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┬áboth 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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Sub-plot Ambush

As I was editing book 3, I came to a chapter I’d already decided needed some work to make it longer or at least not end so abruptly. Alas, as I began writing more, a whole sub-plot jumped out and mugged me. Left me with a black-eye, no wallet and whole other story to tell about characters that were only supposed to play minor roles.

What does this mean? Well, the cool thing is it will make the book more fun and gives depth and more purpose to one of the MC’s. It also means I have more writing to do. Not just in the chapter I wanted longer but these stories are now going to weave in later as well. Didn’t expect that. Will that delay release? I hope not but I can’t make any promises.

If you find my wallet, please return it.

This is the Novel Mage saying, *POOF*

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Will’s House Floorplan

As promised before the Christmas insanity of family and events and presents and general laziness, here is the second floor plan. This is Will’s house. Making this floor plan brought things into focus for me. I modeled Kyle’s house after the house of a friend of mine from junior high and high school. Keeping the layout clear in my mind was easy.

As I started matching the layout of Will’s house to the books, I realized that what I saw in my head for the first floor and second floor didn’t match up. What did I do? I changed things in books. Since I’m planning on a new edition for books 1 & 2 when I release 3, this isn’t a big deal. It ultimately results in only a few minor tweaks in those stories that doesn’t change the actual story.

The bonus to doing this came when I realized that I didn’t know which way Will’s house faced! In book 2, I had it facing both east and west. That doesn’t actually work out if you’re wondering.

You can lose your readers if your details aren’t right. And for those that have read, welcome home.

This is the Novel Mage saying, *POOF*

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Book Art for the Untalented

You know who you are. The writer who can craft amazing stories with words based on stick figure drawings of people. Yet, you want to give your reader more. They deserve to have a glimpse into the world you’ve created. That’s me, too.

The Phoenix Cycle Series takes place on Earth. Maps are not an incentive┬ábecause Google Earth provides the same thing. But several scenes take place in homes. Sometimes it’s hard to create the exact picture of the layout of a home through words. I discovered this recently as I started editing Book 3 of the series. I had created and architecturally impossible home. It was awesome. So I logged into several free online floorplan creators and went to work. Books have been modified as I finally built homes that worked and mostly stayed true to the ones I saw in my head.

As a bonus for my readers, I’m going to post the floor plans to at least two important homes in the series. You can find them here and on Facebook (please zip on over and like my page as I post there more often).

First up: Kyle’s house.

kyles-house

This is the Novel Mage saying, *POOF*

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