Tag Archives: fantasy

Saturday Morning Ramblings – 2/25/17

These guys attended my first writing panel and asked some poignant questions.

The first day of Con Nooga went pretty well. I did four panels total. The first two were on writing itself, more the nuts and bolts of how to sit down and write a book. The third was an overview of horror, which I was on because of the Sam Skeen Saga, and the fourth was The Golden Age of Science Fiction. All four were a blast and pretty well attended. I got to see several friends and catch up with them, which is one of the best parts of a con. Here are some images from the show so far. 

Had to park on the roof of the garage.

The cosplayers are arriving.
The magnificent Billy Tackett. If you don’t know his art, check him out
The illustrious Dan Jolley, who is a gracious as he is talented.
My good friend Tamara Lowery, who writes the Waves of Darkness series.
Another dear friend, Shon Medley, who is the director of the literary track this year.

Thursday Night Ramblings 2/23/17

This week has been pretty hectic, so I haven’t had time for a post until tonight. Right now, I’m in Chattanooga, preparing for Con Nooga this weekend. This is my first public appearance in two years, so I’m both excited and nervous. Hopefully it goes well. 

I’m going to attempt a couple of posts from the convention, including images from the show. There are usually some pretty good cosplays at this one, so I’m excited to see what’s in store this year. In the past, I’ve always had a booth but since everything I do is Kindle exvlusive now, I’m free to roam around. 

Also, I’ve gotten a few glimpses at the cover for book five, and so far I’m extremely pleased with the work. Can’t wait to share it with you when it’s ready.

That’s all for now. Check back tomorrow evening for some Con Nooga Ramblings. 

Wednesday Night Ramblings – 2/15/17

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An aspiring writer asked me to share my process for outlining. First, let me say that there’s no one right way to outline. If you find a process that works for you, follow it as long as it feeds your creativity. The process I’ll describe is mine and works for me, but it might not be the best fit for you. So please keep in mind that anything that doesn’t help should be discarded. Only hold onto the pieces that allow your writing to flow. Also, this is my process for outlining a novel, and there are different processes for other types of writing.

My first step is to figure out the beginning and the ending of the book. I need to have a rough idea of those two before I can do anything else. Typically, I’ll sketch out a few notes about each, but for the most part, the details are just in my head. One thing to keep in mind here, however, is that the ending I envision beforehand may not be the final form. In fact, there are almost always changes and alterations as the story comes into focus, but I have a general idea of where the story will stop.

From there, I sketch out each chapter individually, noting the primary scenes. I jot notes to myself on the characters involved and the basic components. These are usually in keyword form that will trigger my memory later. What I try to develop is a skeleton of the entire book so that I have a clear vision of the overall story arc before I begin writing. Much like the ending, the scenes that are developed during the outline may change through the course of the writing, especially as the characters surprise me in the flow of the action.

When I begin writing, I refer back to the outline regularly to make sure I’m staying on track with the overall story, but I also make changes to it as the story evolves. Quite often, I’ll realize that a scene belongs in a different chapter to make time line up, or I’ll scrap one altogether because it’s just not needed. Also, I may realize that a new scene is needed because some details are missing. However, by the time the book is complete, the outline and the book remain relatively consistent with each other.

So that’s my basic process. It ends up being fairly middle of the road between a rigid plotter and a seat of the pants writer, and for me, this allows me the best of both worlds. I have a good idea where I’m going and how I’m getting there, but I also have the latitude to allow the story to grow organically. Hope that this has been useful for you if you’re an aspiring writer, and for the rest of you, I hope this has been an entertaining insight into the mind of a writer.

Monday Night Ramblings – 2/13/17

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For this week’s Motivational Monday post, we have this quote from C.S. Lewis, “You can make anything by writing.” While this quote is geared towards writers, I would like to apply it to everyone. Each of us is the architect of our future, and each of us has the power to design tomorrow as we see fit. I know I am guilty too often of limiting myself because of fears or insecurities, and I try regularly to overcome these self-imposed limitations by focusing on the goals I have set for myself and trusting that I deserve to achieve them. One of the most important steps of building a better future is to believe that you are worthy of success, prosperity, and happiness.

For many of us, that is our biggest obstacle to creating the future we desire, but if we want to rise above our current circumstances, we first have to believe that we deserve that future. From there, we can then begin building the steps to make that future ours. For those of us who are writers, those steps include not only writing the works we have in our heads but also marketing and promoting those books. If your goal is to lose weight or improve your health, those steps will include improving your diet and exercise routines. If your goal is to learn more job skills or expand your education, your first steps will be to change how you spend your free time to include studying and learning.

No matter what our goals might be, we can build the future to get there if we are willing to develop a feasible plan to get there and then stick to that plan until we reach our objectives. Creating a new life is a process, and like any other process, it requires perseverance and persistence whenever we hit the rough patches. However, we really can create any future for ourselves, just as a writer can make whatever our imaginations can conjure.

Sunday Evening Ramblings – 1/29/17

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Here is another update on book five. I’m about halfway through chapter 14, and so far, I’m pretty pleased with it. I’m hoping to have this chapter finished in the next week or so, and then all that’s left is the epilogue. So far, this manuscript is the longest of the series. I haven’t done a total word count yet, but my guess is somewhere in the neighborhood of 100k. There will probably be a little trimming in the middle, but this book will be the most substantial of the five. The first couple of chapters have already been sent to the editor, so that process is underway as well. Also, the artist and I have begun the process of putting together the cover. Exciting days are ahead for fans of the series, so stay tuned.

Tuesday Night Ramblings – 1/25/17

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I was asked by a fan to put together a list of the top 5 things that inspire my writing, so here goes:

5) Movies/TV Shows – At heart I’m a sucker for a good story, so movies and shows that offer a solid plot and compelling characters inspire me to work harder at my craft. My favorite TV series of all time is probably Breaking Bad. I love the way Hank and Walt evolve through the course of the story arc. House was another show that inspired me. The witty dialogue and parallel plots of each episode, along with the seasonal and full series story arcs, are clinics on how to write a serial. I love far too many movies to narrow it down to one or two, but I will say here (and might retell the story soon of how) that The Two Towers actually inspired me to begin work on The Brotherhood of Dwarves series. Most recently, Rogue One stirred me deeply. It was everything I had been wanting in a Star Wars movie since A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.

4) Books – I could do a dozen lists on the books that have inspired me, but for the sake of space, I’ll limit it to the one book that has inspired me more than any other in the last couple of years. Once and Eagle by Anton Myrer is quite simply one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read. It follows the career of Sam Damon, a career American soldier who serves in both of the world wars and then during the early days of Vietnam. The writing in this book is superb–colorful descriptions, provocative metaphors and similes, exquisite use of POV, and memorable dialogue. His depictions of battle (drawn from his own experience as a Marine in WW II) are hands down the best I’ve ever read, invoking all of the senses to immerse the reader into hellish landscapes that show the horrors of war. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

3) Nature – Anyone who knows me knows that I love the outdoors. If I had unlimited income, my life would be spent finding outdoor activities to be involved in. I love little more than the feel of my hands in the earth and sweat on my brow. Working outdoors, whether it be cutting wood for my stove or tending a garden or clearing brush, recharges my creative batteries and allows my mind to forget the day-to-day distractions that hinder my focus on composition.

2) Music – I love music in most of its forms. I have a playlist that I listen to while I write that varies from Traditional Country to Jazz to Techno to Rock. These songs inspire my creative process and create a buffer between myself and the outside world. In terms of individual artists, I am most drawn to the works of Chris Whitley, Jeff Buckley, Waylon Jennings, and recently Otis Gibbs. I can’t place enough value on the role music plays in not only inspiring my creativity but also in soothing the wrinkles of my soul.

1) My Children – I’ve written before about the role my oldest son played in inspiring me to write again. In fact, my children are the primary reason why The Brotherhood of Dwarves series exists at all. I have written it to share with them a piece of me and to give them a story of heroism, camaraderie, sacrifice, and redemption. Each book in the series is inscribed to them at the beginning, and those inscriptions are my attempt to tell them the roles they have played in my life. In terms of writing, my children make me want to tell better stories and remain true to power of language without reverting to tawdry tricks or fashionable gimmicks. My primary goal as a writer is to write books that one day my sons will point to and with pride in their eyes say, “My father wrote this.”

Saturday Night Ramblings – 1/21/17

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Well, I survived the holidays and have managed to remain fairly productive. Book five is coming along very well. In fact, I’m about to start the final chapter. That’s right. I’m up to the last chapter of the entire series. After all this time, it feels surreal to type those words. So far, I’m really pleased with the manuscript. There are a handful of places in the middle that need to be ironed out, but overall, this is the most intense book of the entire series. I can’t wait for the fans of the series to read it and experience the culmination of these characters’ journeys. Hopefully the editing process won’t take too long, and the final draft will be available in the near future. Soon, I’ll be hiring the artist to develop the cover for this one. As soon as I have the final proof of that, I’ll share it on here.

Once book five is complete, I have a couple of other projects I’ll be working on. Both are really exciting and have a lot of potential. Those of you who have read the first novella of the Sam Skeen Series will be excited to hear that I’ll be working on the second of those tales. The other project I can’t really discuss publicly yet, but once I can, I’ll share on here as well.

Overall, life is progressing forward fairly well. I’m happy with the series’ sales growth since the relaunch (it’s amazing what can happen when a publisher actually promotes the books they publish). If you remember my previous entry, I’ve managed to heal the rift with my friend, and we are back to being the closest of friends again. I’m also still surrounded by some of the most amazing friends a person could ask for, so I have no complaints about life at the moment. I still believe that my brightest days are ahead of me, and I will keep striving to build that reality.