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There’s a Storm on the Horizon

This won’t be a long post.

There is no need to go on and on about it.

I just want to say two things.

1. The Coming Storm’s cover art is DONE!

2. Once it clears the proofreader, I’ll release it into the wild!

I’m pretty stoked. I probably won’t shut up about it in the coming weeks.

Look for a cover art reveal in the next couple of weeks!

 

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Tread Carefully

So, this weekend, I worked on a chapter for the third Forgotten Years book that I am going to have to treat very gingerly. I am not the best at writing for female characters, though I believe that I do a decent enough job for the depth of my books. Of course, a fantasy series made up of exclusively male characters is boring and unrealistic (in most cases).

I’ve had at least one female character in the Forgotten Years series since the beginning chapters of The Call of Chaos and she has grown and matured, found strengths and weaknesses, and done all kinds of questionable things. I have tried to keep her realistic and, for the type of books I write, I think she’s a pretty decent character.

But I don’t go too deep into thinking that I am an expert on writing for female characters. There is a lot of subjects that I am not prepared to address, at least for now, because I do not have confidence that I can handle them correctly.

The same holds true for writing about people of color. Now, of course, my books are fantasy novels so some things can be toyed with or flipped on their heads. But that does not mean the writer has carte blanche to just do whatever they wish, does it? No.

So, in this latest chapter, a certain female character meets a certain male, black character under tense circumstances. At first, she believes that she is in danger and, no, she has not seen the color of her would-be assailant (so there’s no assumption that he’s dangerous because he’s black). The scene is brief but it’s pretty much new territory for me.

I wrote it, but I’m going to need to go back and reread it/edit it probably over and over again. I want to do justice to everyone involved and create an accurate depiction. For this, I will make sure the chapter sees several sets of eyes.

Comfort zones are great and all, but you can’t exist solely within them.

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I Just Want To Write A Book…

“I just want to write a book, publish it, and hold it in my hands and know that I wrote it–I made it. I don’t care if anyone reads it. If they do, great! If not, it doesn’t matter, because I wrote a freaking book!”

I said that a lot while writing The Call of Chaos. I said it even more while editing the book. Editing is often a painful endeavor and it requires more encouragement sometimes. It became a mantra of sorts–words to live by. I would do this, and then I would bask in the awesomeness and enjoy it. It was my goal.

It was also a lie. A big, fat “the cake is a” lie. Sure, it’s what I thought I wanted. No, it definitely was part of what I wanted. But I was mistaken in thinking that it was all that I wanted.

I had psyched myself up for that moment when The Call of Chaos was finally published. It was literally all I thought about for over a year. And do you know what happened when I pushed that button–the button that officially published my first book?

Everything. And Nothing.

You see, the end became the beginning. Oh, sure, The Call of Chaos was out there, ready for hungry readers to buy. Make no mistake, I absolutely was not expecting to sell thousands of copies instantly or, really ever. I haven’t really kept track but, I know that the numbers are nowhere near even a fraction of “thousands of copies.”

You see, when the writing, the editing, and the publishing end, the self-promotion begins. Being an indie author has its ups and downs, and self-promotion–at least for me–is a huge down. I don’t enjoy marketing, selling, or shouting my name to the sky. I’m awful at it. The moment self-promotion enters the fray, the process becomes work, and that sours everything.

Add to that, my second book, The Coming Storm, was already well on its way to being finished and I was, at the time, even working on the third book (and still am).

Holy crap! When will I have time to sit back and relax and enjoy the fact that I WROTE A DAMNED BOOK!!!???

The answer, unfortunately, is never.

Because I want more from my writing than just holding that book in my hands. I want to hold ALL THE BOOKS in my hands and, most important of all, I want those hungry readers to enjoy my work.

And that is a never-ending struggle. All of my endings become beginnings.

So here’s to all you writers out there. Write on!

Posted in Blog, Writing Process

My Secret to Writing

I am one of countless writers out in the world. Some are indie writers, some have found publishers, and still others haven’t even attempted to be published yet. Not only are there more writers than ever out there, but there are more writing resources than ever as well.

Through various social media channels, I have seen a lot of writers giving their accounts, advice, and experiences and, to be honest, it sometimes frightens me. Right? It’s a strange reaction, but it’s not because all of the information is overwhelming.

It’s because I don’t do 97% of it.

Let’s not even speak of editing. I do edit and, while I can’t afford professional editing services, I think the end product is pretty damn good. No, I totally do follow a lot of the editing tips, tricks, and processes out there.

But the writing…my writing process, I feel, is quite a bit different than a lot of other authors’ processes. Some days, I’m all like “Yeah! This totally works for me and it’s great!” Other days, I’m all like “Yeah! This works for me…and it’s so different from everyone else that I feel like a novice and is this really going to be good enough for the reader because it’s not formulaic and I didn’t plan it out and maybe it meanders and there isn’t enough conflict…” and on and on until I lock up and have to reboot.

Let me break it down.

Many writers have an outline: I don’t. Most times, I know how the book begins and how it ends. I have some things I want to stick in the middle but, other than that, there is no pre-planning. How many chapters will it be? What will its length be? I don’t know. Let me write it and we’ll find out.

Many writers follow a formula: For example: hero rises, meets with some success, falters and questions him/herself, almost loses, fights back and wins–possibly because his mother’s name was Martha. Me? I don’t believe I’ve ever written anything that truly follows a pattern. Why? Because…

Many writers have structure: And I don’t. I don’t even really know what is going to happen in a chapter until it’s written. That’s sort of an exaggeration but it’s pretty accurate. Did I mean to kill that character? Yes? Maybe…no, it just happened, so deal with it.

Look, The Call of Chaos doesn’t even have a main bad guy! Well, okay, it does have a bad guy–if you consider the Realm itself a bad guy, but that makes for a terrible end boss fight. Punching the ground isn’t very exciting.

Those are just a few examples.

Now, anyone reading this may be like “Pffft, that really isn’t so different!” and maybe it’s not. Except that I see the advice making the rounds and, almost every time, I think “I don’t do that. Should I be doing that?” Some days, it doesn’t bother me. Other days, however, yeah it bothers me.

I want to tell the best stories that I can. Hopefully, that is what I am doing while, at the same time, adding my own flare to each story. The feedback thus far has been mostly positive, so I’d like to think I’m doing something right. I enjoy writing.  More than that, I enjoy writing the way I write. It feels organic and natural–as if the story itself is alive and guiding me to convey what it wants to say.

I’m always open to new ideas and methods, but they need to feel right. In the arena of writing, however, what I’m doing feels right to me, no matter what doubts I have. So I guess it’s business as usual. The doubts most likely aren’t going away, so I’ll learn to cope.

Posted in Blog, Writing Process

Today, I Love You. Tomorrow, Maybe Not

The mind of this writer is a fickle thing. I wrote a book. I published the book. I worry about the book. Or do I? Today, I don’t. Today I absolutely adore what I’ve written and I’m extraordinarily proud of it.

Tomorrow, though, I may decide that I feel so insecure about what I’ve accomplished, that I might be tempted to pull it from public consumption. I won’t, of course. I’m a writer, and this is what I do. I’m not about to undo it.

But it’s there–the doubt. Why is it that, some days, it’s overwhelming while, on others, it’s almost nonexistent? Is it because of a bad review? Not likely. I welcome criticism of all kinds as long as it’s fair, honest, and thoughtful. Sure, I want everyone to read my book, and I want everyone to love my book as much as I do. Well, as much as I do on the days when I love my book, that is.

But I’m a realist. Not everyone will love my works, and that’s fine. It stings a little, but it doesn’t keep me up at night. I’ve got plenty of other things to help with that. So, no, bad reviews don’t really affect my attitude toward my works.

Likewise, good reviews, ego-stroking, or whatnot don’t make me think more highly of myself and my writing. Sure, they’re great–I love to hear that people enjoyed the story I laid out for them. As long as they’re fair, honest, and thoughtful, they’re fantastic! But they don’t change my opinion of my own work.

I can’t explain why I can go from loving my writing one day to feeling insecure about it the next day. Make no mistake–I don’t every dislike anything I put out there. It wouldn’t make it off my computer screen if I didn’t feel that it had worth. At the same time, I guess I never know if it was the best I could have produced. “This book is awesome! Could it have been MORE awesome? Probably.”

The best I can do is call something “done” at some point and set it free in the wild, knowing full well that there will be days of happiness and days of insecurity, but also knowing that it was, when I wrote it, something I dearly loved. That way, even when the doubt creeps in, I will remember that there was a reason I released it in the first place.

Posted in Writing Process

I Don’t Have a Deadline…Do I?

This morning, I sat down to write.I won’t delve into details but, lately, my mind is rather frazzled. I constantly feel like a D&D Wizard who only has a couple of spell slots left to use. So I knew that writing this morning would be difficult. I’d still enjoy it, but it would be a lot of work.

And, as predicted, the words did not flow like a river. Instead, they trickled like…um…a clogged gutter in a rain storm? See? Word problems, man.

I wrote a little, then I distracted myself. Rinse, repeat. Finally, I looked at my writing and thought to myself “I have GOT to get this chapter done!”

But, the truth is, I don’t have to get it done, do I? What happens if I don’t finish said chapter today? The Earth still turns and the sun will set, only to rise again in the morning and tell me to get my ass out of bed. Actually, the cats do that but the sun sure doesn’t stop them. Stupid sun.

You see, I’m an indie author and I publish my own writing. I don’t have an agent or a publisher to tell me what to do. YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME! I am. So screw your deadlines!

Except, wrong. I mean, right. No, wait.

See, for me, part of writing is fulfilling that urge to not only complete something, but to have someone enjoy what I wrote. The latter was not always the case, but that’s another post for another time. What I’m trying to say is, I do have deadlines–the deadlines I make. They’re not hard and fast, and nothing monumental or world-ending will happen if I don’t meet them, but I also won’t get that rush of satisfaction. I won’t further the book and I won’t get to move onto new ideas.

So, yes, I have deadlines. However, my deadlines are my own. If they slip, it can be disappointing but in the scheme of things, I have only myself to whom I need to answer. Currently, my writing is small potatoes, and it doesn’t pay the bills. There is no pressure, no timeline, and nothing to propel me forward except my own determination.

Well, that, and several vocal individuals who keep asking “When’s the next book out?” (Those people are awesome, btw.)