Ohlen's Arrow

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Author Steve Williamson's novel, Ohlen's Arrow, book one of The Taesian Chronicles series of fantasy novels.

My second novel is now available, Ohlen’s Bane

Book 2: Ohlen's Bane
Book 2: Ohlen's Bane

Anything worth doing once is worth doing twice.

I just released my second novel, Ohlen’s Bane, available as an e-book for Kindle and Nook. It will be available for iOS devices on the Apple iTunes Bookstore soon as well.

A free preview edition in PDF format is available for download here.

Ohlen’s Arrow is the first book in the series, and Ohlen’s Bane is the sequel. You can read about them here and here.

Yes, I intend to write a third book in the series, perhaps more. Stay tuned.

My first novel, Ohlen’s Arrow, is now available

Forgive this shameless plug, but I have published my first novel, a gritty fantasy story called Ohlen’s Arrow, and it’s now available for Kindle at Amazon.com and for Nook at Barnes & Noble for $2.99. I have also made a free sample available for download [PDF]. It is also available in the iTunes Bookstore.

Vengeance drives him. Will honor save him?

Ohlen’s Arrow is a fast paced story with gripping action, quirky characters, and a twist that turns a tried-and-true fantasy trope on its head.

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 life or death of those he loves.

It took me roughly three months to write the book and nine months to get the cover designed and edit the text. I have already begun the process of writing the sequel.

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.

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.”

Ohlen’s Arrow character study: Mella

This is the next installment in a series where I introduce key characters from my new novel, Ohlen’s Arrow. Rather than doing the predictable thing — focusing on Ohlen, the main character — I’m introducing the other key participants, his friends and enemies.

Mella and Ohlen grew up together in the village of Tarun. Whereas Ohlen was orphaned at a young age, Mella had a wonderful childhood growing up with her twin sister, Ranael, until tragedy struck. At the age of six, Ranael went missing without a trace.

Perhaps because of this, and in general because of the harsh nature of living in a remote village with all the dangers that presents, Mella grew into a strong-willed woman nearly fearless in her devotion to her husband, Scarn, and her two children, six-month old daughter Mirra and nineteen year old son Therran.

Mella has deep brown eyes and long, straight sandy blonde hair unlike most residents of Tarun that have dark brown or black hair. She stands 5′ 6″ tall and has a fit body. She has a ready smile and a joyous laugh, but can also take on a stern and no-nonsense demeanor when she or her family are threatened.

Most adults in Tarun learn to use at least one weapon because of the constant threat of attack from cru’gan, and Mella excelled at the use of a bow. She’s not quite as accurate as Ohlen, but few people are.

Mella is intensely loyal to those she loves, and being a mother, is also capable of great tenderness and kindness.

Excerpt from Chapter 10, “The Dead Man Speaks”

As Merrick Stonehorn stood in the back of the crowd gathered in the courtyard, he watched Hadrick Burgoyne emerge onto the wooden dais erected before the Keep’s main entrance. An entourage of sycophantic advisers and attendants surrounded the fat, grey-haired man whose clothes were needlessly regal beyond the occasion. Despite Burgoyne’s physical size, Merrick considered him to be the smallest man he’d ever met.

The ruler began speaking to the assembled crowd – it was a monthly ritual. His speeches were flowery and puffed up civic decrees that had little substance but were intended to remind the citizenry that he was still in charge.

Merrick sensed someone was watching him. A short, wiry man with brown, expressionless eyes emerged from behind a food vendor’s cart, stood next to the giant innkeeper, and said, “His speech is especially interesting today, don’t you think?”

Both men kept their eyes toward the fat man on the dais as they conversed. The big man shrugged his shoulders and said, “‘Interesting’ isn’t the word I would choose.”

Rinn discretely glanced around to make sure no one was within earshot. “I’d say he’s doing a good job for a dead man.”

 

“I don’t like the guy, but that doesn’t mean I want to see him dead.”

“Too late.”

Merrick gazed nonchalantly toward the shorter man standing next to him. He caught a glimpse of a rare smile from the rogue.

“We need to talk. You know where,” Rinn muttered before fading back and disappearing amongst the vendor carts.

Prequel short story and a Michael J. Sullivan contest

Back in July, I submitted a short story to a contest held by popular fantasy author Michael J. Sullivan. He is going to be releasing the final book in his Ryria series, The Death of Dulgath, and in an effort to help budding authors, is planning to include a short story in that release. He held a contest to determine the winner.

I wrote a short story called The Orphan’s Maker that is a prequel of Ohlen’s Arrow and submitted it to Sullivan.

I found out yesterday that my story has made it into the top 15 out of 176 submissions. I’m very excited about this, as you can imagine, as the exposure would be a huge boost to my writing career. Even if I don’t win, I already consider this a win. Sullivan, and his wife Robin, were kind enough to provide me feedback and advice on Ohlen’s Arrow. They are both tremendously busy people, yet they find time to give back to the writing community. The opportunity to have a short story included in the release of The Death of Dulgath is huge.

Let’s keep our collective fingers crossed that The Orphan’s Maker moves up the list as the contest progresses. Stay tuned.

A Slight Change of Direction

After spending a bit of time on another writing project, I have recently returned my attention to Paragon’s Call. Part of that effort has been evaluating the plot I have mapped out and determining if it will go in the direction I need.

I got that worked out and adjusted the plot line better to my liking, then returned to composition. I’m now up to a little over 63,000 words, with a half dozen chapters remaining. For scale, both book one Ohlen’s Arrow and book two Ohlen’s Bane are about 64,000 words each.

My plot adjustments have shortened the overall length of the novel by removing three chapters that didn’t add much to the book. I learned back in my screenwriting days that if a scene can be removed without altering the pace or plot, it doesn’t belong.

More importantly, my plot adjustments have changed the role of the antagonist in the book. Specifically, I added a new antagonist that will will play a bigger part in subsequent books.

Wait, what? Did I just indicate there will be more after Paragon’s Call?

When to stop plot expansion

My book, Ohlen’s Arrow, is now dwelling in a state of revision. I wrote the first draft and sent it out to several beta readers for feedback. After receiving that feedback, I spent two weeks revising the book and another week proofreading it.

The problem is that my brain won’t let it stay where it is. I keep coming up with ideas for plot expansion. Part of this results from realizing I’ve neglected certain foreshadowing opportunities within the book as well as links to the two books I have planned as sequels in what will probably turn into a trilogy.

I also realize that I mention certain plot elements within the story but don’t expand on them as much as I could. I’m sure sharp readers will finish the book and say, “Hey, what about that dagger you mentioned in chapter 3?” or “Why are the cru’gan so tribal and not more cooperative?”

Questions from readers like this are to a certain extent unavoidable. I can’t answer every possible question; it’s not feasible, and I don’t think the book would be very interesting if I did. Everyone needs a little mystery left over once the last page has been turned.

The challenge as an author is knowing when to stop. At what point do I allow the book to exist as it stands? When do I determine I’ve done enough?

If Ohlen’s Arrow becomes a New York Times best seller and gets a three-movie treatment from Peter Jackson, no doubt I’d walk away from the bank after cashing my royalty checks still harboring thoughts that it could use just a little more work.

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.