Your First Book Will Stink

And that’s ok. So does mine. It’s not terrible by any means, but it’s no masterpiece. Totally normal. Everyone stinks their first time. That’s what gives us room to grow.

But that’s the hard part: Growing. See, you have to want to get better to be better. You have to do the work, put in the effort. Study and research. Don’t just throw around words like “shaman” in your fantasy novel if you’ve no idea what a shaman actually does. I’m talking to myself as much as anyone else.

Then there are sacrifices to be made. Writing every day is a sacrifice of time. You either get up early or stay up late. Those are your choices. Do you have to write every day? Of course not. But your craft will improve slower. How much time do you think you have?

I’m 35. Probably 5-10 years from really making it big. Then I’ll be 40. Maybe I’ll have 40 more years, maybe 60. But will I be lucid and healthy the whole time? Who knows? So maybe only 30 years of success. Is that ok? No. I’d much rather have more. But that’s not up to me.

My growth has been slow. Painfully slow. Some of that has to do with autism, some with bad habits, some with procrastination. That’s ok. I’m still growing.

It’s the growing that’s important. It’s the journey that really matters. I know that’s small consolation, especially if your journey is as painful or more than mine. But in the end, the journey is really all we have in this life.

Gah! That’s depressing.

What more can we do? Well, thankfully, we can still do what we can do. Our lives are our own. We can exercise our will and make what ripples we can in a sea of mediocrity. Find something solid to hang onto, some bit of clay we can mold and call our own.

Remember friends, it is not too late to seek a better world!

More Book News

Sent my book to the editor the other day. I’m using Jordan Rosenfeld’s editing services. She’s great, and I highly recommend her. She looked over my manuscript once before and gave me great direction and guidance. Hope she’s ready because this draft is almost totally different from the one I showed her before.

Yes, I’ve been working on this novel for too, too long. Time to set it free to sink or swim. I’ve got another two books in the wings that I’m working on, so that’s interesting. Tang of Fate, my first novel, is a fantasy work about a woman who’s trying to stop an evil sorcerer and his skeleton army by finding a hidden power somewhere in the lost north. Fun times! There’s elves and buffalo and wizards and magic and stuff blows up.

Going to be starting a mailing list soon with all sorts of goodies. Not sure yet what form it will take, but stay tuned. It’s all happening this year. Next year. Whatever.

Bad Writing Advice: Part 1 – The 4 (or 5) F’s

I’ve come across something in my writing that’s helping me a lot, and I’d like to share it with you.  Now, as with most writing advice, this bit won’t appeal to everyone. Some are gonna think it’s dumb or too hard or not hard enough or whatever. That’s ok. Ready? Here we go.

At the base of everyone’s brain exist the four F’s: Fighting, Feasting, Fleeing, and sweet, sweet lovin‘. These are down at the root, in the oldest part of our brain, the part we share with animals and worms and fish and stuff. Put at least one of the four F’s in any story you want to tell, and you got your audience by the amygdala. People love reading that stuff. They can’t stop themselves. Your story may still very well be absolute garbage, but people will keep reading it cuz it’s got those things our lizard brains crave!

Now, don’t jam the Four F’s in there. They have to flow natural. Otherwise, it just stops being good or so-bad-it’s-good and just winds up bad.

Allow me to illustrate.

The video above is a trailer for the B-movie “Sharknado. This is not a good movie. The characters are boilerplate. The writing is cliched as heck. The story is predictable. This movie is bad.

But it is entertaining. Why? Because it has all the four F’s.

The people FLEE the rising waters.

The people FIGHT the sharks.

Image result for sharknado

Yes, that is a man fighting a shark with a chainsaw. On dry land.

A good portion of the film involves FEAST-ing on beer. (This one is a cop-out. I don’t care.)

And this guy wants to MAKE SWEET, SWEET LOVE to Tara Reid.

Image result for sharknado TARA reid

Tara Reid on left. On right, guy who wants to make sweet, sweet love to her.

And there you have it. Put the four F’s in your story. Sprinkle them in liberally, don’t overweight any one of the F’s, or your reader will get a tummy-ache. And remember, this trick will not fix any problems you may have crafting appealing characters, compelling story lines, or immersive settings. But it will guarantee your story will not be boring.

The worst you’ll do is write Sharknado.

And the world will always need Sharknado.

EXPERT-LEVEL: There is a 5th F. It’s called FIGURING STUFF OUT. It is incredibly hard to do this well. It’s so hard to do this well, that if you have any doubts about being able to do it, just don’t.

Figuring stuff out is what made Watchmen one of the greatest books of all time.

Figuring stuff out is what drew millions of people to Lost in the mid-2000s.

Figuring stuff out (a good mystery) is something only the greatest of writers are able to accomplish well. You can lead readers/viewers on for a long time, but the payoff has to matter (as Lost fans know all too well).

Figuring stuff out is not a part of our lizard brain. Lizards don’t really care why or how stuff works. That’s an ape thing, a human thing. Figuring stuff out is how we got fire, the wheel, religion, philosophy, Rubik’s cubes, and Lady Gaga.

So, yeah. There’s fighting, fleeing, feasting, making sweet, sweet love, and figuring stuff out.

Oh, and funny…ness. Funniness. Humor.

And…frankfurters? Maybe?

Quick Update: Novel

No longer trying so hard to be provocative. No longer taking shortcuts. Revisions should be done by June 1.

Some notes:

  • Calin is back as the protagonist.
  • He’s not as whiny.
  • He’s not a white guy.
  • Terrwyn is back to being a pale, red-haired thief with a snark-streak.
  • Croli is still awesome.
  • Asder/Aremana, Dragonrider is now Aedren, Knight of Zargon.
  • Ayesha Khan, immortal empress of lost Edinniae, now leads the knights in secret.
  • The seeker finds something that had been lost.
  • What the seeker found is not what he sought.

I may start commissioning some art in the near future. If for no other reason than art is fun.

Bubblegum-Man will being updating again in May. Hopefully.

In the meantime, here’s Robocop on a unicorn:

robocorn.JPG

Book Update: Emerald Sword

Hi kids!

Sorry updates have been a little sparse. I’ve been hard at work on Bubblegum-Man and the novel.

The bad news is there are a few tweaks I need to make to the book to get it where I want it. The good news is that these changes are largely cosmetic. I’ll be reworking parts of the final battle, as well as adding more description to the Tower of the Skull and fleshing out the culture and customs of the plains-elves. Basic world-building. Nothing that would affect a release date.

More bad news on that front. Or rather, no news. No bites yet for Emerald Sword.

On the upside, Bubblegum-Man should be making his first online appearance shortly. Stay tuned!

Whatcha Workin’ On, There?

For the last five to seven years or so, I’ve been working on my first novel “The Emerald Sword.” It’s a fantasy that takes place in a world populated by knights, ladies, Spanish-speaking elves, wild buffalo, and untamed gods. It’s a wild, beautiful world filled with danger and drinking.

Terrwyn Cornraker, a young farmer’s daughter, sets out on a quest to rescue her family from the clutches of an evil sorcerer and his army of skeletons. Along the way, she meets a blue wizard, a shape-shifting wise-crack, and a real, honest-to-gods princess with her own degree.

Things really heat up when she receives the Emerald Sword, Zamurrad, the holy blade of the moon goddess Vora. With Zamurrad in hand, she and her friends go off on an amazing adventure high over the mountains and deep into the treacherous forest of fairies and the even-more treacherous streets of Uto, shining city of the north.

I’m hoping to make “The Emerald Sword” the first in a series of five books, though it might end up a trilogy or quartet instead. Each book would feature on a particular wielder of the Emerald Sword, including the immortal empress Ayesha Khan. I’ve got ideas for the next two books and enough back-story to shake a long stick at.

Let’s get to work!

State of the Conq

Hey y’all. What a month it’s been! The final draft of my novel is nearly complete. I’ve polished off the first couple hundred pages. Reworked a few scenes. Corrected some misspellings. Tossed junk that didn’t belong. Fun stuff.

As a result, I regret I have been neglecting Optimist’s Umbrella and my historical Twitter project.

I do have a few posts in the pipeline for Optimist’s Umbrella in June.

More excitement is coming this summer, so don’t be a stranger. Keep watching this space for updates on the book, the blog, and the rest of Conq Enterprises.

In the meantime, enjoy this picture of Cobra Commander being all threatening:

CCR.jpg

“I’ll get you next time, Gadget! Next time!” –Megatron

Fallow Period Ends

Hey guys! Well, it’s been a month or so. Time to get back to work! I’ll be polishing up Emerald Sword with some help from friends and editors and editor-friends. Final draft should be done by mid-June at the latest.

I’ll also be reorganizing and revamping older blog posts over at Optimist’s Umbrella. So, be sure to check that out.

Lots off stuff happening this year. Looking forward to this book being done!