writing

I have finished the fourth draft of The Shadowed Land.

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With the completion of this draft, now I have only proofreading and formatting left before I can publish The Shadowed Land, the second book (out of four) in my World in Chains series.

Find Empire of Chains here.

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As a reminder, here’s the cover for The Shadowed Land.

2017-414 Ryan W Mueller b02

Writing feels good.

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Lately, I’ve been focusing a lot on editing my various projects to get them ready for publication. Between that and school and my depression, it has been hard to get into any kind of writing zone. Today, I’ve written about 2,000 words in Godchild.

It’s easy to forget the joy that comes with writing sometimes. In fact, focusing on my self-publishing career has sometimes taken the joy out of writing. I’m more conscious now of every writing decision I make. In some ways, that’s a good thing. It will mean a better product in the end. But it’s also paralyzing. At times, I don’t want to write at all because I’m worried everyone will hate it.

I have to push through this self-doubt. On days like today, it feels good to get the words down. We’ll see if I can keep it going.

Progress update.

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I’ve been rather quiet lately (both on here and in the writing department). Getting used to a new semester at school has been more challenging than I thought it would be, which has led to me getting a lot less writing done. After three weeks, I think I’m starting to settle into a rhythm. It also helps that I finally got my job to cut my hours like I told them to a month ago. (Don’t worry. I can afford the reduction in hours.)

With things settling down, I think I can get back into the groove with writing and editing. I’ve been fighting my depression lately, but today it feels like it’s lifting a bit. Let’s hope that remains the case.

Unfortunately, I did remove a lot of the tentative release dates from the site. I still hope to meet those deadlines, but I don’t want to make any promises I can’t keep, and I’d rather take a little longer if it means putting a better product out there. I’ll provide updates on release dates as I feel that projects are ready. I’ll still try to keep you updated more generally on what’s in the pipeline.

At this point, my life is a bit of a balancing act. At least it keeps me busy.

Updates on the tentative release schedule.

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This may not be the most exciting post I’ve ever written. In fact, it may be a bit disappointing. I’ve determined that I don’t think I’ll be able to keep the release schedule I previously had published here. Or at least I don’t think I can do it without sacrificing too much in other areas of life.

I still intend to release a book at intervals of roughly three months. In the world of self-publishing, a lot of authors are producing six, seven, eight books a year. Someday, I may get to the point that I can do that. For now, though, I have too many other commitments, and I don’t want to rush and put an inferior product out there. Quantity is important, but it doesn’t matter how many books you publish a year. If they aren’t any good, people won’t read them.

This decision has led to some alterations on my Release Schedule page. The Shadowed Land is still slated for release either late this month or early next month. The next book I’ll release will be Sunweaver, the first book of a new trilogy. Currently, I have this slated for December, but I may be able to get it out sooner because I’ve done a lot of editing on it already. If this happens, I can probably move up the overall release schedule a bit.

The key for me is not pushing myself too hard. When I do that, I tend to go through periods of major burnout, and that’s a losing situation for everyone. I hope nobody will be too disappointed by this news. But it’s a necessary change for me as a person and a writer. The stories you get will be much better if I take a little more time on them.

I may have had a sort of breakthrough today.

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I had to work this evening. For those who don’t know, I work in the Shoe department of a retail chain while I’m going to school for Electrical Engineering. It was Friday night, so it was pretty slow. That gave me a lot of time to think, and I came to a realization. I don’t need to write huge epics. In fact, I would prefer to write shorter books loaded with action (not that my epics don’t have action, of course). In fact, my books would still have a lot of the more epic characteristics, just with smaller page counts. This may lead me to write more books in a series, but that isn’t a problem.

The big thing I want to do is write the kind of entertaining stories that keep the reader glued to the pages. While I enjoy longer and slower epic fantasy as a reader, I don’t think those are the books I’m trying to write. I’m sure anyone who’s read Empire of Chains can see that I’m not the kind of author who spends pages and pages on worldbuilding. That’s just not my strength. I prefer to focus on the characters and the plot and fill in relevant details about the world as I go.

My general rule: If I’m bored writing it, then the reader will be bored reading it, and I should either cut it or rework it.

Some of my more recent projects may already be trending in this direction. My World in Chains series has somewhat epic word counts, ranging from 120,000 to 170,000 words. My Sunweaver trilogy, on the other hand, has every book coming in between 104,000 and 105,000 words (I have no idea how I managed that). The first book of my God War trilogy comes in at about 114,000, and I’m anticipating the second book being somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000. (Side note: there was a sudden jump in my progress on Godchild because I adjusted my word count goal from 120,000 to 100,000.) Looking at these more recent word counts, I’ve come to realize that I’ve been trending toward shorter novels for a while now.

This style of fantasy may not appeal to everyone. I know there are a lot of fantasy readers who read for the immersion in a detailed world. I enjoy that kind of fantasy myself. But it is outside my strengths as a writer. That doesn’t mean I may not come back to it at some point. That’s one of the fun things about the self-publishing career path I’m taking. I can experiment without worrying too much about failing.

Thanks for reading my rambling. I promise my books are a bit more focused. If you haven’t read it already, I encourage you to take a chance on Empire of Chains. The second book, The Shadowed Land, should be out either late this month or early next month. The next two should follow at roughly three-month intervals after that. The first book of Sunweaver should be coming out late next month, with a similar three months between each book’s release.

If you haven’t signed up already, there’s a spot on the right side of my website where you can sign up for my mailing list. I will not send out constant mailings. Usually, I send out a newsletter only when I have a new release or have a special sale going on.

Finding balance as a writer.

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This post is kind of a Part 2 (yesterday’s post was Part 1). I’ve been thinking more and more on what I want out of life and out of my writing career in particular. Today, I was eliminated from the Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off, which leads me to more thinking. Any hopes of a near-future writing career were dependent on success in the competition. That obviously didn’t happen, but that doesn’t mean I should give up.

But I think it may also be a sign that I need to find balance in my life again. I’ve put a lot into writing, to the point that it has almost become an obsession. That’s the surest way to burn out. I need to dial things back a bit and approach writing from the standpoint of having fun again. All this worrying about the success of my writing career has completely killed my writing productivity, oddly enough.

I also think this could help me do better. The more fun I have writing, the more fun my readers will have reading, and that’s the most important thing to me.

Am I pushing myself too hard?

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Just less than two months ago, I published Empire of Chains, my first published novel (though not the first I’ve written). Since then, it has been a roller-coaster ride of emotions. On the good days, I love what I’m doing. On the bad days, I get demoralized. This happens most often whenever a bad review trickles in. I worry that people will see that review and no one will buy the book.

At the same time, I have a set of deadlines I want to meet to get more books out there. As it is, I’ll go from one published book to seven within a year. All of these books are written, so they only need to go through editing, and I don’t anticipate having too many issues meeting my various deadlines.

Where¬† I run into trouble is producing new material. I’m halfway through the second book of another trilogy right now, and I’d like to have the entire thing written by March, when I’m getting cover art done for the series. But lately my depression has been hitting me hard, and I’ve barely been making any progress. Part of this is my normal depression. Part of it might also be worry about my overall writing career. I’m putting so much pressure on myself in writing my books, and my perfectionism is rearing its ugly head. I keep thinking I’m just not good enough, and that paralyzes me as a writer.

I need to reclaim the sense of fun I used to feel when writing, but I’m not sure how to do that. Choosing this as a potential career has not had the effect I thought it would, and that leads me to think that maybe I need to back up a bit with my expectations.

I need to have fun writing. I need to publish my books because I’ll be happy if just a few readers really enjoy them. I’m currently in school for electrical engineering, and that’s a worthwhile career that I should also find interesting. There’s no reason I have to go all-or-nothing on the writing thing.

My goal is not to slow down in my writing. It’s to take some of the pressure off myself and just enjoy the writing process again.