Tag Archives: Burning Skies

NaNoWriMo 2019 and Book 3!

GLaDOS is still alive, too! Image source: syfy.com

Hey everyone, I’m still alive!  And I have great news!

“Book 3 of the Sword of Dragons is done?”

What?  No, that’s just crazy talk!  …but the first draft will be done soon!  :)  That’s what I wanted to write about today.

In my last post, I talked about needing a break from blogging so that I could focus more on writing and other creative endeavors.  I have not been idle!  I mean, it started with good intentions, and I managed to keep to a schedule for writing for quite some time!  But then, as does happen frequently, life decided to rear its head at me, and writing tapered.

However, I am more than halfway through book 3, and better still, my wife and I are going to participate in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo 2019!

What is NaNoWriMo, you may ask?  In the lovely month of November (read ‘lovely’ with sarcasm…I already miss summer,) writers across the globe will spend at least a little bit of time every single day of the month writing!  The goal?  For most, the standard NaNoWriMo is 50,000 words in November, which translates to about 1,667 words per day.

For some, 1,667 words is a difficult goal to achieve in a day, for any number of reasons.  Some folks just don’t write quickly, which is okay and if anyone ever tells you otherwise, feel free to insult them or ignore them.  For others, life can be so crazy busy that getting even a half hour in every day is a challenge at best.

Image Source – https://www.pulseprotects.com

Thankfully for me, I have a supportive wife, who happens to be a writer and wants to participate in this event as much as I do, AND I am a quick writer.  On my best days, I can get 2,000 words done per hour!

So what is my goal for NaNoWriMo?  Primarily, to finish book 3 of the Sword of Dragons series.  How hard will that be?  To put it in perspective, at halfway finished, book 3 is currently 89,000 words long.  Which means I probably have about 80,000 more to write to finish book 3.

Photo taken by Laura Earley

Can I do that in one month?  That’s an average of 2,667 words per day, and yes, I’m pretty sure I can do that :)  It took me about a month to write the first draft of Chronicles of the Sentinels – Legacy, and that was about 70,000 words.

Having said that, it will mean a high level of dedication, and a very patient wife.

The down side, however, is that I had originally planned to be further along in book 3 than I am now, and I’ve been preparing myself to start writing another novel immediately after I finish book 3, unrelated to the Sword of Dragons series.  However, realizing today that I still have 80,000 words to go, I don’t think I’ll be able to do that.

What Comes After?

You may be asking, “Okay, if you finish book 3 by the end of November, when will it be released?”  I’ve found that the best thing I can do for a book after I finish the first draft is to put it down and walk away from it for at least a couple of months.

Artwork by Vuk Kostic

Why?  Put simply, I’m too close to it otherwise.  My head automatically fills in gaps when I come across them in my editing, and so I miss things.  This became exceedingly apparent to me when editing Burning Skies for the 2nd edition, I had missed a lot because I didn’t let it sit long enough, including some glaring plot holes.  As such, I probably won’t pick book 3 up for the first round of editing until February.  (If you want to read more details about my writing and editing process, click here for part 1 and here for part 2!)

After that, it needs to go to beta readers, and possibly a 3rd party editor if I can spring the cash for it.  Then another round of edits after I get feedback.

When all of that is done, things will happen pretty quickly.  I already have a cover design set, it’ll just need to be configured for the book’s final dimensions once it’s ready.  So I’m somewhat confident that a mid to late summer release is doable in 2020.  In fact, I’d really love it to happen in July, like books 1 and 2!

So the next question I’m sure some of you will be asking, “What will you be doing between the end of November and February?”

That’s easy.  First and foremost, I’ll be continuing to develop the plot for book 4 (which has been in development since 2015!) and finalize the plan for it.  I’ll talk more about that later, but it’s changed a lot since I first started jotting down ideas!

Second, I’d like to start writing the other story I mentioned above, but it’s one that I’m keeping a tight lid on publicly.  It’s a unique story, and I’m very excited about it!

Screenshot from The Sword of Dragoncraft. The western gates into Archanon!

Finally, there’s the Sword of Dragoncraft….wait, what’s that?!

Without going into too much detail now, the world of The Sword of Dragons is being built in Minecraft!  For more details, head on over to my facebook page, I’ve posted loads of screenshots of the work in progress!

That’s all for today!  I wish I could say that I’m back to blogging regularly, but honestly, November is going to be a busy, busy month.  But after NaNoWriMo, I’d definitely like to get back to regular blogging again :)

Thanks for reading!  Have a great day, everyone, and for those caught in the snow storm like I am, be safe!

-Jon Wasik

Born From Emotion – The Best Stories

Hi everyone,

I wanted to offer a real quick apology for not writing a blog last week.  House hunting has been extremely time-consuming and stressful and before I knew what was happening, last Sunday was over O_o

Onto the blog we go – are the best stories and characters born from emotion?

Artwork by Vuk Kostic.

The thought occurred to me late last year when I was proofreading all of my books just prior to release.  As I read through them successively and rapidly, I discovered that the most recent story, The Orc War Campaigns, felt better written and more engaging as a story.  And I wondered why.

There’s probably many reasons, not the least of which is, it’s my latest, so all of the lessons I’d learned up to that point were ingrained into telling the story.

But also…I wrote the characters out of real emotion.

Especially Amaya.

Image Source – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/200128777168277635/

I know I’ve talked about it before, so I don’t intend to get into details, but as I wrote Amaya’s story and her struggle to move on from an emotionally abusive relationship, I used it as a way to explore my own attempt to do the same.

And in using my own emotions and fusing them into the story, I was able to better connect with her character, as well as Zerek’s and Arkad’s.

What resulted was a writing style that felt more relaxed, more intuitive.  The writing flowed, and despite being 3rd person, it felt like the story was more from their perspective rather than an objective 3rd person describing the events.

I’m also happy to have learned that others feel the same about The Orc War Campaigns.  In fact, despite being the longest book I’ve written so far, folks have read through the entire book in one sitting!  That tells me I definitely did something right.

Applying These Lessons to Future Stories

So now the question is, can I take this idea and write the next book in the series the same way?  Can I connect more with Cardin and Kailar and write in a way that makes it easier for the reader to connect with them?

The answer, of course, is yes.  But it also meant I had to go back through the chapters I wrote last year and the year before and changing them…or in the case of Kailar, rewriting them from scratch.

Actually, I’m glad to have had this revelation.  I came to realize that my original plans for Kailar were far too passive in book 3, and that I needed to drastically change things.

Originally she was going to be very passive, following Letan’s orders and only occasionally letting her temper take hold and spur her to more direct action.

Image Source – http://www.pinterest.com

That’s not Kailar.  It never was.  Part of what makes her such an engaging character is that she is an antihero.  She wants to do what’s right, but isn’t held back by the same moral constraints as Cardin is.  She is much more aggressive.  And now, after the events of Burning Skies, she has the power to back her aggressive and straightforward nature with direct action.

And I have to say, I enjoy writing her a lot more this way!  She felt two-dimensional before, this feels more natural for her.

Another bonus to having taken a break from book 3 was that I came up with new ideas for book 3 as well as later books that I could foreshadow in book 3, especially for Cardin.  His journey in book 3 starts out feeling like it’s the same as book 1 and 2, something comes up, an adventure, and he just goes along with it.

Until something tragic happens.

The tragedies of book 3 were always planned, but they’ve become even more vital after a discussion I had with our friend (and wedding photographer) Danielle, about how she felt like Cardin was never really in any danger.  His powers protected him, and always evolved to save him in a life-threatening situation.

And it’s true, the Sword of Dragons makes Cardin very difficult to hurt.

Everyone else, however…not so much.  Worse still for him, being the Keeper of the Sword means that his actions never affect just him, or even just his friends.  He also must contend with the new paradigm of Dark Magic, and what it means for him and his future.

Book 3 will be a very personal journey for these two characters, as well as for Reis.  More so than in Rise of the Forgotten or Burning Skies.  All with the backdrop of an epic story unfolding!

Mystery and History – Dragons in the Sword of Dragons Series

Hi everyone!

Artwork by Vuk Kostic

In the Sword of Dragons series, which is a series one might assume involves a lot of dragons, they seem to be largely absent at first.  They’re talked about in legends, and the titular Sword was constructed by them to end the greatest civil war that the Universe has ever seen.

Dragons are popular right now, or so I’ve been told and so my ads based on keyword searches has shown. Books about dragons are in demand. And I love dragons. So why did I write the first couple books of Sword of Dragons with so few dragons?

Honestly when I first started writing the series, that was not my intent, but as the story developed and I started from scratch in the late 2000’s, I knew exactly how I wanted to treat them.

They were to be mystical, legendary.  People whispered about them, revered them as the exemplars of good and just in the Universe.  There were once tens of thousands, and they roamed the worlds and realms, exploring, caring for others, and keeping the Universe in order.

And then a great cataclysm befell them, a cataclysm that started when one of their own fell to darkness…

Sound familiar?

Star Dragons and the Jedi Knights

The dragons once numbered in thousands, were powerful, and the epitome of good in the Universe. Perhaps the one and only people that were ‘pure good’ rather than gray. And then they were all but wiped out after one of their own fell and corrupted others, taking the extreme opposite of good. In a Universe where no object or power is actually inherently good or evil, dragons are the exception. And now they are a mystery. A legend. A whisper. Everyone holds them in awe.

Meeting the first one, Avall, Cardin has an almost religious experience. And then he meets more good ones.

Artist – treijim.deviantart.com

Then book 2 happens, and he meets the original bad guy. Like Luke facing Vader for the first time. And Cardin, like Luke when he learns that Vader is his father, is terrified to realize that he has the same power as this ultimate villain.

I didn’t realize it until this week, but I’ve come to realize how much my love of Star Wars and the Jedi has influenced the back story of the Sword of Dragons series.

Granted there are many, many differences.  In the Original Trilogy, we’re led to believe only two Jedi survived the great purge.  In canon stories, we learn that there are at least two others who are separated from the Rebellion prior to A New Hope, Ahsoka Tano (one of my all-time favorites!) and Ezra Bridger.  But still, that’s only four, and perhaps one or two others in official “Disney Canon.”

The Star Dragons, however, still number in the hundreds.

So part of why there are so few is the Star Wars influence, but there’s a little more to it than that.  And it really comes down to the fact that I love dragons, that they’ve captured my imagination all of my life.  But there are so many good dragon books out there…so I felt like the series had to earn their presence.  Justify their return to the struggle.  And make it to where they remained something special and weren’t just common or average.

When a dragon shows up in a scene, it is something special, something wondrous!

And as time goes on, their role increases.  Unlike Star Wars, it is only after books one and two that one of the “jedi” aka dragons comes to train Cardin. During this time period, in book 3, Cardin will go on a journey that will affect him spiritually, and will help prepare him for the devastating events to come.

Book 3 – Return of the…Dragons?

Throughout book 3, we’ll get to spend more time with the green dragon Endri, who sort of takes over the role that Dalin previously filled.  Which of course will mean that Dalin will need to find his place in the grand scheme of things.

Furthermore, early in book 3, we’ll get to see dozens of dragons, as they rally together to try to find Nuuldan and end the threat of the Dark Dragons once and for all.

This also means we’ll get  to learn more about the Star Dragons than ever before!  Including the fact that they have not spawned young dragons since before the defeat of the Dark Dragons, and thus their numbers continue to dwindle rather than grow.

Perhaps the most exciting scenes that I’m most looking forward to writing is when Cardin and his friends travel to the ancient Star Dragon home world, a place that seemingly none of the Star Dragons have visited in thousands upon thousands of years.

I’m eight chapters into book 3, and I can’t wait to share more about it with everyone!  :)

So what do you all think?  Are there more parallels between the Star Dragons and Jedi than I realize?  What do you think of the slow build up to more dragons in the series?  Are you looking forward to book 3?  Let me know in the comments section below :)

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

The Voice of the Writer – Recording Audio Books

Hi everyone!

I apologize for skipping a couple of weeks in blogs, life has a way of getting away with our time.

Last weekend, I had a book release/book signing party, and for the first time at such a party, I read a passage aloud from my newest book to an audience!

Truth be told, I thought I’d done horribly.  I was so nervous that I forgot to read it in my ‘voice actor’ voice,.  I just read it in my normal speaking voice, felt like I rushed some areas…

And then I received overwhelmingly positive feedback!  Some that day, and then more and more in the days that followed.  If you’re curious to see video of it, click here!

Furthermore, I have been repeatedly asked if there will be an audio book released.  Many folks have told me over the years that, as busy people, they don’t have time to read, but they can listen to audio books when they, for instance, are commuting to and from work.

So I’ve made a decision: while I’m still going to spend several hours a day during my holiday writing book 3, I’m going to also spend time working on getting the released books into audio!  I probably won’t release them all at once like I did in November, but rather one at a time…you know, to save my sanity ;)

Relearning the Voice

When you can’t afford a recording studio, improvise!

Not having funds for a professional studio, I took the same approach from my last false-start: I setup recording in a closet.  As I started and re-started recordings on Rise of the Forgotten’s prologue, I realized that I had to re-teach myself how to read for audience.

It’s easy and it’s hard all at the same time.  As I learned years ago when my friend Wayne voice-coached me, what I feel is over-the-top comes out as really good, and anything less is bland.  So I have to remember every time, don’t hold back.

I might feel silly, and given the ultra-thin barrier between the apartments above and below us, I’m sure our neighbors are wondering what the heck’s going on, but I think the results will be worth it.

The even stranger sensation is that I feel embarrassed as I read aloud over-the-top, even though there’s no one around.  Do you ever feel second-hand embarrassment when you see someone say or do something very awkward on TV?  It’s kinda like that, except that I’m embarrassed by how my own voice sounds as I’m recording.

And then I hear it play back and it’s good.  Based on those results and the encouragement I’ve received from dozens of people, I’m looking forward to releasing my books in audio format!

Thanks for reading!  Until next week, dear readers, and the annual “Looking back, looking forward” end of the year blog :)

Merry Christmas!
-Jon Wasik

Writing and Publishing – In For The Long Haul

I’ve said it before – being a writer is a marathon, not a sprint.  You have to be in it for the long haul.  What I have to keep reminding myself is, this also applies to the goal of one day living off of writing.

Photo by Beck Wasik

With my triple-book launch of the Sword of Dragons series on November 16th, I was extremely pleased to find that not only did my books start off well, but they were trending upwards!  It looked like my marketing attempts were succeeding!

And then…nothing.  No, I mean, nothing, for four days, not a single sale or KU read.  From doing better than the totality of my previous publication to zero activity.

But then something strange happened.  A coworker excitedly told me today that she had ordered and received two of the three books last week.  I frowned, went to my KDP dashboard, and found no print sales, at all, on or after the date that she had ordered them on.

I started looking at other numbers, and did some math, and realized that my ad campaign dashboard showed that I had made more sales than what was showing up on my sales and royalties dashboards.

A quick google search later, and I come to find out that this has been a known issue since September with KDP.  It’s entirely possible that there’s still activity going on, I just can’t see it.  At least, that’s my hope.

Crisis averted!  But it made me think…

Writing is Building a City, Not a House

I know, it sounds weird, but bear with me.

To the fine folks out there who are in construction, please forgive me as I over-simplify things here – building a house is relatively simple and quick.

Vancouver

A city takes years.  And years.  And lots of houses (among many other structures.)

For most writers, getting that first novel out there is a huge accomplishment!  Hard work, dedication, perseverance (aka stubbornness) have produced a product you’re proud of!

But, unless you’re one of those lucky/talented few, that’s not enough.  Sure you’ll hook some readers and all…but it takes more than that to build a city.

It takes time.  Lots of time.  And more than one book.  I keep seeing a ‘magic number’ online, 3 books to start getting a following.  And honestly, I’m not sure if Orc War Campaigns counts, being an anthology of short stories.

Either way, I saw a lot of positive results at initial launch, and I’ve received positive feedback, and even heard from folks who say they haven’t had a chance to buy yet, but will be within the next week or two as funds allow.

So I’ve had to remind myself, and am reminding all of my fellow writers out there: if you really really want to make it as a writer, remember that it’s going to be a rocky start.  You need more books.  You need to work on getting your name out there.  But you also need to allow for the seed you’ve planted with your first couple books to grow.  And it’ll take time.

Keep at it.  Stay passionate.  Try not to despair.  Glitches in the Matrix aside, you may be surprised what happens in the long run.

Writing is not a game for those who want instant gratification.

But damn is it worth it! :)

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

Now for the Hard Part – Marketing Your Books

Hi everyone!

As of today, my triple-book release is nine days old!  Still very new :)  But now that all of the hard creation process is done (you know, writing, editing, creating covers, formatting, etc), the truly hard part for me begins.

Marketing my books.

I would say “as a self published author, this is especially important,” but let’s be honest, this is vital for ANY author.  You may have created this extremely awesome and wonderful book for people to read…but how do you get the word out?

With the original books 1 and 2, I fell considerably short in my efforts.  And I didn’t take advantage of social media, which is probably one of my biggest mistakes.

I bought ads now and again on Amazon, but that was it, and I was never consistent.  I got tables at conventions, gave my cards out to everyone I could, but that can only take you so far, and I’m starting to discover that handing your card out does very little (not to say I’ll stop doing that.)

So now I’m pushing harder, and trying things I hadn’t tried before for marketing.

Photo by Beck Wasik

Among them?  Facebook and instagram ads.  I just started them after a photo session of the eBook editions (thank you to my wife Beck for taking and editing this photo, it turned out beautifully,) so we’ll see if it works out.  I also updated my facebook author’s page with a ‘shop now’ button and tagged my products, which is a feature I never knew you could do!

I’m also heavily pushing my first book on Amazon ads.

Already I’m quite happy with how the books are doing in the Kindle Unlimited store.  I’ve had record numbers of reads for multiple days!  Each book is already doing far better than the previous books ever did.  Hopefully I can keep this going and build some more momentum!

I cannot over emphasize how important marketing is to success with your books.  Don’t spend so much time and effort on it that you never get your next book written, but don’t dismiss it, ESPECIALLY if you’re a debut author and no one knows your name yet.  Get the word out.  Get your name out there.

And then get to work on your next book!  Because if you hook readers, they’re gonna want more!

I’ve done a lot of the back-end work for marketing now, so I feel like I’m ready to focus on book 3 of the series again.  In fact, this week I already started work on it again!  But more on that later :)

For now, I hope the beginning of everyone’s holiday season has gone well!

Thanks for reading,
-Jon Wasik

VtW ShowX Live Interview Tomorrow!

Hey everyone!

Want to hear more about my new book releases?  Want to see what they look like?  Want to just kick back and relax and join us for some fun chat?

Check out VtW Production’s ShowX tomorrow!  Beck and I will be guests on Wayne and Ken’s show tomorrow start at noon Mountain Standard Time!

The show has a new live stream location, through Twitch, so be sure to click the link below to find your way there!

VtW ShowX Live Stream

Hope to see you all on the channel!

Print Editions Are Fully Online

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!

Thanks for reading :)
-Jon Wasik