It’s been too long since my last post. But that’s the thing about blogging lately, I feel like I’ve lost sight of some of my original goals with this blog, while greatly achieving others.
The trials and triumphs of writing, searching for an agent, and getting published. That was what this blog was originally supposed to be about, all the way back in 2014. I was certainly a different person then, and my life was very different.
I never found an agent, though I came close a couple of times. I have, however, been published. I think my decision to become self published was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s given me incredible insights into this industry, made me realize that there’s just so much more to writing than I ever realized.
Having said all of that, there’s one part of my blog’s stated goals that I’ve greatly neglected in recent months. Writing.
Granted, we bought a house recently, and as anyone who’s been through that knows, there’s a lot involved in that (including fixing up everything that was wrong with said-house in the first days after taking ownership.)
And we’re still not fully settled in.
But that’s meant I haven’t written anything in months. At least since early February, if not longer.
Furthermore, sometimes I feel like I’ve spent too much time and effort trying to advertise my published books on this blog, when that wasn’t one of the original goals. Sure, sharing my celebrations and events involved in marketing is part of it, but…well, all in all…I think it’s time I took a break from blogging. Again.
I first started considering this after I read a blog post by Rachelle Gardner. Her words resonated with me, and I realized that I felt like blog writing, right now anyway, felt too much like a chore. The joy I used to feel in blogging was gone.
Thinking even more on it, I realize that is because every time that I’ve spent time writing a blog, I felt like I could have used those precious minutes to write stories. And over the past 2 or 3 years, writing time has been scarce.
Of course, there’s a flip side to that…what do they say about writing? That to be a good writer, you need to write from experience, and that means going out there and experiencing life. And I certainly have done that in the past 3 years! I’ve had more adventures, experienced love like never before, seen and done things I’ve only dreamt of before!
It’s made me a better writer. And now, more than ever, I feel like the time is right to take advantage of that. Now is the time to write stories again.
That’s who I am at heart, a writer. So I need to go back to my roots, and focus on that. Rediscover that part of me.
Does this mean I’m shutting this blog down? Nope. It just means I’m taking an extended break for now.
But I’ll be back. That much I can promise you. My journey is still just starting, and I still want to share it with you all :)
Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks for being awesome! See you next time!
Have you ever had a story in your head that demanded to be told? Not later, not eventually, but right now?
I’ve had some interesting experiences with characters making demands (such as Kailar in book 3 telling me “This isn’t me, I would never stand for being so passive”), but this is the first time I can recall when I’ve had a story come to mind and demand that its time is now.
Nine chapters into The Sword of Dragons book 3, and all of a sudden, another unrelated story won’t stop coming to the forefront of my imagination.
It was a story I actually first had an idea for back in 2015, and I’ve been slowly jotting down plot and character ideas ever since, knowing that it would be one I’d get to eventually.
Looks like eventually is now, whether I like it or not. Every spare moment I have with my mind, I think of this story! I’ve developed a large portion of the plot, and have begun to give characters names.
And these developments are happening fast, super fast! Granted with buying a house and thus moving in the next few weeks, I won’t be able to develop and write this story nearly as quickly as I did the first draft of Chronicles of the Sentinels, but this could be something I finish quickly and can then go back to work on the Sword of Dragons books.
What would I do then? Self publishing a book takes considerable time and effort for me, would I go that route? To be honest, probably not at first. I think this is one I might have a good chance at picking up an agent with. It’s something special, or so my friends whom I’ve shared it with insist, and I feel as though it is too.
What is it, you ask? That’s the kicker…I don’t know how much about this story I should share. I’m even hesitant to share the genre, but I don’t think I could get away with sharing nothing with you all, lol. It’s a book that, in the beginning, you might think is fantasy. But early on, you realize that it isn’t. It’s sci-fi.
And I’ve debated about that revelation for awhile. Should I brand the story as sci-fi from the get go, or should I allow readers to be surprised? Of course, the fear there is that if I brand it as fantasy, fantasy readers might pick it up, and then get mad when they realize it isn’t fantasy…and good luck getting sci-fi readers to pick it up if they think it is fantasy.
All of the lessons I’ve learned over the past few years of self-publishing tell me I should market it to a target audience, and I’m uncertain how big of a readership out there is a fan of reading both genres. Am I one of the few?
I guess if I manage to land an agent and eventually a publisher, they could help me with this decision, or possibly make it for me. But then…that’s the other question. What kind of agent do I look for? An agent who represents mostly sci-fi, or fantasy?
In the long run, this would be the first book of a larger series, and the larger series would most definitely fall under the sci-fi category. So perhaps that answers my question for me: this is a sci-fi story.
I’m also wondering what existing fans of my work think of me going off to write a sci-fi. The Sword of Dragons are most definitely fantasy. But I love both genres, and believe it or not, I started in sci-fi. The Sword of Dragons books were my first pure fantasy stories. So in a way, I’m more in my element with this.
For those who are curious, I don’t think I could ever consider myself a ‘hard sci-fi’ writer. I love tech, I love learning how it works in the fictional universe. I could even tell you how most of the technology in Star Trek works. But when it comes down to it, story is more important to me. Story and characters will always be my focus.
It’s what makes a story worth telling, in my opinion.
I usually finish up the year with a ‘looking back, looking forward’ post, and this, the last Sunday of the year, is no different…except this time, it is.
Nothing has been the same this year, and it’s been one of the best, and one of the hardest. I think I said something similar at the end of last year…little did I know how aptly that would describe 2018.
It began with loss.
In the beginning of 2018, my mother passed away. We knew it was coming, we had known for a long time, but nothing could have prepared me for how it would hit me, or how it has stayed with me throughout the year.
Even now, with Christmas, my birthday, and New Years, even when I’m not thinking specifically about her, I feel this immense, pervasive emptiness.
And perhaps the most frustrating part about it is that this should be one of the happiest years of my life. This was the year I got married to my Starshine!!
The saying often goes, your wedding is one of the happiest days of your life, and for me, it truly was :) I don’t think I ever actually relayed the full story of our geeky, fun-filled, beautiful wedding. The weather was perfect, the venue was fantastic, our hotel was great, and it was a perfect turnout, a small wedding like we’d hoped.
Then came the honeymoon, which was a mixture of good and bad. We’ve already decided we need a do-over! But despite the bad that happened, I hold a lot of fond memories from that week and a half, and for some reason today especially, I’ve been thinking a lot about our adventures in Orlando :)
By far, Disney World was the best!! It was my first-ever Disney experience, and despite how bad the weather was most of the time we were there, it was a blast! And exhausting, but in a good way :)
This was one of many trips I took in 2018, beginning with the trip to NM for my mother’s funeral, then Orlando for our Honeymoon. Next came a trip to Los Angeles for my best friend’s birthday, and also my second ever Disney experience since we went to Nick’s favorite place, Disneyland!
While I definitely prefer Disney World due to its size and scope, our adventure at Disneyland was just about perfect! The weather was great, there were surprisingly few people despite it being a Friday before a holiday weekend, and we barely waited 15 minutes in any line! Topped by an amazing dinner in a restaurant overlooking the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, the food was fantastic and the company even more so :)
And then not long after came my fourth trip, a work-related trip that took me to Huntsville, Alabama. Little did I know how much NASA stuff was out there, and being able to stand beneath a fully-erect Apollo rocket was an awe-inspiring moment!! I only wish my wife could have been there with me for that experience.
To top off this eventful year, I ended things by publishing three novels at once! What started as an attempt to refresh my work turned into a much longer, multi-year effort to rebrand the Sword of Dragons, and while I still am far from my goal of making a living off of writing, I’m happy to say that this venture has brought me a lot closer than I was before!
Now we come to it, the end of a truly roller coaster year (with lots of actual roller coasters!) I look back, and realize why I feel so exhausted, and why my emotions are so crazy right now. So much good, so much hardship. Even my holiday from work for the Christmas and New Years holiday has been tumultuous.
What do I want for 2019? Relaxation. Am I likely to get it? Well…
Looking Ahead to 2019
2019 may very well be another year without me publishing a new novel. I’ve been working on book 3 of the Sword of Dragons series, and as of writing this, I’m 7 chapters in. But Kailar’s story has been fighting me and I’ve basically scrapped my original plan for her in book 3. Which means I’m kind of making it up as I go for her chapters.
I also don’t want to rush it. I have a title and even a cover set to go for it, but I want to write the best story that I can, and I want to make sure it is as polished as possible.
What I AM happy to report is that I’m headed back to the convention scene, at least for one time. My wife and I have officially been accepted as vendors in the 2019 Whimsy Con in Denver! Our favorite Steampunk convention, and a worthy successor to the former Anomaly Con where Beck and I met, this will be our first table together, with me selling my books, and Beck selling her jewelry and her first book.
Yes, you read that right, Beck’s first novel will be available by Whimsy Con! :D Click here to head on over to her blog to find out about her latest adventures with her book, and her planned release no later than March 1st!
Shortly after that, comes perhaps our biggest move yet since we met each other – we’re planning on buying a house! Mostly because we’re tired of dealing with sub-standard apartments in the Denver area. Truly, there are inadequate protections for renters in Denver and property owners get away with a lot of inky moves. We even ended up getting the FCC involved in our dispute regarding exclusivity enforcement by CenturyLink in our current apartment complex, only to discover that our apartment complex had been lying to us about it.
So we’re done with apartments in Denver.
Beyond that? I’m not entirely sure where 2019 will take me. It probably greatly depends on where we land with a house. I don’t anticipate any big trips this year, since we need to conserve money, so probably just hunker down and focus on writing and voice acting.
Did I mention that yet, voice acting? I’ve decided to move forward with recording audio books, and depending on how that goes, I may try my hand at other related ventures. I’m also slated to be the MC for the Whimsy Con costume contest this year :)
So, now it’s just time to take in a deep breath, and plunge into 2019. Here’s hoping for a great year!
Thanks for reading, thanks for staying with me, and thanks for your encouraging words through the hard times. I really appreciate all of you!! (PS: I just noticed, 205 followers!! We passed 200!!!! :D )
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
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 :)
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.
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!
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!
Hi everyone, it’s here!! The day has arrived, and three books in the Sword of Dragons series are available in print and Kindle! :D Click the covers below or the links beneath them to go to their store pages!