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Decision Time

I have enough feedback from my critique partners now to know that there are problems with the first five chapters of MAGE STORM.

Mage Storm

Now, that’s to be expected in a first draft. But not this many problems. I have twelve markup notes in the first chapter. Eleven in the second. Three or four would be more normal. This likely also accounts for my difficulty in making real headway on this one. Some part of me recognized that things just weren’t coming together right.

My usual rule with first drafts is that they only go in one direction–forward. But those first few chapters are the foundation upon which the story has to be built. And if I ignore these problems, they’re only going to multiply the further I go.

Some of that has to do with the history of this project. The first version was (unintentionally) a middle grade story and I’m trying to grow it up to a more general epic fantasy. The story can be that. But probably not the way I’ve been approaching it. Many–not all–of the problems have to do with the characters ages, which are supposed to be a couple of years older than in that first version. In some parts, though, they act younger. The only solution may be to scrape back down to bare ground and really rewrite it, not just try add new parts and revise the rest.

Probably, I’ll go ahead and finish the chapter I’m currently working on. It’s a brand new one so doesn’t suffer from the problems of the rewritten portions. And then I’m going to have to think hard about just how I’m going to proceed.

And to think, I thought this project would be easy because I’d already written it once.

I may skip over and do a little work on MEADOWSWEET while I think. It’s good to have another project on deck for times like this.

In Other News

Because progress reports about how much or how little I’ve written on MAGE STORM are boring,

Mage Storm

maybe I should post about something else.

First choice would be what I’m learning. I bought a number of books about the business–especially the marketing–side of this writing business. Unfortunately, so far I haven’t had any epiphanies. Well, except that everyone seems to agree that I need to just bite the bullet and start a mailing list. Something I’ve been resisting. Maybe I’ll give it another go. Maybe. I can be a pretty good procrastinator when I want to. Not in the same class as my Dad,

Dad in Uniform

My father.

but . . . the apple doesn’t fall that far from the tree.

What else is going on?

Well, since I lost both my dogs. Aliza in May 2016 and Micah just this last August,

Micah and Aliza

I’ve been wanting to get another dog. I’ve looked a couple of places, but I what I really want is another Cardigan Welsh Corgi. I’d gotten on a waiting list for a litter that was planned for this coming summer, but now it looks like that won’t happen. So, I’m going to get more serious and really start looking. Talking to Cardi breeders, for a start.

That could get interesting. Both Aliza and Micah came to me as adults while I was taking care of my mother,

Mom, Young

and needed dogs of known temperament and some level of maturity.  Aliza was fifteen months old, a failed show prospect but a champion companion, when I got her. Micah was three and a half years old, a retired breed champion, when he came to me. Both came from their breeders. But . .  . I haven’t had a puppy since I was in the sixth grade. It’d be a whole new experience. I’m going to look into Cardigan rescue, too. But that’s probably a long shot. Not too many Cardis end up in rescue.

So . . . that’s most of what else is occupying my time right now–aside from the day job, of course.

So, I seem to have mostly gotten over my New Years’ cold. And I’ve started to get back to work on MAGE STORM.

Mage Storm I haven’t gotten much further on it, yet. But at least I am working on it.

I’ve also gotten some feedback on the early chapters that gives me some good ideas about what I need to do to make it even better. That’s energizing in its own way. It’s the new ideas that make this writing thing fun and, since MAGE STORM isn’t new, that may have been responsible for some of my lack of enthusiasm. An infusion of new ideas may be exactly what I needed.

It’s Live!

BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM published this morning.

StormCover2

It’s still only 99 cents for a few days more. The price goes up on January 5th.

Book 1 of the series, BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING is also only 99 cents for the same period.

BecomeCover2

Otherwise, well . . . between holiday clean up and trying to fight off a cold, I haven’t gotten any writing done the last few days. Have to get back to work soon.

2019 Writing Goals

First Goal: Complete the rewrite of MAGE STORM and publish it.

Mage Storm

In this case, I’m going to state a backup goal, in case I continue to have trouble just moving this along. Write the first draft of MEADOWSWEET.

Second Goal: Begin work on the second book, tentatively titled ROGUE MAGE. (But see above backup goal.)

Third Goal: Housekeeping-type things:

  • Do some work on this website and on my Facebook Author Page to make them more appealing and more professional.
  • Establish some kind of regular promotions.

Fourth Goal: Continue learning and improving:

  • Continue reading and learning about other aspects of the craft, chiefly marketing/promotion and better launch strategies for new books.

And, finally, the back-burner list. Things I am not, at this moment, ready to write, but need that final inspiration or two that pulls them out of the pile and makes them irresistible.

  • One or more sequels to DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING. ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????The main characters have completed their character arcs, but more needs to be done–probably by other characters–to save their corner of the world.
  • Fairy tale retellings, including Meadowsweet.
  • My much-neglected weird Oz story.
  • Prequels to the DUAL MAGICS series, Dual Magics 1-3 Boxed Settelling how the world got into that state: how the Fasallon came to be rulers in Caere and all along the coast and why they try so hard to maintain that position, why the Dardani have such a fear of magic, how the Fasallon and Valson came to be separated, and more.
  • The final book in the CHIMERIA series.ChimeriaBox
  • And that Arthurian-legend, secret-history idea I’ve been playing with off and on.
  • I’m sure others will raise their heads as I go along. In my experience, there’s nothing like writing one idea to cause others to spring up along my path like bunny rabbits.

Happy New Year

2018 Goals Results

Well, technically, it’s still 2018. But it’s that time of the year to look back and see how I did against the goals I set up for this year.

First Goal: Publish BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

BecomeCover2

Achieved.

Second Goal: Finish and publish BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

StormCover2

Even though this technically releases on January 2nd, that was a choice I made based on other factors. It could just as easily have been published this week and it is available for pre-order. Therefore, I’m counting this one as achieved, too.

Third Goal: Start the rewrite of MAGE STORM.

Mage Storm

Since the goal was only to start, I get to count this one as achieved, too.

Fourth Goal: All the annoying housekeeping-type things:

  • Complete the migration off of Pronoun and either back to Kindle Select (the four or five books mentioned in my last post) or onto Draft 2 Digital for wide distribution. Achieved.
  • Finish setting up the x-ray option for selected books. Not Achieved.
  • Some semi-regular promotions. Achieved, but still needs improvement.
  • And whatever else comes up of this general type. Too vague to rate.

Fifth Goal: Keep on Learning

  • Figure out how to do a better job of marketing. Including how to market audiobooks.
  • Keep growing as a writer. Try things that scare me or are difficult (like BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.)

Achieved, but this will always be an ongoing process. It’s a journey, not a destination.

Back-burner: The things I wasn’t likely to get to this year, but still needed to remember that they’re out there, waiting their turn:

  • A secret-history-type story based, in part, on the Arthurian legend.
  • There are several others that are, so far, just a line or two–the beginnings of an idea, but not there yet.

Not surprisingly, all of those are still on the back-burner. However, one of the fairytale retellings, working title MEADOWSWEET, did take major steps towards being ready to actually write. It came so close, it nearly knocked MAGE STORM back a rung on the list. It’s still going to hang there as a fall back in case I get stuck on MAGE STORM. (Sometimes, it’s good to be able to make progress on something.

All in all, I’d call it a successful year. Next yea’s goals in my next post.

As I continue to try to make real headway on the rewrite of MAGE STORM,

Mage Storm

here’s a snippet from BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM, which releases in ten days:

StormCover2

Having lost his memory, Gaian has been living alone in the forest, trying to wipe out the bandits whenever he can find them, and completely unaware that others are now looking for him. Rose is a girl he rescued from some of those bandits a few chapters back:

Gaian stopped and crouched to stare at the ground, trying to decipher what he was seeing. The tracks of the stag he’d been hunting were completely demolished by the tracks that crossed them. Not that he couldn’t pick up the deer’s trail on the other side. But first he needed to understand what had happened here—and decide if he needed to do something about it.

He followed the tracks for a little distance. Five—no, six—men. Bandits, most likely. Which was very much his business. Headed toward the south side of the forest. He hadn’t been that way in perhaps too long. That much was easy. It was the sixth track that gave him pause. The others walked in a reasonably straightforward manner, varying only a little to adjust to changes in the terrain or to avoid walking into trees or bushes.

The sixth man’s steps weaved like a drunken man’s. Gaian stopped to study a place where that man had fallen and been dragged for a short distance before he got to his feet again.

An injured man? Bandits weren’t known for taking care of their own wounded, in his experience. Gaian cocked his head studying the prints in front of him. And even a wounded man would instinctively put out his hands to catch himself when he fell. Unless, of course, his hands were tied behind him. A captive, then. Bandits didn’t usually take captives, either—not male ones, anyway. But the signs were clear.

That decided him. Hunting for food could wait. It was time to shift to hunting bandits and rescue their wounded captive. Then backtrack and see if there were any other wounded or dead to be taken care of. He was reminded of Rose’s warning. Might these bandits have found this other fellow, the one who looked something like Gaian? Then why take him south? Well, no matter. He could solve those mysteries when he caught up with them.

The tracks were hours old. He’d need to hurry. Tracking, stopping to find the trail where the marks were not as clear as they were here, was inherently slower. On the other hand, their injured captive might slow these men down, too. He could hope.

~~~

Gaian ran, the lion’s-head hood of his cloak pulled up against the afternoon drizzle. He’d lost the trail twice over dry or rocky ground, losing too much time. He was sure now that his quarry was making for the very edge of the forest and he had to catch them before they could leave the cover of the trees, because he’d never managed to go beyond that point.

There they were, ahead of him, surrounding a staggering man with bound hands. And much too close to the last of the trees. Gaian redoubled his speed, shouting a war cry. If he could get them to turn and fight, they wouldn’t get a chance to step beyond the forest boundary and he could still rescue their captive.

The rearmost of the men turned at his cry. “Rot! What is that? It has the head of a lion and the body of a man!”

“Never mind what it is. Run! Run for your lives!” another cried.

They dragged their prisoner off his feet, pulling him forward.

Gaian stopped, just within the shadow of the last tree, frustrated, every muscle straining to keep running and complete the rescue. But he stopped. He didn’t understand it. All he knew was that leaving the forest would cause greater harm than allowing these bandits to escape with their captive. He didn’t know what, but it seemed he’d always known that truth. Something very bad would happen if he left the forest. Or . . . something bad would happen to more people before the right time—whenever that would be. He roared his frustration, though.

He quickly slid his bow—already strung from hunting that stag—into his hand and pulled an arrow from his quiver. He might not leave the forest, but that didn’t mean his arrows couldn’t. The first shot took out one of the two men dragging the prisoner away. His fall swung the captive and the second man around. Perfect. Gaian nocked a second arrow to his bowstring, taking aim on the second man.

The captive looked up toward the forest and his eyes widened. “Gaian! Gaian, you’re alive!”

Gaian stared back, for the moment forgetting his target. This man knew him? The name sounded right—more right than the name he’d given Rose. The face looked familiar, somehow. But he couldn’t remember . . . .

And then, suddenly, he did. The face he remembered was younger, the man barely out of his teens, if that. Not in a forest. Mountains. High mountains. And a cave. Fire. And a  . . . a dragon!

Gaian took several steps back into the dense forest, dizzied by the abrupt onslaught of such a vivid memory. Backing away as if to gather himself for an attack on—or by—the dragon. Lightning flashed. Wind swirled. Thunder cracked and boomed. And Gaian fell to his knees, overcome with a vision . . . a memory. Too real. Too . . . . much. Everything faded into blackness, punctuated by bright flashes of lightning or dragon fire and thunderous booms or the roar of a dragon. Gaian could no longer tell which, only that he was overwhelmed by it.

Merry Christmas (or Happy Holidays, if you prefer)