Reformed Mage

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.

Nominations & Edging Toward a Release Date

Good morning Archer’s Aim followers, PH here this week with a few more updates for my writing projects this year. Last week I reported on a few points of progress with the book and there are a a few more updates this week.

I started work on that new beginning for RM and it’s coming along steadily as I make sure to express all the important details necessary for this opening scene. It’s a bit of a shift with some increased action involving more characters upfront, but it should set the stage for the book – and the series – pretty well once I have it completed. Having some changes to the opening stages based on some of my world-building in recent months will also provide more of a guide for what needs to be added in other parts of the book.

I’m also turning my sites on a few small projects with The Bow of Hart Saga. First of all, I’m not entirely satisfied with the cover I used for the series bundle, so I’m working on an updated version that should be a bit more friendly to the eye.

Secondly, I do have a goal of releasing An Arrow Against the Wind and The White Arrow into print this year. I’m beginning work on those releases and looking forward to the entire series finally being in print. On this list is an overall goal that meets several goals together. I’m thinking seriously about attending a local science fiction and fantasy convention during the summer. My hope is to have all those print editions ready to make an appearance as well as some freebies to hand out to the crowd. If my schedule will allow the release of Reformed Mage by around the convention or just before that time it would be good, otherwise it should be out in the fall. That part of the goal is still up in the air, but I am thinking seriously about the release of a new book and the timing.

 

Of course, I still have quite a lot do with this book including settling on a cover concept with my artist. Cover art will be a concern in March or April to make sure that I have that soon enough. In terms of cover art, first comes the needs for the print books, then will come the new cover. Of course, depending on the progress of the first three books of the Reformed Mage series, I may be getting three covers ordered very close together.

I received news week that my audio publisher has re-branded from Podium to Podium Audio. Not a big name change but authors and narrators have a chance to be directly featured on the new website so I’ve submitted information to be included. The publisher has been excellent to me all the way and I’m looking forward to possibly working with them again with another series if possible.

One last item of note; the deadline for the Nebula Award nominations is upon us. As a member of SFWA, I have the privilege of nominating up to five works per category. I don’t have nominations for every category but I did include three for the main award for novels. I’m not telling which books my choices included but I’m pleased to have gotten them sent from among the many titles (including an indie book) I enjoyed this year which I thought were deserving.

It’s a busy time of year, but work is progressing nicely and I look forward to sharing more about the projects and releases as the year goes along. I’ll be back next week with more information and I hope to have a a few minor pieces ready to begin sharing about Reformed Mage in the next several weeks. Thanks for reading today and checking in on my progress. Please share this on your social media or re-blog it. Your questions and thoughts are always welcome so please leave those in the comments section. If you are interested you can also join one of my private groups on Facebook for Goodreads where I’ve posted plenty of information about my current books and will get more in depth with my works in progress – just ask to be added in the comments and I’ll get back to you.

A Week of Progress & Looking Forward

Last week was busy but I was able get some useful work completed. RM is a challenging book/series for many reasons. It’s a big world with a complex plot. There are many characters, places and forms of magic to discover. Writing on the initial effort was so fast that I hardly stopped to consider everything necessary. That’s not how I want to work on a series but it’s what I have at the moment. Here are some details I’ve been working on this last week:

  • The villain: it may seem like a no-brainer to have a well-developed villain but mine currently isn’t. The reason are several. For one, I only really developed to two main characters. Next, the villain is very slippery and stays well-hidden – even from me. This means the villain had to be questioned at length to discover more of the character’s nature. This led to a lengthy fictional interview to draw out some of my thinking about this character. It’s still ongoing but I’m gaining more insight into this character and the motivations. Portraying this villain will be tricky since this character is slippery anyway but must share the load for the story to have solid balance. The focus is on the main characters but my villain needs to have some visible presence or risk being too vague.
  • The beginning: I envisioned a different beginning due to the original organization of the book. With changes to the order of the various chapters, I needed a new beginning and I think I’ve arrived at just what is needed. I’ve made notes on it and I’m going to begin work on it very soon.
  • Series vision: I needed a solid vision for the feel of the series. As I’ve settled on the beginning I’ve begun to settle on the feel of the series as well. This will be ongoing as I work through the content edit but adding a lot of details and description in the right way will capture just what I need.
  • Oddly, just this morning (Sunday), a few new situations to twist the main character into a few other notes came to mind. It will help me with a villain who’s unwilling to take center stage, preferring to work in the background and remain unknown. Adding a foil for the main character and a tragic background relationship the bites back can add some snap into the plot in several ways. I’m exploring how to include these into the story. This is not new to me since Spark was a late add in The Bow of Hart Saga and wasn’t even a thought when I first started the series at eighteen. That idea came from my daughter close to thirty years later. Hopefully, I’ll go much faster with this series and get moving forward.

That’s all I have for the week but it’s some solid progress. Now I just need to build some momentum and take this series to the next level. It’s a day by day focus to renovate the first book the way I want the series to read but a task worth completing in the end. More to come and in the near future, but for now, I head back to work on RM and this crazy business of writing a book series.