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

Reviews of Ohlen’s Arrow from Amazon.com

I would like to quote the following reviews of Ohlen’s Arrow, posted to Amazon.com:

“I enjoyed taking this journey with Ohlen and his friends. The balance between action and character development was perfect and the story was easy to follow. That can’t always be said of a book in this genre and as a reader, I appreciate it. I’m happy to hear the author has begun the sequel, and I’m anxious to find out what’s next for our hero.”

“I was waffling on how many stars to rate this work. Since this was Mr. Williamson’s first publication I decided to round it up to a 5 because I think his book is a great read and rounding down meant taking away a well deserved extra 1/2 a star which seemed wrong. His characters felt true to themselves and their environment. Their interactions were complex but fresh and not contrived. Mechanically it is a good story but it was the character development that made this first book such a great read. Most writers do not have Mr. Williamson’s dexterity at crafting such realistic characters. I do not think this is the end for Ohlen and his friends. I look forward to seeing where Mr. Williamson takes this group next – especially my favorite character the one we last checked in on before the story closed – talk about a delightfully complex character construct.”

Paragon’s Call update, progress

This is just a quick update on where I’m at with Paragon’s Call. I’m about 25,000 words into the story so far and after reading over what’s in ink, I’m very happy with the progress. I think this book will have a higher production value and overall maturity to the writing style and plot … mature, as in professional, not mature as in adult. If that makes sense.

Writing to an outline vs. freestyle

Something unexpected happened to me as I’ve been writing my book. The first three chapters were a stream of consciousness, everything just came out of me as a pure expression of my own creativity. At the end of those three chapters, I read what I had written and thought, “This is pretty good. I’d like to carry on with it and see where it goes, but take it seriously.” So instead of just writing for fun, I decided to make it a formal effort.

As a web developer, I have worked on some very large projects in my career, and have had to use a lot of project management techniques to stay on top of things. Otherwise the project would be too large and I would become overwhelmed. So I outline what needs to be accomplished at a high level and then go back in and fill in the details. I decided to do the same thing with my book. After the first three chapters, I spent several days coming up with the overall plot line and main events. This, too, was a purely creative effort.

The problem came when I tried to sit down and continue writing the additional chapters. I had to fit my writing to the outline that I had created. Without realizing it, I had inadvertently constrained myself within my own boundaries. My creativity was no longer free, and I found it very difficult to write.

It seems counterintuitive; having a guideline of what I’m supposed to create should make the creation process easier. But for me, it doesn’t.

If I write freestyle without any constraints and just let my creativity flow, I think I produce good works but I have no idea if I am going to write myself into a plot hole or create inconsistent character descriptions, etc. in essence I am only looking at the ground immediately in front of my feet. I have no roadmap or destination in mind. If I work with a map (my plot outline) I have a clear idea of where I am going and how to get there, but I lose my creative motivation to take each step necessary to make the journey.

Ohlen’s Arrow free on Amazon for a limited time

Ohlen’s Arrow is free for the Kindle on Amazon.com from Monday July 6 through Friday July 10th. Ohlen’s Arrow is Book One in The Taesian Chronicles.

Vengeance drives him. Will honor save him?

A savage tribe of cru’gan brutally slaughtered his family, orphaning Ohlen when he was still a boy. Twenty years later a ferocious attack driven by a mysterious witch sends him on a perilous journey to rescue his best friend’s child. His choice between vengeance and honor will determine not only his own fate, but the fate of those he loves.

Be sure to check out book two, Ohlen’s Bane, also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the iTunes Bookstore.

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.

Rough draft of Paragon’s Call is done

After writing 12,000 words over the weekend, I finished composition of the first draft of Paragon’s Call. Unlike Ohlen’s Arrow and Ohlen’s Bane, each of which came in around 64k words, Paragon’s Call is just shy of 104k.

I’ve handed over the manuscript to my editor, and the next step is for her and I to read through it and make notes about plot-level items. What works, what doesn’t, what needs to be added, changed, or removed.

Writing the final scenes of the book was an emotional experience for me. Paragon’s Call is the third and final book in the Taesian Chronicles trilogy, and it felt a lot like I was saying goodbye to an old friend. Although I designed the third book in a way that will allow the creation of subsequent short stories and novels, I don’t have any immediate plans to write them.

I have a collaborative writing project in the conceptual phase with a good friend of mine, and I am giving strong consideration to pursuing a new contemporary fiction novel dealing with an intense and present social issue. Stay tuned on that; I don’t want to give too much away at this point.

The Taesian Chronicles in Paperback: The Process

The process to release the entire Taesian Chronicles trilogy in paperback is moving forward. I am using the print-on-demand service, CreateSpace, to make the book available in a dead-tree paperback edition.

Formatting a book for print is a more tedious, exacting process than it is for e-book. That took me several days to nail down. I followed some on-line tutorials various people have posted, which helped tremendously. Fortunately, I was able to export the print-ready file directly from Scrivener and didn’t have to use a specially-formatted Word template.

Another, more complex process was creating a cover for the paperback. With e-books, you only need a single-page graphic image. With paperbacks, you need the cover, spine, and back cover represented in a single image file. The thickness of the book needs to be determined based on number of pages and book size (5″x8″, 6″x9″, etc.), which determines how wide the spine portion of the cover image will be.

I spent almost a week working with my cover designer, Steven Novak [www.novakillustration.com], going back and forth and reviewing subtle changes and tweaks, before we created a design that worked. Steven is a fantastic designer and I’ve been very happy working with him.

CreateSpace lets you view your book cover to cover in a virtual tool online. This is a key part of the process. Once I was happy with it in virtual format, I ordered a proof copy, which is on its way. I’ll review that printed copy, and if any changes need to be made, I’ll modify the digital file, upload it, and order another proof. I will repeat this process as many times as necessary until the printed edition is perfect. Once that is done, I’ll mark it as complete. The book will then be listed as available for sale via Amazon.com.

Mid-August update

Paragon’s Call has seen some progress, although not as much as I’d hoped. I’ve been working on some unrelated short story projects, and as is often the case during July and August, I’ve been out of town on weekends.

Fortunately, I have reached a turning point in the plot of Paragon’s Call where the action changed — think of it as the beginning of Act II — and it’s the part of the story I’ve been looking forward to writing the most.

Technically flawed but creatively interesting?

I am perplexed. I’ve been reading works by several other recently successful new authors and I’m noticing a trend. Their stories are technically flawed yet they are demonstrating surprising levels of interest and enthusiasm from their readers. All the books and articles I read about what constitutes good writing are fairly clear and consistent in their message. Show the reader, don’t tell them; avoid excessive hyperbole; etc.

The stories I’m reading fly in the face of those Good Writing Maxims. I won’t name names because I’m truly happy that these authors have landed publishing deals. I’m even happier for them that their books are doing well. Ultimately that’s what makes a good book: people enjoy it and show that support with their pocketbooks.

In my own effort to write and refine Ohlen’s Arrow — and ultimately my goal to get it published — I have spent a great deal of effort and time following the rules of what constitutes good writing. After reading other works, I’ve also gone back and made sure my characters were interesting. Something can be technically flawless but if it’s not interesting, who cares?

Consider a musical analogy: Credence Clearwater Revival. They were, and still are, a hugely popular band yet their musical chops are rudimentary at best.

As a reader, can you overlook technically flawed writing if the characters and situations are unusual and interesting? Or can that get in the way, preventing it from being what would otherwise be a good book?

The mechanics of self-publishing a book

I have written Ohlen’s Arrow and am finished with all editorial changes. It is now in the final proofreading stage. In fact, I hope to only have one more go-through to catch any errant spelling or grammatical errors before I call the text golden.

The cover design has been approved and is now in the hands of the illustrator for the final proof. She’ll next work on the world map that appears in the front of the book.

Meanwhile, I have purchased 10 ISBNs, enough to handle each publication channel. Initially, I intend to offer the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple iTunes book store. There are no plans to print the book in a dead-tree edition, but I’m not opposed to that happening down the road.

I am also currently working on creating the book’s tagline and blurb. For such short pieces of text, they are remarkably difficult to create. They say you should never use a big word when a diminutive one will suffice. Well, try summarizing an entire novel in less than 10 words. Better yet, try doing it in a way that makes people want to buy the book while simultaneously not giving away the plot or the surprising twist you gave it at the end. That’s a challenge!

My goal remains to have Ohlen’s Arrow ready for purchase on-line by June 1st. So far I think that deadline is still feasible. Stay tuned.