Sunday, February 24, 2019

the rules of writing

I don't participate in online discussions as much as I used to even five years ago. Life has changed.

However, I was interested in a post that someone shared a link to in a new group I joined. It interested me because I use side stories tied to the main story in my Starfire Angels books. Since the Starfire has been through many experiences, they share these to teach. The discussion shared was about flashbacks and time jumping.

It got me thinking, because the OP had questioned using such devices. I remember early in learning to write that the advice was not to use flashbacks because they slow the action of the story. I disagree.

Anything goes in writing, if you can do it well and it makes sense to the story. A skilled writer makes it work for the story. What is that line from Pirates of the Caribbean--something like "Hang the code, and hang the rules! They're more like guidelines anyway." That's how I think about the "rules" of writing.

Every rule can be broken in a way that works, but that takes skill.

The only rules I follow are 1) finish the first draft, 2) editing can improve anything, and 3) if you don't like it, neither will anyone else. I guess those are more like guidelines.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Writing life

Writing a story is quite the adventure in itself, and not only in what happens to the characters. Rather, the process of writing each book is quite an adventure.

That process begins with the pre-writing: noting ideas, maybe even making a full outline, creating character bios (for new characters), synopsizing scenes, etc.

Then, we move on to drafting. That involves the nuts and bolts of what we consider a story: writing out scenes, action, descriptions, dialogue, etc. Basically, telling the story.

Then the rewriting happens. Adjusting dialogue, changing details, adding/taking out lines of dialogue/scenes, sometimes even removing whole scenes and chapters and completely rewriting them from scratch. This is a long process with lots of sulking and contemplation.

Then the editing happens. There are different stages to editing. Rewriting and editing go hand-in-hand. I consider rewriting to be far more than editing, however. To me, editing is the refining work that happens after the major rewrites. Editing is broken down from the content edits at the most extreme, beginning end of the process to copyediting, which is simply the grammar, punctuation, and word usage. By the time that's done, the book should be finished.

The real adventure happens before the editing, when we're sweating blood to make the story work. Vault of the Celestials has been quite the adventure since the beginning. It hasn't been easy, but it's not simply action. This one is more in depth in the characters' psyches. I have some personal issues to resolve for them before they can move into the next stage of their journey. Figuring out how to do that hasn't been easy.

I've completely rewritten the first chapter to give it a literal "Bang!" ... More like a "Crash!" as I mentioned previously. And the second chapter worked much better from a different character point of view than I had originally written it. By the time I got into the third chapter, I had a better idea of how to make this story work, but I still hit a bump in the road a couple chapters later. That's when I realized that I had it all wrong.

Once I took out what I thought needed to be done and followed where the story was leading me, everything flowed again... like a mountain stream! It poured through my fingers to the keyboard. Yesterday, I wrote a whole 2,500 word chapter in one sitting! It was a wonderful feeling. And later, I picked up and could have written another chapter, except that it was late and I needed to get to bed.

Today, I'll pick up where I left off, but each day brings a new mindset. Today, I was in the mind to change one little detail on a different book, a detail that has been bothering me since it could be misconstrued as a symbol of our modern politics, even though the story is set in a parallel world with totally different politics. All the updates are uploaded now, so that detail will be gone. No one said anything, but I didn't want anyone making judgments one way or the other, especially those I agree with! I write about made up worlds and just do whatever works in the story. What I had works, but my audience lives in this world, and that needs to be taken into consideration. It wasn't an issue when I first published the story, but it's become a symbol of politics since then.

With that done and the weight off my mind, I am focused again on this story. I've been making notes about Vault of the Celestials and figuring out what needs to happen to make the story interesting and give it the ending that satisfies the issues presented to the characters at this stage of their journeys. I love problem solving in this way; it's what keeps me excited. I never really know what might happen until the time is right that it's revealed to me.

This is the joy of writing for me--not only the adventure I share with the characters, the personalities on the page, but also the adventure of bringing an idea to life in a way that means something to readers.

Next month, I'll reveal the cover for The Rule of Yonder when pre-orders become available. Look for that book in June.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Mark your calendar for a book release blog party!

That's right! APRIL 4, 2019 is a date to mark down. All afternoon and evening I will be on this blog, starting with a book release blog party post. I will be glad to answer all questions about writing, books, publishing, and Starfire Angels and the new book, A NEW BEGINNING.

I've been posting about it regularly for the last several months but I've made it official on Goodreads. I'm having a blog party to celebrate the release of the first book of the new series. By then, I expect to be writing the fourth book.

You're all invited! Mark your calendar, set a reminder, do whatever it takes and be sure to stop by for virtual drinks and treats and leave a comment.

I'm looking forward to seeing you back here!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Another boxed set!

At last! The Legend of the White Dragon will finally have a complete boxed set of all 5 books:


It is going live as we speak with the new cover art and 3D art, which I can finally reveal.

Artwork by Paul Davies 

Now, you'll have the option of enjoying the individual covers by Paul Davies and/or the new artwork that he has so skillfully painted for this series. You can view more of his talent at

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Progress on Book 3: Vault of the Celestials

It's been a great weekend for writing. I've been extremely focused and creative this past weekend.

I'd already had a good start on Vault of the Celestials while editing A New Beginning at the end of January. However, it had been slow starting with the first chapter completely rewritten and the second rewritten to a different character's POV. By the time I started the third chapter, I was starting to get a feel for this story but still had some rewriting until I figured out where to take it next to get where I really wanted to go. Once I had that, I coasted.

I've had to rewrite the first chapter of two of each of the books so far, but I do what is necessary to make the story interesting. This rewrite was smashing... literally. You'll see in the fall. Take my word for it now.

This past weekend, I think I wrote 6,000 words to reach 16,500 as of this post, with an expected end of the first draft somewhere between 35-50,000 words total. I just don't know yet where this will fall exactly. It's different than the first two books of the series.

Each story has a bit of a different feel, depending on the situation. It is episodic but has an overarching plot that can easily get stretched out with whatever I have in mind for my characters. That means that each story can be whatever it needs to be, and I do like variety. It keeps the writing interesting for me.

That's where I am now. I'm still enjoying it; actually, maybe too much. This is such a fun series to write!

Book 1, A New Beginning,  is the introduction with its own story but also introduces the overarching plot and purpose for the series.

Book 2, The Rule of Yonder, is a fun, super fast-paced romp that adds a little to the overarching plot but is mostly just something fun that expands the expectations of the universe and establishes some background.

Book 3, Vault of the Celestials, gets deep into the overarching plot by digging into one of the characters in the group and providing a basis of what can be expected in the mission of the main character.

Book 4 will be another fun romp outside the main mission but also will tie in to the overarching plot. I will always have some part of the larger plot tossed in.

Book 5 is still not quite gelled enough to say much.

Beyond book 5 is bits and pieces, but I have ideas through what could easily be ten books. That will grow!

And I am building my encyclopedia for the world as I go, adding species, governments, places, technologies, and even common phrases.

I hope you're getting as excited to read this series as I am to write it.

A NEW BEGINNING will be available April 4, 2019. Pre-order today from you favorite ebook retailer.

For more information and purchase links from major retailers, click on the link below:

Saturday, February 2, 2019

a break in the polar vortex

After the deep subzero temps brought to us this past week compliments of Canada, we had a break in our weather the past two days. More frigid air is expected, this time bringing with it a winter storm beginning tomorrow.

I took the chance offered by the mini-break in the winter weather to visit Buddy and found the horses enjoying their hay in more ways than eating it, as you can see here. Buddy was smart and laid in the straw that was also provided for a place to sleep rather than the snow or hay, but his friend Bucket isn't so smart.

(I don't know why the gray is named Bucket, but he's my sister's favorite horse and a dork.)

I was holding Buddy next to me when I took this with the other big horse on his other side, so they're not in this pic.

The long drives out to the farm are great for my creativity too--I can't do anything but drive and think. I usually focus on my writing. The time on boring interstate and quiet state highways always unlocks any issues I might be having and jumpstarts the writing. And today, that not only meant fixing something in Book 2 of Forgotten Worlds that might have conflicted with a later book, but it also let my mind work on some other ideas.

I came home and pretty much have planned out Books 4 and 5 while editing Book 1 and writing Book 3. Sometimes this series really gets me excited and then I see that I have SO MANY ideas that I feel like I will never finish it. I'm finally letting myself be free to develop any idea that comes my way, because I can fit it into this series in some shape or form. The possibilities are almost limitless, so I can go hog-wild with my imagination on this (within the rules of the universe I've established).

It was a nice break from the cold, although not nearly as nice as yesterday, when I finally shoveled the walkway to the front door. I've been paying for that all day with sore muscles, especially my back.

That's all I have for now. Don't forget to check out my books listed in the sidebar of this blog.

Thanks for reading!