Archive for January, 2016

The bigger–and longer–a story gets the more it needs a timeline to help the author keep things straight. At least, I certainly need a timeline.

In WAR OF MAGIC, the fourth book in the DUAL MAGICS series, I’m currently writing in Year 9 of the story.


I started this timeline way back with the first book. It helps me keep track of how old each of the characters is–especially the characters who get less focus in the story. It also helps me figure out how long ago a particular event happened from the characters’ perspective. Don’t want to say something happened five years ago when it was only three. Some reader somewhere will call you on that.

As I work towards the climax of WAR OF MAGIC–and the series–I’ve started to realize I’m going to need another timeline for just the few months leading up to the big battle. The exact time of year–specifically how early or late it is in the summer–is going to matter. And work in how long it takes to get between certain places on foot or on horseback, which will also matter.

This is not something I need right now, while I’m writing the first draft. I wouldn’t go back and change things to fit the timeline right now anyway. In the second or third draft, chapters or scenes can easily be moved around to where they need to be, possibly with just a little revision. That’s when I’m going to need to lay out this detailed timeline.

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Every first draft presents different challenges. And takes its own time.

One memorable first draft (BLOOD WILL TELL) came flowing out in about six weeks. That was quite a roller-coaster ride and I haven’t had another story do that since.

Blood Will Tell Cover

My current first draft for WAR OF MAGIC is way past the six-week range. But it is proceeding at its own pace. And one of the things I’ve had to learn is that I can’t hurry that.


(Yes, by the way, that is a new version of the cover I’ve been playing with. I think I like this one, though it still needs a couple of tweaks.)

The important thing is that the first draft is proceeding. And this week I passed the 80,000 word mark. Which is probably somewhere between three-quarters and four-fifths complete. So, while I’m not going to finish this draft by the end of this month, the end is coming in sight.

Don’t forget the ongoing CIR Mid-Winter Sale.

Midwinter Saleor the

CIR Fantasy Winter Escape Giveaway, still going on.

Winter Sale

Enter the rafflecopter giveaway here.

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Starts today.

Midwinter Sale

Check it out here.

Be sure to click through to find more books (including the first three books of the DUAL MAGIC series) at already low prices. Click “MORE CIR BOOKS” at the top of the sale page or “Second Page” at the bottom.

You’ll find some great reads there.

And don’t forget the CIR Fantasy Winter Escape Giveaway, still going on.

Winter Sale

Enter the rafflecopter giveaway here.

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Sixteen authors have gotten together to give away a kindle fire and sixteen books to fill it with. THE SHAMAN’S CURSE, DUAL MAGICS BOOK 1 is one of them. You don’t want to miss this.

Winter Sale

You can enter the Rafflecopter giveaway right now.

There’ll be a Facebook event with a chance to get to know some of the authors and their books on February 5th and 6th, too.



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I’ve reached the point in WAR OF MAGIC,


where the plot line intersects with my already-published short story, “Becoming Lioness”.

Becoming Lioness Cover 2You’d think that’d make this section easier, because I’ve sort of already written it. And in some ways, it will. But it’s also going to be . . . interesting to manage, because there are some noticeable differences between the two, as I’ve blogged about once before. I realized there’d be an issue back then, but now that I’m up to the actual writing of that part, the problems are a little clearer.

Some things are just minor points that changed between the time “Becoming Lioness” was published three years ago. Mostly small things, some of which I can fix with minor adjustments to “Becoming Lioness”.

The birth order of three siblings has changed in the interim, for example. That’s not a huge deal. I can just leave the second brother out altogether. That’ll mean deleting all of one or two sentences.

One thing that’s changed won’t be quite so minor: how a character whose ability to use her magic was blocked, gains the use of her magic after all. That’s not necessarily insurmountable, but it’s sure going to be interesting to deal with.

I’m already planning a revised version of “Becoming Lioness” to deal with some of this, but I’ll eventually want to put together a boxed set of the DUAL MAGICS series. And if I include the couple of tie-in short stories already published, plus a couple that I haven’t pulled together yet–well, that’ll put the two versions side by side.

And that’s an issue for all of the short stories. Because the main thing I have to change to make the short stories work at all is to reduce the number of characters. The cast appropriate–and necessary–for a four-book series of epic fantasy novels is simply unmanageable in a short story.

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I’ve never (yet) written a prologue that I’ve kept in the final story. I don’t tend to like them much. But there’s a first time for everything, they say.

No, WAR OF MAGIC doesn’t have a prologue (exactly), though it will have an epilogue.


But BECOME, the next epic fantasy I’m planning to write, will have one. Or maybe more than one.

I’ve been getting some feedback from my critique partners on the parts I’ve got written while I keep working on the first draft of WAR OF MAGIC–setting myself up to work on BECOME while that first draft rests before I start the revisions.

The first–very short–prologue that I’m almost sure I’ll have is the only one I haven’t written some version of. That one will basically be just a prophecy and the fact that it’s been carefully hidden. That prophecy–once discovered–will be the reason the antagonist does some of what he does. And the prologue will help set up something that will take a little while to develop as the story is currently working out.

That one might be so short it might not even need to be labeled a prologue.

I have another prologue written that helps set up the background for this story, but at least one critique partner had some issues with it that might cause me to scrap that one, though.


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Rolling Outlines

I’m a discovery writer. (I think I’ve mentioned that before.) I don’t–normally–outline. It just doesn’t work that well for me. I either immediately ignore the outline and write something that bears only a passing resemblance to what I outlined, or I spend way too much of my writing time updating the outline to what I’m writing now.

However, for much of WAR OF MAGIC, I’ve been using a kind of rolling outline that’s worked fairly well for me.


Not that I still haven’t diverged a bit, but it’s usually been more on the order of changing the order of chapters or splitting what I thought was one chapter into two.

At no point has that outline extended more than six or seven chapters ahead of what I was currently writing. Right now, it’s only four chapters.

This has been such a difficult first draft–for a number of reasons.  I think this is helping. Too soon to tell whether it will become a regular part of my writing.

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