This has been such a long time coming, and I am so very excited to finally share this new chapter with you all! Dark Dragons, gods, demons, mysterious assassins, elementals, this book has it all and more! Who will survive? And who will perish?
Also an exciting announcement, come check out a live streamed virtual release party today, July 18th at 2PM Mountain Time! This will be my first-ever virtual release party, and I’m so excited to bring you this event and to interact with all of you. I’ll be talking a bit more about what this book is about, answering questions and responding to comments live, and then I’ll read the first couple chapters, so come join in the fun!
You can catch the stream either on my author’s facebook page:
I usually finish up the year with a ‘looking back, looking forward’ post, and this, the last Sunday of the year, is no different…except this time, it is.
Nothing has been the same this year, and it’s been one of the best, and one of the hardest. I think I said something similar at the end of last year…little did I know how aptly that would describe 2018.
It began with loss.
In the beginning of 2018, my mother passed away. We knew it was coming, we had known for a long time, but nothing could have prepared me for how it would hit me, or how it has stayed with me throughout the year.
Even now, with Christmas, my birthday, and New Years, even when I’m not thinking specifically about her, I feel this immense, pervasive emptiness.
And perhaps the most frustrating part about it is that this should be one of the happiest years of my life. This was the year I got married to my Starshine!!
The saying often goes, your wedding is one of the happiest days of your life, and for me, it truly was :) I don’t think I ever actually relayed the full story of our geeky, fun-filled, beautiful wedding. The weather was perfect, the venue was fantastic, our hotel was great, and it was a perfect turnout, a small wedding like we’d hoped.
Then came the honeymoon, which was a mixture of good and bad. We’ve already decided we need a do-over! But despite the bad that happened, I hold a lot of fond memories from that week and a half, and for some reason today especially, I’ve been thinking a lot about our adventures in Orlando :)
By far, Disney World was the best!! It was my first-ever Disney experience, and despite how bad the weather was most of the time we were there, it was a blast! And exhausting, but in a good way :)
This was one of many trips I took in 2018, beginning with the trip to NM for my mother’s funeral, then Orlando for our Honeymoon. Next came a trip to Los Angeles for my best friend’s birthday, and also my second ever Disney experience since we went to Nick’s favorite place, Disneyland!
While I definitely prefer Disney World due to its size and scope, our adventure at Disneyland was just about perfect! The weather was great, there were surprisingly few people despite it being a Friday before a holiday weekend, and we barely waited 15 minutes in any line! Topped by an amazing dinner in a restaurant overlooking the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, the food was fantastic and the company even more so :)
And then not long after came my fourth trip, a work-related trip that took me to Huntsville, Alabama. Little did I know how much NASA stuff was out there, and being able to stand beneath a fully-erect Apollo rocket was an awe-inspiring moment!! I only wish my wife could have been there with me for that experience.
To top off this eventful year, I ended things by publishing three novels at once! What started as an attempt to refresh my work turned into a much longer, multi-year effort to rebrand the Sword of Dragons, and while I still am far from my goal of making a living off of writing, I’m happy to say that this venture has brought me a lot closer than I was before!
Now we come to it, the end of a truly roller coaster year (with lots of actual roller coasters!) I look back, and realize why I feel so exhausted, and why my emotions are so crazy right now. So much good, so much hardship. Even my holiday from work for the Christmas and New Years holiday has been tumultuous.
What do I want for 2019? Relaxation. Am I likely to get it? Well…
Looking Ahead to 2019
2019 may very well be another year without me publishing a new novel. I’ve been working on book 3 of the Sword of Dragons series, and as of writing this, I’m 7 chapters in. But Kailar’s story has been fighting me and I’ve basically scrapped my original plan for her in book 3. Which means I’m kind of making it up as I go for her chapters.
I also don’t want to rush it. I have a title and even a cover set to go for it, but I want to write the best story that I can, and I want to make sure it is as polished as possible.
What I AM happy to report is that I’m headed back to the convention scene, at least for one time. My wife and I have officially been accepted as vendors in the 2019 Whimsy Con in Denver! Our favorite Steampunk convention, and a worthy successor to the former Anomaly Con where Beck and I met, this will be our first table together, with me selling my books, and Beck selling her jewelry and her first book.
Yes, you read that right, Beck’s first novel will be available by Whimsy Con! :D Click here to head on over to her blog to find out about her latest adventures with her book, and her planned release no later than March 1st!
Shortly after that, comes perhaps our biggest move yet since we met each other – we’re planning on buying a house! Mostly because we’re tired of dealing with sub-standard apartments in the Denver area. Truly, there are inadequate protections for renters in Denver and property owners get away with a lot of inky moves. We even ended up getting the FCC involved in our dispute regarding exclusivity enforcement by CenturyLink in our current apartment complex, only to discover that our apartment complex had been lying to us about it.
So we’re done with apartments in Denver.
Beyond that? I’m not entirely sure where 2019 will take me. It probably greatly depends on where we land with a house. I don’t anticipate any big trips this year, since we need to conserve money, so probably just hunker down and focus on writing and voice acting.
Did I mention that yet, voice acting? I’ve decided to move forward with recording audio books, and depending on how that goes, I may try my hand at other related ventures. I’m also slated to be the MC for the Whimsy Con costume contest this year :)
So, now it’s just time to take in a deep breath, and plunge into 2019. Here’s hoping for a great year!
Thanks for reading, thanks for staying with me, and thanks for your encouraging words through the hard times. I really appreciate all of you!! (PS: I just noticed, 205 followers!! We passed 200!!!! :D )
If any of you went looking for the print editions of my new novels, you may have had difficulties during certain times…Amazon KDP was extremely delayed and kept encountering issues in which the books disappeared from amazon.com and then reappeared later.
They’re finally settled in, and available for purchase along with the Kindle editions! And if you want both, be sure to buy the print edition first, as you then get a significant discount on the kindle edition!
A month ago, I read an article that, like so many others, bashes self-publishing. One of the biggest reasons? “When you’re self-published, you don’t spend a lot of time writing. You spend most of your time advertising, marketing, working with cover artists, basically anything but writing. You’re lucky if you spend 10% of your time actually writing.”
The author goes on to say that if you would rather be a writer, you should work on your craft until you are worthy of traditional publication.
That statement bothers me. “Until you are worthy of traditional publication.”
Why does it bother me? Well, partly it goes back to another recent article I’ve written where we explore major motion picture studios compared to smaller ones, such as Netflix. Big-name studios are less likely to go with a story that is unusual or different from what is currently mainstream. Netflix is more willing to try to break the mold and think outside the box.
Traditional publishers, even ones that claim they love searching for talent, all boil down to one fact: they want a story that will definitely make them money. Not because they are greedy, but because they are running a business, and cannot publish more books if they have to shut down. It’s just a fact of life, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
But the elitist idea that your stories aren’t good enough if they don’t get picked up by a traditional publisher? Hogwash.
Was J.K. Rowling’s story, Harry Potter, unworthy when it was rejected by a dozen publishers, before finally being picked up? What about Carrie by Stephen King (rejected 30 times before being picked up)? Or Dune by Frank Herbert?
A story can be brilliant and written incredibly well and still rejected by publishers. Just as a story can be horrible and poorly written and still picked up by publishers. It all depends on where the market is going, what is currently trending. IE: what will be the safest bet in the market, what will more likely make money, regardless of quality.
Now that I’ve got that rant out of the way…
Should You Self Publish?
Despite the generally negative tone the article had about self-publishing, it was right that being a self-published author means you have a lot of work outside of writing to do. And if you’re going to do it well and do it right, there’s more than I ever realized.
I’m not quite yet ready to divulge what my current project is, but I’m in the midst of a huge endeavor involving self-publishing, and the fact of the matter is, almost none of it is writing fresh content (lots of editing, though.)
And compared to the amount of work I put into the first run of The Sword of Dragons, it’s a lot more work, a lot is involved, and you could even say it’s taken years to get to this point. I still have months of work ahead of me.
I could be spending that time writing, instead. Writing and trying desperately to get an agent or publisher to pick up my existing stories. So am I hurting myself by doing all of this work?
Some people might answer with a ‘yes.’ There are those who say you should write something every single day to keep your craft honed. Maybe they are right, maybe not. I do agree that practicing is the only thing that will make you a better writer. There’s no secret trick, there’s no fast-path. Practice makes perfect. So the more you can write, the better.
Have you decided to self-publish? Then I’d recommend striving to write at least once a week, if not more. And by write, I don’t mean an entire novel a week. Just write something if you can, to help keep yourself in practice.
Having said that, self-publishing definitely is not for everyone. Marketing is hard. Cover design is hard. Book layouts is hard. And there’s even more I’m learning about this whole publishing trade, and it’s no wonder publishing houses have so many people on staff from so many different fields of expertise.
If you think you would enjoy learning all of these fields and practicing all of them, then I am a huge proponent of it. Go out there and publish your work! But if dealing with all of these different pieces of the puzzle, many of which I haven’t even touched on in this article, is not your cup of tea, then perhaps working more on finding an agent for your works is the better course for you.
I am not a hater of either. I think both have their places, and to be honest, if there came a day where I didn’t have to do all of the things involved with self-publishing, I’d be happy. I’d much rather write full time, and do other artistic things as a hobby on the side. But I AM enjoying most of the aspects I’m working on now. Not all, though. My biggest bane in self-publishing? Marketing. That does not come natural to me at all.
But the results are very much going to be worth it. I promise you, my silence about my writing lately has not been because I’ve been idle. Something big is coming :)
Thanks for reading everyone! I’d love to hear any feedback on this topic, what do you all think? Would you rather self-publish or go traditional publish?
As I’ve read a few self-published books in-between traditionally-published books over the past year and a half, I’ve learned something that greatly surprises me. Many of the self-published authors I’ve read have done a better job with editing than traditionally published novels.
Whaaaaaat?! No, that can’t be. Publishing houses have teams of editors at their disposal! How could they possibly have missed obvious mistakes??
Honestly, I’m not entirely sure how or why that happens. And it is very true, not all books are edited/created equally. I’ve read some traditionally published novels that were near-flawless in their editing, and others that had handfuls of mistakes.
However, that divide is pretty narrow. With very few exceptions, traditionally published novels usually aren’t all that bad. However, self-published novels are another story…
I’ve read some that are almost flawless in their editing (Alessandra Clarke’s novel Rider’s Revenge had maybe one or two mistakes, and none of them were glaring) and then I’ve read some where it seemed like the author hadn’t even tried to edit their own book, let alone get anyone else to edit them…
Why It Matters So Much
To all of my fellow self-published authors out there, I cannot stress enough how important it is to get the editing part right. For more than one reason.
Firstly, and this is a personal observation that has no statistics to back it up, people generally seem to be more critical of mistakes in self-published novels. Even a couple of mistakes in a self-published novel, and the people I’ve talked to tend to say something like, “This is why I only read professional writers!” No joke, I’ve heard someone say that.
Take your work seriously, or others won’t take you seriously. Go through multiple edits, and if you can, get someone else to edit as well. Get a friend or family member who’s good with English to edit. Or better yet, if you can afford it, hire someone! (I’m strongly considering offering my services as a freelance editor…)
In fact, getting someone else to edit your work is probably your best bet as the highest quality, because I’ve noticed too often that if it’s your own work, it’s much, much easier to miss mistakes. Just look at the mistakes in my blog articles for evidence of that ;)
What it ultimately comes down to is this: glaring errors in your novel will stop the reader flat in their tracks.
To give an analogy, imagine you’re out on a romantic sunset walk with your significant other. The trail you’re on is beautiful, the sky is alight with oranges and reds and purples. Hand in hand with your love, you are enjoying the journey that is so perfect and so…
And then you come across a dead body on the trail.
….Well, that certainly made you stop, and go “Wait, what?!” Suddenly the romance is gone, the walk is over, and how do you move on from there? This is the sort of jarring effect a typo or misspelled word has on many, many readers. We’re yanked out of the story, and it becomes very, very difficult to recapture the mood.
Ultimately, I’ve never found a single novel, traditionally published or self published, that had zero errors, so don’t stress so much over it that you never publish your work. But please do take editing seriously, for your benefit and the benefit of your readers.
And for the record, editing can save lives. Commas can save lives. Because the difference between, “Let’s eat Grandma!” and “Let’s eat, Grandma!” is huge!! ;)
Although this was the week I had chosen to take off from writing, I decided to write a usual Saturday blog anyway…especially because I wanted to write a review for the novel Rider’s Revenge :)
Rider’s Revenge by Alessandra Clarke
Rider’s Revenge is a novel about K’lrsa (pronounced killrisa), a young woman in the desert tribe known as the White Horse Tribe. She is a rider, one of the best up-and-coming riders of her tribe, who is torn between her responsibilities to her tribe as a First Daughter and her desire to be a full-fledged rider.
However, when she is struck by tragedy, she vows an oath to seek vengeance on those responsible, and leaves her tribe, her family, everything she knew and loved behind to fulfill her oath. Along the way, she will make startling discoveries about the world outside of the desert, find something she never thought she could, and will be faced with the most difficult decisions of her life.
…Is love worth sacrificing your oath to vengeance?
K’lrsa was a great character to read! She is a very strong, independent woman who suddenly finds herself in a world where those very traits that define her are forbidden. Imagine a strong, independent woman today being thrust back into Victorian England, the struggles she might go through as everyone around her, men and women alike, cast her down and try to restrain her from exercising basic freedom.
There were also several surprises along the way that I rather enjoyed, some I figured out just ahead of their revelation, and some I never saw coming. I enjoy both kinds, because I get excited for the ones I figure out, and I love the surprise of the ones I didn’t :)
I also like how so much of K’lrsa’s struggle became mired in grays, rather than it being a black and white struggle. It made for an engaging story, and helped me learn more about just what kind of woman K’lrsa really is.
While considered a fantasy, the fantastical elements in Rider’s isn’t overt in most cases. You won’t find Wizard’s casting magic like you would in Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. Yet it exists just underneath the surface everywhere you look, and if you keep your eyes open and your mind open, you’ll see it everywhere :)
Recommendation – yay or nay?
I’d definitely give this one a thumbs up. Anyone who enjoys a strong female protagonist, fun adventures, and exploring the differences between two polar cultures (with a touch of magic thrown in), check it out! The writing style is strong and enjoyable, too, so that makes it an even more enjoyable read :)
So yesterday the Colorado Gold Conference hosted by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers concluded, and it was an amazing conference! I don’t even know where to begin! (and some voice in my head just went “From the beginning! Duh.”)
It was a whirlwind weekend packed full of epic goodness, I met so many incredible people and learned so much! Plus, there is some really good news about Chronicles of the Sentinels! Shall we call that foreshadowing and leave it until the end? As the good Belt said, “Dun dun duuunnnnn!”
There’s a lot to talk about, so bear with me!
Thursday Night – The Newbies
One thing I can say about the members of RMFW, they were all incredibly welcoming to all of us newbies! Starting with the night before the conference actually began. Kevin Wolf had sent out an invitation for any of the newbies showing up at the conference Thursday night to meet in the hotel lobby, and about fifteen of us showed up.
I was a bit nervous at first, but as I came down to the lobby and found a few of the other newbies sitting and chatting with Kevin, I was immediately welcomed by such warm, open people! Furthermore some of the bigger names for RMFW happened by while we were chatting and stopped to welcome us as well :)
When everyone was set and Kevin had given us some great tips, we went to the bar and had drinks together, exchanged business cards, and had a great time! While I had been nervous about the conference before, that night made me feel so welcomed and so confident that I had made the right choice to come!
Friday – Masters and Coaches
Something I actually didn’t realize, because I didn’t actually read carefully enough: the conference didn’t technically start in the AM on Friday. There were, however, Master Classes as they were called that started bright and early, 8AM. When I found out they were optional and cost extra, I happily paid for the “So You Want To Write a Series” class, and I was not disappointed!
I learned so much from speaker Susan Spann! This was a particularly helpful class for me because I have always written my stories as series, starting with my fan fiction. I seriously don’t know if I’m even capable of writing stand-alone novels! (Although that could be an interesting future challenge.) I know that what I learned from her will help me immensely in the days to come.
Shortly after that 4 hour class and a quick lunch (okay that was a lie, I forgot to eat lunch that day…) I had my pitch coaching session with Heather Webb. Naturally I was extremely nervous, and although I had prepared a pitch several days prior, when I sat down in front of her, my mind went completely blank!
But that was okay, because she started asking me questions about the characters and story and helped me come up with a much, much better pitch! More than that, as soon as I started telling her about Chronicles of the Sentinels, her eyes lit up, and she was immediately hooked! That is an awesome feeling when an established author who writes in a completely different genre finds your story idea intriguing :D
From there, I attended a couple of seminars, including an uplifting “Rejection is a Four Letter Word” seminar :)
Friday Dinner – I Found My Home
Friday night’s dinner was just as phenomenal! I ended up sitting at Heather’s table and met some phenomenal Historical Fiction writers. More than that, however, was the feeling that had started to build that day, and entered my conscious mind at dinner.
This is going to sound cheesy, but: I found my people! lol. Seriously, though, everything that had happened, I felt like I had found people who could truly understand me. I felt like I had found a home, of sorts. The funny thing is, about a half hour after I had that very thought, someone up on stage said something very similar :)
It occurred to me that I don’t actually know many writers in my personal life, or at least, I didn’t before now. To be surrounded by 400 of them?! And unlike the attitude I got from certain people at a certain university I attended almost a decade ago, everyone from every genre, including Literary Fiction, were open, warm, curious, and creative. Everyone accepted everyone else with open arms.
Why? Because we’re all writers. And I’ve learned just how special that really is :)
Saturday – Pitch #1
Saturday was another full day, 14 hours non-stop just like Friday, but it was a truly nerve-wracking day! Saturday was when I had my first pitch! *gulp* Worse than that, it wasn’t until 11:20AM, which meant I had the whole morning to freak out over it!
Thankfully my fellow writers came to my rescue :) When I entered that waiting room, the first thought I had was, “I’ve seen photos of things like this, when actors and actresses are waiting to audition for roles.” I sat down, and looked at the person next to me, who looked as nervous as I felt. So what did I do? “Hi, I’m Jon!” Just like I’d already done dozens of times at the conference.
Striking up random conversation with everyone around me soothed my nerves, and seemed to help them with the same :) When the time came, I was still nervous, of course, but the editor I pitched to, Kerri Buckley, was extremely friendly and patient! And while Kerri was not one who represented Fantasy, she encouraged me to submit to her coworker, and said she would tell him to expect me :)
After that I had lunch, where I met even more awesome people, and finished the day of conferences optimistic and quite happy!
Saturday Night – Who Needs 2 Forks?!
The dinner Saturday night was probably the most formal dinner I had ever attended. I’m not kidding, 2 forks, 2 knives, a dainty looking spoon, and some…interesting fancy meals. I felt wholly out of place in my Hawaiian shirt and jeans. But, as always, writers came to the rescue, and those at my table made me feel quite welcome :)
The Keynote Speaker was Mark Coker of the famous Smash Words website, an insanely fast-growing self-publishing eBook website! His speech was pretty inspiring in some parts, while other parts were a bit degrading to traditionally published authors, but all in all I was impressed. And there was one thing he said that I really loved hearing: printed books are not going away! There is an equilibrium being created between eBooks and printed novels, and for someone who has always dreamed of seeing a hard-backed copy of my novels, that’s good news :D
Sunday – The Big Day!
Sunday was when I had my 2nd pitch to the agent I was most looking forward to meeting: Lucienne Diver of Knight Agency! And thankfully, I was considerably less nervous after the incredible amount of support and interest I garnered from everyone throughout the conference!
I was totally unprepared for what happened next: I went in, met Lucienne, and at her request I dove right into my pitch. A minute later, it was done. Without blinking, she handed me her card and said, “Ok, I’d like you to send me 30 pages and a synopsis.” I was completely blown away, and I can only imagine the look of surprised glee on my face!! She wanted to see my work!!!!! An agent was interested in my novel! Wait, let me repeat that in it’s own paragraph for effect:
Lucienne Diver wants to see my work!
It was exactly what I had hoped for! :) There is more to that short, 10 minute meeting with her, but I’m going to save that for my next blog article: it deals with genre, target audience, and something about Chronicles of the Sentinels that I am most excited to share :D
After attending one more session about Theme, there was a final lunch with another inspiring speech, where I got to say goodbye to all of the fantastic friends I had met. I have to admit, as exhausted as I was by then, I was really sad to have to go. I felt like I was leaving my new home, just when I had found it.
Next, I have some work to do on Chronicles (again, more to come on that later! This is already a too-long article…) I am looking forward to submitting those 30 pages and the synopsis to Lucienne, and who knows, in a couple of years, my first novel may very well be on bookshelves!
No, scratch that, I’m not going to say may. I’m going to say will. In a couple of years, Chronicles of the Sentinels – Legacy will be on bookshelves all over the nation! The power of positive thinking, right? ;)
If you’ve made it this far, kudos! This turned out to be my longest blog article yet, but there is so much material for more articles.
To anyone who attended the event, and to RMFW, thank you for an amazing weekend, and for making me feel at home! :)