Saturday, 14 February 2015

I'm Still Alive!

I apologize for the lack of posts last week and this week. Unfortunately, things at my job have taken a turn for the worse, and we're suffering from some major staffing issues. Without getting into the nitty-gritty, there's a lot of things to get done at work, and not enough time to do it all. I've simply been too ragged to keep up with posts, which I suppose is an indie author "no-no" but what can you do? /shrug

Work on writing projects has been steady, if a bit slower than normal, but that's to be expected. I'm hoping to be able to share some previews of the next couple books shortly, so hang tight. I'm not going anywhere any time soon, and this author is just getting started!

Saturday, 31 January 2015

5 Tips for Writers New and Old

It's kind of silly to think that I could have anything to say on the matter of writing, but I suppose that's only natural. I've had plenty of time to form opinions and biases about writing stories, due in part to my (brief) experiences as an English language arts instructor. It's something I see new writers and students alike struggling with, so I figured I'd throw my hat into the ring and offer a handful of tips on how to write more, write better, and write more often.

1. Write what you love
This is perhaps the first, most crucial step a new writer needs to take when they set out to write anything, be it a short story, a novel, or an essay where they have the freedom to pick their topic. Write what you love and what you're passionate about. I've written essays on Left4Dead and made lengthy commentaries about gaming communities and design decisions in the past, largely due to the fact that I was passionate about something at the time of writing. The same can be said for writing stories, too.

I stick to high fantasy worlds. Swords, sorcery, monsters, dragons. I love it all, and I feel that's where my skill lies. I have had a handful of people suggest that I write romance/erotic fiction under a pen name for Harlequin Romance to get some work out there. This is not what I love though. I feel no passion about that genre, and I know that this would impact not only my quality of writing, but my speed as well.

It's easy to tell when someone doesn't care about their work. It might not be something easily defineable, but it can be felt when looking at their work. Always write what you are interested in. Forcing yourself to write something you don't like or believe in will only hurt your work in the long run.

2. Love what you write
I suppose this one sounds a bit redundant, but I feel it's different enough to highlight here. No matter what you write, you need to love it unconditionally like you would your own children (or pets, or whatever). If you like your work, no matter how mechanically bad the writing is or how outlandish the ideas contained within are, you will inherently write it better.

This can be applied to almost any art form that requires creativity and dedication to succeed at. I know when I'm sketching, if I don't love the sketch that I'm working on, I grow frustrated, make more mistakes, and eventually scrap it. The same could be said for a story that you don't like.
Love your writing, no matter what it is. You can always fix it up in editing, but getting that first draft down can be one of the hardest things to do if you don't like what it is you're writing. You're more apt to quit if you try to slog through it.

3. Don't fret over terrible first drafts
First drafts are always "bad", but that's why we proofread and edit our work afterwards. Sitting down and critiquing your writing before you've even gotten it down on paper is going to leave you second guessing yourself constantly, thus slowing down your progress, thus getting less down on page, which leaves you questioning your skill more and more and.... you get the idea. ;)

Before you can have a good story, you need to get it down on paper first. Write the first draft. Let your fingers fly. Try some stream of consciousness writing. Sometimes you'll be surprised where things take you and how things turn out. You might be afraid of what you'll read when you go to edit it, perhaps you'll write too much and have to par it down to a more manageable size, or perhaps you're scared someone might read it before you clean it up. That's fine, those are all natural reactions. Set it aside after its written and edit it later, which brings me to #4...

4. Writers block is a myth
There is no such thing as writer's block. I would even go so far as to argue that it's an excuse to comfort a writer who is perhaps struggling to put pen to paper. I don't say that to place blame on anyone, it's simply what I believe. A lot of it comes down to your lifestyle. Just ask yourself a few things:
  •  Are you stressed because of work, family, or some other goings on in your life? It's going to make it more difficult to work. This is true in all walks of life, and I saw it all the time in the classroom. Stressed individuals can't work, and there's plenty of studies out there to show that being in a state of constant stress reduces cognitive functions. Resolve whatever is bothering you, and then get back to writing. If you force yourself to write when stressed, you might find you can't write anything, which then could lead you to questioning why you can't write, further hampering your progress in an endless cycle.
  • Are you tired? Get some sleep. People need 8 hours of sleep a day, more if they're younger and still growing. Getting sufficient sleep can do wonders for your mood and can help the brain function better. Same with exercise.
  • Are you surrounded by distractions? Television, video games, other people, music, even traffic can be distracting for many people. Even if these things aren't turned on or around, they can still be distracting. I know I have difficulty getting myself to sit down and write rather than play video games even when my systems are turned off... but once the games are out of reach (such as at work, school, or on a long car ride) all I can think about is writing. Get away from your distractions. Make yourself a little slice of heaven somewhere in your home and retreat there to write. Tell everyone to leave you alone, and make it a regular habit. You'll get writing.
  • Are you still failing to get words down? Change up your method a bit. Try going traditional and writing on paper with a pencil or pen, preferably one that "feels good" to write with. Or, try using the computer if writing traditionally is your usual thing. Write at different times of the day. Sometimes you'll do better first thing in the morning than in the evening. 

5. Take a break once in a while
Rest once in a while, don't burn yourself out. Usually after big stints of writing, I'm too exhausted to keep going for a few days (NaNoWriMo and the month following usually has me feeling so burned out I don't write anything for quite some time, though I'm sure the holidays don't help). If that doesn't work for you, remember that you don't need to write a lot. I remember hearing once that, if you wrote only 300 words a day, you would have a novel in a year (or one novella every 6 months). That's pretty good, and 300 words a day doesn't take that long.

Being able to write several thousand words a day is great, but you need to give yourself time to rest and relax so you can recharge your batteries. This has the added benefit of allowing you to return to your manuscript with fresh eyes. You can edit it better, and you can perhaps continue in a different direction than if you had pushed ahead and kept trying to get ideas down.

Bonus Tip: Read great literature
Because what was I thinking when I picked the number 5? There's so much more to writing! But this one is too important to leave off the list.

Take time to read from great authors. Don't be afraid to branch out from your genre either. You'll learn more about how plots are laid out, how hooks are used to reel readers in, and what words work well by seeing it in action. It's the same kind of study that goes into other creative pursuits such as music or art. All those chores that English teachers had you doing in school, such as summarizing plots and learning new words are skills that become invaluable as a budding writer. It's time to put them to good use!

There's perhaps more I could say on the subject, but maybe I'll save that for another day. I believe that everyone has in them the capacity to write something great as long as they put in a bit of effort. Keep on writing, folks, and I'll see you next week!

Friday, 23 January 2015

Status of The Last Stand

I've been quiet for some time now, but that's only because I've been busy trying to prepare The Last Stand, my first novella, for my beta readers. The current draft is nearing completion, and is expected to get at least one more pass for edits before it goes out to interested parties.

For those who don't know what The Last Stand is, it's a tale bridging the one year time skip between the first two books in my Legends of Galria series. It's a shorter work with less subplots, as is normal for a novella, and focuses on Dane's travels to a ravaged town called Mullead as he tries to solve the mass disappearances of nearly the entire township. The mission serves as his first time leading his troops without the help of an aide, and helps to show how he grows from a fresh recruit to a more competent lieutenant that he's supposed to be.

Here's a small excerpt from the beginning of the book:

2015: The Year of Galria

It's kind of silly to say this, but I've been waiting a couple months to announce this. I'm hereby naming 2015 the Year of Galria. And while that may be a fairly pretentious thing to announce and impose upon the citizens of the rest of the world (or at least, those who read this blog), I'm going to do it anyways, capiche?

What is the Year of Galria, or more specifically, WHY am I calling it that, you might ask?
Simple. This is going to be a big year for Bearion Studios and the world that is my baby.

1. Up to Five New Books this year.

Yes, you heard that right. It was not muffled by wax in the ears. I have a goal for 2015, and that's to release as many as five new books over the course of the next 12 months. Of course, this has the caveat of whether I can obtain cover art in a timely manner. Really, that's what's holding a lot back. 

That an editing.

Here's the expected release schedule that I'm hoping to stick to, but again, bear in mind this depends on whether I can find and afford cover artists for these pieces. At the very least I'm shooting to release two novellas and one full length novel this year. If I get the other two out, bonus. If not, they'll be pushed back to 2016. Release dates are all given as the earliest expected date but will more likely be later in the year!

THE LAST STAND: A novella that showcases Lieutenant Dane Trueshot's first mission on his own. You can read a small blurb about it over here. This story takes place between the first two LEGENDS OF GALRIA series of books. (March 2015). Read the first chapter here!

FLAME-SCARRED: A young minotaur tragically loses his home and family to wild fires that sweep across the province. Destitute and with nowhere left to turn, he heads to Mullead where a friend of his father offers him a place to stay in her inn, provided he help her build it first. Over time, he learns of something darker happening in the region that may explain why he lost his family. (April 2015)

LEGION OF SYTAREL (Legends of Galria #2): It's been a year since Dane has left the academy and become a Lieutenant in Rogust's Imperial Army. Tasked with heading up north, Dane comes face to face with the home he left behind many years ago, as well as an old enemy. Meanwhile, Xellik has become the new Warlord of Zugrul, and seeks dominion over the continent. He sets his sights on the Freedom Coalition's holdings, and begins to make his move against the settled peoples of Muriaj. (June 2015)

SERVANT OF DARKNESS: A novella that follows the travels of a dwarven thief named Dougal McMannus and his guild of bandits as they seek to rob the city of Altair of its most prized possessions. This was my 2013 NaNoWriMo winning entry, and since then it has become significantly darker and more fleshed out. (September 2015)

THE SAVAGE'S OPIATE: A tale about someone who is not a hero, of someone who has been hurt and betrayed by society and the people he was supposed to trust. Bartholomew Stoutmantle, an ursar orphaned in the dwarven republic of Olaraa, faces a great many challenges as he grows from a cub into an adult. Child abuse, harassment, and substance abuse are just a few of his demons that he's forced to deal with. This story is remarkably dark and spares no detail in showing how someone who was once good and innocent can become something so corrupted and vile. (December 2015)

2. Sylenthros' Book of Travels (tentative title)

Throughout the coming weeks I'm going to begin making posts about Galria, the world itself, and the people and creatures that inhabit it. All of these will be told from the point of view of Sylenthros Leafsblade, an elven druid that played a role in my first book. I would like to be able to release this every Thursday starting next week, so stay tuned for that.

3. Ask the Author

I'm going to be opening up my Tumblr and Good Reads accounts to allow readers to ask me anything they have on their mind. It can be story related, or more about writing as a craft, or whatever tickles a person's fancy. I want to be able to communicate with my readers, so I feel like this would be a good way to do it. Looks for a post containing links soon!

4. More art!

I've already begun work with some artists to get some artwork of the characters and my world. Expect to see a blog post every time one of them comes out

5. Making our (Land)mark!
For anyone who doesn't know about the game, Landmark the Game is a project by Sony Online Entertainment that's currently in closed-beta. It aims to be a robust building game while including elements such as PvE, PvP, dungeon delving, crafting, and game mastering to let the player realize a fully created world.

I have begun work on one of my first builds, which is a barracks from the upcoming LEGION OF SYTAREL release. I wanted to bring it to life so people could see what vision I had in my head.. at least, as good of one as I can create. Later on, I'll also be tackling a few other builds to bring Galria to life, and in all likelihood once the Game Mastering tools come out, you might see some of the characters from the books showing up on my builds.

I'm hoping that there's plenty more to come, so please keep an eye on this blog for all things Galria related.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Savour the Small Things: What's next for Bearion Studios?

2014 is coming to an end, and I've been very busy with things on my end. NaNoWriMo ended a couple weeks back, and I came away from it with victory in hand! Granted I only hit 50,091 words, but a win is still a win. Rite of Passage, the story I selected for this year, is far from complete and it needs a lot of cleaning up, but it's coming along nicely. 

 So what is next for Bearion Studios? There's a lot coming up, which I'll be talking about in the coming months, but in the immediate future, I'm looking at getting a novella out before my second novel hits shelves. If you remember from a previous post, I talked about a story called The Last Stand. But in case you don't or you don't want to go back to read that post, The Last Stand was a project to showcase Dane's growth as a leader in the military. This is his first operation alone, without any military counsel offered by his Sergeant (who plays a prominent role later on in the series). It's also set just a couple months after the Shadows of War timeline, so chronologically this novella is next in the series.

It's going to be a shorter piece with a bit of intrigue in it, so that means the whole project is in a new realm for me. I've never written something short, as my work tends to run long. And since it's between books 1 and 2 of the main series, I want to get it out now instead of doing one of those annoying prequels. I don't like prequels, so I won't subject my readers to one.

I'm shooting to get The Last Stand published for April 2015, but that really depends on whether I can get some cover art for it. I know plenty of artists. I don't know that many who can draw humans in armor. So that might take a bit of money and looking around to figure out what to do. Who knows, maybe I'll start a Kickstarter for the $200 necessary? .... Naw. That'd be silly. :3

Once The Last Stand hits shelves, work will begin on Legion of Sytarel, the second book in the Legends of Galria series, and I hope to have that out by June or July 2015. And after that?

Well, we'll just see what happens. 2015 is going to be a big year, but I'll talk more about that after Christmas. :)

Friday, 24 October 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014

As November is approaching far more quickly than I had anticipated, I've yet to decide what I want to write for this year's entry into National Novel Writing Month. For those not in the know, NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Its a far more daunting task than it sounds, but I've "won" twice out of the three years that I've done it, and I hope to succeed once again.

However, I'm having a rough time of deciding what story I wish to explore. There's simply so much I want to write, but unfortunately, I only have time for one (I'm skeptical I could ever achieve 100,000 words in 30 days but it would be a fun and interesting challenge, now wouldn't it?)

Right now I have a handful of stories I want to explore, all of them set in my Galria universe as side stories or companions to the Legends of Galria. Here's a brief look at what I'm hoping to pick from:

Rite of Passage
A story focused on a minotaur named Veshal as he works to follow in his mother and father's footsteps to become a shaman in the Snowhoof tribe. The story follows his growth as a young child into a well-respected member of his community as a darkness seeps out from beneath the city of Valar, capital of the Snowhoof nation.

This story follows the aftermath of Xellik Fleshgorger's attack on the Temple of Earth from SHADOWS OF WAR. Arngrin, a druid from the Woodcaller tribe of minotaur, discovers that the temple has been raided. In an attempt to redeem his people for failing in their duty to protect the Emerald of Deep Earth, a task assigned to them by the Green Dragonflight, he  sets out to locate Thomadis, Patron of the Greens, to obtain the power necessary to retrieve the artifact from Xellik.

Titar is the disowned son of a dwarven noble. He joins the Blackguard, a mercenary guild, seeking to make a difference in his world. However, he finds that those around him are greedy, close-minded, and not willing to accept someone different from themselves. Withdrawing into himself, Titar becomes a recluse and takes on only the most dangerous and difficult jobs he can manage. His life turns around when, on a mission, he comes into contact with the Nightpaw pack of werewolves, a species that everyone believed to be nothing more than a fairy tale. He is presented with a choice: to accept the gift of lycanthropy from the Nightpaw's alpha, or the life of a mercenary in the town of Albrand.

Thrill of the Hunt
In a follow up to my NaNoWriMo 2013 entry, SERVANT OF DARKNESS, this tale continues to follow the adventures of Dougal McMannus, wizard-thief extrodinaire. After leaving Altair behind, Dougal begins his next job in the human city of Lokivar to the south as he tries to rebuild his guild and obtain an artifact of power from the Eldritch Research Institute of Lokivar (ERIL). However, an enemy from the past has appeared once again and is seeking revenge for a crime that Dougal doesn't even remember committing. Once again, the shadows that serve as the thief's greatest strength also come to harbor a great evil.

Tainted Waters
Far in the forgotten land of the ursar's Bushido Empire, on the island of Kyoko, peace has finally been realized as the various clans have been united under a single banner. Yet as soldiers return to the fields, mysterious beings begin to skirt the outside of the Emperor's Palace. On the eve of a starless sky, Emperor Torakuma is kidnapped and stolen away. Agent of Eyes, Ryumaru, is tasked with finding him and chases his master's captors to an ancient temple that once sat submerged beneath the waters. There resides a relic that could bring eternal peace to the Bushido ursar, or crush the island nation beneath the waves.

Those are the five I'm currently fiddling with. They're all stories that I want to one day write, but I'm not sure which one to pick and focus on yet. I have a poll up for those wishing to help me decide!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

The Last Stand

A month has passed since the events of Shadows of War, and Dane takes his first steps towards becoming an officer in the military. As the Lieutenant of the 81st Mobile Infantry Division, he must make hard decisions that could drastically alter the fates of those around him, whether they be his subordinates, the civilians he serves, or the man he loves.

Dane and a squadron of soldiers set out across the empire to the remote Kelmore Province, to the village of Mullead, to investigate a growing number of disappearances and murders. As the freshly initiated soldiers work to uncover the mystery plaguing Mullead, they are beset by one set back after another as someone works to keep them away.

The closer they get to the truth, the more the shadows creep in, seeking to slide in the knife and put an end to their nosing about.

Set in the Galria universe, THE LAST STAND seeks to build off of the world introduced with LEGENDS OF GALRIA: SHADOWS OF WAR. It is a direct sequel to the first tale, and acts as a bridge between the first book in the series, and the upcoming LEGION OF SYTAREL.

I'm rather excited to announce this title, because I haven't had much of a chance to show how the Rogarian Empire works to readers, or the connections that Dane is supposed to have with his subordinates and with his partner, Aiden. One of the issues I've experienced while writing the second book is that I had no explanation for where Dane's experience as a military leader came from, and THE LAST STAND is meant to share that with readers.

THE LAST STAND is projected to be a shorter work in length, likely only novella sized (somewhere around, or less than, 50,000 words), but hopefully the shorter format won't detract from the quality one is likely to expect from the Galria novels.

There will be a giveaway tied to the release of THE LAST STAND, but I will let everyone know more about that as I get closer to the release of the book, so stay tuned!