For a bit of fun, I thought it would be great to examine the TV series, Once Upon A Time, which, in my opinion, started strong before faltering in quality and becoming laden with oh-so-many plot holes, inconsistencies, disappearing characters, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I still love OUAT despite all its flaws. However, I thought it’d be fun to glean writing lessons from it. Even though a novelist doesn’t have all of the external factors that can plague a screenwriter or showrunner, such as actors leaving before your narratively ready for them to, there are still commonalities embedded in the simple act of telling a story. (Spoilers begin after this point.)
I have previously written about my self-publishing journey: why I opted for this pathway and how I pursued it. Heritage Lost was my first full-length novel release, and as such, there was an immense learning curve that my short story releases couldn’t prepare me for. There are numerous things that I will do differently (as long as I don’t self-sabotage myself) with my next release.
Here are the top four elements of my release that I would do differently, especially now as I reflect about six months later.
No. 1: Better Time Management
I gravely miscalculated the amount of time that I would need to finish up the final polishing revisions, which pushed back the formatting of Heritage Lost and, in turn, the finished paperback cover as an official page count was needed to determine the spine’s dimensions. Yes, there were circumstances beyond my control–a death in the family–that greatly impacted my original plan of having everything wrapped up by the end of my vacation from the day job. However, if I’m being honest with myself, I should have had a larger dent done in the revisions even before my vacation.
She relinquished her grip, recoiling from the creature’s pinched and pulled face filled with sharp teeth that poked out at odd angles [. . .] Their faces (were) somewhat narrow with furrows around their jaws, flat noses. A large amount of body hair. — Heritage Lost, page 27-28
This mammalian species offers brute force to the Magistrate as one part of its elite special forces–often a collection of species with unique abilities. Breks were made infamous by their role in the Re’alle Conflict, which resulted in the utter eradication of a fringe military group on-world, with some accusations of extensive collateral damage by those residing in Re’alle’s Low Country; however, the genocide occurring on the world has led others to view forceful intervention as a necessity.
Breks are built with muscle and are both bipedal and quadrupedal. Hair covers most of their bodies, except for their faces (much like our world’s gorillas). Like the other species who form the Magistrate’s elite special forces, much of what is known about them by the general populace is hearsay; however, they are known to be carnivorous.
Similar to the Oneiroi, the Breks keep to themselves. They have a strong pack/tribe mentality and are extremely loyal to those within it, which are often family members but sometimes outsiders who are adopted in. There are some divides between certain packs, often extending centuries into the past, but the Magistrate has effectively navigated these to turn the Breks into a uniformed fighting force.
Since the Breks are unable to speak worded languages or to readily understand them, the Magistrate developed a clicking code to communicate with them in addition to a form of sign language based on hand signals Breks used prior to contact. In general, though, Breks communicate with each other through a variety of vocal ticks.
Largely trapped at home, save for work, thanks to COVID-19 self-isolation, I did manage to get a lot of writing done during the month of April. I fell short of my 30,000 word count goal for Camp NaNoWriMo; however, I did come close to completing Descent‘s rough draft. I am down to four chapters, according to the outline. So despite not hitting my marker, I will count April as a win because I can finally see the light at the end of the tower.
I reached some scenes I had been looking forward to for quite some time. I also got to write some new characters who I adore. I like to think I crafted some really great lines and scenes, but I’ve also had a lot of dark spirals into doubt and impostor syndrome. I try not to entertain such feelings, but it did latch in fairly hard, using the roughness of my draft to mock me. But as always, I know that sensation will pass. It only takes time.Continue reading “A Tardy April Recap”
“Yep, I’m getting a promotion and my own ship. The esteemed members of the Agoranomi and the Magistrate Brass themselves see me as invaluable. Of course, this is something we already knew.”
“Quite the ego.” Akakios exhaled and shifted in his chair. “But congratulations are in store. May your ship serve you well.”
“I’m sure it will. It’s called the Aletheia.” She slanted her head toward Amyntas and Sotiris. “We should be quite content on her. After all, the Magistrate calls, and we answer . . . always answering.”Kallistrate and Akakios discourse, Heritage Lost
In Heritage Lost, one member of the Oneiroi’s Agoranomi–Kyros Anagnos–is introduced. The Oneiroi, who will be receiving their own entry once we reach “O,” are based loosely off Greek mythology, and so the Agoranomi also have their roots in Greece. They were namely magistrates of the market where they maintained order and policy. Among their duties, they settled disputes, examined of the quality of the articles exposed for sale, inspected weights and measures, collected harbor dues, and enforced the shipping regulations.Continue reading “Into The Heritage Verse: A is Agoranomi”
Full disclosure: I’m not Catholic, but I could really use the divine intervention of saint Francis de Sales, the patron saint of writers and journalists — I am both — to sort out the mess my series notes have become for the Heritage Verse, thus saving me from a madness of my own making.
When I wrote my fantasy series, I meticulously plotted out a series bible for it (a paper binder at the time). However, with my sci-fi novel, I have engaged in rather opprobrious cataloging efforts. I will have people remark when I’m explaining world-building elements that it’s pretty incredible the amount of information I have and they always ask how I keep it all straight. The answer? Very poorly. I’m trusting my brain too much to remember it all, and now as I’m diving into the sequel novel, I am finding that some information is slipping, meaning lost writing time as I have to pause and refresh.
And that is where a thorough series bible would come in handy. For those who are diving into series, series bibles really are essential. When you are world-building, there are so many details to keep track of, and without a series bible, some of those details are going to fall through the cracks. In my own experience recently, I am finding myself going back through my published book more than I thought I would need, and it would just be so much easier and quicker to have a document that tracks everything I need for continuity as it pertains to characters, plot, and world-building elements.Continue reading “Of Francis de Sales, Chaos, Insanity, And Series Bibles”
Don’t forget tomorrow, April 3, and Saturday, April 4, I will be doing live readings at 7 p.m. on my author Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/smwrightauthor. Friday will be chapter one with chapter two to follow on Saturday. If you miss Friday, don’t worry. I will do a brief recap.
Saturday, I will be probably myself a nice glad of wine in honor if my birthday. Bring your own glass.
It should be a fun relaxing night. If you have any questions, ask them as I read and I’ll answer them.
In an attempt to be a more consistent blogger, I plan to start writing recaps at the end of each month on just my general writing progress, release information, and general life things.
At the end of 2019, I’d created a five-year business plan of goals I want to accomplish from 2020-2025. For the opening months of 2020, I was overzealous in my planning as I was unable to finish the rough draft of Descent by the end of February. While I have been more consistent in writing almost daily, I’ve had some off weeks, especially in March when I experienced a relapse of abdominal pain, which is stoked by anxiety and stress. I had been doing better at managing my stress and anxiety, but with the time change, some stressors at work, and now the pandemic, my coping techniques failed me.
However, I have Descent within shooting distance of 80K words. My aim is for it to be longer than Heritage Lost as it is a larger-scale work with more moving pieces as the galaxy teeters on the edge. I have it all outlined; however, I’ve had to split a few chapters in two, so the outline is adapting to that and some other minor changes. Some characters are throwing surprises at me.
I had wanted to focus on my historical fiction novel during Camp NaNoWriMo this April, but since I’m on more of a deadline with Descent, it will be my project for April. I estimate that I have about 30,000-40,000 words left on it, which means it should be done during that writing event. With my birthday being April 4 and having nowhere to go except sheltering at home, I think I should be to start Camp NaNoWriMo on a strong footing.Continue reading “March Recap: Live readings and more”
I self-published my first full-length novel, Heritage Lost, Dec. 6, 2019. Technically, the paperback on Amazon went live in late November after I was overzealous with my clicking . . . oops. It has definitely been a learning experience that was a lot different from my experience of publishing short stories via KDP — for one thing, you’re dealing with twice the formatting. For writers interested in self-publishing, I thought I’d share a bit about my experience and the pathway I took. In the future, I’ll probably also share a post about what I would do differently if I had the opportunity. There are quite a few things.
KDP and Ingram Spark Combo
For this release, a KDP and Ingram Spark combination was used.
I took the saying about never putting all of your eggs in one basket very seriously. Platforms can shut down, rules can change, and accounts can be locked — fairly or unjustifiably. If you only have your stories on one platform and one of those three things happens, poof! you’re gone. Your readers can no longer find your works and you are missing out on profit while facing the challenge of rebuilding. Having a secondary source for your book’s printing prevents it from disappearing.
With that said, I’m still a part of KDP’s Kindle Unlimited program, which means while my paperback is available at different retailers, my e-book is exclusively available on Amazon. I did this because I’m building my readership and KU allows me to cast a wider net; some of these readers might never had picked up my book otherwise. The program has also been highly recommended by other indie authors.Continue reading “So I self-published: What that journey was like”
Well, we’re already a month into 2020, so this blog is off to a terrific start in the new year. But I still wanted to get this post of reflection done.
Part of me believes I was an incredibly lazy year, but then I sit and really think about all that I accomplished during it. It was A LOT. So I’m not entirely sure why I feel I didn’t do enough. For one thing, I finally realized my dream of publishing a full-length novel. “Heritage Lost” went through its final edits. I formatted that sucker (both e-book and paperback) myself, and I hit publish on Dec. 6.
I also actually wrote more than I had in years, including almost 19K on “The Promise,” and reaching the halfway marker on both “Descent” (Heritage Lost Book 2) and my historical fiction novel. Periodically, I also wrote scenes as they came to mind — something I’m striving to do more often. One must strike while the iron is still hot.
I like to think I’m on more solid grounding as I enter 2020 and embark on the first leg of my ambitious five-year writing business plan. By the end of 2020, I hope to have “Descent” wrapped up for a Spring 2021 release; a companion Heritage Verse novel, featuring Akakios and his crew, largely done for a Fall 2021 release; and get the historical fiction novel ready for querying. I’m also whipping myself into gear to finish story No. 2 in The Augur’s Rose Series, which should be available by Fall 2020 — trouble is brewing and you can’t keep a good necromancer down. Ba-da-dump!
I’ve missed one of my rough timeline goals in my five-year plan by not wrapping up “Descent” at the end of January, but there is wiggle room allowed in my planning. I’m also very proud to have reached the 67K marker — so over halfway there. Here’s hoping that I will have it wrapped up by the end of February, especially since I’m starting to see my daily word counts grow again. Maybe not to the level of my high school days, but I work a full-time job so I need to cut myself slack. I give myself too little slack as it is.
With any luck, the blog will be more active in 2020, but I suggest not holding your breath. I’m certainly not holding mine.