I’m back! But will I finish before GRRM?

“F you Adrian.” – Angry George R. R. Martin

I’m back! And it’s 2019! My last blog post was in 2017 (how embarrassing!), but I’m digging in and writing again! I’m back to work on my sequel, The Chromium Smith (Book 2 of The Blacksmiths fantasy series). I left off on Chapter 12 after some serious plot challenges mixed with writer’s block. Well, after discovering some old notes I had forgotten about, I realized that I had solved my own plot hole and got back to it!

So why the big delay in progress on the sequel? Other than getting stone walled by my own plot, I got seriously distracted with life. I had a new baby (baby Adelyn, born on Halloween of all days!), got a new job, had to move to a new state, a new house, and of course, got distracted with other forms of entertainment (TV, games, etc.). But with the discovery of my notes and removal of a hobby that was capitalizing my time, I found my renewed vigor in storytelling!

And, with a new year comes new goals. I gave my website a much needed face lift and then organized my notes. (There’s nothing worse than writing with notes that are not structured in any way). I then began going through Chapters 1 – 11, finding moments that needed revisions to address my plot issue, and then got back to work on Chapter 12. I’m feeling good about it, but I’m sure I need to shake off my rustiness. I may also need to completely reread all Chapters just to familiarize myself again, but progress is being made!

So the big question: Will book 2, The Chromium Smith, be done before The Winds of Winter by George R. R. Martin is released? Only time will tell.

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68 Hours Remain to Kickstart The Soul Smith!

Come discover your next favorite book and check out this Kickstarter page before it’s too late: http://kck.st/14Az9k1

Also, be sure to grab your free Kindle copy of my short story, The Ravenous Flock, which preludes the events of my novel. Link is provided on the Kickstarter page!

Get The Ravenous Flock for FREE during Last Days of my Kickstarter!

The Soul Smith Kickstarter campaign has been featured on BackerClub!!!! This is incredibly exciting news, especially as we near the end of the Kickstarter campaign! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/adriandiglio/the-soul-smith-epic-fantasy-novel/

Get The Ravenous Flock for FREE on Kindle from Feb 8-12th, 2015 right here: http://amzn.to/13HlBfO

The Ravenous Flock is a short story that preludes the events of my novel, The Soul Smith. It was edited by Derek Bowen (the same editor I have for The Soul Smith for my Kickstarter campaign) and published on Myths Inscribed online fantasy magazine.

Keep spreading the word!

Working with an Editor

Do you want to get inside the mind of an editor? To know what they might look for? To know how they think? I recently had lengthy exchanges with my first editor, Derek Bowen, and would like to share my lessons learned from working with him on revising my short story, The Ravenous Flock.

After completing his first read through, he wanted me to consider renaming one of my races and my monster. They striked him more as descriptions (adjectives) than names, so I had to spend some time brainstorming on the topic before I finally arrived at appropriate names.

In general, the majority of his edits were opportunities to delete unnecessary words to improve flow. Here is an example: Before: “Grindor took hold of the hollow yak horn and guzzled the last of the water as it poured down his chin.” After: “Grindor took hold of the hollow yak horn and guzzled it dry.”

This all may sound rather simple, but once we began discussing substantive changes to my story, a whole other level of analysis was presented to me. In discussing my monster, Derek made me think about its entire ecology – always comparing to known living organisms to be able to bring familiar elements into the creature’s description. For example, extending tongues are normally sticky rather than prehensile (with a few exceptions like giraffes and ant eaters). But what really needed consideration was the day-to-day life of my monster. What (and how much) does it normally eat? How often does it live in water? How far inland does it travel? Basically, he wanted me to put as much thought into this monster as I do with my main characters.

Derek also introduced me to a new form of outlining after you’ve finished the chapter/passage/etc. He reduced an entire battle scene to 6 bullets. All he did was capture the behavior/reactions of a tribe of fighters during a fight to evaluate if their actions in battle were warranted or not. He claims this style of outlining is most effective to “do it by going back and constructing it from what you’ve actually written, not what you’d planned to write at the outset. It makes it very easy to discover whether you’ve put everything in the correct place—especially important in the age of cut-and-paste, where things can get moved with a couple keystrokes, and it becomes altogether too easy to separate items or leave one thing stranded after you’ve moved another.”

In addition, I have a dramatic reveal at the end of my story, but I had a difficult time making it feel as dramatic as I had intended. Derek commented that, “what you need is to convince the reader it’s that important to the character(s), whether it would be that important to anyone else in a similar situation—so it doesn’t need to be high melodrama.”  I ended up suggesting a new reveal, and together, we were able to craft it to a much better ending to my story about the forming of a unique friendship.

He was very impressed by my openness to his proposed revisions and so I thought I should share this one last quote from Derek: “In my experience, there are two main kinds of writers: the kind who are defensive about what they’ve written, and the kind who care enough about their writing to want to improve it and are willing to learn. The former are rarely successful.”

While these are the larger lessons learned, there were many subtle nuggets of wisdom that I captured from this experience. If you have any further questions, please leave them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them.

 

The Process of Publishing on Amazon

 

 

First, some administrative news: My fantasy short story, The Ravenous Flock, is now up on Amazon! So, I wanted to take the time to share my personal experience of independently publishing with them.

After part 2 of The Ravenous Flock was published by Myths Inscribed ezine, all rights immediately reverted back to me per the terms of their publishing agreement. The Ravenous Flock new coverI immediately recognized that I wanted my short story to be available on Amazon to reach a wider audience, so I combined both parts back into one seamless story and added the Prologue of The Soul Smith at the end to create hype for my novel!

The process of publishing on Amazon was fairly simple. I clicked “Independently Publish with Us” at the bottom of Amazon.com and chose to publish through their Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Once you log in, you click “Add a New Title” and begin entering all the information about your book (Name, Title of Series, Publisher, Description, ISBN, etc). The hardest choice was: What genre/categories should my book fall in? You can only choose 2, but I wanted to choose 3. I picked FICTION > Fantasy > Epic. And I picked FICTION > Action & Adventure. The 3rd category that I wanted was FICTION > Fantasy > General. I may have to change this in the future.

Next I got to upload my book cover (or you can design one in their Cover Creator). Without getting into a huge debate, I knew that having a poorly crafted cover can negatively impact sales, so I spent a considerable amount of time ensuring that the graphics looked clean and professional. Once complete, then you get to upload your book. It didn’t give me any guidance as to what format it accepted, so I’m under the impression that it accepts them all. I uploaded a .doc and it converted it to the Kindle format. After upload, it even helps point out potential misspellings. Then comes the fun part of previewing your story in all different Kindle devices to ensure it is formatted correctly. It loads up a virtual device on your screen within your web browser for Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Fire HD 8.9, Kindle Paperwhite, iPad, iPhone, and Kindle. I had to make corrections numerous times and re-upload my story to ensure that it was formatted perfectly across all devices.

Lastly, you choose whether to protect your work with Downloadable Rights Management (DRM) or not. It is completely your choice, but once you choose, you cannot change your mind. Then you get to set the price of your book. The minimum price is $0.99. The price of your ebook also determines what percent of the royalties that you earn. Anything that is priced at $2.99 or above can earn 70% of each sale. Anything priced between $0.99 and $2.99 earns 35%. Then you choose which countries you own rights to your book in (which is all of them) and then you click “I agree” and Publish!

The other major choice is whether to enroll in the KDP Select program. If you choose to enroll, you are agreeing that your ebook will be exclusive to Kindle for 90 days (which auto renews every 90 days). Note: Physical/printed books are not apart of this exclusivity clause. But, if your book is found on the Nook, for example, they will likely cancel your enrollment in the KDP Select program. The benefits of this program are that you earn a percentage of money allocated to books that were borrowed through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. In addition, you can market your book for Free for up to 5 days for each 90 day period that you are enrolled in the program.

Once you have completed the form, it takes 12 hours before your book becomes available on Amazon. So, separate from this process (but equally important) is the enrollment in Amazon Author Central. Once your book is posted, you can enroll in Author Central to get access to the Nielsen BookScan reports (which gives you book sales statistics from physical stores – not from Amazon.com) and it allows you to create your Author Page on Amazon. I created a profile and linked my Twitter and Blog to it as well.

I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below.

The Ravenous Flock Part 2 is Published

The epic conclusion to my short story, The Ravenous Flock, is finally published! Myths Inscribed ezine makes it available for free to read on their website and also through the Google Currents app (by subscribing to Myths Inscribed).

Later, I will discuss my experiences with working with an editor, but for now, please enjoy the conclusion to The Ravenous Flock. Click below:

The Ravenous Flock, part 2 

My Short Story is about to be Published!

Myths Inscribed is an online magazine for fantasy fiction only. It was recently created by the wonderful people at MythicScribes.com (a great place to connect with a large community of fantasy writers).

After submitting to them on January 7th, they got back to me on February 16th with the news that they had provisionally accepted my 5,000 word short story, The Ravenous Flock, as long as I agreed to their editing terms. What they proposed is that they wanted to work with me to perform some edits, as well as work with me to decide where to cut the story in half (as they want to publish it in two parts across two issues). If I agreed, no other name other than mine will be on the story; and the story, all revisions included, remain exclusively mine. This extra service that they provide distinguishes their magazine from nearly all others on the market, and is something that they are proud of.

I happily agreed to the terms and I look forward to my first experience with a real editor. I have always thought I knew what they do, but now I will have first hand experience working with one. As Myths Inscribed is a new ezine, they do not offer financial compensation for your work. While this fact is considered “less prestigious” by some (for example, I can’t join SFWA unless I sell a short story for $50 or more), to me, it marks a significant milestone for any author. I have now crossed the threshold from being unpublished to published. My short story was still chosen above others from the “slush pile” all the same, and now it can be added to my author bio. In addition, this publication credit adds extra credibility to my novel.

Since my short story predates the events of my novel and is written in the same world, same style, and contains some of the same characters from my novel, this publication credit should add tremendous value toward getting my novel published. Not only will this help it get published, but once my novel is published, this short story will help sell my novel – and here is how: Per the terms of Myths Inscribed publication policy, after they publish my work, all rights are immediately returned to me, meaning I can do what I wish with my short story. At that point in time, I plan to further self-publish it on Amazon for $0.99. Once my novel is available for purchase, I’ll use my short story as a marketing tool to drive interest toward my novel and will most likely give it away for free at that point to gain readership and a following.

More to come soon as I plan to share my lessons learned with working with the editor!