Books

An Update and Some Advice

Whew. I had five chapters left to read over today to complete my read-through of chapters 1 through 20, and I wasn’t sure I’d make it, but I did!

Let me back up a bit and explain why that was a worry.

July was just terrible for writing, so I didn’t progress as much as I wanted toward my goal of writing through chapter 20 in order to start a read-through. So many things took time away from me, some good things, some bad. Visiting family, good, having to wait for technicians (and watch them while in my home), bad. Home ownership comes with so many little, um, joys, like failing parts of security systems, or sprinklers not working, or low water pressure due to a bad city water meter, and, well, you homeowners know what I’m talking about. But the thing that has had a larger impact on my writing than I would have thought, and a negative one at that, is sleep. Or lack thereof.

When I started writing this fifth book, I was determined to go at it for as many hours a day as I could, so I started waking up earlier than I normally do. That added anywhere from an hour to two hours more to how long I could write each day. The thing is, it wasn’t really helping. It seemed I was struggling to get words on the page. I mean, I was doing so, but it just wasn’t flowing as well as I would have liked. But there was another issue which this read-through has made very clear to me. Lack of sleep seems to have made it harder for me to track things as well as I should, and worse, I didn’t notice. I think it was sometime after I finished my last read-through, chapters 1 through 15, when I decided that I was tired of feeling tired and went back to my normal sleep schedule. Why do I think this? Because during this current read-through of Chapters 1 through 15, I found a TON of things wrong (things that I did not catch in the last read-through). Not major plot-breaking things, mind, but lots of little things. Say, something like character 1 being shocked by something said, when four paragraphs earlier, the same thing had been covered in their own thoughts. The biggest weird thing I found was a scene where a character who was supposed to be there, per what happens two scenes prior, was completely missing for no apparent reason. I had to rewrite about three-quarters of that scene, to insert that character who was supposed to be there. Because of all the things I had to fix, it took me nearly three weeks to get through those fifteen chapters. That is why I was so worried that I wouldn’t get these last five done today (I wanted to post an update that I’d completed this read-through by the end of this month). But happily, in these last five chapters, everything was as it should be. There were only tiny little tweaks needed. A slightly different word here, a trimming of a couple of words there. Nothing major, and things were good. So, I was able to finish the read-through of chapters 1-20, and I learned a lesson in the process.

And that is the advice I have to give today: get proper sleep. Any creative out there should seriously consider the impact lack of sleep can have. For me, it is shocking just how much it had, and I will no longer make that mistake.

Now, on to writing chapter 21. Happy reading!

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Of Gods, Trees, and A Sapling Kindle Version is FREE for Limited Time!

My series of books, Dragonlinked Chronicles, is an lgbt-friendly young adult fantasy series, and the Kindle version of book 4, Of Gods, Trees and A Sapling, is FREE from 11/13/2017 until 11/15/2017 on the Amazon.com store, HERE. Take this short opportunity to read the latest volume while I work on the next book! The Kindle versions in the entire series are Kindle Lending Library enabled, so feel free to lend them to your friends with Kindles. Have no fear, Amazon pays authors who participate in that program.

Happy reading!

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Read-through of First Six Chapters of Book 5 Complete

I finished the first draft of the prologue and chapters 1-5 of book 5, and so it was time to do a read-through. I found the same things as usual such as logic errors, plot errors, pacing issues, presentation order tweaks and the like. It takes some time to write five chapters, so plot lines, where people are, what they know, and so on, can get fuzzy from earlier chapters. That’s why I like doing a read-through once I complete around five new chapters or so. A read-through takes only a few days, so everything stays fresh and it is easier to spot those kinds of errors.

Anyway, that’s my quick update. There’s some good stuff going on in there. Can’t wait to get on with the rest.

Happy reading!

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Like Grass in Winter

I noticed something while writing book 4, Of Gods, Trees, and A Sapling, that is happening again. Namely, writing the start of the book takes a bit longer than writing the rest, on a per-chapter basis. In book 4, I thought it was because I was struggling early on to figure out how a god would feel and see things when trapped in a mortal’s body, struggling with how to get it on the page, but that couldn’t be the only reason the beginning chapters took longer to write because it is happening again. I am not certain the same thing happened in previous books, they were written years ago and a lot has happened since then, but I get the sense that I did struggle early on with each book. Why is that, I wondered. Why is starting a book as difficult as getting out of bed in the morning (at least for me)? In this new book, I realized that almost the entire reason has to do with working out specifics.

My outlines help work out and point the direction of the plots, give broad strokes as to what is happening and why. When I get down to the actual writing, however, I need to know exactly why a person feels a certain way or why a person does or says something. Much of that comes from their background. Businesses, agencies, history, and even the environment may also need specific ‘reasons’ for why and how they are in the current day of the book’s setting if a part of a person’s character is based on any of them or if any events are predicated on any of them. Why? So that the person or event makes sense. One of the things I absolutely hate is when a book, a TV show, or a movie throws something at you that makes zero sense. Why would the protagonist do that, have that, or know that? Same thing with the antagonist. Characters can’t just miraculously know, have, or do something at the last minute. Things need to make sense. Incidentally, as I mentioned in a previous post, I kind of broke that rule with a certain lightning bolt, but 1) I made it make sense later, and 2) as a sort of punishment, I made certain there were consequences.

It has been some time since I completed the outline, and yet I only just finished the first scene of chapter five, the beginning of the sixth chapter (if you count the prologue as a chapter). It’s because much like grass growing and spreading its root system during the winter with not much leaf cover being added, I’m having to work out the details of new people, places, and things, as well as add details to existing ones so that hopefully everything makes sense. I’m laying down a nice root system, so to speak, a nice base upon which the plots will rest and grow. I’m confident that as in the past, once that root system has been laid down, once the first few chapters are done, the remaining chapters will follow along a bit more swiftly.

Well, back to writing chapter five for me. In the meantime, happy reading!

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First Draft of Book 5 Started!

I have begun writing the first draft of book 5 in the Dragonlinked Chronicles series. In fact, I finished the last scene of the Prologue yesterday and started on Chapter One today. I’m looking forward to all the interesting stuff coming.

In the meantime, happy reading!

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This Man Gets It. Why Can’t Everyone?

The world already has hurdles built in, and some get more hurdles put in front of them right from the get-go, right from birth. One of the reasons I decided to include LGBT characters in prominent roles in my books is because LGBTQ people, young people especially, need representation in media. In songs, art, movies, television, and in books. What they do NOT need is people who don’t understand, who don’t seem to want to understand, adding more hurdles to their lives. Dale Hansen says it better than I can, so please read the article I linked below about a video of his posted to Facebook concerning student wrestler Mack Beggs, then watch Mr. Hansen’s full video which is included at the bottom of the article.

Sportscaster Dale Hansen defends trans student wrestler Mack Beggs in amazing takedown

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Creating Conflict, or in This Case, Finding It

Like with most of the books in the series so far, I had an idea of what I wanted to address (protagonist’s desire) before I started writing this next book, book 5 of the Dragonlinked Chronicles series. I also know a lot about the two main characters (new) involved with one of the subplots. My trouble has been with the conflict for the main plot, which is to say, conflict about the thing I want to address (and hopefully resolve). For the past two months I’ve been researching and filling in my “Outline/Timeline/Brainstorm” spreadsheet for book 5 (well, the Brainstorm part, anyway). The spreadsheet has three tabs, Outline, Timeline, and Brainstorm. I throw all kinds of ideas on the brainstorm tab: what can dragons do that is new? what things are ongoing from previous books? who are some potential antagonists and their motivations? what are some new technologies/spells or evolutions of existing technologies/spells? what are some problems on Lethera right now? and what kinds of things, crazy or not, could happen to mix things up? (Incidentally, that last column about crazy things is where Chanté came from for book 4. “You broke your rule about not having miraculous ‘saves.’ Someone has to pay. How about Ulthis?”) The brainstorm tab was full to bursting with sub-plot ideas, but I hadn’t been able to get very far with an outline because I could not start on a main plot outline.

I did have an idea for a main plot antagonist, which I thought of while doing research on our own history in two areas, but for the life of me I could not find a nice, strong motivation for antagonist. I couldn’t figure out how to put antagonist in conflict with the main thing I wanted to address (apologies for being vague on that count, but I don’t want to give away too much right now). Getting strong conflict about that main idea is something akin to conflict on our world about, say, cherries being tasty. Most people would agree that they are tasty, so where’s the conflict? I’d been wracking my brain day after day, drinking coffee and staring at the screen, trying to figure out how to drum up conflict about ‘cherries being tasty.’ I did come up with ideas about things that could happen in sub-plots, but I needed something for the main plot so I could start on deeper outlining. Then, I got to thinking, what if antag doesn’t hate cherries because people think they are tasty? What if antag hates cherries because someone precious to antag was hurt because of cherries, or directly by cherries, or something like that? Antag hates cherries for something other than ‘main thing,’ but that still puts them in conflict with cherries and makes antag want to crush them. That led me to a pretty good idea for antag motivation that also ties in to previous books.

Why did I have so much worry about the antagonist’s motivation? Because the antagonist is just as important as the protagonist. Both have to feel real. Both have to think that what they are doing is right. Without good, believable motivation for the conflict, your antagonist will feel like one of those mustache-twirling, two-dimensional bad guys that no one would feel anything about. And just as with the protagonist, if readers don’t care about the antagonist, they won’t care about the conflict. They won’t care about the book.

So, if you are having trouble finding or creating conflict about the main thing in your plot, think about it another way. What about tangential conflict? Could conflict come from another angle? Antag could fight main idea/person/what-have-you for a completely different reason than direct opposition. Heck, antag might not even be fighting protag’s desire at all, but instead, their actions could merely interfere with protag’s desire and cause conflict.

At any rate, now that I have a general idea of the whos and whys of the conflict, I can finally start expanding the outline and filling in the various plot lines. And speaking of which, it’s time for me to get back to work.

As always, happy reading!

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For Christmas, it’s Freebie Time!

Dragonlinked coverDid you give a Kindle? Get one? Know someone who is getting one? Or, do you know someone who reads eBooks and likes fantasy, magic, or dragons? How convenient!

It’s the perfect time to get started on Dragonlinked Chronicles, because starting tomorrow, December 24, 2016, and running through December 27th, 2016, the Kindle version of Dragonlinked, volume 1 of the series, will be FREE on Amazon!

Here are some direct links: US — UK — AU — CA — DE — JP — IN

Not from one of those regions? No worries, the book is also available at the Amazon sites for Brazil,  France,  Italy,  Mexico,  Spain, and the Netherlands. Note that, currently, the book is only available in english.

Merry Christmas, everyone, and Happy Holidays!

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Of Gods, Trees, And A Sapling Now Available in eBook Format!

It took some time, but the eBook version of the latest book in the Dragonlinked Chronicles series, Of Gods, Trees, And A Sapling, is now available at Amazon.com (and all amazon sites, actually). The trade paperback version will be available within the next couple of weeks, depending on shipping times and whether I have to make adjustments based on the sample.

Many apologies for how long it’s taken. There are two main reasons it took as long as it did for me to finally finish this book. The first is that my life has been ridiculously hectic these past eighteen to twenty months or so. I won’t bore or bring you down with the details, but suffice it to say I wore black a lot and made a few trips to visit relatives in the hospital. There were a lot of days where I struggled to write.

Now, the biggest reason it took so long–and I mentioned I had suspicions about it in a previous post (which turned out to be true)–is the length of this book. In between uploads to Amazon after tweaking the format and fixing the two spelling errors that somehow sneaked through, I started work on another document, the trade paperback version. My preliminary pass at formatting that version indicates that, in print, this book will be seven hundred and seventy-three pages long. That’s more than double the length of book 2. I suspected it might be longer than book 3 based on how long it was taking me to complete a read-through, but it didn’t feel that long to me while I was reading it. My test reader’s only comment that was even remotely related to the length was that she couldn’t stop thinking about getting back to reading it in between her job as a substitute teacher, working on starting her business, and picking up her kids. So, she apparently didn’t think it felt long either.

At any rate, here you go. ENJOY!

(And for those of you who want a physical copy, I will continue working on the trade paperback version tomorrow, I swear!)

P.S. OH!  If any of you followed me on my Amazon author page and you did NOT get notified about the release, could you please post a comment below? If some of you were not notified, I want to speak with Amazon and find out if there is anything I can do to fix it. Thanks!

Categories: Books, Dragonlinked, Fantasy, Lethera, LGBT, LGBTQ, New Release, Update, YoungAdult | Tags: | Leave a comment

Final Draft of Book 4 Manuscript Complete

I just completed a pretty darn clean read-through. All I found were minor word-choice issues, and in one ‘action’ scene, I made some minor tweaking to the order of sentences for pacing. As much as I dislike that it’s taken two months to get to this point, what has transpired has only reinforced my assertion that you should never, ever discount the value of doing your own read-throughs nor should you discount the value of test readers.

Performing your own read-throughs of a complete manuscript lets you get a feel for the entire thing, see its flow, see the various plot-lines and how they interweave, and see how the multiple story arcs progress all together. I have read the complete manuscript six times since the first draft was complete at the end of August,  and in every read-through prior to this last one, I found something fairly big. Particularly with how a certain investigation was progressing, I found places where what was in my head had not made it clearly to the page. I found places where in my zeal to describe a cool new thing, I gave away too much ahead of time, and so when the character ‘realized’ something about it, that realization made no sense because that something had been described prior. And when I decided to add a little scene near the end to give a certain character a chance at a bit of payback, I realized a major plot had a major hole. All those things I corrected.

I also got my test reader feedback. Fresh eyes see things that the author’s do not. So many things. Wrong character name used in speech tags, a case of the wrong verb tense (I change sentences around a lot and sometimes forget to check if a verb tense needs changing based on the new structure of the sentence), confusing sentences (this is sort of a period piece, so the language used has a hint of that, but sometimes just saying it simply is the best course), and the most important thing found was just a ridiculous over-usage of a certain action tag. Like a speech tag, an action tag ties a character to a piece of dialog, but it does so with action (an example with a different action tag: Aeron blinked. “You want to do what?”). It took me something like three hours to search that tag out across the entire manuscript and decide whether to keep it as it was, to replace it with a different tag, remove it completely (just leave the dialog), or to rewrite that part a bit. It took so long because I had to be careful not to over-use the fixes for the over-use. At any rate, I addressed all the feedback in one way or another.

All of that means the manuscript is complete. Now, I just have to come up with a cover blurb (working on that), finish the cover (98-ish percent done), and decide whether what I have now as a title will remain the title (no spoilers!). The trade paperback version will take at least a week longer because I have to get a physical sample of the book shipped to me so that I can check the printing of the cover (including alignment on the front, back, and the spine, and where the cover image is cut at the edges) and the interior before approving it for sale. BUT. I should have the e-book version on sale by the end of the month. I have been working really, really hard to make that happen. Along with familiar faces, there are some new characters that I think you’ll like a lot, I know I do, and I can’t wait for you to meet them.

Anyway, enough blabbing. Back to finishing the book!

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