Wednesday, November 26, 2014

An alliance of Minds

Napoleon Hill, in his books about success, has an concept which he coined a 'Master Mind'. The idea behind this is that one would assemble a group of people with a shared vision, and together, work to bring this vision to fruition. There is a lot more to the concept, and a lot more depth to it than will be offered by that paltry sentence. If you aren't familiar with Napoleon Hill's works, I suggest you become so.

It occurred to me that I and the boys at Ravania have done exactly that. We are a group with a shared vision, who are all working together for a common goal. While it is true that each of us has a different flavour to said vision, we each understand that by working together, we stand to gain more than by working alone.

It also occurred to me that we had done so before I myself was familiar with Hill's work.

I just consider that a point for us really.

I never quite realized just how much I appreciated working with a team such as the one I'm part of until recently. We've got a diverse set of talents, and, more importantly, a myriad of different story telling styles and voices. It helps us to keep each other on our toes. We can look at the each others work from different angles and see things that the creator may have missed.

Not only that, but we also support and cheer each other on, this is especially important in the early stages of this game when you don't really have a whole lot going on for you. I suspect it'll still be important when we've started picking up speed, except it might be more as a means of keeping each other grounded.

Another thing is our ability to approach the problems of building our entertainment empire from different angles as well. It opens a host of new ways of solving said problems, and spreads the responsibility more evenly around.

All in all, it's very good. I'd highly recommend being part of a team. Anything you can do solo, you can also do as a team, and then you've got someone to split the pizza bill with.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Wizard's Writing Update.

You know, given the enormity of what we're doing over at Ravania, it's amazing we don't just all fall over and cry (well more than we do anyway). It's pretty dang ambitious. I mean, it's not every day you just go 'Hey, I want to make a entertainment company!'. Maybe it is for you, but it certainly wasn't an every day experience for me.

So what's on the horizon at the moment? I can't really speak for the rest of the lads, but I can speak for myself. I've got a lot I need to do. This is both a blessing and a curse.

First up, I've got the sequel to Wayward Guardian, called Guardian of Isolation which I'm putting the finishing touches on. The cover is looking great, and more colorful. There were a few complaints by some parties about the last one, but as I've come a long way as an author since then, so too has Austin come a long way as an artist. I think this new one looks super awesome, and I think I already addressed the issue of covers in a earlier post. I liked the first one, and I still like the first one. The image choice was ripped right out of the book. The new cover for the new book also comes right from the book, so it's really cool to see it in living colour.

Of course, it just means I want to see it as a movie now, but one step at a time.

There's going to be at least another two books in the series, and I've already started plotting and writing, they'll be called Guardian Elect, and Guardian of Desolation respectively. No spoilers from those titles, nope, none at all. I think you'll all be quite interested in the direction I take it. You might be expecting something a little more mainstream than you get. Ultimately, I know where this story is going now, and that's cool. Still some details and loose ends I need cleaning up. However, in the case of the loose ends, I may just leave a few of them loose for short story opportunities. Anyway, Guardian of Isolation should be out by the end of the year.

On the fantasy front, we're working on a new fantasy series set in the Genesis Project Universe, only really really really far back in the past. I get the opportunity to help shape some of the almost mythical villains in the GP universe, which as proven to be really awesome. Aaron Smith, the big cheese himself, has been working with me to make this all work, and I'm really excited for how this book is turning out. Got a lot of editing to do though, and it'll need a cover. I've got someone in mind for the cover, but of course, I need to see if she'd be up for it. I rather suspect she will be. The title of this book with be Azra of the Burning Sands. I've already got the second book plotted out, and it's called World Aflame. Haven't got much further than that. I know where the story needs to go, I just don't know how long it's going to take to get there.

I've got a more modern fantasy series I'm working on, which is plotted out, and about 1/3rd the way written, called Gateways: War for the Void. I'm still debating how I'm going to launch this one. I was playing with the idea of doing it as serial, so smaller e-books at a tiny cost. It's almost tailor made for that, and it could be an interesting experiment on my part.

And finally, I've got a more light-hearted sci-fi series I'm working on, but I'll have to let you know more about that later, as it's still very much in it's infancy.

Yeah. You can see why crying is always an option. In a situation like this, it's vitally important to that you maintain consistency, and remember to prioritize your items. You've got to keep getting something done, even if you don't feel like it.

Until next time, Wizard out!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Value of Experince.

Okay, so I've been pretty hard on all the pay up front services in the self publish industry. I see someone trying to charge 500 dollars for a book edit, and it just kinda makes me see red. And that's not just because that kind of price tag would make my budget have a massive deficit.Yeah, I've thought that it's just kinda... wrong to charge that kind of money to new authors. For the most part, new authors don't usually have that kind of money just hanging around, and there are far more services that a 'good' book needs other than just editing. As soon as you add up all the possible costs you could see in trying to publish a book and do it well, it wouldn't surprise me if you had a 2000 dollar price tag.

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but the traditional publishing industry tends to take care of all that, and then give the author an advance to boot. Granted, this is because they are somewhat willing to take a risk that the book might not be a success, and they may have to end up eating the difference. However, it's not so great for the author either, because if said book isn't successful, unless they have years of writing behind them, they'll find it that much harder to get that kind of help again.

To those who want to maintain their creative Independence though, they have to pay for all the services themselves, or if they are broke, do them themselves. The problem with doing it all themselves, is they usually have no idea what they're doing. I know I didn't. But the price of those professional services can drive the authors to desperation, and so we end up with many books which are poorly formatted, or poorly editing, or any number of other preventable things. Bad writing, on the other hand, isn't something you can really hire someone else to fix.

But there is of course hope. If you do something enough times, you get better at it. This is one reason why said experts charge so much, unfortunately, the authors don't know that. They don't yet know if that service offer is worth the 50-500 dollars asked. In the mean time, they must muddle through themselves, if they can't afford the bill. I found myself in that situation when it came to book promotion. I tried to promo my own book, and got about 180 downloads over a 5 day free e-book promotion. Now, taking what I learned from that, I have done a promotion for Jack Lantern, by Vance Smith, and at 8 AM on the first day, it had already got 172 downloads. In the first 6 hours of the day, I've almost smashed the download record of my last promo. I'd call that some experience.

So yeah, if you find yourself being your own agent, just remember, if you do enough of something (and actively try to learn how to do it better), you'll get better at it. Once you've hit a certain point, maybe you'll even be able to hire a pro like me. Then you'll be rocking!

Till next time, this is the part time Wizard signing off.

EDIT: As of 9PM today, a full 15 hours later, and the download count is at 804. The author and I are both quite shocked at this considerably more potent promo. I'm very excited to see what I can do with the next few books we've got coming up on promotion. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Taking it one step at a time.

So, last month saw me attempt a free promo on my book Wayward Guardian. My prep work leading up to it was about a 7 dollar face book ad, and submitting my book to about 10 e-book promo websites. Out of this rather paltry effort, I saw 144 downloads and one reader who left a glowing review (though he did take about a month and half to leave it). Considering up until that point, my book had been read by maybe 10 people, of which 6 had actually bought copies, I consider it a success.

Well I'm hoping to blow that success out of the water. Next up on our Ravania promo run is Jack Lantern. Jack Lantern is a book series written by Vance Smith, and it is amazingly good. It's targeted at a younger audience than my book was, but it is by no means beneath an adult reader. I for one loved it when I first laid my eyes on it, and I'm not just saying that cause I like Vance. It's writing is genuinely impressive, and the characters feel alive.

My plan for this one is to have some reviews already in place, courtesy of some book review sites out there, submit it to more sites, and have a big ad on Facebook. Where I submitted my promo to 10, I've submitted his to about 100. Where I had no reviews, I want him to have 2-4 (though time might be working against me on that one). Where I had a 7 dollar ad, I want him to have a 20 dollar ad. I want to do what I did, but I want to do it better, and I want to do it more.

When I did my promo, I didn't know what I was doing. But by doing the promo, I learned. Now that I learned, I'm apply that learning to this, to make this promo even better than mine. This story deserves readers, and I've let Vance know that too, much to his continued discomfort (poor boy doesn't take praise well).

I'll be going over the results of this promo, and seeing how much of a difference my far more ambitious plans do. With any luck, when I do a promo on my book again, I'll have much better results.

Until next time, Ta ta!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Consitency, and success.

It's a full moon again. That means the madness of writing one of these has taken me again. I know, there was a full moon in September that I missed. My will power was stronger then. Or it could be that I was simply defeated by the crushing weight of life at that time, so you know, the opposite of will power.

Which ever one of those it was, I have come back and am ready to do this thing, and kick it old school.

Or I would be if I had bothered to pick a topic. 

This day and age, it's pretty amazing to have an idea. Now is a good time to try and do something with an idea. The opportunities and resources available to people who want to make something out of their ideas are simply fantastic. There's fewer road blocks than ever before (and almost all of those remaining road blocks are governmental or personal in nature). All in all, its a good time to have an idea.

But of course, having an idea doesn't mean you'll have success, even with the beneficial nature of today's opportunities. Ultimately, the key to taking an idea and turning it into something tangible is the same it's always been. That key is action.

Not just halting and sporadic action, or a sudden powerful burst spurred on by the desire for fame, or fortune. No, the kind of action needed, is the same action that's always been needed for long term meaningful progress. The action needed is steady, consistent, and directed.

To take and idea and turn it into something requires a level of direction that seems harder and harder to come by these days. It also takes a level of consistency that's hard to maintain in our world of instant gratification. Though the landscape may have changed, those things remain the same.

Which, oddly, means my missing my last full moon blog post, reflects poorly on me. Granted, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't mean much, but my point of choosing to write a more personal blog post on every full moon was in part to drive that consistence. It was to give one more regular point around which to focus my efforts. It also had some direction to it by making sure that I would write at least one blog post a month. Right now the results of this effort don't seem immediately obvious, but I'm not just writing for the people who will read now, but I'm training my self to keep writing for when I do have readers.

And that's part of the consistency. Training myself to do something, when I don't yet need to, so I can keep at it when I do need to.

That seems like a pretty good idea.

Anyway, this has been the part time wizard writing a blog post. Tune in next time!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Write what you know.

Write what you know. While I was going school and learning how to write, I stumbled across that thought quite a bit.

Well that's all fine and dandy if you're a fisherman writing about fish, but it's rather limiting when you want to write about magic, dragons, or space ships and computers gone mad. There isn't a person on earth who could say they know what it means to battle a demon while riding a dragon into battle.

However, I do realize that it's an important thought. The problem is, there is a risk of taking it too literally, and thus requiring you to be intimately aware of all the minutiae in the things they're trying to write. Such as learning all the ins and outs of how to care for a horse if you have a horse in the story. It's my new opinion that that is missing the major thing of importance, unless of course the story in question is about raising a horse.

The thing of most importance, and the thing to focus most on when you try to write what you know, is living life. Every story good story is, when you boil right down to it, a human story. All the larger than life settings and awe inspiring settings only serve as containers for the stories of humanity, and of what it means to live.

A story about a fight for survival against all odds against a powerful magical foe is just a story about human tenacity. A story about crossing space and time in search of a lost lover, is just about the driving force of our relationships. The more real the emotions evoked, the stronger the story.

So now when I think of writing what I know, I think of writing what I know of emotion. I think of the need to tell a real story of humanity, of a story that moves us on a level that is understandable on a emotional level, even if we might not know what it's like to ride a dragon.

I think, if given the chance to tell younger me a nice word of advice, it would be to focus more on the heart of the story, and less on the fiddly bits. I am of course still learning what it means to be a story teller, but, God willing, I hope I will be able to keep working at it for years to come.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Switching gears, and the art of getting things done.

So I find myself in a bit of a situation. I have finished writing the sequel to my book 'Wayward Guardian' and I was rather looking forward to resuming work on my next project, which was a fantasy book which I had thought was only about half done. Turns out it was more than half done. So now I don't have a project on the go.

I discovered this while I was doing some quick edits on the new project in anticipation of writing in it again. While I was doing this, and looking at the rest of the plot that I had worked out, I realized that what I had written actually came very close to a story in and of itself, and that what was left to write, could very well stand as separate book as well, with a few modifications.

Now when I say separate, I mean in a physical sense. The stories are still one and the same, and the second book would be a continuation of the first, it's just that what was originally half a planned book actually has all the making of a full and good story in and off itself. So I decided I'd just split the book into two.

This had the advantage of meaning I now have two books waiting to be published, pending editing. However, as stated before, it means what I thought was going to be my next project for the foreseeable future, now isn't.

So what to do?

I could always write book three in the Guardian saga, but I want to let that wait a bit, let the juices flow. I've got a good idea where the story is going, but it needs some more details.

Instead, I decided I work on the scripts for the graphic novel/web comic series I will be doing with my good friend Austin Shurtliff. We've been wanting to do this for some time, but the timing hasn't been right, and we weren't sure how to go forward.

We had a nice long chat about it some weeks ago, and I think we're ready to get rocking. I'll be doing the writing, and he'll be taking care of the illustrations. Personally, I think he has the harder job, though the writing for this is proving a lot more challenging for me than I had anticipated. I'm hoping to fit the script writing into my schedule, while maintaining some book based writing.

So for the next few weeks, it will be editing, and script writing. Once the editing is done, then it'll switch to script writing, and book writing.

How exciting.

Remember, you can keep up today on all our projects over at the Ravania page.