About Ryan Mueller

I'm an author of epic fantasy. I like to take the classic themes of epic and high fantasy and add a few modern twists. My influences include Brandon Sanderson, Brent Weeks, J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert Jordan, and many others. I'm also an author of middle grade and young adult fantasy. My influences here include J.K. Rowling, Brandon Mull, and Rick Riordan. Magic features heavily in my stories, and I prefer to have my main characters on the good side of the morality spectrum. That's not to say they don't have flaws, just that I'm a little weary of the Grimdark movement in fantasy. My stories can get dark at times, but I still inject optimism and human decency into them. I may also try science fiction at some point. Pretty much, I love anything under the speculative fiction umbrella (for any age category).

Considering big changes

My writing journey over the last few years has been very much up and down. It was a great feeling to publish my first book, and then a few more after that. But it has also been a struggle looking at meager sales and mixed reviews. In retrospect, there are a lot of things I would change if I could do it all over again.

When I first decided to put all my series in a shared world, it seemed like a great idea. I love Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere after all. But as I’ve written, I’ve realized that I’ve allowed things to become too complex. This is mostly due to the fact that I’ve written most of my books with very little planning.

That’s the biggest thing I think I need to change. No doubt it’s fun to write by the seat of your pants, but I think it is holding me back (both in terms of quality and quantity). I’ve always been more of a big picture person, so this approach has run counter to my nature. I’m focusing on the immediate scene I’m writing instead of keeping the bigger picture in mind. Too often, when I don’t know what comes next, I just throw in a random action scene. While action scenes are fun, I think I need to remember that there’s a lot more to crafting a good story than writing whatever fun action scene comes to mind in the moment.

Overall, I still like what I’ve written, but it’s hard to look at it and not see the same flaws readers are pointing out to me. A lot of these flaws come from impatience. I didn’t want to sit down and plot out the story. I didn’t want to spend time making sure my characters were more fleshed out. I wanted to get to the good stuff. That might have worked for me because I knew the worlds and the characters so well, but it’s clearly not working for some readers, and that’s what really matters.

So now I’m caught in a place where I’m trying to figure out the best way to approach the rest of my writing career. Thankfully, I am now in a place with my day job situation where I no longer feel any pressure to look at writing as a significant source of income. This is giving me the chance to take a step back and evaluate where I really want to take things. There’s a part of me that wants to take the books I already have out and rework them with my new approach.

There’s also a part of me worried that I’m just experiencing a period of doubt. I do think it would probably be best for me to step back from the project I’m working on right now because it’s exhibiting all the elements of my writing that I’m finding problematic. I still love it, but I just don’t think it’s where it needs to be for me to take the next step with my writing career.

One of the big things I’m considering is relaunching my career under a pen name. I would probably just go by initials. If I did go this route, I would likely relaunch all the books I’ve already published, with significant changes (likely complete rewrites). It sounds like a daunting task, but if my new approach of greater planning allows me to write faster, it won’t be as much of an issue as I expect.

Regardless, I do think I’m going to start planning some new series to work on. I have a lot of ideas floating around in my head, and some planning would help me get them to a place where I can write them. I just need to remember to be patient with myself at first. I won’t be able to write the stories immediately, but once I do write them, all the planning I’m doing will make the writing go much more smoothly.

A new year, a new chance to get things rolling

I won’t lie. 2019 was possibly the toughest year I’ve ever been through. After my dad’s death in April, it felt like the rest of the year was a complete loss. I wrote maybe once or twice a month on average. I didn’t edit anything. My most recent published book was all the way back in May. This is not at all the way I envisioned the year going, but sometimes life gets in the way, and you have to take care of yourself.

Depression hit me really hard all year. My job in retail got to the point that it was sucking out whatever joy I still had life. Every day felt like a great ordeal, and there were so many times I just wanted to stay in bed all day. Even when I got out of bed (on the rare days I didn’t have to work), I rarely had the energy to do anything productive. I watched Youtube videos for hours on end because that was all I had the energy to do.

In many ways, I feel like I lost contact with who I am and what I enjoy. I stopped writing. I stopped reading. I did still play some of the games I enjoy, but that was about it. Everything in life was crushing me mentally and emotionally.

But 2020 is a new year. Due to getting sick, I’ve had my first break from work in a few months, and even though I’ve been sick, I’ve begun to feel more energy to do the things I enjoy. I also got some great news today from a company I applied to for an engineering job. I’ve now accepted an offer to work there, and assuming everything goes all right with background checks and such, I will finally be working in my field.

Sure, it will be a full-time job, but it will be in a field I enjoy. In fact, it’s the part of the field I enjoyed the most in school. I feel like it’s the perfect job for me, and perhaps that’s why I got so many rejections before. It was so that I’d get the right job.

The mere thought that I won’t be trapped in retail for eternity feels like a giant burden removed. Similarly, my salary will be six times higher than what I was making. With that kind of financial security, I can stop stressing so much about money. That stress won’t be gone, but it will be much easier knowing I can actually save some money.

That brings me back to writing. I’ve written each of the last two days (about 700 words yesterday and about 1,000 today). These aren’t huge days, but it’s something, and that’s my goal for this year. I want to write at least a little bit almost every day. I’m not going to hold myself to a word count goal or a goal of writing every day. I’ve tried both in the past, and they make me resent writing. Instead, I’m just going to write and see how far my mind takes me. I may have days when I write only one sentence, but it’s still a sentence. It still means I’m not going months without writing anything.

I don’t know if I can keep this up, but I feel like this is the best chance I have. The new year gives me an opportunity for a fresh start, both in writing and in the rest of my life.

I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth.

I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted any updates here. The last few months have hit me with some of the worst depression I’ve ever suffered, at least since going on medication. For a while, I thought I was handling my dad’s death, but it apparently just took time for the loss to really hit me.

Today is the first day in a long time that I’ve felt there might be a light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve managed a little writing, and that felt good.

Right now, I think I have to take things in baby steps. If I force myself to write, it won’t end well. But maybe I can get back to it because it’s one of the things that helps me deal with all my struggles.

An Update

I know it’s been a month since I’ve written anything here. It has been very hard getting through the last month since my dad’s death. I have only written sporadically. There have been so many other things on my mind as well. I just graduated with my electrical engineering degree, and I’m in the middle of the job hunt.

As such, this poor blog has been sadly neglected. I’m hoping I can change that. With every day that passes, my world gets a little closer to being normal. It’s nowhere near normal yet, but it’s better than it was.

Right now, I’m about halfway through the first draft of the second book of a series I’ve titled The Dark Essence War. I was very happy with how the first book turned out, and I’m enjoying writing this one so far (when I actually have the time and energy to write).

I need to get back to editing Sunlord, the final book of the Sunweaver trilogy, so that I can get that complete trilogy out and move on to my next book.

That would be Watersong, the first book of The God War’s Chosen. I feel like it just might be the strongest series I’ve written so far. The Dark Essence War could top it, but it’s not complete yet.

That’s one of the fun things about being a writer. With every project, you find yourself more and more as a writer, and you grow, often in unexpected ways. At times, I look back on Empire of Chains, my first published book, and realize just how much I’ve grown as a writer in the last few years.

Right now, I’m trying not to have anything set in stone as far as deadlines go. I’m still processing the grief from my father’s death, and I don’t want to push myself too hard until I’m sure I can handle it emotionally.

As always, thank you for reading, and if you’re looking to try out some of my work, Sunweaver and Empire of Chains are both available for only $0.99 (or free with Kindle Unlimited).

Empire of Chains


And if you enjoy any of my books, please do take the time to leave a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Heck, even if you don’t enjoy it, I guess you can leave a review anyway (though I won’t be quite as happy about it).

Trying to Write through Grief.

In my last post, I mentioned my father breaking a hip. At the time, it seemed bad, but that was nothing compared to what followed. As it turns out, the reason he was falling was because his liver was failing, and it made him unsteady and messed with his thinking.

He spent a few weeks in rehab for the hip, and at first, he was getting better. But then he was retaining a lot of fluid, and they finally sent him back to the hospital, where they discovered that his liver was failing, and it had caused his kidneys to fail as well.

He died Monday night. There was nothing the doctors could do for him but make him more comfortable in his final days.

Even though he was 76 years old, this still came as a shock to us. Just a couple of months ago, he was going about his life normally. Sure, he was unsteady at times, but we thought that was a combination of being old and taking a lot of medications for other health problems.

So now I’m grieving because his death has left a major hole in my life. With the exception of the four years I went away to school, I’ve always lived with my parents. Now it looks like it will just be my mom and me. I have to be there for her. She is only 57 years old, but she has a lot of chronic pain and needs my help to get through her days without making her pain any worse than it has to be. Before, she’d always had my dad to help her with simple tasks like cooking and shopping.

Now I feel like there’s so much more on my plate, and it’s tough to think that he’s dead, that I’ll never get to talk to him again (at least in this world).

I’ve been slowly trying to get back to some semblance of my normal life. Tonight, for the first time since he went into the hospital, I managed to do some writing. It was only 700 words, but it’s a step back toward normality.

Nothing will ever be the same again, but I know my dad wouldn’t want me to stop living my life. It will be a long process, but I feel writing is part of how I can cope.

An Update: Family Health Issues, Academic Struggles, and Deadlines

I’ve been rather quiet on here lately. My life outside of writing has gotten very hectic lately. Last week, my dad fell and broke his hip, and between hospital visits and seeing him while he’s rehabbing, I’ve been very busy. There are a lot of things I have to do to take care of my mom as well because she’s not in much better condition.

My final semester of engineering school has also been demanding. Today, I got back the midterm in one of my classes, and let’s just say I need to put a lot more time into that class for the rest of the semester.

Somehow, I’ve still managed to do some writing, but not as much as I would like. I think I may also put the writing of new material on hold until my semester is over. Well, maybe not completely on hold, but I’ll definitely dial things back a bit.

That being said, I have set a release date of April 30th for Fireweaver, the second book of my Sunweaver trilogy. I intend to meet that deadline. There isn’t that much editing left to do, and I’m confident I can carve out the time to make it happen.

World in Chains: The Complete Series on sale for $2.99 through 3/18

I’m running a major sale on my World in Chains box set right now. Through this week, you can get all four books for only $2.99 instead of the usual $9.99. That’s four long books of epic fantasy adventure for the price of one. You can also read the entire series for free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription.

World in Chains: The Complete Series

What I’m working on.

It has been a while since I’ve done any kind of update on my writing progress, so I thought I’d let everyone in on what’s going on.

Right now, I’m editing Fireweaver, the second book of my Sunweaver trilogy. So far, the edits are going well, but it will still take some time because I need to do some light editing on the third book, Sunlord, before publishing Fireweaver. I want to make sure I don’t have any continuity errors.

I am also in the process of drafting Essence Blade, the first novel of a new series I’ve titled Essence Warrior. This series could be anywhere from three books to five books. I haven’t figure that out just yet. Right now, I’m about halfway through the drafting the first book. After that, I’d like to work on the second book of Essence Warrior, but I may find I need a break from the world.

Here are my current publishing plans:

I’m anticipating Fireweaver releasing sometime this spring, with Watersong, the first book of another trilogy (The God War’s Chosen), following during the summer.

After that, I will publish Sunlord, most likely during the fall or early winter, completing the Sunweaver trilogy.

After that, I will publish Godchild, the second book of The God War’s Chosen. My plans beyond that obviously include the final book of The God War’s Chosen. They also depend on how much progress I’ve made with the Essence Warrior series and any other projects that might catch my interest by then.

As always, thanks for reading.

Book Review: Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

I’ve always been a huge Sanderson fan, so I was interested to see how he’d tackle a story outside his fantasy wheelhouse. At first, the story didn’t quite give me the same feeling I get from Sanderson novels. Through the first half of the book, it was good but nothing special.

But then things started to come together in that amazing way Sanderson always does it. The second half of the book was great, and I had to know the answers to the various mysteries of the world Sanderson had created.

As far as worldbuilding goes, this is quite different from Sanderson’s usual work. It’s a far-future science fiction setting. It’s not hard science fiction by any means, but it’s definitely not his usual epic fantasy.

The characters were one of the greatest strengths of this book. The main character, Spensa, was a bit annoying at first, but over the course of the book, she developed into a better character. Even some of the characters you didn’t like at first came around in the end.

The action was perhaps not as frequent as I would have liked. There was a lot of time devoted to training exercises, which aren’t always the most interesting. But when the action did happen, it came fast and furious and had me glued to the pages. The last third of the book was especially great in this regard, as everything came together in the so-called “Sanderstorm.”

Overall, I really liked this one. It’s not my favorite Sanderson novel, but that’s a difficult standard to measure up to.

Rating: 9/10


Book Review: Valley of Embers by Steven Kelliher

The first thing that stands out to me about this book is the author’s writing style. Kelliher has a slightly more poetic style than I’m used to seeing in fantasy, using a great deal of figurative language. Apart from that, the prose is also very readable. The book was also paced very well, keeping me turning pages because something interesting was almost always happening.

The battle sequences in the last twenty percent of the book were also a joy to read. They gave me that frantic feeling I love getting during the climax of a book. The revelations at the very end also have my excited to read the rest of the series.

But I do have a few criticisms. While the pacing was great for keeping the story going, I felt at times that the characters didn’t get as much time to develop as I would have liked. I liked most of them well enough, but I didn’t feel as much of an emotional connection as I would have liked. That connection grew as the story went on, so I’m hoping it continues in the following books.

On the editing front, I did notice a few typos, but nothing that’s a dealbreaker as far as I’m concerned.

Rating: 8.5/10