An Easterly Sojourn: Chapter 7 Added

Every time The Queen and I are done #editing a chapter, I copy and paste it into a large manuscript document. That is the one which will get printed and sent off to Beta Readers. The file now contains the first seven chapters of my fantasy novel, An Easterly Sojourn.

What’s the big deal about chapter 7? Why didn’t I write a post after chapter six or five?

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Public Domain Image Courtesy of Pixabay

 

The current draft of An Easterly Sojourn has 28 chapters. Therefore, adding chapter 7 to the manuscript file means that we’re 25% complete. That is to say, if one goes by chapter count rather than words or pages. For me, the sweat beads are lessening. I bragged in a post a couple of weeks ago that this #fantasy novel will be published rather than should be published.

Doesn’t Endless Editing Get Tiresome?

Yes it does. However, there are some short stories to edit as well. The tedium level reduces when you jump between different types of work and I don’t feel stagnated or repetitive. I even switch between projects while #writing as well. Perhaps I’ll put the brakes on after chapter 10 and switch to one of the short singles waiting on the proverbial “back-burner.”

Do you switch between projects? Does working on a single project, whether writing or editing become tiresome after a while?

DON’T GO – COMMENT BELOW

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2017: A Prolific Writing Year

Hopefully, 2017 will be my most active year as an indie author.

The first novel in my fantasy series, “The Tales of Tyrennia Book One: An Easterly Sojourn” will be (not should be) released this year. The editing is cruising along. The problem was continuous editing. We would get about seven chapters done, and then either the Queen or I would learn something new and start over again.

2017

 

The reason we would jump into repetitive editing was simple. We were not satisfied with the end product. Therefore, after learning something new about editing, it seemed obvious to go back to square one.

I’m happy to report that I am satisfied with the quality. As we complete each chapter, I create a manuscript file. I can’t wait to print out copies and send them off to beta readers.

Draft version 0.5 of “The Tales of Tyrennia Book Two: The Frozen War” is done and waiting in the wings. I call it version 0.5 because of my scant writing style. A strange habit, but rather than cutting the first draft down, mine tend to swell.

What About Short Stories?

I’m so glad you asked. Two short singles will be released as well in 2017, “Little Red Revolution,” and “Psychic Confidence.”

“Little Red Revolution” is a best described as a satirical-vampyrical-romp. I had some compañeros from my former critique group who enjoyed #writing vampire fiction. So, I put this piece together mostly as gag and to poke some fun at the genre. In the end, they loved it.

“Psychic Confidence” should finish up at around five-thousand words. It’s a thriller with a complicated plot, coupled with characters that have aliases. I had worries that I could lose a reader too easily, but my first reader breezed through it without any problems.

There will also be a new collection of #shortstories called “Wondrous Stories: Seven Vile Uplifting Tales.” The stories are quite an assortment. However, there are some binding themes running throughout. Like, what happens when the iron fist of government points a finger at you? Or what happens when individualism clashes with a mob mentality?

Although I’m talking about a lot of work, I have a feeling that 2017 is going to be a very good year.

What are your goals, writing or otherwise for 2017? Are you #PoweredByIndie?

DON’T GO – COMMENT BELOW!

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Get Ready For NaNoWriMo 2016

I’m really fired up for this one and can’t wait to get started. My first fantasy novel, Tales of Tyrennia Book I: An Easterly Sojourn is still in the editing stage. However that hasn’t stopped me from working on book II of the series. The working title is The Frozen War. Within these pages, I’m delving into the Dwarven Kingdoms of the north.

I’m about 65 pages into The Frozen War, and I would really like to do some open field running. In the weeks preceding #NaNoWriMo, I’m going to review the new novel in order to bring myself back up to speed.

Next there is my writing space. As some of you know, my wife and I are expecting. Therefore, many renovations have been going on. One of the changes was to convert our office into a guest room. We moved our computers and bookcases into some “dead space” in our entry hall. At first it felt strange, but in the past few weeks, I’ve become accustomed to my new writing area.

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Got my guitars, album covers, stereo, and books around me

Our computer desks didn’t fit, or look right, in the new space. We purchased two new identical desks. The black frames and the glass tops look great. Except, our glass desk tops are now covered in paw prints from the cats. 🙂

Also, there will be many NaNo functions in town and Boise. It is always good to meet up with my fellow-travelers, have a snack, some coffee (mandatory), and let our fingers do the walking on the keyboards.

What are you working on for NaNoWriMo 2016? A new novel? Restarting an older idea?

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A Narrative Balancing Act

Some stories advance by plot or character or both. Certainly, the character of James Bond doesn’t grow because spy thrillers are plot driven.

Sometimes a character gets swept up by outside events, goes through a traumatic adventure, and then tries to regain the solace and peacefulness of their former life. The film The Outlaw Josey Wales (which is a loose re-telling of Candide by Voltaire) directed by and starring Clint Eastwood would be an example of such a narrative device.

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There’s More Than One Way To Balance

Reversals create a balancing as well. In The Natural, Roy Hobbs is a star pitching prospect. His agent bets that he can strike out “The Whammer” (a Babe Ruth figure). He does it and later in the story he becomes a famous Home Run hitter. In a play-off game, the Pirates bring in a Nebraska farm boy with a blazing fastball to strike out Roy Hobbs.  It’s a role-reversal of the bet that happened years earlier.

Last night my wife and I curled up on the couch and watched The China Syndrome. This particular movie used a balancing device that I sometimes like to use in my short stories. The opening and ending shots of this film are the same. Yet, the end shot conveys much more meaning and emotion than the opening image.

And In My Writing

In some short stories, my opening and ending paragraphs are almost identical. Of course, just like in film, the ending carries a weightier meaning and evokes a heightened emotional response. I can think of two examples, “Night Flights,” and “A Purveyor of Odd Things,” from the Ragged Souls collection.

In “Night Flights,” when Peter hangs a new painting at the end, the reader has a deeper understanding of the odd visions the character has been experiencing.

In “A Purveyor of Odd Things,” the transformation of character is complete, yet he is standing in the same place as the beginning and performing the same task.

I wish I could do this in all of my stories, but not every plot lends itself to this particular device. My forthcoming fantasy novel An Easterly Sojourn uses one of the above Balancing acts. However, I’m not ready to give anything away just yet.

Do you use a form of balancing in your writing? Have you tried to use it? Have you noticed it elsewhere?

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Camp NaNoWriMo 2016 (Final)

The thirty days of furious quill scratching is now over. I know that we all use keyboards now, but didn’t that sound quaint?

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We had some good write-in sessions and got to meet and exchange a few ideas with new authors in the area.

 

Of course I didn’t reach the 50K word milestone, but I did get to the point where I wanted to be. The second novel in the “Tales of Tyrennia Series,” is now taking on definite form. I made it to 10,249 words or 50 pages.

Now I can relax (I hear you laughing) and get back to editing the first novel and another short story collection.

The shorts collection “Pressure Points,” is very close to completion. However, I’m going to get more of the novel “An Easterly Sojourn” edited before going back to the shorts collection. Breaking up the work at hand helps me to deal with it.

How did Camp #NaNoWrimo 2016 turn out for you?

 

Camp NaNo 2016 (Update)

I always find the #CampNaNoWriMo  events to be more difficult because of the time of the year. In November it’s easy despite the minor distraction of Thanksgiving and the coming Holiday Season.

Springtime makes the April NaNo more difficult. There are many home projects that demand attention. Besides the age old “Spring Cleaning” tradition, landscaping and gardening tend to dominate April and May.

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I promise to do a post next month with pictures concerning my landscaping and gardening projects.

Despite all the chores, I have managed to attend two “write-ins” and have a word count of about 10K completed for my second #fantasy novel in The Tales of Tyrennia series. However, I am not done with NaNo. The novel has taken off in a new direction, therefore I #amwriting more. Also, I released a new short during the NaNo season, which means mucho social media time.

Did you get much writing done this month? Did spring get in the way?

Thoughts on Chapter Titles

Is it better to title a chapter or just number it?

The gurus, sages and soothsayers of the publishing industry really don’t seem to have a clear answer on this subject. I’ve done some searching and still haven’t found a definitive answer. It all boils down to taste.

Even among readers this question can’t be answered. Some readers get enticed by the titles; it may prompt them to purchase the book, or to press on into the night way past bedtime. Other readers prefer numbers and imagine their own title.

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Open Book by Dave Dugdale used under CC License

It would seem like this is a parallel phenomenon to the character description conundrum. Some want a total description, while others want to create their own mental picture.

I truly believe this lack of concrete answers permits me to simply apply my own taste and work from there. Chefs do that all the time. They might add, substitute, or remove an ingredient based upon their own taste. I’ve admitted to doing that for some of the lovely meals from my Best Recipes Ever section on this blog.

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***Put NIGHT FLIGHTS on your e-reader at AMAZON***

Personal taste time

I always skim through the table of contents when I’m browsing in a bookstore. Yes, I find the chapter titles to be a curious enhancement and enticement. They act as a builder of anticipation and help to give a coherent organization to the story. Each chapter becomes a mini-story in itself yet contributes to the whole. I think they are more telling than a blurb. Also, I have to admit that there is a unique charm that stems from chapter titles. After all, Tolkien did it, and it was his works that put me on the path of the fantasy genre.

Some naming conventions

A Place Name

Name a place where something important to your plot or main character is going to take place, like a clandestine meeting or a battle. This is great for fantasy authors, because you get the hidden benefit prompting readers to study the map of your world. Tolkien used this technique in The Fellowship of the Ring: Book Two Chapter V: The Bridge of Khazad-dûm.

A Character Name

This is a good way to introduce a new character or to shift the point of view. I’ve seen a few novels where different characters experience the same event and each chapter is dedicated to how each of those characters perceives or is affected by the event. Tolkien did this to introduce Aragorn under his alias in The Fellowship of the Ring: Book One Chapter X: Strider. George R.R. Martin does this all the time in the Game of Thrones series for different P.O.V.’s

Your Main Character’s Thoughts or Quotes

This could be a great retort, a simple quote, inner thought, or a surprise for your main character. From Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged comes Part III Chapter 7 “This is John Galt speaking.”

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***Put RAGGED SOULS on your e-reader at Amazon!***

In the end

I believe the bottom line should go something like this. Chapter titles are not going to transform a ho-hum novel into a page turner, nor will it turn a great novel into unpublishable trash. Just do what your artistic instincts lead you to do.

Do other authors prefer to create titles? As a reader, do you prefer them?

My Favorite Author Blogs

I do a lot of cruising around the Blogosphere, dropping “likes” and comments in many places. However, I find myself repeatedly returning to certain blogs over and over again.

Although they are all Independent author blogs, you’ll find distinct voices and points of view. Yes, occasionally they will blog about the same particular subject, just not at the same time. After all, they’re all authors and discuss the Indie-Author World. It’s a sure bet that when you dig through the archives you’ll find posts on editing, “pantsing” or planning, and others.

I Blog About These Subjects As Well

I have never referred to myself or have tried to portray myself as some type of self-publishing guru. I’m not one. Therefore, I don’t do it. I basically discuss my journey and blog about the things I’m discovering and learning along the way, as evidenced by such categories as Diary of a Fantasy Novel, Short Story Journal, and The Writing Journey. I also like to drift away from craft posts and write about an array of subjects in Idaho Scrawl, or simply present personal anecdotes and my favorite Recipes.

The folks listed below are not braggarts. However, they have achieved a particular level of notoriety for offering quality advice or “how to” procedures for authors. Most of them have a smooth and friendly style that makes one feel welcomed to read and comment.

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Photo Credit and CC License

Here Are My Favorites

Kristen Lamb

If Independent authors have a Torch-Bearing –Warrior-Queen it would have to be Kristen Lamb. She writes passionately about the world according to the indie author. Granted, the posts are quite extensive, but they are well worth your attention. Kristen has a few self-help books out there for indie authors. Rise of the Machines is probably the most well-known and important book on the topic of indie-authoring.

K.M. Weiland

K.M. Weiland’s Blog is called “Helping Writers Become Authors.” That blog title is no lie; it is completely packed with quality information. I truly suggest opening the category button to discover the smorgasbord of pertinent subjects. The choice is yours. You can comb through this blog, or spend hundreds of dollars on craft books.

Bryn Donovan

Here’s another blog where the archives should be the first place to examine. Her “Blank Page to Final Draft” series of posts are worth reading. Also, there are lists for plots, facial and physical descriptions. She has written a craft book as well called “Master Lists for Writers,” you can find links to Amazon on her blog. I have only recently discovered this blog. However, it pulled me right in.

Nick Rossis

Nick writes about a variety of subjects, including some personal anecdotes. His blog category on marketing is a must read for any would be indie. Look no further than the list of awards for his fantasy novels to understand that this guy knows what he’s talking about.

Diane Tibert

First, in order to appreciate her blog, you’ll have to get past the colour and flavour of her exotic Canadian English :-). Diane’s “Publishing 101” series takes you from editing to cover design. I would say that it’s a good first place to start your research. Yes, she has many other tips for authors.

Honorable Mentions

Chris: The Story Reading Ape

Chris has turned re-blogging into an art form. He’ll save you tons of search and reading time by finding quality posts from authors around the world. I found Bryn Donovan only about a week and a half ago. How? Because Chris re-blogged and highlighted one of her posts. Do yourself a big favor and “Follow” this one.

Ben Garrido

Ben is an indie author, but his posts mostly offer questions and examinations of nationalism, culture, government, and religion. Perhaps I’m drawn to his postings on account of my degree in History and my Catholic faith. Many of the stories in my forthcoming collection have themes of conflicting beliefs, or what happens when the relationship between government and the individual goes awry. Ben’s scholarly posts are thought provoking and very well written.

What About You?

Do you already follow some or all of these blogs? Did I miss a great blog somewhere? Tell me about it.

***Ernesto San Giacomo is the author of Ragged Souls***

Today Is Not Your Birthday? Here’s a Present Anyway

After a partial revamp of my social media (this blog included). I’ve decided to create a page for Free Short Stories. Now I’ve always been against giving things away. I’ve seen too many Tweets concerning free novels, and I’m still against that practice. I will not chastise anyone or get in their face about it. I mean, they wrote a novel and it’s their property. Therefore, it’s theirs to give away.

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Birthday Cake by Theresa Thompson Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

I’ve been working on a fantasy novel for quite some time now. The thought of giving it away for free wounds me. However, the occasional short story is a bit different. Most of them are only 8-12 pages, and while I do work hard to rigorously refine them, they do not represent the same blood, sweat, and tears, that go into a novel.

When it comes to freebies, I sort of “get it” from a marketing standpoint. Maybe if I had a series of five novels, I may be prompted to do a free give-a-way of the first one for a week or so.

This leads me to the point of this post and your “non-birthday” present, namely, the new page tab for offering Free Short Stories. After all, it can’t hurt, and it may pose as a good platform to introduce you to my “wordsmithing” abilities. You may love them, hate them, or feel ho-hum. But they’re out there waiting for you.

Enjoy the first one called Gematria², and leave a comment. I am truly interested in your opinion.

***Put Ragged Souls on your kindle at Amazon U.S.***

Give Your Blog a “Facelift”

Last week I cleaned up my Twitter account, and documented that process in a post called Twitter Litter. That experience prodded me to take a long hard look at my Welcome Page. I saw quite a few problems like empty space, links that didn’t stand out, a somewhat distanced and impersonal opening paragraph, and a ho-hum title.

After all, my blog is the center of my social media platform. Which also means that my (and your) welcome page become even more important.

The Title

Before, I had a one word title “Welcome!” Yawn. Then my wife and I (we’re big Mel Brooks fans, as evidenced by his presence on my fav movie lists*), thought about Madeline Kahn’s character Lili Von Shtupp in Blazing Saddles, remember how she responded to a knock on her door? We added an Italian greeting and felt like we had the job done. 🙂

*See how my list of favorite films from the ‘60s, ‘70s and, ‘80s compares to yours.

First Paragraph

Originally, my welcome message was incredibly mediocre. As I read through it, I realized that it wouldn’t inspire anyone to continue. Therefore, I doubled the size of my opening blurb, and added more personal information like some of my core beliefs that work their way into my writing. In a nutshell, I presented the ABC’s of me.

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Blog Ecosystem Diagram by I.A. Walsh used under CC License

Empty Space

My blog category list was down at the bottom of the page. It was a slender column with too much blank space. I put them in linear form with five spaces between each one. Now it looks like an abundant amount, mimicking a paragraph.

Link Color

Although the links were now more noticeable and moved toward the top, it may still be difficult for someone to notice them as links rather than underlined text. I customized a brick red color that wasn’t hard on the eyes.

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***Put Ragged Souls on your Kindle at Amazon U.S.***

A Personal Photo

I’m not an ego-maniac who needs to see his portrait prominently displayed everywhere. However, as an author’s welcome page, I thought it necessary. After all, you want people to see the front page; feel welcomed, and then are prompted to click, read, and hopefully comment. It’s all about creating a comfy zone. So, I posted my mugshot…um I mean thumbnail portrait and wrapped the text around it.

The Top Menu

We also changed the pages in the top menu bar. Now there’s a published page that lists everything with links to different sites, like Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble.

However, the most important change is the addition of a Free Short Stories page. I’ve uploaded one so far but have a few more “waiting in the wings” as they say.

***Notify me when the new Sci-Fi / Horror short story Night Flights is available***

Conclusion

It’s too early to assess the success of these changes as to the impact on blog traffic. But I’m keeping my fingers and eyes crossed. I guess my Facebook Author Page and my blog’s sidebar are next.