry, and in the second one they are wet. And their smiles are bigger. And I made the picture bigger.

We got on a local bus and made our way back to our kampground. While on the bus Helen attempted to eat Amelia and I realized we hadn't eaten anything since arriving in Canada.





It was then that we made the most wonderful discovery we made during our entire trip:




We proceeded to eat every single meal we ate (while traveling) in Canada at a Tim Hortons restaurant. For my American (US variety) readers, imagine a Dunkin Donuts. Well, that's about it. Canadian Dunkin Donuts.

I had an odd interaction with the young lady behind the counter at Tim Hortons. After ordering I attempted to pay with my credit card.

"Your card isn't chipped," she said.

"Um, yeah," I said, "How would it get chipped if I keep it in my wallet?"

"No, it doesn't have a chip in it," she said, staring at me as if I was a complete idiot.

"I know. I take good care of it." Her expression didn't change. Apparently she still thought me an idiot. "How about I pay in cash?" I suggested before she could mention the perfect condition of my credit card again. I handed her a Canadian $20.

She looked at it and frowned. "This thing is ancient."

"I got it a long time ago. It is still good?" I had a sudden fear that all of my Canadian money had lost all of its value since coming into my possession fifteen years ago.

She laughed at me. "Yes, it is still good. Just old."

The above exchange really happened. Really. 

Having had enough of getting soaked under giant waterfalls and mocked for having a perfectly intact credit card, we decided to continue deeper into the Great White North.

It was about this time that I received a text message from my phone company saying that since I was in a foreign country, they were going to charge me $30 per megabyte of data I used. What the hell? I now it is a foreign country, but it is CANADA! We're attached, for goodness sake.

No problem. I turned off my cellular data, saving me from an absurd phone bill.

HAHAHAHAHAHA!

Following the instructions on my phone's Google Maps program, we proceeded towards Toronto on the Queen Elizabeth highway. I thought it was pretty cool that Canada has a Queen Elizabeth, because England has a Queen Elizabeth as well. What are the odds?

Part of the highway was a toll road, which had me a little worried, as I only had a few of my antique Canadian dollars left and I didn't know if Canadian toll booth operators would accept my flawless credit card.

It turned out not to be a problem as Canada cannot afford actual toll booths. What they do is set up a bunch of Cameras that take your picture. If your car's license plate is from Ontario, you don't pay anything. If you are from outside Ontario they hunt you down and take your money.

But I'm a foreigner, I thought. What will they do about me? Probably pull me over and beat the snot out of me. I decided to get off the toll road as fast as possible.

Then I saw that you can go 100 miles per hour on Canadian highways. Of course they spell miles with a "K" (as in 100 kph), but I was used to their strange spelling at this point. So anyway, I'm hauling ass down the highway and I see another sign. It says that if you do over 150 kph they will pull you over immediately, take your driver's license, and impound your car.

But it didn't say anything about 149 kph. I floored it. You wouldn't think a 2004 Subaru Forester could do 149 miles per hour, but hell-yeah it can! You can cover a lot of ground when you are going almost a buck fifty.

Things were going great until we hit Toronto. Otherwise known as The Slowest City in the World. Two days of traffic jams later we were clear of the city and heading east along the northern shores of Lake Ontario.

Our destination was a campground on a private property in the Province of Waupoos. We were told that food would be provided and also that conditions might be "primitive". We decided that it might be best to pick up some food before arriving. We stopped in Belleville (The Whitest Town In Canada) at a uniquely Canadian shopping center called Wal-Mart. It was amazing. They sold everything there. I mean everything. And it was all made in the western Canadian province of China. It was also cool because all of the labels were in English and Foreign.

In case you ever want to see the Belleville Wal-Mart I have put in this useful Google satellite map:


Don't believe your GPS when it says the Wal-Mart is in the river. What a pain. It is actually just to the left of the river.

While leaving the Wal-Mart I happened to glance up and see the entire Canadian Air Force doing a fly-by. For those of you who don't know, the Canadian Air Force consists of a single twenty-five year old US surplus F-15.

Why they would put their entire air force in Belleville makes no sense as the only nation they could possibly be defending themselves against would be the United States. And the United States would never invade Cana... oh, wait, never mind.



We drove down to the camping area where we were met by this guy:


Which was really, REALLY weird as up to this point in time we hadn't seen a single black person in Canada. Anyway, Jevon was really nice and showed us to the camping area.

Apparently Canadian camping technology is well behind US camping technology as the campground looked like this:


Rich Canadians get tents like these:


Again, not wanting to appear out of place, my family changed out of our Candadian casual wear:


And into traditional Canadian camping outfits:


Here's a pic of Amelia, a blond Canadian, and a bearded Canadian:


I made some friends:


And got to do some archery:







I missed most of my shots. I think it is because Canada's latitude is higher and the atmosphere is thinner up there.

As most people know, the national sport of Canada is hockey. Seeing as it was late summer and there was no ice on the lake, they chose to play "summer rules". The equipment is a little different, but otherwise it is pretty much the same as any other hockey game I have ever seen.






 Canadian "summer rules" hockey gear on display:


They also played some four on four:


You might be able to watch a video of the four on four here (if I did this right):

Four on Four Canadian Summer Rules Hockey

See... exactly like winter hockey.

After all the hockey and archery we had a really big feast:


It was really awesome. The food and company were great. They even let people they call French-Canadians eat at the table with them. (This along with the gay marriage thing and free health care is viewed by many as another sign of impending apocalypse, but I thought it was pretty nice.) The French-Canadians, besides speaking both English and Foreign, were really good at summer hockey and were overall really great folks.

Overall our Canadian adventure was a great success. I suggest you visit soon (before it completely falls apart). We met a lot of new friends, including both types of Canadians, as well as some Kansas Americans and some New York Americans, and some people from other places. I want to thank them all for showing us a wonderful time.

By the way, when I crossed the border into the United States I got a message from my phone company saying that I owed them $250.

!@#$%!!!!







Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Book Review: Leviathan Wakes


Excellent space opera sci-fi. Part space adventure, part horror, part crime noir, Leviathan Wakes provides an excellent cast of characters and an exciting story line. The setting is near-future and solar system based - no gallivanting across the universe faster than light. No artificial gravity on the ships, so G-forces play a big part on what ships and people are capable of doing.

It was an engrossing read. I couldn't put it down. I immediately picked up both sequels and loved them as well. 





The sequel to Leviathan Wakes, Caliban's War is a mix of sci-fi, political thriller, and military adventure. We keep most of the cast and add a few new characters, including a UN politician and a Martian marine.

A very well written, seat-of-the-pants ride. An excellent follow-up to the first novel. 







An excellent conclusion to the Expanse series. I read all three books back to back and couldn't put them down.

Leviathan Wakes was sci-fi, horror, crime noir.

Caliban's War was sci-fi, political drama, military action.

Abaddon's Gate was sci-fi, exploration, action thriller.

If there were a few moments where I doubted character motivation for certain actions, these were far overshadowed by the excellent writing and action-packed plot. Each novel upped the stakes and Abaddon's Gate certainly didn't let off the gas. I highly recommend the series.



Friday, May 31, 2013

Writing Archery Don'ts

Have you read the following scenes in a book? Or maybe seen them in a movie?

A company of archers stands ready on the battlements of a castle as a horde of (vikings, orcs, Frenchmen) charges towards them. The captain of archers shouts, "Nock! Draw! Hold it! Hold it!" as the enemy approaches ever closer. Finally, at the critical moment the command is given... "Fire!"

Or maybe an archer/sniper is hiding behind a tree, bow at full draw, waiting for a lone horseman to approach.

Or an archer has a bow at full draw, holding an enchantress prisoner.

To all three, I declare... BALONEY!

Hold it, hold it, hold it!

Bows all have a draw weight. This is the pounds of force necessary to hold the bow at full draw. Any bow fit for war is going to have a draw weight of at least sixty pounds. English warbows of the Hundred Years War and later would have draw weights of eighty pounds or more. How long can you pull and hold eighty pounds? Not very long!

Every second you hold it you hand creeps forward to lesson the strain and your arm starts to shake. The two make for weak, inaccurate shots. 

What would happen in reality? On command, the archers would draw and loose the arrows in one smooth motion. No hold it, hold it, hold it.

And... you don't FIRE a bow. You SHOOT it, or LOOSE an arrow.

Unstring that thing!

Archers in books and movies are almost never described as unstringing their bows. Uh-oh!

Keeping a wooden bow strung for long periods of time is extremely harmful for the bow. The wood cells become compressed and the bow loses its strength. A self-bow (a bow made from a single piece of wood) should not be kept strung for more than a few hours at a time. A composite bow, such as a Turkish or Mongolian bow, can remain strung much longer (maybe a week or more). Composite bows are made by laminating horn, wood, and sinew, and can recover their strength after "resting" and/or heated.

Modern wheely-compound bows are a different matter. But who would want to shoot one of those?

Wow! That was an amazing shot. Again.

An archer in a wildly popular young adult novel is praised for her ability to always shoot squirrels in the eye, and by doing so not ruining the meat or the pelt.

Right in the eye? Really? A squirrel?

Archery scenes would be so much better if writers took the time to actually loose a few arrows. Not only will they discover that impossible shots are, well... impossible. They will discover that repeated impossible shots are ridiculous.

Taking the time to carry a real bow teaches other things as well. You start to realize how encumbering a bow and a quiver are. It isn't like what you see in the movies!


Two arrows at the same time? Bah, how about three?

Two bad guys at the same time? No problem! I'll just nock two arrows.

While this might make for a good performance at the county fair (shooting at balloons ten feet away), it is not going to do much good in the real world. Arrow velocity and accuracy at any range are going to suffer terribly.

Oh, and pulling off the fletching to make an arrow curve around an obstacle? Sorry, it doesn't work.

A whack upside the head. 

Uh oh, the enemy is too close to shoot. I think I'll bonk him in the head with my trusty bow.

Sure, a heavy longbow is quite a staff. It is going to hurt. It might hurt you as well. Strung bows are under a great deal of stress. Whacking someone with it will just put it under more stress, and might result in an explosion.

Yes, bows explode. I just had one blow up on me a few days ago. Luckily I wasn't hurt. (No I wasn't whacking anyone with it.)

An unstrung bow would make a better weapon, but don't put any cuts or nicks in it. Those nicks could cause a bow explosion when the bow is next strung.

Armor works. (Except for Storm Troopers)

Armor that is contemporary to the bow in question will usually protect the wearer from harm. It's kind of the point of wearing armor.

Seriously, armor works. You had to shoot A LOT of arrows at a knight to take him down. The closer the range, the better the chance the arrow has. The arrow is at its maximum velocity, and you are probably shooting heavier arrows. Long range flight arrows have a much harder time penetrating armor.

There is always the arrow with "eyes". The one that finds the gap in the plates, or the slit in the visor, but too many lucky arrows makes for poos suspension or disbelief. 

If you want your archery to be more effective, get your opponent out of their armor!

Spoiling your fun.

Excellent. Now when you are reading a novel (or watching a movie) with archery in it you too can sigh with disappointment when one (or all) of the above occur.

Sort of like when police officers watch crime shows, or doctors watch hospital shows, or lawyers watch court shows.

But if you are a writer you now have a few more arrows in your quiver!




Thursday, May 2, 2013

Book Review: The Name of the Wind


Book Review: The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss



The riveting first-person narrative of a young man who grows to be the most notorious magician his world has ever seen. From his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, to years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime- ridden city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that transports readers into the body and mind of a wizard. It is a high-action novel written with a poet's hand, a powerful coming-of-age story of a magically gifted young man, told through his eyes: to read this book is to be the hero.
            -Amazon book description

Characters: Kvothe is our first person narrator (although in interludes the book moves to third person). He is a brilliant young man (child for much of the first third of the novel) who is trying to survive terrible circumstances. Despite his brilliance, his arrogance and youth often contrive to put him in peril. We know he survives; the story is in how he manages it. A wonderful cast of well-developed supporting characters surrounds him.

World building: A rich, well thought out world. It is a fantasy world, but you will not find hordes of goblins or tall, fair elves with bows. The world has a late Medieval/early Renaissance European feel to it. The otherworldly creatures that do exist do not steal the story, but do add flavor to it. The author has created a balanced system of magic with solid mechanics that do not feel overpowered.

Writing/Mechanics: Professional in every way. Beautifully written.

Engagement/Willing suspension of disbelief: Not once was I pulled out of the story with thoughts of “no way, that couldn’t happen”. Instead, I was pulled in and thoroughly engrossed the entire way through. I freely admit to moments where I laughed out loud and others where I teared up.

Impact: A wonderful fantasy novel. I immediately purchased The Wide Man's Fear, the second book in the series. I give The Name of the Wind my highest recommendation. 




Friday, April 19, 2013

Progress Report

Hi Folks!

Things are going great. Just hit 100,000 words and the writing is going very well. I expect the novel to weigh in at 115,000 words, so I am almost there.

I have six chapters left to write. My pace slowed down since the last progress report, but the finish line is in sight and I think my word count will pick up for the final stretch.

Right now I am in the middle third of Nidon's story line. I am having a lot of fun writing the current chapter and can't wait to get write its finale. I like Nidon. When he finds a locked door in his path he usually just knocks it down, but so far that isn't working out well for him.

Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Progress Report

Just stopping by for a quick progress report.

Things have been going great on the writing front lately. I have written 25,000 words in the past 20 days, which is really terrific progress for me. By the way, 1,000 words is approximately 1% of a 300 page novel. I fit my writing in from 8:30 to 10:00 PM, as well as a little late afternoon writing if Amelia is involved in an after-school activity.

Here is a (probably overly hopeful) timeline of what is coming up:

28 days: Finish this draft of Child of the Knight as well as my revisions.
28 days: Time for my critique partners to read and comment on the manuscript.
21 days: Make revisions based on critique partners' comments.
21 days: Beta readers read and comment on the manuscript.
14 days: Make revisions and format the manuscript. Order proof copies.
14 days: Proofreaders read and make corrections on proof copies.
7 days: Correct proofs.
14 days: Final proofreader reads proof and tells me that everything is perfect! Right...
1 day: Launch Child of the Knight.

I have no idea how accurate the above timeline is. I just want to give you an idea of what steps I see in the process ahead. In my next blog post I'll write about the roles of my critique partners, beta readers, and proofreaders.

By the way, the free ebook giveaway has been terrific. I'm glad so many people have downloaded and read Eternal Knight. If you've read it, please tell someone about it! Nothing helps a book like word of mouth. And if you want to keep your author super-motivated, I love hearing from readers. Every nice note I get motivates me to go just a little bit further. 

Best,

Matt

Friday, February 8, 2013

Guest Review - The Lightning Thief


Today we have a guest review from my daughter, Amelia...

-->
My name is Amelia and I am nine years old. My favorite subjects are history and science. I also LOVE reading! Before this school year I never really read much at all. My classmate Robert said that he loved reading The Lightning Thief. It looked very interesting so I checked it out at my school library. Which brings me to this review…


Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1:
The Lightning Thief

Twelve-year-old Percy Jackson is on the most dangerous quest of his life. With the help of a satyr and a daughter of Athena, Percy must journey across the United States to catch a thief who has stolen the original weapon of mass destruction – Zeus’ master bolt. Along the way, he must face a host of mythological enemies determined to stop him. Most of all, he must come to terms with a father he has never known, and an Oracle that has warned him of betrayal by a friend.



-From the back cover

Characters: Percy Jackson is a twelve year old who goes to a reform school. He has ADHD and dyslexia and always seemed to get in trouble. I loved the way he solved problems. He was very clever ands smart. Annabeth is Percy’s friend. Her mom is Athena (goddess of wisdom). Annabeth is very smart. Her weapon is a special knife that can kill monsters. Percy’s protector is a satyr (half man, half goat); satyrs help protect soon to be demigods from monsters.

Setting: I love the setting! It is mordern day New York City and it’s mixed with Ancient Greece. Some of the places are mordern day tourist attractions but they have a Greek secret hidden in them!

Genre: It is a mixture of fantsy and Greek mytholgy. It has lots of adventure and magic.

I would give this book 10/10 or 5 stars! It is a young adult novel, but I think anybody can enjoy it!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Review of The Red Knight

Twenty eight florins a month is a huge price to pay, for a man to stand between you and the Wild.

Twenty eight florins a month is nowhere near enough when a wyvern's jaws snap shut on your helmet in the hot stink of battle, and the beast starts to rip the head from your shoulders. But if standing and fighting is hard, leading a company of men - or worse, a company of mercenaries - against the smart, deadly creatures of the Wild is even harder.

It takes all the advantages of birth, training, and the luck of the devil to do it.

The Red Knight has all three, he has youth on his side, and he's determined to turn a profit. So when he hires his company out to protect an Abbess and her nunnery, it's just another job. The abby is rich, the nuns are pretty and the monster preying on them is nothing he can't deal with.

Only it's not just a job. It's going to be a war. . .

-from the book description



The Red Knight, by Miles Cameron

Characters: The Red Knight features a wide cast of characters, with each chapter giving us a different point of view. Our primary point of view is the Red Knight himself, a young mercenary commander. The Red Knight might be young, but he knows his business. I don’t put spoilers in my reviews, so I’ll just mention that there is more to the Red Knight than (of course) first meets the eye. Besides the Red Knight we have a rich cast of characters, including the novel’s primary antagonist. I enjoyed getting both the “good guy” AND “bad guy” point of views.

World building: This had to be one of my favorite elements of the novel. Cameron has taken Europe (circa 1450, I estimate) and tuned it to his own fantasy setting. You’ll recognize names and places from European history, some straight out of the history books, some given interesting twists. The book combines the author’s deep knowledge of history with a truly refreshing, well thought out overlay of magic and fantastic monsters (some you’ll recognize, some you won’t). It is a gritty, highly realistic setting.

Engagement/Willing suspension of disbelief: Cameron is a historian and a reenactor. Both come through in spades when it comes to engagement. Small details of everyday life create a rich, believable atmosphere. And Cameron certainly knows how to write a gripping combat scene. Knights in other fantasy novels wear the same armor, but in the Red Knight you really get to know what is means to be in a full suit of plate. It is obvious that the author has spent his fair share of time in full harness.

Writing/Mechanics: The Red Knight is a professionally written novel. Besides getting an exciting story, you are getting a well-written story. It is not all blood and guts, Cameron takes time to smell the roses. Love and hate, the nature of good and evil, the meaning of loyalty and friendship... Cameron writes them as well as he writes a deadly battle with a wyvern.

Impact: A terrific fantasy novel. It isn’t a YA fantasy, this is a tough, realistic telling of a bloody war in a  fantasy setting. It also isn’t a Dungeon’s and Dragons knock off - which is a great relief. It has the depth, complexity and realism of GRR Martin in a world where magic and monsters are more the norm. I can’t wait for more. 



Thursday, January 17, 2013

Holy Smokes

Ok, people like free stuff.

Apparently they REALLY like free stuff.

In my last blog post I mentioned that I had set the ebook price of Eternal Knight to free. On Tuesday I took a look to see how many downloads there had been.

In ten days 2,100 people had downloaded Eternal Knight on Amazon. WOW! In the month of December I had one (1) $.99 cent sale on Amazon.

I tried to figure out how they learned about it. I'm still not sure. If you sort Amazon books (Fantasy) by price (low to high) and rating (high to low), Eternal Knight comes out pretty high on the list. Do a lot of people do that? Or is there a website that automatically promotes free ebooks? Or is something else going on?

In any case it is pretty exciting. Right now all I want is for people to read Eternal Knight. As many people as possible. Hopefully some of them will write reviews. Hopefully many of them will tell their friends how much they liked it. Word of mouth starts big things rolling.

In my last post I also mentioned that a lot of downloads would light a fire under me.

Mission accomplished.



Saturday, January 12, 2013

Eternal Knight ebook is FREE

Hello!

Yes, I am a bad blogger. What have I been doing? Being a dad, teaching, reading, making bows, some gaming.

Bad author.

Time to get back in the saddle again and finish off Child of the Knight. To get me fired up I've decided to set the ebook price of Eternal Knight to FREE. So if you know anyone who recently received an iPad, Kindle, or Nook, let them know about Eternal Knight.

An uptick in sales (can you call them sales if they are free?) will definitely light a fire under me.

Best,
Matt