For those of you keeping track, I officially started editing the rough draft of the sequel novel to Stonebearer’s Betrayal back in March. During the writing phase, I’d experimented with both speech-to-text and using a stand alone drafting keyboard, which made the draft messier than usual.
Note to self – when using speech-to-text, correct the mistakes the same day you dictate. Also, teach your software your character’s names early. Katira’s name changed into all sorts of crazy, like cuchara (Spanish for spoon).
I encourage anyone learning a new skill to experiment and find what works best for them. While I spent hours and hours going back and fixing misheard lines and words (and sometimes trying to divine what on earth I might have been thinking…) I know now how effective using dictation software is for me at this point. If it wasn’t for that test, I wouldn’t have tried tried transcribing my own recordings instead. Doing it that way means I can add correct punctuation marks and use names correctly the first time as I listen to files recorded on my phone. It also means I can speak out a scene in the oddest of places where writing or typing would be difficult, like while out walking, and then have material ready for when I’m ready to sit down and type.
All of this has helped me refine my writing process. With drafting, the most important goal is to get the whole broken story out onto the page, then make decisions where new scenes are needed or if something needs to be taken away. Editing is far different as it takes much longer focused sessions of working at the computer, which can be a challenge to find.
A little history…
I started writing the sequel novel to Stonebearer’s Betrayal during NaNoWriMo 2015 as a challenge to myself to see if I really did have another book in me. I met my goal and wrote the first half, about 50,000 words. Then life happened, as if often does and I set it down to work on other projects and focus on getting book one ready to see the world.
I didn’t touch it for over a year – literally waiting until the next NaNoWriMo to work on it again. That was when I did something truly stupid – and didn’t read the first half before writing the second. This was a lack of planning on my part. I could have easily done my preparation in October, but again, got too busy and when November 1st rolled around it was time to write.
This meant there was time for ideas to change and shift in my mind between the two halves of the book, many of those ideas for the better. But, it also meant that it took a huge amount more work to edit. I’ve literally rewritten 80% of the book at least once, if not several times, to make the two halves match. Learning is hard sometimes, and if I’ve learned anything from this experience, it’s that I really (really!) need to not put projects down for a year and then not spend a day or two simply rereading what was there.
Fast forward to today. There are twenty pages left of the final edit and a handful of little things to tighten up and then the sequel is ready for professional editing and test reading. So much yay! I feel like I’ve been teasing about finishing this one for months now, probably because I kept setting unrealistic goals and then being surprised when I didn’t reach them.
Another note to self – planning on getting significant work done during the kids summer break from school – totally not realistic.
Like I said before, there is a learning curve with every new project and although I know I’ve gotten so much better at drafting and editing, there’s still a long way to go before I can claim mastery. I’m proud to say with each attempt things get better, easier, and faster.
Writing the first book and bringing it to publication was a ten year journey. The second will only be five. The third is already drafted and I expect it to only take 18 months from start to publication – including the months I stopped to focus on book two. If this trend continues it’s totally possible for me to complete two full length novels a year in the future.
Will I get to that point? Time will definitely tell. There is an exciting world of possibilities out there and I intend to keep trying and moving forward.
I fully intend to release Stonebearer’s Apprentice (official title pending…) in Spring of 2020 and Katira’s story will continue!
We’ve all done stupid things. Buying a used elliptical sounded so smart at the time. I was saving money, ensuring my wintertime happiness, and also giving my kiddos another outlet to burn off extra energy. Then reality bit me in the butt.
Let’s back up a minute. Last week I talked about the importance of taking walks to help clear my head and deal with anxiety. While walking is indeed the fastest, cheapest, and easiest way to do this, the winter months are coming and the idea of walking outside during a blizzard or dreary freezing wind is not appealing in the least.
So, I had a brilliant idea – find a cheap elliptical that I could use on days when the weather is nasty and get in my exercise that way. As an added bonus, I could totally watch Netflix while working out – win.
For those of you who are experienced fitness machine users, yeah, feel free to laugh at me from this point forward. So many mistakes…
I found what looked like a great deal on a solid looking elliptical – $30 dollars and everything worked fine. We took it home at set it in the center of our family room to let the kiddos goof off on it. If anything was going to break, I’d rather it happen sooner than later and kids make excellent testing subjects. They hung on it, tried it two at a time, adjusted the built in fan, and made sure the heart rate monitor was accurate.
Even better, they didn’t break it.
What they did reveal is that it was a bit squeaky and thumpy. My goal, remember, was to be able to use it while watching TV. Being the uber-handy person I am, I decided it would be a great idea to lube the thing up and get rid of the excess noise. I looked up a Youtube tutorial, hubby bought some plastic-safe grease, and we went to town.
I’m one of those people who love taking things apart and putting them back together. It is very gratifying to fix stuff so it works better. Even better, hubby feels the same way. Usually. We lubed literally every joint and friction point just to be sure this new addition to our family could be as good as it be. If we’re going to do it, might as well do it as good as we can.
And it worked and ran as smooth as butter. For 30 glorious seconds.
Funny thing about moving parts, some don’t like to be slippery. In our haste to finish the job, we used a spray lubricant to reach a few places not thinking much about the drips. Those drips made their way under the tensioning belt and made the whole thing slip off.
Using and elliptical without a tensioning belt is WAY more exciting that I’m up for. There’s no friction at all and if you work hard enough you can cut a portal into another dimension. I think one of my kids summoned a minor demon as they cranked their way to infinity – and beyond! His name is Floyd and he now lives under my 7-year-old’s bed.
Did I mention that not only was this elliptical a great deal, but it is quite possibly the cheapest home elliptical known to man? We stripped screws, snapped plastic bits, and (possibly) swore more times than normally allowed in a home with younger kids. To fix the tensioning belt, we took that whole thing back apart and degreased all those essential frictiony bits to the best of our ability.
And put it all back together again…
And enjoyed another 30 glorious seconds of smooth silent operation…
Before the #(@&)#ing belt slipped off again.
Guess who gets to learn the finer points of how to properly retension an elliptical belt this weekend?
This gal, right here.
The moral of this story is to research before you buy, don’t be too cheap, and for heaven’s sake, be careful where you spray lube!
The real life lesson is never give up. Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Stuff takes longer than expected. A great deal turns out not so great. Getting mad doesn’t fix anything. Whatever you do, keep trying. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Does anyone want to adopt Floyd? He keeps the youngest up at night with his cute demon snores.
We’ve reached the end of the power word series and I saved the best for last. Today’s word is FEARLESS.
While many choose to define fearless as ‘being without fear,’ I define it differently. Being fearless means to acknowledge your fears and then go out and do the thing that’s perhaps a little scary. For me, it’s anything that might result in confrontation. Public speaking is one of those things. It’s scary and this year I’ve done it far more than I’ve ever done it before.
I’m an introvert by nature. Most assume the outgoing, somewhat loud side of me they see in public means that I’m super extroverted – it’s not true. The extroverted persona I wear at conferences is me grabbing the idea of being fearless and doing what needs to be done to best represent myself as an author. At conferences that means being brave and talking to strangers and presenting ideas in classes and panels.
If you’d asked me about this years ago, the idea of attending conferences with the intent to meet as many amazing people as possible and making myself seen, would have reduced me to a pile of anxiety ridden mush. It’s taken time, experience, and lots of watching my wonderful fellow author friends show how they handle being at a conference table, or behave on a panel, or teach a class.
The key to being fearless is developing confidence. Confidence comes from deep within and must be grown over time. It’s a personal understanding that you are a person of worth and have lots to share with the world. It’s also understanding that everyone around you deserves to be treated like they are also an interesting person and letting them shine.
Check it out! I’m doing something super brave and attending FanX officially as an author for the very first time this September. If you’re headed to FanX, I’d love to see you! Search the FanX site for my profile (or just click here) to see the most up-to-date listing of the panels I will be sitting on. You can also find me hanging around the Printed Garden vendor table.
At this year’s Fyrecon 2019, I asked a few author friends if there was someone I needed to meet who would be a good fit for my interview series, and I was immediately directed to the outgoing and talented Rafael Hohmann. I’m thrilled to share his thoughts with you all today.
On to the interview!
First, let’s get to know you better. Please share with us three things most people know about you, and two things they don’t. 🙂
Ooh, I like this question! One thing people know about me is that I’m an author who is tired of the same ol’ in fantasy. Mostly elves, dragons, dwarves—and in more recent years, current world politics and gratuitous sex. I want fantasy escapism that doesn’t involve me rolling my eyes or getting frustrated. I might be in the minority on that one though…I’m not sure. Another thing most people know about me is that I’m a networker. I love meeting other authors, readers, publishers, editors, etc…you name it. Everyone has a story to tell, advice to give, and experiences to share. Although I take everything people say with a grain of salt, I would like to think there is always something new for me to learn from someone else—or at the very least I can use them as inspiration for a future character. Lastly, kind of a given, people know me as an epic fantasy writer. I love wielding limitless creation when it comes to storytelling. I went from being the kid who was always getting sucked into stories other had written into being an adult who gets sucked into other people’s stories and now my own stories too…I guess not much changed.
Two things that people don’t know about me…well most people don’t know that I was born in the dungeons of a castle in Brazil, in South America! I guess that aligns pretty well with me being a fantasy author and all! Also, I love adding lore, ancient history, songs, and food into my stories. It keeps the written world feeling fresh and exciting.
Every author I’ve met has had an Ah-ha! moment where they decided they wanted to write a book. What was yours?
I was in junior high, selling my own home-drawn comic books to my friends in exchange for candy or coins (to buy candy), daydreaming about being stuck in the school, surviving the zombie apocalypse. Since I didn’t see any attacking zombies, I decided to record my zombie daydream in the form of a story. I really liked how it turned out and loved the idea that I was able to turn this internal fantasy of escapism into something I could read. I think it was at that point that I realized I had found my new favorite thing to do, which was to write. That was probably my ah-ha moment.
What do you think is your writing superpower? What do you do really well?
Probably world-building and monster creation! I say that because I like to put a lot of effort into creating unique places, cultures, lore, history, and creatures. I want people to read my work and feel like it’s a breath of fresh air. I’m also really good at snacking while I write, except Dorito fingers and typing is not a good combo.
So far, which of your characters is your favorite? And which is most like you?
My favorite is my main antagonist Wahala in the SunRider Saga. She is a woman who is not anywhere in the league of raw power and strength as some of the other bad guys or even the good guys. But her insane drive, her hunger to learn the bigger mysteries of the world while everyone else is out fighting great wars, and her manipulative wit make her this underdog you can’t help but root for, even knowing she’s a really bad person.
The character that’s most like me is probably Goblin, who is the main character Finn’s best friend. We’re both food-a-holics and love to play ruthless practical jokes on others.
I ask this question to everyone – what’s the most interesting item you have in your writing space and what’s the story behind it?
I have the carved skull of a ram that’s been painted gold in my study. It stares into my soul. Really though—it inspires my darker adventure-fantasy style writing, its really frikin’ cool, and it connects with a few concepts seen in my SunRider Saga. One specific group of people in my series come from this dead land that is populated with the dangerous corpses of various monsters, ancient warriors, and plants because of a prehistoric enchantment. Throughout many millennia while they have survived there, the people of that land developed the cultural practice of replacing limbs with gold as a means to help dissuade carnivorous monsters from eating them. Over the many years, that practice became a religious act. In the end though, I bought the skull because who wouldn’t want that as a decoration???
What’s next? What are you working on?
I am working on book three of the SunRider Saga, to be released hopefully at the end of this year! It’s a big boy, which is what my readers want in a adventure fantasy novel. I’m also constantly going to various conventions, podcasting with local authors in a really cool writing group I’m in, the Four Seasons of Epic Fantasy, and I’m building from scratch a leather-bound fantasy-style version of SunRider (full of maps, red ink, and metal inlays) and recording the process as a YouTube video.
About today’s guest
Born near the oceanic coast of Brazil inside the dungeons of a castle, Rafael moved to the United States at the age of six. He spent his young years reading, cliff climbing, exploring abandoned mines, and drawing strategy maps to survive the oncoming zombie apocalypse. Obsessed with sharing his stories with others, he writes whenever he can and talks a bit too much about books. You can often find him gorging on sushi and trying to convince his wife to let him buy a dog.
I have seen men become Gods and I have seen Gods become dust…
Magic pieces of armor rain from Lenova’s skies, granting common men God-like abilities. These individuals have been dubbed the Star-Children, and their magical suits of armor can reshape land, nations, and the future of man. Each of them wield a seemingly random and distinctive power: the capability to create clouds of gems, the skill to bend lightning by command, the means to suck the air out of one’s lungs. They are marked by the bracers they wear: a single piece donning their arm, a piece which shifts and slides, forming their unique armored suits of might.
“A perfect mix of super-powers and fantasy!”
No one knows why these bracers have fallen from Lenova’s skies, picking seemingly random individuals to hold such power. In the absence of knowledge and with superior beings now in existence, chaos reigns. The few Star-Children with morals wield their powers with honor, those with darker intentions…seek blood and conquest.
In the midst of this emerging chaos, teenager Finn SunRider only cares for escaping the mines within the burning desert of the Crust and exploring the world he lives in. When an ancient bracer different from those which have fallen from the sky grafts onto Finn’s arm and the last of a dead race warns that albeit no future is certain, he will be thrust in the middle of godly battles and mystery, Finn’s plans of freedom take a different turn.
From flaming, coal-covered vat-worms and two-directional streams to floating cities and slagged landscapes, follow a fantasy adventure of epic proportions!
It’s always a joy to bring a fellow fantasy author here to discuss what sparks their creativity and learn about their journey. Today, Bree Moore joins us to talk about her journey and give us a peek into her life as a writer.
On to the interview!
Hi Bree, thanks for joining me here today! To get things started, I’d love to get to know you better. Tell me, what was the moment when you decided you wanted to be a writer?
I was a voracious reader from a really young age. My addiction to books and the stories inside led me to want to write. In 4th grade we received a school assignment to write a story, and my teacher gave us an actual hardbound book with blank pages to write the story inside before turning it in. The whole process enchanted me. I wrote a really terrible story, but I’m really proud of the effort I put into it. I still have that book, actually. Soon after I wrote, by hand, another story that was 60 pages long. We got our first home computer around that time, and I started another story. It just felt natural to write. I really enjoyed it and the feeling of accomplishment I had every time I finished a story. I knew then I wanted to be a writer.
If you were to magically gain a creative super power, what would it be, and why?
Probably the ability to perfectly translate the images in my head to paper. It’s so frustrating when a scene plays out perfectly until I try to write it down!
In the course of writing your books, what has been your greatest challenge to overcome?
Finding time and energy to make it all happen. I homeschool my five kids. They’re all under the age of seven right now, my youngest is five months old. I’ve published three books and two short stories in the past two and a half years, all while in the thick of motherhood. It’s tough to find the motivation when you’re exhausted and stretched to your limit. I currently wake up at about 5am every day to get my writing in. Difficult, but worth it. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without making the sacrifice to keep doing what I love. Writing, and accomplishing my publishing goals, keeps me sane. It gives me opportunities to meet people and do more. So, even though it’s my greatest challenge, it’s so worth it.
Your stories have characters who have to be brave and make hard choices. What is your favorite inspiring moment in your most recent release?
In my novella in the “Beyond Instinct” anthology, women gain their magical abilities when they give birth for the first time. I love the part where my character, having just had her baby, decides to confront the antagonist. She has her baby strapped to her chest, and she’s so beautifully furious at what’s been done to her people. I love the power of that moment.
I ask this question to everyone – what’s the most interesting item you have in your writing space and what’s the story behind it?
I’m still working on having a designated writing space, but something that will be in it when I have one is this picture that a friend once drew for me. It’s a beautiful ink drawing of all these fantastic worlds, and the message he wrote on it is about the value of stories. I’ve had it for about eleven years, it inspires me every time I see it.
What’s next? What are you working on?
I’m currently writing a paranormal fantasy trilogy about a world where paranormals are illegal citizens until they go through “Naturalization” and conform to certain standards of humanity. My main character is a raven-shifter. The first book, Raven Born, comes out in November.
About today’s featured guest –
Bree Moore lives in Utah, is wife to an amazing husband, and is a mother of five children. She writes fantasy novels between homeschooling and folding laundry. In real-life, Bree works as a birth doula, attending women in pregnancy and labor, which is huge inspiration for her writing. Bree loves shopping for groceries like other women like shopping for shoes (no, seriously), movies that make her cry, and Celtic music. She likes both her chocolate and her novels dark.
For thirty years, Elaina has sat in her tower, fingers caught in an eternal dance, cursed to weave the tapestry of life on her loom. Bound by an enchanted mirror whose magic shows her the distant lives of the people of Camelot, she must forever watch a land which remains beyond her reach. Elaina despairs that she will ever experience more than just the shadows of life, until one day a face appears in the mirror that will change her life, and possibly her fate, forever.
Guinevere is losing her mind. When a severe injury to her head nearly kills her and awakens alternate personalities suppressed from her past, Guinevere learns that one of them is plotting with a knight of the round table to murder King Arthur and take control of Camelot. In the midst of war, Guinevere fights to save both her own life and the man she loves, each day coming closer to succumbing to the violent personalities within her.
Fans of “Once Upon a Time” and the legends of King Arthur won’t be able to let Woven slip through their fingers.
Space might be the final frontier, but the imagination knows no limits. When it comes to science fiction and speculative writing this is especially true. Come meet my friend Leigh Saunders who continually pushes the boundaries of her own imagination with both heart and enviable skill.
Leigh and I are partners in crime in the Utah author scene, often seen tucking ourselves into corners at conferences and planning our next move. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, with authors as friends there is never a dull moment.
On to the interview!
Hi Leigh, welcome to my blog! To kick off this interview I’d like to get to know you better. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’ve never been the stereotypical, introverted writer – though I have been known to “lurk” quietly in new situations while I figure out the lay of the land. Growing up in a military family was probably a big part of that. It allowed me to see a fair bit of the world — and also taught me to adapt to different cultures and customs every time we moved. Then I read the phrase “…the things are also people” in a SF story (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I think), and I never looked at the world quite the same way ever again. I’ve been fortunate to have worked as a full-time writer (of various things, not all fiction) for most of my adult life, and love to travel, learn new things, see new places, meet new people – and then weave some version of what I remember into my stories – yeah, I do that – but by the time I’ve dumped so many bits and pieces into the blender, then poured them out and stretched them like taffy, it’s only the essence of the real people or events that make it to the page. The rest is some kind of alchemy that I don’t even pretend to understand. I just accept it for the magic that it is.
What skill have you always wished you were amazing at, but haven’t had the time to learn?
I’ve always been curious about so many things – In college, I studied accounting, architecture, modern dance, and technical theatre (all the backstage/behind-the-scenes stuff), but I never made it into the horse training program at Findlay College, which would have been a lot of work, but also great fun. I’m a competent rider, but some of my characters are truly one with their horses in a way I’ll never be.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever researched for a writing project?
Many years ago, I had the opportunity to bid on a project with the National Center for Human Genome Research (now the National Human Genome Research Institute). Our small project was cancelled due to funding limitations before it got off the ground, but my interaction with the project team led me to further research in the Human Genome Project. Since I came to it with a science fiction author’s world view, my primary focus was “what if…?” Fact and fiction tumbled around in my head for some time as a result, and Brianna Rei, the genetically-engineered heroine of my 2011 novel “Memoirs of a Synth: Gold Record” was the result. I’ve written a handful of short stories featuring Brianna Rei since then, and this year am launching a new series of short, interstellar heists and capers, called “The Misha Kif Chronicles” where Brianna, always on the run from the bounty hunters, has returned to her career as a master thief under the alias, Misha Kif.
“Memoirs of a Synth: Gold Record” is available through all the major ebook retailers
“The Misha Kif Chronicles, Vol 1: Partners in Crime” is available exclusively as part of the Storybundle “Space Traveler” bundle through July 4, 2019 (www.storybundle.com/space), and will hit the major ebook retailers later this summer.
In all the books you’ve read/written/edited, what character has captured your imagination the most?
If I have to pick just one, it would be the Comte de Saint-Germain, the delicious vampire immortalized (pun intended!) by the amazing Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. I’ve always loved well-researched historical novels, and Yarbro wound her meticulous research skills around a character based in part around the very secretive, real-life Count de St. Germain, creating an intelligent, charming, heroic vampire who I have always loved. Yarbro has written nearly thirty stand-alone novels about Saint- Germain the series over the past many years (I believe the first one came out in 1978), together with two spin-off series, and while the style is somewhat old-fashioned and reminiscent of historical and Regency novels, I am a true fan of Saint-Germain. Other vampires may come and go (or sparkle… why?) but I have always thought of Saint-Germain as the vampire whose acquaintance I have been most happy to have made.
I ask this question to everyone – what’s the most interesting item you have in your writing space and what’s the story behind it?
So many interesting things… so many stories!
I have this oddly-shaped, fist-sized blob of blown glass. Sometimes it’s on a bookshelf, right now it’s sitting on the corner of my desk. For the most part, it’s clear, but veins of red, the color of blood, wind through it and if you turn it this way or that in the light, it almost seems alive. I picked it up from a glassblower in Oregon, because it almost perfectly symbolizes a magical talisman I created in my very first (as-yet-unfinished) novel. One of these days, I’ll get back to that book; in the meantime, the heart of the talisman beats on…
What’s next? What are you working on?
I’m usually working on multiple projects simultaneously, almost always in distinctly different genres. Right now, I’m deep into the first few volumes of “The Misha Kif Chronicles,” which I like to call “the t.v. series ‘Leverage’ in space.” On the other side of the desk are the books and outlines for a fantasy series-in-progress, which is loosely based on the Mongol invasion of Eastern Europe… but with magic. I’m in early stages with that one. And, of course, tucked in around the edges of my schedule are short stories – I’m a fan of the form, and love to explore new worlds and new ideas in short fiction whenever I can.
About Today’s Guest:
Leigh Saunders grew up as a “military brat.” And while she’s long-since settled in her Rocky Mountain home with her husband and a large fluffy cat, her life-long wanderlust regularly inspires her to write about the people and places that spark her imagination. When not writing speculative fiction for a living (her day job is writing computer software manuals), Leigh enjoys writing “practical magic” and “social science fiction” – stories that focus on people (or “things” that are also people) in distant places, and how everyday magic, futuristic events, or advances in technology impact their lives. A 1993 Writers of the Future finalist, her recent short fiction can be found in multiple Fiction River anthologies, BundleRabbit short story collections, and more. She has won awards from the League of Utah Writers for both long and short fiction, and her short story, “Tendrils,” was listed on the 2018 Tangent Recommended Reading List. To learn more about Leigh and sign up for her occasional newsletter, visit her online at www.leighsaunders.com
More about Leigh’s book – Memoirs of a Synth: Gold Record
Tour guide, emissary, diplomat, thief — and a long-lived, genetically engineered Synth — Brianna Rei travels the Hundred Worlds, hiding in plain sight. She knows her survival depends on staying one step ahead of the bounty hunters who have nearly exterminated her kind.
All that changes when she teams up with fellow-thief, Jerrold McKell, and he discovers her true identity. Now Brianna must choose between trust and survival, and what it means to be truly human.
Excerpt from Memoirs of a Synth: Gold Record, Chapter 1 (first page)
I have never analyzed the thought processes that caused me to spend my three hundred seventeenth birthday on Earth, in the relative obscurity of a noisy, dimly lit, backstreet bar in Old Milan, and I don’t intend to do so now.
For whatever reason, that’s where I was – dancing on the table with a couple of newly-met, long-lost loves, in a skimpy black silk jumpsuit that showed off a lot of leg and left little else to the imagination – when I first saw Jerrold.
Actually it was the Antarean I saw first.
There weren’t many aliens in the bar, and her short, bluish fur stood out in the crowd. It was Sisal. I knew her by reputation as a top fence, though I’d personally never had occasion to utilize her services.
She was sitting with two men, both human: one a roguish-looking sort with a rough-trimmed beard and long dark hair pulled back in a ponytail at the nape of his neck; and the second, a big, brawny Thug, who, from my vantage point, I could tell hadn’t quite checked all his weapons at the door.
Sisal’s fur was on end, her claws tapping a staccato rhythm on the small table around which the three of them sat.
That she was here, obviously negotiating a deal, I considered nothing short of serendipitous – the deal she was negotiating would be worth a lot of money, and I was between lifestyles at the time.
I was curious. I was more than a little drunk.
I wanted in on the action.
I jumped down off the table, much to the dismay of the long-losts, who called after me, begging me not to desert them. I laughed and waved them away, scooping up a couple of bottles off the bar as I made my way over to the table.
I dropped the bottles on the table between the Thug and Sisal, narrowly missing her paw, and leaned across the table to speak to the rogue, whom I would later come to know as Jerrold McKell.
“I feel very left out,” I said petulantly. “You didn’t even save me a chair.”
“You’re drunk,” he said.
I laughed. “You always have had a gift for understatement, my dear,” I said, flipping my hair back over my shoulder as I stood. It was long and black and rough-cut, as was the style on Riga at that time, with its thousands of tiny ends tipped in silver. “Of course I’m drunk. That’s the point of coming to a bar. Or at least, half the point.”
Back in December I wrote, in super dramatic terms, about bringing my first book into the world and how it was way more like being a first-time mom than I ever expected. Looking back, I agree with every word.
It’s been almost six months since the release of Stonebearer’s Betrayal and the roller coaster of emotion is now more like a carousel. There are still ups and downs, but they don’t make me scream and I only get motion sick if I close my eyes for too long. Each turn is predictable with each next step already planned. Each tiny up has its own tiny down.
It’s all very manageable and to be honest – a little boring. It’s work. Plain and simple. I create goals to complete. Some are big, like finishing 2000 minutes of editing each month to finish Stonebearer’s #2. Some are tiny, like making sure my email stays under control. Some can be tedious, like ensuring my social media presence stays solid. (By the way, my Instagram is fabulous.) Some are fun, like attending conferences and signings.
I find myself hoarding time like a miser. Each minute I can work in peace while the kids are at school is measured and optimized. The hours of the day are sliced and diced into focused chunks, 45 minutes here to write today’s blog post, 10 minutes there to fold the laundry, 15 minutes here to answer an email, another hour there to edit another scene.
Right in the beginning, when the world of possibilities was wide open, I lost focus on my big goal, to earn my success by creating great novels, and instead spent way too much time chasing micro opportunities down rabbit holes. Whole days were eaten in the search for podcasts and book review sites willing to even look at me. I didn’t write or edit a word of fiction for months.
I turned into a crazy person. I collected every bit of data and studied each analytic hoping to see an upturn that said I’d won the author lottery and the mainstream market had noticed my little book. After months of working and watching, I realized the only way to continue growing my fan base would be to keep writing more books for people to enjoy.
So here I am. Working. Hard. Everyday.
I don’t regret my weeks and months spent being a little crazy and obsessive – it comes with the whole becoming an author package and needs to be experienced to be understood.
I’m all better now. Here, have a smiling potato.
Interested in checking out my book baby? It’s a great read for fans of Wheel of Time, appropriate for ages 12 and up (although my 11-year-old loved it too!) Here’s a handy link to Amazon to learn more.
Love staying in touch? So do I! Let’s connect. You can follow here on WordPress, or choose your favorite social media – I’m on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
When I heard the news that Jana was releasing a new book next week, I had to grab her for an interview. As friends and fellow authors, Jana and I have bounced around at various Utah writing events together and had plenty of fun. I was super excited to learn more about her journey and inspirations in this interview.
On to the interview!
To kick things off, tell us three things about yourself that most people don’t know.
I always love these questions. There are so many odd things to delve into.
Well…first of all I ran a medievalist fighting group for seven years in my college and post college days. I specialized in archery and sword and shield fighting.
My first job in the publishing world was as an Executive Secretary and jaded reader for a small magazine. I opened all of the envelopes – yes this was in the very early internet days – and read all the submissions for content and rejected anything that didn’t fit the magazine’s standards. Then I organized the rest of the subs and prepared them for reading groups.
I love to travel! I’ve been all over the US and visited Norway, Hong Kong, Singapore, England, Scotland and Wales. I’ve also been trapped at the airport in Amsterdam twice, but I don’t think that counts for much.
As a writer, what would you choose as your spirit animal and why?
My fuzzy killer cat is my spirit animal. She’s a little older, like me. She’s a little cranky, like me. She’s occasionally a murder hobo…erm…no comment. But when she chooses someone as her person she’s kind, fuzzy, loyal, and phenomenally loving.
You have a new shiny book coming out! Tell us what it’s about and also the journey leading to its creation.
Said in Stone is my new book baby! It comes out April 9th and I’m so excited. This book kicks off a sister series to my Sentinels of Essence series which begins with Fallen Stone. When I introduced the world of Fallen Stone there were some great secondary characters who I really wanted to tell stories about. However, the Sentinels of Essence series is in tight third person and there just wasn’t a way to expand without breaking that. So I created the Chronicles of Alexandria for short stories that happen in the same world, but involve the other characters.
Said in Stone contains six stories about our heroes dealing with: zombies, a Borg-like collective, gremlins, hellhounds, a specter, and the unseelie court. I love these close character stories where I can focus on moments in these character’s lives, and toss in some surprises for people who read both series at once. You can read the Chronicles separate from the Sentinels of Essence, but together they make a much richer story world.
Every author has a favorite character they’ve created. Who is yours, and what inspired you to make them the way they are?
I have to choose one?!?! That’s like asking me to choose my favorite kid. I love them all, but if I had to select a favorite it would be Dianna McDunna. Dianna’s story hasn’t been published yet, though it will have its day soon. Dianna began as a character in an online RPG where I played for years. I love her because she’s got that kick-ass confidence we love in a UF heroine, but she’s a little older with all the baggage that means. She leads a group of supernatural hunters and takes their welfare very personally.
What is the most interesting thing you keep on your desk and what is the story behind it?
Hah. Near my desk are skeins of yarn and half finished crochet projects. When I’m stressed, or my subconscious needs some time to ponder something I’ll pick up a yarn project and start working. I find crochet tremendously soothing and when my hands are busy my muse gets a chance to work without the pressure of the screen in front of me. I give away some of my projects, sell some, and others are donated to cancer centers, hospitals, and children’s organizations. I figure my frustrations can help others!
Tell us about what you are working on next!
On the schedule for this year are two more novels. The next book in the Sentinels of Essence which is titled Fallen Leaves and a paranormal romance which is going to have a title one of these first days. 🙂 I am playing around with the idea of a pen name for that one, but we’ll see how things go!
I have presentations coming up for several conferences so I’m also sketching out PowerPoints and handouts, definitely all part of the writing dream!
Thanks for having me!
About Jana S. Brown
Jana S. Brown has been involved in publishing as an Author, Editor, Presenter, Slush Reader, and grundle of other positions (Yes, grundle is the technical term) for over 20 years. She writes the weird and the wonderful with smoochies and prides herself at being a jack-of-all-trades and master of enough.
When the cat’s away the mice will… Play? Fight? Fall in love?
Featuring six short stories from the supernatural world of Denver, Colorado and the mystical Library of Alexandria, the answers are Said in Stone:
Zombies Don’t Play Baseball: What happens when a book on necromancy falls into the wrong hands after the Cubs win the World Series?
Welcome to the Collective: A glimpse into the Heart of the Library where dwells something more than books.
Convention Shock: All Peter Haas wanted was a day off at the DenCon fan convention. What he got…gremlins, lots of gremlins.
How to Train Your Hellhound: Angel the Hellhound goes to obedience school and finds a life of crime.
Merry Christmas to You: One haunted opera house and one visionary storyteller. Can they create sweet music?
The Door to the EverGold: When books are in trouble and knowledge about to be lost, there’s only one place to turn. Librarians to the rescue.
Special Sneak Peek from Convention Shock
Haas closed his eyes, forcing himself to process her words. He allowed her to pull his arm away from his chest and heard the sound of ripping fabric as she tore his sleeve away. It occurred to him that now he really looked like Kirk after an away mission with torn clothes and mussed hair. Though for Kirk the blood was colored corn syrup.
Soft fingers patted his cheek. “Come on. Stay with me.”
Haas blinked a few times. “Bridge to Engineering, please stand by.”
New Release Special Offer!!!
Jana’s book, Fallen Stone, the first book in the Sentinels of Essence series, is ON SALE for $0.99 from April 5-12.
I believe I’ve said it here before, but creating a book is a lot like having a baby, morning sickness and all.
Over the past few weeks I’ve had several people want to hear about my journey of what it’s been like to publish a book. Last year, I wrote a post about my experience with querying and finding a publisher. Ironically, that post was immediately preceded by one talking about rejection and accepting yourself as you are, proving that this industry is indeed a roller-coaster ride of emotion.
What a year it’s been!
If my book “pregnancy” officially began the day I signed the contract, then the morning sickness set in when I started work with my editor. Women suffering from morning sickness will tell themselves it will all be worth it in the end as a way to cope with the misery. During the editing process, I kept telling myself that the nauseating discomfort of learning about all the weak parts of my book had to be a good thing as well. My editor at one point in the process may, or may not, have compared my main character to Bella Swan from Twilight. Ouch.
Editing is hard work. Each chapter, sometimes each page, takes long hours of intense focused thought to bring it to the next level. When I’ve done my own rounds of polishing and editing it’s taken months to work from cover to cover. Under contract, I’m given thirty days to complete an editing pass. Fun fact – if I spend one hour per page, editing the book would take over 300 hours. That’s THIRTY ten hour work days back-to-back with no breaks. Which is why it really wasn’t fair for my kids to be off-track during the first crucial editing pass as I transformed my main character Katira away from being a passive Bella and into a strong, capable protagonist.
Deadlines are aptly named. If you aren’t feeling half-dead with exhaustion as you slide your edited manuscript back, you probably have better time management practices in place than I do. In the first pass, we cut away almost 15,000 words of dead weight and replaced them with hundreds of small additions sprinkled through the book like salt. I learned quickly that one of my writing weaknesses (besides poor Bella) was not tagging dialogue in a way that added motion and life into a scene. After spending days of work inserting more action into my dialogue sequences, I think I’ve learned my lesson.
This process is repeated until both editor and author agree the book is as good as it can get, or can’t stand to look at it again. I’m still not sure which. Morning sickness fades into a period of waiting, preparation, and sheer terror contemplating the vastness of all that should be done. There’s waiting for the proofreader to finish, waiting for the cover artist, waiting for formatting, waiting for proofs, waiting for digital copies, waiting for early reviewers – so much waiting.
At this point self-publishing starts to look good. While I’ve loved having the support of a company to help me through this process, especially since it’s my first time, the waiting and not knowing what’s happening – or if anything is happening – can drive anyone a little nuts.
Just like a first-time mom, a first-time author (despite all their research, and best efforts, and fellow author friends who try to show them the way) experiences so much uncertainty with the whole process that the stress is unbelievable. Looking back, I could have done so much more with this waiting period to prepare for the books release, but I was naive. Now I’ve been through it I know what really needs to be done, and when I go through this again I’ll have a much better plan.
Launch day is literally a book’s birthday. It is pushed out into the world and is on display for all to see, warts and all. All the early teasers, quotes, articles, and efforts that happen before the launch are the same as showing people ultrasounds. As the author, I can see the cute little nose and the tiny precious fingers, and all that amazing potential inside because I’ve studied it – but to everyone else it’s just another static filled picture.
There’s no way to feel truly prepared for launch day. Some authors do hundreds of hours of prep and set up and marketing and a blog tour – the options are dizzying. Some moms fill their freezer with weeks’ worth of meals and create and fill a schedule for people to come help them.
The results are the same. The book still comes, the baby is born. The family and friends that planned on supporting and helping the author still show up. Sometimes friends of friends are dragged in as well.
Unlike a baby who demands care, feeding, and endless love and attention, a book won’t demand anything and immediately starts fading into obscurity unless the author continues to push and work to keep it in the public eye.
This is where I am now. My book has entered its infancy where it still doesn’t know its place in the world. I’m working everyday, trying hard just to keep it alive until it can start building momentum on its own. Just like a real infant, the work keeps me awake at night and requires a steady stream of care and feeding for it to thrive.
It’s exhausting, but worth it.
My family will tell you that this process has changed me. I believe it. I’m a stronger more confident person than I was before. I’ve learned how to squeeze the most out of short periods of time, and utilize every moment – especially when I’m under a deadline. These skills have transferred into home life as well. Putting off doing something I don’t like doing, like creating a meal plan, only serves to prolong stress. Get it over with. Having a messy house won’t kill me, but it doesn’t help me find peace either. It’s important to seek out ways to feel centered, even when lots of crazy is going on.
While I wrote the book because it was one of my life goals, it has helped my kids see that they can reach hard goals as well and that anything worth doing takes real work. I love hearing the pride in their voices as they tell their teachers and friends that their mom is an author.
Hopefully they don’t mind too much that this book baby might be expecting a little brother in 2020…!
Interested in checking out my book baby? It’s a great read for fans of Wheel of Time, appropriate for ages 12 and up (although my 11-year-old loved it too!)