A quick update on Sierra Girls: I received a very helpful review from a reader named Brandy Dresher. I was already in the process of updating the book to make it look better on Kindle devices, so I included a few quick tweaks based on her feedback. These types of small details really help the overall impression for readers. Thanks, Brandy! The book looks much nicer now, and I have pushed this new version to Amazon and to Smashwords. Please go read the free sample chapters and see if you like it.
I made some more progress over the weekend on my book prep for the next novel. Nearly done with this stage. Spending more time getting to know the main characters has been fun and beneficial. Still have one more stage after this, which will be fleshing out the story outline a bit more. Then, finally, I’m going to set sail toward my destination, which is somewhere far over the horizon. But at least I’ll have some stars to steer by. It will be a wonderful feeling to get the manuscript under way.
I’ve made it past the first major hurdle in my planning phase. I have a working outline of scenes, and the set of POV characters through which I’m going to tell the story. If past performance is any indication of future results, then this list of scenes will change significantly before I’m done with the first draft. But … gotta start somewhere.
My next task, which I hope to complete this weekend is to flesh out all of the characters, major and minor, by doing write-ups on each one. I already know the main characters well, but I want to elaborate even more on each of them. And I want to have a good set of personalities for all the supporting characters.
As I explained in the last update, I already have a vast history of this story-world laid out in quite a bit of detail, so I don’t need to spend time now creating back-story. However, I may discover things in this process that will improve that history.
After that, hopefully next week, I’m going to elaborate on my outline, turning each of the single-sentence scenes into paragraphs. This process really helps me to see gaps in the story, and to make sure that the flow of all the different storylines for each character make sense and fit together. I don’t intend to expand my outline beyond a few sentences per scene. I know some authors do that, writing out a whole page per scene, but for me I think it’s overkill, at least for this book.
Once I have this detailed outline done, I’ll do some reality checking, such as plotting out dates and times of who’s doing what, when, and where. This helps me with making travel plans for my characters. If they need to get from point A to point B in X numbers of hours / days, and point B is Y number of miles away, then I need to make that happen realistically. Sounds like I’m making an Excel spreadsheet, but it’s not that bad. I just like to do reality checks like this. They help the story be more believable, and they also often illuminate aspects in the plot that I would not have noticed otherwise.
Attaching specific dates to the events in the story also allows me to know (and show) realistic scenery, correct positions of celestial objects, and accurate weather and climate. In this story, the dates follow the local calendar (which is part of that long history) used by the five regions on the continent of Brelya, where all the action takes place.
I’d like to finish these preparation processes by the end of this month (October 2013), but I also have family commitments and Halloween parties to attend. So … we’ll see. Dying to start cranking out the first draft. That’s where the fun really starts.
My current writing project is a fantasy novel. Its working title is Dorian: Book One in the Brel Chronicles. This will actually be the second novel I’ve written in this series. The first one was the first novel I ever wrote, many moons ago, called Dilei the Interceder. I doubt it will ever see the light of day, but it was a great experience. Now, it mostly serves me as raw material for world building.
I actually plotted out most of this book a few years back, but I put it on hold along with my other writing projects when I became a dad and suddenly had no time for anything else but parenting. Now I’m thrilled to be back in the world of Brel.
I began creating this setting when I was a teenager, and it has grown far beyond what I imagined back then. In the intervening years, its history has grown large, spanning about 20,000 years. This book will cover only a few weeks of that history, but you will get glimpses of the larger story throughout.
I don’t want to give spoilers here, but I do want to spark your interest. So here are a few tidbits.
Brel is the name of a planet. Its solar system is located at the very end of one of the spiral arms of the Milky Way galaxy. This vantage point gives its people a very different perspective on the universe than we have from planet earth. I think you’ll enjoy seeing the night sky on Brel.
The native people of Brel are the Tente (pronounced with long A’s, like May Day). Their species, like most of the other animal life there, is tri-gendered. Rather than male and female, the Tente people have three sexes: tê, mê, and sê (also long A’s). I love exploring the interpersonal dynamics of these people partly because they are very different from our own. I’ve learned a lot about them over the years, and, despite the obvious differences, there are also striking parallels with us.
There are two other intelligent species on Brel. One is the Kroiute, a powerful but very mysterious race. Only four individuals of this race have ever lived on Brel, but the planet’s entire history has been largely driven by these beings. The other species is the human race, known in Brel as the Zhote. How humans got there is buried in ancient Brelyan history. The interrelations of these three species are behind most of the stories I’ll be telling in this world.
I’ll be spending the next week or two finishing up my planning phase. I never plan out an entire book in detail ahead of time, but I do like to have most of the scene ideas ready to go. They inevitably end up changing radically as I write and constantly discover new things about the characters. Writing is a fun process unlike any other.
I’ll post periodic updates here as I go along.
Wow! There’s a lot more involved in ebook publishing than I realized before I started this process. I now have my novel Sierra Girls available in multiple formats on Smashwords, and in Kindle format on Amazon. Between the two, Amazon definitely has a slicker and quicker process of getting an ebook available live on their website. However, I like how Smashwords generates the book in so many different formats.
My main question now is: How long will my book linger in the “Pending Review” state, waiting to be included in the Smashwords Premium Catalog—and more importantly, waiting to get distributed to all their various distribution channels, like Barnes & Noble and Apple? I read in few random places on the Internet that it could be a couple weeks. That fact is not clearly communicated on the Smashwords website. I’m hoping that it is a sign of an ever increasing volume of business and web traffic to the site.
The next step I want to take in this process is to get set up on CreateSpace for POD distribution through Amazon. And after that, I will continue to build up my social presence as an author—Google+, Pinterest, and other places that I hardly ever visit as a “normal” person. Then there is the question of whether to pay for publicity somewhere, and if so where. I would love to dialog with other authors about their experiences with indie publishing.
Having said all that, what is really pressing most heavily on my mind is—getting down and dirty with writing my next novel. I finally decided last night (during an insomniac vision quest) which of the many “books in my head” I will work on next. This brings up another burning question in my mind. How to divide time between writing and promoting—not to mention the rest of my life in the real world.
The Kindle version of Sierra Girls is now available on Amazon.
Follow Gabriel Quinn as he hunts down the serial rapist who kidnapped his daughter. When Michelle disappears from her quiet neighborhood, the police find no evidence and seem to give up immediately. Her father believes Michelle is still alive, but he knows that her time is short. As her dad searches for her, Michelle seeks an escape from the broken down house in the mountains where she is trapped.