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Articles about the genre of fantasy, including published works and gaming, especially Dungeons & Dragons.

New book: A Riddle of Scars

Book 4: A Riddle of Scars
Book 4: A Riddle of Scars

I am very happy to announce the availability of my fourth novel, A Riddle of Scars. It is sold exclusively through Amazon in paperback, and coming soon, Kindle format. This is book one of a new trilogy, The Pillars of Taesia. I hope to write books two and three in the next two years, respectively.

Work began on this story almost three years ago, but I didn’t actually start writing it until January of this year (2019). Prior to composition, I came up with the story idea over a period of about a month, jotting notes into my paper notebook as I went. After another few months went by, I play-tested several key elements of the plot with my D&D group.

This is the first book I’ve written where I tested out the plot through role-playing. Some things worked better for the RPG format, while others work better in prose form. I synthesized that experience and adjusted the book’s plot accordingly.

It took me about a month to generate my plot event list. This is my version of outlining my plot. I write a single sentence or two to describe each scene and then arrange them in the order they will appear in the book. This gives me a chance to eliminate plot holes and make sure foreshadowing occurs where needed. I also spend some time profiling my characters. I make detailed notes about their physical and emotional characteristics as well as their emotional development, trials, and troubles that will occur throughout the book.

For this project I worked with my editor, Alison, and cover designer Steven Novak. These two brilliant folks have been with me since Ohlen’s Bane, my second novel. Novak actually helped me revamp the cover to my first book, Ohlen’s Arrow, so technically speaking he’s been with me almost since the beginning of my writing career.

Alison played a key role on this project, not only by providing proofreading and editing services par excellence, but also by helping me flesh out the characters and giving them even more life than I had hoped. When I was close to beginning work on the project, I decided that if she wasn’t on board, I wouldn’t write the book at all.

A Riddle of Scars is available here.

Coming soon: A Riddle of Scars

As mentioned previously, I’ve been working on my fourth novel, A Riddle of Scars, since the first of the year. I’m nearing the end of primary composition and hope to have it completed within the next 10 days or so.

My goal is to have the book published and ready for sale by the middle of June, 2019, and so far that goal is very realistic.

In other news, I’m participating in a book signing at Goin’ Gaming in Troutdale. The owners and my friends, Becky and Allen, are hosting the event. It is Saturday May 4th, 2019, beginning at 1 PM. I hope to see you there!

A Riddle of Scars

And so it begins … again.

I have begun the process of writing another book. This will be my fourth novel, continuing the Taesia series. My vision is to write a trilogy of trilogies. Three series of three books each. The first trilogy is The Taesian Chronicles, with book one: Ohlen’s Arrow, book two: Ohlen’s Bane, and book three: Paragon’s Call.

A Riddle of Scars will be the first book of the second trilogy, or book four in the overall series. The second trilogy is tentatively called The Pillars of Taesia.

Currently I’m in the planning phase of the project. I’m finalizing the plot design and character names. Next steps include character development, where I create write-ups about each main character. These describe their appearance, background, motivations, fears, and other key elements. I refer to these notes when writing scenes and dialog to make sure I am staying consistent with their personalities and actions.

After that, I’ll be writing up my Plot Event List. Some would call this an outline, but I don’t because it’s just a list, not something in outline format. My Plot Event List is a series of single sentence descriptions of every scene in the book, arranged in the order they will appear. I use this as a roadmap when primary writing begins.

Although I don’t have an ETA on when the book will be finished, I do hope to have the primary composition completed by mid to late spring 2019.

Stay tuned!

A writer as well as a rider

Did you know I am a published author?

I have written three novels — a trilogy! — available at Amazon.com individually and as a single volume. All are available as eBooks, and most are available in paperback; I’m currently working on releasing the third book in paperback form.

The trilogy is called The Taesian Chronicles.

Book one is Ohlen’s Arrow. “Vengeance drives him. Can honor save him?”

Book two is Ohlen’s Bane. “There is no honor among brothers.”

Book three is Paragon’s Call. “The sunset of an old hero. The dawn of a new foe.”

I am currently in the process of writing the fourth book, which will be the first of three books in a second trilogy. Stay tuned.

If you want to learn more about my writing career and discover more about the books I write, be sure to visit my author’s blog at www.ruckerworks.com.

Ohlen’s Bane now available in paperback

Book Two of The Taesian Chronicles
Book Two of The Taesian Chronicles

I am very happy to announce that Ohlen’s Bane, book two of The Taesian Chronicles, is now available as a paperback from Amazon.com.

Ohlen and his close ally, the irrepressible and honorable Kha’ard, pursue a deadly killer into a maze of underground tunnels after a close friend is assassinated. On the surface, the hardscrabble mining town of Eeron is attacked by a powerful race of creatures seeking to wipe out the humans that live there. Will the unexpected arrival of Eeron’s oldest enemy spell its doom?

Ohlen’s Arrow is now available in paperback

Ohlen's Arrow is now available in paperback
Ohlen’s Arrow, Paperback

I am proud to announce the availability of Ohlen’s Arrow in paperback format. Since it was released in May 2013, it has only been available for Kindle as an eBook. Now, you can get the dead-tree edition.

It is available exclusively through Amazon.com.

Tank filled up, ready to write

Mr. Hemmingway, image provided by Getty Images
Mr. Hemmingway, image provided by Getty Images

After a summer break to refill my muse, and many many hours spent designing and conducting a Dungeons & Dragons campaign to play-test a plot idea, my creative fuel tank is full and I’m ready to get back to writing.

I have begun the conceptual phase of my fourth novel — holy shit, I can’t believe I’m writing a fourth book! — I hope to get my plot event list finished by Thanksgiving at the latest. I’ve confirmed my editor, Alison, will be on-board for the story editing phase, but I will likely need to hire a new copy editor; Alison’s schedule will likely keep her from being available for that phase of the project.

As with my other projects, my target for publication is in Q1 of 2017.

In other news, I am strongly considering releasing each of the first three books in the Taesian Chronicles trilogy as paperbacks. Currently, the only way to get those words in a dead-tree edition is to buy the whole trilogy, The Taesian Chronicles. Stay tuned for updates on this effort.

Summer Break: Refilling the Muse

For various reasons, I don’t spend much time writing during the summer. To be more accurate, I don’t spend any time writing during the summer. That doesn’t mean I’m not being creative or productive, though.

I am refilling my muse.

To me, writing is an indoor sport, something to be done when it’s cold and dark and rainy outside. A winter sport. During the summer, I spend time outdoors, often traveling by motorcycle or sleeping in a tent next to a stream. Scenery is my muse. Visiting small towns and meeting new people is my muse. Zooming along a narrow winding road as it follows the curving contours of a mountain river is my muse.

This summer in particular, I have added Dungeons & Dragons to my creative fuel tank. I have been the Dungeon Master for a group of eight players that meet once a week to seek adventure. I have designed a campaign that will last several months and is intended to play-test a plot idea for my next book. I am allowing the dynamics of an active D&D adventure to provide inspiration. So far it has been productive. I am learning what aspects of my plot will work well in a book, and what parts of the game must remain part of the RPG itself.

Every author has their own voice.

The Taesian Chronicles has been available for several months now and I continue to get feedback from readers. Although all of it has been very positive and encouraging, I have learned there is a reason why there are 31 flavors at the ice cream shop. My take-away from this experience is that my original intention of writing a book I would want to read is the best approach as an author. Every author has their own voice. If I write to please my audience, I will be traveling away from my genuine self and the story will suffer for it.

Subjective reader perspectives

As an author, I serve two masters: myself, and my readers. I want to write a story I would want to read, but I also want to write a story my readers would want to read. Within my group of readers, there’s no way to count the variations of subjective tastes and preferences.

After publishing The Taesian Chronicles, and getting feedback from various readers, I’m struck by the difference in tastes from one reader to the next. One reader will comment about my pace and level of detail during combat scenes, feeling it goes into Matrix mode where there’s actually too much detail. Another reader will commend me for my level of detail, often saying, “I can envision everything perfectly in my head.”

Although I’d love to please 100% of my readers, with 100% of my writing, I know this is not possible. When a plurality of my readers give me feedback that something needs to be improved, I listen and take steps to correct it in future works. When equal parts express joy and displeasure about something that is obviously a matter of subjective opinion and preference, I listen and see if there are any lessons to be learned, but I don’t stress about it too much. You can’t please everyone.

I could make the best chocolate ice cream in the world, but the vanilla lovers will still have a problem with it.

And that’s okay.