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Category: The Chained Adept

Lost in the tepid swamp of niceness

Posted in Plot, The Chained Adept, and The Chained Adept

Lost in the swamp

There you are, writing along at a good clip, and suddenly you find your story buried in mud, all its energy lost.

Now, I'm still rather new at this fiction writing life — a bit shy of my first million words. Aside from working on the craft itself, which I enjoy, much of the challenge is understanding your own psychology well enough to control your productivity.

In my case, there are two issues: what to do when the story grinds to a halt, and how to avoid procrastination. Now, I don't know anyone who can successfully discipline their work habits through will alone (if we had that much will, we'd all eat healthy and exercise regularly, not to mention watch our budgets and clean our houses). Most of us are better off coaxing ourselves into a regular routine and lowering all barriers that might derail it.

Alas, I have an alarm system that slams a wall down in front of my creativity when it senses “wrong path taken” for the story. I push my way forward from that point with great difficulty and at my peril, and I've found it's always a mistake to do so.

Decorative elements for The Chained Adept

Posted in Artwork, and The Chained Adept

One of the pleasures of working with a cover artist is that you can request extras as part of the arrangement.

For the series of which The Chained Adept is the eponymous first entry, I asked for my usual decorative bits for inside the book (ebook and print).

ChainedAdept-Extras-SketchesThe top one will get used for the Title page and for the End-of-Book marker, before any name index or other back matter.

The middle one will be used as a Chapter divider, and the bottom will be a Scene separator.

 

Building the world of The Chained Adept – Part 2: Characters

Posted in Characters, Fantasy, and The Chained Adept

Part 1 is here.

As I mentioned in the previous post, Dungeon Masters and Fantasy Authors both need to create characters, but DMs have software to help them.

For my current series, The Chained Adept, I used a Character Card creator module from ProFantasy called Character Artist. Some writers browse the internet looking for photos that remind them of their characters, but I think that takes too long. I had much more fun coming up with an iconic “card” for some of the main characters in The Chained Adept.

These are not paper dress-up fashion dolls, and the choices are limited, but it's surprising how much you can do with the given tools to provide a very quick sketch. While I don't want to get too specific when describing a character for a reader, so that the reader can fill in much of the picture himself, I do find it helpful to get specific for my own view.

So, here's what I think about my main character (Penarit), her companion (Sanderel), and the commander of the military unit they accompany (Benir Zant).

Gallery

Of course, there's one big difference between Dungeon Masters and Fantasy Authors. The DMs don't care about keeping your character alive.

It's a good thing you can trust authors. Most of the time. Unless that character really, really, needs to go.

Dungeon Masters can be cruel. So can authors with a long series.
Dungeon Masters can be cruel. So can authors with a long series.

Building the world of The Chained Adept – Part 1: Maps

Posted in Fantasy, Science Fiction, Setting, and The Chained Adept

Writers of fantasy and science fiction books have special needs. Not only do we have characters to create from scratch, like every novelist, but we have entire worlds to build — not just the verisimilitude of the historical past, but entire planets, spacecraft, or fantastic realms. Our desks are littered with bad sketches of landscapes, terrible character portraits, and far too many scraps of idiosyncratic cosmogenesis.

You know who else has these problems? Dungeon masters.

Old school dungeon design software
“Old school” dungeon design software

The world of Dungeons & Dragons and subsequent games created a need for game masters, those referees who control the world of their game for their players, to make maps, create character cards, and so forth. Not surprisingly, there's an ecosystem of software to support this.

A couple of months ago, I invested in most of the software modules from ProFantasy and started playing around. I needed to design a complete secondary world for a new series, The Chained Adept, and it wasn't going to be modeled on Earth at the geology level (although I planned to keep the flora & fauna so that the readers wouldn't need to master an entire ecosystem of vocabulary).

I started by designing a planet, using Fractal Terrains 3. By providing a handful of parameters and tinkering with the results, you can create an infinite number of alien planets.

The World of the Chained Adept
The world of The Chained Adept

It’s been a while…

Posted in Research, Structures of Earth, The Affinities of Magic, The Chained Adept, The Chained Adept, and The Visitor

TimeFliesMy, how time flies.

I've spent the last few months conducting a number of experiments and thought I'd mention them here.

Look for a summary of 2014 and plans for 2015 in separate posts.

Finally, I've decided to add progress meters (on the right) for short stories still in the submission process. When finally published by Perkunas Press, they will have full pages here and on the Perkunas Press website.

Social Media

I conducted a blitz for four months aimed at improving my Facebook and Twitter audience. Rather than advertising my books (bad form) except for the occasional sale, I focused on providing interesting content covering a wide array of topics. In other words, I posted about the things I like — archaeology, landscape, language, surrealism, and dozens of other subjects.

My Facebook friends said, “hey, neat!” and hardly grew at all. Twitter, on the other hand, where I had little presence, grew to hundreds of followers. That was gratifying, but the advice to “make friends and have conversations” still eludes me. I've found new people to follow, but conversations don't seem to make sense in that medium.

I also dabbled in Pinterest and lined up Tumblr and Instagram to explore, but I've eased up on this for now. When my next book is published, I'll do announcements on Twitter and Facebook, and see if I can detect any impact, especially from Twitter. If not, then this is not a great use of my time, and I should ratchet back to a more normal level (yet to be determined).

This blog has suffered as a consequence. I expect to be posting more regularly, and with a greater focus on actual news rather than just amusements and general items of interest.

Workshops & Lectures

I've become a real devotee of Dean Wesley Smith‘s workshops and lectures. His somewhat acerbic and dismissive manner sometimes requires accommodation, but he and his wife Kristine Rusch have an invaluable perspective on the publishing industry and the important issues for long-term fiction writers. It's always difficult to find a mentor whose sensibility accords with your own, and these two do it for me, covering both craft and business concerns.