Archive for December, 2015

Here are my 2016 Writing Goals:

  1. WAR OF MAGIC: Complete first draft, revisions, get critiques, revise again, polish, and publishWarOfMagic5
  2. Revise the already-published “Becoming Lioness” and publish the new edition. Pull together the tie-in short stories, “Hunter and Huntress” and “The Seeker”. Put them through the same revision process.Becoming Lioness Cover 2
  3. Publish a boxed set of the DUAL MAGICS series.
  4. MAGE STORM: Rewrite this as an epic fantasy. Same revision process as above. Try to publish in 2016 or early 2017.
  5. BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING: Get a first draft done.
  6. Planning, world-building, etc. for some of the other stories on my back burner:
    1. Another story in the same world as DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING.
    2. A set of fairy-tale retellings I’ve been playing with.
    3. The prequels to the DUAL MAGICS series that explain how the world got that way.
    4. The sequels to MAGE STORM.
    5. My Weird Oz story.
    6. The last novel in the Chimeria series.
  7. I would dearly love to be able to get to a writers’ conference somewhere in there, but that will depend on both time and finances.

I think that should keep me busy.

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For 2015 my writing goals were:

First: BEYOND THE PROPHECY (Book 3 of the Dual Magics series): Finish the first draft. Revise. Get critiques. Revise again. Polish. Format. And Publish.



Second: Tie-in Dual Magics short stories: “Modgud Gold”, “Hunter and Huntress”, possibly “The Seeker”. These stories expand on the events of the novels. Some things that there just wasn’t room for in the novels. Often from the point of view of side characters.

Of those, I only completed “Modgud Gold.”

Modgud Gold Cover New

I guess the other stories will just have to get pushed to next year. Honestly, any time I have to decide between working on a novel-length story and a short story, the novel is likely to win. They’re just more fun.

Third: MAGE STORM: my middle grade adventure fantasy. There’ll be at least two periods when I need to let BEYOND THE PROPHECY rest so I can come back to it with fresh eyes. During one of those, I want to go back over this story. Possibly change the age of the main character. Then give it a try with a small press.

Yes, but no luck. Middle grade is a really tough market, whichever way you try to go with it. I have a different plan for this one now. And its three sequels.

Fourth: DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING: This one is complete and ready to go. I’ll query it for a little longer, but there’s also a good chance I’ll just decide to go ahead and publish it myself.

Yes. I did decide to just go ahead and publish it.


Fifth: BOOK 4 of the Dual Magics series (No title yet): Start the first draft for publication likely in 2016.

Yes. And it now has a title–WAR OF MAGIC. And a cover.


Sixth: At some point, I’m likely going to need to go play in a different sandbox for a while to keep things fresh. That will likely mean work on either DREAMER’S ROSE or that weird Oz story that’s been tickling around in the back of my brain for a while now.

Yes. What was DREAMER’S ROSE is now BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING. Weird Oz is still fermenting.

I guess I did pretty well against my 2015 goals.

Here’s hoping I do as well next year. I’ll be setting those goals in the next few days.

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No, we haven’t–quite–reached that point of the year where I assess how I did against my goals for the year and set new ones for next year. Soon.

But I don’t just set annual goals. I also set weekly and monthly goals–and I publish them on two online writers’ forums I belong to. This week if the first time in quite a while that I’ve actually exceeded my weekly goal on the first draft of WAR OF MAGIC.


I’ve been setting a goal of three chapters a week. This morning I actually started the fifth chapter this week. I may not finish it by tomorrow night (those goals are set Friday to Thursday), but I’m still ahead of the game for this week, at least.

Woo hoo! Time to celebrate small victories.

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As an epic fantasy, the DUAL MAGICS series has several POV characters. (Without looking, I believe there are three antagonist characters who carry some part of the story that the protagonists can’t know–yet–but that the reader should know. Those chapters are few and far between, but necessary. And four protagonist characters who have the focus at various times, either because they’re separated physically, or because they are either the driving force or the most affected by what happens in that chapter.)

Sometimes–often–more than one POV character is present in any one scene, and I have to decide which of them will have the POV for that scene. Sometimes, I guess wrong and have to backtrack. That happened last week in the first draft of WAR OF MAGIC.


I picked one character because something was to happen at the end of that chapter that would need to be in that character’s POV. But I was having way more trouble with the chapter than I should. And I realized I’d picked wrong. Another character (the main character) needed to be the focus of that chapter and the pivotal scene (or two) that needs to be told from the other character’s POV just needs to be it’s own short chapter.

Once I figured that out–and got a little uninterrupted writing time–things fell into place and the story is proceeding well again.

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I think I’ve mentioned before that, for me, inspiration only really strikes when I’m writing. Not at the moment I’m writing–usually. But I have to be spending at least part of my time putting words down in order to grease the wheels. If I take a break of more than a day or two, the ideas just dry up.

The catch is, that the inspiration doesn’t always come for the story that I’m actually working on. Sometimes it’s for a story maturing on the back burner. Sometimes for an entirely new story.

Sometimes, it takes a lot of will power not to go chasing after the new, shiny idea, too.

Thankfully, the most recent inspiration came for what will likely be my next project and all I needed to do was switch to that file and note the idea. Then go right back to the first draft of WAR OF MAGIC. After all, I’m coming to the best parts. That does make it a little easier to resist.


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Well, after some additional–and unneeded–drama, the new refrigerator is in and working. I found a former floor model at the Sears Outlet store that I could–sort of–afford. (No complaints about the store. The installers . . . not so much.) Still have to bring the frozen stuff in from the freezer out in the garage and turn that power guzzler back off. (Sure does come in handy on occasions like this, though.)

And I’ve gotten back on track. I actually finished the chapter I was working on yesterday. (The one I’d barely started.) And this is the point where my protagonists have a difficult choice to make. Things are starting to move toward the climax, which, hopefully, will also help speed up the writing.


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Well, real life has a way of intruding on the best writing intentions. It appears my refrigerator has decided to die. Therefore, everything else that isn’t essential–including, unfortunately, writing–is on hold while I try to find a refrigerator I can afford.

Even this brief post is a day late.

Wish me luck.

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I do my own cover art. That’s something that’s often not recommended. And for good reason. I’ll show you one. This is my original cover art for my novella, “The Music Box”:

MusicBoxCoverNow, let’s just be honest. It’s dreadful. Frankly, I’m surprised I ever sold a single copy. To be fair, this was only the third cover I ever made. And it was during a period when I couldn’t really afford to spend anything on cover art. Which is why I started making my own covers in the first place.

And I’ve made a concerted effort to get better at it. I actually enjoy making my own covers now.

This was the very last of those original, very bad covers left. And it’s past time I replaced it. But my problem was that I just couldn’t find an image I liked for this story. I finally turned up this one:


It’s a nice image if a little . . . gray. Book covers need to pop. So, I bought the image (the right to use it only cost $8.15. I really probably could have afforded it (if it had been available then) in the first place, but I wouldn’t have known what I needed to do to make it work.

Then I added color to the background and went ahead and added the title and my name:

Music Box In Process 1(Those funny little dashed lines are because I snipped this while I was still working on the cover. I knew I wasn’t finished and I didn’t want to save because that would have merged the layers, like the text. You’ll see why in a little bit.)

Okay, but now I wasn’t happy with the white costumes. Hmm. So the next step:

Music Box In Process 2(See how I changed the color of the text for my name? I couldn’t have done that if I’d let the layers get merged too soon.)

But now I don’t like him in white, either. And what is likely the final version:

Music Box NewThough I haven’t uploaded this one yet. I may want to do just a little bit of clean up first.


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I’m closing in on a section of WAR OF MAGIC that was also written–several years ago–in the short story “Becoming Lioness”.


Now “Becoming Lioness” tells this part of the story from the point of view of a different character than the one who will be the focus in WAR OF MAGIC. But that’s not the only difference between them.


Becoming Lioness Cover 2

Some of the differences have to do with “Becoming Lioness” being a short story. (Actually, it’s a novelette, but that’s kind of an inside writing term for a long short story–not a short novel, which is called a novella.) Some characters that will be present during these events in WAR OF MAGIC were left out of “Becoming Lioness” because they got in the way of telling the smaller story in a streamlined way, for example.

“Becoming Lioness” was published in 2012, almost two years before THE SHAMAN’S CURSE. And it was written well before that.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????In other words, it was written before the current version of the DUAL MAGICS series, though I had proto versions of what became THE SHAMAN’S CURSE (actually, that was always the title of the first book) and THE VOICE OF PROPHECY (which grew up under the pseudonym THE IGNORED PROPHECY). And some fairly major things changed in the rewrite of those first two book in the series.

  1. The birth order of some of the sibling or half-sibling characters changed. In the original version, Fenar was only a little more than a year younger than Vatar (the main character). And Kiara (who is the main character of “Becoming Lioness”) was the baby.Fenar ended up not having as much to do as I’d originally thought and Kiara’s age caused some problems for a major subplot, so I switched their birth order and made Kiara several years younger than Fenar originally was. “Becoming Lioness” still reflects the original birth order–Vatar, Fenar, Kiara–instead of the new one–Vatar, Kiara, Fenar. Now, that would be fairly minor to fix in the short story–if it were the only problem.
  2. Now, there’s something about the birth of the youngest sibling–no matter which of them it is–that potentially affects that character’s magic. And “Becoming Lioness” assumes that this explains Kiara’s unusual relationship with her magic. In WAR OF MAGIC, there’s another explanation for this. Again, I could probably fix this and bring the short story into better congruence with the series.
  3. But there’s one I’m going to have to work on–how she learns to use her magic. Now, maybe I’ll be able to keep that more or less intact in WAR OF MAGIC. Maybe not. I’d like to, but I’m not there yet and it might not make sense when I do get there. If I can’t, there basically isn’t any reason to fix the first two.

And there will be readers who won’t like the two stories not lining up. Actually, there will probably be some who don’t like the streamlining changes, either. In any case, there are already almost a thousand copies of “Becoming Lioness” out there.

So, I’m going to do some thinking about whether and how much to revise this short story now that the “real” (in the novels) version of these events is going to be available, too, sometime next year.


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