Trip It Up and Down

When I don’t feel like I’ve tripped and fallen into the pond, I feel like my feet are stuck in mud with writing. On the other hand, my Alpha Readers are coming back and really enthused with what’s been put out. I can’t see it of course. That’s the curse of being a writer sometimes and makes it more important to take time between writing and reading so you can gain some perspective again.

Book 2 is progressing still, but as a two pronged attack. I’m having to go back 20-40 chapters and rebuild a plotline that I had pulled, and now keeps getting better and better IMHO as I go. But it’s hard to shoehorn it into areas that don’t disrupt the flow of the story, work well with serialization and all the rest that I have going on.

The second prong had stalled with the main plot till I started realizing what a point of contention would be between the characters…. and it’s a naaaaasty one that I hope will have people cheering and angry at the same time. Ahhh ambivalence… you are so fun. As it is, the characters keep talking to me and giving me good things to transcribe for them. They seem to be getting bored with my downtime thanks to life, the universe and everything getting in the way. Oh I should include my own inability to hear them at times which leads to my Guild Wars 2 inspired brain static. Something I hope to avoid this weekend and crank hard on some new chapters.

But. We are up to 73 chapters. Can I get a “Whoa mama!” from the audience? Still aiming for that 1500-3000 sweet spot which gives a wonderful potato chip feel to the chapters. Before you know it, you eat the whole bag.  Or perhaps that’s just me.

Om nom nom.

The downside is that this is causing me writing fatigue. I’m looking at it going, “Come ONNNNN!!!! Get to the finale already!” But the characters have to tell their story the way they have to. It’s foolhardy to try and make them do something they ain’t gonna. I’ll make it through, and it’s giving me ideas of what’s to come in the future.

I should note that there is now consideration on my part and agreed upon by my editor that Book 2 (Title Pending) may turn into a FOUR volume set!  That’s right kids and kidettes.  So much is going on, I may be unable to pack these into only three parts.  If that happens, it’ll still be worth it.  Trust me.

Without further ado, here are the new stats  (I see it’s been a while):

Including the “Encyclopedia Akiniwazi”… formerly the Glossary

Pages 467
Words 156774

New Chapters with their new numbers:

Inserted Chapters:

22. Tugging at a Loose Thread

30. A City Robed in Black

33. Denied That Which Is Necessary

Moving on from the last end point:

66. In the Deep Places of the World

67. Ashamed Before the Crown

68. Lingering Doubts

69. Dashed Illusions

70. If Given the Choice

71. The Importance of a Name

72. At The Ragged Edge of Disaster

73. In Dark Halls, a Light Shines

We’ll give an excerpt next time.  Gotta keep them special dontcha know?

BTW, in case you didn’t quite realize, The pictures I use are often clues to what kind of things I’ve been writing about in the book.  Just a little extra something for when you read the book you can look back and go “ohhhhh!  That’s what he was doing!”

Obviously Daffy isn’t one of them.

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Sometimes You Must Go Back To Go Forward

After a great meeting with my editor, I realized that I had to restore a subplot I cut out of the book.  I figured it was going to end up being in book 3 instead, before I realized that its original intent was going to work.  So… 5 new (old) chapters were put back in the book near the beginning.  In fact, one of them is now the new first chapter.

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But as for moving forward, I had gotten stuck on several points on my last chapter, and it just… blech!  It wasn’t working.  Too overwrought and loaded down with purple prose that was muddying even my understanding of what was going on.  The good news is that now that I have worked through a serious scientific problem, I can also see that this book is living up to my hopes and has the potential to being a real awesome adventure when I discussed my plans with my editor.  She was so good at just letting me vent ideas.  Still not sure on a few simple points, but mmmm boy…. this ending, thanks to the solution brought back by the restored subplot got so much better.

It was a sub-plot that originated from characters from A Light Rises in a Dark World, so some favorites are returning and having an impact on what’s going on.  This also will end up creating more of a tie-in to book 3 that I hoped.

I also have the timeline more squared away.  Having to start writing chapters that will be inserted earlier into the book because I’m writing this chronologically forces that issue.

I’m seeing the ending far more clearly, now, and that makes me happy.  But I have to start thinking of what to title this thing.  Even a working title would be good.

Stats

Pages 407
Words 135970

As you can see, a significant jump in word count too.

New (Restored chapters and locations)

1. The Hunt

3. A Desire For Home

5. Confession & Revelation

7. An Interrupted Meal

8. Breaking Bread With New Friends

And the new chapters since last with their new position:

57: Rewards, Conundrums & Disappointments

58: The Drowned Forest

59: The Valley That Drives Away Evil With Light

60: Temple To An Unknown God

61: The Weight of Sin

I guess it has been a while since I’ve given you a chapter update.  So as a mea culpa and désolé, here’s an excerpt from the new opening chapter

 

The Hunt

 

The beast had come across the ice that winter.  Tracks left in the snowpack frozen by spray from a storm haunted Aske’s mind.  The prints were startling along the beach of Neinnvanbjarg as it had wandered along for a short while, looking for evidence of food, found it, then went into the trees and vanished. Perhaps the beast would just pass on to another island looking for better fare, but that was not to be.  A week later, an team of oxen were killed.  Their kusk escaped with his life by the grace of God.  Something needed to be done now for this beast was there to feast.

Early March had created a world without horizon.  For days on end, the air was warm and thick with fog.  Heavy coats were laid aside, and most timberjacks went about with only light oilskins normally for rain over their autumn clothing.  Aske and his men slogged through the mud and wet snow of the spring melt.  Near the beaches the crunch and hiss of ice shoves were a disquieting din as the winds and waves pushed floes and bergs all the way to the treeline.  Sometimes the piles reached over forty feet high.  But among the trees the sound of dripping water and sighing boughs was all that could be heard.  The birds refused to sing, not even the chickadees or cardinals, for they knew a killer lurked among the pillars of nature’s cathedral.  The beast made it easy to follow by dragging the dead oxen back to its cave in the rotted limestone cliffs that made the northeastern end of the island. Ten of them came with Aske while the rest protected the woodyard and the logging camp.  The track may have been there, but it might be still on the prowl.  None the less, Aske’s knowledge of nature told him to expect a full it  inside.

The plan was simple.  They would go in as many men abreast as possible and when they came across across their quarry, pin it in place with the first rank of spears, then the second rank would stab the trapped creature till it stopped moving.  The hide might be ruined, but this was not about another fur, this was about survival.  Of all the choices for hunting the beast, this was the safest and fastest.

The cave was a small alcove set back a few dozen yards from the beach and elevated in the rock about the height of a man with talus of rotted rock scattered at its base.  The smell of feces came strong on the stirring breeze outside the mouth of the lair.  A deer’s ribcage poked out obscenely from the melting snow telling that the oxen were not this beast’s first kill.  Even in the full light of the foggy day, the shadows inside were deep enough that the men could not see more than a few feet into the short cave.

Aske took the middle of the first rank, was flanked by his two strongest men, and began entering the dark.  The cave was not too deep, maybe a hundred feet or less, but it took a bend to the left, which concealed the deeper chamber of the cave.  Behind him, a rank of men held torches high.  The flames sizzled in the spiderwebs and burned the rock lice.  Unstable slabs of loose rock clunked under their feet and the stink was overwhelming.  The torches were now their only light.  Ahead, soft breathing could be heard.  Would they be so fortunate as to catch their prey still sleeping?

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Feel free to comment and ciao for now!

Okay, NOW the Middle Build is Done

I wasn’t sure what would be the better ending point.  A conversation with my protagonists with a bunch of big revelations, or an interrogation by my villain.  I like my clean cliffhangers that both answer and ask questions.  So, that means the first draft of Volume 4 and 5… aka the first two parts of Book 2 I think are done.

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What changed my mind?  What I wrote kinda sets up a small question that felt better to resolve for that great clean break rather than let carry over and start the last volume on the wrong foot.

I guess it’s my years of RPG experience that made this kind of thinking something I’m sensitive to.  I always liked stopping the game as a new event or surprise came up.  The players always wanted to play it out right then, but I wouldn’t do it because the act of doing so had them talking about it all week long.  I kinda saw it as my way of doing the TV season ending trick but for every week.  Or what the old Dr. Who used to do for every story arc.  You’d get 3-4 show stories, with cliffhangers on every episode till the end.  Kept me coming back for more, that’s for sure.  So I’m doing the same thing here.

But for those fretting about having to wait for months for resolution, here’s the new release plans from now on:

I will release Volume 4 at the same time as I release the print versions of all of Book 2.  That way, you want the whole story at once, there it is… in print.  After that, every 2-4 months, I will release the next Volume.  If I time it right, you will get a new book every year or more, and a new volume every 2-4 months, depending on if I can keep up.

That’s the plan going forward.  BTW, book 3 is as I’ve said before 60% written.  Why?  See previous posts.  😉  Go on, you know you want to check out back posts.  XcD  But also, the events in book 2 require me to add more content to help the two books blend better.

Now, here’s the progress report, since it’s been helping my motivation.

Pages 292 of 349
Words 104555 of 114209

Why the new split?  Because I realize that the “Encyclopedia Akiniwazi” is a significant chunk of the length, so this way you know the story.  Right now, Book 2 is exceeding the length of book 1 in about every respect, and I still have about 25-30% left to go.  That’s about 30 more chapters I’m estimating.  Now 57 pages of encyclopedia is a lot to ask, and every book it grows, but over Thanksgiving I got to visit with a family who is reading the book right now, and they have a bookmark at the glossary.  They use and enjoy it.  Their sons have now taken to insulting each other with some of the names.  Funny stuff to hear them call each other “snotnose” (Hrodinefr) or “chicken fart” (Haensafretr).  They’re young, so it’s extra funny and beats a lot of names they could call each other.

Chapters

50. In Which Occult Knowledge is Revealed

51. A Fool No Longer

 

On one side note, I may be having some difficulty this month in productivity due to some complications with life.  I still have a specific goal in mind, but I’m worried I will not be able to meet it.  We’ll see.

Beginning Volume 6 (Book 2)

Yep.  I feel I’m in a good place right now.  The fire’s in the belly, and the first half of the third act is now over the horizon and shining in the distance.  I figure I’ve broad stroked the first 10 chapters of the Ending Payoff, and am starting to see the shape of the last 15-30 chapters and its denouement.  Very thrilling stuff.

I have one oddball chapter hanging out with me right now that would be an awesome cliffhanger ending, but recently it has been suggested that readers don’t like cliffhangers.  Is this true, dear readers?  Doth thou hateth when yon poor scribe leavest thou hanging on tenterhooks till the oft given oath of resolutions aplenty in the next tome?

XcD

I’m such a goof.

But, yeah, where this next chapter that I’m going to write lands, is kinda up in the air.  It’s either the first chapter of Volume 6 or the last chapter of Volume 5.  I’m leaning towards Vol 6.  But then again… oh thpppt.  Later.

I’m not going to promise when this first draft is going to get done, but I suspect it is now entering the realm of…

Soon3

Very thoon.. I mean soon indeed.

Can’t wait to share it all with you.

Let’s put it this way, some things I’ve learned about myself and my work process in the last month or so, well, if I’m being honest the last two or three months or so, is that I have to stop gaming and doing other things that sap my creative spark when I want to make a deadline from now on.  So I may start on a new process at the beginning of next year, where I focus on writing for two months, and take a break for one.  I dunno.  Just thinking about how to improve myself so I don’t burn out and I get a lot of stuff done.  Yep yep yep.  Learning the craft is more than just pounding the ole keyboard and daydreaming.

I’ll be honest though, I am not capable of dealing with marketing and sales yet though.  I just… nope… can’t even.  Nope nope nope.

Anyway, I’m excited enough I may try to push out two chapters tonight as is.  Then at least I’ll have enough to report on progress later in the week.

So, ta ta for now.  Sleep then writing to come.

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Volume 2 Now On Sale

Now available at Smashwords, Kobo and Amazon!

This is the second volume in the Akiniwazi Saga.
Volumes 1-3 can be found in Book One.

After surviving the storm, Reimar and Brother Finn have terrifying new problems. They are stuck on an isolated island named “No Hope Rock”. The children are turning on each other, an assassin with the power to raise the dead is hunting Brother Finn, and a manitou desires to possess Reimar!

Aided by Herr Aske, a master timberjack, and the mysterious Daniel, the four must unite to stop the evil plans opposing them before it’s too late. Can they get off the island with their minds and souls intact?

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And coming this December!

The conclusion of “A Light Rises in a Dark World”!

 

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Volume 2 Release This Week!

Yes ladies and gentlemen!

Volume 2 of “A Light Rises in a Dark World” is coming out this week!  Available on Amazon, Kobo and Smashwords for $0.99!

 

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Ensemble Casts Suck

No seriously.  They are such a pain to write.  How do you give proper attention to characters when you are stuck with scenes that require seven or more to be participating?!  Ugh!  This is the challenge I’ve been having with my writing.  From my GM-Brain, I just want to follow the plot, but without meaning and character development, it’s worthless, and so many characters need to be addressed.

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There are times I think back to books like “The Stand” where King created himself a cast of what?  A dozen to follow?  I mean how do you write the scene of the meeting of the Boulder Free Zone Committee without going insane or leaving someone out of the mix?  He did it, and did it well.  I feel like a fumbling poseur.  Yes, yes… I know that is endemic among writers.  Possibly a pandemic of impostor syndrome.  Doesn’t change the fact I feel it.

At least I can say it’s moving forward though, despite getting ready to add an eighth member to the party.  So what sounds more medieval for a group of travelers?  Party, Band, Group, team?  Blarg… do I just throw it in the mixmaster and hit frappe?

Plus how do you handle a secret romantic subplot in the midst of it?  Lament lament lament.  anyhooo… new chapter titles that are done… and not necessarily in order because I may have to rearrange some of them for better flow and suspense.

#?  Placing a Bit in the Mouth of the Wild (will be moving)

31. Beyond the Bounds of Law

32. Planning the Coronation (may have to move)

33. Under a Lowering Sky

34. Like Sheep To Uncertain Pasture

35. The Last Farmhold

36. Where A Clandestine Rendezvous Occurs

37. Ascending For Primae

38. Brother Finn Risks His Neck (probable re-title)

39. Palliative Heat & An Ancient Terror (probable re-title)

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On a positive note, the direction this part of the plot has come over the horizon, and weeks of contemplation, worry and irritation are now being put on the page.  Unfortunately, it has revealed another issue that will have to wait till the second draft to address.  More on that in a later post.  I will be summoning my clutch of alpha readers, for a private discussion on the topic of culture and weighing authenticity versus modern fantasy sensibilities.  Yes, the two are suddenly in conflict.

But if you would like to opine on the subject, I shall ask the hypothetical.  If you were reading a historical fantasy book and came across an old custom that was socially distasteful in modern terms (compared to even as far back as Victorian terms) would you prefer the authenticity, or would you rather it be written around as too distracting.  Mind you I’m not talking something totally reprehensible, but we’re talking moderate social taboos.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated, and more to come soon!  Yes, actually soon.  😉

 

Volume One is Here!

Surprise free book!

Yes, that’s right peoples… Volume One of “A Light Rises in a Dark World” has made it onto the market.  You can get your free copy here, till Amazon matches the price.  Yeah, they no longer do permafree releases.  But Kobo does!  And that should come available after the holiday up in Canada today.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/752542

I will release more direct links as it comes available.

Edit: Here’s the link to Kobo.

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-light-rises-in-a-dark-world-volume-one

 

Till then, price is no longer an excuse to check this bad boy out!  Come on… whatcha got to lose?

 

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A Crisis of Doubt (Bonus Draft Excerpt!)

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I’ve been radio silent for a few weeks now because I’ve been struggling with some things in regards to “A Light Rises in a Dark World”.  I opened myself up to ask others what they thought of it in a professional forum to see what kind of surface reaction I was getting.  Everyone was great with what they told me and the criticisms all honest, having validity and expressed the opinions of those who cared to share.  I appreciate all of them, so don’t think I’m bashing them or unappreciative to what they did.

What this is about is an unintended consequence of doing such a thing that caused me to stumble in my productivity and confidence in my book.

I’ve had a set of good and bad reviews lately, and I had started to doubt my work.  Not the quality of it, but its public visage.  I started to question the cover, the title, the sales copy (oh yeah that’s puppy poo and needs to be reworked, for sure)… but the title?  The cover?  Like I said, a crisis of doubt.

But three other incidents have gotten around the corner.

My editor reminded me I get streaky like this where I’ll go ‘fallow’ (my word) for a few weeks, but bounce back with a lot of productivity.  I just need time to let the stew in my head simmer.  Let me tell you, it’s more complex and time consuming than black roux gumbo can be, and just as fraught with disaster.  So she’s the one that helped me realize I was lying on the floor covered in self doubt.

So while I was mulling about that, my writing buddy and friend, Dave, came along and reminded me that I was looking for reason to doubt myself.  Reasons to tear down everything and dispair.  Something I am still wondering about.  So he helped pick me up and made sure I was standing again.

Then Torfinn, the man that makes the foreign words work right and provider of good suggestions came in, and made some simple apt points about what was said and showed me again the good things that were said to counterbalance out all the negative stuff I was feeling that really may not have been there in the first place, but only in my own doubt.  So in essence, he dusted me off, straightened my tie and got me thinking about what needs to be done next.

So to you three, thank you.

Upshot of all this has yeilded some interesting thoughts in my head.  I realize I’ve been struggling with the “What Next” question.  I know what I want to talk about, and I’m shaping out the characters, but I haven’t found the right way to fit them all together in Book 2.  Until I do, I can’t make myself move forward it seems, but I can cogitate a lot about it.

Which has lead for me to understand the themes for books 1-5 better.  Yes… you heard me right, I’m already thinking 3 books ahead.  Pretty easy when book 3 is half written already, but with what’s going on in book 2 that’s going to take some heavy modification which I’m really salivating about doing… but can’t till I get done with book 2 because I need to understand the world that is being built better.  Every book is worldbuilding in chronological order for me.

Why you may ask?  Because I leave myself open to happy accidents.  It’s how I got the whole third act of book 1.  (Or as it will soon be known as ‘Volume 3’)  I knew where I needed to be, then let the characters and world tell me what was happening.  Of course, I got that done in a much more compressed timeframe than this, but it was nowhere near as complex as what I’m doing now.  The interconnectivity… oh you’ve heard this all before.  I’ll bore you to tears with that some other time.  Anyway.  I’m at 36.5 chapters, I have a new visual image going in my head that helps me understand my map the people and how the story must progress.

It’s going to be fun.

Lastly, I will be releasing Book 1 Volume 1 of “A Light Rises in a Dark World” this month still.  Putting finishing touches on my new cover.  Keep an eye out, for it’s going to be “BAM!  Surprise launch!”

And as a thank you for your patience, here’s another first draft exerpt from Book 2 for you.  Remember… this is a FIRST draft excerpt because y’all are worth it.

Bon appetit!

The Jarl’s Hall was impressive to say the least, Brother Finn thought as he walked up to the large structure.  It was twice as large as the Stallare’s Hall in Athrvorthfestning, but comparable to others he had been to.  What made this one stand out all the more was the incredible decorations at the entrance.  Trophies of animals, and demonspawn stood there or were mounted on the walls.  Carvings of great hunts were etched around the massive pillars while ornate tapestries dripped down from the walls.  The long hearth in the middle was roaring as the clergy from all around the area filed in as a processional to the chanting of the choristers in their midst.  The song finished as the last of the clergy reached their seats.

Jarl Jakob Vilhoaettir sat in the high seat watching the procession filed in and took their seats at the table.  Bishop Aarlig Krakisson stood before the Jarl and the Domari stood before him as the Thing finished assembling.  After the Kyrjka was seated, the Huskarls allowed the Forsamling who wished to be witnesses to enter, sitting on the outer benches by the walls.  Silence was strictly enforced.  Those who dared talk could expect to be escorted to the dungeon without hesitation.

When everyone was seated and the only sounds were the crackling of the hearth and the rain hissing on the roof, the Domari turned to face his master.  His form swallowed up in the all black robes of his office with a golden staff in hand taller than a man by half again.  On its tip, was a figurine of balances resting on top of the seal of the Vilhoaettir.  

“Deres Naade, we are ready,” he said with funeral humor.

Jarl Vilhoaettir nodded, his face a serene mask.

With the bottom of his staff, he pounded the timber floor the traditional seven times.  The knocks brought even greater quiet to the hall.

“Damer and Herrar, we are assembled this day, April the eleventh, in anno Domini One Hundred and Ninety Two Ad Segregationem.  We call forth a special assembly of the Thing that justice may be done!”  The man’s powerful voice cracked off the wooden walls loud as any herald.  

“All come forth in fear and trembling in the presence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and before the justice of Den Aerefulle Jakob Fritjovsson Vilhoaettir.  May all those who speak, do so in the Spirit of Truth, and no falsehood be found among the Thing.  Pay heed to this warning, for all may be judged for their actions and words.”

The Domari’s sparkling blue eyes swept over the hall, challenging anyone to disagree.  None did.

A Huge Weekend Writing

I’m tired!  Whoooeee!

Four new chapters, 7,700 words in two days

And the craziest part, I now reached the point where I expected to start it in the first place!  I mean Jeez La Rue!  I cranked out so much of what I originally thought was only backstory and it’s a cracking good read.  And this is the beginning of the middle build!  So lots more to go.  I’m enjoying doing shorter chapters (most times).  Really keeps me focused better.  But now I have a firm deadline I want to keep, so push push push.

Latest chapters finished? (Working titles subject to change)

#27 “Conditions, Restrictions & Honor”

#28 “Out From The Depths”

#29 “Three Become Six

#30 “The Magnitude of Betrayal is Revealed”

Now, comes some crazy stuff.  I hope that I can get my mind bent around this in time for my next writing session starting Tuesday night… or at least Wednesday.

If not… I’ll work on my project that will be announced soon.  😉

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An image on things to come.