Breaking up is hard

Writing and I had a break up. Not long after my last post, I called it quits. There simply wasn’t any spark left in the relationship. So for seven months I’ve not been writing. I’ve been RPG-ing with my kids, enjoying video games, card games and board games (huge Munchkin fan now). The breakup seemed like a good thing.

Then Spring Into Books(SIB) came around. It’s a local author symposium of sorts for authors in Utah to come and sell books, give workshops and just meet people. I spear-headed the original effort for it many years ago and for all of those prevous years have been on the committee that puts it together. This year I bowed out. After all, writing and I weren’t a thing anymore.

But they announced we’d made so much and spent so little in previous years (which I already knew) that this year, the half-table was free. I can do free and I had some leftover junk from the breakup that I needed to get rid of: copies of books. Somehow I’d managed to be left with a random number of copies of each of the three books in my series so I figured, I could sell at most five complete sets. My best SIB prior to this saw a sales of three books. I wasn’t expecting big things but it would be nice to get out and see people again, writer friends who had mostly been absent from my life.

I packed up the remnants in a box last Saturday and hauled them away to sell. Writing and I had a love-hate relationship and I’d only recently come to the realization that the spark hadn’t come from me at all but from someone else. Our relationship needed a third person to make it work. I needed someone else to be excited about the story to help me get through the crappy parts. That is still missing. But I’ve become more proud of the fruits of our initial “going-out” and so it was that I approached SIB this year determined to at least try selling something. Recoup the cost and put some of the bitterness behind me.

That happened. Amazingly within the first five minutes. The whole series. I was shocked. My book sale quota had already been met and I still had four hours! Over that time one more complete set and four copies of book one, Kyle by Fire, would go out the door to excited customers. I ran out of book one copies with thirty minutes to go. It was crazy!

I can’t say that writing and I are back together because sadly, I still need to find the third party to get excited about one of the stories mentioned previously in my dodge ball post. But I’m open to reconciliation.

This is the Novel Mage saying, *POOF*

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Book Idea Dodgeball

You are the nerdy kid who has managed to survive on your team by virtue of standing at the back and doing nothing. However, the rest of your team has now been eliminated. The other team has all the balls. You can no longer hide. A count down begins and in a flurry of terrifying red balls you are slammed from multiple directions. No matter what you could have tried, there was no way to avoid all of the balls flying at you. Imagine the first dodgeball scene in Megamind.

This is how I’ve felt lately. But instead of red rubber balls bouncing off my various body parts, it has been ideas for stories. I have two books related to my first series. I have several stories which I started previously and keep throwing themselves at me. And because my series has not been selling well despite good reviews and everyone who has read it liked it, I’ve decided to dabble in Romance because apparently, that sells.

If anyone knows how to effectively dodge these kinds of idea balls, please let me know in the comments. I’m getting rather bruised.

This is the Novel Mage saying, *POOF*

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Summer Break!

After publishing Nic of Time, I took a summer break. I had spent the better part of seven and a half years writing the Phoenix Cycle series and needed a break. That’s why I haven’t posted in three months. So I spent time with my family. I did scout camp with my son, went to Nauvoo, IL to learn the history of my faith and some of my family. I watched beautiful days fly by outside my window. It was nice.

Alas, Fall is rearing its ugly head and with it, NaNoWriMo. This will be the first time in  seven years I look at November on a calendar without a clue as to what to work on. Over the course of this wondrous time, I had two companion novels to my series jump me on separate occasions and in different dark alleys. I really should avoid those. The sub-plot which jumped me and I blogged about has grown into two potential books of their own. What the…? But I have several other stories that I want to write too! So how do I decide what wins? I don’t know yet but if you have an opinion, feel free to share in the comments.

List of potentials:

  • The Rogue Wand (companion novel)
  • Legacy of a Deadmond (companion novel)
  • The Sword from the Stone (Arthur re-telling with a twist)
  • The Mysterious Prince (non-traditional romance)
  • Dorothy of Oz (Dorothy is a time-travelling monster killer with her dragon Toto)
  • Rising from the Floor (Covar is the last in a line of magic wielders who can create special elemental blades using magic thrown into a quest to find out who is killing off those like him)
  • Eternal Underground (Elves were forced underground by the dwarves. Plans for retaking the surface have gone horribly wrong)

This is the Novel Mage saying, *POOF*

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Inspiration strikes and it hurts like a–

So I put writing on hold. Book 3 is done. The series is complete (except for the dang companion novel which could be awesome). Anyway, I decided to focus on getting an audio book up since I’ve had so many requests for it.

Then at a recent author event, I talked to a friend of mine about my plans and he said that he’d try to hook me up with the voice-guy who did his books. The man is open to shared revenue and is really good. If that works out then I don’t need to worry about it.

Hurray, time to focus on my family! I spent last weekend weeding and getting the garden planted. I played Axis and Allies with my son. A great weekend. Then yesterday, driving back to the office an image of flashing swords pops into my head and a name and the story begins to unfold in my head. Crap. I wrote it all down so I don’t lose it because it will be a fun story. But I didn’t want more inspiration! I’m taking a break! If anything confirmed that I’m a storyteller, this was it. And I’m both upset and excited at the same time. I was on a break!!

This is the Novel Mage saying, *POOF*

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Absence makes the heart wonder

Amazing things have happened. You might be screaming, “I don’t care! Where have you been for 3 freaking months!” I don’t blame you. I almost forgot I had a blog to be honest with everything going on in my life.

First and most important to you wonderful people, I’ve finished book 3. Nic of Time is the exciting conclusion to the Phoenix Cycle Series. So for all of you who have been waiting for the blasted thing to be finished before reading it, you’re welcome. The official launch is May 20th but you can pre-order the ebook here.

Second, work and life have steam-rolled me when I wasn’t working on Nic of Time. I’m on 2 projects at work and one of them requires extra time on the phone with a team in India. pepperWe got a puppy. She’s adorable but requires a lot more work than I expected. My wife says to stop blaming things on taking care of the dog but I’m gonna ride that excuse as long as I can. *wink*

So I’m sorry I left you hanging but you can follow me on FB where you get more updates. And I blame the puppy.

This is the Novel Mage saying, *POOF*

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The Importance of Pitch

For years (and those who have met me at book signings know) I have struggled with how to explain my book in a few sentences. It usually takes so long the person has made a decision before I even tell them the good stuff. This has cost me a ton of sales and interest because it shouldn’t take 5 minutes to tell about a book.

This last weekend I attended LTUE both as a presenter and learner. My presentation on Magic Systems went so much better than the nightmares I had before the conference. That is for a later post though. While there I attended a Pitch Workshop because I knew I needed help. Well, we had about 45 minutes and 7 people. What I came up with garnered only a couple of minutes of help. But I was able to help others really hone their pitch. I felt like I was back in poetry critique groups, cutting words and moving things around. It is often referred to as an ‘elevator pitch’ because it should take no longer than the time to ride the elevator between floors.

On the 45 minute drive down to the conference the next day, I realized I had all of the skills to fix my pitch after saying them out loud to the other people. So I started working on my own pitch, repeating to myself the very things I had said the day before and recording each attempt. I found the moderator of our table from the session in the green room that morning and ran it by her. She loved it and another author in the room offered a single point of concern that I fixed right then. In two sentences, I can now pitch Kyle by Fire. Followed by two sentences for Will from Ashes and currently one for Nic of Time. I could finish my pitch to readers on all three books before they could finish reading the back of KbF. The result was amazing.

I brought 10 copies of each book to sell. That may seem low but I have never sold more than five books at any event before and that included the few times people bought both books together. I worried about how much I would have to lug back home. But with my pitch now perfected, I came home with only one copy of WfA because my last sale went to a girl who really wanted my book but only had enough for one of the two. I even sold a set to a fellow author that sat by me for a while and listened to my pitch several times. The pitch worked on him too!

Work on your pitch because it isn’t just to sell your book to an agent or publisher in the elevator. It is how you sell it to readers.

Kyle’s extreme magic level lands him on the hitlist of an anti-magic organization which derails his junior year of high school. When the organization starts attacking his friends and family, Kyle must decide if his life is more important than theirs.

This is the Novel Mage saying, *POOF*

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You Don’t Remember That?

I went to another League of Utah Writers meetings at yet another chapter that isn’t my home and they had a great presentation about deep pov (point of view). But that isn’t what I’m talking about today. And forgive me if I’ve mentioned this before but hey, time happens.

Recently Groundhog Day came upon us. So of course, I watched the movie with Bill Murray because it’s a tradition. Great show. There is a point however, where he seduces Nancy Taylor by asking her questions about her high school one day and the next using that information to make it seem like they had a history.

“I asked you Prom,” Murray proclaims and she buys it because she can’t remember. It was PROM! How do you forget who you went to high school dances with? This scene always bothered me because I just couldn’t believe it.

Then two summers ago, I had my 20th high school reunion. Yes, long time. As part of that, I organized a Family in the Park afternoon. Those of us who went to school together stood in a circular fashion talking and I mentioned going to a dance with one of the women standing there. She gave me the same look Nancy gave Bill. THE SAME LOOK! She didn’t remember! Even after I told her what we did and what she wore, the same blank “I honestly don’t remember that” face. Wow.

And so here is my writing tip for the day: Not everyone remembers the same. Some of us are apparently forgettable. So as you write, you may have a detailed history for your characters but keep in mind, that they may not remember everything you’ve written down for them and THAT can lead to great story elements.

This is the Novel Mage saying, *POOF*

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