Archive for August, 2014

I now have the rough outline and the first scene for the third book in the DUAL MAGICS series, reminding me again how hard it is to start a novel, let alone a sequel. What with reworking the first two books, it had been a while since I’d actually sat down to start a first draft.

Starting any novel–especially a fantasy–is a delicate dance between providing enough information about the characters and the setting while at the same time having something interesting happen that is relevant to the plot. Sequels are even more difficult because of the fine line between providing enough information for a reader who happens to pick up a middle book first and not boring a reader who has read the first (two) books and doesn’t need the introduction. It’s always my intention that any book in a series of mine is able to stand alone, even as it has a place in the larger plot arc of the series. That’s my preference as a reader and that’ how I write.

When starting a first novel in the series (or a book that’s not part of a series), I usually try to limit the number of characters in the first scene. But that gets harder to do as a series goes on. Other characters just are there and their characters and relationships have to be introduced somehow.

This will be the third book in the four-book series that starts with THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I’d share the first scene here, but . . . well, spoilers. And since Book 2, THE IGNORED PROPHECY, won’t be out until December, it’s just a little early to telegraph that plot.

I still have to come up with a good title for Book 3, though. Well, there’s time yet. The only risk is that the longer I go with a working title, the harder it is for me to think of the story with any other title.


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Well, I think I’ve done about as much as I can with THE IGNORED PROPHECY until I get some reactions from beta readers. It’s down to 108,500 words, which isn’t bad. There may be a bit more I can cut, but not much.

So, it’s time to start turning my attention to a couple of other things:

  1. Cover art. Naturally, I’m going to want this to have some similarity to the cover of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I can find similar backgrounds with out much trouble. The trick is going to be coming up with a good central image.
  2. The map. If I’m going to include a map in THE IGNORED PROPHECY (and maybe go back and add it to THE SHAMAN’S CURSE, I probably should get that ready pretty soon.
  3. Book 3. Poor Book 3 doesn’t have a title yet. This is the book where everything falls apart. I need to settle the main outline of the plot. I’m a modified discovery writer. I don’t do a detailed outline, but I do find that having at least the main turning points as guide posts is helpful.  Also, without having a good idea of the plot makes it hard to know where the story starts, and I really want to include an excerpt in THE IGNORED PROPHECY when I publish that in December.

Meanwhile, of course, still working on my new writing space. I got the ceiling painted yesterday. Progress!

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Whew! Despite a couple of busy weeks, I’m on schedule to get THE IGNORED PROPHECY (sequel to THE SHAMAN’S CURSE) ready for beta readers next month.


TIP is now down to 109,000 words. Just a little more cutting to do and a couple of scenes to revisit and it’ll be good to go.

Other than that:

  1. I’ve started the process to get THE SHAMAN’S CURSE made into an audio book through Audilble (ACX). I’ve even got my first audition.
  2. I’m just starting on what will eventually be my new writing space. Digital CameraLots to do before this will be ready, of course. I’ll be working from the top down, more or less. So I need to paint the ceiling and replace the malfunctioning ceiling fan. (I have the paint and the fan.) Then I think I’m going to sponge a pearl glaze on the walls, to cover up some of the unevenness in the paint. Also, you can’t see it very well in the photo, but there’s some sponged acanthus leaves in the corners. I want to add some more of that, too. Then the old carpet (at least fifty years old) has got to go. And finally, I can start rearranging the furniture. Still have to figure out what I’m going to do with that china cabinet. Oh, and one of the closets is going to become a built-in book case.
  3. I’m also preparing to put THE SHAMAN’S CURSE on Kindle Select. In general, I prefer to make my books available as widely as possible, but TSC has been selling orders of magnitude better on Amazon than anywhere else, so it makes sense to give this a try.
  4. Oh, and next week is WriteOnCon and the week after that the school year starts and I go back to work.

Better get back to work.

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Third Draft

I’m just past the half-way point in the third draft of THE IGNORED PROPHECY, which is the sequel to THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????In the second draft, I cut about 8,000 words, including two characters and two subplots–most of which will either reappear as part of a short story or in the third (as-yet-unnamed) book in the series.  But TIP is still over 112,000 words–too long. So, I’ve got two goals for this draft:

  1. Check for consistency. Delete anything that either foreshadows those two subplots as something that will happen in this book and anything later that depends on them.
  2. Find more scenes to delete, especially in the first third of the book.

I’ve marked several scenes as possible deletions, but I haven’t made those changes yet. This is definitely the hard part of revisions.


In other news, I took the first steps today toward an audio book version of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE. Wish me luck.

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Based on David Gaughran’s LET’S GET VISIBLE, I tried something different with THE SHAMAN’S CURSE–a direct request for requests along with a link to the book’s page on Amazon. It’s working.


In a little over a month, I’ve gotten more reviews on THE SHAMAN’S CURSE than on any other of my books. And most of them are overwhelmingly positive–which never fails to make my day.

That’s not all it does. It serves as validation for other potential purchasers, of course. It also means that as sales inevitably start to slow some marketing paths will be open to me that otherwise wouldn’t.

That’s one bit of marketing that definitely works. And, best of all, it’s free for all concerned. Thank you to everyone who takes the time to leave a review–especially on indie books.

In spite of massive interruptions over the last few days, I’m making good progress on the third draft of THE IGNORED PROPHECY, sequel to THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.

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The Painful Phase

I have now entered the painful phase of editing THE IGNORED PROPHECY, sequel to THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????This is the part where I have to figure out what to cut. After the second draft, THE IGNORED PROPHECY comes in at over 120,000 words. THE SHAMAN’S CURSE is 108,000 words.

I have to cut things. Sometimes even things I really like. I’ve already cut a couple of chapters out. (Don’t worry, those chapters are very likely to reappear as a short story. It’s not nearly as painful when I figure out how to reuse what I cut.) But I need to cut more.

I’m sure I need to tighten things up in the first ten chapters or so, but I’m having trouble seeing exactly what to cut because a lot of that is actually setting up for things that will happen later. It’s going to require some thought.

I’m also considering cutting an entire subplot and two whole characters. The story will probably be better for it, though. Even if it does sacrifice a little extra conflict.

I just have to nerve myself up to get out the pruners.

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I’ve made good progress so far this month, in spite of some real-life distractions. All of it, so far, related to the first book in the DUAL MAGICS series, THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.


I’ve completed the first draft of the DUAL MAGICS short story “Modgud Gold” (actually, it’s not that short). It’s one of the things I’ll be working on while beta readers go over THE IGNORED PROPHECY next month. I’d hope to have beta readers on it in October and release it in November, ahead of TIP. I’ve even started looking at potential cover art for “Modgud Gold”.

I’ve also blocked out another DUAL MAGICS short story (this one really is short) that might be one of two to be published between THE IGNORED PROPHECY and the as-yet-untitled third book in the series.

I’m also making good progress on THE IGNORED PROPHECY. This pass, I’m trying to read it more or less as a reader would–quickly. I’m fixing some things as I go, but mostly marking a few chapters that I’m going to need to come back to for a closer revision. I’m on schedule, I think, to get this into the hands of beta readers next month.

I am still immensely pleased with the performance of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE. Thanks to all the readers who’ve made that possible. And especially to the ones who’ve left reviews.

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Well, as I get ready to start the next round of revisions on THE IGNORED PROPHECY, I went ahead on bought some mapping software to see if I can provide an actual map with the next book in the series. THE IGNORED PROPHECY is the first sequel to THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.

I chose Campaign Cartographer as the most likely software. Unsurprisingly, the learning curve is pretty steep. I’ve managed to produce something close to what I want. Here’s my first effort.

Dual Magics CC Map

And the same map in black and white:

Dual Magics BW Map

I’ll probably have to start over again. I’m not happy with the lakes or the mountains. But it’s definitely better than the hand-drawn map I had before. Like writing, this isn’t the sort of thing you should expect to get right the first time.

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I finished the “first draft” of the rewrite of THE IGNORED PROPHECY last week. I put first draft in quotes because it’s a rewrite, so the story was basically all already there, though it needed considerable cleanup and improvement in style. TIP is the sequel to THE SHAMAN’S CURSE, which is still doing pretty well, even after the price went up on August 1st.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????While I let that draft cool just a little before the next pass, I’m working on a tie-in short story. “Modgud Gold”. Again, a good part of this is already done, because it’s built around scenes (and chapters) that were cut from THE SHAMAN’S CURSE. This one centers around a side character–Vatar’s cousin Arcas.

I’m not sure how much the tie-in short story “Becoming Lioness” helped to pave the way for THE SHAMAN’S CURSE to do so well, but it’s certainly worth repeating in preparation for THE IGNORED PROPHECY. I’ll have at least one more short story, this time about one of the more neglected cultures of this world, before this series ends.

Meanwhile, I’ve purchased some mapping software to see if I can turn out a passable map of this world to include in the next book. If so, I’ll go back and put it in THE SHAMAN’S CURSE, too. One of the advantages of digital publishing. But it’ll have to be significantly better than the hand drawn one, I shared before.

Dual Magics MapPathetic, right?

I also need to start spending a little time on cover art again, for both “Modgud Gold” and THE IGNORED PROPHECY.

And I can’t let TIP cool too long. I need to go through it again before turning it over to my writers’ group in September.

Okay, I’ve just convinced myself I need to get back to work right now.

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