Tag Archives: Chronicles of the Sentinels

Looking Back to 2019, Hobbling Into 2020

Hi everyone!

In less than 10 hours, 2020 shall be upon us, and then all of the “2020 vision” jokes can stop!  Or, you know, continue undaunted ;)

As I always do, I’d like to take a moment to look back upon the past year, and see what’s over the horizon.  So come with me on a journey through time, from past, to present, and into the future!

2019 – Self-Publishing Success, NaNoWriMo, Home Purchase, Injury and Surgery

Photo by Beck Wasik

In November 2018, I took a gamble and published 2nd editions of my first two novels, along with an anthology of short stories.  It was a risky move – why would books that have already been out sell better as 2nd editions?  But the vastly-improved covers, the better edits, and the more aggressive marketing campaign paid off.

In 2019, I made more in sales and Kindle Unlimited reads in a single year than in all of the previous years combined!  If there is no other reason to, then that alone is reason enough to celebrate!

But there’s more – I started writing more regularly again, and with one last hurrah with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month,) I finished the first draft of book 3 of the Sword of Dragons saga!  By far, this was the most complicated story I have ever told, with countless moving parts and story threads, all converging in the final quarter of the novel.

I’m so excited!

Unlike 2018, however, in 2019 I barely traveled.  A couple of small road trips here and there, one of which was to see family, but otherwise our great focus was on finally getting out of apartments, and into a house of our own.  It was effort, time, and money well spent, and while our little corner of Earth may not be perfect, it’s ours :)

I wish I could say that all of 2019 was positive, but unfortunately, this was not so.  Towards the end of summer, as I walked through the kitchen, suddenly my right hip screamed in pain and I fell to the floor, unable to stand or walk.  While I slowly regained the ability to use my leg over the next couple of days, I knew something was terribly wrong.

After multiple visits to multiple doctors, x-rays, MRI’s, and CT scans, the doctors came to the conclusion that I had a hip impingement and torn labrum caused by a deformed femur joint.  Apparently I’ve had this all of my life, but over time it has been wearing on the labrum, until this year when it finally gave up and began to separate from the hip itself.

Which led to an arthroscopic surgery, my first major surgery ever.  In a way, it wasn’t too terribly invasive – two small cuts, one to stick a scope in, the other to stick instruments in to work on the hip.  But it required a lot of work on my hip, including ‘tacking’ the labrum up, reshaping the bone, and generally cleaning things up in the hip.  It essentially crippled me for several weeks, and a full recovery will take about six months.

It’s been a difficult time for me, someone who has always placed importance on my independence and ability to contribute around the house.  My wife has had to shoulder so much,  and I am so grateful for all that she has done.  She’s taken care of me, worked tirelessly to keep the house in order, and held me through the hardest nights.  My wonderful Starshine :)

2020 – Recovery, Publication, and Bringing Sentinels Back

What’s in store for 2020?  For starters, the long road to recovery shall continue.  As my hip and leg regains strength, it’s time to get fit again.  The injury was already starting to rear its ugly head in the 4 years prior to that terrible summer day, and I’ve exercised less and less as a result.

So 2020 will be a year that I focus on my physical health and wellness, getting back to the fitness level I once worked so long and hard to achieve.  Long hikes, climbing, that sort of thing, I miss doing all of it, and I’m looking forward to being back to my old self by summer!

Furthermore, unless I get horribly negative feedback from beta readers, 2020 will be the year that book 3 is published!  As before, it’ll be self-published, but the cover is already prototyped and ready for implementation, so it’s all a matter of editing and proofreading!

Images Source – http://bramleegwater.deviantart.com

As for the “Bringing Back the Sentinels” comment…I’ve had wonderful inspiration and ideas for revitalizing the Chronicles of the Sentinels modern fantasy book 1, Legacy!  I intend to write a more comprehensive blog on the changes coming, but I plan to fully re-write the first book to address the massive shortcomings of the original.  As an interested agent put it a few years ago, the premise was good, but the characters especially needed work.

There’s a lot of other great things ahead, including a trip for a Doctor Who convention, but that, my friends, is another story :)

Until then, Happy New Year to everyone!  May 2020 be the year of positive change for you :)

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

Who Do You Write Like?

Hi everyone!

Who are some of your favorite writers?  Can you point to why they are your favorite?  There’s probably a lot of reasons, anywhere from the stories they write, the characters they create, and so on.

One thing to consider, however, is how they tell their stories.  I love JK Rowling’s writing style, especially watching it evolve over the course of the Harry Potter novels.  I also really enjoyed Michael Stackpole’s writing style.

I know I’ve touched on this more than once in the past, and every writer has a distinct voice of their own…

…Right?

I mean, that’s what I’ve always thought: we all have our own writing styles that are unique to us.  However, according to an interesting website that analyzes text to compare it to ‘famous’ writers…my writing style seems to change over time.

My fiancee first mentioned it, that she once found a website that compared her writing to another author’s.  We searched and found it, and started putting excerpts from our stories into it…and were a bit surprised by the results.

The “King” of Horror

Her results were relatively consistent, and for someone who has never read Stephen King, according to https://iwl.me, she writes an awful lot like him.  Very consistently.

Myself, however…

I started by putting in the first page of chapter 1 into the tool, and was pleasantly surprised when I apparently write like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  The same man who wrote Sherlock Holmes.  That was kind of cool to see!

However, I had the idea to see how much my writing changed after my 4-year writer’s block that was in the middle of the Sword of Dragons, so I took an excerpt from chapter 31 and put it in.

…and according to the website, my style matched that of JK Rowling’s.  This didn’t surprise me a whole lot, because during my writer’s block, I had read all of Harry Potter.  And all of my chapters from book 1 after the writer’s block period came out as JK Rowling.

That pleased me, because I really really liked her writing.

Then I began to wonder, how different was my writing style for Chronicles of the Sentinels?  I intentionally tried to write it differently.  So I put in the first page of chapter 2, and was not surprised to find I wrote that chapter, and action sequence with military-type action, like Dan Brown.

…However, a later chapter came out to say that I wrote like Stephen King.  That caught me a bit off guard.

So again, wondering if things were different in later books, I started putting in excerpts for Burning Skies.  And according to the website, I write like Ursula K. Le Guin, the same author who wrote Earthsea.  I’ve never read any of Le Guin’s work, so this also surprised me.

While some other chapters had other authors’ names attached, mostly book 2 was written like this author.  And when I put in excerpts from my work in progress for book 3, it again is coming out as being like Le Guin’s style.

This got me to thinking something…has my writing style matured?  Have I found my voice?  At least, for high fantasy?  Where as my style changed in the first novel, and my style changed throughout Chronicles, my latest two novels are giving me Le Guin as the result.

Is this good?  I think I might have to pick up Earthsea to see if I can pick up on the similarities, and see if I like her novels.

But if this is an indication that my writing style has matured, that’s kind of amazing…because it took 20 years to find my voice!  I wonder if that’s normal for a writer, or not.

I also can’t help but wonder…I’ve always thought it is important to try to improve my writing all the time.  Will this mean that, over time, my style will change and become comparable to someone else’s?

I guess time will tell :)

Thanks for reading!  Let me know if there’s a particular writing style you like.  Or if you’re a writer, check out https://iwl.me and comment below who’s writing style yours is similar to!

-Jon Wasik

If I’m Not A Writer, Who Am I?

Hi everyone,

If you’ve had a chance to read this blog’s “About” section, you’ll recall that I’ve been a writer for 23 years now.  That’s a long time.  I still remember that first time I started writing down that first story, how much fun I had writing it, and how much joy I took in hearing my classmates’ reactions to it.

It was then that I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.  I was going to be a writer!  Before then, I would say something like “I’m going to be Batman when I grow up!” but after that…telling stories was my future.

And to be honest…23 years later, I feel like a failure.  I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.  Those first few years, I found out that becoming a published writer was difficult, let alone living off of it.  The stories of ‘making it big’ as a writer were few and far between.  Most authors didn’t become famous until after they were dead O_o

But I was dedicated, and I was in it for the long-haul.  I would work at it, slowly, bit by bit.  I would live my life while writing in the background, striving for that day when I could make a living off of writing.

And then a ray of hope struck a few years ago.  I started to get to know more fellow writers, started reading more about self-publishing on the internet, and read the blogs of other writers, such as Michael A. Stackpole, and realized that I COULD become a writer full-time, all it would take was dedicated, hard work.

I set out almost 3 years ago with the goal of: “I will make a living off of writing within 2 years.”  And while I failed to meet that goal, In that time I published my first novel, and was on the way to publishing a second!

But then…since this past fall, sales have completely bottomed out.  I’ve delayed book 3 indefinitely.  And I’ve started to question whether or not I’m a writer.  But then, that brings up another question…

Who Am I?

When someone asks what my passion is, I say “writing!”  I identify myself as a writer.  My Dad even jokes sometimes, if you’ve ever seen the movie Paul, he steals a quote from that movie and introduces me, “This is my son, the writer Jon Wasik.”

If I ever stopped writing…I honestly don’t know who I am.  “What about your I.T. work?”  I do it because it pays the bills and I enjoy it just enough not to go insane from it.  Most of the time, any way.  Believe me, I never wanted to do I.T. for the rest of my life.  I used to call myself a gamer, but in the past year, I seriously think I can count on one hand how many video games I’ve played.  If I was a gamer, I’m not really anymore.

This question has seriously been playing through my head the past couple months.  If I fail as a writer…what then?  Where do I go from here?

A Shining Star Lights My Way

Thankfully there has been a light in my life…  When I turned to my fiancee and told her I’m a failure as a writer, and if I’m not a writer anymore, who am I?  …she just looks at me, smiles, and says, “You’re my fiance.”

But more than that, she’s said something that has kept me from spiraling completely into depression…”Don’t give up.”  It is something I’ve said to her more than once, and for her to look at me and say it as earnestly as I’ve said it to her…  It has been an immense help.  She hasn’t given up on me as a writer.  And if she hasn’t…maybe I shouldn’t give up on myself, either.

And even as I’m writing this blog, I started realizing…what do people think of when they think of me?  I’m a geek, very much so.  I’m a computer guy.  I’m a dedicated friend.  I’ve even been called a moral example.  And while yes, I am all of those things, there’s always one thing they say or think of first: “He’s a writer.”

“My son, the writer Jon Wasik.”

My Dad’s half-joking, half-serious, completely proud statement.

Have I failed to make it as a writer?  Yes.  …for the moment.  But as I have read online and have been told, as long as I don’t stop, as long as I don’t give up, I’m still a writer.

Where Do I Go From Here?

As my previous blog post stated, I have to delay book 3 of the Sword of Dragons series.  However, my fiancee made a good point…that doesn’t mean I have to stop working on things.  I can’t dedicate my time to writing right now for many reasons.  But I can’t NOT do something writing-related, because I go crazy otherwise.

My fiancee made a suggestion…if I can’t dedicate my time to getting book 3 ready right now, then I can do something else.  In the background, I can start developing other stories.  I have SO many ideas.

I can touch up Chronicles of the Sentinels, and start sending out query letters again.  I can start developing the post-apocalyptic story that started as a dream a couple years ago.  Or the sci fi that started as a nightmare last year.  Or develop the genre-crossing fantasy/sci-fi idea I came up with a few years back.

Not finish.  Not complete the development phase.  But flesh them out.  Keep my imagination going.  Until I can dedicate my time to the Sword of Dragons again.

“Don’t give up,” she said to me.  “Keep going.”

I am so glad to have her in my life…so glad that she believes in me and my writing enough to push me forward…

As a certain author stated in “A Knight’s Tale,” I shall trudge on…

Thanks for reading, everyone.

Really…thank you all so much.

And thank you, Beck Stewart.  My future wife, my Starshine, for being that light in my life that gives me hope…

-Jon Wasik

Starting Simple – Character Archetypes

Hi everyone,

Something’s been nagging at the back of my mind lately, and I think I’m starting to figure out what it is.  And the thing of it is, it started a couple years ago.

Christopher Tatsu (Image Source - http://cdn.stylisheve.com)
Christopher Tatsu (Image Source – http://cdn.stylisheve.com)

Back when I was still going to a writer’s critique group, I took in chapter 1 of Chronicles of the Sentinels – Legacy.  In that first chapter, I introduce Chris Tatsu as he is finishing up his college finals.  That first chapter needs tons of work, and in fact I’m thinking of scrapping it completely at this point and rearchitecting the beginning of the novel, but I digress.

In that first chapter, Chris runs into a classmate who is, in a sense, a stereotypical ‘surfer dude’ type.  What surprised me the most: two of the people in that critique group said that Chris was boring, but the stereotypical surfer dude was more interesting.

Do people really want more of the ‘stereotypes’ than more intricate and complex characters?

I don’t think so.  But I did have a thought…

Starting Simple and Building From There

Image Source - http://wallpapertvs.com/dragon-guarding-the-treasure-hd-wallpaper/
Image Source – http://wallpapertvs.com/dragon-guarding-the-treasure-hd-wallpaper/

Something I did in The Sword of Dragons was I took a lot of fantasy tropes and made my own spin on them.  The best example I always give: in book 1, there’s a dragon with a lair in a cave guarding a treasure.  Except, instead of an evil dragon who hoards gold, this dragon was a good, intelligent, kind spirit, who was protecting the most powerful artifact in the entire Universe.

And I’ve been thinking, at least for future projects…maybe I should continue this trend for future characters and projects.  Start with an archetype, but then make my own spin on that archetype.  Maybe this approach will allow readers to more easily connect and identify with characters from the start.

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

I kind of already plan to do this with book 3 of the Sword of Dragons series.  I’m introducing a dwarf character early in book 3, and he is a bit of a conundrum.  You see, he’s got the attitude of a ‘stereotypical’ dwarf, but he fights that attitude, because he serves the elven College of Serelik (first mentioned in Burning Skies.)  So he’s expected to dress nice and act nice and remain well groomed.

But I’m also thinking of future projects beyond the Sword of Dragons series.  I have so many ideas that I hope I’ll actually be able to get to someday…and I think I want to try to model characters in such a fashion.  Start them off as archetypes, but turn those archetypes on their heads and make sure that the characters are their own, complex, unique entities.

What do you think, dear readers?  Do you find it easier to identify with archetypal characters who then go off to become their own, or would you rather have characters who don’t in any way fit a stereotype?

Final Note

I’m trying to work up the courage to do another VLog…because I have an important announcement to make, and I feel like just typing up a normal blog would not be appropriate for this announcement.  This will likely end up being outside of the normal Saturday blog cycle.  I’ve only done one other VLog in the past…is anyone here interested in seeing more?

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

Writing A Series – A Love Affair

Hi everyone!

Have you ever seen the movie “Cloud Atlas” or read the novel from which it is based?  There’s a quote in the movie that kind of inspired this blog article:

"A half-finished book is, after all, a half-finished love affair."
“A half-finished book is, after all, a half-finished love affair.”

Off and on, I’ve toyed with the idea of going ahead and publishing the first Chronicles of the Sentinels novel in the near future, rather than waiting until I finish the Sword of Dragons series.  So I started reading through old blog entries while I mulled it over, and came across a blog I wrote earlier this year.

In it, I had talked about deciding, after almost landing an agent for Chronicles, to self-publish.  But instead of self-publishing Chronicles, I decided to self-publish what I called “my first love,” The Sword of Dragons.

And that’s when the answer came to me.

Commitment To A Series

I can’t stop working on Sword of Dragons.  I want to see it through to the end.  And I know as a reader, I hate when a writer takes years to come out with the next book in a series.

Image Source - stylecaster.com
Image Source – stylecaster.com

Just like I’m a one-woman kind of guy, I’m a one-series kind of guy :)  I can only really and truly focus on one at a time, otherwise I get distracted, and the series suffers for it.

Even writing The Orc War Campaigns has put me behind on the main novel series, and I’m genuinely worried I won’t be able to get book 3 out on time.  I haven’t even started the first draft yet!

So I’m going to stick with my original plan.  Work on one series at a time.  And while that unfortunately means I’ll only be releasing one novel per year (excluding the Orc War Campaigns anthology,) it’ll be well worth it to focus on one series, one story, at a time.

The Long Term Plan

So, assuming I can get book 3 out on time, my plan is to release one Sword of Dragons novel per year, leading up to the epic conclusion in book 6 in 2020.

Images Source - http://bramleegwater.deviantart.com
Images Source – http://bramleegwater.deviantart.com

From there, I want to finish the Chronicles of the Sentinels trilogy.  Even though book 1, Legacy, is already done, it needs work and TLC, so I’ll likely hold off releasing that until 2021, making that series go out to 2023.

From there…well let’s just say that I have enough story ideas to continue publishing a new book every year until 2030.  But after Chronicles, I’m not sure what I want to do first.

Image Source - http://best-sci-fi-books.com
Image Source – http://best-sci-fi-books.com

There are a few one-off novels I want to write, including a sci-fi story idea I had recently, but there’s also a series of sci-fi novels I want to write that totally cross boundaries of genre, in ways that I think are really cool :D

Anywho, that’s all for today, everyone!  Sorry for no vlog today, but maybe I’ll work up the courage later this week :)

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

Of Sacrifices and Dedication – Committed to Writing

Hey everyone!

While I am super anxious to share more info about Burning Skies with you all, I wanted to touch on a subject that, as someone who is committed to becoming a full-time writer, has become very prevalent in my life lately.  And that is specifically the sacrifices I’ve been making the last few years, and how all of the people in my life have reacted to it.  In a way, this post is part of the core of my blog’s purpose: the trials and triumphs of writing.

More than 20 years ago, I started writing, and it has since become my great passion!  I’ve written for so long, I simply can’t remember or imagine my life without it.  And I don’t want to imagine a life without it.  I had grand dreams of becoming a known author, someone who inspired thousands, even millions with my stories.

Someday.  Tomorrow.  Eventually.

The dreams I had were always “Someday.”  Whenever something came up to distract me from writing, writing became “Tomorrow.”  And getting published?  “Eventually.”

stdragon20 years as a writer, and I had nothing published, outside of Star Trek Dragon’s run on the internet.  20 years without making a dime off of writing (which, if you ever want to write full time, is important.)  “Eventually” turned into 20 years.

Not long after I moved to Denver, which was a major turning point in my life, I decided to stop letting that happen.  I was going to get published!  If not with The Sword of Dragons, than with some other novel!  Those of you who have read my blog from the beginning have seen the majority of that struggle.

Photo taken by Laura Earley
Photo taken by Laura Earley

It started with proving to myself that I could write full time, or as close to it as I could.  So when the idea of Chronicles of the Sentinels was born, I decided to work on it, every.  Single.  Day.  And I did.  2 or 3 hours every night after work.  5 or 6 hours every Saturday and Sunday.

In 3 months time, I completed pre-production, writing, and the first series of proofreads and edits on book 1, Legacy.  It was, and still is, an exciting story, and if never picked up by an agent, will one day be self published.

I had done it!  I had proven to myself that I was a true-to-heart writer.

And when I almost-had-but-lost an agent for Chronicles, that was when I decided to self-publish.  I could have started with Chronicles, but I wanted to work on my first love: The Sword of Dragons (Hmm, there’s an idea for a blog: each novel, each series, as a love affair ;)  lol)

I had some idea how much work was ahead of me, but I still had no idea just how much work it would take to promote the book and get it out there.

Between writing, editing, and working on my social media presence (such as with the blog you are enjoying right now,) I’ve been doing something writing related almost every day.

Balancing Writing with Life

Something else extraordinary has been happening since I moved to Denver.  Any one who knew me before I moved here knows that I was once a very shy guy, who would sooner sit at home and play video games that interact with, well, anyone.

20160312_105213Since I’ve moved to Colorado, I’ve slowly emerged from my shell, and have finally built a base of some truly incredible friends, both at work and outside.  I’ve gone to conventions, parties, and seen and done things I never, ever thought I would.  And I love spending time with my friends, and seeing my family that lives in the area!

But I also work 2 jobs now.  At least, that is how I treat my writing – as a 2nd, part-time job.  I take it that seriously, and as I build up my platform and start to gain readership, I feel ever-more obligated to keeping up with writing (which is good, in my mind, it keeps me focused :) )

Anyone who has worked more than one job knows that your social life suffers to some extent.  I don’t want to lose the friendships I’ve built up, and I genuinely want to spend time with friends and family, but in recent months, I’ve found myself learning to say something very important to anyone who truly desires to make it as a writer, an artist, a singer, ANY passion or artistic endeavor.

Learning to Say No

Before I continue, I know that many of my friends read this blog, and I want to say here and now: no, this post is not a gripe or an attack.  In fact, you have no idea how wonderful it makes me feel when you insist I come have drinks with you, or go to a movie, or hang out, I love it!  And I love each and every one of you :)

To my fellow aspiring writers, artists, heck to everyone out there with goals and ambitions: the word “no” is something you should learn to be comfortable saying.

In fact I’m suddenly remembering a conversation that my friend Wayne and I had a long while ago.  He told me how he often overbooks and spreads himself too thin because he just hasn’t learned to say no when people ask something of him, whether favors or just to hang out.

And when he told me that, and suggested I learned to say no, I took that to heart.  With some hesitance, I have started to exercise that powerful word.  I hope so very much that my friends understand.  I hope that they realize I have fallen so far behind my schedule as a writer, and that I need to make sacrifices to get back on track.

So while the word “yes” is equally as powerful, so is “no”, and if you can learn to balance the two, it will become a truly wondrous superpower!

Too dramatic to call it a superpower?  I don’t think so.  Because believe me, it is not easy.  To all of my friends, I thank you for your patience and understanding, and your continued support of my addiction, uh, I mean passion ;)

And as always, to all of my readers, thank you so much for reading.  Something I often write when I sign books, I now say to everyone out there:

Never give up on your dreams!

Thanks for reading :)
-Jon Wasik

First Glimpse at The Orc War Campaigns!

Hey everyone!

Ready for your first glimpse at the upcoming Sword of Dragons web series, The Orc War Campaigns?  Today is your lucky day!  Not only do you get an excerpt from the first episode of the series, you also get to see the titles of the first three episodes!  So without further ado, here they are!

Episode 1 – Invasion
Episode 2 – Counterstrike
Episode 3 – Assault at Ironwood

These 3 stories form a beginning trilogy that will kick things into high gear right from the very start!

Now, I am very excited to show you all the first excerpt from the new series!  A bit of background on where the scene is to get you started:

After receiving reports of invading orcs attacking a mining encampment in the Ilari Mountains, Cardin Kataar and his companions are dispatched to scout out the numbers and strength of their enemy.  Reis, an experienced scout, had successfully spied the encampment, but was discovered and chased by the orcs’ sentries.

After a narrow escape through Dalin’s portal, the group recovers and learns a startling truth.

——————————————————————————

Dalin turned to where the portal had been, and sighed. Not one orc had made it through after them.

With a huge sigh of relief, he stood up tall and nodded for Cardin and Sira to release him. When he looked ahead, he saw the gates of Archanon, welcoming them in.

Then he glared at Reis. “Did you really have to bring the entire enemy force down upon us?”

Reis used a cloth to clean the blackened blood from his sword. He glanced at the Wizard and shrugged. “What? It’s not my fault.”

Dalin rolled his eyes, and mumbled, “Best scout, indeed.”

Cardin and Sira sheathed their weapons, and then turned to Reis. “Well?” Sira asked. “What did you see?”

The innocent grin on Reis’s face faded, and for the first time since Dalin had met the Warrior, he looked completely serious. “It’s worse than we feared.” He looked at each of them, and then focused again on Sira. “There are thousands of them. It’s an invasion army, and the Relkin Mine is their beachhead.”

Dalin felt his heart sink. He exchanged worried looks with both Cardin and Sira. She grimaced and looked at Archanon. “Then they are in the perfect position to march upon Archanon.”

Cardin nodded. “It sounds like a new Orc War is about to start.”

——————————————————————————

By The Numbers

Back when I was actively writing Chronicles of the Sentinels, I used to post excerpts along with a tally of page count and word count.  With the completion of the first 3 stories, I thought I’d post those numbers here for curious minds :)

Episode 1 – Invasion
Word Count – 12,369
Page Count – 37

Episode 2 – Counterstrike
Word Count – 11,918
Page Count – 36

Episode 3 – Assault at Ironwood
Word Count – 14,113
Page Count – 42

Although I don’t know yet how many episodes there will be in the series, I am shooting for 9, the same number my old Fan Fiction series used to have per-season.  At this rate, these stories will easily combine into a novel-length anthology, which is my plan at the end :)

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed!
-Jon Wasik