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.

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Writer’s Block… I So Hate You.

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Book 2, title still pending, is a much more complex project that ALRDW and Book 3 (yes, Book 3’s first draft is done) will be transformed with the work on Book 2.

I got stuck on a chunk of writer’s block that was keeping me from unifying the two biggest plot lines together, but the solution has spawned another plotline and comprehension of the mechanics of what is going on in the land.  Yeah… that sentence made sense… right?  Not just me?  Ahem… okay, nevermind.  Anyway….  Big stuff happening, and now that one obstacle has been defeated, I can push forward some more and hopefully that will push other blockages out of the way too.

All caused because everyone’s so far fallen in love with Brother Finn.  Love the guy, but boy, I never expected him to go full “Han Solo” like he had, necessitating the need for book 2.  But, I digress and you’ve heard this all before. As it sits right now, I have six plotlines that I need to wrangle with.  A challenge I did not expect.  But so much has started to happen in the setting you guys deserve to see some of the cool stuff.

Teasers that I can give you is that you will learn what Brother Finn has been up to… so to speak… in Kynligrspiejl.

You will also learn that the political life in Akiniwazi is not quite as stable as you may have thought and start learning more about the Visekonge and the Hird.  Heavy is the head that wears the crown.

There’s going to be more traveling and adventure, and I’m going to pull some triggers on the Chekov’s Guns I left lying about un-fired from ALRDW.  It’s all been leading me to some interesting places in my own mind and the global story arc.  There’s a lot of fantastic things out there to write about, and some are going to be mindblowing.

One of the places you will be visiting is Dyrrvatn Kastali.  The capital!  Oh yes.  Not sure how much time you’re going to spend there, or what you’ll all see and experience, but I promise you this, you’re going into some pretty impressive places and see what happens in the most powerful city and land of Akiniwazi.

One subplot of the many that have come up will be peeled off to become it’s own standalone short story/novelette for it confused the timeline for readers (and author).  It’ll be great prep for you for the novel too, though you won’t have to read it beforehand.  I’m fairly certain it will be a freebie too.  That’s the goal.

The other subplot that I had to push out will actually be moved into Book 3 if I can figure out how to connect it up.  It involves people who would not come into play in Book 2 currently, but could really crank up the thrills in Book 3.

The last thing I’ll give away is that Reimar is not in Book 2.  Yes I know, but it just doesn’t make sense for him.  He’s in the Trivium at Saint Martin’s learning how to read, write, do basic math… you know… the good essential stuff.  That’s the time period that Book 2 is set in.  Hope you’re not too disappointed, but with what is set for Book 3, heh heh heh…

 

I’m sure the wait will be worth it.

 

In the Mire

I’ve been struggling mightily to write lately.

Not because I couldn’t make the time due to work or life, but because mentally I was not there.  The story was not jelling.  Pieces were missing that were critical to make things go together.  For me, plausibility and motivation are big.  If they do not work in my head, I know they won’t work for the reader.

So I’ve been thrashing about.

Not to mention I’m still stressing about book sales and getting ready for the print release of book one (Yes that’s still happening soon) and just all the other stuff in life.  It’s been overwhelming to my brainal like substances.

With that being said, last week has been quietly good.  I’ve done a lot of research on medieval life and culture.  It has had lots of points that are transferable to my setting.  I have also gotten some good feedback from a reader or two, so that’s a plus out there too.  My head likes maps and seeing the location of things as well as understanding some of the subtleties of a culture.  A single piece of information that came was just sort of a toss off on one bit of research became critical for me.  That piece of information?  In the middle ages, people believed insanity was contagious!

Ta Da!  Tons of problems solved.  Don’t get me started about balancing the humors.  I still don’t quite get that and am grateful for divine healing in the setting.  Just ick.  Even the word “Black Bile” does me no favors.

So now, I’m on the verge of the surge in writing.  I just have to clear my space of distractions… (see you later Guild Wars 2)… and focus on putting out more content.  It has been helpful to talk things out with a few people too.  Simple things even like tonight.  I mentioned my struggle about the setting of the village of Kynligrspiejl and one word helped push me past it all, and that word was ‘artisan’.  And that was the term that helped me bootstrap into what I need to fix so I can start another plot line that is required to weave into this tapestry I’m making.  Where ALRDW was more of a thin braid, this is a tapestry.  Very big and audacious.  Many themes that will set up the rest of the books will be started and enriched.

I’m looking forward to that, but it’s making my life a bit crazy because it’s been like dragging a boulder behind me.   I wonder if I’ll have to do a fast again?

ANYWAY!… move we shall.

Hopefully more reviews come up soon.  I like hearing what you have to say.

So time for sleep, then awake, get the chores out of the way so I can sit down and write again with a clear mind.

Therefore, toodle and oo!

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Moving blindly out.

X-Post… Launch Countdown halted

Well, not halted, just… sigh… just not able to launch like I hoped.  Similar to launching a rocket, sometimes the countdown has to be stopped for some reason, and I hit one of those kinds of snags.

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Before I can use some of the services that would help for getting reviews, I must have the cover complete first, not a temporary cover.

So I guess I’m ready to send it out to those who wish to review it that I’ve found. So, If you haven’t contacted me and you want a review copy in which to brag about, contact me. I will probably be sending them out later today to those I know, so if you did not get one, you need to contact me  through here right away!  Get me your emails so you can be part of the fun!

Stagefright

How many of you have spent a lot of time rehearsing to put on a show?  You spend weeks and months and maybe even years getting ready to go on stage and face the public and bare yourself and your creative skills to the judgment of the public.  To dare their criticism or praise is one of the most nerve-wracking things a person can do in my opinion.

And this is why I’m struggling so hard now that I am ready to launch my book.  Its so bad I am fighting very hard against throwing up my hands throwing what I have out onto the internet for free and hide under my bed sobbing.

I have stagefright, or at least the writer’s version thereof.  Apparently it’s an issue I’ve struggled with all my life and I’m putting it out here for all to see not to garner sympathy but in an effort to not let it ruin my designs again.

On another hand, this reminds me of two points friends have brought up to me in the past.

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First, once again, Thank you Mr. Lawrence who brought front and center to my attention the Hero’s Journey.  Not as it only applies to my writing but also how it applies to my life.  “The treasure you seek is in the cave you fear to enter,” he said ever so sagely in his soft southern lilt.  And dammit if this isn’t the cave I fear to enter.  Which means I have to enter it if for nothing more than to avoid the SECOND bit of wisdom on the subject.

Another friend, Fran, she had reminded me a long time ago that God will continually bring us back to the same point in which we failed, hoping that this time around we will surpass the challenge.  Much like being forced to beat an challenge on the obstacle course.  So I have my very own angelic R. Lee Ermy shouting at my Gomer Pyle self to the top of the wall get my butterball ass over the top.

So.  The next steps are far harder than I thought they would be.  Who knew, right?  But it’s time for me to get on that stage and perform.

 

 

Wipeout

Yep.  I’m wiped out.  I pushed too hard again, am facing a possible setback that I won’t get into yet, and just am burned out at the moment.  What’s worse is that I want to start working on book 2 but just cannot find the handle I thought I had, so I may have sunk too deep into the philosophical and just need to say “Screw you, plotline!  I’m pantsing the hell out of this book too!”

It’s even affecting my posts as I have now shelved 3 of them I’ve started that got too deep into the philosophical end of the pool and I realized I didn’t know what I was babbling about.  So you get this one instead.  Maybe I’m just trying too hard.

I know where I need to be at the end, I just don’t know where to start or how to get there.  It’s like waking up in the trunk of a car at an unknown airport.  I know I need to get home, but first I have to figure out where I am and then how to pay for the tickets without a wallet.

On a positive note, my copy of The Story Grid showed up and I’m reading it.  Some good stuff which will probably help me out of this hole relatively quickly.

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X-Post Fact Toast #4

Brutal day of editing.  The distractions have been quite large.  On a positive note, I am up to Chapter 15 of 36, so things are going well.  4 long chapters done that were much more difficult than some previous ones.  I find that irritating but whatcha gonna do?  Am I right?

I was hoping to do the beta release Monday as ideal, but it may be a little after that.  Depends on what I can get done as I make one last trip to the cottage today.

Teh flowbers… Ai smellz dem.

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Fear of Failure, Fear of Success

Nothing creative to post today.

Although I have a correction to make in my timeline to post coming up.  A small bit of significant history I forgot to include.  Oh well.

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The second draft of my novel, (currently titled Reimarsoga) is now in the can and I’m letting it cool for a few days before I dig back into it.  I need to give my brain a chance to rest and think.  I have sent it out to a couple of alpha readers for feedback and seeing if I missed some major things that must be addressed, and then we move forward for the third and fourth edits… which I hope will be the last of them thanks to each step involving outside input.

What made the second draft so hard was simply how much new content I had to write.  The first draft was great exploration but when I started learning about editing and better storycraft and functional use of the three act structure, I realized I had a beginning hook and great middle build… but no real conclusion.  Part of this might be because I had expected this to be only the first part of a bigger book (which the remainder is now to become an even bigger second novel), the other is just because of bad planning and storytelling on my part.

So I re-plotted and decided to look at all of the “Chekov’s Guns” I’d drawn in the course of it all.  I considered major tropes that fantasy novels loved to have in.  I thought about all the things that I loved in novels and said:

“Self, you need to fix this and write write write.”

“Okay… but only if you hurry this up, rational thought.  I have a deadline to meet.”

“Deadline, Schmedline.  It’ll be done when it’s done and that’ll be when its good.”  Rational Mind snapped

“Isn’t it always good?” Self whined?

“No.  Now shut up, here’s a Vonnagut colored crayon for your mouth.  Get writing!”

And that was the way of it.  I put out over 120 pages of new content, scattered throughout the entire plotline.  There were so many holes!  Not to mention converting the whole book over from first to third person!  Ugh!  You realize how frustrating that can be?  It may be easy to change “I” to “He” and what not, but just that delay in moving forward can be disheartening.

Then came the worst sensations of the edit:  I started to fear its completion!  One half of the brain was freaking out because the book could suck and I’d be just wasting my time.  Many times I spit the crayon out of my mouth or bit it in two, frustrated at my own inability to make myself coherent.  Time and time again, like many a good writer I suspect, I threw out what I thought was good, but in the ended up with a “this fish tastes funny” so I spit it out and tried again.  At times, I was fortunate enough to be blessed with two very precious people to give me feedback just when I needed it most (take another pair of bows Torfinn and Francois… aren’t they lovely folks?) and help me conquer so many questions that finally… FINALLY, the end was in sight last on Wednesday night.

Then fear of success jumped up and kicked me in the ding ding.  What if I did succeed?  Then what?  I started having a bit of a freak out over that.  Now although it seems to be rare for people to have anxiety over succeeding, I get it, and it can be powerful enough to destroy the whole creative process.  Why?  Because you get comfortable with the creative process and do not wish it to end for fear of not knowing what is next.  Or something else more fitting for your own situation.  So I wrestled with it as it stole my creativity and voice.  It did not want me to produce anything of good enough quality that I could complete the work.  It was not writer’s block per sey for I could pump out pablum and be done with it… but my conscience would not allow that.

Thankfully, I was able to have a small spark of inspiration and make a leap forward and those last pages shot out like a lovely last silver salute and chrysanthemum (know your fireworks), and I could relax.  The hardest work so far was done.

And I was surprised at the peace that I had.  Now it was clear how often I was fearing doing this novel right as much as I was fearing doing it wrong.  I am looking forward to the third edit and the beta read and the cover competition, and hiring an editor…

and finally maybe… just maybe…

making my ultimate deadline and book release dates.

So much more to learn and do.

The Editorial Two-Step

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Buster sez, “Ai r nawt teh happiez wif dis process.”

I think I finally burned down the impediments, and now can start the final battle.  Not only literarily… is that even a word?  As well as compositionally.

As I’ve mentioned before, one of my two main characters I’ve driven to a “all is lost moment”, and I just have a little ‘grace note’ of a scene I need to do to drop out the bottom in my other main character so the two are both there.  As I think of it, that scene just grew too into something exciting before the big “Fire in the hole” moment for the battle.  I set my plotline and wove all the pieces together that were fighting me, and I took a few days to let my brain refill, and now… I just need to get real life out of the way so I can push forward.

So why the title?

To get all the weaving done, I was pulling my hair out.  I have in this part, a bit of story that could be off-putting for some of the audience.  I’m going to definately get another alpha reader opinion on it, but once again, one of my sounding board readers in this, Francois, came to the rescue and pointed out where I was overthinking it.  Something I really don’t want to do.  So I wrote, then threw out, wrote then threw out, wrote again… thought about it, forged forward, had another think and a talk, went back and rewrote, throwing a bunch out but not as much as I thought.

The editorial two step.

At work, after listening to the Presidential Debate… wow… just… trust me, my Facebook is a bit singed this morning, I listened to another Creative Penn Podcast and had a nice thought hit me.  I might not get this done before the one year anniversary of my major push starting, but I might be able to do a pre-order for the book and put the first book on sale right out of the gate with maybe some other promo things if it looks like it won’t make it for Christmas.  It’s a thought at least.

So, tonight, when off work, I’m going to hopefully kick off the battle and be one YUGE step forward to polishing this bad boy off… and get to beta readers sooner rather than later.  I was also encouraged by Ms. Penn discussing her need to abandon false deadlines too.  I sighed a large relief at that.  Then realized that she’s also cranking out far more words than I am, so I need to start getting my act together.  Inspiration, not competition… inspiration not competition.

;c)

 

Besides, she already won if it was.