Tag Archives: Tower of Bones series

Works In Progress update #amwriting

This week has been busy. I have finished my work as a reader for a short-story contest, which was an awesome gig, I am nearing the end of an editing project, and I am continuing to discover who my characters are in my current first draft. I am 70,000 words into this project, which is slated to be a duology. This means I am about a third of the way through it.

When I published the Tower of Bones series, I learned a difficult lesson. As slowly as I write, I need to have the entire series fleshed out and in the form of the final draft before I begin editing the first novel or it will take three years for the next novel to be published. That isn’t acceptable—people want the follow-up books in a timely fashion.

The entire two-book story arc is now laid out, and some sections are complete, but some of the characters are still raw and unfinished. I don’t really know them the way I need to for this story to come to life. After all, I can say they are charismatic all I want, but if the readers don’t find them that compelling, the story will fall flat.

At this point, I am still fleshing out my main character as a human being. He and I have come far, but I still don’t know him as well as I know his father and his brother. I am beginning to get a grip on him but some aspects of his character still elude me—he is still at what I think of as the “he-went-he-saw” stage of development.

When writing the other characters, I asked them to “talk” to me, asked them to tell me who they are and what is most important to them. So that is what my protagonist is doing this week. I have him as an old man, sitting on his porch and telling me what really happened. This is a short story, but it will never see the light of day.

This 2,000 – 5,000-word exercise is all backstory and will go into a file labeled as such. When I go back to writing the actual novel, this information won’t even be a part of the story. But because I have talked to my protagonist, Alf, and gotten to know why he thinks the way he does, his actions and reactions will be organic and natural. His motivations will become clear, and the reader will feel that Alf wouldn’t think any other way.

My antagonist, Daryk, will also have the chance to talk to me this week in the form of a letter written to me. He will tell me who he is and why he should really be the protagonist rather than the bad guy, as he is really the good guy and I have it all wrong.

I discovered this method during the rewrite of the Tower of Bones series. I knew who my main character and his companions were, as I had designed the original game story line around them. But I couldn’t get a grip on why my evil guy was so wicked and why he was convinced he was the good guy when his actions were so reprehensible.

What I finally did for Stefyn in Tower of Bones, was this—I had him write a long letter to me, explaining his reasons and trying to convince me that he was the real protagonist. Having read his reasons, Stefyn’s motivations were easy for me to understand. His commitment to his god’s path was fundamental to who he was.

My new antagonist must also be that committed, but he comes from a completely different culture than Stefyn, who was raised to be who he is. Daryk was once my protagonist, Alf’s, dearest friend and companion. Caught in a mage-trap during a battle, he has been turned against his will to the path of the dark god. Now he has abandoned the path of Aeos and has become Tauron’s highest priest.

In my current work,  Neveyah has recovered from a global disaster. The war of the gods brought three civilizations to their knees five hundred years prior. Additions have been made to the maps, and some places that are there in Edwin’s time are not there in Alf’s.

Humanity has emerged from the ruins, but the world is a different place. The tribes were sundered from each other, and the southern tribes no longer remember their roots—a source of tension between the two different cultures.

Now Neveyah is poised on the edge of another cultural change no matter which deity wins this skirmish in their ongoing battle. To survive, the disparate societies will have to work together under a strong leader. Who will that leader be, Alf or Daryk?

I have written the overarching story and the plot. The side characters are clear in my mind and on paper. The two most important characters, Alf and Daryk, are equally matched in abilities, but only one can succeed. The path before each character is difficult and the differences between them is clear. Alf’s companions are his greatest strength, and they serve Aeos beside him as equals and follow him out of respect. Daryk has only one close companion, his wife, and she is under a magic geas (spell) to serve him and his god.

Alf leads by reason and example—many times he has difficulty swaying people to what he believes is their only salvation. Daryk leads by force of will, and when that fails, he compels his wife to use her mind-magic to “make them understand.”

Historical figures of the stature of Alf and Daryk must embody personal charisma and great leadership ability. People must wholeheartedly believe in them and desire to dedicate their lives to following them. My current mission is to understand what makes these two people charismatic enough to be great leaders and figure out why each one could win. That final battle will decide the future of a world, and if I don’t make it epic, there is no point in writing the tale.

Epic battles require epic characters. Hopefully, over the next few weeks of getting to know these characters, I will know why each one deserves to succeed. My hope is that finishing the first draft of these two books will only take half a year—although it could take longer.

As I mentioned above, I do write slowly. This is because much of what I write ends up being rewritten based on beta readers’ comments–and new ideas that pop into my head at 03:00 in the morning.

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Mountains of the Moon Launches

Map of Neveyah, for MOTM 6-14-2015Mountains of the Moon is the newest release in the World of Neveyah. It is set in the same world as the Tower of Bones series but it is the original story that was written as the storyline for an old-school RPG game, along the lines of the early Final Fantasy games.

A prequel to Tower of Bones, the book follows the adventures of Wynn Farmer as he and his companions travel high into the mountains to stop the Tauron, Bull God, and his minotaurs from overrunning Neveyah. Nothing goes as it’s supposed to, and Wynn’s general naiveté often causes his companions serious trouble.

MOTM Front Cover Final 6-18-2015Wynn is seriously ignorant of the world in general, and at the outset, he’s in over his head, and he knows it. This book also introduces several characters as young men,  two of whom play a large role in the Tower of Bones series, Rall Ivarsson, and Jules Brendsson. Both these men figure strongly in later books, and at the time of Tower of Bones, Rall occupies the office of the Holy Seat, guiding the Temple of Aeos, and is the most powerful man in Neveyah.

Wynn’s story is sometimes hilarious and was fun to write–a contrast against the frequently dark situations they find themselves in. The world of Neveyah is a harsh place at times. Magic is a fundamental facet of life there, and many of the magical creatures that inhabit the world are just as deadly as the minotaur hordes of the Bull God.

THE BLURB:

Charged by the goddess Aeos, Wynn and his companions bicker and bumble their way through the Mountains of the Moon. Danger, mystery, and dark prophecies chase them through a gauntlet of jagged peaks and deadly traps.

Can they survive the dark secret hidden in Tauron’s crumbling castle before his minotaurs overrun Neveyah?

The Gods are at war, and Neveyah is the battlefield.

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Mountains of the Moon is on sale at these fine online stores for $2.99 ebook and $17.99 for paperbook:

Barnes and Noble for Nook or paperback

Amazon.com for Kindle or paperback

Also available at SmashWords in a variety of ebook formats for your phone or tablet!

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FOR CARLIE M.A. CULLEN’S REVIEW OF MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON, CLICK HERE Wow! She liked it!

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And also, a reminder that I will be signing books at AFK Elixers and Eatery all afternoon and evening tomorrow, Saturday the 27th of June, 2015. Please–feel free to stop in and chat! I will be there with local authors AJ Downey, Sechin Tower, Lee French,  Lindsay Schopfer, Stephen Matlock, David Moore and Jeffrey Cook.

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Baiting the hook

450px-Flyfishing wikipedia dot com

Flyfishing on river Sava Bohinjka, Slovenia photo by Ziga (PD)

You wrote the book. Your friends read it–you hope. At least they said they did, and they still like you. They tell you it’s a good book. They think it’s publishable, so you decide to go indie and self pub it. You spend the next year getting it edited and having a flashy cover designed. You even have a launch date picked out and feel reasonably sure you can get the book through the pipeline at CreateSpace by that date.

Now you are at the point where you must come up with some sort of a blurb.

This is where it gets fun.

Not.

There are many wonderful blurb-writing gurus out there on the internet, offering advice to those intrepid indies who would write that catchy morsel of blurbiness:

www.blurb.com

Marilyn Byerly 

Digital Book World

The Creative Penn

Yes, there are many websites offering us insight, and they all have great advice for us.  But putting that plethora of knowledge to practice is a bit daunting. 

They each approach it differently but when you distill it into a simple, linear form, it all boils down to variations on these concepts (in no particular order) for you to have in your head before you begin:

  • Use words that clearly evoke the genre
  • Keep it short– 100 to 300 words
  • Get the protagonist’s name out there early
  • Introduce the core conflict
  • Make it intriguing, mysterious–can this conflict be resolved?
  • Use a little hyperbole–stunning, denouement, and so on

The Internet Gurus also offer us this advice:

  • Don’t say what a great book it is
  • Don’t give spoilers
  • Don’t summarize the book (or even the first chapter)
  • Don’t be long-winded or wordy
  • Don’t say what a great writer you are
Back Cover of Mage-Guard of Hamor

Example of what NOT to put on back of book in lieu of proper blurb.

I would also offer this advice: keep it to less than 150 words and don’t skip writing the blurb. It has become popular for the Big 5 publishers to skip writing a blurb and just go with praises for the author’s other works, expecting that their name and fame will sell the book. This tells me that blurb writing is hard and even the the big guys don’t like it. Most big publishers, like Penguin, will have a marketing department.  Penguin puts blurbs on their books, so why the others can’t come up with a proper blurb is a mystery to me.

That might work for Stephen King or L.E. Modesitt Jr., but it won’t work for an unknown indie who is trying to build a reputation and a fan base.

Readers want to know what they are buying, and if they have no idea who you are, they don’t care what your friends think about your work. They aren’t going to touch it.

The blurb is a teaser.  It’s one part of a three-part lure, the only purpose of which is to entice a customer to buy your book.

Remember, you are fishing for readers and that blurb is part of the triangular bait:

  1. Part one is the flashy cover–even for ebooks that cover gets them to stop and look a bit closer, and
  2. the blurb is part two–the part that hooks them and gets them to crack it open.
  3. Part three of this lure is the words they read once they open the bookthat is when you land your fish, whether by ebook or by paperbook.

But until they have read your blurb, they won’t open the book, so they won’t know what wonder awaits them.

I am currently working on a blurb for a stand-alone book based in the world of Neveyah, the world the Tower of Bones Series is set in.  Where the Tower of Bones series can be rather dark, Mountains of the Moon has many comic elements.

Right now, this is my blurb. My head is numb, so I’m letting it sit for another week or so then I will revisit it and have my homies at Myrddin Publishing go over it one more time:

MOTM MAPHidden away in the Mountains of the Moon, the ruins of an immense castle harbor a dark secret: entire families have vanished from the valleys in the shadow of the mountains, leaving no trace. The elderly Baron Hemsteck hasn’t been seen for two seasons.

Four mages are sent to investigate. Wynn Farmer and his companions embark on a trek to learn the truth. Along their route, they must battle against the strange beasts controlled by a rogue mage and ultimately face an evil they never thought possible.

Danger, dark magic, and mystery await those who seek the truth in the Mountains of the Moon. The Gods are at war, and Neveyah is the battlefield.

We kept it down to 114 words, and managed to get the World of Neveyah series tag-line in on the end of it.

Sigh. I admit I am not good at writing blurbs for my own books, but I do have a large posse of author-friends who are more than willing to help me hone that blurb. When the back cover is finished, I will have a concise blurb that will hopefully entice readers to read my book.

Finally, at the end of June,  I will reveal the cover.  I am pretty excited about this new book. I can hardly wait!

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