Monday, April 14, 2014

Cover Art for The Awakened Book Six

Foundations of the World: The Awakened Book Six is in the final editing stage. I'm kicking off the countdown to its release with a sneak peek at the cover art. Enjoy!

If you want to get announcements like this before the general public, and would like to read sample scenes before the book is released, make sure to sign up here for my email list.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Coming Soon: Sample Chapters, Cover Art, and Description for The Awakened Book Six

The release of Foundations of the World: The Awakened Book Six is just around the corner. Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing the cover art and book description here on my blog, as well as my social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest).

If you haven't yet signed up for my email list, you can do that here. Subscribers will get a look at the cover art and description before anyone else, and will also receive sample scenes before the novel is released. Now is the perfect time to sign up!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Review of The Broken, by Sean Michael Frawley

Last month, a friend of mine released a paranormal thriller (with horror tendencies, but not strictly horror) novel that quickly shot to the top of several Amazon rankings, including "hot new releases." Though it's not one of the genres I typically read from, it was very entertaining and I would encourage you to check it out if you like discovering indie authors before they get famous.

Here's my review:

The Broken, by Sean Michael Frawley, is a tale of discovery that somehow manages to make a fun experience out of delving into the twisted realm of creepy things.

The story’s protagonist, Link Hartkins, is a fourteen-year-old boy dealing with the internal conflicts of relocating to a new town after the loss of his mother. His fierce loyalty to his baby brother provides the impetus for seeing the world through a younger pair of eyes, and as the story develops, this turns out to make all the difference. But as the paranormal adventure escalates, Link’s rational mind and well-developed sense of sarcasm attempt to keep him grounded in the very grown-up world of “reality.”

These dueling perspectives weave together inside a fascinating character, telling a story that is versatile enough to live on the shelves of middle-grade, young-adult, and adult fiction alike.

This eerie thriller is easy to read, with colorful and well-drawn characters that sparkle in the hands of a new author. Yet Frawley seems to have found that elusive “voice” that usually takes years of refinement to achieve. The Broken is an enticing glimpse into his creative mind, offering what—I can only hope—is the first of many more stories to come.

Friday, March 14, 2014

My Creative Process...the second part

In an earlier post, I shared with you the first part of my creative process, taking you through the stages of brainstorming and scene design I use to put together a novel. Now I’d like to share what happens next.

With a writing plan in place, I don’t have to think too much about character arcs or the big picture items; I’m free to concentrate on the smaller details. I review the scene plan that I developed during the previous stage, and I let those ideas and storyline requirements swirl around in my head. This is where I allow myself the freedom of getting lost in a scene. I might put on some ambient music, or a movie score that matches the mood of the scene. I may close my eyes and imagine myself in that place, listening to the characters talk with one another. I might pace around my office and let the daydreaming part of my brain construct the scene, filling in the gaps between what is already known.

When the scene becomes real to me, and it begins to play itself out, I do my best to capture what I see and hear and feel. And to a lesser extent, what I smell (not my dominant sense). Dialogue. Characters’ facial expressions and gestures. Parts of the setting that stand out. All of the little details come to life, and I capture them with my limited vocabulary until the scene is sufficiently documented.

I keep repeating this process until I’ve captured on the page all of the scenes from my writing plan. Usually, the process of bringing these scenes to life will stir up other ideas. I might recognize ways to connect scenes with a common thread, or contrast them with their opposing ideas. With new characters in particular, I see their personalities emerge as they find their place within the story. Concepts that I thought were fleshed-out seem to take on lives of their own. And then the first draft is done.

Having walked many miles in the shoes of my characters — or sandals, as the case may be — I’m ready for the second draft. On my next pass through the manuscript, I’m looking for cohesiveness. Would that character actually say those words, now that I know them better? Is that gesture appropriate for that character, given his/her position? Does that scene transition need to be smoothed over? This is where I experience the story somewhere between an author and a reader. I’m making corrections. I’m noticing things that stand out. I’m refining this thing that I’ve created to the point that it accurately represents the picture in my head. And once I’ve reached that milestone, I’m ready to share it with other people.

That’s when the manuscript goes out for editing, but I’ll save that story for another time.

Be sure to sign up if you want to receive email notification when my creative efforts are available for reading.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Emit: Back-of-the-Book Description

As I get closer to releasing my first short story, I'm sharing more details to shed light on the mystery. Today, I have the back-of-the-book description for you. Don't forget to sign up for my email list to be notified when Emit is available. Happy reading!

Have you ever experienced a moment so intense that you’d swear time had slowed down? You’ve heard it said that we can’t change the time we are given, only how we use it. Well, that’s not exactly true. I’ve discovered that by changing how we use it, we can change the time we are given. This is what we as a species have been seeking since the dawn of our existence—immortality. My name is Emit Trotsid and I am the world’s foremost pioneer of lucid time distortion. I’m going to share my technology freely with the collective human consciousness. I will teach you how to claim what’s rightfully yours; but the question is, what will you do with that time?

That’s my marketing pitch. At least, it used to be before the paranoia, headaches, and premonitions.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Emit: a short story

If you're receiving my email newsletter, you probably know that I have been working on a short story. It went much faster than anticipated; I just sent it out for editing. I couldn't help myself. I was so excited by the plot and the opportunity to write in first-person, present tense. I'll roll out more details in the coming days, but I wanted to share the cover art with you now.

Friday, January 31, 2014

My Creative Process...the first part, at least

It’s been quiet here on my blog lately; I’m down in the trenches with writing Book Six of The Awakened and haven’t had time to do much of anything but write, write, write. From what readers tell me, that’s exactly how I should be spending my time. But I wrote this post earlier in the month and thought I’d finally put it up, just so you know I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth.

Since I’m knee-deep in the creative process, and many people have asked me what it takes to turn an idea into a story, I’d like to share the first part of my writing process with you.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I prefer to work from general things to specific details, from higher-level thinking to lower-level thinking. Some authors just sit down and start typing, relying on the spontaneity of the moment to direct their stories. I like to start with a framework, and make room for spontaneity at the lower levels of detail. Rather than writing and scrapping whole chapters, as some do, my process is to go through those motions mentally.

The first stage of my creative process is to approach the story as a sculpture. I begin chipping away at it from multiple angles until the final form is revealed. I live on both sides of the plot-versus-character debate. If there are particular plot details that are non-negotiable—events that must take place—I write them down. If there are certain character developments that are a necessity, I write those down as well. Then I begin to ask myself questions.

“What characters are involved in this story? What do they want? What is standing in their way? Should they achieve their goals, or be prevented from them? What emotional issues are they struggling with? How will they overcome these issues? Where do I want this character to end up in contrast to where they started?”

When I’ve run out of creative energy on the character front, I switch to the plot.

“Are there political alliances involved? If so, how would they react to this event? How can I add more tension to that scene? How can I make that thing that must occur into something interesting for the reader? How can use this character’s subplot to complicate or reinforce the main plot? How does this setup the story for the next book?”

Round and round I go, until the story begins to take shape. When I have a good grasp of the individual elements of the story, then I start looking for how to piece them together into a coherent story. I call this process storyboarding, based on the visual puzzle assembly process used in the movie industry. And this brings up another slew of questions.

“Are there too many scenes from this character’s perspective? Do I have too many non-action scenes bunched together? Is there any emotional development taking place during this battle scene? What can I do to speed up the pace of this section? What does the reader need to see here in order to catch their breath?”

When all the puzzle pieces are in place, the story has its framework. I can rest assured that a critical detail hasn’t been left out. I know where the story is going and how it will get there.

Now it’s time to start typing, which requires a whole different level of creativity.