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Archive for December, 2018

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

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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.

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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)

 

 

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Getting Traction

I’m finally moving forward into new territory on MAGE STORM.

Mage Storm

Well, newish. This is a rewrite and some of what I’m adding is basically just lifted from earlier versions. This is, essentially, a first draft, so as long as it fits the new framework, I can just slide in what was already written for the previous version and then revise it as necessary. Of course, there are entirely new chapters, too. And I read through the parts I just copy in. Sometimes, I revise a bit as I go. Sometimes I put in notes of things that will need to be changed or that I question. But basically, the framework, the structure is going up. That’s the main thing with a first draft.

And I’m about to have two weeks off to work on it. That’ll help.

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Well, almost. The first thing in getting back into the rewrite/first draft of MAGE STORM is to reread what I already have written.

Mage Storm

I’m almost done with that. And then it will be time to start adding to this draft. Of course, in the read-through I’ve found a few things that need to be fixed or clarified. But that’s okay. It’s essentially a first draft, so I just make a note and pass on, for now.

I was very pleased to find that the brand new chapter I was having so much difficulty with last August was actually much better than I thought it would be. Somehow, when something is just harder to write–who knows why?–I expect it to be terrible. And that isn’t always the case.

I still don’t expect to make a lot of progress in the next week or so. But I will make progress.

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Last year at about this time I was just coming to the end of the first draft of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

BecomeCover2

I didn’t finish the first draft until after Christmas and then I spent the next month (while the first manuscript cooled so I could look at it more critically) starting the first draft of BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

StormCover2

That worked out pretty well. Revisions, critiques, and more revisions were finished on the first book by May and it was published by the end of that month. The first draft of the second was finished in July and now it’s available for pre-order and will be published on January 2nd. (At the limited-time pre-order price of only 99 cents until January 5th. And, by the way, the first book is also only 99 cents until then.)

But, it turns out, finishing up before Christmas just isn’t working out as well, especially when I’m trying to start not just a new book, but a new series. Too many distractions this time of year.

But I’m not going to let that stop me. I’m going to get at least some work done on MAGE STORM in the next couple of weeks. Maybe just not as much as I’d hoped.

Mage Storm

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Mage Storm

I haven’t made much progress yet on getting back into the rewrite of MAGE STORM. Mage Storm

Here’s a taste, anyway:

Mastan closed his fist to cut off the trickle of red magic he’d been using to fuse the latest boulder to the top of the dam. Closing his eyes, he could picture what this had been like before that rogue mage, Grevin, had blasted this gap between the cliffs. A towering waterfall had cascaded from above like a gigantic, braided strand of pearls and diamonds, with a roar like the ocean during a storm. The white of the foaming water contrasted against the dark rock in an ever-changing, ever-fascinating column. Now, even standing at the top of what little he’d managed to rebuild, he could feel the height of the remaining cliffs towering above him to either side. Even with the addition of this boulder, he hadn’t raised the dam a tenth of the height of those cliffs.

It’d take much longer than the remainder of his lifetime to repair the damage and restore the waterfall and the lake beyond. And he still wouldn’t have done anything for all the other destruction the wild mages—and those who fought them—had caused. And yet, the world created magic every day, whether he wanted it or not. Much more than one old man could ever channel. Mastan had to do what he could to use at least some of it up before it ran wild and did even more damage. This was as good a way to do that as any—and better than some.

He stood up to stretch his aching back and saw the storm bearing down on him. Mage storm. One of the biggest he’d ever seen. And he was already tired. Clouds of cinders in white, yellow, green, and red roiled above and rained down destruction on the land below. Well, except that fortunately there wasn’t much below it at the moment to be harmed.

Mastan took an apple from his pocket and bit into it. The sweetness—and a long drink of water—would help him recover from the magic he’d already done while he waited for the storm to reach him.

There was no question the mage storms were getting worse with each passing year. Those with little understanding of magic—which was just about everyone, since the catastrophic end of the Great Mage War—thought that the storms were the ashes of the mages killed in that war. If only that were true, the storms would have burned themselves out long ago. No, as with most things concerning magic, the truth was more complex than that. Only the white cinders were the actual remains of mages. And they were the least harmful—well, except for the uncanny . . . sentience they lent the storms.

Which was why this storm was moving across the wind and headed straight for the river valley below, where it would rain destruction on farms and towns.

The real source of the mage storms was the untapped, unfocused magic of the world. With next to no mages left to focus and use the magic, there was nothing for it to do but run wild. That magic would destroy the world someday, if something wasn’t done.

Mastan sighed at the thought, accepting the necessity though he didn’t like it. For a while after his horrible failure with his only apprentice since the war, he’d tried to find a way to destroy the magic, once and for all. But he knew now that even a circle of a hundred mages didn’t stand a chance of accomplishing that.

No, the only solution was more mages. Some should develop spontaneously, just as they had before the war. There had to still be people out there with the magic lying dormant in their blood, just waiting for something to wake it. He snorted. The old mages had never been more virtuous than anybody else—especially the itinerate mages. There’d be descendants of the old mages, maybe several generations back. But some, at least would have inherited the capacity for magic. But prior experience proved that such random initiations were at least as likely to occur in the wrong people, those prone to going rogue and only making the problem worse. He’d needed some way to select for people who would want to heal the world, not destroy it.

And then he’d just have to hope that some, at least, of them found their way to him or learned to control the magic on their own before the magic killed them and added their ashes to the mage storms. Mastan didn’t like the risks he was forcing on who knew how many unsuspecting people without their knowledge or consent. He just couldn’t see any other way to save the world.

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