Sunday, March 28, 2010


Had another spectacular week with 26 pages or approx 10,500 words. It wasn't an easy week either.
The first challenge was a speech by Lincilara that's a real game changer. There were a lot of things about to happen and I had to make it believable that one speech by a tiny figure could have such an effect on what was happening just by words. I did a lot of work on it, rewrote it, scratched that out, rewrote it again, scratched most of that out, then thought that the straight forward approach would be the best. I'm really pleased with how it turned out.
The second challenge I had was a battle that takes place at the start of one of the chapters. It was very exciting and I had lots of fun with it and patted myself on the back. Then I went back and reread it and decided I just couldn't use it. I want to keep it a PG-13 rating but it went too far. Even though it's an evil creature and the only way to stop it is to kill it there still had to be a certain level about it and I can't have them kill it in a cruel way.
I feel self-discipline is one of the most important things a writer can practice. If it was something that wouldn't make me feel comfortable to read by someone else then I shouldn't do it, either.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


It was kind of a difficult week. I'm not sure why but things weren't flowing very well. Everything I wrote the first day I scratched and started over again on the second day.
After a bit of fumbling around the sky opened and I ended up rethinking the finale for the book and wrote out a chapter by chapter storyline. It helped me refocus where things were headed and gave me an even bigger cliffhanger.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


The editor of our town paper asked me to write about how the books were written. This was in this weeks edition with a few changes he made:
Officially, my first serious attempt at writing a novel was a science fiction adventure called Timelash. It took me years and years to write and I eventually offered the few people who had read it $5.00 not to tell anyone about it. After that I wrote a few short stories here and there but writing was really something I did in odd moments without much progress.
Several years ago that all changed when I saw that BBC books was accepting unsolicited proposal for their Dr Who book range. Having been a fan of the series for about as long as I can remember I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I was determined to make it work so I set about writing Dr Who: Shadows of the Past. I understand a lot of writers will start with the proposal and, if there is some interest, go ahead and write. I’ve never felt comfortable doing things that way so I did the opposite and wrote the novel first.
In the past one of my problems with writing was self discipline. I’d think about it for a while, a few weeks, a month, then write something over a few days and go back to the thinking phase. Knowing how much I was wasting time that way I sat down and forced myself to write every day. No matter what I sat down at least once a day to write. Some days I’d get home from work at midnight and add a question mark, some nights I’d take one out, but there were also nights I’d be up until sunrise. I kept at it and thirty weeks and 110,000 words later I finished a novel. It was great, I was proud of it, and I sent my submission off to the BBC.
Considering it was a novel about time travel it’s ironic that timing was against me. Just after I made the submission the BBC announced that they were reviving the series and, to avoid confusion with new fans, bringing the book ranges to an end. That was it! It could have been a classic story, piece of junk, or something in between but I’ll never know if it would have been published or not. The other downside about writing that book was there was there was only one place I could send it to get published so that was the end of the road.
There were two good things, however, that came from the experience. One was that I had gotten into the habit of writing every single day and it was second nature to produce fiction. The other was that I was now confident I could do a full length novel. It was time to write without a net.
So I spent some time tossing around a few ideas and one night I started to wonder about a mountain so high the people thought it could reach the stars. What kind of secrets would be found there? That was the idea that started this project. That was easy. The next step was to create the characters that would inhabit this world that was the hard part.
The first character was a 17 year old, then a 22 year old young man, then a 16 year old orphan. The ideas were coming fast and furious and they were all incredibly boring. I couldn’t stand any of them. I might as well have called them Ben There and Don That because there was nothing in them I hadn’t seen before.
Going back to Dr Who, all things go back to Dr Who, I remembered how much I liked the main character I had introduced. Ok, so, there were three good things that came from the unpublished experience. This character was smart, she was tough, and she was exciting to write. With a few changes in her own history I transplanted her into the Land of Starpoint and, after that, everything fell into place. With Gallif as my main character I started writing on December 8th, 2005, my birthday, and 54 weeks and 170,000 words later the first draft was done.
Then I had the decision of where to take it to get published. The two choices were to shop it around to agents and publishers. That is the traditional way of doing things but it’s a long and difficult process. Most publishers won’t even look at your work without an agent and most agents won’t look at you without having something published. It’s a catch 22 that you can wait in limbo for months to get a generic rejection slip. The other choice was self publishing. The advantage of it is you have complete control, no one finalizes your book but you, so you know what gets published. The down side of it is, even though it’s print on demand, you also have to pay to get it together. No big machine to take care of the advertising either. Lulu publishing was the best option I could find.
Rewrite, rewrite, title change, rewrite, corrections from Molly and a fantastic cover from Jesse followed and The Secrets of Starpoint Mountain was officially unveiled in the world of self-publishing in January of 2008. At that point it was too late to turn back. More writing every day and corrections from Molly, Beverly, and another cover from Jesse and Shadows of Starpoint Mountain is on the shelves. The third book in the series, Ghosts of Starpoint Mountain, well underway and I expect that to be on the shelves in another year.
A fourth book? Yes. After that? To be continued…

Sunday, March 14, 2010


After last week being so good this one was a struggle. I stumbled around a few times so I finally wrote a very brief outline for the third act. After that it got smoother and I managed 15 pages. I averaged out on Friday and figured I've written 70,000 words in ten weeks. I was originally thinking that I could do this book in twenty weeks but I'm starting to think t may come down to fifteen. It'll end up around 100,000 words which is the shortest of the three but still about 20,000 words longer than the average book. I get the feeling that the fourth book, however, will be a big one closer to the first book.

The strangest problem I'm having with this book is I'm introducing so many characters that when they come back a few chapters later I forget their names. It's really strange but I'm also excited that here I am in the third book and I'm still bringing in new characters and taking it to new places.

I wrote a bunch of character arcs before starting the book but haven't gone back to check on them yet. It one of the weird things that happen when I write. The only thing right now that I know I'm going to work on in the rewrite is the same as the last book. I need to expand the world so that you can't get from point A to point B so fast.


My first professional advert will be in the June issue of Realms Of Fantasy. They have 25,000 subscribers and I'd love to get 1% of them.

The place that takes care of their advertising offered to do design an advert for me. I thought maybe a fresh new look would be good. The advert they sent me to approve as just the files of the front and back of my postcard advert next to each other with the review from the Cedar Rapids Gazette on top. It was confusing and complicated and the pictures weren't even. So I went and did my own and came up with this design. Just to experiment I did three different versions of it and sent them the green.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


This, I'm pretty sure, was the best weeks writing I've had ever. I wrote 28 pages, finished the second act of the book, and started in on the third and final act. I picked four pages at random and averaged them out to 412.5 words per page. It comes out to 11,550 words. It included a fight scene that was so intense I could feel my heart rate pounding when I finished.

I'm really proud of the way these characters are working. Sometimes I almost forget it's giants and dwarves talking and have to remind myself to add the fantasy elements back into the story. Those are the things I'm really proud of.

This one will, however, also have the biggest battle I've ever written in it in the the third act. It's going to be complicated to write and I imagine it'll take longer to manage that than anything else. When writing combat scenes, whenever possible, I try to tell the whole thing from one person's point of view. I think that works best to keep the battle on a personal level and that way the reader won't get lost in the action. It's not at all unusual to have someone, at some point, take a quick glance to see how their friends are doing so no one gets forfotten in the action.