The Search for Round 2

2014-Mar-17 -> from the why-does-this-matter-so-much department Tags: writing abna amazon 

I've never felt anxiety like this before. I've always had total confidence in my work. Even when I've failed, I knew I could pinpoint what I did wrong, and work harder to improve myself.

So why is this year's Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest any different?

Perhaps a little background on the contest, for those who don't know. The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, or ABNA as most people call it, is held every year by Amazon to find the best and brightest new authors and books in the industry. I entered the contest for the first time in 2011 with my debut novel, The Time Weaver, and didn't make it past the first round.

The pitch round.

That is the source of my anxiety. A 300-word pitch that gets judged by Amazon editors, and only two thousand out of ten thousand entrants will move on to the second round. Why should I be so confident that I will make it? Because for the last four years, I've spent time helping countless writers hone their pitch for this contest. Many of them have made it through.

I haven't.

Three years I've entered ABNA, and three years I've failed to move on. I try to put on a happy face and cheer on my other friends, but there's always a part of me that burns up inside, wondering what I did wrong, or how I could have written a better, stronger pitch, so that it would make it through along with my friends.

Amazon gives us no feedback on the pitch. Either you make it through, or you don't. So I'm left a veritable expert on how to write a great pitch for a story who can't come up with something to get my own book through the first round.

This brings me back to the source of my anxiety.

I've entered The Time Weaver one last time. Fourth time's a charm, right? Thing is, if it doesn't make it through this year, it will likely be the last time I attempt it for The Time Weaver. Because what's the point of beating a dead horse? When the contest comes around again, I'll have The Spell Breaker ready to enter, and maybe have a better chance at coming up with something great to get it through.

In the meantime, ABNA 2014 is under way. My entry is in, my pitch is written, and I've done everything I can in order to get it through this year. All I can do it sit around and wait in an ever-building pool of anxiety for March 18, and then search for my name on the list of those who made it through.

Wish me luck.

Thanks for reading!

I'm always interested in hearing what you have to say. Contact Me, I'd love to hear from you.

Don't forget to join in on the conversation in the comments section below.

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The End Begins with Reprisal

2014-Mar-3 -> from the happy-happy-news department Tags: writing books announcements 

I have a confession to make: I haven't posted here in a very long time, and I'm really, really, REALLY sorry. I have no excuses.

But... I do have some happy news to share today.

The third and final book in The Time Weaver Chronicles, Reprisal, is now live on Amazon. Today is release day, and a very happy day for me.

A little over three years ago, I started writing. Back then, I never would have imagined that what came out of my imagination would become three full length novels. With the help and support of many friends and family, I've published them and become a reasonably successful independent author. I could never have done this alone.

So what is this new book about? Here's the description:

Galadir is in trouble...

Their hero is missing in action, and the trouble isn't over yet. The remnants of the Findoor army, led by Malia, flee into the west after the dark wizard Grian usurps the throne.

Grian is the most dangerous threat the people of Galadir have ever faced. With a massive army of undead, he invades a kingdom to the west. Narshuks to the south are dying of a disease unleashed by Grian. Wizards to the east struggle against his wraiths to hold on to their stronghold and the libraries within.

Hope comes from an unlikely source, as one man hatches a plan that will show Galadir they can fight for themselves. But Grian has finally found what he's been looking for, and as he prepares for his final assault on the east to capture what he seeks, all of Galadir confronts him, brought together by a mysterious force.

All of the pieces are in place, but nobody can be sure if the resistance will be enough to defeat Grian once and for all.

The battle for Galadir has begun.

Can you feel the excitement? I know I can.

If you've never read The Time Weaver Chronicles, start here with The Time Weaver. Then move on to Legacy.

Finally, finish off with Reprisal.

So if you're looking for a good book to read, I've got three now available. And if you're looking for more tips, tricks, and publishing wisdom, I'll start making regular posts again, just for you.

Thanks for being part of my journey, and I hope you'll stick around to see what happens next.

Thanks for reading!

I'm always interested in hearing what you have to say. Contact Me, I'd love to hear from you.

Don't forget to join in on the conversation in the comments section below.

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Playing God, Part I - Basics

2013-Oct-21 -> from the building-worlds-for-fun department Tags: playinggod roleplaying dnd worldbuilding 

There's a little part of all of us that wishes we could change the world. It's the gamers, role-players, and writers who have figured out a way. We are the architects of worlds, and though I'm calling this series Playing God, it's hard to describe us as gods, since even the deities bend to our wills when creating a new world. World building is one of the toughest, most monumental tasks that any writer or role-player can take on, and it's my hope that this series will not only help existing world-builders improve their craft, but perhaps even get some new people involved.

What's it All About?

Building a world or universe is a massive undertaking. Consider our own universe from the top down: The universe is made up of empty space, interspersed with galaxies, which in turn are made up of billions of stars, each of which might have one or more orbiting bodies that make up a solar system. Each planet has its own conditions: gravity, atmosphere, weather, land masses, water, life, economics, religions, races, animals, microbiology, geology, technology, and maybe even a little magic. Crafting all the intricacies of a world down to the finest details can take years.

You don't have to do it all at once though. I've spent the last twenty years building worlds and writing stories for games, and I have yet to come to a point where I would consider my world-building to be done. The thing is, once you get started you'll realize that if you focus too much on getting every detail right, the world will feel less organic. Living worlds are always in flux, so it's really hard to get the details down before they change again.

The Reason

There are many published settings and worlds out there for you to choose from, so why build one of your own? Actually, you may find that using a published system is right for you. That's perfectly fine. Some of us just can't. We need the control, and the reward that comes from starting with a blank sheet of paper and making something beautiful out of it.

Start at the Beginning

World building needs to start somewhere, and this is where a division begins to form. There are two types of world-builders: writers and thinkers. Whether you are one or the other will depend a lot on how you process information. Writers will jot everything down, and will likely have binders or notebooks packed with notes, sketches, stories, tables and anything else they need to make the world run. Thinkers, on the other hand, will have very few notes, and will keep a large portion of their world in their head. Personally, I'm a thinker.

Whatever your process is, the start of world building should be a goal. What are you trying to accomplish by building the world? Is it for a game with a small group of players? Are you trying to create something that you can publish for the world to use? Are you writing a novel which is set in your world? Once you figure that out, the goal is simple: build as much as required to accomplish your purpose, and nothing more.

That's the deadly secret of world building: you don't need to flesh out every detail of a world in order to make it feel real. You only need to fill in the details required to accomplish your goal. The thing is, if you are filling in details that will never be read or used, what's the point? You can drive yourself mad trying to fill in every detail. It would take you a lifetime, and you still wouldn't get it done. Once you have enough detail in your world to satisfy your goal, stop.

Choose an Approach

How to actually go about starting your world will depend a lot on what kind of personality you have. You can start with the high-level concepts and then break them down into details (a top-down approach), or you can start with the details and work your way up from there (a bottom-up approach). Both approaches have their merits, and will both produce a usable world.

Using a top-down approach is better suited to building a world that you plan to publish. It will produce a world that is broken down into details that all support the high-level concepts. Some people work better this way, and can produce a nicely meshed, believable world using this approach. The downside to this approach is that it's a lot of work before you have something that is usable in a game or story.

The bottom-up approach is what I use, because that's how I think. I have details that I know I want to include, and so I start from there and work my way up. This approach tends to work better for stories or novels, as there is less work up front in order to create a functioning world. It's faster than the top-down approach, but can leave you filling in a lot of details on the fly, and can create some consistency problems if the details you want don't work well together.

What's Next?

As you get further into world building, you'll discover new things about your world, and new techniques that can be used to make that world run smoother and feel more realistic. In the coming weeks, I'll be posting additional world-building articles about geography, landmarks, cities, history, races, religions, deities, magic, politics, and much more. I hope you'll stick with me, as I have a lot more to give.

Thanks for reading!

I'm always interested in hearing what you have to say. Contact Me, I'd love to hear from you.

Don't forget to join in on the conversation in the comments section below.

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The Time Weaver

An award-winning, action-packed epic fantasy adventure about an unlikely hero, Seth, who discovers he's not human, but a Time Weaver who can control time.

Enter Galadir, where magic thrives and dark forces threaten a valiant kingdom. As the last Time Weaver, Seth is their last hope, if only he can learn to control his powers in time.

Download a sample...

Buy it now!


The second installment in The Time Weaver Chronicles.

Go back in time and experience the Lyecian war. Learn how it all began, and find out the truth about Krycin, the hero of the war!

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Current WIP: approximate numbers only, working titles
The Time Weaver:
100% (Published! Buy now!)
100% (Published! Buy now!)
100% (Editing...)
The Spell Breaker:
60% (Writing... 60,087/100,000 words)