This has been such a long time coming, and I am so very excited to finally share this new chapter with you all! Dark Dragons, gods, demons, mysterious assassins, elementals, this book has it all and more! Who will survive? And who will perish?
Also an exciting announcement, come check out a live streamed virtual release party today, July 18th at 2PM Mountain Time! This will be my first-ever virtual release party, and I’m so excited to bring you this event and to interact with all of you. I’ll be talking a bit more about what this book is about, answering questions and responding to comments live, and then I’ll read the first couple chapters, so come join in the fun!
You can catch the stream either on my author’s facebook page:
First and foremost, if you missed the live interview this past weekend, the cover for Secrets of the Cronal has been revealed, along with a release date and pre-order! Click here to visit the pre-order page!
Now that my obligatory marketing is out of the way :) One of the frustrations that has recently hit the Self-Publishing market, particularly those who have used Amazon’s solution, was when KDP took over print edition services from CreateSpace (which still boggles my mind that they did this, since CreateSpace was owned by Amazon.) And one of the major reasons this is frustrating? Loss of previously-existing functionality.
In this case, I speak of the ability to order author’s copies prior to actual publication. I was able to do this on CreateSpace, but once everything migrated over to KDP, I discovered that this was no longer an option, and you can only order author copies after a book has been published. If you want to have a launch party on release-day, with copies in-hand, this is impossible via KDP.
The last time this happened, a friend suggested I try Barnes and Noble Press. You can create a ‘personal’ book without ever publishing it, but still order as many copies as you want. So for book 3, I thought I’d give it a try.
It has not gone well…
Bugs, Bugs, and More Bugs
Though their interface for authors is relatively straight forward, I almost immediately ran into problems with my manuscript. It claimed I had not embedded my font in the document. A minor frustration that eventually was overcome by switching from Open-Type Font to True-Type Font. I don’t know why that made a difference, but it did.
After that, things started to seem okay. I wasn’t happy with the price (about $3 more expensive than a proof copy from KDP,) but I ordered my copy anyway. It took them AGES to print it and finally ship it, but about two weeks later, I had a copy in my hand, and was mostly happy. Especially comparing it to KDP’s proof copy, in which they failed (again) to center the cover image properly. I noted that they used a thinner paper stock, too, so the book was about a half-inch thinner than the KDP version.
But these were meant to be initial proofs, and I found mistakes, both in the manuscript and on the cover, that I had to fix. I submitted my files to both. About 10 minutes later, Barnes and Noble Press sends me a message, “We have found copyright violations in your submission. Your submission is locked and cannot be further edited.” Excuse me, what?! I wrote the book, I bought the rights to the cover art, and you didn’t have a problem with the previous submission, so what the hell?
After a while of frustratingly trying to find an email address to contact their tech support, I send them a message about the error.
About 5 days go by, with me checking the project’s status each day, and each day it still says the same. Finally they reply with, “We checked your project and do not see the error you describe.” WTF?! So I log in and find that, mysteriously, it no longer claims copyright violation and is in the process of being reviewed for approval to publish. I call B.S. on the B&N Press Techs. Someone somewhere screwed up, and as soon as you saw it, you fixed it, and then pretended you hadn’t screwed up. Own up to your mistakes, people.
Anyway, over two weeks go by, and the project is still in ‘reviewing’ status. Last time it only took 2 days to review, and at this point it’s been 3 weeks since I submitted the latest revisions…and since then, via the KDP proof I received, I found more issues to fix, but I couldn’t submit the updated files since the project on B&N was locked during review. So I email their tech support again.
5 days later, I finally get a reply. You can see where this is going, right? Only this time, they basically said, “We’ll look into it.”
A week goes by, nothing, no fix, no contact. I email again. Three days later, “We’ve resolved the issue.” Apparently no sense of urgency in these people at all, but at least it was finally approved and ready to order.
Now my latest dillemma? After submitting updates (that I had submitted to the KDP version a month prior,) and the new files getting approved a day later for publication, I submit my order for a new proof copy. A few days later, I check my bank account, and notice that they had charged for the proof copy, and immediately reversed and refunded the charge. I had no communication from them about this. So I check my order status, and it says “Printing.” Not cancelled, nor any other errors.
So I guess I’m in limbo now, not sure if they’ll actually print my project or not. Do I bother sending tech support another email, knowing it’ll be 5 days before I get a response? Will it be fixed? Certainly, at this point, not in time to approve the proof and have copies in-hand by release date, at the speed they move…
As annoying as KDP’s lack of features and watermark on the proof-copy covers are, at least they’ve been responsive in the past when I run into issues, which themselves have been very rare.
Anyone know of another self-publishing website that’ll let you order author copies prior to publication? Preferably one that works far, far better?
I have exciting news! The cover reveal for the Sword of Dragons book 3, to include the back-of-book blurb, the release date announcement, and pre-order information will be released LIVE this weekend on ShowX by VtW Productions!
At long last, the day is coming!! I’m so excited, everyone, I cannot wait to show you! So tune on on ShowX’s twitch feed live this Sunday, June 21st starting at Noon Mountain Time, 11AM Pacific, 2PM Eastern. If you want to participate in the chat, I’ll be taking questions from everyone, so be sure to register on Twitch ahead of time!
It’s time for another Secrets of the Cronal update! Today I’m really pleased to bring you the chapter titles from the upcoming release.
One of my favorite things to do when a new Harry Potter book came out was to read the chapter titles and try to guess what each chapter would be about, and there was just something magical about it. I admit, that was part of the reason I decided to name my chapters when I published book 1!
So, without further ado, I present to you the chapter titles from The Sword of Dragons Book 3 – Secrets of the Cronal
The Seal of the Covenant
The Dwarf of Serelik
An Unexpected Visitor
The Sylaric Stone
Under the Shadows of the Moons
Fires of Jealousy
The Celestial Spires
Into the Web
Sea of Magic
The Deep City
The Morning After
The Grand Sanctuary
Guardian of Secrets
The Whispering Tree
Strength in Shadow
Over the Wall
The Final Piece
Battle of the Cronal
The Great Library
The Greater Good
I admit, I struggled with thinking of chapter titles this time around, but once I named them all and read through the book in the latest round of proofreading and editing, I felt like every single one was perfectly named :)
I’ll be working on updating the Sword of Dragons website with a new section specifically for book 3, where these chapter titles will be listed as well, until the pre-order and cover reveal is completed.
Thanks for reading everyone, I hope you’re as excited as I am for the coming release! The next update will be the back of the book blurb, and then after that, the cover reveal and release date :D
Next month, this blog turns 6 years old! And like any proverbial rollercoaster, there’s been ups and downs.
But there’s one thing that’s always nagged at my mind. One story that almost was. A story that still could be.
In June 2014, I had an idea for a new trilogy of modern-day fantasies, a trilogy that eventually became called Chronicles of the Sentinels, and that story swept me away! At the time, it had been ages since a new idea made me feel so much excitement, so much anticipation to write it and try to pitch it to agents or publishers. In fact, I knew that the idea was unique enough and exciting enough, I was sure to get it published!
A modern fantasy steeped in Babylonian mythology. Much like other sci-fi or fantasy stories, it took the myths, legends, and history of ancient times, and wove them into a tale of mystery and intrigue that took place today, right now, and brought magic back to our crazy modern world.
Back then, I decided to treat writing like a full-time 2nd job, and I worked on this story every single day. 3 months later, I had developed the overarching concepts for the trilogy, come up with the outline for the first novel, and written the first draft. In just 3 months!
Then came the hard part – pitching to an agent.
Colorado Gold Conference
Back in 2014, I attended my first ever writer’s conference, called the Colorado Gold Conference hosted by the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. One of the perks of participating in this conference was getting the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a few agents and pitch a story to them.
I nearly struck gold ;) I pitched to an agent who, after just one minute, told me how excited she was and that she wanted to see the first thirty pages of my manuscript. I was ecstatic! And it bolstered my feelings that the story idea was enticing and interesting.
Alas, as you might know, Chronicles of the Sentinels has not been published yet.
The agent sent a response within a short amount of time telling me that while the story idea had definite merit, the protagonist was not at all interesting, and I needed to do some considerable work on the story to fix it.
As she pointed out the exact reasons, I realized just how correct she was. I’d managed to make an interesting story, but not an interesting character. I knew I’d have to work on it.
Editing vs Rewriting
Back then, I felt my only recourse was to do a thorough and complete edit. It would take considerable time. And I’d given myself a deadline of ‘making a living off of writing in 2 years.’ Even though I knew back then that it was not an achievable goal, I also knew that by setting such a goal, it would push me forward, and break a decades-long ‘I’ll eventually get to it’ mentality.
As a result of that self-imposed deadline, I decided to instead self-publish another finished story, The Sword of Dragons, the very fantasy-adventure series that I’m still writing books for today! I do not at all regret this decision, even though it meant that I wasn’t able to work on Chronicles again until 2019.
I especially don’t regret it because of where I’m taking Chronicles now! I started looking at it again last year, and it occurred to me that the story could benefit from a total re-write, in a completely new writing style. I’d been re-reading the Lotus War Trilogy by Jay Kristoff, and realized what it was about his style that I liked. It was personal, it was fluid, the language wasn’t ‘matter of fact’ all the time. More than that, the characters, especially the protagonist, was interesting and human, with flaws and personality quirks that I was able to connect to, even though I’m not actually like her.
And I wanted to try my own version of that writing style. Not copy, no way I could do that, but write in a style that was far more engaging and personal.
So I started fresh, re-developing the primary protagonist as I went, and wrote two new chapters for Chronicles. I sent it to some beta readers, who absolutely loved it! But I set it down after that because my life became consumed with other issues, such as my hip injury and subsequent surgery.
A couple of weeks ago, I re-read those two chapters, and just like I did back in 2014, I felt the familiar bubbling of immeasurable excitement!
I feel like I’m onto something big again, and I feel like I’m finally doing this story justice! The protagonist, Christopher Tatsu, is far more interesting, and from the very beginning of chapter 1, the reader goes on a journey with him, seeing hints of magic, but wondering if they’re real or what it means…it’s exactly what the story needed! More than that, I’ve created a far more personable, human character, and given him a history and traits that make him easier to connect to.
So, when I’ve grown bleary-eyed while editing and proofreading book 3 of the Sword of Dragons (don’t worry, I’m still very much on schedule,) I have been turning to writing more of Chronicles.
It was the story that almost was picked up by an agent. And it still could be, becoming my first professionally-published novel :)
Thanks for reading! I plan to go into more depth on what I’m doing differently in this version, but that, my friends, is a story for another time.
Today I am so excited to finally reveal the title of the upcoming Sword of Dragons book 3! On this, just 2 days shy of the 5-year anniversary of the first book’s release (1st edition,) it feels appropriate to share this news.
Without further ado, I give you:
Secrets of the Cronal
I’ve written about the story and development of book 3 since 2015, and one thing that I knew from the beginning, many of the secrets surrounding the religion central to Halarite would come to a head in this book. More than anything, the biggest revelation of what exactly the Cronal is, and what its origins are. The revelations of which will have repercussions far beyond just Halarite.
There’s more news ahead regarding book 3, so keep an eye out! Still ahead are chapter title reveals, the blurb for the back of the book, and then finally, a cover reveal and release date!
Better still, did you know that those who subscribed to my email newsletter learned of the title earlier this week? If you want to get the latest before anyone else, click here to sign up for the newsletter today! :)
Sales pitch aside, my hope really is to engage more with readers and fans. You all are phenomenal and I’m grateful for each and every one of you. Thank you so much for reading!
After yet another long period without posting a blog, I come bearing good tidings! I have not been idle, and I am happy to say that the third book in the Sword of Dragons series is nearly ready for release!
And I have some pretty crazy statistics to go along with it. Starting with the fact that I first wrote about developing book 3 on this blog in 2015. Book 3 has been in one level of development or another for five years!
So why the long delay between two and three? Unfortunately there’s no easy answer for that. Long story short, two major factors: Life, and relaunching the series in 2018. Neither of which I regret, and both of which were absolutely necessary. Given the feedback I’ve received (in person, any way) and the sales numbers, the 2nd editions of books 1 and 2 are catching a lot more attention than the original editions did, and that’s good news all around! It has helped spur me on to finish book 3, and make it the best possible book I can.
So, where are we at now? I just finished a major revision and edit of book 3, and have sent it off to two more beta readers to help ensure it is as clean as can be.
What did the first beta readers think? The biggest positive thing they had to say was that pacing was fantastic, and that there were many times they had to go back and re-read a chapter because they forgot they were supposed to be beta reading. There were some critiques as well, and that was what resulted in a month-long revision and editing effort. I am much happier with the story and writing now, and I’m hoping the 2nd round of beta readers will have little critique :)
Additionally, since I do not anticipate a need for any more major revisions, I have gone ahead and started getting the book ready for publication. I know that there will be more edits to come, particularly for grammar and spelling mistakes (hopefully they are minimal,) but it shouldn’t change the page count too drastically, and thus the dimensions of the final product won’t be vastly different.
About that…. page count. Back in 2015, I wrote this blog article about how complex book 3 was turning out to be. The final product turns out to be the most complex story I’ve ever written, with countless story threads diverging, and then in the end, coming together for the final climax. I had to track where all characters were, when, and why, and then weave their tapestry together in such a way that readers never felt like they went too long without seeing what a particular character was up to.
So when my beta readers agreed that I pulled off the pacing spectacularly, I about cheered!
The downside? This is also the largest novel I’ve ever written. By nearly 100 pages. For those who like numbers, here’s a comparative breakdown.
Rise of the Forgotten – The Sword of Dragons Book 1
Burning Skies – The Sword of Dragons Book 2
The Orc War Campaigns – A Sword of Dragons Story
The Sword of Dragons Book 3
Mostly, this isn’t a bad thing. I always knew my novels would get longer with each book, as I added more characters and story threads to be given attention, and dove deeper and deeper into the existing characters.
The downside, however, will be pricing. The minimum Amazon will let me price book 3 at? Over $17. For comparison, Burning Skies and The Orc War Campaigns are sitting at $14.99. So my intent is to list book 3 at $17.99. This isn’t as expensive as some books, but trade paperbacks would definitely cost a lot less. The downside to self-publishing and print-on-demand, I suppose. On the bright side, I’ve already heard people tell me they are willing to pay this much, since they enjoyed the previous books so much :)
Also on the plus side, eBooks don’t cost more to publish longer books, so I’ll still be pricing the eBook at $4.99 :)
What’s Next for Book 3?
I’ve already designed the cover, and I’ve already ordered a preliminary proof copy, to check how the cover looks, and to have a physical copy to proofread. I’ll go through that book as well as await beta reader feedback, and go from there.
Additionally, I am already starting to plot out a marketing campaign, including a title reveal in the near future, followed by chapter title reveals, and finally, a cover reveal when pre-orders are ready!
When will it be released? Well, that’s another bit of info I’ll be revealing in the near future, but I don’t intend to rush it like I did the first releases of books 1 and 2. That means it won’t be in May like the other first editions were. I already have my eye set on a summer date, but I don’t want to say it until I’m absolutely sure I can hit that mark :)
The final bit is determining whether or not I can have an in-person release party. With the Coronavirus Pandemic and social distancing, I just don’t know how things will be in a couple of months. So if it looks like that might not be feasible, then I’ll have to try to figure out a way to host a virtual release party.
Well that’s all for today! Thank you for reading, I hope you’re as excited as I am for the upcoming release! Believe me, this one will be worth the wait you’ve all had to endure :)
Last night, my wife and I watched Ready Player One again, one of our favorite movies, and at the very end, there’s a line of dialogue that has always caught my attention:
“Goodbye, Parzival. Thanks. Thanks for playing my game.” -James Halliday.
Being a creator of, well, anything is special. But why do we create? Why do crafters make things, why do artists make art, why do writers write? I’m sure most people have different answers to those questions, everyone comes to the table with different life experiences and expectations.
But for me, a big part of it is sharing the story. While there might be exceptions, I’m willing to bet this is a common reason, or at least desire, for most people. Jewelcrafters want people to wear their jewelry. Artists want to show their art so others can see them and enjoy them. Engineers want people to use their things.
And writers want people to read and enjoy their stories. Or at least, I do.
If by some strange coincidence I was able to write full time for the rest of my life, but no one ever read my work, and no one ever talked about it or felt anything about it, I would never be happy. It would never be enough.
I suspect James Halliday, and many other game designers in real life, have much the same thought. Why make a video game if no one is going to play it?
Maybe I’m wrong, but the look on Halliday’s face when he delivered that final line instantly made me think that. He had built the most elaborate game in the history of games, and Parzival played it passionately and vigorously. It meant something to Parzival. It meant everything to him.
And Halliday, whether he was an elaborate AI or some sort of mind-uploaded copy of the real Halliday, couldn’t have been happier about it.
That’s something I hope I have achieved, even if only for a few people – passion. I hope there’s someone out there who has enjoyed my stories, and eagerly awaits my next one. I hope that there are people out there talking about them with each other, discussing their views on the characters, their favorites and least favorites, and why.
I’ve been a little despondent about it lately – Over a year since I published the 2nd editions of books 1 and 2 and not a single review on Amazon. Not even a negative one. Is it because my stories are ‘meh’ and no one feels passionately enough about them to even click a star or 5?
It doesn’t mean I’ll stop trying, and it tells me I need to hone my craft and come up with truly engaging stories. But it really does make it hard sometimes.
Which is why I say to all of you, if you have enjoyed an author’s work, or even hated it, please do them a favor and let them know. We crave input from our readers, good and bad! It lets us know that we’ve made an impact, even if a minimal one. It also lets us know what we’ve done right, and what we’ve done wrong, so that ultimately, we can write better stories for you in the future :)
Stories are meant to be shared. Especially your own.
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
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!
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!
Trials and triumphs of writing, finding an agent, and publication.