Research, research, research

I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday break. I spent some time up north with family for a bit of a vacation and to hopefully get some cold-weather research in, as snow isn’t something one sees very often in central Texas. Alas, in the week and a half I was there, there was little to no snow in the part of Nebraska I stayed at. There was one evening of light snow a few days before the end of my vacation. It left less than an inch on the ground, and locals scoffed at the amount, but I was pleased to have been able to see the white stuff falling and the thin accumulation on streets, sidewalks, yards, trees, and on the frozen lake we visited a couple of times. Walking atop that lake was enjoyable, though alarmingly slippery, and something entirely new to me. All in all, it was a good trip. I had fun and got some insights that will help with the next book. Though I didn’t get to enjoy deep rifts of snow as I have in the past, I was able to experience just how terribly cold it feels when temperatures approach and go below zero degrees F, and think about just how difficult and dangerous life in those climes can be.

Now that I am back home, I’m doing research that is much more mundane using my trusty assistant, Google. The research concerns other matters that may impact plots in the next volume: technology advances during the industrial revolution, arctic ecology, history, and the like. A bit boring, perhaps, but essential to understand how we as a people progress and fall back, and how greed, fear, the desire for progress, and such, propels individuals.

Time to get back to it. 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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Trade Paperback Version of Book 4 Now Available

Trade Paperback Cover for Book 4

Of Gods, Trees, and a Sapling, trade paperback version cover

I just received the proof of book 4, Of Gods, Trees, and a Sapling, today and it looks great. I chuckle every time I glance at it because it’s so darned big. At any rate, I have approved the proof so the trade paperback version of book 4 is now available HERE from CreateSpace.com. It should be available at Amazon.com within 3-5 business days and will be accessible at the same link as the kindle version, you’ll just have to select the paperback version in the ‘other versions/formats’ section. Once Amazon has a direct link to this version, I will update this post with that.

Please note that the price for the trade paperback version of this book is more than previous books because the minimum price allowed by CreateSpace is higher due to how long the book is–at 773+ pages, it is about the size of books 1 and 2 combined.

Happy reading, all.

UPDATE: Amazon now has a link to purchase the trade paperback version, if you’d rather buy it from them instead of CreateSpace. You can do so from HERE.

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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!

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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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Almost There.

I had hoped to have book 4 released by now, but life got in the way. Too many things happened this month. At any rate, I have had a chance to work a bit on the cover (I think it looks nifty, so far), and I’ve done three read-throughs with edits and revisions (and am on a fourth, now). Part of the reason I’m holding back release is that I found issues in each of those three read-throughs. Nothing enormous, but they were big enough that I am uncomfortable not checking for more. I want a read-through where I find nothing but minor problems. And, too, I’m still trying to come up with a title I’m happy with.

So, the short version: I’m working on a clean read-through, finishing up the cover, getting a decent title, and then all I’ll have left is to look at test reader feedback and then format it for e-book and trade paperback.

Very close, now.

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Draft of Book 4 Complete!

I have completed the first draft of book 4. Well, I call it the first draft, but due to how I write, previous portions have had several read-throughs and edits performed already. I also completed a number of little edits based on many notes and voice memos I’ve made along the way. I’m currently doing a read through of the entire thing for more edits and tweaks, after which I’ll give it to a test reader. Then there’s a title (I think I have one already), covers for the ebook and trade paperback versions, and it will be ready for release.

It’s getting close!

P.S. As I’ve said before, don’t forget that there is a Follow author option on each of Amazon’s author’s pages so that you can be notified when your favorite authors have new items available on Amazon. If you’d like to know when I have new books available for purchase on Amazon, you can check this blog, or click the large Follow button near the top left of my Author Page.

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Dragonlinked Book 4 Update

Got back from a kind of family vacation several days ago. I spent a little over two weeks with my brother’s family and had a great time. I hadn’t seen my niece and nephew in a while. It’s surprising how much kids change in their early teens. Anyway, I’m finally working on the last scene of the last chapter.

This chapter has been my nemesis, my Khan, my great white whale. I think I now know what writer’s block is. It’s not that you can’t write, necessarily, it’s that you can’t figure out what to write. I could not come up with a way to present what I wanted to present. I even tried my trick, which is to just write anything. I started work on the chapter before the vacation and hoped time away would give me inspiration or at least let me come up with a way to get through it that wasn’t . . . tepid. It didn’t go so well. When I got back I had to scrap the entire first scene because I hadn’t done proper research into the way certain processes actually work and I had gone about it entirely the wrong way. Ah, well. Always do your research, kids! Save yourself time and effort. The research did help, though. It gave me a framework upon which I could wrap already-written scenes as well as new stuff. Even so, I did have to figure out a way to make, ah, that process not be boring when you are rooting for, ah, the side you normally aren’t. History helped there. It turns out that part of the process worked differently prior to the mid-1900’s, so I took full advantage of that by deciding it would be the same on Lethera. And apologies for being so vague, but I don’t want to spoil anything. At any rate, I did finally get things lined up and presented in a way that I think works well.

So now I am working on the last scene. This will be the denouement, the easy-going wrap-up, though it will have a little surprise that came to me a few nights ago as I lay in bed waiting to fall asleep (when many great ideas occur to me and get recorded in voice memos, as I’ve talked about before). Then there will be the epilogue, which will be much easier and quicker to write, then coming up with a title and cover art. Still, I can now not only see the light at the end of the tunnel, I can make out some of the scenery there, too!

Funny thing? I’ve got ideas and have even imagined scenes for book 5. Silly brain, focus on book 4 and THEN think about book 5.

Also, don’t forget that there is a Follow author option on each of Amazon’s author’s pages so that you can be notified when your favorite authors have new items available on Amazon. If you’d like to know when I have new books available for purchase on Amazon you can check this blog, or click the large Follow button near the top left of my Author Page.

Happy reading, all!

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Heavy As Lead

I normally do not comment anywhere or to anyone about terrible events. I’m usually heart-broken, or numb, or dismayed, or all of it and don’t have the will to do so anyway. When the twin towers went down in 2001, I was so shocked that at first I felt like I was in some strange dream. What was on-screen…couldn’t be real. Those planes plowing into…no. No. No. No. No. No. Not real. Not possible! I had watched online and on television for hours but then…I couldn’t look at it anymore. I just couldn’t. I retreated to the only place I thought could get me away from it all—an online game. There I could mindlessly do quests until I could fully process the horror of what had transpired. It took days, but eventually, the dark cloud lifted from me and I could go about my life almost normally.

This past few days I’ve buried myself in writing, letting myself process what happened on June 12, 2016. I cannot believe someone could do that. I just do not understand how a person could wantonly kill anyone much less dozens and dozens. But someone did, and so many lives were lost. I grieve for the victim’s friends and families. And those who survived, too. They must live with the memory of the horror of what they went through.

I will not name that person. I will not name who that person claims they were associated with. I will not further that person’s goals.

My heart, heavy as it feel right now, is with the victims, their surviving friends and families, and the survivors. My heart is with Orlando.

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For Anyone Who Wears Glasses/Contacts And Uses A Computer

So, I recently started using glasses while at the computer. I’d been stubbornly refusing to use glasses even though my eyesight has gone to crap over the last few years. Well, a bunch of my family were here at my house recently, and we played a game called Smart Ass (a trivia-based game that was pretty fun). As part of the gameplay, one must read clues from cards. When it came my team’s turn to do so, I could not read the card. My brother slid his reading glasses across the table to me, and laughingly told me to use them. I put the things on, and let me tell you, I was shocked at how clear the card became. And not just the cards, my phone, too! The icons looked amazing and I mentioned as much. Everyone laughed at me, I blushed in embarrassment, and he told me to keep the readers. He apparently buys them by the dozen somewhere? I never even knew that was a thing.

Aaaanyway. I’ve been using them since when I need to read anything, and the first time I put them on at the computer, I was shocked once again at how nice things looked and how clear everything was—except for rendered text. I noticed it mostly in OpenOffice (the suite I use to write because it is so much cheaper than Office and has just about the same functionality), but text in everything was not quite right. Finally it got annoying enough that today I spent some time searching online for clues as to why text looked fuzzy. I wondered if perhaps OpenOffice wasn’t using ClearType, which Windows uses to make screen text more readable. After quite some time searching, a thought occurred to me. When I reinstalled Windows recently, I went through the ClearType setup routine. Maybe I should do it again while wearing the glasses?

I typed cleartype in the Cortana/search bar and launched the setup app. I had to change most of the previous choices I made, which boded well. When I was done, oohhh man, text looked spectacular in OpenOffice! The text in the document, on the menu, in the settings dialogs—text everywhere in Writer looked great. And here in Chrome as I type in this post, text looks so much better, so much more legible. Everywhere text is rendered on my screen looks a thousand times better, now.

Long story short: If you use Windows (not sure about other operating systems, they may have technology like ClearType) and have recently started wearing glasses/contacts or have changed your prescription, I would highly recommend running the ClearType setup again with your glasses/contacts. You may see a WORLD of difference like I did. I’m betting the eyestrain/headaches I would occasionally feel will be lessened or even eliminated.

Welp, back to writing.

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