Saturday, June 19, 2021

Latest updates

I'm done with the latest rounds of edits and back to writing.

After finishing FERIOUS and publishing, I went through DRAGON AND FURY and VOICES IN THE DARK once more, reworking some things and leaving others for the next editing rounds. This series is evolving and with these new books, I find myself looking back to the previous books for details that I forgot to note in my growing wiki file. And sometimes, I just go back to refresh myself on some things. It's interesting to see how characters have changed.

I'm writing Book 12 at this time. I had a difficult time getting started after being in editing mode for too long and then having life get in the way. Ideas were also short and Book 12 has to achieve a certain purpose in moving the series forward in specific aspects with the new characters that came in Book 11 (VITD). Plotting out a story with a specific goal like I have has been a challenge. I like to let the story flow before seeing what I can fit in, but in this case, I have to plot a story around a specific goal ahead of seeing how the story will flow. It's hard to explain without giving anything away, but you'll have to trust me on this. It's a transition to what I have planned for Book 14. I'm not skipping 13, but that one has a specific focus that won't really be affected by my goal for 12. Again, hard to explain without giving anything away.

Now, I hope the life stuff will settle down so I can focus on the writing side again. Book 12 had some details that had to be hammered out in the opening to set up the action for the rest of the story. I tried different angles until finding the right one for one scene and then the right details for another scene. That also gave me ideas of other scenes that could play out. The new idea also ties it into the main series a little more instead of being just a filler story, which was the original plan. It will be a story of character development with some horror elements. I'm not a fan of horror, but I had an idea for this of an unseen threat and people disappearing or ending up dead and boogeymen in the shadows.

I've said before on this series that it is allowing me creative freedom to try different ideas. I have tried different non-linear story formats (DISPOSITION OF DREAMS and FERIOUS) and different plots. I'm going to try something on the suspense-horror side for Book 12. I hope readers enjoy the variety in this series. I still have a lot planned. I'm barely halfway through the series and there's so much yet to explore.

To know when the next book is out, be sure to sign up for updates from this blog or follow my Amazon author page.

We are up to 9 published books in the series with Book 10 coming out in the fall. Catch up on Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds today!

More information can be found starting with Book 1, A NEW BEGINNING, at http://melanienilles.com/home/books-by-title/starfire-angels/forgotten-worlds/a-new-beginning-fw-1/ .











Coming Fall 2021



Coming early 2022



Sunday, May 30, 2021

FERIOUS publication!

It's done! The wait is over! FERIOUS has been uploaded and is disseminating to retailers as you read this. What a furious pace in editing! This one was a killer for me to edit--so many complications in this one. However, after initially thinking I was done yesterday and accidentally posting this announcement before I was ready, I can now announce that Book 9 of the Starfire Angels: Forgotten World series is definitely ready for your reading enjoyment. (Now, I'm on to writing book 12.)



Nya has discovered a new secret about the Issan plans, and L'Ni isn't about to let the opportunity for key intel slip away from them. Meeting a contact with the information they need to fight the Issan is risky, but it's a risk that everyone on the Cartegos is willing to take.

The mission leads them to a desolate world that is host to an exchange outpost serving the Issan. Getting in is easy, but finding the Dirnothril contact and getting out with the information attracts trouble. The Duras outpost is a dangerous place, and L'Ni isn't about to leave anyone behind.
----------------

And as a teaser, here are some of the events coming a few books in the future of the series (without giving anything away):

* L'Ni's background will be revealed in Book 13.
* Nya will return to her homeworld at some point. I don't know about you, but I really want Leksel and L'Ni to meet! (I have no idea how I gave them both "L" names, honestly. It's pure coincidence.)
* I had an excellent idea for a setting that does not fit in with the usual places of this series. That's going to be a fun change.

I could say so much more, but these are just a few of the exciting things I have planned at this time. I can't tell you much else right now without revealing key points or giving away details that readers will need to figure out for themselves. Or there are plots that I'm not sure of yet, so I don't want to say anything. I would like to do more with certain characters but am not sure how those stories would develop, so I can't really say anything about that either.

FERIOUS is only book 9. I have finished the first draft of book 11 and am now going into writing book 12, which is about halfway through the series, although it could go longer. I keep getting plot ideas for new stories within the framework of my series plot, side stories and main action stories.  You'll have to trust that I have a lot of excitement planned yet for Nya and her friends.

Book 10: DRAGON AND FURY, will be available in the fall.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Writing mechanics 101

I was chatting with someone new to writing recently and it got me thinking about some of the best writing advice I've learned over the years, especially when it comes to science fiction and fantasy. This person had already mastered most of the grammar and word choice issues (active vs. passive tense verbs) and sentence structure.

Too many writers who have never hired an editor write stiffly, mechanically, and passively. It's cringey (at least to me). It's why I gave up on critique sites--too many beginners with good ideas who don't know how to manifest those ideas into readable text. The best way to write well is to read good writing. Critiquing bad writing is like only breaking colts--until you work on the refinement of writing (training), you will never be a truly good writer (rider). I learned that in my writing and by training intensely in dressage in my riding. (Top riders only ride horses that have reached a certain level, because it keeps their refined skills sharp; versus those who only start horses and never get to practice and feel the very subtle and delicate balance of more advanced horses.)

The lesson there is: hire a professional editor, at least a few times, so that you can learn what you don't know, especially about your own writing. If you can learn to self-edit, that's great, but having someone else at least get you going down the road to better writing puts you many steps ahead in your skills (like I did with hiring an editor early in my writing career who made a huge difference in teaching me better writing that critique amateurs weren't helping me learn, and then again with dressage in regular lessons to teach me what I needed to do to improve my skills training my horse beyond the basics).

One thing that my early hiring of a professional editor taught me is to use all the senses, where they apply anyway. (That poor editor suffered through my awful early writing, bless her heart.) It adds color to a scene to experience more than what you see happening. Try writing a scene in the dark as a test. Our other senses are enhanced when we can't rely on what we see. With your characters, you'll have to think about what they experience in their other senses when they can't see. This is a good way to get into practice. Or write about a meal setting. Whatever it takes to get into practice and start thinking about all the other senses beyond sight will help you begin to help your characters experience the world more fully and immerse your readers.

However, don't use sense verbs (feel, hear, see, smell, taste) but describe something in a way that stands out. Instead of saying something like "She felt cold." try "The cold bit down to her bones."

That leads me to the next point in enhancing your writing. The most basic advice is to write in an active voice as much as possible and minimize the passive voice. Initially, newbie writers will take this to the extreme of NO passive voice, but that's not the case. It should be pretty easy to understand why this is such a big rule, especially in fiction. Active voice adds flavor to the writing and, in close third and first person, can define a character. "The sun burned down upon him." sounds a lot better than "the sun was hot and bright." Passive voice has its place, but use it sparingly. It's dry and dull. Your writing should jump off the page, but too much of that jumping desensitizes the reader for that turn of phrase that should really catch them. That's why I don't condemn passive voice. It has its place. Mix it up, but learn to do it in the right way so that the points that you want to emphasize stand out.

Dialogue is not narrative. Narrative is the author telling the reader what's going on, but dialogue is the character telling the reader indirectly in their conversations with other characters. The writing of dialogue should reflect the character's personality, not the author's. Listen to how people talk. Rarely do we speak in grammatically perfect sentences. We all make mistakes. However, on the page, you want to minimize that. The littlest hint of some of our spoken mistakes is enough to give flavor to a conversation or character.

Dialogue adds layers in other ways, too. Word choice of a particular character can make them stand out. And there are also the pronunciations. In science fiction and fantasy, I sometimes have a species whose language doesn't have certain sounds (the way German doesn't have the "th" sound, for instance) or has certain ways of pronouncing things (like a native French speaker versus a native English speaker--very different when trying to pronounce each other's words).

(Dialogue is so much more, but others have explained it well already. For instance, dialogue can imply or infer to the reader what's happening in action so that less narrative is needed.)

When it comes to setting, the reader only knows what's on the page. That doesn't mean go overboard and put in every single detail, but it does mean, especially in science fiction and fantasy, that you need to explain some things. How you do that without info-dumping is the trick. Sometimes you can't get away from explaining something, but doing it in appropriate places, such as where the character is thinking about it, and keeping it as short as possible, will help move the writing forward. Info-dumping slows the story and can turn off readers. However, not being able to imagine your fantastical world can also turn off readers, because they will be lost. Some things you can get away with implying, especially with readers who have read extensively in the genre. However, never assume all readers will know; any reader could be reading your book as their first foray into your genre. The best way to handle this is to keep it to just one or two sentences where you can when something is introduced for the first time.

On those lines, the same goes for sprinkling in background details or the history necessary to understand some points in a story.

Last of all, everything can be fixed in editing. The more perfect you think your work is, the more work it likely needs in edits. In the beginning stages, you will think you have the next bestseller, but too often that arrogance will blind you to the immensity of flaws. Step back, put it aside, work on something else, and give yourself time away. When you go back to that wonderful story, the veneer will be gone. Stepping out of the story will give you a chance to see it as an outsider would. You'll see it for what it really is. Then, you'll be ready to tackle all the flaws and give it the polish it needs. It's that time and mental distance from a work that will allow you to have the perspective you need to be objective about it.

At some point, you're going to get good at writing and begin to see how far you've come. You'll refine the work in ways you hadn't thought possible. At that point, you want to keep editing and keep refining, because you'll have been humbled into realizing that it could always be better. Know when to quit. Don't over-edit. You can ruin your voice and turn a bright, exciting story dull. No one is perfect.

Writing is an art form. It takes time and practice to become a master of the tools of the trade. 



Friday, April 23, 2021

Cover reveal - Forgotten Worlds Book 11

I have a cover for Book 11 and a title that I love. That working title I had was dull, lifeless, and DOA.

But the right title came to me just as it describes itself. It suits the story perfectly! - VOICES IN THE DARK


Based on my current publishing schedule, you'll see this one in the winter, probably around the holidays. I'm so excited at how the cover and the story turned out, but it does need editing as the real theme of this developed into something the series needed. In fact, I was worried that I wouldn't reach the minimum novel length of 40,000 words, but it will. This story transitions from stuff I can't specify right now in Book 10 (DRAGON AND FURY) to what will come by Book 14.

And, I have a title and cover for Book 12 already! Well, I sort of had the cover early on in the series but wasn't sure which book it would fit. Book 12 will be less focused on the main series and more on developing relationships with new characters. And then Book 13 will reveal L'Ni's background. If you've been waiting for his secrets, hang on; it's coming.

I am still loving this series, especially when each book takes me on a different type of adventure. Each book also builds on what has come before and I do have a series climax in mind. I have a series outline and my series wiki file to keep me on track, so this is going somewhere. Stick with me. I may slow down in writing at times but I am determined to fulfill the many plotlines of this series in a satisfying finale; we still have a long ways to go.

Thanks for reading!

Available Now:









Coming late spring 2021:


Coming fall 2021:


Coming winter 2021:




Monday, April 12, 2021

unlocking potential

Writing is a puzzle, as I posted on my MeWe page. You don't usually have the pieces in the right order, but once sections begin to take form, it gets easier to put the rest of the remaining pieces together.

That happens with every single story. Each has its own spirit, based on the events that take place, which are due sometimes to outside forces but, more often than not, the character's thoughts and actions. The author is the transcriptionist.

More often than not, we will stew on a conundrum or piece that isn't fitting right, and not until we look from a different angle do we see the hidden picture, like a stereogram.


Can you see it?

That's how writing is sometimes. You don't always see the picture right away, but there are details that come up and then the picture jumps out at you.

I was thinking today about one of the characters in my Forgotten Worlds series. When he landed into IN DARKNESS, LIGHT, L'Ni was that key that made the whole picture of the series jump out at me. If anyone wonders why he became so prominent, it's because he was the missing piece that brought it all together. Up to that point, which was still early in my series, I still hadn't figured out how some things were going to fit together. Then he appeared and, in the process of learning about his character, I realized he was the answer to a lot of things, but his appearance also changed some plotlines I had outlined and added a LOT. 

So, I have been dropping hints of his potential along the way but do plan to reveal his full background in either book 12 or 13. Sorry for those who want it sooner, but it has to fit in the right place in the series. L'Ni is tight-lipped and stubborn and hasn't been cooperating, so I'm going to force him to reveal his secrets.

I am still planning at least 24 books, although that could expand a little.

I am almost done with Book 11 right now and just had another piece come to me while laying in bed before having to get up for work today. I had felt like something was missing and that I wasn't challenging the characters enough. Then I realized what it needed and am inserting that this afternoon.

These pieces don't always come together in order or when we would like them to fall into our laps as writers, but when they do, it's like manna from heaven for the creative spirit.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Writing status

 I have been making good progress on Forgotten Worlds Book 11. As of this post, the first draft is currently about two-thirds finished. It's a little shorter than I would like, but that's all right. I expect this one to be around 35,000 words (novella length), the shortest of the books to date. If my current writing pace can hold up, I could easily finish this before the end of April. But something always seems to come up, so no promises. That's why I'm not doing pre-orders.

I also have a tentative title but could change it. At the moment, the working title is simply THE CAVE. After a hasty escape from Paxons with damage to the hyperdrive of the Cartegos, Nya and her friends learn that there's more damage than Vel and Shen can repair from the inside. They need to get outside to fix it properly. That means a planet with an atmosphere--Shen doesn't do spacewalks and Vel would like to avoid it if he can. Nya finds a world with a Starfire shard that is uninhabited by intelligent life and uses her power to create a portal there. While she and L'Ni track down the shard inside a labyrinth of a cave system, Vel and Shen get to work. But they soon discover that the world is a dangerous place full of wild animals that would just as soon maul them or gore them. They'll have to make some decisions about how to proceed with repairs, while Nya and L'Ni make some discoveries inside the cave and have their own troubles. The Starfire shard won't be as easy to reach as Nya had hoped.


That's not the official description but it is a start. After I finish this, I'll return to Book 9--FERIOUS--to finish edits and publish that. I know I need a description for DRAGON AND FURY (Book 10) as well. I'll work on that after I finish edits on FERIOUS. 

I hope you're enjoying the series so far. I have it outlined and planned out. I still end up with some surprises--L'Ni was a surprise arrival that became a link for a lot of things I had planned early on but wasn't sure how they would fit together until I met him. There is so much that I can't wait to reveal! Read carefully, because I do drop hints along the way.

That's it for now. Thanks for reading.

For more frequent updates, you can follow my author page on Amazon or join my MeWe page, my only social media location.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

FW Book 11 update

I haven't posted for a few weeks, but I had some health issues that made writing a bit of a slog most of that time. Nevertheless, Book 11 of Forgotten Worlds is making progress, especially since I figured out what I needed to regain my concentration. I've had enough health issues that I've researched since hitting middle age that I have an extensive enough knowledge to pretty much pinpoint what I need. Once again, I hit that, although it took a tiny bit of experimenting with supplements to hit on the right one. After a period of going off supplements that work, I start forgetting things, like what works. After a few trials of off and on with consistent results, I can pretty much say without lots of expensive medical tests that I likely have a second autoimmune disease. 😔

Despite all that, I have managed some good writing on Book 11. I had started out with a first chapter that was more in the line of getting back into writing and getting some thoughts out of the way that really didn't need to be there. It was helpful, however, to have written them out. And it was easy to remove that first chapter, although it shaved off half my word count at the time, since I had two chapters done. The book starts out into the real story now.

After all that and continuing to write, I have the word count over 10,000 words presently and, as usual with this series, my aim is to reach 40,000, the minimum to be considered novel length. Therefore, it is about a quarter done of the expected length, although that can vary a little.

Now that I've set up the story, I hope to pick up the pace. I can't promise any time frame, but that's why I no longer set these up for pre-order. My life can get a bit complex, and I don't want to miss any deadlines or sacrifice editing to my satisfaction.

Once I finish this book, I will finish edits on Book 9, FERIOUS, and publish that when it's ready. I expect it to be around early June, just in time for summer reading.

The series is about a third published for what I have planned. Thanks for sticking with it. I have some surprises coming--some hinted along the way and some out of the blue. One event in Book 10 even took me by surprise, a little. It wasn't totally unexpected, but I hadn't fully committed to what took place until it was written.

Anyway, that's all I can say without giving too much away. You'll just have to keep watching for Book 9 to come when it's ready this spring. I will expect to release book 10 in the fall, after writing Book 12. The adventure continues!