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.
Now I have no experience in actual voice acting, but I do have practice with my voice from over 14 years of choir. Beyond that, I’ve been complimented often on my voice impressions of various movie, TV, and video game characters. I have also been (slowly) working on an audio book for The Sword of Dragons. So I thought…what the hell, why not?
Armed with a mic that Wayne of VtW Productions has graciously let me borrow, I set to practicing. In the contest, we could choose from both scripts, so I practiced both, hoping that I could submit both so that they might see the diversity in my voice.
Unfortunately, the rules are very vague about whether or not I could submit for both scripts or only one, and most entries on YouTube were only one of the scripts. So a couple of nights ago (with only 5 hours left on the deadline,) I recorded my best take, and submitted it!
And then I thought…why not share it with others to get people’s thoughts? I mean, the contest deadline has passed and I’ve already submitted, but I have threatened to do a vlog on here once before…so why not start with just a voice, and see what you all think?
As a primer, the instructions were to read the lines of only the indicated character, not both characters in the dialogue, so that’s what I did. But just so you all aren’t wondering what the heck is going on while listening, I’ve attached the script I read from.
I have some incredible, long-awaited news – the maps of Halarite are nearly finished! Well, actually, they are finished, the drawing aspect anyway. My friend Chloe has been hard at work on them for quite some time, and this past week gave me the completed products!
So what’s left on them? Firstly, she intentionally left any and all labels off of the maps so that I could add them in digitally. So I will begin work on that soon. Secondly, I might play around with adding in post-processing effects to give it that parchment paper look.
Maps and World Building
I’ve always loved old maps and old globes. In fact I have a globe that my Grandpa gave me when I was a teenager, and while I can’t seem to find an actual date on the globe, based on countries shown on it, it predates 1945.
And then there are fantasy maps. From the first time I got my hands on a cloth Everquest map back when the game first came out, I was hooked on fantasy maps. I’m super sad to say that I do not know what happened to that cloth map :( But since then, I’ve become a bit of a collector. Somewhere in my boxes, I have paper maps of several EverQuest realms, four Elder Scrolls areas (including Shivering Isles), and my most favorite piece, a giant map of Middle Earth framed and hanging on my wall :D
So naturally, when I first started developing what would one day become The Sword of Dragons, I began drawing my own map. I knew it wasn’t nearly high enough quality to ever publish in the novels, but it gave me a consistent point of reference I could use.
That way whenever I talk about where the characters go, and where they are in relation to other locations, I can keep it consistent. Keeping consistent within my world has been one of my greatest goals, and having a map to reference has been a big help!
I know as a reader, I love having maps to reference, so that is why I am so excited to show everyone the maps when they are finished! And beginning with The Orc War Campaigns anthology when it is released, the relevant maps will show up in every book from here on out for all of you, my awesome readers :D
So what’s your favorite map? Real-world, fantasy, sci-fi, anything, tell me, and better yet, show me! Post links in the comments, and let us all see your favorite cartographs :D
I have some exciting news: I’ll be interviewed on VtW Production’s Show X once again this coming weekend! :D Hosted by the ever-enthusiastic Wayne (and he has the hair to prove it ;) ) and his co-host Ken, Show X is a podcast dedicated to everything geek related. While the website itself says it focuses on technology and games, pretty much anything geek goes (which is why a fantasy writer like me is welcomed in :D )
So check us out this Sunday, 24 January at 2PM EST, 7PM GMT (for those who live in the mountain time zone with me, that’s Noon :) ). We’ll of course talk a bit more about where I’m at with the Sword of Dragons series, but there will also be lots of fun geekery involved!
To make your lives easier, here are links to where you can listen or WATCH the show live! Yes, you can watch it as it airs :D
To listen, go to http://www.vtwproductions.com/ and on the left side there will be an audio play button, just click that a couple minutes before the show starts, and you should be good.
In about 10 hours where I live, 2015 will officially be over. And what a year it has been. It was one of the most exciting years of my life, and simultaneously one of the most difficult. But rather than spend an entire post reminiscing on the past, I want to only briefly touch on it…and then look forward.
For that is what many consider to be the best part about a new year: starting with a blank slate. Leaving the past behind, and marching courageously into a brave new future.
2015 – The Year I Became Published
Without a doubt, my greatest triumph this year was publishing The Sword of Dragons. My first published novel!!! :D Even now, it feels almost unreal. I’ve been writing for nearly 20 years, so to finally have a book out there…it is just an incredible feeling.
While sales did not end up being what I hoped, they have begun to pick up again as word is finally starting to spread. And I end 2015 with more copies in the hands of readers than I anticipated!
All in all, so much good happened this year. While heartbreak overshadowed much of the 2nd half of the year, even that has subsided, and I am glad to say that I am in a happy relationship with a wonderful, gaming-geek, sci-fi/fantasy loving, gorgeous woman :)
Triumphs were made, hard lessons were learned, but in all, I look back at 2015 in awe…
While 2015 saw the publication of my first novel, I am stepping up my game a bit for 2016. Coming in January, I am going to start releasing, free of charge, a series of short stories set in the Sword of Dragons universe called the Orc War Campaigns. These stories take place right after the first novel, and will lead into the 2nd novel, Burning Skies.
As long-time readers of my blog know, Burning Skies is already written and proofread, all that’s missing is a cover. Which brings me to another goal I have for early 2016 – crowdfunding for book 2. More details will be coming on that soon :)
Other goals: I am looking into attending more conventions, including possibly getting a booth at them to sell my books. I also am looking into a book signing at one of my favorite coffee shops in the area :D and I also wish to start getting The Sword of Dragons on actual bookshelves, via consignment. Local to Denver, the Tattered Cover supports local authors in this manner, and will also host book signings :D
And finally, something I have slacked on for over a year – I wish to focus more on the blog community. While I’ve tried to be consistent on getting content onto my own blog, I have not participated in many other blog communities like I did in 2014. There are so many incredible and wonderful people out there that I met in 2014, and I wish to regain contact with them, and meet more!
The hard part will be time, all of this will require so much time, and that has been my biggest bane this year. My life has become increasingly busy, and I’ve had to make sacrifices in areas that I wish I had not been forced to.
In a way, I wish we still lived in an era of patrons of the arts. Hey, anyone out there want to become my patron, so I can quit my I.T. job and write for a living? ;)
That seems like a lot of big goals, with a lot of work ahead of me. Whew. But I’m determined, and with clear-set goals, perhaps I can reach them.
Final Thank You To All of You!
To anyone who is reading this, thank you for following my blog, for any past comments, and for all of the encouragement so many of you have given in 2015.
Plus, it was soooooo needed. A weekend away from everything else, just hanging out with fellow geeks, gaming, drinking, and all around having fun! While yes, it was a LAN party, it was so much more than that. Half of the time, I was upstairs getting to know all of these amazing people, folks I wish I’d met a long time ago.
Fellow Geeks of the World – Unite!
I am not exaggerating – every single one of the persons I met this weekend are truly amazing – full-on geeks who are not afraid to show it, confident and fun-loving. No joke, I found out that there is an actual training academy in the Denver area for learning how to fight with a lightsaber!
From computer engineers to nurses, people from every facet of life came together for the common cause of gaming and enjoying one another’s company. Not to mention twister!
I also discovered the amazingly fun, but oh-so inappropriate game known as Cards Against Humanity. So much fun that we stayed up until about 4AM playing!! (Warning – not a game for kids, or for the easily-offended!)
Plus we had some amazing cooks at the party! Sure there was plenty of junk food – pizza, candy, chips, salsa. Oh but the salsa wasn’t just store-bought, Wayne made some home-made in a crock pot. And then there were home-made cupcakes. And chicken dumplings. Sooooo much good food everywhere!
The Games of Gamefest
Then there was the gaming. Upstairs was an awesome rig setup for Rock Band, so I got to rediscover drumming (and learned I am embarrassingly out of practice!) Downstairs, well, lots and lots of incredible machines chugging away at some fantastic games, almost all of which I had never played before.
Including the new Star Wars Battlefront beta!!
While full of glitches, it IS the beta. The graphics were amazing, and the gameplay was intense! It was also the first time I’d ever played a game that actually required you to download the latest drivers for your video card, they wanted to ensure as few problems as they could.
The downside, though, was that the ability to get into the same game as your group of friends was glitchy, at best. I hope they fix that in the final release!
We also played a fair bit of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, a game I had never played before. I learned very quickly that whatever skills I thought I had in FPS games, they were nothing compared to these veterans!
In fact, if I had to come up with a kill ratio, I’d say it was probably 10 of my deaths to one kill. :-/ But the most important part was that it was a blast, and playing the game with these awesome folks meant that no one was childish about it, and we all had fun, no matter our skill level!
And finally, there was Tribes: Ascend. I had never played Tribes before, but THIS was a fun game. Seriously, check it out, and make sure you look into learning the ski function in it – that’s what sets it apart!
We also played a bit of Left 4 Dead 2, that was so much fun to have a full 4v4 team going! I love playing the monsters in the game, heheh. I also saw others playing Wareframe, which has sparked my curiosity into it.
Then I was introduced to Chris Roberts’s newest upcoming, totally crowd-funded game Star Citizen. This is an incredibly ambitious video game in the works, and the results are already amazing!
Imagine hopping into your ship, heading into battle with some friends. There’s a large enemy ship. Want to capture it? Board it, hop out of your ship, grab your gun, and begin the invasion. I really want to look into it some more, I only saw glimpses, but the details and the mechanics seemed really awesome.
An Exaustingly Relaxing Weekend
Little sleep, lots of fun, and a fair bit of alcohol – this was a totally exhausting weekend. And yet, I’ve come out of it feeling more relaxed than I have in a long, long time. For a couple of days, the past several months of trials and hardships were forgotten, and my nearly-depleted energy levels were refilled.
So kudos out to VtW Productions, to Wayne, and to everyone I met at Gamefest (You owe me a rematch, Lt4ork!! ;) ) Thank you all for an awesome weekend, and I look forward to seeing you all again!
Thanks for reading,
PS: Gamer Geeks ;) (Thanks Tara for posting this image!)
Trials and triumphs of writing, finding an agent, and publication.