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!
Life has become completely crazy this year, especially in the past few months since we had to move (and not exactly by choice, either.) Between the chaos and craziness that has been my day job this year, wedding planning, and moving, I’ve found myself with very little time and energy to write, or do much of anything writing-related.
It suddenly occurred to me how much I missed writing, and how I’ve had few good methods to help relieve stress. I remember one afternoon, while we drove to the grocery store, I turned to my fiancee and said, “I really need to find time to write regularly again.” It was out of the blue, but I figured there had to be some reason I felt compelled to say it.
And not long after, I realized why: writing is one of my biggest outlets. One of my biggest stress relief avenues. In fact in recent years, it has become the biggest. I no longer sing in choir, haven’t in years, and I don’t read as much as I’d like to, especially in the past 2 or 3 years. But writing, that has been my constant.
Even after we finish unpacking, the craziness isn’t likely to end anytime soon, we still have a long ways to go in our wedding planning, and work isn’t going to let up anytime soon.
While TV and video games still provide some outlet, they still don’t have the affect on me that writing does. They aren’t as powerful an outlet. They help me wind down at the end of the day, which is needed, but they aren’t writing.
Why Is It So Powerful?
I don’t really have a definitive answer to that question, but maybe we can figure it out right now. Storytelling has been a constant in my life, ever since I was a small child telling wild stories to my Great Grandma Marcis. It was fun. And then in 5th grade, I wrote my first short story, and have been hooked on writing ever since.
But somewhere after that, writing definitely became more than just a fun obsession. Just like choir, just like reading, just like video games, it allowed me to shut out the rest of the world and become engrossed in something else. With choir, when I sang, the world around me disappeared and my entire Universe became the director, the choir, and the audience. When reading, the characters on the page were my entire Universe. Same with video games.
But then, that still doesn’t explain why writing does more for me than any of those other outlets. It certainly didn’t always. I still remember how obsessed I became with Final Fantasy 7 when I first discovered it. Same with EverQuest.
I think it wasn’t until I moved to Colorado, when I finally broke a 4-year writer’s block and finished book one of the Sword of Dragons, that writing became something far more for me.
In the past 5 years, I’ve written 3 complete novels and am developing many more. The development, the writing, the publication process, it all makes me so happy! I obsess over my stories (ask my fiancee, once I get on a tangent about a story, I don’t stop talking about it!) and they feel like they need to be told. And that I need to be the one to tell them!
It’s my way of giving back to the world, I think, while at the same time giving myself something. I’m able to satisfy both my need for stories, both to experience and to tell, while giving the world stories.
Recently when watching the latest trailer for Star Wars The Last Jedi, it reminded me how great stories make me feel. And I love being able to make others feel that way. Maybe my stories aren’t as great as Star Wars – that’s not for me to decide. But who knows, someday, maybe someone will fall in love with my stories the same way I fell in love with Star Wars, or Star Trek, or Lord of the Rings.
As I work on the final proofread of the final episode of The Orc War Campaigns, I’ve started to look at my outline for book 3 of the Sword of Dragons saga, and I’m excited!
But it’s also a bit of a weird feeling. I finished the outline for the 3rd novel last year, and have devoted all of my attention since then on publishing Burning Skies and writing The Orc War Campaigns. I’ve not touched book 3 at all during that time.
I was intimately familiar with the story I had crafted last year, and now I’m reading the outline going “Oh yeah…I forgot about that. Huh, I forgot about that too.”
Do other writers experience this, or is my ADHD kicking in severely and I’m just spacing all of these plot points I came up with and worked on for over a year? I’m not sure.
But one thing is for certain: the story I came up with last year is exciting! Maybe that’s the advantage of stepping away for so long and coming back: it gives me fresh eyes with which to be amazed!
The Order of the Ages
I think I posted it once before, but so far I’ve only come up with one chapter title, and that’s the first chapter: “The Seal of the Covenant”
In the first two novels, the religion on Halarite, The Order of the Ages, played a small, if important role in parts of the stories. They were hardly mentioned in The Orc War Campaigns. And the authoritative body of the Order, called the Covenant, has had its world turned upside down, and several of their standing lies exposed.
In book 3, all of that will come to a head. And 10,000 years of history will come to bear. I’m not exactly sure how much I should or shouldn’t say here (this is where having a marketing manager would be very useful!!) A character from book 1 will return, but he will not be the same person. And events from the very founding of The Order will come to bear.
As big of a role as the Order and the Covenant will play, much more will happen, and Cardin’s adventure will take him beyond Halarite! Until now, they have only had a hint of what was out there in the Universe. But with the threat of the return of Nuuldan, Cardin and Endri must seek answers to ancient questions on other worlds.
More than that, Cardin must come to terms with his new powers, as the light and the dark within him begin to conflict, and he must find a balance. This will be one of the most difficult times for Cardin, as he must struggle both with conflicts from within alongside the battles in the Universe around him.
Not to mention the Star Dragons are going to play a much larger role in book 3! In fact, there will be more dragons in book 3 than in the first two novels combined!!
I’m also excited to say that Kailar’s role in the Sword of Dragons universe is only going to grow from here on out. This was planned long before I found out that she has become a fan-favorite, so I’m betting you are all as excited as I am for her return :D
Well I think I’ll leave it there for now. I expect to start writing the manuscript for book 3 by early December! :D I’m so excited to get started, and I can’t wait to share more of this exciting new chapter in the Sword of Dragons saga with all of you!
Thank you so much to everyone who has viewed and supported my first foray into vlogs earlier this week! It was simultaneously a terrifying and fantastic experience, and based on what I’ve read and been told in person, I think I’ll do more in the near future :) (If you haven’t seen it yet, click here to check it out!)
In that first vlog, I admitted to something that made me blush on-screen: much of what the characters feel and experience on an interpersonal level came from my own personal experiences…more so than any other story I have ever written.
Last night, when I was at a friend’s Halloween party, I was talking with some of my friends there and telling them about this, and some of the comments they made started to make me think further about this…
This emotional connection is what draws people in to many stories. I read an article not long ago about this very thing, too, and I believe I recall the word used was pathos: when you frame anything into a narrative where the people and their experiences are the focus, it causes a reader or viewer to feel empathy for the characters, and feel more drawn to them and their story.
How important is this, you say? Here’s an example of a story without that element:
A great evil’s power resides within a ring, which is taken cross-country to a volcano where it is cast into the fires and destroyed.
Sound familiar? It should…I’m pretty sure anyone reading this is likely to know the story of The Lord of the Rings. Except…if the way I told it just now was all that the story consisted of, it’d be kind of boring. Tolkein’s writing style aside, that would not have been a memorable story.
But when your story includes a single Hobbit who thinks he can’t make a difference, but still rises up to save the entire world, through pain and hardship and loss, overcoming the most difficult obstacles ever, along with a fiercely loyal friend who never gives up on him…that is a story that connects to the readers. Not to mention all of the other characters’ stories: Aragorn’s struggle to rebuild the great kingdom, Legolas and Gimli’s friendship, Merry and Pip’s adventures and friendship, and Gandalf’s rise to become the White Wizard.
I’m getting a bit off topic here…but then I wonder, how much of the emotions evoked in Lord of the Rings came from Tolkein’s own experiences in life? We know from her interviews that JK Rowling’s own life experiences and emotions were poured into the Harry Potter novels, and they are one of the most wildly popular books out there, for both children and adults!
So I wonder…is this the secret to writing stories that people will love and connect with? Stories that they will obsess over and write fan fiction about and make fan art for?
It looks like I’m going to find out in the coming years…because as hard as it was to write some of the scenes in The Orc War Campaigns, especially the final episode…I want to keep doing this. I want to infuse my life, my experiences and emotions, into the stories. It helped me connect with my characters better, and it is my hope that it will help you, my dear readers, connect with them as well…
Thank you for reading, and for all of your support over the past few years! <3!
Think about some of your favorite movies, TV shows, or novels, and tell me…is there a romantic plot or subplot to it? The chances are good that the answer is yes. Why?
Because just about every single fiction story out there has romance in it. No seriously, think about it. Think about every movie you know, ever TV show you’ve watched, every novel you’ve read, and how many of them have no romance in them what so ever? I’m willing to bet it’s less than 10% (and that number is probably being generous.)
So I guess the question is…is this bad? I started thinking about this after watching Treasure Planet with my girlfriend recently (psst: check out her author’s blog here!), and she commented how there had once been a plan to continue the story as a cartoon series, but she was annoyed that the series was going to give Jim Hawkins a love interest. She liked that he didn’t have a love interest in the movie.
When she said that, it took me a moment of processing, and I realized she was right. There hadn’t been a love interest for Jim. Granted there was a very small romantic subplot between the ship’s Captain and the scientist (I’m horrible with names) but even that was highly underrepresented.
And yet, at least in my mind, Treasure Planet is a fantastic movie!
So in my opinion, romance is not necessary to make a great story. However, some of my absolute favorite movies include very strong romance elements. Stardust (a movie that has become dear to me :) ), The Princess Bride, and Star Wars (especially The Empire Strikes Back) all have romantic elements, and these are some of my all-time favorite movies.
However, just like any other trope in a fictional story, doing the same thing over and over again the exact same way gets boring. It gets old. Romantics like me love a good romance story, but even I get annoyed with the same old version of a trope. While Prince Bride falls into the category of an old trope (damsel in distress,) Empire Strikes Back and Stardust did not follow the old tropes, and in fact Stardust even played with it a little bit with Tristan’s crush in the beginning.
This is why I love playing with tropes, and couldn’t resist doing just that in The Sword of Dragons. For instance, a dragon in a cave guarding a precious treasure? Okay, but instead of it being gold or jewels that a greedy dragon is hoarding, it’s an honorable creature protecting a powerful artifact from being used to wreak havoc. (Sorry, no Smaugs in my books!)
Romance in the Sword of Dragons stories
So, what of romance in the Sword of Dragons novels and short stories? Did I fall into the same ‘ol fantasy tropes for romance stories?
Well in book 1, there was never a ‘damsel in distress.’ In fact, all of the women in book 1 are strong and independent. So that pretty much eliminates that possibility right there. No princess waiting for some gallant knight to save her. Plus, without giving away too many spoilers, the hero doesn’t exactly get the girl (but he doesn’t not get her, either… You’ll just have to read the book to find out what happens ;) )
What of book 2? There definitely was a romantic subplot in it, and when I first published Burning Skies, I was a little worried about how people would receive it. Yet I was pleased to find that all of the readers who’ve read it so far have enjoyed it, and are curious to see if it’s going where it seems to be…or if I’ll turn it on it’s head.
There was also a scene that I absolutely loved researching and writing in Burning Skies: The Royal Ball. Researching medieval formal attire for both men and women was fun. But it was also a chance to bring Cardin and Sira closer together, giving them one special moment…
So what of future stories in the Sword of Dragons universe? Where are things going with Cardin and Sira? With Reis? With Kailar?
Well, as the good Professor River Song says, “Spoilers” ;) But I will say this: I seem to have a propensity to torture my characters. If they ever do find ‘happily ever after,’ it will only be after they have been through hell and back again (a dozen times.) If they ever get there.
What Do You Think?
So what do you all think? Should there be more stories without romantic subplots? Should romantic interests be left out? Or are they appropriate or even necessary to have in fiction? Leave a comment below to let me know! :)
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 :)
When I was a little kid and first dreamt of becoming a writer, I never could have imagined how there is sooooo much more to it than just writing.
Don’t get me wrong, writing is very important. I’ve spent 20 years honing my craft, and I intend to never stop striving to be better, no matter how good I become. If I somehow become the #1 best selling fantasy author in the world (if only) I will never stop trying to one-up my writing style, my stories. I want to be better.
But 7 months after publishing The Sword of Dragons, one thing has become very, very clear to me – writing is only part of the job.
Let’s pretend for a moment that I had published via the traditional method: found an agent, who found a publishing house, who paid me up-front for my work and helped with a lot of the ‘other stuff.’ That still would have left me with a lot of work to do.
As the author of my novels, I am the one best qualified for promoting it, and I believe that rings true for all writers. You know your target audience. You know your novel. You know its strengths, its highlights, what makes it worth reading.
But promoting it, and building a platform, is in and of itself is a full-time job, I’m discovering. And right now, I still suck at all of that, lol. Seriously, I would never have gotten this far if it hadn’t been for the advice and help of people like Wayne Adams, M. H. Lee, and Christian Michael.
But there’s still so much more to do, so much more that can be done. As I prepare to launch the Orc War Campaigns web series, my shortcomings are becoming even more apparent.
Challenges of the New Series
The story is turning out beautifully, in my opinion (hopefully my beta readers will agree :) ). Where it is now, where I plan to take it, it will make an excellent addition to the SoD universe (not to mention free to read!)
But how do I build up anticipation? I’ve tried to do so here on my blog, but I feel like I’ve fallen short. I’ve wanted to put more about it on the SoD website, but I’m struggling with how to present it there. And I need to do at least something to help present it graphically on the website, but once again, I’m struggling.
The first three stories are pretty much ready to go. Some final tweaks, that’s it. In fact I consider the first story, “Invasion,” completed and ready for public consumption! But presentation is important. I can’t just put it on a file upload and say “here ya go, folks, enjoy!” It deserves more than that, and so do the fans.
Which is why I made the decision (but never officially announced it until now) that the web series will not be launched this month. I am instead aiming for early to mid January. Nebulous, I know :( But with the first 3 ‘episodes’ all but complete, my focus for the next two weeks is creating a platform from which to launch :D
Not All is Lost
While I’ve struggled considerably with the ‘business side’ of writing, it has not been a complete failure. Sales are up! :D Almost all have been eBook, but there were even more print sales this month than the prior 4!
And this is the coolest part – it is safe to say that I have fans. :D Fans who are supportive, excited for the series, and bugging me almost every week for updates on the release of book 2. (For the record, I love being bugged about that, it inspires me to keep moving forward!)
So in light of all of this, and in light of the fact that I have achieved more than enough sales to be considered a member of RMFW’s IPAL (though I must now put in the paperwork for that), I am comfortable in calling the release of my first novel a success! And while I cannot yet live off of writing, this has turned out to be a giant step in the right direction.
And you know what? I have all of you, those who have followed my blog, read my book, and encouraged me, to thank for that success. Thank you everyone for a successful, life-changing first year!!
(Note: this will not be the last blog entry of the year. Stay tuned for more!)
There are many challenges to being a writer, many of which I never expected, and many of which were far greater than I ever imagined. For over 20 years, I’ve dreamt of ‘making it’ as a writer.
The one challenge I did not quite anticipate in my steady work towards that dream: just getting the word out. Getting my name out there, getting the name of my book out there, getting people to want to read it. I always thought just getting published would be the hardest part.
It’s been seven months since The Sword of Dragons was released, and it was one of the most exciting times of my life! Sure I didn’t go the traditional route of ‘landing’ an agent and getting a publishing house to pick it up. Self publication made sense at the time, and I do not regret that decision at all.
To an extent, it has been a success! I have not heard one single negative review so far, and it is more than just family and close friends that have read it. Random people at work that I’ve convinced to buy it, patrons in the coffee shops I frequent (not to mention the baristas themselves), pretty much anyone and everyone who would listen and was willing.
While that had only translated to just over 50 sales, all feedback, including reviews on Amazon (and one review on Barnes and Noble) were all stellar!
But…50. 50 sales in 7 months. And half of those sales were in the first two months. It was disheartening. I knew that the novel I had written was good, perhaps even great if the reviews are any indication! It was the first novel I had ever written that I believed in.
So the question became: how do I get more people to give it a chance? How do I get the word out? How do I convince someone who has never heard my name before that this book is worth reading?
Then a friend gave me the answer to that question: with my exclusivity to Kindle, I could use the Kindle Unlimited program to put The Sword of Dragons on sale for free! And so this past Friday, I did just that. I didn’t expect much, maybe a dozen or two ‘sales’ at most…
I was so very wrong. I watched incredulously as over 200 were sold in the first day, and 200 more the next day!!! My jaw quite literally dropped open. Could this be true?
Of course, there is a part of me that wonders: how many of those are from people who simply watch for any and all free books, and buy them up in an instant regardless, and they go into a ‘never going to read’ folder?
In the end, 694 people bought The Sword of Dragons for free. And what if…? What if even just a fraction of those folks read it? And what if those folks love it, and tell everyone they know about it?
It’s conceivable it could go the other way: those who read it could hate it, and they don’t spread the word, and no one else ever buys The Sword of Dragons again.
However, at least there is a chance now. Instead of 54, now over 750 people have a copy. Maybe, just maybe, this is where it begins. Maybe this is the boost I needed to start launching my writing career.
I hope so. No matter what, I’m not giving up on writing, or on the Sword of Dragons series. I will publish all six novels, regardless of their success.
Have you wanted to read “The Sword of Dragons” but don’t want to spend the money? From now until this Tuesday, it can be yours for the low low price of FREE on Kindle!
No trick, no strings, head on over to Amazon now and get your copy now! Click the cover below to be taken right to the store page :)
I actually started this promotion yesterday, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the exposure this has given the novel. Where as before, I’d only sold 27 copies of the print and about the same for Kindle (not counting Kindle Unlimited reads), as of right now, over 400 people own a copy of The Sword of Dragons!
A big shout-out to my friend M. H. Lee for suggesting I try this out. While it is true I get no royalties from a free sale, right now my greatest struggle is to get my name and book out there and known. This could become a HUGE boost to doing just that!
So tell your friends, tell your family, tell your worst enemy: pick up a copy today! And if you have two minutes to spare, stop on by Amazon after you’ve read it and drop a review in :)
I have this somewhat vague memory in my head from I think 1st or 2nd grade, where we were supposed to write down who one of our favorite role models was, and why. Then we were to stand up and tell the class what we wrote down.
I remember feeling very excited to make my presentation, and I was one of the first to give mine. Who was my role model? A fictional character. In that specific case, Superman, because I had just watched the 2nd Superman movie (Christopher Reeves, yeah!)
And everyone laughed. It was heartbreaking. So I sat down, and I listened to the rest, wondering why they laughed. I noticed that no one else presented fictional characters. They all gave real people, either family members or historical figures.
For a long time after that, I had it in my head that it was wrong to look up to ‘fictional characters’ as role models. I stopped admitting that to anyone for a long time.
I don’t remember when I realized it, but one day I came to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong with looking up to a fictional character as a role model. Are they real? Perhaps not. Yet characters exist in our hearts just the same as real people do.
And they can make exceptional role models.
Certainly this is not to downplay the power of people in our every day lives, as we grow up, turn into adults, and even for the rest of our lives. As I noted in my first novel, my parents are very much the reason I am the good man I am today.
But they weren’t alone. They weren’t the only people to shape who and what I was to become.
The Formative Years – Jean-Luc Picard
For those who know me in person, I doubt it comes as any surprise that one of the greatest influences in my life has been Captain Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek The Next Generation. I grew up with TNG, literally. As a kid, I never got to watch TNG every week, but the older I got, the more I tried to watch it.
There are definitely interesting parallels in my life, in who I am. And yet…there are definite differences. I love reading and literature in general, as Picard did. Yet I can’t stand Shakespeare. I’ve been in several leadership roles throughout my career and I do well in them, but I am not the kind of leader who keeps myself removed, distant. I don’t have or want children, but unlike Picard, I love kids and am great with them!
I also often wonder if I’ll end up perpetually single as he was, as I continue struggle to find someone to complement my life. But I never had a wild-streak when I was a teenager.
I’ll also never forget how Picard always stood up for the rights of others, the freedoms of others. The best example I always think of was when Data’s rights as a sentient, self-determining individual were put into question, and Picard defended those rights with such incredible passion! The same for when a half-human, half-Romulan crew member was accused of espionage.
Plus there is Picard’s love of art, music, literature, archeology, history… The intrinsic importance of each of these in every person’s life has stayed with me, and I wonder just how much my appreciation for them stems from seeing the importance he placed on them.
That isn’t to say I’ve tried to emulate him. I never have, I could never be that kind of person. But I really don’t believe it is a coincidence that many of what I consider to be the best parts of who I am bear similarities :)
The Responsibility of Writers – Characters to Look Up To
Seeing this in my own life, as well as in the life of many others, I’ve come to realize what this means for me as a writer, and perhaps what other writers should always keep in the back of their minds (in my humble opinion, any way :) )
Fiction holds an incredible power in the minds and hearts of humanity, especially young people. And they are looking for good role models to look up to. Just look at the insane popularity of the Marvel franchise. (Granted that’s also because us adults who grew up with the comics are loving it :D heheh.)
And for each writer out there, whether a novel writer or a script writer, we have the power to influence the minds of many. For some, our exposure to the world is limited (at least, right now.) But at any moment, that novel or short story or screenplay you wrote could explode in popularity, and all of the characters could become a part of our very culture.
So please, be careful. You never know the impact your protagonist could have on an individual’s life.
Not to say we don’t want to put flaws in our characters. We all have flaws, ALL of us. And a flawless character is boring to write and read. But how you present that flaw, how the character deals with it, the impact it has on the world and the characters around them…that makes all the difference.
Thanks for reading! :)
Trials and triumphs of writing, finding an agent, and publication.