Monday, December 23

TGL - 99 Cents for the Holidays!

With school out and yule tidings all around, I invite you all to catch up on the first sword and sorcery adventures of young Theodore Ellsworth in the World of Ord with a special holiday deal. Now through January the 5th, The Goldenwealth Light will be available to download for only 99 cents!

Grab it here!

Get it now -- Book 2, Everywhere the Road Ends, is just around the corner!


Saturday, November 16

Musing about Muses

If there's anything I've learned about trying to come up with new ideas over time, it's that you just can't force it. There are times when no matter what you want your brain to cook up for you, the oven just won't come on. When I hit a situation like that, I turn the stove on simmer. Think about it for awhile, and then push it into the back of the brain and focus on other things. If you let the clouds gather over that idea you need, the brainstorm eventually unleashes itself.

I must admit, sudden assaults from my muse are not as frequent as they were when I was younger. I'm of the belief that teenage hormones help to beget those 3 am moments when you wake up with a sudden idea that simply has to be written down. Every now and then I still get attacked like that though, and it's always a good feeling.

I have an old manuscript I've recently dusted off and started polishing up again. Back when I first wrote it (about a year before TGL), I stopped about two chapters before the end because I wasn't certain where I wanted to go with it. Then TGL captured my attention, and it went into hiatus. Now I'm working on it again and finding that I have a lot of refinements to add that I'm happy with, but that blank space at the end has been staring me in the face for two weeks, reminding me that when I get to that point, it will still be there, looming and waiting. Yesterday I was driving home from work with a nice warm latte. I wasn't even thinking about that story, when I received a visit from the gift muse. Found myself shouting "Yes! That's perfect! Just what I needed there!" at nobody in the car. Had to stop at Wal-Mart on the way home to grab a steno pad, so I could plan everything out before it leaked back out of my ears.

Made my day. My Lady Muse can be stingy at times, but when she does decide to visit, there's always fruit to bear.


Wednesday, November 13

Hunting the Library

I had the pleasure of visiting the The Paul Smith Library of Shrewsbury, PA today. I admit, I was on a mission. I heard there was a particular book available there, and I needed to see it for myself.

I didn't find it in Fiction. I didn't find it in Fantasy. I didn't find it in Young Adult, Juvenile, or Teen.

I did find it in New Fiction and Chapter Books (which, when I thought about it, was pretty appropriate). It was the Goldenwealth Light. I never would have realized it before, but there's a certain feeling you get when you find your own book in a public library that trumps even the feeling of holding it in your hands for the first time. It makes you feel like you've made something happen. Like even if you never accomplish anything else, that book will always be there somewhere, and you'll have left your mark when people see the dedication to your children inside the front cover.

I digress. Just wanted to say I'm in a good mood, and you can now find the Traveler of Ord in the Paul Smith Library. Those of you who are waiting on Book II, I can say that I don't believe you'll be seeing it this year. The manuscript is indeed complete and is going through the editing process as we speak, but after that it still needs to go for cover designing, and there are only 47 days left in 2013. What I can tell you is that you will be seeing Everywhere the Road Ends in the first quarter of 2014, so keep an eye out.

If you're on the fence about writing a book, consider the feeling above. Remember, even if you only write 300 words a day or just until your morning coffee cup is empty, you're still accomplishing something, so don't give up!

New Fiction and Chapter Books, Shrewsbury, PA


Wednesday, October 23

Updates from Ord

Well, things are moving along at a good pace. The manuscript for Everywhere the Road Ends is through the initial editing phase and is waiting on the editor's eye. Hopefully Book II of the Traveler of Ord saga will be on the cyber-shelves before the end of the year. This installment features a lot more of well...pretty much everything!

While I'm waiting and enjoying a nice 10-day family vacation, I decided to dust off an old manuscript for another project that got sidetracked last year in favor of work on the Traveler of Ord. It's a standalone YA novel with a much more contemporary theme (and a message). As I re-read it, I feel it deserves to see the light of day. So, be on the lookout for some non-Ord related updates as well.

Happy writing, and don't be a stranger :)


Friday, September 6

Wrapping up the roughage of Ord

At long last, the end draws near. I'm happy to be starting work on the final chapter of TGL's sequel. Surprisingly, this road feels like it's been longer than the one that led to creation of the first book. Maybe it's the content. TGL was the start of the series, so there was a fair amount of "build up" before it was time to tackle the meat of the story. Book 2 launches right into the thick of it. As a result I was able to cover more ground, but as I look back, boy have I put the cast through a lot! I have a feeling if some of them were reading over my shoulder they would be less than pleased (which, depending on the character, could be very, very bad for me).

At any rate, there will most certainly be a completed draft soon!


Thursday, August 22

A Little Ord "to go"

So, like a lot of people, I have a laptop. It's a little on the older side, but it can more than keep up by modern standards, and it pretty much suits all my computer needs. I'm not much of a fan of Windows, so I'm running Linux Mint 15 with a stripped XP installed as a guest host in seamless mode. The translation of that gibberish is that when I want to write, even if I'm using Linux, all I have to do is click on one shortcut and a windows taskbar appears at the bottom of the screen just over my Mint taskbar, allowing me to very quickly and very easily boot up MSWord for my writing.

I like it, but it's still not enough.

Those who know me probably know I have a thing about extreme portability. I prefer handheld video game systems to consoles. I carry the smallest, thinnest possible wallet and take out absolutely anything from it I don't need to have on a daily basis. My keyring consists of a house key, a car key, and a single 5-yen coin I got as change in Japan that happens to have the year of my birth on it, on a tiny lanyard. Once upon a time laptops were the key to portability, but by today's standards they're big, bulky, hot, and since they don't live for very long on a charge, you're pretty much tethered to AC power most of the time anyway.

So, I bought a Sony Vaio netbook on ebay that was being sold "for parts". 90% off of retail is a deal to me, especially when I figured out the problem it was having wasn't so bad. I won't bore you with the technical details, but the long story short is that I had it working just fine for one night, and then discovered a short circuit. By the time I had the whole device torn down to look for the problem, I found so many other little things wrong with it that I wrote it off, and will in turn be selling it for parts.

What's left? I could just suck it up and stick with my laptop, but nooooo...I just have to have something smaller and more portable. So, now I'm waiting on a lapdock 100 for my phone. All the features of the phone in the package of a netbook, with a full keyboard and a nice display. What's even better, after my exhaustive search and comparison I have finally found an android word processing app that correctly preserves all of my word paperback formatting! Docs to Go wins the prize!

So, soon enough, perhaps you'll see me at Starbucks with a venti soy chai (no water) in one hand, and typing away with the other on something that looks like a netbook with a phone sticking out of it.

Nah, you won't see that. Typing with one hand just sucks. Maybe they'll give me a straw...




Monday, August 19

Still hangin' out in Ord

Hello all,

Just wanted to come back around and breathe some more life into this blog. The Traveler of Ord Saga is not in the least bit down and out - far from it, I just have a tendency to put the blinders on when I'm deep into writing. So, remembering to blog and keep everybody in the loop sometimes falls by the wayside. Sorry about that!

At any rate, progress on the sequel to The Goldenwealth Light has been good. The rough manuscript is nearly complete, and though it will of course need edits, I have a more refined system this time than I did for book one, so I don't expect it will take that long. If TGL was the setup for the series, expect book 2 to move a bit faster and include more detail. It will definitely be longer, and for those of you out there who wanted a more concrete ending, you'll at least be getting some short-term closure. Remember that the Traveler of Ord is not a series of stand alone books. I'll give you one hint as to the content and let you know that the first paragraph of book two is the exact same as the last paragraph of book 1 -- that should give you some idea of how quickly we'll be plunging back into the action. Be on the lookout for new locales, a cast of many new supporting characters, and a lot more action as we start to see just what Theodore Ellsworth is really up against in his travels through Ord! As always, progress updates are available on the facebook page :)

At present, I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Sony Viao netbook I ordered on ebay last week. Got it at an almost literal "steal" - about 90% off of retail. The seller listed it as "broken", but from what they described, I'm pretty sure all it needs is a wipe, an OS reinstall, and some TLC. So long as the BIOS is good (fingers crossed!), I'll be sitting pretty. I'm particularly excited about the netbook because it's going to breathe some new life into writing for me. There are times now and then where I could be writing, but I just don't feel like having a hot, heavy laptop tethering me to the wall and weighing me down. How about that progress, huh? Years ago laptops were considered such beautifully portable alternatives to desktops and towers, and here I'm thinking of mine as clunky! Well, I'm an on the go sort I guess. I like computers, but I have never liked being stuck in the same chair for long periods of time. A netbook with good battery life should help with that. Can't wait to put Word 2010 on it and a stripped down XP install with "no-frills" so it'll chug along like lightning with little wear and tear. Here's hoping she comes to me with a sound body!


Wednesday, May 8

Goodbye, Book…Don’t Forget to Write!

A little tidbit — if you’re writing a story, don’t forget to actually do it.

With as busy as we all are, it can be very easy to relegate your writing to the back burner, and then come up with any excuse not to get back to it. In that respect, being unpublished or self-published is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, there’s no editor or house label breathing down your neck to crank out that next volume by a given deadline. On the other hand, having the freedom to “get to it whenever” can equal getting to it never. There’s always something — going to work, playing with the kids, taking out the garbage, et cetera. All are important things of course, so the challenge becomes working around them and still finding time to crank out a few words a day.

My crutch lately has been the Internet. I think I’m going to write, so I log into my computer, decide I’ll post a quick status update to my Facebook fan page…which becomes commenting on other posts, which leads to clicking on links, which leads to reading stories and/or remembering things I’d been meaning to look up for a long time…and before you know it, I’ve either cut my work session in half, or done away with it entirely. Promoting can cause this to happen, too. Yes, it’s good to promote your book if that’s the route you’ve chosen for your writing, but spend too much time talking about one book, and the next one just won’t happen.

This post is just a little reminder to set a few minutes aside a day to write. And yes, even a little bit makes a difference. It’s also very easy to talk yourself out of working on your manuscript today because you’re only really going to have fifteen minutes, which just isn’t enough time to make it worthwhile. Sure it is! Fifteen minutes, five hundred words…it all adds up, and before you know it your rough draft is waiting for the red pen.

And that’s just one step further towards the day you see that book with your name on it, there on the shelves.

How do you make time for writing? Please share!

Wednesday, April 17

Facebook Migration and "The World of Ord"

Hello all!

You may have noticed (I'm a failure at life if you didn't) the big old facebook link up above this post. Recently Its come to my attention that people are having an easier time staying in touch with me (and I with them) via facebook than any other forum I'm active on. So, I've spiffed up my author page a bit, with some fun new features:

  • The World of Ord - A detailed reference for a myriad of aspects of the world The Traveler of Ord saga takes place in. Everything from politics to cuisine!
  • Links to Ord's Pinterest Board, and Twitter feed.
  • Links to my profiles on Goodreads and Linkedin.

Not to mention I'm making an effort to add lots of content and posts about the literary world in general. I've been subscribing to a lot of worthy blogs by a lot of talented and informative people, and hope to pass along some of what they have to offer. So come over and visit (and if you're so inclined, "like" before you go!)

Don't worry, by no means am I getting rid of ordonline.net. But if you haven't seen an update on this blog for a few days and are wondering what strange, dark nook in the back of the closet I've fallen into this time, try looking for me over on ye old FB.

Don't be a stranger! (At least, don't be stranger than me!)


Friday, April 12

"Triple Word Scare" - YA/horror short story

My 3,940 short story, "Triple Word Scare", was submitted to Dark Moon Digest last night for their YA special issue. I got a confirmation email, which I'm happy about. Nobody can blame publishers for not responding personally to every submission they receive because of how inundated most of them are, but it's really great when you at least get a confirmation that your submission was received, so you're not worrying about garbled email screwing things up. Even better, the message was not a form letter, and it mentioned that all submitting authors would be informed of the outcome, accepted or not. That's a class act, in my opinon. Good work guys :)


Wednesday, April 10

Updates and Birthday!

Time to catch up with the world!

Spent a few days out of life sick. Now that it's behind me and the warmer weather has charged up my batteries, it's time to get back to work. The short story submission to Dark Moon I mentioned last post is finished. It needs a teeny-tiny bit of edit work before it gets shipped off, but it will be ready to go before the deadline at this point. I hope for the best! If I can publish enough short stories, I intend to release an anthology once all the first-world rights to the various publishers expire.

TGL's sequel continues. The plot has taken a turn for the mysterious, and at this point in the book the reader will have some new questions to contend with -- not to mention the new settings and multitude of new characters to enjoy! I will consider the ending a success if the reader turns the last few pages and thinks -- "Oh! So THAT'S it! I see!"

More to come!

Did I mention the 9th was my birthday? I spent half of it not feeling well, but my stomach and I made friends just in time to enjoy a sushi smorgasboard, courtesy of my wonderful wife. That and a new chainsaw (which I swear is being used to fuel my lumberjack needs -- no horror here!!)

Monday, April 1

In Other News...

Taking a brief break from TGL's sequel to write up a short story for Dark Moon's YA horror special issue. I think getting chosen for an anthology is as much about putting an original spin on an idea as it is producing top-notch writing, and that can be tough with all the cliches that exist in the horror world these days. I hope they like it!

Tuesday, March 26

REVIEW: Behind Lace Curtains

(A copy of this review has been posted to the Gossamer Court's Book Reviews section.)

From Amazon:

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"Healthy college students, safe at home, asleep in their own beds, do not die of natural causes. Or do they?

When conflicted New York City photographer Jake Preston is called upstate for the funeral of his former lover’s young brother, he is unwittingly lured into a maelstrom of dangerous secrets and waking nightmares. While searching for the true cause of Keith’s death, Jake falls under the spell of Claude and Madeleine Devereux, a pair of malevolent, psychic parasites who convince him that he is more than flesh and bone, blurring the line of demarcation that separates Main Street reality from the truth that lies hidden just on the other side of a lace curtain."

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Behind Lace Curtains is a 578-page murder mystery novel. I was provided with a free copy of the book in return for an unbiased, non-reciprocal review. (I do not include synopses in my reviews - check the book's Amazon or Goodreads pages for that info.)

I admit that I normally shy away from murder mystery novels. It's not because I don't like them, it's because they're a dime a dozen -- next to grocery store romance, I'm of the impression that mysteries are perhaps one of the most popular genre out there. Thus, it's much harder to stand out. Everybody has a clever idea or you probably would never have even seen their book, much less read it. You've got to have more than that, and I think Synborski managed to take it to a level that is very much worth the read.

The book is on the long side, but rather than being bogged down with excessive description or too much irrelevant information, the space is used to advance the plot and endear me to the protagonist. You'll hear me say this in a lot of my reviews -- I MUST have a reason to care about the protagonist's plight, or nothing the author does to them will matter to me. In Behind Lace Curtains, I am afforded enough quality time with Jake Preston to get what I feel is a true understanding of who he is. Synborski makes me want to turn the next page because I am presented with a three-dimensional hero who's fate is important to me. Likewise, several of the supporting cast members have appropriate levels of development for their roles.

Another point of appreciation for this book is its versatility. I get to experience the same plot throughout such differing venues as New York city, and bayou New Orleans. Synborski clearly has a clear range of understanding for both such environments to make them feel truly believable, and I noticed I was completing larger sections of the book than I had planned with each sitting.

My complaints are minor and basically superficial. I noticed a few grammatical issues here and there, but I personally am willing to accept such things when they are not overbearing (people tend to forget that even the most professionally edited manuscripts will still have a few errors -- it is simply inevitable even when the book is on a shelf at a store). There are also two spaces after every period. This I also can't really complain about either, as it took me a long time to leave this particular meme behind myself, but it is a bit jarring when reading text printed in a variable-width font.

I won't say much about the actual mystery because I don't want to give anything away, but the plot itself, combined with all other aspects of the story, make for a compelling read that I would certainly recommend, for overwhelmed mystery enthusiasts that are looking for their next gem in the sea.


Monday, March 18

Hanging at the Edge of the Cliff

Hello all!

The topic at hand came to mind when I had an ironic experience recently. Several days ago I was in a conversation on Goodreads where the question of cliffhangers came up. One participant explained that they really hate cliffhangers because they hate being, per the term, left hanging and waiting for more. Closure was needed, even if it was only closure for a given scene. I remarked that cliffhangers don't really bother me that much. Sure, if I'm really into it I can be heard to say things like "Aww man! No more until next time?" But, to me it's all in good fun and I enjoy the excitement of waiting for the next installment. I've heard though, that some readers are prone to becoming honestly angry with an author who makes use of cliffhangers in certain ways.

Then, I suddenly found myself on the opposite side of the fence. Those of you who know me probably also know that I consider a well-written manga targeted at adult audiences to be just as interesting as a good novel. Typically to find juicy bits like that you need to go to fansub groups for books that will never be licensed to anybody outside of Japan, as opposed to traveling down to your local Barnes and Noble. On the plus side, there are so many great titles out there (if you know how to find them) that it's literally impossible to run out of constant brain-stimulus while waiting for the next chapter of one that's hooked you to be released. On the minus side, the groups that translate these things don't get paid for their work, and translating a manga to a readable quality takes a lot more work than one might think (editing, typesetting, cleaning, translating, et cetera...). You're also at the mercy of whatever groups choose to drop a project, unless another group chooses to pick it up again. It's nothing to complain about since if it weren't for these groups we wouldn't have any manga to enjoy at all, but still.

My point after that large digression is that when reading manga, you have to get used to cliffhangers that might never be continued in some cases, unless you plan to learn more Japanese than I did during my time over there. That, and you must be patient. One title that I have been following as closely as possible for nearly two years now is Shinigami-sama ni Saigo no Onegai wo (Last Wish to the Shinigami), by Mikoto Yamaguchi. It's an intriguing murder-mystery with high paranormal elements, shocking moments, suspense, humor...basically the gamut of emotional responses (something I appreciate in any good story). Most of all, it's extremely well thought out. In all that time the series ended at only eighteen chapters, but I was pleased when another group picked it up and saw it out to the end. Until I read the last chapter and found myself...on the other side of the fence. I won't give anything away, but suffice to say the ending raises just as many questions as the beginning did, and I received no real sense of closure. "What the heck is this?" I thought. I actually found myself becoming a little upset, and I trolled around a few forums just to be certain the 18th actually was the last chapter. To my dismay, the series did indeed end there.

It seemed to me that either the publisher had decided to axe the title and pull the rug out from under the mangaka (author), or the mangaka got lazy/gave up/etc and just left us readers to "figure it out on our own". I'm fine with a mystery story, but in my opinon, any story must have some sense of closure to be considered finished. You can conjecture all day long about whether or not Colonel Mustard was killed in the library with the candlestick, and it's a lot of fun to do that while the story is going on, but how would you feel if you never really found out whodunnit? Right, I felt the same way.

All the same, I've calmed down now and I can't say that I'm still upset about it. The mangaka insists that he dropped enough clues during the story to allow readers to determine the culprit. So, since 18 chapters isn't that long, I will most likely go back and re-read the entire thing to see what I come up with. Was the end-of-series cliffhanger a bad idea? I'm really not sure. I could cry foul, but then, I appear to not be the only one who's going to read it all again (which is rare for me), and if I'm willing to do that, I must have liked it. Also, now people have something to talk about. It's no longer "Oh, so-and-so did it, that was cool, let's move on." It's now, "Who do you think did it? Let's discuss ." I'm sure the story will garner even more readers now that people who have read it can make such comments.

Just like I'm making now. Go figure.

Well, that's my two cents. Would love to hear some opinions on cliffhangers for anybody who took the time to read this entire post! In the meantime, I think I have the list of suspects in this story narrowed down to two possible culprits. It's GOT to be one of them....

Thursday, March 14

Updates from the World of Ord

Hello all!

Wanted to take a moment to keep interested readers abreast of the developments in TGL's sequel. Things have been a little on the slow side lately, as I've been using some of that oh-so-precious free time to fulfill reviewing obligations to fellow indie authors. I don't so reciprocal reviews, but I'm a memeber of several review groups on Goodreads that have excellent schemes for matching up books with potential reviewers. If you want something out of the community, giving back is a good way to get it :)

At any rate, I also wanted to bring up a friendly mention I received in Real Indies, Real Answers, an article by Simpklu, a small team of editors, proofreaders and promoters who work quietly behind the scenes with small press, minor publishing houses, independent writers and self publishing authors. Simpklu recently asked several pertinent questions of the indie author community, and included a blurb in their article including one of my responses to their questions. Thanks Simpklu!

More writing to come!



BOOK REVIEW: Rani of Rampur

(This review has been copied to the Gossamer Court's book reviews section.)

From Amazon:

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"Rani of Rampur is a fast paced story of a young journalist, Rani who travels to her ancestral home in the Indian village of Rampur, in order to meet her estranged aunt's family. While helping her aunt plan a family wedding, Rani encounters political intrigue, murder and even supernatural forces at work. How she survives the challenges which are many, to protect those she holds dear, forms the core of this story."

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Rani of Rampur, by Suneeta Misra, is an approximately 200-page mystery/drama depicting fictional characters, but heavily weighted in factual aspects of Indian culture and society. I received this book for free in return for providing a non-reciprocal, unbiased review. I am not one for providing detailed summaries in reviews, so I will delve directly into my thoughts (if you do desire a synopsis, one has been provided on the book's Amazon sales page).

I must say that I enjoyed the setting of this book, but I admit I may have some personal bias in that department. I studied Asian history and culture extensively in college, and though my focus was on Japan, one cannot learn certain facets of Japanese history without learning Chinese history, and one cannot experience much of western Chinese history without influence from countries such as India. I haven't immersed myself in such a setting for some time, so this book was welcome in that respect. I won't hold my own shortcomings against the author however, when I further admit that my expertise with names and pronounciation also lies further east than India, so I did have a trivial amount of trouble keeping characters straight in this book (which did not dissuade me from enjoying it).

Rani of Rampur is essentially a young woman's struggle against classic, "bad guy" evil on the cusp of a society in a state of social change. Misra does a commendable job of weaving together both sources of antagonism -- there's murder most foul for Rani to deal with, while at the same time a clashing of progressive versus traditional culture. Despite the length, Misra takes her time weaving a careful plot, as well as developing the main character into somebody I felt I could relate to. I can't stress enough how important something like this is, at least to me. If I am not given the opportunity to care about characters in a story, then it won't matter to me what happens to them and overall I will find a read to be boring. That was not the case, here. I was really able to get into Rani's feelings and thinking. It's possible some may think the story ponderous at times, but I appreciated a well-rounded tale.

I have seen this book classified as a mystery. I can see that to a point, but I thought of it as more of a drama. There's definitely a mystery there to be enjoyed, but I felt that the cultural aspects of the book were more of a centralized theme.

I can say that Rani of Rampur felt "real" to me. Most everything in this book I can see happening in real life one way or another -- I didn't have any "oh c'mon, that's stretching it" moments. The book is well written and edited to the point that it is clearly not just a fly-by-night "I wanted to write a book" thing. Misra is a serious author, with a title such as this under her belt.

If I were to say anything negative about this book, it would be that a reader who has little to no interest in the cultural aspects of the book might not have enough to go on with just the mystery aspects to enjoy themselves. Misra does an fine job of keeping things clear and understandable (at least she did for me), but if familial power struggles with an ethnic feel aren't your cup of tea, you might have a tough time here. All in all, that didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book. Rani of Rampur is a unique tale that I would recommend to a fiction reader that also wants to learn a few things about another culture.


Friday, March 8

TGL's paperback status and updates on Book II

Hello all!

I'm happy to announce that TGL is once again available in paperback format! Check it out here!

The sequel is up to chapter six. So far several new characters have been introduced, and one bad situation has led to a few others. Hot water for the heroes! Writing continues...


Friday, March 1

TGL Featured on WiLoveBooks

Hello all!

TGL was recently featured on the WiLoveBooks book blog! Read all about it here!

Progress on book II continues. It's right around time to find out just what became of poor Theo after his ordeal in the reflectia woods. More to come!


Monday, February 25

Ord Progress and Cover Snafu

Hello all who are keeping up!

Wanted to provide a quick status report. Book II of the Traveler of Ord is progressing well. I've just finished chapter three and chapter five is written already...even though I don't have a chapter four yet. I actually decided to shorten the prologue and use the latter half of it as chapter five instead. Prologues should be short in my opinion, and the way I had it setup it was just too long. Marie and company have just run afoul of something nasty -- I'll leave it at that for now :)

Also, for anybody who has been wondering, the paperback version of TGL has been unavailable on Amazon for awhile now. I'm very sorry about that. After the new cover went to print we noticed two very minor errors that needed to be corrected, and ever since Paul has diligently been trying to figure out why the createspace editor won't justify the margin correctly on anything new we upload, no matter what templates are used! I know there are people out there who have asked, and all I can say is I will let you know as soon as it is resolved by posting here. If anybody would like to be individually contacted, just let me know and I will do so. Kudos to Paul Beeley for his diligence!!

The journeys of the traveler continue on!


Friday, February 22

TGL's Sequel Continues On...

9000 words later, and it's on with chapter 2. Already, Tessa and Marie have deviated from what I'd intially planned for them and introduced a whole new character in so doing. They seem to know what to do next better than I do myself, as they created a great scene that I was able to really get back into the story with. Chapter 2 promises some good action, but we'll have to see if the cast agrees with me!


Wednesday, February 20

Breaking Ground (and leaving dawn alone)

The planning and review stages are complete -- 3000 words in, and The Traveler of Ord Book II is underway!

Originally I thought I would painstakingly mull over book one with a fine-toothed comb to ensure with absolute certainty that everything continues to flow well, but I realized a few things. One, I've already read The Goldenwealth Light a million times (sort of obligatory when you're in the pre-publication polishing stage of your own book), and two, I just don't want to wait anymore. So I plan to continue the saga the same way I started it. I'll set the scene and get them started, but it's on the characters to tell me what they plan to do next.

Sorry that I can't share a title for volume II yet, but titles are usually the last thing I decide on after I've completed a manuscript. For now, it's on the drawing board as "ord_2.doc". Stay tuned for updates!


Tuesday, February 12

Butterfly in the sky, can go twice as high!

Hello all,

I had a moment of nostalgia recently (as I am wont to do -- I'm a sucker for nostalgia), and I remembered something from my youth that's still with us today, standing strong against the test of time. I speak of none other than Reading Rainbow.

For most of us, our love of reading is something that's developed over time. Those of us who write -- no matter our skill level, our audience, or really any other factor, probably derived this love in turn from a love of reading. And where did that love start? Probably when we were children. It certainly did for me.

I wasn't even old enough to read when Reading Rainbow first aired (back in the days before the GC rendered opening sequence), and when I think back on the fact that it is still very much alive and well in one form or another, I can't help but feel a bit humbled. Programs like Reading Rainbow simply wouldn't survive long if not for support from -- and forgive me for the direct quote -- "viewers like you". No matter what technology has brought forth, no matter how early in our lives we are being exposed to popular entertainment or learning to use computers, I get that warm feeling when I realize that kids out there are still reading, and the rest of us still find enough value in the written word to ensure it remains part of the lives of "the next generation" (yes, yes, I had to include that phrase somewhere).

I also don't think Reading Rainbow would have the legacy it does if not for LeVar Burton. Yes, those of you who know me should be well aware what a huge trekkie I am, and of course that I am a fan of LeVar's work in that series. But before TNG, through it, and after it, Reading Rainbow was always there. I salute LeVar's contributions to society, whether he was teaching me about a new book to get excited over, instilling in me a "Starfleet" sense of personal integrity, or influencing my sense of multicultural equality through the character of Kunta Kinte.

Unless I miss my guess, the original TV series of Reading Rainbow should be celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. So take a look, it's in a book, a Reading Rainbow!

But you don't have to take MY word for it...


Friday, February 8

TGL Feature on Readful Things

The Goldenwealth Light has been featured on Readful Things, Ionia Martin's literary review blog. The feature includes Ionia's review of the book, and an extensive interview with the author.

Check it out here!


Thursday, February 7

TGL on Pinterest

The Goldenwealth Light's Pinterest board has been updated with all the new cover images and renders. If you're an artist of any skill level, or even just fancy yourself one, all are welcome to contribute to the board. Got some idea of how you think a particular character, creature, or place in the world of Ord should look? Share it here!


Tuesday, February 5

The new cover is here!

The Goldenwealth Light's new cover is complete! Many thanks to Paul Beeley of Create Imaginations, without whose talent the exceptional work featured below would not have been possible.

Be sure to thank Paul if you run into him on his website, or on Goodreads.com!

TGL Full Cover


Monday, February 4

Cover Update

The Goldenwealth Light's new cover is nearing completion. The images for the front and back covers are complete, leaving only the font and finer details to work on. I must say, Paul is doing a fantastic job! Expect to find Theo, Marie, an escarot, and the Gossamer City all featured on the new design!


Wednesday, January 30

Cover Update!

Hmmm, it seems I used the word "exceptional" at least three times in that last post. Oh well, goes to show you what can happen in a book if you don't proofread a zillion times.

At any rate, it's confirmed -- The Goldenwealth Light will indeed be receiving a totally new cover design, by noted designer Paul Beeley. Paul has created art for such covers as Radiance: Love After Death, by Debra Jayne East, which as of this post has been voted #1 best illustrated book cover on Goodreads!

I'm very excited to be working with Paul on this project. The new cover is still in its initial stages at this point, but plans are to include actual images of Theo and Marie to give readers an image of what they look like past just the descriptions in the text, as well as a beautiful view of the Gossamer City in all its prismastone glory. When the new cover is complete, the design will be updated to the paperback and kindle versions of the book (which also presents me with a handy opportunity to correct a few minor typographical errors in the text that several diligent readers were kind enough to point out).

Stay tuned for possible teaser images!


Sunday, January 27

From Moleskine to Microsoft

I think I've discovered the trickiest part of writing. It's not the character development. It's not smoothing out the plot inconsistencies. It's not even editing and proofreading (though I am a firm believer in the fact that you can only achieve 99% on this -- even professionally edited books from the big six will always have a few small problems).

What is it?

Microsoft.

Your opinion may differ from mine and that's just fine, but I find that the only part of the writing process that leaves me arguing with my computer screen and wanting to just walk away is making programs like Word, Libreoffice, and all the other assorted clones out there (I've tried a few) that have become the namesake of modern word processing do what I ask of them. And I'm not computer illiterate, either. I've been opening up CPUs and rooting around in them since I received my first 100mhz Pentium back in 1995 for $1400. I can build a working system from a pile of parts, and though I am not exceptionally proficient with software, I can follow directions with enough competence to create my own basic programs.

Yet despite that, I find battling with modern word processing to be exceptionally tedious. Even with the exceptional help of Gregory Mahan, it took me three solid days to get the paperback version of The Goldenwealth Light up to the point of proper polish for something you might find on a shelf at your local bookstore. And don't even get me started on translating that back into a workable Kindle version!

Well, things are a bit easier now that I've figured it all out, but at some point I think I'm going to have to write notes just so I can remember what I did. Once upon a time when I was young, I wrote down story ideas in a notebook. I doubt Hemingway would have had much use for filling papers with Word formatting reminders, and though modern convenience is a wonderful thing...I can't help but have a bit of envy for the way he probably did it.

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, January 24

A New Pitch!

I've decided that I like the pitch I've come up with for the ABNA competition enough to make it the new "official" description for the Goldenwealth Light. Updates will show up on the amazon sales site soon, but for now, I welcome comments!

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"Rather than being a hero with the fate of an entire world on his shoulders, Theodore Ellsworth spends his miserable days suffering merciless humiliation at the hands of prep-school bullies. It just so happens that an ancient prophecy, a shimmering city, and a herd of six-legged horses are about to change all that.

When a mysterious book transports Theo and his overachieving little sister Marie to a world full of wonders that defy anything he’s ever read about before, Theo finds himself accused of a crime he didn’t commit that carries the ultimate penalty. A reluctant princess, a winged gnome, and a hot-tempered young sorceress are there to help, but will they be enough to prove to an arrogant knight and thousands of fanatical citizens that the Ellsworth children aren’t an evil that must be destroyed?

Told in the tradition of classics like The Chronicles of Narnia and The Neverending Story, The Goldenwealth Light is the first book in a fun-filled romp through the unique realm of the Traveler of Ord, weaving high adventure and deadly intrigue in a fanciful tapestry that will keep readers from ages ten to adult turning pages for hours."


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One of the biggest troubles an author runs into while writing a pitch is to not include too much information. You want your potential readers to know "everything they need to know about the book", when in actuality a pitch is just designed to give people the "gist" of it, so to speak. I've chopped about a hundred words off of mine, which I'm hoping will draw more attention to it. My personal rule of thumb is this -- if you have to click "read more" when looking at your pitch/description on Amazon, you've written too much.

What are your thoughts?

Saturday, January 19

Don't be afraid of reviews

So, I've decided to enter The Goldenwealth Light into the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. I thought the 10,000 entry spots would fill up fast so I stayed up until midnight on opening day to ensure a spot, but it appears five days later they are still taking entries. Don't procrastinate much longer if you plan to enter, though!

What should I expect? Can't say. I think it's best not to "expect" anything from a contest, but ABNA at least has the kind of noteriety to walk away with a feather in one's cap, just for making it as far as the quarter finals. Can't hurt to try, right? I have always been a believer in the addage that the worth of a book cannot be judged by its author, but...well, so far so good. People seem to like The Goldenwealth Light. That's enough of a push to give it a go. I've heard some horror stories about excessively harsh reviewers trashing people to tears, but I've heard just as many reports from people who were still eventually eliminated that it was a worthwhile experience. Maybe the reviewers are harsh. Then again, maybe the writers making those claims were poor writers. Who can say?

I can't. And so, I throw my hat in the ring.

You can't look away from an opportunity just out of fear of a poor review. You know what? Some random person you never met could buy your book at any moment, read it, hate it, and then write a bad review. There's nothing you can do about that, unless you plan to only sell you book to friends and family. Sometimes, the odd critical review (if thoughtfully written) can actually add credibility to your work, because it helps people make an informed decision, and it keeps the impression of (Atlaria forbid) "sockpuppeting" away when people see nothing but a bevy of glowing five-star awesomenes. Still, like dark chocolate, bad reviews are only healthy if taken in small doses.

How do you keep them away? Just write the best book you can write, and let the people speak. They'll tell you if you knocked it out of the park.

The only negative reviews I won't take seriously are ones that include swearing (if you need to use foul language your point is probably weak to begin with), defamatory remarks that have no bering on reviewing a book, remarks that state something was disliked but don't say why (useless), or remarks that show the reviewer missed the point of the story - for example, disliking Harry Potter because it's too juvenile, when the book was intended for younger readers to begin with.

Bu then...who says it will go badly? Gotta put your heart into it and hope for the best!

Those are my two cents on the issue. What do you think?

Friday, January 18

Author Interview

During a recent promotion of The Goldenwealth Light, I was interviewed by K A Perkins. Read all about it on the Lionheart Galleries website!


Tuesday, January 15

The Time is Approaching...

Greetings, citizens!

So, the other day I was reviewing where The Goldenwealth is since its publication slightly less than two months ago. Ten good reviews and a total of nearly 800 KDP select free copies given away...seems not too shabby to me. Still, I noticed something. Sales just aren't there. Naturally I'm not expecting to be a bestselling author overnight (if it happens at all), but I thought the buzz would drum up at least a bit more interest.

I took a good, hard look at the book's Amazon sales page and thought to myself -- it's getting great reviews...people are saying how well written they think it is...they're waiting for a sequel, so...what's the deal? Why no pop?

Then, I believe the answer came to me. I checked out a few blogs where the book had been reviewed to see what sort of comments those bloggers were getting. Most people who commented on the reviews said the story sounds interesting and now that they read a review, they might pick it up. But, had they not read a review, they might have passed it by -- because of the cover.

People aren't saying the cover is "bad". They're saying that compared to all of the other books you would find on a shelf at a Barnes and Noble or your local library, it looks "amateurish". Since people do judge a book by its cover when deciding what novel to read next, a cover with that kind of press often leads people to click their browser's "back" button before they have even read a description, or scrolled down enough to glance over those precious reviews.

But, I'm not upset. You know...I think they may have a point. So, I'm taking action. I am currently in discussion with a prominent professional book cover designer, and we're going to start the book's cover over again from the ground up. So far, I am reeeeeally liking where this is going too. I'll give everybody some more info as I have it to share, but suffice to say, in a few weeks time, The Goldenwealth Light is going to be a MUCH snazzier-looking little number to have on one's bookshelf!

Stay tuned for more!

Friday, January 11

Thank you, readers!

I wanted to take a moment to thank everybody who participated in the post-holiday season giveaway promotion of The Goldenwealth Light. The numbers distributed outstripped the last promotion by over one hundred copies!

No matter their topic, books are nothing without readers to enjoy them. Thank you for enjoying this one.


Wednesday, January 9

At 4.8★, Amazon reviewers are saying: "Move over Harry Potter"

Got a brand new Kindle this holiday season? Looking for a good book to curl up with on a cold winter's night with a hot cup of cocoa? The Goldenwealth Light is available through the Amazon Kindle store absolutely FREE today and tomorrow (January 9th and 10th)!

Children, teens, and adults alike are invited to spend the post-holiday season journeying along with Theodore Ellsworth, the Traveler of Ord, as he and his sister Marie face wonders untold and dangers most foul in the magical realm of Quaylund. Saddle up your six-hoofed escarot and race along astride chipper humming-gnomes, enigmatic traversimorphs, elusive ripplewaifs, and huge, lumbering yurt. Enjoy your ordic everystew along the way, but remember to never stare at a reflectia tree!

See what readers on Amazon are saying about The Goldenwealth Light, and don't forget to pick up your free copy today!



Tuesday, January 8

Review Etiquette

(This article will be copied to the author support section.)

As any indie author knows, reviews are the life's blood of your work. You can sing your own glories all you want, but reviews, whether they are good or bad, at last show that people are reading your book. Of course you want those reviews to be good ones, but even if they aren't, at least you will know just what gripes people have.

So how do you get those glorious gems called reviews?

Well, you can pay for them. There are a few review services out there (Kirkus Indie is one) that will produce an polished, professional review for a fee. These reviews carry weight which is of course a good thing, but bear in mind that most of these services have a reputation to think of, so before you plunk down the somewhat scary prices these reviews can cost (hundreds of dollars -- owch!) keep in mind that they will be impartial (as they should be). If you're not confident in your work, you might be purchasing a big old bucket of well thought out, influential...negative pain for your book, and potentially your reputation as an author.

I have nothing against going the above route, but this blog has always been focused around the idea that anybody with talent and a dream can become a writer, regardless of their bankroll. So that's as far as we're going to touch on shelling out money in this article.

How else can you get reviews?

There are several methods, but this article is going to focus on one that a lot of authors start out afraid of initially. Plain and simple? You can get reviews by asking for them.

It seems pretty simple, doesn't it? Maybe you already do this and can't imagine why people wouldn't, but you'd be surprised. Writing can be a solitary trade, and the result can sometimes be a skilled author who's shy and modest to a fault, and wouldn't dream of troubling people by contacting them directly to ask for favors. After all, won't you just annoy the people you are hoping to impress by nagging them over basically doing your promoting for you? Well, you could annoy people, but the fact of the matter is that in the literary world, asking people for reviews is a perfectly kosher thing to do, so long as you do it with a certain level of tact.

First you'll need to identify potential reviewers. I'll be going into that in more detail in a future article, but for now the best thing to keep in mind is that it's best to stick with people who are already interested in the type of book you've written. Did you write a horror story that's inspired by Needful Things? Why not pop over to the Amazon page and check out who gave your inspiration novel good reviews? Look up their profiles and see what sort of books they're interested in. Did they post an email address on their profile? (here's a hint -- people don't usually post things like email addresses in public places unless they are expecting to be contacted). Don't stop there -- is your book listed on goodreads, shelfari, or similar sites? People who use these sites typically make a note on them once they have read the book. Is anybody out in the world talking about your book, even just in passing? Google your title along with your own name, and find out! Don't forget to search on Twitter, too!

There are plenty of ways to find potential reviewers. When you're ready to write a message to ask for a review, make sure to include the following:

  • How did you find this person? Start out by telling them what profile/review/et cetera of theirs you read, and be sure to say what about the content you read makes you feel as though they would be interested in your book.
  • Explain your purpose. Be direct. You are looking for unbiased reviews of your book. We'll talk about the word "unbiased" a bit more in a minute.
  • Include a very brief bit about your book. Remember to keep this sort and sweet - "Harry Potter is a story of a boy's adventures in a magical realm, where he enrolls in a school that teaches magic and encounters a myriad of unique people and places." Can you keep this to one sentence? Great, do that.
  • Include an even briefer bit about something they've already read (and liked) that is similar to your book. This shouldn't be anything more than "this story is told in a vein similar to [blank] book". If you can't find anything to fill in the blank with, you might want to consider contacting somebody else.
  • Provide a link to a sales page for your book, where the person you are contacting can read a description of the book and see what other people (if any) had to say about it.
  • Offer a complimentary copy of your book. Yes, this is pretty common etiquette for this type of review hunting. To save on costs you can certainly restrict your offerings to digital copies which cost pretty much nothing to produce, but what would you say if somebody wrote you a letter asking you to read their book, and then requested that you buy it? Right, whatever you're thinking is the same thing they are thinking. Some people think that providing free copies of a book in return for reviews is compensating the reviewer, but I disagree. If they didn't want to read your book to begin with, a free copy is hardly of any value to them. You're simply providing them with the tools they need to complete the task you've asked of them.
  • Thank them for their time and consideration.

Did you read all that above? Great. Now, do you think you can do all of that in less than six sentences? It's more challenging than you think, because you're going to be tempted to say too much about your book, flatter them too much, or add in too much irrelevant jargon. Pinch yourself every time you start writing anything like that and make yourself stop. It's not helpful. Writing a review request is a lot like writing a query letter -- you need to get to the point quickly and efficiently, or you will lose your reader and that will be the end of it.

At any rate, that's a crash course in review etiquette. A few other things to keep in mind:

  • Don't ask twice. Some people who aren't interested might be so kind as to let you know this, but most won't. Let it go.
  • If people do show an interest, tell them that you appreciate their interest in the book or words to that effect. Don't gush or overdo it with gratitude, as it makes you look desperate (not to mention "overthanking" is often a good way to make people feel uncomfortable). Tell them you look forward to reading their opinion (stay neutral on this, so it does not appear as though you are expecting them to write a positive review just because they are interested in writing one at all).
  • NEVER NEVER NEVER ask people for a positive review! You're worried about being annoying? That's annoying. Don't ask people to compromise their professionalism and do a disservice to the community by talking about how wonderful your book is, if they didn't think it was wonderful. Keep in mind that if your book is available for sale to the general public, anybody and everybody can potentially purchase your book at any time, read it, and then write whatever they want about it. If you lack that much confidence in your work, you might want to consider going back to the drawing board for a bit.

Have you ever tried directly asking for reviews before? Share your experiences here!


Wednesday, January 2

BOOK REVIEW: Ablaze

(This review has been copied to the Gossamer Court's book reviews section.)

From Amazon:

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"A story loosely based on the story of Rumplestiltskin. This short book tells a story of a young woman Mia as she encounters a will-o-wisp who wishes to take her child."

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(I received a free copy of this story in return for providing an unbiased review.)

Ablaze, by Harsh Thakar, is a very short (approximately 3,000 words) retelling of Rumplestiltskin, a well-known fairy tale popularized by the Brothers Grimm. In an effort to avoid spoilers, I will say no more about the plot, save that it is told with a more horrific twist than its namesake.

I felt the idea driving the plot for this story was a sound one. I have heard of a great many timeless fables and fairy tales retold with any number of different spins on them, but I (at least) do not recall the tale of Rumplestiltskin being singled out for the task. Though I was able to quickly determine the base story Ablaze sought to emulate without prior knowledge, I did find the subject matter refreshing in that respect. I did not read the book's description before reading the story itself, and I'm actually quite pleased that the cover art didn't make it obvious that I'm about to be taken on a modified ride down fairy tale lane. As I am often skeptical of "retold" stories, I might have passed on this one if I had known too much at the outset. As a reader, the ambiguity of this story did the job of getting the book in front of me -- which I think would be the goal of any fiction author. The story does was it sets out to do with an appropriately chilling twist, and for that I appreciate it.

While Ablaze does have potential, I feel that the story is in strong need of professional editing. While the spelling was decent, I will be honest in saying that I eventually lost count of the errors in grammar, sentence structure, and improper word usage (some passages were difficult to read and understand due to the aforementioned issues). Judging from the patterns I saw (the same errors occurring multiple times), I am left with the assumption that the majority of errors were more a product of grasping the English language than any sort of deliberate failing on the part of the author. Naturally I'm willing to be more lenient of such problems if they are indeed due to difficulties with the language, but I have to say that whatever the reason may be, when any story (in any language) reaches the stage of final publication, readers should be able to assume that it has been "put through its paces" with regards to editing and proofreading. I didn't get that impression from Ablaze.

Other concerns have to do with the use of space in such a short tale -- I would have preferred a bit more life to some of the characters (Theodore in particular) to give me something of a better idea as to who I was dealing with. Even something as simple as a more detailed description or a few more words about the character's mannerisms/personality would have been quite helpful. I am assuming that the Rumplestiltskin-like creature in the story was short like some sort of gnome, but I was left to fill in that blank on my own. I can't hold that against the story however, as it's more a product of the nature of the beast when retelling an existing story. (I have a particular image in mind of what I think Rumplestiltskin looks like, and it's hard to shake what's already established in my head.)

All in all, I feel that with a bit more elbow grease thrown in, the true potential of this story could well be brought out. It's definitely worth sticking with.


Tuesday, January 1

Read the Goldenwealth Light for FREE in January!

Got a brand new Kindle this holiday season? Looking for a good book to curl up with on a cold winter's night with a hot cup of cocoa? The Goldenwealth Light will be available through the Amazon Kindle store absolutely FREE on January 9th and 10th! Children and adults alike are invited to spend the post-holiday season journeying along with Theodore Ellsworth, the Traveler of Ord, as he and his sister Marie face wonders untold and dangers most foul in the magical realm of Quaylund. Saddle up your six-hoofed escarot and race along astride chipper humming-gnomes, enigmatic traversimorphs, elusive ripplewaifs, and huge, lumbering yurt. Enjoy your ordic everystew along the way, but remember to never stare at a reflectia tree!

See what readers are saying about The Goldenwealth Light here, and don't forget to pick up your free copy this January 9th and 10th!