Category Archives: The Sword of Dragons

When Is It Time For A Cover Reveal?

Hi everyone!

I found myself struggling to come up with a blog article today, so the first thing I thought was, “Maybe it’s time to do a cover reveal for one of the new books!”

…but is it too soon to do that?

I honestly wasn’t sure what might be appropriate from a marketing point of view, so I decided to hit the search engines and start reading articles.  And pretty much immediately, the consensus was clear: not until your book is ready for pre-orders.

Do you agree?

Rise of the Forgotten

I’ve already done a partial reveal with the text on the titles, and I’ve received proof copies of Rise of the Forgotten and Burning Skies, both of which revealed a couple minor tweaks that are needed (and already fixed on the digital files.)  But should I wait for a complete reveal?

I think it makes sense to an extent.  That first impression can come with a buy impulse for a reader.  “That looks cool, I wanna buy that!”  So pre-orders would hopefully mount up.  Where as if I revealed the cover now, but pre-orders weren’t ready for another 4 or 5 months, people’s initial excitement might be long lost and pre-orders might be less than stellar.

So for the moment, I’m going to hold off on the cover reveal.

I want this release to be done right.  I want to learn from the mistakes I made in the past.  And I want to give my readers the best experience that I can.

What I can say is that I’m still strongly thinking about a pre-order bundle somehow that will include all 3 books (Rise of the Forgotten, Burning Skies, and The Orc War Campaigns) as well as a printed map, either of Edilas or of all of Halarite.

I’ve recently done just a test print on an 8.5×11 paper with an aged parchment effect, and I like it!  If a print service can do this larger, and on the right kind of paper, this would definitely make for a neat extra to throw in with pre-orders!

The only challenge I’m running into right now is a platform to sell the bundle through.  Etsy is a no-go because they only allow the sale of hand-crafted items, not printed books.  So I need to find a venue appropriate to such a sale, and eBay doesn’t strike me as appropriate.  Does anyone out there have any suggestions?

Thank You For Your Patience

Before I sign off, I wanted to say thank you to everyone who gave me words of support last month after my Mother passed away.  You words warmed my heart.  :)  I went nearly a month without a new blog, but I’ve still been seeing visits, comments, and likes on past blogs, and I’m grateful to everyone.

See you all next week!

-Jon Wasik

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2017 Hardships, 2018’s Promises

Hi everyone!

7 hours from now (where I live,) 2017 will become a memory, and that memory is full of mixed feelings for me.  Some of my greatest joys, some of my hardest sorrows.  Today being the last day, I thought I would end things with my annual ‘glancing back, and looking forward’ blog :)

Writing Without Publishing

After two years in a row of publishing, 2017 was the first year where I didn’t publish a single new novel.  And for much of the 2nd half of 2017, that meant depression for me…I already had a plan moving forward for my writing career, but I knew nothing would be ready for publication in ’17.

However, a recent article I’ve read by another author has reminded me that there’s something more important than pumping out novel after novel like a factory.  Writing is an artisan career, and sustainable writing is more important than mass production.  But I want to spend an entire blog writing more on that.  For now, let me just pass on the word – you don’t have to write 20 novels a year to be a successful author.  That leads to burn out.  Just do the best you can, and don’t forget to live a little.

Burning Skies Cover Preview

On the bright side, I have made considerable headway this year, especially in the 2nd half, towards the 2nd editions of the Sword of Dragons books 1 and 2, as well as finally getting the Orc War Campaigns anthology ready for print!

I’ve learned a lot about the market, far more than I ever anticipated, and I think I’m a little more prepared to move forward in my writing career in 2018.

Engage!

One of the greatest highlights of ’17 was the day I proposed to my beautiful Starshine, Beck Stewart!  Since that day, we have moved in together and begun living and planning our lives together.  After more than a year together, and nearly a year engaged, I am happier than I ever thought possible with my relationship.

Fellow author, artist, geek, and weird like me ;) She has been my rock, my muse, my voice of reason.  She’s helped me keep the demons back, helped my writing move forward, and encouraged me every single day.  Thank you, Moon of my Life!

2018 – Three Books At Once?!

Rise of the Forgotten

With everything I have learned about writing, marketing, and cover art, I came to a decision in the last couple months: when I release the 2nd editions of the Sword of Dragons books, I plan to release them together, along with the Orc War Campaigns anthology.  That’s right, 3 books at one time!

As crazy as it sounds, it’s actually not a stretch, and in fact gives me the time I need to get everything prepared, and actually make the books look like they belong together, both with their covers and their interiors.

In fact, as of tomorrow, I’ll have finished editing Burning Skies!  At least, until I read through the proof copy.  I’m sure I’ll find more to fix with that.

But that’s my system – I have a proof of Rise of the Forgotten, and when I finish editing Burning Skies, I’ll order that proof while moving on to The Orc War Campaigns.  Once I finish that and order its proof, I’ll go back and read through Rise of the Forgotten’s proof copy, and so on.

When will these three be released?  I don’t know yet.  But I’m working quickly.

The Year I Get Married!

The first half of 2018 is going to be busy for another reason – my marriage is coming up fast!  And that means more and more of my time outside of work will need to be devoted to preparations.  I’m hoping I get proof copies of all 3 books before then, but I’m not going to rush.

That’s a difficult lesson 2016 and 2017 have taught me – rushing stories out isn’t the best idea.  Working under a deadline is one thing, but as I mentioned before, sustainable writing is more important.  I don’t want to burn myself out.

I know this is a writing blog, but I hope you all will understand if I indulge now and again and post news regarding my upcoming wedding :)

Happy New Year!

Thank you to everyone who visited in 2017!  Much to my surprise, my blog has received more new followers and views this year than in 2016, and I’m so glad you all have found your way here!

See you all next year!
-Jon Wasik

The First Maps of Halarite!

Hi everyone!

I apologize for the lateness of this past weekend’s blog, it has been a busy holiday weekend for us.  But I have some good news!  In that time, I was able to post the first maps of Halarite!

It’s been a very, very long time coming, but I’m so happy to finally have these ready to go.  I’m also happy to say that I’ve seen these in my first proof copy of the 2nd edition of Rise of the Forgotten (Sword of Dragons book 1) and they look fantastic in print!

Without further ado, click on each image below to see the larger version :D

First, the overall, low-detail map of the world of Halarite, as known by the Four Kingdoms of Edilas.  You can also see the political borders of the kingdoms in this version.

Next is the higher-detailed map of Edilas, the continent central to the first novel of the series, and home to the Four Kingdoms!

Want to know a little more about Edilas?  Head on over to the website, http://www.theswordofdragons.com/ to read more!

I’m really excited about these maps, and I’ve even started looking into poster-sized prints of them.  Perhaps when I release the 2nd editions, I’ll find a way to sell them as a box-set and include printed maps with the box set!  What do you think?

Oh, and that 1st proof of Rise of the Forgotten I mentioned?  It looks incredible!  There are a few parts of it that need fixing, mostly with alignment, but I think I’m just about ready for a cover reveal early on in the new year!

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy this exciting development!

-Jon Wasik

A Brief Holiday

Hi everyone,

Due to the busy schedule ahead of us and the upcoming U.S. holiday, I won’t be able to write a blog today, and I probably won’t be able to next weekend either :(  I’m really sorry!

However, I wanted to leave you all with some good news and with a question!

Rise of the Forgotten

First the good news: I’ve completed the final edits for Rise of the Forgotten!  I’m really excited about this, because there’s not much left for me to do before I can setup and order a proof copy!  I’ve already purchased the license for cover art for books 1 through 3 and the cover art for Orc War Campaigns, so all I have left to do is finalize the maps!

And one other thing to finish, a part I’m struggling with…the “About The Author” page.  I don’t like what I’ve written in the 1st editions of books 1 and 2, but I don’t know how to re-write it.  I’ve already had one friend give me really good suggestions on facebook, but, my question to you all:

What are some of your favorite “About The Author” pages that you’ve read before?  Or, if you’re a writer, what have you written for yours in the past?

Thanks for reading, and to those celebrating this weekend, Happy Thanksgiving!

-Jon Wasik

Do Constraints Mold The Best Art?

I read an article not long ago that made an interesting claim: placing constraints on an artist helps create the best art, while giving an artist total free reign, IE “the sky is the limit” often results in monstrosities.

Of course, I don’t have the article to re-read, and so I cannot remember the examples they gave.  But, the idea came back to me today and I realized that in some ways, there may be truth to it.

Let’s take the most basic (or perhaps extreme) example: spelling, grammar, punctuation.  If you tell a writer “no rules” you’re going to get something that’s difficult to read, if not impossible in some cases.

An example:

“OMG can u imagene readding a entire 300 pg b00k likE THis?”

…That was painful just to write!  Almost as painful as reading Washington Irving’s run-on sentences!

But what about less obvious examples?  As I’ve found out the hard way, there are rules about genre, and while it might not be too bad to bend those rules to make it interest, flat-out breaking them might work against the writer.

Image Source – https://cbsdenver.files.wordpress.com

The best example I can think of is a topic I’ve already talked about: novel cover art.  When I first started considering cover art for The Sword of Dragons, I remember looking at the fantasy section of Barnes and Noble and thinking, “All these covers look similar.  I know!  I’ll do something completely different, that’ll make my book stand out!”

Except…it didn’t.  Not in the way I wanted it to.  Yes, I made it look very different from regular fantasy novels.  And so anyone looking to read a fantasy novel didn’t even bother to pick it up, or more likely, didn’t bother to click on it on amazon.com to see what it was about.

But there’s more than just cover art to consider…

Tropes of Fantasy

I’m a fan of taking a typical fantasy trope and turning it into something just a little different.

Image Source – http://dartgarry.deviantart.com/

For instance, a typical trope about dragons is that they are fire-breathing creatures who live in caves guarding a hoard of treasure.  In the first Sword of Dragons novel, there is, in fact, a dragon living in a cave, and she is indeed guarding something of incredible value, but rather than an evil beast greedily guarding gold, she is protecting the most powerful weapon in the universe.

Is it possible to take this too far?  Initially I might say yes, but then I look at examples like Game of Thrones.  In most fantasy novels, the heroes live and achieve their goals, and the heroes are often very clearly defined from the villains.  Neither of these tropes are true in Game of Thrones.

But is that an exception?  What was it about GoT that made it so popular?  Honestly I don’t know, but it seems like this has created a sort of sub-genre of fantasy.  I’m curious to see how many more venture into this type of fantasy, successfully.

And in all honesty, I’m not sure what rules should or shouldn’t be followed, when it becomes okay to break rules or tropes.

For my own part, I do enjoy a lot of fantasy tropes, they are why I like the genre.  Dragons and magic in particular draw me in.  I intend to continue to toe the line, keeping some fantasy tropes intact, while turning others on their heads.

Image Source – https://www.pinterest.com/smokelight/dwarf/

For instance, dwarves will start to play a bigger part in books 3 and 4, but they won’t be exactly what you’ve come to expect from dwarves.  You’ve already seen in book 2 that they once lived underground, as is typical for dwarves…but they definitely don’t anymore.

I also do not like the “Damsel in Distress” trope.  Even if there’s ever a female character in need of rescuing in my novels, it’s usually not done in the typical way (for instance, Elaria in the first Sword of Dragons novel.)  I’m all for ‘damsels in distress’ rescuing them selves, like Princess Leia did!

In any case, to answer the initial question of this blog, I think it helps to have constraints.  Movie productions have shown that an unlimited budget aren’t necessarily going to create a better product.  But sometimes, just sometimes, there are those that can break the typical rules and succeed.

It all depends on the circumstances, and perhaps even the luck of the draw.

What do you think?

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

When Is It Too Late To Add Something New?

Hi everyone!

First I want to apologize for the lack of a blog post last week.  It was a busy weekend, plus my ADHD was extremely bad :(  I sat down to at least write a “Sorry no blog post this week” and just…nothing would come out, I couldn’t focus at all.

Adding New Genre Elements

Anywho, on to today’s blog topic!  When is it too late to add something new to a series?  A new element, a new story line…I guess that’s rather vague, so perhaps I’ll jump right into why I’m asking this question.

My previous blog entry talked about developing the story for book 4 of the Sword of Dragons series (which, by the way, is already shaping up to be more complex than book 3, story-wise!)  Part of the development has involved trying to give more time and attention to the supporting characters.

This led to an element I’ve known for years I wanted to introduce: airships, and an airship captain as a character.  But I didn’t know who to make that character, what that character would be like.  So I started thinking about that.

Image Source – http://wowwiki.wikia.com/wiki/Gnome

Initially I started going down the path of a gnome.  In some fantasy stories, especially Warcraft, that is typical: gnomes are steampunk engineers in the Warcraft universe.  I also wanted this new captain to flirt heavily with one of the female supporting characters already introduced (I’m intentionally not saying whom at this time, spoilers ;) )

But then I thought, no, because of Warcraft, gnome engineers and airship captains has kind of become a staple of fantasy, and I wanted to do something different.

I still don’t know exactly what species, but I’ve also tried to increasingly show women in strong positions, so I decided I’m going to make the airship captain a woman…but then, I still wanted to do the story line involving the flirtation with the supporting character I mentioned.

Image Source – http://legendofthecryptids.wikia.com/wiki/Airship_Captain_Sally

And that’s where I come to the meat of this post.  To avoid spoilers, I won’t say if a relationship ever sparks up between these two characters, but I have not yet explicitly shown or featured homosexuality in my series.

Why?  I could go into a detailed explanation, but it basically boils down to the fact that when I first started developing Sword of Dragons over 15 years ago, it was still a very taboo topic and I didn’t give it much thought.

First and foremost, I know that this would alienate some existing readers who are extremely anti-homosexual.  But it would also attract readers from the LGBTQ+ community.  I don’t want to get into the topic of “is it right or wrong” at this time, that is not the focus of this blog post.

But this does mean that I’ll be introducing a completely new element into the 4th novel of the series.  Actually, 2 elements, one that has been intended for some time, and one not.

This does not mean that the Sword of Dragons series will become a steampunk novel series or a homosexual erotica series.  It will remain, at its core, a fantasy adventure series.  But just like all fantasy adventure or sci-fi, it is a genre that can include elements of many other genres without it being out of place.

Image Source – https://digitalart.io/digital-art/fantasy-art-horror-warriors-wallpaper

Fantasy stories can also be romances (and often are.)  They can be horror.  They can even be buddy-cop type stories (that could be an interesting story to write someday!)  Or murder mysteries.  They can be about individuals or about entire worlds, they can cover small personal struggles, massive interplanetary wars, and everything in between.

If you’ll pardon the pun, that is the magic of fantasy.  It can be just about anything!  It can take the writer and the reader anywhere their imaginations can fathom.

The hard part is making something new and fresh while also keeping it consistent.  So what do you think, dear readers?  Is book 4 too late to introduce these new elements, whether planned or not?

In case you’re thinking back and wondering, both of these elements were previously hinted at in the series.  The steampunk is a combination of magic and technology, IE science and magic together.  That has been hinted at in that I’ve made the physics of the universe, outside of magic, work like reality.  Planets orbiting stars, etc.  And the LGBTQ+?  Well, I’m still wondering how many people have picked up on it, but let’s just say you might take a closer look at the final episodes of The Orc War Campaigns :)

Update on Rise of the Forgotten

I’m about halfway through chapter 27 on editing!  I’ve been focusing more on the edits than the map-making lately, mostly because that has aligned with my schedule and opportunity.  But since I’m almost finished with edits, that means it’ll soon be time to finish the map and get a proof copy of the novel ordered!  I’m hoping by December I’ll have the first proof copy in hand.

I can’t wait to be able to release it for you all to read!  :D

Thanks for reading,
-Jon Wasik

When Inspiration Strikes – Developing The Next Novel

Hi everyone!

Whenever I start actually writing the manuscript to a new novel, by that point it has been at least a year or two in the making (the one exception so far being the Chronicles of the Sentinels.)  I first come up with the general idea, either for the story or for a character, and start to unravel the entire story surrounding that idea, as well as back story to go along with it.

So it shouldn’t surprise me, and yet it still does: I’m smack in the middle of 2nd edition edits, still need to finish writing the first draft of book 3 of The Sword of Dragons…and suddenly inspiration strikes, and I start unraveling the entire story for book 4 in my head!

Not to say I don’t already have a general idea of all six books anyway, but I mean actual full story details.  And the best part is that I started coming up with the details when I started thinking to myself, “how can I start to give the supporting characters more attention?”

And it just started unraveling in my head like the story was already there in my mind, I just hadn’t brought it forward to my conscious thoughts yet.

What’s really exciting is that, just like  with my 7-year run on my fan fiction, things that I wrote in the earlier books are coming together to create the new stories.  Things that happened in the first 3 books as well as The Orc War Campaigns will become important in book 4…some things I didn’t even mean to make important later on!

I get so excited when this happens!  I love that, somewhere in the back of my mind, everything is connecting together from the beginning and building on the foundational story.

The Importance of Supporting Characters

Image Source – http://sunniersartofwar.com

More and more, I’m learning just how important supporting characters are.  Often times supporting characters become fan favorites in stories.  Samwise Gamgee, for instance, or Ron Weasley.

In the past, this was something I struggled with.  In my fan fiction, I focused a lot on the two main characters, the Captain and his first officer.  To the suffering of all other supporting characters.  I started to rectify this in the last two seasons, but I realized this was something I should have done from the get go.

For The Sword of Dragons, I tried to ensure I at least had good back stories setup for Reis, Sira, and Dalin.  Yet I feel like I still haven’t given them the time and attention they deserve.  That’s definitely changing starting in book 3, and most definitely now in book 4.

But, I have a question for everyone: are you usually willing to read a longer novel due to more time and attention being given to supporting characters?  For instance, book 3 of the Sword of Dragons will have about 1/4 of the chapters devoted to Reis going on his own adventure without Cardin or Sira.  Plus several other chapters branch off for other supporting characters.

All of these instances are integral to moving the main story line forward, and I think that’s probably the key: any time a novel goes to a perspective of another character, it must be with a legitimate purpose, and not ‘just because.’  What do you think?

Status of 2nd Edition Edits

I have less than 100 pages of edits left for Rise of the Forgotten, which means I’m more than 2/3rds through it!! :D  I’m excited, I really like how the changes are affecting the flow, I think it’s making for a much more enjoyable story.  Of course, that’s my own opinion, I just hope everyone who reads it will agree :)

Much to my surprise, so far I’ve reduced the word count of book 1 by 1400 words!  I’m kind of glad to see this overall trend, though, mostly because I’m trying to get rid of redundant phrasing and make each paragraph have more impact.

I haven’t had time to work on maps.  I also just realized that the artist doing my character sketches, Centalynn Artworks, should be back in country now, so I need to go back to review her latest iterations and make choices to send to her.  I don’t currently plan to include any character sketches in the novels, but I’d love to have them on the website as soon as they are finished :)

That’s all for today, thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik