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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Glad to be back writing again here on my blog. Since I got published through Cosby Media Productions I have been running like mad to keep my book advertised everywhere I can. Fortunately, CMP hired a publicist to help the authors find interviews and signings. I have been on the radio and in magazines several times now. This friday (6/3) I will be featured on The Speculative Fiction Cantina Blog Talk Radio program.

I hope you can stop by and listen in.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

I'm Baaaack

No, I didn't vanish from existence, I've been busy. And lazy. Okay, more lazy than busy. It has been one full year since I last posted in this blog. In that time my book, Legacy of Dragonwand book 1 has been released from Cosby Media Productions. It is going well. I have been interviewed by magazines, radio programs, and bloggers. The reviews came pouring in, and most everyone had great things to say. The second and third installment are set to come out later this year. I hope to keep at least one new post active on this blog each week, so come back.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

DRAGONWAND 2 CANCELLED!! (but it's not over.)

Yes, you heard me right. The Dragonwand series has been cancelled, retired, pulled out of publication. But, wait, don't panic yet. There is better news. Legacy of the Dragowand has been picked up by Cosby Media Productions, in association with Tate Publishing.

Okay, the good news first. Legacy of the Dragonwand has been pulled out of publication on all channels so that the publisher can now re-edit it and re-release it starting all over. This time it will have a fully professional cover, formatting, editing,...basically the whole bag-o-chips. They talked to me about an audio version as well, but that's down the road. The book will be released in Ebook first, then in print. Finally, they believe it would do well as a three part series.

The bad news: For everyone who has picked up and read Part 1, I am sorry to say that you will have to wait longer for the continuation of the story. I know that I put in there that the sequel would be released this coming summer, but that cannot be now that we are in the throes of professionally publishing it.

This is a dream come true. Almost ten years ago I thought my dream had been realized when PublishAmerica picked me up. Had I had the sense to ask the right questions and know the right answers, I would have never signed with them. That is in my own personal history now, I can move forward with CMP. I am very excited about getting this done right this time, and I feel that CMP is very trusthworthy.

Thank you everyone for reading my books, I hope you are ready for the future, it is going to be awesome.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Random art

Happy May everyone. Just thought I'd check in with a few bits of art I have done recently. Enjoy.

Drew that dragon and added my name to create a name plate for my book signing events.

A doodle I created while playing Kismet with the family. 

Just sketching for the heck of it. I started this when a request for this particular model came to me, but I lost contact with the person who requested the picture and so I finished it with my standard Ashinaga face and tail. 

Added mountains to the background to give it depth. Not sure if he'll make it onto a cover or not. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Please read, but I worry you won't.

Here's a long one, but I wanted to say it. I am an author, you should know that by now. What you may not know is what is involved with being an author. Some have kindly picked up my book and some of those have read it. Few of those have left reviews. I get frustrated at that. But, I honestly don't think you know what it takes to be an author. Let me explain:

You start with an idea. That seems simple, but it isn't. Often I get people who aren't authors who explain a basic scenario that has been written a thousand times, or describe a scene with action or humor that would be neat. They explain that this would be the next big hit if only they found time to write it. What they don't understand is the depth of work goes into the thought process before the first keystroke of the story. Is the idea good? Who are the characters that make up the story? Why are they doing what they are doing? Will it make sense? Is it good? How could it end up? (That question will conjure about a thousand responses, but you must focus on the few that will make it a real story and not just an anecdote.)

Next you write. So you have come up with an idea of a story and fleshed out a few of the particulars in your head. You know kind of how you want it to begin. Mind you it probably has already been a while of thinking and pondering before you get here. But here the first work begins. This is the scary yet fun part of it. You dedicate time to write it. For me, that is at least one hour a day. I sit down and write for an hour or more each day. During this time I have to keep extensive notes outside and inside of that writing time. While I am constructing this story I have to keep up with the minor details that could come up later and I don't want to get them wrong. I also will be thinking about the story day and night while I am not writing. I will drift off into daydreams as I consider what scene will happen next, or I will come up with a new idea for something that will help build a character's story. So I scribble these notes down and keep them all around me. For me, at least three months goes into this, night after night I pour into this story. I am with the characters all the time. I dream about them, I talk to them, I hurt for them, I am happy for them. It is hardly different than reality during this time. (No I am not insane, just focused.) Often the story will lead me more than I will lead it and eventually come to its own finale that is far superior to the one that I considered when I originally went through the thinking process. Three solid months (or more) have been spent on a story just scribing the roughest draft of the book.

Next you edit. It is wise to take some time off of the book and let it rest so that you can distance yourself from it and not be influenced by the same vigor that was inside you while you wrote it. Now you have to read it to yourself and catch mistakes. You have to fix any plot holes that you inadvertently left in it. You need to make sure that that half a scene you thought you deleted is truly gone for fear of completely confusing the next editor. This process will often take a month or more just on your own, and that is only the first edit.

Next you get a friendly edit. This is my own process, but I think it wise for others as well. I get my mother or another friend to take a look at it. I don't need a deep critical analysis, just someone to pick out any plot holes I missed, glaring mistakes that I glazed over, and to give me a general review of if it holds water or not. Here is where I get the most info about scenes that make little sense to others that seemed to make sense in my own mind. So I am going back with all of the suggested corrections and putting them in. This involves a lot of scrutinizing of the messy scenes so that I can re-write them to make sense to others. This process can take another three months.

Next you get a basic editor to work on it. Here comes the bleeding on the page. The editor grabs his/her red pen and hits the grammar and spelling mistakes hard. No mercy is shown. They also catch any leftover mistakes in context that can be fixed by a few words. This is where it gets rough on me as the author. This editor will not hold back or be nice, they will tell it like it is. I get back their suggested changes and have to put them in myself. Keep in mind that I can refuse any correction suggestions, I am the author. Though I will most likely accept any technical suggestions. This will take at least three months, more if the editor has other jobs to take care of.

Next comes beta-readers. I call on friends and family to read the three times edited book and give me feedback. They too will find mistakes and offer suggestions. (Yes, even after three edits there will still be mistakes, no one is perfect) Their biggest contribution to the ordeal is pre-review. They tell me if the story is worthy. If the characters are good, the scenes are nicely described, the plot makes sense. It is here that you find out truly if the book is worthy of moving forward or is dead in the water. I take their suggested changes and opinions and look them over. I might have to go into the book and make even more corrections. This can take one to three months.

(It might seem odd to correct something so many times. But I look at it like a bed sheet. Throw it out without any effort and watch it lay on the ground. Then carefully pull, pat, spread, and tug until it is neatly flat and square. It takes time but eventually it will turn out presentable.)

Next comes query. A query is your application to an agent or publisher. Agents represent you to publishers, but some publisher will listen to you without an agent. So you need to grab the attention of one or the other. A query letter is a whole other monster. You have to introduce yourself, describe your book in a short but detailed summary
. Describe yourself and any worthy accomplishments in the publishing world. And then give them the amount of your book they require. (Some will ask for the first three chapters, others will ask for the first page. They only want to examine your style.) You send that off and then wait. More often than not six weeks is the shortest wait time, some go so far as a year. Often they will either send you a form rejection letter or nothing, you get to just assume after so much time has passed they passed on you.

(Note about writing the summery. You have just spent over a year on this book. It has been your baby, your brainchild, you devoted work. It will likely be between 80,000 and 150,000 words. But you have to condense that into a pitch of two to three paragraphs, which must be good enough for them to understand the book, its story, the characters, the feel, and the genre. Authors have given up the craft over the difficulty surrounding this. The most well know, well read pros out there hire others to craft the pitch they put on the book flap or back, because they hate doing it. We amateurs don't have the money, but are required to be no less perfect.)

For me, the next was to self publish. (Got tired of form or silent rejections) This requires the book to be formatted into the file type that will work with Kindle or Nook, or both. That takes a week or two just to get it positioned on the pages right.

After that comes the book cover. I am lucky that I have a bit of talent in art, and so I can draw my own covers. Otherwise it would cost or I would use something that isn't appealing that I just slapped together in paint. My covers can take two months of time to hand draw all the elements and then six to nine hours of time using a program to splice it all together. It still looks amateurish, but passable I guess.

Finally I get to the publishing. In an attempt to succeed you need to throw yourself a big party online to try and generate attention to the book and its author. You get friends to come and celebrate. You publish it and then say your prayers, cross your fingers, and wait to see if it sells.

Oh, wait, there's more. You have to promote. You grab chances to be on other peoples blogs, you pay for ad space on the cheapest sites you can (generally indie authors are the richest folks around.). You annoy your friends on all the social media sites until you feel like a jerk just for bringing your book up. You hand out business cards, write press releases in hopes that a local media outlet will give you five seconds of time, hold books signings wherever they will accept an indie, join countless self-promo groups online, create and manage your own pages, websites, blogs to keep your name fresh. The time spent here is immeasurable. It isn't a thing you can do for five minutes a day and succeed, you have to devote time and effort every day to make it work. Checking on it constantly, being aware of what is being said about you and your work. And even that is hardly a guarantee that it will do any good. You pray for time to write on your other stuff, or edit your other stuff, and if you have family, jobs, church, social activities, anything else, you are really spent.

Now, two years have passed since that first idea floated into your head. You check your numbers each day to find that few have even noticed you are alive and fewer still have bought any books. For those few books that have sold, less than one percent leave a review. You never really know if all of your time, energy, worry, work, and stress has meant a damn thing to anyone. And worse yet, you give some of your friends the book hoping they would enjoy it, but they cannot ever seem to find the time to read it. They act like this is a pass-time, a hobby, something done when you have “down time”. They aren't trying to be mean or cruel, you know that. But, they don't know how much of yourself you donated to the pages of that book so that it could come to life.

Do I hate writing now? No. But I want you to understand that this isn't a hobby, or a pass time, it is a dedicated way of life. Authors are traditionally hermits and/or single (me), but this is not just a personality thing, its a requirement sometimes considering the taxing nature of this beast. If I give you a book, please take time to read it. If you liked it at all, by all means leave a review. Your two minutes spent will help validate the years exhausted in the creation of that book.  

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Cover Elements

Hello everyone, sorry that it has been a while since I posted. I have been busy, sick, a little iced in, and experimenting. "Experimenting?" you say. No, I am not trying out anything illegal. I wanted to see if anyone noticed the blog going silent for a while. Sadly, no one really spoke up. But, after saying something about this experiment a few others encouraged me to keep going. So, here I go.

For my first post in a while I would like to show you the elements of the cover for book 2 of the Legacy of the Dragonwand series. Creating a cover is hard work. Not only do I hand draw all the elements to make the cover. I have to blend them together seamlessly and attractively so that readers are encouraged to pick up the book. Before all that I need to make the decisions about what should and should not be part of the image.

A cover needs to convey mystery and excitement, at least for fantasy adventures I believe that is the case. The cover needs to tell a little story on its own, a sampling of what is inside the book. It should make enough sense for the reader to want to flip the book over and check out the mini-description on the back. (The backside material is a whole other can-o-worms but we won't worry about that just yet.) Last, personally I think a cover needs to be mysterious enough to make the reader wonder what it means, for it should have an deep meaning for the story, but not obvious enough to betray the mystery. The reader should come to a point in the story where they suddenly go "Oh, so THAT's what going on with the cover." To me the same goes for the title of the book and the title of each chapter. It should make sense only when you read further and realize what the title/chapter heading truly means.

That all said, here are the various elements that have gone into the second cover:

I started with the drawing of the dragon head, for the dragon was going to be the central image. I got the drawing done and then colored it a nice red color. I sat back and thought to myself "There aren't any red dragons in your book." I had to start over and give it a golden color, for there just happen to be a golden dragon in the book. So, the golden dragon here is going to be the covers central image.

I wanted to add something simple to the background so that the dragon head was superimposed over another image that fit the book. The characters spend a good amount of time in the Barren Mountains in the book, so I sketched a little line of peaks. I actually went for an "artsy" look. That way they would feel right being background images and not drawing the eye away from the center.


Last I wanted some secondary character images to complete the "story" of the cover. I first drew Treb with his bow out. I like it but it didn't feel like it would work all that well on the cover. He will likely end up inside the book, and will stay black and white. Still wanting another character on the cover I chose to go with the evil King. I drew the king. I separately his crown and then colored both. I think he will work and plan on shrinking him down so that he is more background than up front for the cover, leaving the dragon still the focal point.

I have some ideas about how to combine these images and what to do to make them a cover, but I will wait to show that to you until a later point. For now these remain the "potential" images that will be made into the second books cover. If history has taught me anything about my work its that things change. My first book went through five covers before I finally settled on the one I liked. But, I hope to start this one with a good cover and working hard to those ends is the key to success.

Why do I work so hard to draw my own covers? I have had people ask me this and offer me sites and names of cover artists that would do a fine job. Plain and simple answer; money. I respect why they charge so much, after having done all that I do for my own covers and the pro's do so much more. But, I just don't have the revenue at this time to put into the covers and that leaves it up to me.

Thank you for reading, have a blessed week.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Winter Wizard: Conclusion

Here's the conclusion of the story. Check it out. Also, to help me know if anyone is reading this. Please either comment here or on a link to it posted to Facebook. Let me know that I am actually reaching someone out there. Thanks for reading. Enjoy.
To read the first three segments, click the links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Chris! Chris!” His mothers voice woke him up from his deep sleep. Opening his eyes, he looked around the room to see that he was home.
Mom? Where am I?”
She smiled and laughed, “Honey, you have been asleep all day. Your father is angry with you. You were supposed to go out this morning and get him some wood.”
Chris sat up and felt his head, “I don't feel good.”
She nodded, “You weren't doing well, that's why I let you sleep. You had some kind of fever...or really a negative fever. Your temperature was really low. I guess it's a good thing you didn't go out there. You would've been caught in that freak snow storm.”
Chris stopped holding his head and his eyes bugged out, “Snow storm?”
Yeah. The news says that it's the weirdest weather this state has seen in two hundred years. They've already named it some silly name. I guess mother nature likes to play games. You get some rest and I'll bring you some hot soup.” She left him to lay in his bed.
Chris got out up and walked to the window. Opening it he found she was telling the truth. There was snow and ice all over everything. Could it be true? “Did it really happen?” He asked to no one in particular.
Yes.” the old wizards voice answered.
Chris turned around to see the man sitting in his room. “You.”
It is I, the king of the Wizards of Winter. Or, really, a shadow of my former self.”
So, it all did happen. How did I survive? I thought that crystal would've killed me.”
The wizard smiled and answered, “You were willing to sacrifice yourself to save the world. That was an impressive act.”
I had no other choice. It was all my fault. I released her.”
And your choice would have taken your life. But, I gave you a gift. I turned you into a winter wizard. Giving you my powers and my strength. That way you would survive.”
          Chris looked down at himself, “Me...a wizard?”
I defeated the queen over six thousand years ago and ended the ice age. Since then I have been keeping an eye on her and doing my job.”
"Your job is creating snowflakes?"
The old man laughed, "Not all of them. Winter wizards are artisans, crafting snowflakes is something I love. I can use them to create beautiful winter days, which I offer now and then. My real work has been fixing the damage from the war."
"So, what happened to the Queen?"
The wizard smiled, "She is gone forever. Your warmth killed her."
"My warmth?"
"Yes, the warmth of your spirit. Your willingness to put the worlds welfare above yours was enough to destroy her."
Chris shook his head, "What about that book? It showed..."
"Lies. It was created by her to mislead people.” The wizard looked away for a moment thinking back to the days of the first civilizations, “Back then the people did not know who to trust. Magic folk weren't uncommon, but strange to find around humans. When the lovely Ice Queen revealed her book to the people and implicated my kind against them, we became outlaws.”
So it was just a tool of propaganda.”
Not entirely. She also put into it spells, evil magic. The people weren't merely gullible, the dark magic within its pages corrupts thinking and sows the seeds of distrust and paranoia. She could've used its power to reestablish her own terrible strength."
Chris asked, “What about you?”
As I said, I'm merely a shadow. Once this shadow passes, I will be gone forever. You must be vigilant. The threats to this world are not yet over.”
Chris looked out the window, “Wow. Are you going to teach me how to....” he turned to find that the wizard was gone, his staff resting against the wall where he had been moments ago.
 Chris held the staff and felt the power surging through it. "All that I was, is now yours." The old voice proclaimed and suddenly Chris' room was filled with the snowflakes from the lair below. Chris smiled and pointed the staff toward the window. The gray skies melted away into a beautiful blue.
A new winter wizard was born.