Category Archives: writing

One Universe – Endless Opportunities

This post was originally going to highlight how my current working universe started as a random short story tapped out on my phone and converted itself first into a “historical fiction” type book and then into a Gunpowder Fantasy.

Instead, I thought I would talk about how a single universe can be a wealth of opportunities for multiple story lines and independent series.

I was reading A Way with Worlds post on cultures, and it came to me that building out a detailed world is not only important for immersing your readers in your world, but can spawn new ideas. As I was putting down some background information for my supporting short stories when some of the background turned itself into the basis for a whole new series.

Now, writing two separate series in the same universe can be tricky. If you choose to have the two stories work closely together, you have to worry about writing both series simultaneously or risk revealing too much about one storyline.

If you choose to have the two more loosely related, as I intend to do with my Griffins & Gunpowder and Red Dragon’s War series, then you have to focus less on either story revealing too much and more on making sure that any interactions between the two series are consistent between the two.

One of the advantages of this approach,  however, is that your secondary and background world building is already done for you. You also have the ability to make your world more detailed. Where telling about a certain nation would be an info-dump in Series 1, in Series 2 you can go into great detail as part of the story.

What do you think about writing more than one series in a shared universe? What other challenges or advantages do you think would come with the territory?

Advertisements

Finding the Time…

…to write.

This post is inspired by a posy I saw on Kindleboards in the Writer’s Cafe.

I’m a workaholic, I will readily admit that. While I like the income from two jobs, it’s a terribly wearing thing to do and leaves little time for family-time and less time for writing.

My ultimate goal in my quest to finish my novels and publish them is to be able to afford to quit my day job. I know that it’s a longshot and that it may take some time to accomplish my goal, I feel that what I’m working on is unique and compelling enough to eventually carry me into that realm.

But first, I have to find the time to write and edit.

My wife and I recently made a rule: while our 15 month old son is awake, we only use technology when it is absolutely necessary. With the exception of Sundays. This cuts out around 2-3 hours on weeknights but I’m okay with that as I’m not particularly productive between day job and night job anyways.

So I cram all of my work into Friday and Saturday nights after 10, except when we rent a movie, and all day Sundays.

During the week I’ll use my smartphone to type up plot ideas or character arcs, so some of the back end stuff doesn’t require my attention during my designated writing periods. It’s still difficult to cram all of that work into such small periods, but I’m a workaholic, I can do it!

So when do you find time to write?

Logline and Blurb

Getting your novel to sell is a complicated process. I would think that the biggest part of having a successful novel is have a good novel. Well written and well edited. I think I’ve got half of that equation out of the way and I’m working on the editing now.

Another part of selling your novel is having a good cover; from the sketches that I’ve been sent by the cover artist I’m working with, I think it’s going to be a stellar piece that conveys the feeling of  The Cerberus Rebellion perfectly.

Finally, there is the log line and blurb. I think I’ve got my log line down:

As the nation of Ansgar prepares to celebrate a century of peace and prosperity, a war thousands of miles away begins a chain of events that will lead to rebellion, treachery and betrayal.

It’s my blurb that needs work. This was the first draft:

The nation of Kerberos has suffered under the subjugation of the Ansgari throne for one hundred years. Now, after a century of scheming and decades of preparation, Magnus Jarmann is ready to launch a war of independence that will free his people and return his country to its rightful place among the nations of Zaria.

Eadric Garrard was raised to believe that he was the rightful King of Ansgar and that his fearful subjects, even his loyal nobles, answered to his every whim.

He has spent most of his life looking over his shoulder for assassins with one eye and looking for ways to increase his prestige in the eyes of his allies with the other.

So when an opportunity arises to seal two alliances by sending his armies across the Vast Sea, Eadric sees the chance to further his standing with two powerful nations and remind his nobles who rules Ansgar with one action.

Little does he know that his actions will bring about events that will change his nation forever. He will discover that his subjects are not as fearful as he thinks, and that his nobles are far from loyal.

Raedan Clyve was an ordinary boy until an Elven ritual involving a griffin’s heart turned him into something more. Fifteen years later, Raedan still struggles with the magics that he gained and the consequences that come with them.

His problems were compounded when he was thrust into a nobility that he was not raised to have. Now he struggles to rule over a territory in the middle of rebuilding while facing pressure to find a suitable wife and father an heir.

When the King orders levies raised, Raedan fears the loss of men will cripple his wounded Barony and he must wrestle with obeying his sworn King or doing what is right for his people.

While his brother struggles with his newly-granted nobility, Hadrian Clyve has picked up where their father left off and works to expand his family’s influence.

His aggressive negotiation of alliances and shrewd choice of marriage agreements has earned him respect, and resentment.

Hadrian’s loyalty to his Duke has put him in a unique position to shape both the destiny of his family and the future of his nation.

The Cerberus Rebellion is set on the World of Zaria, where Elves, magic and mythical beasts coexist beside rifles and railroads. The futures of two nations hang in the balance as rebels and traitors trade gunfire with loyalists, mercenaries and pirates.

It was definitely too long by about 200 words so I had to trim some of that down.

Draft 2:

The Cerberus Rebellion is set on the world of Zaria, where Elves, magic and mythical beasts coexist beside rifles and railroads. The futures of two nations hang in the balance as rebels and revolutionaries trade gunfire with loyalists and tyrants.

Magnus was born to rule a nation that has been subjugated for a century fights. His fight to free his people will bring him face to face with a king that will not let him succeed.

Raedan been thrust into his role as a noble of Ansgar by fate and clever politics. He struggles with the responsibilities of his title and the magics that were granted to him through an ancient Elven ritual.

His brother, Hadrian, has made it his goal to make his family a political and economic powerhouse in the nation of Ansgar. He will see his family’s name raised to heights of power through political maneuvering, clever marriage agreements and pure force of will.

King Eadric’s grip on sanity is tenuous at best and he sees assassins in every shadow. The fracture of his nation is an affront to his authority and he leads his armies to bring hislost sheep back into the fold.

So, what do you think?

Done!

After 8 months, 2 days, 93k words (not including excised chapters and snippets), The Cerberus Rebellion is ready to go into Alpha-stage 1, a full read in Scrivener.

I have 5 weeks to get it through 3 Alpha-Reads and 1 Round of Beta along with all of the revisions to go with them. I’m shooting for a July release at this point so I can get some momentum going into the promotions I have planned for September 14!

I’m still looking for a couple of beta readers. I’m just looking for plot, pacing and structure feedback. I’ve got an editor lined up for the more detailed stuff.

The Effect of New Hardware

I was going through my files and Evernotes for The Cerberus Rebellion and I realized that it has been 8 months since I started writing it. Now, what’s really an eye opening is the rate at which I’ve been writing. Between 8/20 and 3/24 (when I bought my new laptop) I had completed 65,000 words. That averages out to a little less than 9,300 words per month, or around 2,300 words per week

Now, on 3/24 I picked up my new laptop and started working. Between 3/24 and today 4/21 I’ve written a total of 27k words, not including the chapters and snippets that I ended up removing from the story. Which factors out to 30k words in a month, or just over 7,500 words per week.

I think it’s really amazing the effect that new hardware can have on your productivity.

Things I Did Last Week

Week in Review:

The last week has been a flurry of activity as I near the completion of The Cerberus Rebellion and prepare to move it into the Alpha/Beta Read stage.

In preparation for that, and knowing how busy a lot of the editors and cover artists are, I contacted a couple of editors and cover artists.

I decided to go with heavycatweb.net for my cover. They sent over the initial sketches for the cover and I have to say that it is very impressive and I am looking forward to the finished product. They offered to add the title and artist name to it for an additional fee but why do that when my lovely wife is prefectly capable?

After getting some quotes, I decided to schedule Nick at everything-indie.comfor the beginning of June. That gives me approximately six weeks to finish the last 5 chapters of The Cerberus Rebellion, get it through 2 or 3 rounds of reading by myself and then a round with beta readers.

Speaking of beta-readers, my uncle agreed to beta-read for me and I’m very excited about that because he’s a great writer and will definitely give me great feedback.

Finally I secured a map artist (Jared @ The Red Epic) to create a map for both the world of Zaria and a more detailed map of Ansgar.

If you’re reading this post then you’ll have realized that I’ve moved to a new site. Gunpowderfantasy.com is official and the home of my new blog. On top of that, today I started a wiki that I’m going to spend some time filling in to provide background information and to keep all of the character bios straight for readers.

Warning Spoilers will abound: Gunpowder Fantasy Wiki

What’s On Tap:

Right now, I’m working on getting The Cerberus Rebellion finished. I’m going to spend as much time this weekend working on the last five chapters.

I’m going to go through 1 read-through with Scrivener (the software I use to write) so that I can make on the fly changes.

Second read will be on paper and I think the third will be using a text-to-speech program.

I’m also working on securely long-term arrangements with my editor and artist to try and reduce the cost of production.

If all goes well, I should be releasing The Cerberus Rebellion at the beginning of July, which gives me some time to get a head of steam before my planned promotions on 9/14!

The Home Stretch

Last night I clawed my way over the 80,000 word mark for The Cerberus Rebellion.

Before the weekend, as I was walkung into my night job, I had a flash of inspiration and used Evernote to plot out the last 8 chapters.

Well, one of those chapters turned into 3 chapters but if the last 8 end up between 2-3k words I’ll end up just above 105k.

It’s a little higher than I wanted to end up but I figure with rewrites and edits I’ll cut a few thousand words out.

I’m still hoping to make my self-imposed deadline at the end of April but if I’m over by a week it won’t hurt

I’m still looking for Beta Readers and expect to be through my own first draft editing by the end of May and would like to get it to an editor by the middle of June.

If you’re interested, please post a comment.

New Hardware

So, up until now I have been writing either on my desktop computer downstairs or on the laptop that my mom gave with almost no functioning keys and a ten pound paperweight.

I had to buy a wireless keyboard/mouse combo in order to function. The problem with that was that even with the wireless keyboard, I would have to set my laptop on the coffee table. For anyone with a wandering 1 year old, you know what trouble having a laptop open can be.

So I’ve been restricted to either waiting for him to go to bed or going downstairs and writing on the desktop. Since I work 4 nights a week, that cuts out a significant portion of my writing time and my wife works nights sometimes too so I can’t just go downstairs to write.

Well, we recently paid off my wife’s laptop on our best buy card so I started looking at laptops for myself.

I finally settled on a toshiba ultrabook. It’s crazy thin, has a Solid State Drive and only weighs 2.47 pounds.

I just got it on Wednesday and spent most of the night getting it set up, but I can already see that I will be able to get a lot more writing done.

Looking for Blog Tour Hosts for September!

I’m looking for Indie Author and/or Fantasy book blog sites to host a September blog tour to celebrate and announce the release of my first novel; The Cerberus Rebellion.

If you have a blog or know of one that might fit the bill, please leave a comment or tweet me @authorjkjohnson.

Thanks!

How Many Points of View?

As I was planning out The Cerberus Rebellion, I had to make a decision on how many Point of View characters I wanted to include.

I had already concluded that I would be writing in third-person limited. I have written some short stories in first person and I have a couple of pen-on-paper novels written in third person omniscient, but right now 3rd Limited is where I feel comfortable. I like how 3rd Limited allows you to show a character from a different point of view by having them appear in someone else’s POV chapter.

Part of my goal in writing The Cerberus Rebellion is to tell the story of how the events of the book, and ultimately the series, affect my main characters.

I wanted to avoid the overwhelming number of points of view (especially as seen in the Song of Ice and Fire novels by George RR Martin) while at the same time telling the full spectrum of my story.

I’ve decided to start my first novel with 4 main points of view. I was going to include some secondary POV characters for one-shot chapters but decided that those stories could be used for short stories or novellas at a later time (kind of how David Weber fills out information through his anthologies).

How do you decide on how many POV characters to use? Do you think more than 1 is too many or do you like to see multiple sides of the story?