Sunweaver Book 3 is finished.

I have now completed the first draft of my entire Sunweaver series. That’s on top of having my entire World in Chains series written. That means that my readers can expect both series over the course of the next year, once I edit and get cover art.

I had an 8,000 word sprint today to finish Sunlord, the third book in the trilogy. It had one of my favorite action sequences yet to conclude the book, and the book is pretty action-packed throughout. I’m excited to get to work on editing it, though that will likely wait awhile because I still have to edit the last three books of World in Chains.

I will probably take a short break from writing. I usually do that after finishing a book to give me just a little time for the creative juices to recharge. I’m not sure which project will be the next one. I may do a few trial runs with my various ideas and see which one grabs me the most.

The God War is one of my series, and I have written the first draft of the first book. I’m anticipating it being three books long, just like Sunweaver, so that may be where I go next. But I also have another series I’ve started that I’m really excited about. It’s so tough to make these decisions sometimes.

An Update: Sunweaver Book 3, World in Chains edits, and some random thoughts on writing huge epics.

I’m 71,000 words into the final book of my Sunweaver trilogy. Things are really shaping up nicely as I approach the end. I expect the book to be somewhere between 100,000 words and 110,000 words, making it roughly the same length as the first two in the series.

I’m also busy editing Book 2 of World in Chains. I hope I can get that one in good enough shape to have it out toward the end of the summer or in the early fall. I’ve written the entire series, which is what I plan to do for all my series at the moment.

I may come to a point where I have a series that’s too long for that method to work. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I have Wheel of Time style epics swimming around. I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to writing them, and when I do, they might be shorter series to begin with. I don’t get quite as epic in my word count as some epic fantasy authors. The longest of any of my books is the first draft of World in Chains book 4, which stands at about 170,000 words. That’s nothing compared to one of Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive books.

Within the next week, I should begin the cover art process for Empire of Chains. Hopefully that all goes smoothly, and I have the cover ready by the end of the month. In the meantime, I will likely run through the book a couple more times to check for any typos that have eluded me this long.

Why I stopped outlining.

In the plotter vs. “pantser” (one who writes by the seat of their pants) debate, I used to be firmly on the plotter side. I’m generally a structured person, or at least more structured than a lot of creative types. I’m an Electrical Engineering student in addition to being a writer, so I use a lot of my left brain.

Because of that, I always thought I should outline my books. At times, this has worked for me, but I’ve discovered more and more that I get my best ideas as I’m in the flow of the story. Outlining is an entirely different process. I don’t quite feel the story the same way, and my ideas are less inventive.

This becomes especially clear when I write series. The farther I get into writing a series, the more likely I am to deviate from my original outline. I got to the point where I was doing this so much that I decided I should just throw out the outline altogether.

However, that might be too extreme of a response. I don’t quite make up everything as I go. I form a mental outline. I know where I want to get, but if I discover something more interesting along the way, I’m perfectly happy to alter my mental plans.

This can lead to some inconsistencies between books, and that’s part of the reason I’ve decided that I will generally write an entire series before publishing any of it. That way, if I introduce something important in book 3 or 4, I can go back and throw in some hints toward it in book 1. A lot of planners are able to do this kind of thing because they outline the entire series in advance. I’ve tried, and it simply doesn’t work like that for me.

When I was considering trade publishing, I always had issues with throwing away the outline because trade publishing tends to work differently. You rarely write the entire series before publishing any of it. I know Michael J. Sullivan (author of the very good Riyria Revelations, Riyria Chronicles, and Legends of the First Empire series) does this. But he did start out self-publishing.

Now that I’ve decided to go with self-publishing, I can write my series however I want, and writing them this way helps me to give you a plot with a lot more interesting twists and turns.

That’s not to say I throw away the outline completely. I’ve been known to outline a few chapters ahead of where I am. That can help me write more quickly during my writing sessions because I’m not figuring out what’s going to happen next. More often, my mental outline is good enough to carry me through, and I’m able to figure out the details as I write.

The key thing as a writer is finding a process that works for you. This process works for me right now. In the future, I may decide to go back to outlining. I don’t think you should ever get stuck thinking there’s only one way to write that works for you. Writing is a continual process of experimentation, and every story is going to have different needs.

I submitted to the SPFBO today.

For those who aren’t familiar with the acronym, that stands for the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off. It’s a contest run by fantasy author Mark Lawrence, and it’s in its third year. I’ve read a few of the books from the last year, and I’ve been generally impressed. Now I’m hoping I can have some success with my own work.

Speaking of which, I have my release scheduled for June 30th. That’s the day you can get your hands on Empire of Chains. I will have the Kindle version ready by then for sure, and hopefully my cover art will be in place. If it isn’t, you might have to wait a while yet on a paperback version.

I’m both excited and terrified. This is a path I never would have imagined myself taking a few years ago. But it feels like the right path for me now. It may not yield immediate success, but I’m okay with that. I will not stop writing.

Fireweaver is finished.

Today, I finished the first draft of Fireweaver, the second book in my Sunweaver series. That’s two books down and one more to go. This series will probably come out once I get my entire World in Chains series out to readers, so it’s still a while down the road before it will be ready for readers’ eyes.

I had a big push these last two days, writing over 11,000 words over the two days combined. That often happens to me when I get close to the end of the book. I become so excited about what I’m writing, and the words simply flow.

This one has a few rough spots that I need to smooth out when it comes to revisions. I won’t deny that. But for the moment, my revision efforts will be focused mostly on The Shadowed Land, book 2 in World of Chains. I expect to start writing the last book in the Sunweaver trilogy soon.

I’ve discovered that the best writing method for me is to write an entire series before moving forward with it. I tend to write without a definite plan in mind, so there are sometimes inconsistencies between books that I have to iron out before I can publish.

 

In other news, it should be less than two months before I get my cover art for Empire of Chains, the first book of World in Chains. I’m not sure about the timetable for the rest of the series just yet, but Empire of Chains is still on track for this summer.

Fantasy Video Games: Distraction or Inspiration

As a fantasy writer, I am naturally a fan of the genre in all its forms. Books, movies, video games–basically, if it’s fantasy, I’ll probably be a fan of it. But that raises an important question. As a fantasy writer, should you focus on books alone, or should you branch out into other areas for inspiration?

Personally, I think there’s a lot to be gained from fantasy video games. But I could be biased in that. Part of the reason I got into writing fantasy was from playing some of my favorite Square RPGs as a kid on the Super Nintendo. Those games helped me fall in love with the genre (and then I read Harry Potter, and I was doomed to be a fantasy fan and writer for the rest of my life).

One of the biggest places where video games help me is in crafting my settings. The best video games these days, in all their beautiful graphical glory, depict some absolutely stunning settings. I’m a pretty visual person, but I would have trouble coming up with some of these settings on my own. However, now that I’ve seen these beautiful images, I can use them as inspiration and make them into something that’s all my own.

Some of the best story-driven games also feature characters you fall in love with. The great thing about these games is that they are usually forced to show instead of tell. Generally, in a video game, you do not see a character’s internal thoughts. Everything must be conveyed through dialogue and visuals. And some games do this quite well. For example, I recently played the remastered version of Final Fantasy X. I felt such a strong connection to the characters in this one, and the story had me in tears a few times.

When it comes to stories, though, you have to be careful about how much inspiration you take from video games. In an RPG, you face a lot of minor battles, which are interesting in that format. In a novel, however, you cannot have your characters fighting Slimes every two pages. That’s going to get old very quickly. If you’re going to have battles, you have to be careful about which ones you show, or you’ll risk making your story repetitive.

Then we come to the all-important question. How much time should you spend playing fantasy video games? These games can use up a lot of your time, and if you’re not careful, you’ll spend your time playing games instead of writing.

As a writer, you should always focus on your writing. Whatever your writing goals are, it’s important that you hit them with consistency, and if playing video games is using up too much of your time, you’ll have to cut back.

Consistency is Key

When it comes to writing, I’ve heard from many writers that the biggest thing you need for productivity and longevity as a writer is the ability to write consistently. You don’t write only when you’re inspired. Even when you don’t feel like it, you sit down and put your fingers on the keyboard (or typewriter or longhand, if you’re so inclined). It doesn’t matter how you get those words down. Just get them down.

I recently wrote about setting word count goals. I’m not sure I’ll make my 50,000 words a month goal, but that’s okay. I’m writing consistently and productively. I’ve hit at least 1,000 words 10 of the last 11 days. Over that time, I’ve written over 18,000 words. Per day, it doesn’t seem like a lot of words, but those words add up. At this write, I should manage three books in a year without too much of a problem. Of course, there’s also the revision process, which I need to get better about.

Word Count Goals

For those of us who are writers, word count goals are a love them/hate them kind of thing. We love them when they remind us to keep our butts in the chair and our fingers on the keyboard. We hate them when we feel like we can’t ever reach them.

There are many benefits to word count goals. You see this from something like National Novel Writing Month (or as it’s more commonly known, NaNoWriMo). A lot of writers take advantage of this month to actually finish their stories.

However, it has its drawbacks. Some writers cannot write at the 1,667 words per day required to hit that goal and do so while writing something that isn’t complete crap.

Thankfully, I’ve never had that problem. I believe I’ve finished early every time I’ve ever done NaNoWriMo. But it is a problem for a lot of people, and what’s the point of writing a novel if it’s so bad you’re just going to scrap it? You have to find some middle ground.

And that means you have to set some kind of goal. It could be a daily word count goal or perhaps a monthly word count goal. That’s what I’m leaning toward at the moment. Due to an unpredictable work schedule and varying amounts of schoolwork, it is difficult for me to set aside the same amount of time every day for writing.

That means that there may be days where I write nothing or crank out just a few words to keep the creative juices flowing. On the other hand, there may be also days when I hit 5000 or more words. In fact, I wrote over 12,000 in one day when I was finishing up my World in Chains series.

The point I’m trying to make is this. Come up with a word count goal you can actually stick to. In some ways, it’s like dieting. Most diets don’t last because people take on more than they can handle. That’s not the way to do it with word counts either. You’re just going to end up resenting the time you spend writing, and if you aren’t enjoying yourself, what’s the point?

So that’s the key. Find out what word count goal you’re comfortable hitting (whether it’s daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly). Then hold yourself accountable to that goal. It sounds simple stated like that, but it isn’t always easy to put into practice.

Let’s hope I can do so myself because I need to get better about writing consistently.

I’ve started working on Fireweaver again.

Over the last three days, I’ve written about 7,500 words of Fireweaver, the second book in my Sunweaver series. It took me a while to get back in the swing of things, as it had been a long time since I’d written anything in this series. I got very focused on finishing World in Chains and put Sunweaver on the backburner.

I’m hoping I can manage to write at least 1,000 words every day. It’s difficult with school getting in the way, however.

I’m also toying with the idea of writing multiple books at once, but I’m not sure if I want to do that again. I did it once before. It increased my productivity, so it might be worth a try.

For more details on Sunweaver, you can take a look at the page. It’s under my Epic Fantasy Projects menu.

Finding the Write Balance (that is not a typo).

I’m planning on releasing my first book this summer. That’s a big milestone I’ve been building up to for a long time. I’ve lost count of how many books I’ve written and discarded on the way to this, and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve changed my mind about going through with self-publishing.

But now I am going through with it, and I want to achieve at least a moderate level of success. That means making back the money I’ve put in at first and then earning more farther down the road, once I have more books out.

That brings me to my greatest dilemma. I have a lot going on in my life. I’m going to engineering school, I’m working, I’m trying to get things ready to move, and I’m trying to launch my writing career. On top of all that, I suffer from bipolar disorder and anxiety. There’s only so much stress I can put on myself before it becomes potentially dangerous.

When I look at a lot of self-published authors, I see that they’re putting out three or four books a year (sometimes even more). I’d love to be able to write on that kind of schedule. I’m a very productive writer when I’m actually writing, but I am not able to write every day due to my many other commitments. As such, I think I can put out one book a year, maybe two (but I’m not going to hold myself to that).

I’m trying to keep any kind of time pressure of myself. It will only push me beyond safe levels of stress and likely result in an inferior novel. So I’m going to set my goal at getting one book out a year. Since I have already written the first drafts of all the books in World of Chains, I anticipate the schedule being a bit quicker at first.

It may work out well enough that I can spend more time writing once school is over. I still have 2.5 years to go (including this semester). Of course, that’s assuming I don’t decide to continue my studies in graduate school.

I will try my best to get new material out there quickly because I know I like that kind of productivity as a reader, but I’m not going to promise any set number of books per year apart from the one I think I can do without putting too much pressure on myself. Beyond that, it will depend on how much time I find to write between my other commitments.

That being said, I still anticipate a summer release for Empire of Chains. If all goes well with editing, I hope to have the second book in the series, The Shadowed Land, out sometime around Christmas, but we’ll see how things shape up.

I do want to keep everyone updated on what’s going on with my writing. One of my favorite authors, Brandon Sanderson, is great about doing that, and I find his way of approaching his writing career is inspiring to me. Obviously, I’m going a different route with self-publishing, but I still think I can approach my career in roughly the same way.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to get more details soon on the release for Empire of Chains. I won’t really know until I have the cover art finalized, which won’t happen until June at the earliest.