Change of Plans

Back in April, I mentioned that I was putting self-publishing on hold. That was mostly due to the demands of a double major. Well, since then, I’ve realized that financially I can only afford my Engineering major, not both. I’ll have a lot more time now because…

  1. I’ll be in class less time.
  2. I’ll have less homework.
  3. I won’t have to work as many hours to pay for school.

So now I think I can go ahead with my self-publishing plans. I already sent out a request for cover art for Empire of Chains. It’ll be a few months before I get a cover, though. In the meantime, I’ll do another editing pass or two to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

I’ve also been working on Empire of Chains book three (The Gilded Empire). It’s proving to be the most challenging book I’ve written because I feel on the edge of having too much going on. Strangely enough, however, it’s probably going to be shorter than Empire of Chains and The Shadowed Land (book two). I guess that’s just how those things work out.

Empire of Chains is about 166,000 words. The Shadowed Land is about 146,000 words. So far, I’m at the 102,000 mark in The Gilded Empire. I expect another 20,000 or so words before I’m finished.

I currently have two other series in the works: Sunweaver and The God War. I plan to write multiple series at once because I think I’m a lot like Brandon Sanderson. I need to switch things up to keep things fresh. Thankfully, I’m also a fast writer like Sanderson.

My New Writing Plans

I’ve had a lot going on these last few months. Sorry that I haven’t been posting regularly. Between school and work and taking care of my parents, it has been a bit difficult to find time to write and do my usual internet rounds.

But I have finally found the time to write again. Or, more accurately, I made the time. I’ve developed a new goal for my daily writing. I don’t expect to hit any certain word count. The key thing is that I write at least a little bit every day. More often than not, a few words end up turning into 1,000 or 2,000, or even 3,000+.

I’m also trying to perfect my writing process. I don’t think I’m a pure outliner or pure pantser. My process is a mix of the two. I don’t go completely by the seat of my pants because I do have some idea of where I’m going, but I allow myself a lot of freedom within my mental outline. It makes the writing process a lot of fun.

Just today, I pulled off a nice twist that I wouldn’t have thought of if I’d planned everything out. On the other hand, though, I don’t want to completely lose myself to these nice twists. After a while, they become just plain stupid.


As for my self-publishing plans, I’m putting them on hold for the moment. Right now, I’m in school doing a double major in Electrical Engineering and Physics. I can still make the time to write, but there’s only so much time in the day, and if I’m going to do the whole self-publishing thing, I want to have the time to do it right.

Plus, I’m enjoying what I’m studying. I want to do that right, too.

If you’re interested in any of my projects, I’m always happy to find willing beta readers, and I’m perfectly willing to beta something of yours in return.

Book Review: Altar of Influence by Jacob Cooper

Early this year, I ran across a gem of a self-published fantasy: Circle of Reign by Jacob Cooper. I knew the author from the SFFWorld forums, so I decided to give his book a shot. I ended up really enjoying it.

I think I liked his prequel, Altar of Influence, even better. Cooper has done a great job with his characters, his world, and his plot. In this one, he expands the backstory of some of the characters and events mentioned in Circle of Reign.

Cooper has created a world that feels both different and vibrant. There are quite a few characters, but they’re easy to keep track of. The writing isn’t always perfect, but it didn’t bother me. I was so lost in the world Cooper created and in his great ability to write extended action scenes.

I think you can start either with this book or with Circle of Reign. They’re both great reads that prove some self-publishers are doing it right.

Rating: 9/10

Embracing variety.

One of my biggest struggles as a writer has been the tendency to engage in all-or-nothing thinking. I can self-publish OR I can trade publish. I can write adult OR I can write young adult and middle grade.

Lately, I’ve been working hard to change those ORs to ANDs. That’s part of the fun of self-publishing. You don’t necessarily know what’s going to happen. One type of your writing could take off, and it might not be the type you expect.

I’ve also heard that variety can be very good for some authors in self-publishing. The more you put out there, the more you might attract readers to all of your work who might never have found it in the first place. I know I’ve sought out books outside my preferred genres if they’re by an author I like.

Thankfully, with my writing, I won’t be too crazy in my genre spread. Generally speaking, I write fantasy and science fiction across adult, young adult, and middle grade age categories. I figure I can’t be the only person who enjoys reading these genres regardless of the age group.

That brings me to another advantage of self-publishing. It’s given me the freedom to be the author I want to be. If one book doesn’t sell, I can always move on to another. Obviously, I’d like to make a good income from self-publishing, but that is no guarantee. At first, I’ll be content if I can make back the money I’m spending to publish the books (I’m talking cover art, editing, etc.). IMPORTANT: You should never pay a publisher to publish your book. You can do just as well on your own with lower costs.

At some point, I’m hoping I’ll see the positive effects of having a large backlist. From what I’ve read, that’s how most self-publishers achieve success. Once they have out a lot of books, people who like one book or series are likely to check out what else the author has written.

It’ll be a while before I reach that point. I’m a fast writer, but I’m not that fast.

For now, I’m hoping to enjoy the ride. As I stated in my last post, I’ve submitted a request for cover art. That process should start in mid January. I’m hoping to release Sunweaver sometime in February with Empire of Chains (the first in another series) following shortly thereafter.

I’ve also begun work on my middle grade fantasy series again. I know that MG is notoriously tough to self-publish, and that’s why I’m not starting out with it. If all goes according to plan with that, you might see its release sometime next summer.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that something else will grab my attention in the near future. I have a few YA ideas that are asking to be written. There’s also my other epic fantasy series, The God War.

In all, that’s going to be a lot to consider, but it should also be fun. After all, I’d write these books even if I couldn’t self-publish them.

I sent out a request for cover art today.

So I decided it was time to stop debating. I’m going to self-publish, and it’s time to get a good cover. I went with Deranged Doctor Designs because I was impressed by their body of work. If everything goes well, I will hopefully have a great cover in a few months, and then I can publish the book. I’m actually doing what will probably be the final read-through right now. Well, there might be another one or two because I’m paranoid about publishing something with grammatical errors or typos (and therefore being one of those self-published authors.

I’m really excited to get Sunweaver out for the world to read. I know I won’t attract a ton of readers at first, but I hope I can find enough readers who love the story even half as much as I do.

As for Empire of Chains, I’m putting it on hold for the moment. I need to decide if it’s truly the type of story I want it to be. Don’t get me wrong. I like it. I’m just not sure if it’s the best it can be.

We’ll see. I might change my mind on that.

I also think I’m going to get back to my revision work on Watersong (though I’m still not sure if that’ll be the final title. Any feedback on it would be appreciated). I’d like to publish both series (it and Sunweaver) at the same time.

I hope I can keep up the kind of pace I need to do that.

Book Review: House of Blades by Will Wight

Here’s another on my list of self-published fantasy gems. I’ve been finding so many of them that it’s kind of weird to keep calling them gems. Clearly, there’s a lot of good stuff out there in self-published land. Is it outnumbered by stuff that’s not so good? Probably. But if you know what you want as a reader, you can find stuff you’ll like. I’ve never bought the whole “wading through tides of crap” argument. Generally, I’ve found it’s pretty easy to separate the crap from the stuff I’d actually like.

I chose this particular book because I found it in my Goodreads recommendations after finishing another self-published fantasy that I really enjoyed (it might have been Mitchell Hogan’s A Crucible of Souls, which is no longer self-published). I’m glad that I gave Wight a chance.

This is fantasy that definitely has a traditional feel to it in some ways. The plot is relatively simple. It’s a training/quest story. On the surface, that makes it sound like a thousand other fantasies out there. What separates this book from many others out there is that Wight developed a fascinating system of magic. In that way, it reminded me of something by Brandon Sanderson. The way he handled his magic also made the training section great fun to read. It wasn’t endless studying of spells. The main character developed his abilities through facing dangerous situations. He didn’t really have any guidance, and that made it all the more exciting.

For most of the book, this was a solid 8/10. I liked it, but it wasn’t blowing me away. Then we hit the last 30 percent or so. From that point on, it was constant action, and I got that frantic feeling I love getting during well-done action scenes. That feeling, combined with some interesting revelations at the end, pushed my rating up to a 9/10.

If you’re a fan of the modern Grimdark movement in fantasy, this story probably isn’t for you. But if you, like me, are longing to see modern takes on classic fantasy, this is a great read. I should warn you that it also might not appeal to you if you’re not a fan of young adult fantasy. While I wouldn’t call this book a YA fantasy, it did feel like one at times. For me, that isn’t a bad thing, as I also love a good YA fantasy.

Overall, I was very happy with this one, and I will read more by Wight. I’m especially intrigued by his newest series. I love the idea of looking at a conflict from both sides.

Rating: 9/10

An Update

I’ve been gone for a while. I hope I can stop doing that soon. It’s been a bit of a strange period for me. I’ve been adjusting to the demands of school, work, and writing. In the last month, I’ve made some decent progress on The Shadowed Land. It is now roughly 2/3 of the way done (well, the first draft at least). I might actually be closer to the end than that. My word count goal is just a rough guess of what I think the book will be in the end.

I’m happy with the way it’s turning out. As usual, I have a nice healthy dose of action. For me, it’s just not a story if I don’t throw in some battles and monsters and chase scenes.

The Shadowed Land is perhaps the most challenging book I’ve ever written. I’m balancing four stories in one, and that’s more than I’ve ever done before. My usual number is three (or fewer in the case of my middle grade fantasy).

Speaking of which, I’ve been working a little bit on that middle grade fantasy. It’s titled The Man in the Crystal Prison, and it’s kind of a “what if” game with Harry Potter. Instead of a low-tech magical world, I’ve decided to merge magic and technology into one. In my mind, that can be even more exciting. It combines my two favorite genres: fantasy and science fiction.

But I probably shouldn’t talk too much about that one just yet. For now, my focus is on the Empire of Chains series and the Sunweaver series. The God War series, starting with Watersong, will probably factor in at some point. I’ll have to see how much I can manage to do without driving myself insane (oh, the joys of stress and mental illness).

While I hate to admit it, I’ve been going back and forth again on self-publishing. Today, I decided I should go through with it. Let’s hope that decision sticks this time. I’m tired of wondering how I would do.

I really think I can make this work. My biggest doubts aren’t about the books. I think they’re ready.  No, it’s the marketing that terrifies me. I definitely have an online presence. I’m a member of some writing and genre-related forums (an active member, I should note). But I’m still getting the hang of Twitter. I have close to a hundred followers, which is pretty good when you consider that I haven’t been all that active.

I also know some other authors who’ve done the self-publishing thing with decent success. I can always ask them questions. It’s just terrifying (as I’ve probably said many times before).

So that’s what’s been going on with me.