Sunday, December 30, 2012

Speaker of the Winds is going out to Beta readers

It's ready. 

Speaker of the Winds is officially in Beta Reader manuscript print. Copies are going out ASAP. The first one went out last night. Because it's so big (and expensive) it'll take some time to get them all out. 

So with a little 'acceptable' tweaking of manuscript format and some other small changes I managed to drop the page count from 730 pages to 600.
That's about 1 and 1/5th of a ream of paper and most of an ink cartridge. It's a hefty beast and I'm still uncertain how I'm going to get it bound if at all. So for my readers it'll likely come to you as a stack of paper like this.

Some of my friends and supporters have offered to read my stories and offer feedback to help me. They are different than my other equally great friends who just want to read and enjoy my stories. This manuscript is in the first stage. Incomplete. If you're not a writer, then you'll probably just want to wait for the finished book. Reading incomplete works can be difficult or even turn you off of a writer if you're just a reader.
New York Times best seller Brandon Sanderson once had his best friend and a member of his writers group say this about his manuscript. It went something like this. "What? You write like this and get published! Maybe I'll get published after all."
Now that wasn't and insult, but rather a clear point that until a work of art is complete it's imperfect. There is work to be done.
I suppose my point is, not everyone who reads fantasy would like to read an incomplete novel. Most of us just want the clean polished version and that's o.k. too.

What is a Beta reader?
To me a Beta reader is someone who will read an unpolished novel, evaluate it's strengths and weaknesses, write on the manuscript where and when they happen and do so in a reasonable period of time. Beta readers are not necessarily writers or readers of great acumen. They are however well read and know when they are reading if the text is bad, average, good or excellent. Beta readers have read enough in the past and do so in the present to understand beyond personal opinion if something is good or not. They also recognize their opinion matters and ensure their comments include their opinions. They also return the manuscript with their legible remarks, because without it I can't improve my story. A Beta reader points out places of success and places that need improvement, but doesn't say how it's to be done. That's the job of the writer and editor.

This is for my Beta readers who I've already spoken to:
It's coming. Here's the kind of feedback I'm hoping to receive.
Of course, spelling, grammar etc is helpful, but that I can edit that on my own, so don't feel to pressured to dive into that kind of work. A side note: that's the last stuff a novelist edits, so there's been very little of it done on the manuscript so far. Don't let it bother you.
Mostly I'd like to hear back on these things below, so please do use a RED pen to take legible notes on the manuscript. (A BIC ball point or similar will work. Please don't use a marker or felt tip as they'll be hard to read and will bleed through pages. Please don't use black or blue, the most common pen colors, as it's hard to notice against the printed text.) You'll be returning it to me so I can review them.
My success and all your hard work reading this novel would be fruitless without your comments and thoughts, so if you thought it, don't hesitate to write it down. I'm always available for questions.
  • Plot problems
  • Inconsistencies of any kind
  • Points of confusion
  • Points of excess (wordiness, repetition)
  • Pet Peeves
  • How's the pacing
  • Do the climaxes peak and the valleys rest
  • Do you have closure
  • Did you feel tension in the right places
  • Was there suspense
  • Did you feel pulled from chapter to chapter, scene to scene, page to page, paragraph to paragraph
  • At what points did you get board
  • Trouble pronouncing names of people, places or things
  • Is there a scene, character, or situation that lacks description
  • Names, scenes you liked... alright, anything you like. 
  • Anything else that you notice
*Again it's most helpful to see your notes in the text, where it's happening. 


For those of you who've offered to volunteer recently I'll have to get you a copy to read for feedback after I start getting some of these back. This can take a while and nothing about writing is very fast. So some sharing will have to happen and all in good time. Also, I do expect to put out two more novels to my readers in 2013, so more opportunities will arise.


If we haven't talked yet, but you're interested in helping me write my novel this is what I expect out of a potential beta reader. 

  • I need to know you well. Most likely you live near me and we communicate regularly. 
  • You're an avid reader of fiction and certainly in the specific genre that the book I'm sending out is in. 
  • The expectation is that you will read the novel in a reasonable time frame and give me feedback that I can use to better the story. You understand that I take all your feedback seriously even if I don't make changes or fix all the things you suggest. 
  • It's o.k. to give me a pat on the back if you like what you've read, but I'm not looking for ego building. At least not at this stage. ;-)
  • You should realize that a Beta reader is reading an unfinished story. It's incomplete. It's not so rough as a first draft, certainly, but it's not submission ready either. At this stage I've worked on the story for well over a year. (Two years on this one.) I'm at the point where I need outside input to improve my story. So it's not a matter of if, but rather when you come across rough points and I expect you to call them out so I can smooth them over and write a breakout polished novel.
  • There's expense involved. It costs me money to print and time to read and write my stories, but you spend your time helping for free because you're cool like that. I expect to be a paid, published professional author one day. Maybe then helping me out might be prestigious, but for now you do it because you like it and it's fun. Because it is.
  • Yes I do expect the manuscript back, and no I'm sorry you can't share it with your friends yet, but once it's published I will need your help with that. Thanks for the enthusiasm! All in good time.
  • It's not top secret, but it does represent hundreds if not thousands of hours of work by both myself and others. It would be a shame if it was compromised. All of the above is why I only do paper copies and I wouldn't give it to you if I didn't trust you, nor would you be here reading this. Thanks friend.

You're all brave and honorable folk and I'm blessed just to have you in my life. Thank you.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Big Mile Stone

Just a quick update.
As of right now I've finished my last revision before Beta feedback on Speaker of the Winds.
I'm going to spend some time tomorrow morning formatting it for printing, then I'll print my first novel that I'm sending away into the world for feedback.
This is big for me and only a little scary. O.k. more like Splash Mountain scary, but I'm totally getting into that log!

Cross your fingers.

P.s. If you're one of my Beta readers, and you know who you are. Expect your copy soon.


Monday, December 17, 2012

How the Universe Works and A Few Other Small Things

Quick things first...
Did I ever tell you the feedback I got on Zombie Wife.  My first reader a.k.a. Brittany said that she loved Zombie Wife. That it was my best work yet. Although she recognized that it has a long way to go, it is a first draft after all, that she was most excited about it.  Quite frankly, I'm very motivated to get Speaker of the Winds done and out just so that I can dive into revisions and edits for Zombie Wife.

Speaker of the Winds progress bar has been updated to 65%. That last 10% or so was slow because I've added three scene's that I didn't have before.  It was necessary and will make the story better.  You'll see. Their will probably be more of that also.

I've updated a couple video's into my YouTube channel.  I attended the the Salt Lake City library's Worlds of Fantasy lecture with Brandon Sanderson. I actually got good enough seats to record the session. There were a few minor disruptions, but I managed to upload the video and it's decent enough.
Brandon Sanderson, Worlds of Fantasy, Lecture

How the Universe Works.
Quirky, I know, however I'm going to hit this anyway.
The more I pay attention the more I see this to be true.
If our life was a canvas, we are the painters and the paint is our spent energies. It's the remnant or residue of our actions. When we desire more in our painting or if we're dissatisfied with the work we have, the solution is entirely controllable.  Think, decide, and take action. Then of course we must evaluate our progress, think, decide and take action again. Like the pilot, we know our destination, but if we don't continually sample our progress, check our bearings and adjust our course we'll forever overshoot or miss our target. For those who are not even trying... well they're in the airport still.
So my point is, we can accomplish anything if we apply effort.
We shape the universe around us, not the other way around.
I think it's long been assumed my most people, my self included, that there is this conglomerate of a thing that we'll call our environment, family, government, laws, rules and other pre-determined orders that's for the most part managed by god, nature and other much more powerful governing bodies. There is little to nothing we can do about any of that, but exist within the boundaries that has been created for us. Weather we follow the rules or break them, we so often believe that the options before us are the ones presented.
Imagine, if you will, the scenario where a hero is put against a bad guy. He's been cornered and the enemy gives him two options. Either option, of course, lets the villain win in one way or another and the hero loses. The surprise ending is when the hero realizes that he is in control of his own destiny and creates his own option which saves the day.
Don't take the world around you as a set thing. You control and shape it. If you can wrap your mind around that, things will start to change and you'll notice them. Why? Because you changed them and that's not supposed to happen. Or is it?
Test it. Think of one thing that is odd or doesn't come up. Make it a strange word or concept. Focus on that, make it important, then pay attention. I've no doubt that soon you'll see it show up in your world in ways that had you not placed it there it would not have shown up.
No, really, do it right now. Meditate on it for a few minutes. Yes, like 120 or more seconds. Really, honestly focus on it. Remember it through out the day. Subconsciously you'll be wide wave broadcasting this and the supposedly set universe will bring that back to you in ways you couldn't have imagined. It's not serendipitous   it's not coincidence. It's not that you were just not paying attention to it before and it was always there. You made it happen. You put it there by telling the order around you what to put there.
So for those of you who imagined a pile of cash and it didn't just show up, you're kind of missing the point and like the novice who's just started studying Kung Fu, you're not a master yet. Give yourself time to develop the skill.
Next, you'll learn that if you apply yourself fervently enough, you can change big things in your life. This can be stuff like eliminating negative things or people from your life to acquiring that thing you always wanted, but for some reason never did.  But that's all together rather shallow, this truth goes much deeper.
Think about it. Authors do all the time. What if you could take your life and change anything about it. Anything. Is the sun red? Is the grass crystalline .. ok, that's not very useful, but it should get your mind working on something less than obvious or shallow as your individual wants or needs. Your influence is much broader than what is right before you. Reach out into the world around you and draw in greater resources.
Decide what you want in your life and the world/universe/god around us will start to present opportunities. We have to apply the energy to make it happen, but once we do, it's not as hard as we would think. And once you've established that flow or path for the universe, then it's energy will start to pass along your path making it happen. It still takes work, for sure, but it's you who is in control. You're not just floating around, a speck on a sea of turbulence waiting for the universe to sink you. You form everything.
You've heard the natural law of flow, right?  Things or intelligence without stubborn intelligence (that's us),  will always flow in the path of least resistance.  That's how energy bounces and creates light, it's how water flow creates rivers, it's how matter and energy pool and vibrate creating this earth and nature around us. When you redirect that flow of matter and energy into new paths, you're reshaping what's already been done around you into what you prefer to have.
As the artist shapes clay into beautiful sculptures, you have the same ability to affect the world around you. Because you are both intelligent and aware you control the other intelligences around you.
Will you be bending rivers or water and wavelengths of light around you?  Well, maybe not today, but if it's important to you then, yes you can. Nothing is withheld from you. You must simply make the decision and act and in time all things can be as you would have them.
Do not let seeming failures stop your efforts. Like you and the world around you, both are imperfect. There is more than one force trying to shape the same thing. The broader the influence you demand the broader your impact and the greater the effort you will have to apply. This place you work on influencing will rarely be the same now as it will be moments or even years later. But if you persist eventually success will be yours. What ever that may be.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Stepping Outside

I'm just over the half way mark chapter count wise on my revision of Speaker of the Winds. This has been a real growing experience for me and no doubt there is more room to grow. Still I'm very excited to finish and get it printed and shipped to my brave Beta readers.

I should have done that by now, and I've been missing that step for most of this year.  I allowed myself the opportunity to write two more novels when I should have been in revisions of this one. Personal weakness, I'm sure. I love the thrill of a new story and drafting it out.  Watching the characters come to life in my mind is very fun and enticing when you're trying to break through a wall with your current story.

My goal is to be finished with my revision by the end of the year and have it shipped out within the first few weeks of 2013. Then hopefully I'll have all feedback in and completed and shipped out to my first publisher submission by mid year. Then it's query agents time.

That's probably looking too far out. For this morning, it's writing time.

But before I do, I think I need to make my way over to the theater site and buy me a ticket to The Hobbit.

Have fun writing!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Writing Excuses Retreat Scholarship / A Memory of Light

Can you believe it, the Writing Excuses Retreat sold out in 9 minutes. Not that I could have afforded to go, but that's spectacular news and gives me hope that by the time I can afford it, maybe it'll still be in operation.

But really the good news is that they are giving out one free scholarship attendance. How awesome is that?

Of course, it'll be a one in ten thousand shot, but I put my chips in on this one. I can't go if I don't try.
That said, let me ask for your referral. One of the requirements is that I have referrals from non-relatives who can vouch for my need, namely need in merit of writing, to consider my application.

If you are willing to give me a referral, please write to the following email address and use the exact subject line. Keep it well under 300 words so that they'll accept it.

Thank you in advance.

Scholarship Application: Luke Piper

Some other great news. A Memory of Light, the final book in the Wheel of Time series is coming out with a book launch party on January 8th. So if you're going, I'll totally see you there.  I don't think I'll brave the early crowd and camp out.  Sorry, it'll be sub-freezing temperatures all day every day round about then. I will be showing up (possibly even in the morning to get a number, then later that evening around 8pm to get lined up for the indoor party.)

I'll be the handsome guy plugged into an available outlet somewhere writing the next best selling novel.

They anticipate hundreds of people so this will certainly be a long wait.

That's all I have for now. Have fun writing.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Heroic v.s. Tragedy

Hero. Just a thought I've been developing.

So does a person have to succeed in his quest in order to be labeled a hero? I don't believe so.

The dictionary doesn't seem to agree that it is required. Interestingly enough a hero seems to be determined by his effort and intention rather than a desired result. Rather it seems society has grasped on to the successful hero's in tale and reality and we may have a slanted perspective of actual hero's.

Not to say that we don't recognized a hero when he has failed. We honor all of our fallen soldiers with the title. Surely they failed in both saving our country and their own lives, yet we still label them for their brave deeds.

I think a defining measure of a hero is someone who acts when others stall due to fear or risk. They step forward and accept the call (bravery) to duty or righteousness when others flee or hide from the same. They accept the risk. That means they're willing to fail, but that they will try regardless   The risk isn't usually dragons or some imaginary wickedness. It is more frequently in our lives smaller things.

It's anyone who when faced with fear moves forward toward their goal because the believe it's the right thing to do. They don't consider failure an option, but they accept the reality that they can't win every time. And when they do fail they learn and keep moving forward realizing that in time success will come. Even if it's not of their hand.

Some of the most glorious hero stories (probably of Greek origin) are when the hero (remember the person who takes action when others shrink in fear) dies as a result of their failure to succeed. Then their death, now a martyrdom, motivates those who first shirked the opportunity to raise their bravery and also accept the same possible risk and seek our success where their hero failed.

I think that's my favorite hero story. Nobody likes to see the hero die. In particular it pisses off today's 'super hero' reader society. If you kill your hero your public often time demand that you resurrect them. But the reality is our true hero's die. They're imperfect men and women. Those who took great risk usually do die. It's the great stories where they served as a motivation, where they became the predecessors. Like the story of William Wallace for example. Sorry he died before he achieved his goal of a free Scotland. His followers later achieved his victory (in part) and only generations later did his over all vision become fulfilled.  Even today when we learn of the man's heroic act do we still feel the buzz in our breast and maybe even some of us lift his torch of heroism in our own lives.

So why do we even care? Because hero's make us want to be better people.  Even when they die... maybe even more when they die.

The next time your upset because the author in the story you're reading kills off your hero, don't be dissuaded. Realize that the martyr is now passing the torch of hero from one to another.
If that torch doesn't get passed. Well that's a tragedy and just plain sad. Maybe you don't have to forgive him then.

Monday, October 22, 2012

New Direction - Revisions

I made a promise to my self and others and in the excitement of my ideas for 'Monster in the Woods' and the 2012 NaNoWriMo season I got a little carried away. I've decided to skip it again this year and instead try to complete the next round of revisions on 'Speaker of the Winds' in the same time frame. I'd like to send out to my Beta readers an early Christmas present in early December.
Speaker of the Winds needs to get out into the big bad world. I promised myself and to you that at the start of the year that I would share my work by year end. It's time to open my self to a bit more risk and get it out there.
So, if we've spoke about you getting to read a story of mine 'Some Day', well, that day is coming. It'll be in early December.

Monster in the Woods is still going to happen, it just might be a few months later. It's going to be really cool. And scary.

Lol. ;-)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Zombie Wife is finished

Isn't it great!

I finished Zombie Wife yesterday. It's all backed up and loaded onto my wife's Kindle for a first read.
Isn't she brave everyone?
I like to think so. She's like a test pilot that keeps getting back into those planes I build even though they crash every time. She must love me.
Still, with that said, I think this is my best novel yet. It's shorter, by more than half than Speaker of the Winds. It clocks in at just over 42,000 words. Likely that will grow by another couple thousand in the second draft, I already know of several things I need to add and expound on. It was intended to be a short story of 16,000 words or so. Something to keep me busy while Brittany read Speaker of the Winds. But it grew... and grew.
That's a good thing I suppose.

So what's next?

Well it should be Draft 2 (well, three really) of Speaker of the Winds. Once I finish that I can finally get it out to my Beta Readers. I'm going to say that, but I've never sent anything out to anyone yet. Nothing has been polished enough to do so. I have at least four willing and uber brave volunteers. Maybe more.
O.k. half of these are family, but we hurt most those who we love.

However, I must procrastinate. November is NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. Last year I didn't participate. Which is a shame! I had just started Speaker of the Winds. Knowing it was going to be epic in length I didn't want to have the pressure. I did participate the year before and got half of Lightning Child out of it. In one month!
50,000 words in one month is great for writers like me who slave away in the wee hours of the morn' before work. I'm going to do it again this year. I want to kill it in November and knock out most if not all of the next novel I've just got to get out of my head. With luck I'll have it finished by mid-December and can then revise Speaker.

I've spoke of it before I think.  Monster in the Woods. Like anything that's a working title, but I think it's evocative  It comes from an amalgamation of concepts and has grown over the past few years in my mind. It combines plot lines similar to (the classical) beauty and the beast, phantom, snow white (again classical, which means not Disney), Quasimodo and more. Not full plot, just elements. It has a feel similar to a fairy tale, but without the 'fairy' elements or creatures. Kind of like something M. Night Shyamalan would write. Everything will be real, but so strange and creepy you'll swear I made it up.
Remember when you were growing up and were being read a really well told fairy tale. How it seemed anything could happen. It was magical, mysterious and moving. Maybe some other M words too.
I'm headed in that direction. It will have a love triangle, a twist in that and a big plot twist. It will keep you guessing to the end. You'll expect one thing and then it will change, believably just like in real life, and when it's over you'll be relieved, pleased, pissed and slightly sad.

I grew up in northern Idaho and spent a good deal of time out in the mountains. Truly some of my best memories. Today in Utah I still love getting out and hiking the steeper slopes up here. Nothing beats the great untamed north. There is an edge when it's just you and mother nature. She can have you gazing out into glorious visa's one moment and clinging to life the next and it means nothing to the heartless girl. You're just as valuable to her as one of her gnats.
Have you ever walked a game trail miles from anywhere in the pitch dark? Or in a deep fog? Have heavy things moved just out of sight?
Fear moves in all of us and we've tasted it. Not knowing what lays just out of sight or worse believing it might come into sight, this frightens us. It's the unknown. I think the woods are the perfect setting for such a mystery. As all good Mysteries, the most horrible come from the workings of man's own hands. Bathed in sin and twisting in debauchery. The darkness comes from within. With no where to run, we are entirely alone. If we live or die it is entirely in our own hands. Will your heart fail you out of your own imagined fears? You wouldn't be the first.

In Monster in the Woods, we'll follow a hero-ess who will be forced into finding out if the legend of the Monster in the Woods is real, and further more if she'll survive it.

Although it could be classed as a monster story, I think it's more of a fantasy romance with a fairy tale feel. It won't be half as dark as Zombie Wife, but it will have it's scary moments. After all... There is a Monster in the Woods.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Zombie Wife Progress

I'm so excited to say that I've reached the 80% mark on Zombie Wife. Don't worry, that's just a working title. It's just over 31,000 words so it's looking to be just over 40,000 total. Maybe my Novella might graduate to an actual novel? I suppose it will if the SFFWA members were evaluating it's length.

It is a zombie story like the working title suggests, but it's playing out as more of a post-apocalyptic redemption story. I don't use the word zombie, but treat it as more of an infection. I suppose you could draw a similar line to the infection concept like 'I Am Legend', but that's where the similarity ends. Personally I think there is a dedicated market to zombie stories and this one could do well.

The main characters of the story  are the remaining survivors of a broken family in impossible times. Society was shaken as the illness swept the world severing contact and killing half the world population. Some regions experience total annihilation  others managed better, but hometown USA lost at least half. Similar to the impact of the Black Plague. Their community around them is making it. They have an additional police group who's whole responsibility is to protect the community from further outbreaks. They hunt down and destroy zombies in the community. Although this branch of the law it is heavily regulated by government authorities and elected officials, it is a vital service and one that requires little to extinguish an infected person. Greg the main character works as a member of this justice branch and spends his nights slaying the infected.  His partner on 'Patrol' is a fun ex-surfer and near militia classic corvette loving Dayne. Gun, car and other manly talk ensues...

Greg is married to Heather who unbeknownst to him has been rather un-loyal. She 'visits' with a Phillip on a regular basis to meet her personal needs. Greg has been aloof since his only child was slaughtered with dozens of others after a post recovery (after the governments regained control of the initial outbreak and established order once again) outbreak swept over the school she was attending. He's never forgiven himself as he had promised her he'd always take care of her.

It's been years since, and he can't let go of the pain he was left with.  Greg and Heather's poor choices come to a climax in their lives as they both are left with one final choice. The weight of their relationship and lives hang in the balance. One bad choice could end it all for them.

Zombie Wife will take you deep into the soul of a failing family and the human decisions people make when they seek redemption and forgiveness. It deals with the harsh measurement of an unforgiving disease and the price everyone must pay to regain the sweet peace of forgiveness and the love of their past.

I hope that the readers will enjoy the fun of the guns and cars. That they'll be committed to the characters because of their relateable human choices and emotional drama. The action and zombie slaying will be fun for certain. The tension is high and stakes are higher.

Undoubtedly this is my best plotted story and I plan to ensure it flows well through it's peaks and valleys of tension and recovery.

In rough I'm not certain what my timeline will be on this one. I do know I'll be done with the first draft in the next week or so. Just in time for me to make a tough decision. I didn't do NANOWRIMO last year and I want to this year.  But Brittany just finished reading Speaker of the Winds and I would really like to get through and edit that thing into a submit ready manuscript. I figure I have to get something out there into the market if I'm ever going to get published. It's like the lottery in a way. (I don't gamble.) If you never play, you'll certainly never win. So I want to get my work out there and see what people say.

Assuming I go straight into edits on Speaker of the Winds I might not revise Zombie Wife until February or March and I'll probably not get it out to people for Beta reading until late spring 2013.  Either way. I'm pumped for the story and I think you'll all enjoy it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What Have I Been Up To?

Seriously, I've been belaboring over the revision of Speaker of the Winds. It's my first time revising anything except my short stories.
This has been an eye opener, because when I've written my first drafts of novels, it was anything goes, get the words on paper and you're good. But, now, it's all a matter of every word counts.  So, I've been learning a lot about revision.  How it should be done, and how I shouldn't have been doing it. But I suppose that's how we learn.
I'm finishing my first draft of the revision in the next few weeks, then I'll start over the right way after I've taken a little break from it.
I'm going to write a short story about a couple in love and the wife turns into a zombie, but he can't let anyone know because of his job. (Zombie slayer) Yeah I know, it sounds incredibly lame, but I'm going to make it awesome. Any how it's a short so it doesn't matter.  It just needs to make me feel like I can get something completed from A to Z so I can feel some success and get back to work on the bigger projects.

FYI, I've decided to try out Brent Weeks revision methods. After all my failings in revision, they seem to make the most sense. Plus I can't wait to get it out to first readers. My wife (Brittany) and a few other family members who are also writers. That will be a stepping stone for me. Brittany thinks I need another contest to get me motivated, and I believe she is right. So we're on the look out. Personally I think I need one that has a prize if I'm going to draft an entirely new work so I feel some pressure about getting it done.  So I'll look for those.  Let me know if you see any.

Oh, I also went to the 'Got Stories' Rhemalda Publishing event here in SLC last month. It was awesome to meet some of the local and other small press authors.  I'll probably never get so much one on one time with other published authors. My gratitude to Brett and Emmaline Hoffmeister for putting the event on.
You can check out their books and authors here at their website.
It was really excellent. They had tons of snack foods, a half dozen authors presenting and another half dozen hanging out in the audience. All the participants were dedicated writers and supporters of the presenting authors. One author, Cass Peace, came all the way from England to present. Some other came from back east.
Brett and Emmaline are so generous. They even gave for free many of their authors first edition's.  I took the poster/calendar, King's Envoy by Cas Peace (she signed it for me!!!), Son of Ereubus by J.C. Chancellor (she also signed it for me), and The Bone Sword by Walter Rhein.

Did I ever mention that I'm using some new writing software?  I had been using the Space Jock yWriter software. I've since purchased My Writing Spot. It's only a few bucks on Android Market and the free Google Market place web app allows me to write from anywhere with an internet connected computer and pick up where I left off. Even from my phone. So I bought a wireless keyboard and I've been doing that occasionally from my phone at work. I'm thinking an Android tablet would be better as I can't see, but a few sentences on my phone thought.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I Won & The Savage Grace Launch

I'm so excited to announce that I won 1st place in the short story contest for Bree Despain's The Savage Grace.  There was a lot of competition (I think nearly 30 stories) and thanks to so many of my friends and family I managed to be voted into the finals where the judges selected my story over all the others to take first place.  Although I truly am surprised, Brittany isn't. She's always been such a great believer in me.  And a magnificent editor!
What this means for me is that I get a 15 page manuscript critique from Bree Despain!  Hurrah!

Bree Despain presenting at her book launch March 13, 2012 for The Savage Grace

Thank you to everyone who voted for me and crossed fingers, toes etc or what ever you did to help. It worked. I've decided to post my short story here, and I'll load it here at the end of this post.

The Savage Grace is the concluding volume to The Dark Divine series.  Links to all three books can be found here.  

My short story, Savage Beginnings, is a direct tie-in short story.  It is written with permissions.  The story introduces you to Grace, the main character.  You meet her as she's seen in the first book, but through the eyes of a character of my own Angel.  She gives you perspective of what Grace is now, in her innocence, and what she will be come.
Welcome The Savage Grace through the award winning short story by LC Piper Savage Beginnings.

Savage Beginnings

By LC Piper

“Hottest guy ever?”
Angel froze at the sound of the voice.  She barely heard it over the ruckus of dozens of teens moving through the halls.  Her ears still hurt and her mind swam in the chaotic mix of sounds.
“No way…” another voice began.
Angel eased her locker door shut just enough to see the two girls.  They didn’t look familiar, but there was something about the voice of the first that dug at her inside. 
The first girl dropped her backpack and a box of pastels fell to the floor. They scattered across the industrial tile of the high school hallway.  Angel could hear each stick snap in slow percussion.  It was almost musical.  She smiled at the clarity she now found in sound.  Before it would just have been a clatter and crash, but now it was a chorus of hollow thunks, crisp crackling snaps and a crescendo of chalky tinkling.
“I wouldn’t know,” she spoke.  The girl knelt down to pick up her dropped art supplies.  Leaning over the mess, her hair fell into her face.  She pushed it back, smudging red pastel from her finger along the top of her cheek. 
It was a welcome imperfection to her smooth light complexion.  Like a streak of war paint it made her look primally attractive and a little dangerous, Angel noted.  
            “Hurry up,” painted girl’s friend said, glancing over her shoulder.
Angel ducked back behind her locker swinging it to hide her face.  She had been caught staring.  Her breath stalled in her throat.  She waited for a moment, both fearing and expecting she’d been discovered eavesdropping. No one came. Angel relaxed her grip on her locker door and pulled her fingers free.  Three spiraled silver metal filings fell to the floor from where her hand had dug into it.
“You could help.” Painted said.
Angel peeked around her locker again.  Her embarrassment at being caught lingered in her face and she blushed, but curiosity compelled her to look again.
The painted girl crouched there with her friend collecting her things.  Something about this one spoke to her. 
Was it her voice? How she fussed over the broken colors?  Her worries are so inconsequential, Angel thought.
She had felt like her before and ached to be carefree again.  Overwhelmed by the desire for her past life, her heart skipped a beat.  Suddenly she was short of breath and had to inhale deeply.  Things would never be the same for her.  She was a fallen being now.  Twisted by darkness and bathed in corruption.  Doubt ruled over her. It told her she was beyond redemption and she believed. 
Watching painted girl, Angel was reminded of who she had been. How similar they were! She could smell the memory of it.  It’s the scent of how she was right before a single bite corrupted her.
This girl’s life was about to change. 
Finished, the two stood and left.  Angel couldn’t resist and crept after them.  A short distance later they came to a classroom door.  She stopped across the hall to watch. 
Angel sensed him before she saw him.  Tiny hairs on the back of her neck flared.  A wave of alertness fueled by adrenalin surged through her body.  A growl grew under her breath.  Muscles in her arms, chest and back spasmed.  Angel fought back the growing change in her, searching for her calm.  There was no doubt he also knew she was there, but he didn’t show it.  He knew that he was being observed.
Friend of the painted girl gestured to him.  He was dressed in a ragged t-shirt and jeans.  Or what was left of them.  His dark black hair hung down just enough to obscure his face and hide bared and gnashing teeth intended for Angel.
Painted girl’s eyes narrowed in offense.  Ever more she looked dangerous and native from the red pastel on her cheek.
“Excuse me, you’re in my spot.” The painted girl said.
Instantly he soothed himself and looked up.  His hair fell back from his face revealing a small, practiced smile.
The growl quieted in Angel’s throat and her limbs relaxed.  She felt her inner wolf lay to rest. 
“Then you must be Grace,” he said.
Deep inside a portion of hope for herself and the savage Grace failed.  There was nothing she could do here.  Everything was already in motion.
Oh Grace, Angel thought.  You have no idea how he’ll change you.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

LTUE 2012

This was such a fun conference.  It would have been even more fun this year if I hadn't been sick.  It wasn't a keep you in bed sick, or you're nearly a Zombie sick, just some where beyond that sick.

I had the great opportunity to meet some amazing authors and listen to them speak about the art and craft for three days.  This years Keynote address was by James A Owen.  I hadn't known about his work yet, but I'm so glad he was chosen as this years Guest of Honor.  He gave the most stirring speech.  It was all about choices that we make and how they add up to where we are now.  Then how we can make choices in our lives to guide our future to where we want it to be.

A lot of this can be found in his new book Drawing out the Dragons.  I managed to get it free in ebook, but it's worthy of the purchase.  Please do.

Of course there were tons of excellent panels and I could spill my notes out in great form on the blog, but that would probably only benefit me.  I might from time to time post what I learned in detail.  But here are some more highlights.

The author signing.

I finally got to meet Amber Argyle.

I pre-ordered her book in the spring last year months in advance, read it and then proceeded to have a very challenging summer/fall and then couldn't manage to travel up to her signings on the north end of the valley.  Luckily LTUE paid out it's dividends and we met.  For all of you out there who haven't read her book.  It's Witch Song.  It's a darling to read and an update from her directly is volume 2 is in edits now.  Keep your eye out for it.  I'm hoping this year.  What is Amber like?  Amber is both fun and a friend.  We never met before, but it was like we were long time friends.  I get the feeling this is who she is and that everybody gets this fine treatment.
(Notice my puffy eyes... I was dead on my feet, and it showed.)

Guess who else was there?  My friend Robin Weeks.  You may know her from the David Farlands Author Advisory Calls.  She also volunteers with LTUE and was on several panels.  She's very involved in the Utah writing community and a fine woman.  Watch out, rumor is that she's also a Lawyer. ;-)
How does she find time to write?
Regardless, I hear she's submitting right now so send out your prayers, karma or what ever it is you do, for her.  I think we're all going to be amazed.

I met so many other authors and I'll likely post about them as time goes by.  Mean while I'll post a few pics in my right side bar.

Anyone ready for LTUE 2013????  I am!  (My backside hopes they have softer chairs next time.)

Monday, February 20, 2012

It Takes Like 2 Seconds...

Hey friends,

O.k. I'm going to ask something of you, but it will only take a few seconds, honest, and it may net you a free book.

I've just submitted my first short story into a contest.  The thing is, I have to win this popular vote thing first if I'm even going to be considered in the contest.  Top 3 submissions based on votes plus two wild card selections will be considered for the contest.  Please click the link below and post a comment.  I'm entry #16 under my writing name LC Piper.  It's real easy and only takes two seconds.  But this is important.  You need to either sign in when you post your comment, or if you decide to post anonymous, I need you to put your email address in there for your vote to count.  I voted and it literally took 2 seconds.  Click  here...

All voters get entered into a drawing to win a book.  They have lots!  Plus if  you want you can promote the contest on your FB or Twitter or what ever and get more entries.  (But voting for me is the most important, right?)  Details are here...

So what's this all about.  Confidence.  I need a little win to motivate me.  After attending LTUE last week (big post coming in a few days with pictures) I was reminded that sometimes people fade in their dedication on huge goals if they don't allow themselves a win here and there.  I need a small goal and a small win.  A.k.a short story.

I've worked hard and I think it's really good.  Yeah, it's short, but it had to be under 750 words. It's really polished.  Brittany and I went through this with a fine tooth comb.  It's a tie-in to the Dark Divine series by Bree Despain.   Remember Bree...

I'll post her books below.

Your vote could guarantee a chance for Bree and her panel of authors to read and judge my story.  You could be the part that gives me the chance to be read and maybe even win.

If I win first place one of the prizes is a 15 page edit from Bree Despain... I can't tell you how much I'd love to win that.  I'm working on Speaker of the Winds right now and I could really use the help from a published professional author.

Well, thank you for your time today and wish me luck by casting your vote.  Heck if you've got 15 minutes, give my story a read.  Once the contest is over I'll post it here as well. Mean time, I created a few book covers.  Which one do you prefer?

Thank you.
Here are Bree Despain's published and soon to be released books.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Little Brag Moment

Here's a quick post.
I've been sick the past week and of course it reared it's ugly head during my long awaited trip to LTUE in Orem, Utah.
The illness made for an uncomfortable conference, but I still enjoyed the conference immensely.
Here's a quick tidbit.  Later when I get more time and my face doesn't feel like it wants to fall off I'll post all about the experience.

Bree tweeted about offering free copies of the currently un-released The Savage Grace at the LTUE book signing.  So, of course, I had to be there.  I accepted a copy and am now flaunting it so everyone else can be jealous.
You may now begin jealousifying yourself!

Not only did I totally get a free copy of her book, but Bree graciously signed it and left me a great writing tip.
My best writing advice: Great books aren't written, they're revised.
Which couldn't be better timed because I'm revising my way into two or three finished manuscripts this year.

Bree, thanks for the book, advice, book mark and the red Dark Devine Nail polish.  I swear I gave that to my wife... promise!

Are you a writer or artist?  Check out this contest she's running on her blog.  I'm considering to entering my self.  I'll let you know if I do.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Year of Revisions (not the dragon)

I've been rather quiet lately on my blog.  This year I've started revisions and it's like I'm all brand new to this writing thing.  Suddenly I'm revisiting my novels and it's tough to not scream like a girl and hide in the closet.

O.k. maybe not like a girl.

I'm learning a lot about why someone should free write a first draft.  But now I'm getting into all the important writing things like, 'show don't tell', repetition, grammar and dialogue.  This is going to be a tough revision.  I should actually probably call it a re-write.

I've decided that my weakest point is telling instead of showing.  I've learned that it truely is important to ensure your readers feel emotionally invested in (a.k.a. care about) your characters.  If I want you to care about them, worry about them then I need to show you how they act/feel instead of tell you.  This means a lot to me and I'm willing to start over to make sure I do it right.  I'm sorry, but I want you to cry like you're cutting onions.  I want your heart to soar when they fall in love.  I want you to get utterly pissed and write me hate mail when you read the ending demanding I send you the draft of the sequel.

Quite frankly I want my characters to be so alive and real that you include them as dependents on your health insurance.  There is balance in all things.  For now I'm tell heavy.  I wish it were as simple as just restructuring a sentence to make it work, but it's not.  I'm learning as I go, but for now it's double dutch.  I'll master this and make it worth our time.

That's what I'm up to.

Oh, by the way, I'm working on Speaker of the Winds.  Yeah, it's going to be awesome.  You might as well start saving to buy it now.

Keep on writing.  I am.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A New Year Of Revisions

The new year is at hand and with it comes a new plan.  Last year I gave my self a New Years Resolution to write four novels.  Turns out that I completed nearly three.  I suppose that's not too shabby.  But this year I'm shifting gears to make progress in a different fashion.  This year is all about the submission.  I need a small win, even if it comes in the form of dozens of rejection slips.  I'm ready to make a change.

So this years resolution will be 2 completed manuscripts submitted out into the big bad world.

This is my plan.  I'll select two of my novels.  Presumably 'Speaker of the Winds' and 'Lightning Child'.  Then I'll edit, revise, revise, revise and submit them.  I suspect I'll have my first one out around April or May, then move on to book Two.  I hope to even put pen to paper on at least one new novel this year, but I'm committed to learning the revision process and getting two books out on submission.

I've been really excited to make this type of transition in my writing.  It's the brave part I think.  Risking not only the inevitable rejection, but also exposing my self to what I've been hoping for all along.  The fear of someone actually replying... yeah, send me a partial I like what I see.

So here I go.  I'm diving into 'Speaker of the Winds' just now.  It's time for a re-read and notes.  This may get painful.  Pardon me if I stop to scratch my eyeballs out.  ;-)

See you on the other side.