I now know exactly what happens in the next several chapters of BEYOND THE PROPHECY–and I’m still not making much progress. It’s not editor brain (at least, I don’t think it is). It’s my brain during a heat wave.

I don’t know how many of you have read Terry Pratchett. (If you haven’t, you should.) A subseries in his Disc World series deals with the Night Watch, which (after the advent of Carrot, anyway) includes not just humans, but dwarves, a werewolf, and a mountain troll. I don’t remember the troll’s name off the top of my head, but I do remember this little plot point.

The troll was big, strong, and intimidating to the bad guys. He was also dumber than dirt–until one night he got locked in an ice house. Then he was brilliant. So one of the dwarves built him a hat that would keep his head cool so that he could be smart all the time.

I need someone to invent that hat in this world. The kind of concentration it takes to write a first draft simply eludes me right now.

Maybe my efforts would be better directed to a little revision for the duration. They say this heat wave will end soon–but we all know how much we can trust weathermen. I’ve gotten the first critique back on THE IGNORED PROPHECY and it looks like I may have a lot of work to do on that. Sequels are hard. More on that in my next post.

So, I’ve taken the step. THE SHAMAN’S CURSE is now exclusively on Amazon and enrolled in Kindle Select.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????If you’re not a writer, what this means for you is that it’s now available for borrowing by Amazon Prime members and available free to members of Kindle Unlimited.

Normally, I like to make my books available in as many different places and as many different formats as possible. However, for whatever reason (and some of it baffles me), TSC has sold approximately 1000 times better on Amazon than everywhere else combined. (My normal distribution is more like 60% Amazon, 40% everywhere else.) So, if I was ever going to try Kindle Select, this seemed like the one to do it with.

Kindle Select offers several advantages:

  1. Higher royalty rates in some markets
  2. Kindle Countdown Deals and Free Days
  3. Inclusion in the Kindle Lending Library
  4. And, most important right now, Kindle Unlimited

It’s only been a few days, but I have to say that so far the experiment has been a success. Sales have held fairly steady (maybe just a tiny drop) and the addition of “borrows” either through KOLL or KU has really helped bump TSC back up the Amazon best-seller charts.

Meantime, I’ve been trying to survive work during a vicious heat wave which is only going to get worse. I’m a crossing guard by day (which leaves me plenty of time to write), so I stand out on a corner wearing a uniform that is not what I would choose for this weather (black polyester pants!), and walk almost constantly taking children and parents safely across a street that can get really crazy at times. There is no shade to speak of on my corner. A heat wave right at the beginning of the school year, before I get a chance to get re-accustomed to the routine, is rough going, but I still do really love the job–and the hours.

Also, I’m still working on my new writing space. This weekend, it’s been about turning a closet into a book case (more or less). Here’s yesterday’s progress:

Digital Camera

Those lower shelves that are crammed full–those are all fantasy books. And that’s not all of them. Science fiction is up on the right and history books (yeah, I’m a history nerd) are on the left.

For those of you who are wondering, the second book in the DUAL MAGICS series, THE IGNORED PROPHECY is on schedule for release in December. And I’m progressing, slowly, on the third book, currently titled BEYOND THE PROPHECY.

I do want to share this terrific post by Sarah Negovetich on what to do to still be productive, even when the writing isn’t flowing.



I’m back at work on Book 3 of the DUAL MAGICS series (currently titled BEYOND THE PROPHECY, but nothing’s set in stone). But I’m not fully back in first draft mode.

I’ve decided that’s part of my problem in really getting this one rolling. After all, I know the characters and the world. I laid down a rough outline of at least the high points of what’s going to happen. So what’s holding me back from making better progress?

Answer, I haven’t yet managed to disengage my editor brain. Writing (a first draft) and revising an existing draft are two very different things, calling not just for different skills, but a whole different mind set. Editor brain worries about what should be shown better and what should be cut, not about telling the story in the first place. Editor brain worries about whether that was precisely the right word.

I realized this yesterday when I wrote a new scene, and immediately thought that I should delete it. Well, there’s a good chance that it will be deleted and the information in it worked in with just a few sentences. It doesn’t really merit two pages. But that’s a decision for the second or third draft, not the first. The first draft only goes forward.

First drafts aren’t supposed to be good writing. Their purpose is to get the story out in the open so it can be revised into good writing. And I’ve been revising for quite a while, now. Both THE SHAMAN’S CURSE and THE IGNORED PROPHECY had already been written before.


(Not well, but that’s what revision is for.) The plot lines didn’t really change as I reworked them, just tightened up.

And before that, I revised and polished DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING, which I’m currently querying. It made the top 25 in the Pitch Plus 5 contest. You can see the pitch and first chapter (which just happens to be about five pages long) here. It’s been a while since I was in first draft mode.

It may take a few more days to switch over to the correct frame of mind, but it will happen. And then this draft will start to really move.

A few weeks ago, I entered the Pitch Plus 5 Contest over at Adventures in YA Publishing. Then, life being what it is, I lost track of when the first round of results were due. Apparently it was yesterday. Now, the way this contest works is that the first 50 entries make it into the contest. (Actually, the first 25 at an impossibly early–for the West Coast–entry window and the first 25 for a window 12 hours later.) Then, those entries are judged on a standard form by respected book bloggers on a standard scorecard. Based on those scores, the top 25 entries make it to the next round.

This time, entrants also get a short critique from that first judge. Email being what it is (newest on top), I read that critique before the announcement of who got in to the next round. The first sentence is “The opening didn’t hook me.” So, naturally, I thought that I wasn’t going any further this time. Then I get down to the list–and DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING is on it.

Here’s the initial entry, by the way.

So, now I have two days to make revisions and also do a little work on the query and get it in by midnight (9 p.m. my time) tomorrow night for the next round, judged by authors.

Yeah, that means that the first draft of BEYOND THE PROPHECY (book 3 of the DUAL MAGICS series) will be put on hold until Tuesday. (I have written a new first chapter for it, that does a better job of telegraphing the kind of story it will be.)

Meanwhile, I’m in the middle (exactly) of painting the final wall in what will be my new writing space.

Digital CameraWhat I want to know is: who had the bright idea for all those louvers?

Going to be a busy couple of days.

I haven’t done much–well, any–advertizing up ’til now. My first-ever ad runs tomorrow on Fussy Librarian. It’ll be for THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.


In honor of that ad, I’ll be dropping the price to $0.99 for the day.

So, we shall see. I hope it’ll give the sales a bump that lasts more than a day. They’re certainly not bad now, but they could be just a bit better. My goal is to try to keep sales of the first book in the series up as I prepare the second book, THE IGNORED PROPHECY, for publication in December.

That’s out to beta readers now for feedback on things like plot and pacing. Meanwhile, I’m trying to get the third book, possibly to be titled Beyond the Prophecy, started. Slow going at the beginning, but that’s fairly normal. Even though I know the characters thoroughly by this time, and have dozen or so paragraphs of an outline, I still have to find my way into this story. (That’s a pretty long outline for me. I’m a discovery writer at heart.)

Oh, and work starts again tomorrow.

First Scenes

I now have the rough outline and the first scene for the third book in the DUAL MAGICS series, reminding me again how hard it is to start a novel, let alone a sequel. What with reworking the first two books, it had been a while since I’d actually sat down to start a first draft.

Starting any novel–especially a fantasy–is a delicate dance between providing enough information about the characters and the setting while at the same time having something interesting happen that is relevant to the plot. Sequels are even more difficult because of the fine line between providing enough information for a reader who happens to pick up a middle book first and not boring a reader who has read the first (two) books and doesn’t need the introduction. It’s always my intention that any book in a series of mine is able to stand alone, even as it has a place in the larger plot arc of the series. That’s my preference as a reader and that’ how I write.

When starting a first novel in the series (or a book that’s not part of a series), I usually try to limit the number of characters in the first scene. But that gets harder to do as a series goes on. Other characters just are there and their characters and relationships have to be introduced somehow.

This will be the third book in the four-book series that starts with THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I’d share the first scene here, but . . . well, spoilers. And since Book 2, THE IGNORED PROPHECY, won’t be out until December, it’s just a little early to telegraph that plot.

I still have to come up with a good title for Book 3, though. Well, there’s time yet. The only risk is that the longer I go with a working title, the harder it is for me to think of the story with any other title.


Well, I think I’ve done about as much as I can with THE IGNORED PROPHECY until I get some reactions from beta readers. It’s down to 108,500 words, which isn’t bad. There may be a bit more I can cut, but not much.

So, it’s time to start turning my attention to a couple of other things:

  1. Cover art. Naturally, I’m going to want this to have some similarity to the cover of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I can find similar backgrounds with out much trouble. The trick is going to be coming up with a good central image.
  2. The map. If I’m going to include a map in THE IGNORED PROPHECY (and maybe go back and add it to THE SHAMAN’S CURSE, I probably should get that ready pretty soon.
  3. Book 3. Poor Book 3 doesn’t have a title yet. This is the book where everything falls apart. I need to settle the main outline of the plot. I’m a modified discovery writer. I don’t do a detailed outline, but I do find that having at least the main turning points as guide posts is helpful.  Also, without having a good idea of the plot makes it hard to know where the story starts, and I really want to include an excerpt in THE IGNORED PROPHECY when I publish that in December.

Meanwhile, of course, still working on my new writing space. I got the ceiling painted yesterday. Progress!


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