Fiction

Two Steps Back

Hi everyone and happy Monday. After a few weeks of progress, things slowed down some with a couple of roadblocks that popped up. Such is life, but I keep working at everything on my list and I’m still moving forward.

The week started with some care problems that stretched into Thursday and really threw off my time to write. We spent a lot of time preparing for work, trading cars among three people in the family and going in to work early, then leaving late. It was hectic and at the end of it all it was confirmed that my car is on its last legs. It’s not unexpected but I hoped to stretch keeping the vehicle for several more months. Now that time is accelerated to the immediate which will likely slow me down some this week as we replace it. I’m semi-prepared for the change so I’m not completely off-guard. It’s still hindering some progress.

Then at the end of the week, I found out my wife needs to have some knee surgery. It’s not expected to keep her down too long but that upcoming event will really twist things up for several weeks. Again, she was having trouble for a while but now we’re keeping her off her feet as much as possible until the surgery. That means I pick up what slack I can around the house and for errands. I’m happy to do since she’s helped me several times and we’re in it together but that will mean some slower progress until she’s back on her feet – literally.

There was some progress during the week and I’m pleased to share a few things. Some effort was put into an improved cover for the series cover. Originally, I just made a graphic that line up the three books side by side but the covers were too small to really view and I wanted a 3D version of them all that made sense when viewing it. I sat down to work on it and came up with this version which I think is better than the previous effort. You can see if there on the right and click to view it on Amazon. I think it turned out very well so that was one step forward during a hectic week.

Next, I wanted to get a print cover underway for An Arrow Against the Wind. I set to work on this task but it was a bit harder for me since I’m not too great at editing graphics. I stuck with it and finally came up with the version pictured on the left. It won’t be final since I took a guess at the final number of formatted print pages, but it’s close to how it will look. To arrive at a final cover, I’ve scheduled my print formatter to complete that task so I’ll know how thick the book will be and make any changes to the print cover necessary. I should have that in a matter of days and then work on print for the second book of The Bow of Hart Saga starting on KDP, then moving to other markets as soon as I can afford the separate ISBN from Ingram.

Those are some good steps forward with some goals for the year. One goal was marked off and another soon will be, followed by the print goal for The White Arrow. Each project completed frees me up that much more to complete my next book. Speaking of which, RM did have some progress this week, just not as much as I would have liked. I’ve continued with decisions about editing and mapping out how that will move along but my focus has been divided between the distractions and the leg-work with new graphics and print planning. February is almost at an end so I want to maximize every day that I can to arrive at the overall goals of new books released this year. But managing books already out is important too so work on those must be completed as a foundation for the release of new books in several months.

The upcoming week will be important as I focus on getting ahead with some other blogging I do with Story Empire. I have much of my blogging year there already dictated and ready to post so I want to schedule ahead. Likewise, I’m dictating some posts about RM now but I was unable to do that as much last week since I was trading out between cars so much last week. This week may settle down some so I’ll plan accordingly. Completing plan for the revision of RM is very important so I can dive into the revision full-force. But I want to get as much into the plan so I can do as much as possible with each phase. One hold up has been a problem that I know is there in the manuscript but which I just can’t put my finger on at the moment. I’ve decided to revise and edit and let that process reveal the problem. Otherwise, I’ll ask my editor what she sees when the time comes and trust her professional sense.

That’s all for last week and looking forward to next week. My fingers are crossed. Thanks for stopping by for a visit this today. I hope to share a Friday feature about Fantasy when I get a chance to plan the exact angle for it so look for that in several weeks if I can get to it. Please share this post if you like it and leave your thoughts and questions in the comments and I’ll respond as time allows.

Revision & Creative Gestation (or Indigestion)

Good morning Archer’s Aim readers, and happy Monday. Every book an author writes is different, a unique work that is custom in every way. My firm belief is that every book is approached uniquely because it is simply required. At least, that’s been my experience.

When it comes to my current book which opens a new series code-named Reformed Mage, I’ve taken a very different approach than my last several books. Much of what I wrote for The Bow of Hart Saga began several decades ago, and while there was an update to the writing, the characters and world-building, the work was well known to me. Reformed Mage began just a few years ago and quickly grew from a kernel of an idea into a full manuscript.

There were several demands on me when I really began writing this book during 2017. At the time, I was out work and wrote a fifty page sample for an agent. Later in the year when both An Arrow Against the Wind and The White Arrow were completed, I began work on Reformed Mage, moving as quickly as possible. My intent was completing the book because I was out of work at the time and, in addition to keeping me busy, it was the next project in line.

The following year began better with a new job, but I continued writing Reformed Mage and finished it within several months. Because I never stopped to do much world-building, the draft was very rough, and even rougher because I dictated which can be challenging for a fantasy novel without some extra effort put into developing the software profile regarding pronunciations.

After that was completed, I also completed the initial draft for another book which begins another series which I refer to as Black Glove. This second book is currently waiting its turn and I hope to get back to it very soon since I enjoy it as much as the current one. I ran both of these through a fast content edit, while skipping the world-building for later. However I knew these books needed a content review by my editor so I sent Reformed Mage to her.

My editor is very good at what she does and has quite a lot of experience developing a wide range of projects for a traditional publisher back in the day. I’m lucky to have this editor so when she returned the manuscript to me with all of her notes, I paid close attention. I’ve learned over the last several years not to take my editor’s critique personally. On the contrary, I’ve always felt that my editor’s professional background is worthy of me paying close attention to her insights, especially since I’m paying for the work.

In this case, my editor gave me some very valuable information. Because Reformed Mage is such a long draft, she suggested I split the work into three books. This suggestion was something I was considering anyway due to the length. Additionally, she gave me suggestions about reorganizing the flow of the events and I agrees this would fit the organization into three books very well. I took these into consideration and quickly reorganized the manuscript along these lines.

This high-altitude view of the book was an easy adjustment, but other observations proved more challenging to me creatively. I suppose many authors might simply crawl into a fetal position at such challenges and wonder if their book is even worth the effort, but I don’t. Content edit requires a critique and a thick skin. But the suggestions and the questions were real and challenging. The reasons why this proved to be more challenging is because I had not stopped to do more world-building and character development. The answers needed needed more of these elements expressed. This meant going back to the drawing board and beginning work to reassess everything about the book which was now three books.

I quickly determined that I needed to focus on the content intended for the reorganized first book which was simple enough. But then began a period of questioning myself about the characters and the world. My editor had done an excellent job in asking me a lot of questions which pointed where the holes in the story hid in the proverbial high grass. At this point, I entered what I like to think of as creative gestation (maybe indigestion?) about the work.

The process began with letting the manuscript lie by for a while and making notes on ideas to the questions as much as possible. From these notes, I began putting together more information about the world and characters that make up this fun, new fantasy series. Over several months, I began to put together quite a lot of formation and take time to learn more about all kinds of details which had not been part of the original work.

The months have gone by and a sense of frustration set in and, I suppose, this has turned in motivation. At this point in time, I find myself coming up with quite a lot insights about my characters and the story which were not evident several months ago. These new details will greatly enhance the book and the series far beyond what it was previously. So this time of creative gestation (maybe it is indigestion) has been very useful and will more than likely add a great deal to the book, making it even more fun and entertaining to read. I’m even at a place where I can begin to share some of details with readers as I talk more about the book itself. I know, I know, I should have done all the work long ago but the book needed writing immediately and it’s my task to revise it accordingly. Books to arrive in their own, unique way.

Look for more information about Reformed Mage in the coming weeks and months. I hope you will continue the journey with me as I build toward book. My only wish is that I had some artwork to share but that will arrive soon enough.

Thanks for reading the post today, please leave your thoughts and questions in the comments and I’ll get back with you as soon as I’m able. If you’ve enjoyed the post today about my creative process, please share it on social media or even reblog it so others can read it too.

Interviews With Tordug Part 3: The White Arrow

The following post is a fictitious news report based on events from The White Arrow, Book Three of The Bow of Hart Saga:

The Grendon Bugle/Free-Press
“The clear call of truth with the rising sun.”

Date-line: Auguron City
By Maroch Karkholm, roving reporter on assignment with the Grendonese mission to Auguron on behalf of Princess Limbreth.

Maroch Karkholm here, reporting on events as they unfold in Auguron City. This reporter has been on assignment with the royal emissary sent to find the missing Princess Limbreth. After many days of waiting and filing interest stories about the culture of Auguron and its citizenry, word arrived that an army of trolls marched west toward the city. After several weeks, the main force of Auguron’s eastern garrison arrived by fleet of river-boats.

Among this contingent of rangers were a Withling, a giant, two particular rangers, two dwarves and none other than Princess Limbreth. While this reporter has been unable to interview the princess, I have been able to sit down with one of the dwarves who traveled in her company these last months. What follows are the surprising details:

Maroch: I understand you’ve traveled with Princess Limbreth these last months. Can you tell us more your involvement and who you are?

Dwarf: I’m Tordug of Chokkra and I have been honored to travel and fight in the company of Princess Limbreth of Grendon, Ax-maid of the death-grip, the Silver Lady and Protector of Travelers.

Maroch: Excuse me, Tordug. Did you say you were from Chokkra?

Tordug: Yes, I did say that.

Maroch: Then you were named for the infamous former ruler of that fallen dwarven-realm? Or perhaps, you bare the same name?

Tordug: I am none other than the very same former ruler.

Maroch: My apologies for not recognizing you, sir. I have many questions if you have time to speak with me further. I do not wish to intrude.”

Tordug: I have some time before I must go meet with Captain Sarneth about the defense of the city.

Maroch: Then you must also have knowledge of the troll invasion in which we Grendonese intend to avoid being entangled?

Tordug: I do know much of the events and plans for the defense as a consultant to the captain. However, I’m not at liberty to speak of these details at this time so tread carefully with your questions.

Maroch: I see. And, pardon me for asking, but Captain Sarneth has no qualms about receiving your assistance considering your past history with the fall of your own realm?

Tordug: My past is exactly that, my past. However, who better to consult than someone who has known the tactics of the enemy from the past? I have no authority among these elves but they have accepted my offer of service and knowledge.

Maroch: When did you find out that the trolls were invading?

Tordug: Hmmm, I suppose that’s no secret. We encountered them while traveling through the Troll Heaths. We discovered their movements just after a snowstorm and the wandering star appeared in the eastern night sky. It was just after, well, other events. We hurried to inform the elven garrison so that the contingent might not be overwhelmed by the horde and yet warn travelers on the trade road.

Maroch: You say you and your party were in the Troll Heaths and discovered the invasion. That region is reputed to be rather dangerous. Were you aware that a member of your party was a member of the Grendonese royal family?

Tordug: Yes, but I found out only after we were well into our quest. As far as any of us knew, the princess was someone who chose the company of Withling Hastra.

Maroch: Ah, yes, some on Grendon have insinuated that the Withling abducted or bewitched the princess and-

Tordug: I can assure you that is not the case. Princess Limbreth accompanied Withling Hastra of her own choice. If you wish to know the reasons, you may ask her.

Maroch: I see. Well, there is rumor there was nearly an altercation with the Grendonese emissary, Count Dareth of Tinnewell, just after she arrived with the elven garrison. Do you confirm or deny such events?

Tordug: (He laughed, very hard and long). There was indeed a heated discussion between this Dareth and the princess in the street. They almost came to blows. I fear he would have soon found himself in danger from Princess Limbreth had not Captain Sarneth intervened.

Maroch: Wait, you say between the princess and the count? You do realize they are betrothed, don’t you?

Tordug: (He laughed long and hard again before he answered). If they are, it’s a rather one-sided affair, more on his hapless part, I should think. But what of it?

Maroch: You were there and Count Dareth was sent by King Hamgas to retrieve Princess Limbreth. Why didn’t you hand the princess over at that time?

Tordug: (Again, he laughed very hard before he answered). Princess Limbreth goes where she wants and with whomever she wants. And with I doubt it will ever be with this Count Dareth unless the one she does want doesn’t live through the coming attack.

Maroch: Wait, are you saying that the princes loves another man? Who is he?

Tordug: Oh, enough of these questions of idle gossip. If you want to know more, ask her yourself. All I will say is that she’s entitled to choose whomever she wishes. She is highly honored among my people as an Ax-maid of the death-grip and someone who has proven her bravery many times over in recent months. Good day to you.

This reporter has been unable to gather any other information about all these events or what happened on the adventure of Princess Limbreth’s. None of her companions, including Withling Hastra, have made themselves available even after formal messages were sent to them. However, it is clear that there is another man in her life of whom no one knows, mostly likely someone she met on her travels. That Princess Limbreth has won renown among the dwarves is of great surprise and will certainly please His Majesty. For now, all else remains a mystery to this reporter who leaves this very hour with the Grendonese contingent ahead of the invasion. One can only hope that the princess will see the wisdom of leaving with the well-trained cavalry sent to guard her return to Grendon.

From the endangered city of Auguron, this is Marock Karkholm, roving reporter and still on the trail of the mysteries surrounding Princess Limbreth.

Look for more of these fun reports about the series. If you are interested in The Bow of DestinyAn Arrow Against the Wind or the newly released, final edition, The White Arrow, please click the appropriate link for the book-page. Following is the link to find out more about The White Arrow where it can be downloaded for free via Kindle Unlimited:

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