Saturday, December 29, 2018

Book 2 is drafted

The Rule of Yonder has a first draft that came in around 39,000 words. That's just the first draft, which will need some major rewriting, especially in the second half. Something feels off in the second part, but it wasn't off enough to cause writer's block. That means there are good things there but not written with the clarity I needed to really keep it on track. From my experience with this issue, I will likely add another 500-1,000 words. (Also from my experience with writer's block, it only comes when I've taken a completely wrong turn. This "off" feeling isn't quite that extreme but means some work to correct.)

At least I have a first draft. I have something to work from rather than simply notes or, worse, nothing.

Now that the first draft of Book 2 in the Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds is finished, I will do some rewriting on that and Book 1, A New Beginning, before starting the first draft of Book 3.

I'll get around to publishing these, but I want the wrinkles thoroughly ironed out, especially since this is a new branch of an old series. I have established rules that I have to be sure are consistent as well as new characters, settings, technologies, etc. that have been molded and need to harden. I'll be playing in this universe for a while, so keeping it fresh will be a challenge but I think I can manage that with the format of this series

Establishing a series is a daunting task, but after a few series, I've learned that there are certain things that always work best. Rule number one is always get the first two books written before publishing anything. The first book is a lot of inspiration and world-building. After that, keeping up an interesting storyline may mean tweaking facts established in book one, and that means going back and tweaking the world-building, so it's best to finish the second book before releasing the first. By the end of a second book, I generally have things pretty well established and feel comfortable with the universe I've created. Rule two is to make each book have its own three-part story, even if it is just a cog in a larger machine. I haven't really thought of any other rules to follow. Most everything else is fluid, but I may be missing something.

When I'm comfortable with the rewriting of the first two books, I'll start cover announcements and set up pre-orders. Watch for those in the next month.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

A new saddle for Buddy

Growing up on a farm, we didn't have much. Farmers/ranchers (especially those who do both) work long hours that would exhaust anyone else and for very little money and recognition. But we did the best with what we had, even when we didn't have much money for food, clothes, or heating at times. My parents sacrificed a lot to give us what they could. We were dirt poor but had the best life! I wouldn't trade that life for anything.

I learned the value of hard work and appreciating the little joys in life. And I learned the value of a loving family.

On a more personal level, the best parts of my life on the farm always involved animals. We tamed the kittens born to the wild barn cats. We showed sheep and cattle. My first "horse" was a steer that I had trained to let me ride, even if only in a pen. I took him everywhere, until I got a real horse.

I only wish I knew then what I know now. How my poor horses suffered. But I gave them the best that I could at that time and was always seeking greater knowledge.

Now that I'm older, wiser, and have a job of my own and money of my own, I can afford to give my horse something that I couldn't back then--a saddle that fits him and me. In the last twenty years, saddlemakers have been offering greater customization. You can now find exactly what's right for you and your horse and not just settle with whatever you have.

I've been working in my dressage saddle that I had specifically bought for a previous horse but coincidentally also fits Buddy (not exactly perfect but pretty darn close, which almost never happens!). I love that saddle. Now that Buddy is on the farm where I grew up, which is what my plan had been for him at some point but came out of necessity rather than choice, we have another need--a western saddle. After all, who wants the cowboys to give you funny looks at brandings? (But I would sure love to see them try riding in that saddle doing some of what I can do with my horse!) My dressage saddle is so comfy and my balance is so perfect in it that I could work cows all day, BUT...well...I prefer not to be the butt of jokes. Also, I had been planning on getting a western saddle for Buddy at some point.

So, I went saddle shopping. I found a western saddle designed for a woman's conformation (as opposed to a man's--yes, there's a difference! Check out these articles, which explains why I used to hate western saddles when they were all designed for men-- and and that is wide enough for mister broad shoulders-withers here:

You can't tell from this picture, but he is very wide. My dressage saddle is a medium wide. However, since the flocking has squished with use, it now fits like an extra wide and is just right on him.

As I mentioned, to find the right western saddle, I went saddle shopping, which meant lots of research. I already knew english saddles, but I had to learn about western saddles, what I didn't know while growing up riding in one (the wrong one, as I realized with greater knowledge). I haven't saddle shopped since buying the dressage saddle four and a half years ago, when I really learned a lot from the saddle fitter about what to look for. I checked out the brand that I felt had the best options and a solid reputation for western saddles and looked in person where they are sold in my area. I was able to sit in some to check seat size and looked closely at the tree sizing and cinching options. This is going to set me back financially, but I've learned not to underestimate the value of the right saddle for me and my horse--it will save me money and trouble in the long run. The right saddle fit for the horse makes a HUGE difference on their comfort and performance. The right saddle fit for the rider makes a HUGE difference in reducing saddle soreness and being able to be an effective rider, which is important to me as a dressage rider.

Since I don't have to pay for boarding while Buddy is living at my family's farm, this is the perfect time to make this investment. Also, Buddy is coming on six years old--pretty much a mature horse who won't be changing any more. The timing couldn't be better, so I bit the bullet and ordered the saddle. It's custom, so I'm still waiting on it (6-8 weeks projected from the order date). I wanted it before spring though. The expected delivery is in a month, but I've already purchased the cinch and saddle pad that I think will be right for him. The saddle I ordered is a good all-around saddle that we can use working cattle--and Buddy has gained a LOT of confidence just working cattle in hand and even seems to enjoy it!--and for western dressage. I feel that it's the right investment for him and me and hope that we get a lifetime of riding together in it. I've gone back to my roots but with a lot more experience and knowledge and options available.

Because he's so wide, I also purchased a matching breastcollar. Wide horses tend to have saddles slip more easily and this will help keep it in place.

Buddy lives up to his name--he's worth the investment. I have always strived to do all I can for the horses in my life with what I have. If we expect them to work for us, then we should respect them enough to make them as comfortable as possible, just as we expect that when we work.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

I have a title

I have been writing lately with a passion that I haven't felt in a very long time. Some books just flow like a torrent, and this latest series is doing just that. It. Feels. AWESOME!

Okay, so that's how I feel after writing all that I can in a session. I give ideas a chance to stew for most of each day. By the time I sit down, I can't not write and end up with a lot written with a sense that I could do more, which leaves me with a sort of writing high.

By the way, that book is almost done. The second in the Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds series will be titled The Rule of Yonder. I have a cover for it done but I can't reveal that yet.

And I now have pieces of many books for this series. It's epic in short episodes. I think that's why it's so much fun--it's easier than one big long epic. I can focus on pieces. I like this length-- around 40,000 words. So far, the first book was only 38,000 words, technically a novella. The second book looks like it will be between 35-40K also. I'm purposely keeping them short, because that's all these stories need. They're meant to be episodic, but there are hints at the overarching plot tying everything together. All my epic long stories with the occasional shorter stories has set me up with exactly the skills I need to make this work.

Of course, I have to keep a bible of sorts because it will span such a long series. This helps me keep track of alien species (too many to keep straight!), cultures, world environments, technologies, government systems, religious beliefs, etc. I'd be lost if I didn't have a quick reference that I could look up rather than having to search through the story narrative to find the answers. The latter takes too much time and can take me out of writing.

I'm working to finish this first draft of The Rule of Yonder by the last day of this month/year. I will then read through the first two books for consistencies, but I feel that I've ironed out the rules and setting of this new old universe. Then I'll feel more comfortable starting the third book. I'm pretty sure of the title for that one, but just in case something unexpected happens to turn the story into something else, I will hold off on revealing that.

Before I publish these books (hopefully the first in April 2019), I will be releasing another, a boxed set. The artist who made the covers for the Legend of the White Dragon is currently working on both 2D and 3D boxed set covers for that five book series. I hope to release the boxed set next month. It's too long overdue.

I have decided that all of these books will be released widely. I'll update purchase links on this blog and also at when they become available.


Upcoming 2019 titles known at this time (3):

LEGEND OF THE WHITE DRAGON: THE COMPLETE SERIES (Prophecy, Legends, Fireblood, Legacies, Destiny)

A NEW BEGINNING (Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds 1)
THE RULE OF YONDER (Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds 2)

More to come in 2019!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

when your biggest fan lives in your house

My youngest, a tween, has fallen in love with Starfire Angels. She keeps asking me questions, even though she's read the Dark Angel Chronicles once before.

Both my girls have read that series and more of my books, but my youngest will reread favorite series many times. Lately, she's acquired a taste for light romances and is probably enjoying that part of the story. She's been enjoying clean romances on Netflix, so now I have a love-story fan.

So, my daughter has been bothering me with all sorts of questions and wanting what's left of the swag I used to giveaway for the series. She's become a total fan, and I don't know how many of them I have anymore, since I quit all but one or two social media platforms. From her perspective, though, she's a fan of her mother's writing, and she says it's weird that she's reading what her mother wrote.

The first time she read the series, I was nervous about what she would think, as I am about anyone reading my work for the first time. Now, not so much. I know she can handle what's in the story and am glad that she can come to me with questions. As a parent, I am glad to know what she's reading and that she thinks it's cool that her mom is the author of something she likes.

I believe that there's something about that name on a book. That author is like some sort of untouchable celebrity, their name ascribed to a work that is admired for its power to take the reader out of their lives. I get that awe and feel like it's cool when I read a good book by an author I know. It takes a lot of work and dedication to write a complete story, edit it, decide on a cover, and publish it. I know that, but it's something more about the story that makes you feel like the author is some deity of words.

My daughter knows the work I put in, but I think she also feels like her mom is like all those other authors she likes, the ones she doesn't see at their computers typing out their ideas every day, the ones who don't lecture her about eating fruits and veggies every day. Those words have a different meaning from me, because it's a side of me that she doesn't ordinarily see. That side of me is someone other than her mother.

I'm glad to share my imagination with the world and especially with my kids. I want them to have something of me after I'm gone. Through my stories, they always will.

And isn't that part of the unconscious desire for kids--that we will somehow be immortalized through our genes? When we do something that benefits others (in this case, escapism), we are immortalized in ideas. To those who have enjoyed my stories, I will live on by having touched them in some way, just as many authors live on in me and whose work has threaded its way into mine.

I'm so blessed to have had the opportunities to leave a legacy for my kids that is more than just being their mother.