I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season (if you celebrate) and that things are settling down nicely as the new year gets going. I started out the new year recovering from Christmas and digging out from under all the boxes and decorations. Hey, this year I got everything put away before the end of January! It's also been a time for looking at where I've been and where I'm going, writing-wise, and what's been working and what hasn't, and what I need to get caught up on.
The first thing is that the paperback of Heir of Tanaris is almost ready. I have the proof copy; I just need to look it over and approve it. After that, it should be available on Amazon within a few days, and hopefully on the Barnes & Noble site some time in the near future. For those not in the U.S., my paperbacks should also be available from Book Depository.
I'm also still working on the Defenders of the Wildings revision. I thought I had the storyline and the different books sorted out, but something still wasn't right. Then, just last week, I decided instead of six short books, the series needs to be three longer books. Some of the shorter books just weren't working as self-contained book. So I'm combining books 1, 2, and 3 into Book 1, and books 4 and 5 into Book 2. The sixth book, which is longer than the others, remains its own book, Book 3. The working titles are "The Prairie Wells Range War" for book 1 and "The Wildings Mages Defense Association" for book 2. Haven't come up with anything I really like for book 3 yet. Thinking up titles is one of the hardest parts of writing for me. :P This change isn't going to require any major rewriting beyond what I already know needs to be done, mainly some work to adjust the transitions between parts of the books and make sure the structure of each book is solid. We're doing some traveling in April and I wanted to have the revision of the whole series done and out to the beta readers by then, but I don't know if that's going to happen. I never seem to be able to work as fast as I want to.
Waiting in the wings for me to get to it is Tales of the Source-Breakers, a set of three prequel stories to Source-Breaker. This will be a newsletter exclusive, at least for a while; sign up for my email list to make sure you get it as soon as it's ready! I'm also planning a trilogy set in the Islands of the Daughter of the Wildings world; that's a little ways out from being ready to write yet.
Right now, I've also got a special deal going on my two box sets. Through January 29, you can get 40% off the Love and Magic and Daughter of the Wildings Books 1-3 box sets at Kobo and Smashwords! (regular price $6.99)
Kobo: 40% off Box Set Sale - use coupon code BOX40 at checkout. You can browse the entire sale, check out the science fiction and fantasy selections, or go straight to my books on the Kobo site: Love and Magic | Daughter of the Wildings Books 1-3. You can use the discount code as many times as you like! If you don't have a Kobo ereader, you can download the free Kobo reading app.
Smashwords: Daughter of the Wildings Books 1-3, use coupon code BC88R at checkout.
Love and Magic, use coupon code DV59X at checkout.
Smashwords sells in multiple digital formats; see this guide on the Smashwords site for instructions on how to load books purchased from Smashwords to your device. For Kindle devices and apps, I recommend the Send to Kindle app.
Remember, these deals only last through Jan. 29, and are only available at Kobo and Smashwords!
Okay, so it's been a while. After I released Heir of Tanaris, I did a re-edit of the whole Daughter of the Wildings series, fixing up a few things I wasn't quite satisfied with, and also brushed up the blurbs. And Write Dream Repeat Book Design did these nifty new title treatments on the covers!
Pretty cool, huh? :) All six books wouldn't fit on the banner she made for me; you can check them all out on the series page.
To celebrate the update, Beneath the Canyons is only 99 cents until after New Year's.
Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Kobo | iTunes | GooglePlay | Smashwords | DriveThruFiction
So now it's on to updating the paperback versions and also doing the paperback of Heir of Tanaris, and the revision of Defenders of the Wildings. Yes, this is a thing, even though it's been delayed a while. The whole thing is written, I just need to beat it into shape. As part of that process, I made a Story Grid of the entire series. It's pretty long, so I couldn't fit it all into one picture. Here's the left side, from the start to the first part of Book 5 (Books 5 and 6 are a lot longer than books 1-4), partly because I forgot in the first draft to put the plot in book 1; what's in the grid is a skeleton plot that will need to be fleshed out a little more):
And here's the right side:
As you can see, I had fun with my colored gel pens :) The pacing and flow, the ups and downs of the different storylines, actually came out pretty good. I don't have to make a lot of adjustments to the story structure. The actual writing... That's another story (lol). At this moment, I'm well on the way through typing up the final revision outline and notes, and I should be ready to start marking that puppy up with the red pen this week. This revision method takes a lot of planning, but saves a lot of time and trouble later on. If I think of something I need to add, delete, or change, it's just a matter of making the changes in my revision outline, rather than having to go back and rewrite something I've already rewritten once. I'll probably have to do some of that anyway, but planning it all out ahead of time will keep it to a minimum.
So this should keep me busy for a while. I'll post updates whenever I have something interesting to report. In the meantime, I've got a stockpile of short stories waiting to be edited and posted or released for sale, when I get a chance, so watch for those.
I am very happy to announce that Heir of Tanaris is (finally) available at the following retailers:
Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Kobo | iTunes | GooglePlay | Smashwords | DriveThruFiction |
The ebook is only 99 cents through October 19; after that, the regular price will be $4.99. The paperback will be coming in a few weeks, probably.
Here's the description: As a young boy, Davian was sold into slavery at Source Makarsk, a corrupted magical wellspring. Over the years, he has risen in the ranks of the slaves; still, he knows he will never be anything but a slave until an elderly wizard, a prisoner at Makarsk, tells him he can be something more and gives him an astonishing gift. Desperate to find the destiny the wizard promised him, Davian risks his life to escape from Makarsk.
Isamina, a talented young healer at Sharan, a Source of healing magic, loves caring for patients and has a special gift for soothing their fears and pain. But her parents, the Master and Matron of the Source, and her betrothed, her former teacher, doubt her abilities and have their own plans for the path her life should follow. And the kind of healing Isamina most wants to do, mending broken minds and spirits, is strictly forbidden at Source Sharan.
When a badly-injured runaway slave is brought to Sharan, Isamina is captivated by the man she senses deep inside and risks everything to try to heal his tormented spirit, damaged by the evil Source that still holds him prisoner. And Davian, hunted by Makarsk's fearsome Guardian, must find a way to defeat the powerful magic that binds him to Source Makarsk so that he can become the great man he longs to be and win the love he yearns for, the love of his healing angel, Isamina.
Romantic high fantasy for adults [for some reason, people get the idea that my books are YA, which they most definitely are not]. Contains violence, mild to moderate sensual content, and disturbing themes.
You can read the first chapter here.
Heir clocks in at 100,000 words, by far the longest of my novels except for Lost Book of Anggird, which is in the neighborhood of 130,000 or so. Still only 1/3 to 1/4 the length of your average fantasy doorstopper, but long for me. Which is why it took so long to release it; I'd forgotten what a challenge it is to work on such a long book, and just how long it takes.
Next up, some fine-tuning of Beneath the Canyons; there are some things about the execution of it that I'm not really satisfied with. At the same time, I'll be continuing with revision prep for the Defenders of the Wildings series.
Wow, between a cold and working on edits to Heir of Tanaris, September just blew right by. I was hoping to release Heir by the end of September, but that didn't quite happen. It's in the proofreading stages right now, and I'm looking at releasing it sometime next week.
In the meantime, I got a real book designer (Write, Dream, Repeat Book Design) to re-do the title treatment on the cover, instead of me just slapping something on it, and here's what she did:
I love the extra decorative touches to make it look like a real book cover.
She also re-did the titling on the covers of the other Tehovir books:
I love the branding on these. Watch for the new covers to roll out next week with the release of Heir of Tanaris.
And you should see what she did with the Daughters of the Wildings covers! There are some things with Beneath the Canyons that I'm not quite satisfied with, so that book will be undergoing another edit (no changes to the story, world, or characters; just the execution could use some fine-tuning). As part of this update, I decided to get new cover treatments to better reflect the fantasy-western genre blend. Same great art by Mominur Rahman, with nifty new design by WDR Book Design! Watch for those probably in November.
And yes, Defenders of the Wildings is still in the pipeline. I put the revision on hold while I finish up Heir of Tanaris, but I'll be getting back to it as soon as Heir is released.
You may or may not notice a slight difference in the site banner and the cover gallery over to the side - I've done a slight refresh of the cover of Beneath the Canyons, and also got a shiny new cover for the Daughter of the Wildings boxed set! Here it is in all its glory:
Write, Dream, Repeat Book Design put that beauty together for me :D
And here's my refresh of the Canyons cover:
Same awesome art by Mominur Rahman, but I adjusted the color and lighting a bit and changed the color on the lettering to bring out that magical glow thing happening around the edges of Silas and Lainie, coming off of the ore they're holding, and also cropped in a little closer on the characters so that the magic is a more prominent element.
Anyway, as for actual books, I'm still chugging along. I've been slightly less exhausted this week than I was last week, but my brain is very unfocused. I'm mainly concentrating my efforts on the second big revision of Heir of Tanaris right now; I want to get that done and edited and released. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say end of September, but I can't make any guarantees this far out.
Once Heir of Tanaris is out, I'll turn my full focus (such as it is) to Defenders of the Wildings. I've got another story/series idea I want to work on, that I think I can set in the Islands of the Wildings world, but first I'll just work on the big edit on Defenders. It's almost scary how much work it's going to need, but I'm trying out a process that I hope will let me cut my two major revisions down to one. I also have a bunch of short stories I've been meaning to get to in the evenings on days when I get my full quota of work done during the day, but that never happens. At least I'm making progress, slow though it may be.
Whew, ok. Yes, I'm still here, up over my head in revisions on two large projects, Heir of Tanaris (the upcoming Tehovir novel) and Defenders of the Wildings, the follow-up series to Daughter of the Wildings. I'm making progress; Tanaris went out to the beta readers early in the month and the reports are coming back in, and I finished making my revision notes for Defenders (a couple hundred pages' worth) and now I'm trying to systematically set about making sense of it all and organizing the revision so I don't miss anything, from adding the actual plot to book 1 to characters whose reason for being in the books I'm still figuring out to what exactly that green stuff is.
I've also got some more short stories I want to put into a collection, and then there's the Source-Breaker stories, which will be a newsletter exclusive. Life's been kind of crazy for the last month, with one thing and another, but hopefully things will settle down. I'm hoping to be able to cut back on extra demands so I can recover from everything and get caught up on my writing projects.
Since I'm always trying to improve my writing craft, besides my usual revision methods I'm working my way through The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne, which is basically like a big textbook about story structure and story theme and how they work together, and how to analyze them in your project. I'm doing this with the revised version of Tanaris, and it's making me look at things in a different way that's both mind-blowing and makes a lot of sense with how I think about writing. I'll definitely be incorporating it into my workflow. It might even streamline my process a little by catching more of the big issues at the beginning of revisions.
With Heir of Tanaris coming into the later stages of revision, I think I'll do the cover reveal coming up before too long. Newsletter subscribers will get the first peek, so if you're anxious to see this gorgeous artwork, sign up if you haven't already! And Sivael from Source-Breaker has been waiting to be interviewed, so I'll try to get to that next. Back to work :)
Yeah, wow, it's been a while since I posted, so I'm just coming up for air really quick to check in. Still hard at work on Heir of Tanaris and Defenders of the Wildings. These are two very large projects, but I'm still plugging away, more or less steadily, and making progress.
I'm almost done with the first major revision of Heir. This is turning out to be a very slippery book; some things about it are just really hard to pin down. Even after planning my revision and then doing the revision, I'm still changing stuff. I think I've written more new material for this book than I usually do in my revisions, so much about it has changed, especially what's going on with Davreos, the hero. I've been studying the Story Grid, by Shawn Coyne, and I think the next step will be to take apart Heir using this method to try to really get it figured out. It's not bad the way it is, but I'm trying to step up my game anyway, and I feel like there are weak spots that could be a lot stronger.
On the Defenders analysis, I'm on about page 250 out of 450. Just started book 5, but the last two books are a lot longer than the first four. It's going pretty well, there's a couple of supporting characters I've been struggling with what to do with and finally came to the conclusion that one of them has to die *sob*. Also, I was going over a scene the other day, just a small scene, and digging a little deeper into the conflict, when suddenly I realized what one of the major conflicts of the whole series needs to be. I had already touched on it a little, but now the full breadth of it has opened up. So, more rewriting. But it's the sort of thing that will take Defenders from a fun read but kind of lightweight to having a lot more depth and substance. In the meantime, I've booked the cover artist for this fall (yes, he's busy; good thing I didn't wait too long to contact him!).
I've also got some short stories on the sidelines, a set of backstories to go with Source-Breaker (this will be a newsletter exclusive) and another collection of stories I wrote last year, that will go up for sale (but subscribers will also have the chance to get it for free).
And I sketched out a couple of new novel ideas, or one might turn into a series.
Back to work!
Looks like it's time for a progress update. Two big projects are occupying my time and (limited) brainpower and energy right now. The major revision of Heir of Tanaris is under way; I'm about halfway through. As always, scenes I thought didn't need a lot of work are getting totally rewritten (just finished a long one that I decided at the last minute to change from Davreos's point of view to Isamina's). But I'm really happy with how this is coming together so far. The soundtrack for this book is mainly the album Haven by Kamelot. Give it a listen if you want to get a feel for this book, the next book in the Tehovir world.
I've also started the triage phase of revision on the Defenders of the Wildings series, the follow-up to Daughter of the Wildings. I was going to wait until the big revision on Tanaris was done, but decided I couldn't wait that long. And I think (hope!) I've got readers waiting for it too. So I started that, revising the whole series like it's one big book (which it basically is, much more than Daughter, which divided itself up neatly into separate novels), and I was going through book 1 and it was going fine, highlight these characters more, move this to this other scene, combine these two scenes, dum de dum, HEY WHERE'S THE PLOT???
Yes, I forgot to put a plot in book 1. Which probably explains why this "novella" is only 38 double-spaced pages long. My excuse is that I decided that what was originally book 1 needed to be book 2, so I took some stuff from the original book 2 and wrote some new material and stuck all that in front to make the new book 1, just so I could get the general scaffolding of the story in place. I know what the plot is supposed to be; a thing happens, as often does in novels, and this thing has potentially dire consequences for Silas and Lainie and their livelihood, and they talk about doing something in response. Well, then, other things happen and we get to the end of book 1 and they never did the thing they talked about. So doing the thing they talked about is the plot of book 1, and now I just need to actually write it. Fortunately, it fits in well with the other stuff happening that I wrote.
There are writers who claim they can write a complete, organized, well-structured story in one draft, with only needing to clean up the typos to make it publishable. I am not one of those writers. :P
So, anyway, that's where things stand. No idea yet on release dates; to make sure you don't miss out, sign up for my email alerts to get release news, special offers, the occasional freebie, newsletter-exclusive sneak peeks and trivia quizzes, and other fun stuff when I can think of it.
One more note: a very talented young writer named Cristian Mihai is in dire need of dental work that is far beyond his means to pay for. He has a condition that leaches all the calcium from his teeth, with the result that he has a mouthful of crumbling teeth, which causes him a great deal of pain and makes him unable to eat or speak normally. His writing is best described as literary fiction, which you may know is usually not my reading material of choice, but his stuff is really good. Anyway, if you can make a donation, or buy a package of reblogs on his site if you have a Wordpress blog, buy one of his books, or even just share on social media, every little bit helps.
I'm happy to announce that Source-Breaker, the newest novel in the Tehovir world, is now available as an ebook at all the stores I sell through. The paperback edition will be coming in the next few weeks. The regular ebook price will be $3.99, but right now it's at the introductory price of only 99 cents, and will go on 99 cent promo a few times over the next few months. It's available at:
Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Kobo | iTunes | GooglePlay | Smashwords | DriveThruFiction
This was a fun book to write. It's a little more light-hearted than a lot of my work (though still with a good dose of angst and some serious themes). Unlike a lot of fantasy which is coming-of-age stories, in this novel I decided to feature two characters who are facing midlife crises. Kaniev is all of a sudden a failure at the trade he's worked in for 27 years, and Fransisa has had her expectations of career advancement pulled out from under her in favor of a much younger Chosen. I also enjoyed telling the story of the villain, Ardavos, and his mistress Sivael. I've written some backstories for Kaniev, Fransisa, and Ardavos and Sivael; they need a little editing, and then I'll make those available.
So now it's on to the next book, Heir of Tanaris, also set in the Tehovir world. Unlike my usual habit of working on two projects at once, I'm going to focus exclusively on Heir, at least until I get the revised draft out to the beta readers, and see if I can start getting stuff done faster. I want to get to the revision of Defenders of the Wildings, so I'll start on that while the beta readers are having at Heir. I love all my books, but Heir of Tanaris is one of those that just won't leave me alone and it's a story I feel deeply compelled to tell. I've already got the cover art for it, which is absolutely gorgeous, and I'm hoping to release it early this summer. Watch for the cover reveal and more information coming up this spring!
In other news, if you've noticed the disappearance of the OmniLit links from the site, OmniLit and its parent site All Romance eBooks suddenly closed in December, owing a lot of money to a lot of authors. (They offered a really insulting settlement of 10 cents on the dollar, ostensibly to help them avoid having to file bankruptcy.) I didn't sell much there, so I'm not losing more than a few dollars, but some authors are losing thousands. Anyway, as a result, I've decided to replace the old OmniLit links with the GooglePlay links for my books. GooglePlay is a relatively large, um, player in the ebook world, and I should have been promoting my books there more. If you use Android and the GooglePlay store, now it'll be easier for you to find my books there.
If you did buy any of my books at OmniLit/ARe and are now unable to access them (readers were given about four days in the middle of the holiday travel season to download and back up their purchased books; I'm hearing of readers who lost hundreds or thousands of books in their ARe libraries), contact me with some sort of proof of purchase and I'll set you up with replacement copies.
The ARe debacle has also emphasized how important it is for authors to not become too dependent on one company. Which is why I'm trying to cast my GooglePlay net more widely, and I'm also looking into setting up to sell books from my own site. I know which service I'm going to use if I do this (PayHip); now it's a matter of sorting out tax licenses and stuff. I do know that if I have to get a city business license in addition to a state sales tax license, I'm not going to do it because the two licenses together will cost more than I anticipate making in sales from my website. :P
Anyway. So I'm adding new links to the site, and getting the Tehovir section more put together, with information and reading order on the books and things like that. Watch for more Source-Breaker book extras coming up; I've got interviews scheduled with Fransisa, Ardavos, and Sivael, and I'll be revisiting the notorious Billionaires, Bad Boys, and Bondage blog post series with a look at how Kaniev fits into those popular romance tropes; that should be fun.
My fantasy world, that is. Or at least the name.
Yes, Estelend, the world of Chosen of Azara, The Warrior and the Holy Man, and my two upcoming novels, Source-Breaker and Heir of Tanaris, is getting a name change. A long time ago when I first started developing this world, I just called it Source-World. Easy, and it made sense - the world is based on the idea of magic coming from Sources that are natural features, such as caves, springs, trees, etc. Not a terribly original idea, but it's a lot of fun to work with and offers a lot of possibilities for conflicts and stories, and for characters who are involved with these Sources in one way or another. When I was still doing this writing thing just for fun, Source-World worked fine as a name. But when it came time to start putting these stories out in public, I realized that Source-World wouldn't work because the people living in that world wouldn't think of it that way.
So I went looking for another name. I don't remember the exact process by which I came up with Estelend, but I do remember it involved consulting the etymology section at the back of my trusty vintage American Heritage dictionary. Anyway, so I came up with Estelend and it seemed okay. I wasn't wild about it, but it was better than Source-World. But I've never really liked the sound of it, and I think it looks funny, and that's been bothering me more and more. Another thing I don't like about it is that, to my ear, it seems a little reminiscent of Westeros, the world of Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire. I'll just say that I'm not a fan of those books and I really don't want to have any suggestion of association with them, and I don't want people to think I'm trying to invoke them.
I put off doing anything about changing the name, because it seemed like an awful lot of work and would involve making (admittedly minor) changes in work that's already been published, including to the covers. But I was disliking Estelend more and more, and realized that with two more novels set in the world about to come out, it's now or never - if I don't make the change now, I'm stuck with Estelend.
So I chose the words that express the idea of this world, magic or power and source, and went to a site that lists what words are in lots of different languages. "Magic" is pretty much the same in most languages, and I didn't want something so identifiable, so I also looked for words for "power." I tried out lots of different combinations, then did some Googling to make sure I wasn't using something that was someone's name or had an unfortunate meaning. One of my possible names, when I Googled it, Google didn't recognize it and suggested "Gardevoir" instead. Gardevoir is a Pokemon, and a very cool Pokemon, but I don't want something else coming up should readers Google for the name of my world.
After all this, I finally settled on the new name for Estelend, Tehovir. It means "power source" in a mashup of a couple of different languages, and looks cool; it fits with a lot of the other names I've invented for this world. How to pronounce it? However you want, since it's not a real word :-D In my mind I say it "TAY-hoe-Vir" (short i). But really, you can pronounce it however you want. Right now I'm in the process of making the change on the covers (fortunately, I do my own lettering and save everything in a Photoshop version so it's easy to go in and just change one word) and doing search-and-replaces in the books and stories set in that world. The publishing services at a lot of the stores I sell through are closed/on reduced hours for the holidays right now, so I'll wait until I've got everything switched around to start uploading. In the meantime, I'll start changing the old covers out on the site and also create a new Tehovir blog category and a page for the series. Because the week before Christmas, trying to get the next book out, what I need most is another task like this :-P But it's really a relief to not have that nagging at me any more, hating the name Estelend and wondering if I should do something about it.
In the meantime, if you really want to help make a small change in the world for authors struggling with health or financial difficulties, head on over to the Help an Author Christmas promotion. (Read more about it in this post.) You can browse (full price) books by authors who have donated to the assistance fund, and even make a donation yourself, if you want. The Daughter of the Wildings Books 1-3 and Love and Magic box sets are in the promo, and for each copy of those titles sold during December (whether through the promo or otherwise), I'll make an additional donation to the fund. Thanks for your support!
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