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

How edits feel

Elmore Leonard once said, “Write the book the way it should be written, then give it to somebody to put in the commas and shit.” This is a good viewpoint to hold when you’re a writer, because when you give your work to a copyeditor and they take their red pen and bleed all over it, you can’t take it personally.

Otherwise I would have stabbed myself in the heart with a rusty nail weeks ago.

As I’ve received edited chapters from my copyeditor, I got a brief sense of panic when I noticed the sheer volume of suggested changes. It makes me feel like I just started learning English a month ago. I also wonder what went through her mind as she reviewed my work. “This guy thinks he can write a book? What audacity!”

It has helped me to realize that this is part of the process. No writer, no matter how skilled or successful, produces flawless prose on the first try or even the 30th. As Elmore Leonard pointed out, it’s not really the writer’s job to do so, either. Focus on the creativity, the tone, the emotion, the description. Get the basic mechanics of your writing down, then allow someone else to do the editing, to put in the commas and shit.

I only have three more chapters to review from my copyeditor, then I need to read through Ohlen’s Arrow, cover to cover, one more time before I put it up for sale. I’m very excited about this as you can imagine, but it has been a very long, tedious process. The editing and revision phase of a book project is far more difficult and tedious and time-consuming than actually writing it; I am really looking forward to getting it finished.

Where it All Started

Book 1: Ohlen's Arrow
Book 1: Ohlen's Arrow

Thwip.

The arrow sank deep into the creature’s throat and it fell backwards in a spray of blood, twitching and clawing at the wooden shaft protruding from its severed windpipe. The man lowered his bow and crouched behind the bushes in case there were others. He watched and listened to see if he had stumbled upon a lone cru’gan or if it had been part of a patrol. The only sound was the wet gurgling coming from the cru’gan’s throat. Soon it lay still and silent, and the only thing the man could hear was the evening breeze through the pine trees.

After several minutes passed, he retrieved his arrow and quickly searched the beast’s body, then rolled it out of sight under a pile of briars. He kicked dust over the creature’s blood, and then moved silently away into the forest amidst the diminishing evening light.


This is where it all started. The above excerpt is the opening paragraphs of my first novel, Ohlen’s Arrow. What does it say about an author who’s first word of their first book is “thwip“?

My intention was to create an instant sense of action and a feeling of mystery about the main character that compels the reader to continue the story. There’s nothing I’ve written that has been worked and re-worked more than that opening section, and in many ways, it is the work I’m most proud of.

I encourage you to read Ohlen’s Arrow and learn the rest of the story. It is my hope that it engages your attention and carries you captivatingly forward.

For Kindle and paperback editions of my books, visit my Books page.

Be willing to kill your babies

When I was in high school, typing was a required course. We used IBM Selectric typewriters rather than computers. By the end of the one-semester course, I was the fastest in my class, banging out 90 error-free words per minute. It was the most useful thing I learned in high school.

Since moving to computers, I can edit as I type. I still type close to 90 wpm, but thanks to the backspace key, I type backwards even faster … clickity clickity clickity WHACK WHACK WHACK clickity clickity clickity, etc.

Where am I going with this?

I’m working on my second book, the sequel to Ohlen’s Arrow, tentatively entitled Ohlen’s Bane. The first weekend I worked on it, I cranked out over 12,000 words. I typed a lot. Since then, my word count is up to 15,000. I decided to read over what I had so far, and although it was interesting, it wasn’t engaging.

The last thing I want is for my book to require the reader suffer through to the fifth chapter before anything good happens. One of the things going for Ohlen’s Arrow was its pace. It started with action and maintained an engaging level of action with few pauses throughout the story.

I am now killing my babies. As I read through my first four chapters, I am looking for sections that can be rearranged to maintain a better pace. I’m also looking for sections that aren’t important at all. When I find them, I kill them. I’m not tied to the words I created. I can remove them and write new ones, better ones. The story also has sections that take far too long to get across what can be conveyed either indirectly or simply.

Because of my technical background, I tend to be rather verbose in my descriptions. I am learning to adopt a more compact and dense writing style, conveying an equal or greater amount of information in fewer words.

My goal is to write 100,000 words for Ohlen’s Bane. I’ll probably write more than that, because I know that during the revision and editing phase of the project, I’ll be whacking the backspace key a lot more than any other.

I am willing to kill my babies.

Time Keeps On Slippin’ Slippin’

Writing in a notebook
Writing in a notebook

Do you have Steve Miller stuck in your head now? Sorry.

I look at the calendar and see that it’s October 14th and feel blown away by how quickly the last two months have gone by. I think September only had 17 days in it.

Since August I have spent most afternoons practicing guitar, keyboard, bass and drums. I’m learning all four instruments with the goal of writing music inspired by my first novel, Ohlen’s Arrow. That is going well but except for savants, learning to play and compose music is not an overnight endeavor. I’ve played all these instruments in the past, so fortunately I’m not starting from ground zero, but I still have a long way to go.

I’ve also been thinking about continuing my Taesia series of novels. The next step would be to write book 5. I already have the bulk of the plot figured out, but haven’t formally nailed down the outline. An avid reader of mine recently shared their view that I really need to keep writing and continue the story. We’ll see.

Currently I’m reading Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy. Although it’s a real page turner, I’m struck by how expository Clancy is. The old maxim, “Show me, don’t tell me” is one Clancy apparently never heard. Unlike popular belief, rules are not made to be broken but you certainly can if you know about them and have a good reason. In Clancy’s case, this book wouldn’t work without all the ‘tell me’ expository text.

In the cycling part of my life, I recently purchased a Wahoo KICKR Core smart trainer. I previously had a traditional spin bike but sold it as it was uncomfortable and had very poor ergonomics. The smart trainer will be hooked up to Zwift for a virtual riding experience. I may write a review after I’ve used it a bit. It will be nice to train on my own bike (Trek Domane AL5) rather than a rigid and poor substitution like a spin bike.

My first book signing event was a big success

Book Signing, May 14, 2016Saturday, I participated in my first author’s book signing event. It was held at Goin’ Gaming in Troutdale, Oregon (www.goinggaming.com) and was organized by owners Becky and Alan Schmid. Three other authors participated.

I was able to meet some old friends I hadn’t seen in several years who made special trips to attend, and I made some new friends, too. One of the things I liked about the event was the chance to meet other authors and hear about their creative and writing processes. We also bounced around some creative ideas for new stories.

Again, I would like to thank owners Becky and Alan Schmid for arranging this event, and for being supportive of my new book.

Outside help

No writer is an island. You can’t edit your own work. These are just some of the sayings that highlight the fact that writers need outside help in their effort to write and publish their works.

For Ohlen’s Arrow, I have engaged the professional services of an illustrator to design the book’s cover and the world map inside, and an editor for the text contained within. Up to this point my outside help has entailed the reviews of nearly a dozen volunteer beta readers.

Writing a book is an exciting process, and frankly, I’m glad I don’t have to do it alone.

The Taesian Chronicles is now available!

The Taesian Chronicles in paperback format. 6x9, 654 pages.
The Taesian Chronicles in paperback format. 6×9, 654 pages.

I am very happy to announce the arrival and availability of my first book in print, the paperback edition of The Taesian Chronicles is now available on Amazon.com.

The Taesian Chronicles is the complete collection of the trilogy, containing the unabridged works of all three books: Ohlen’s Arrow, Ohlen’s Bane, and Paragon’s Call. It also includes a special short story, The Orphan’s Maker, as a prologue, not available anywhere else.

The Taesian Chronicles is available as a paperback for $19.99, and for Kindle for $9.99. Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read it for free, of course.

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!

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.