Thursday, June 19, 2014


When writing I often find my mind wandering down different paths of ideas. Usually this is something that would not fit into my current story, but it is interesting so I follow it. I have not been very good at following my own advice and writing down my ideas to ponder over in the future. When the creative part of your brain kicks in it is hard to stop it.

What I have learned over the past couple months is that there is always an excuse for why you did not write. Life is too busy, other things need to be done, your family needs more attention. Whatever the excuse, regardless of how good that excuse is, it is not good enough. There truly is no reason why you cannot write a little bit each day. Even if you just write down notes on a piece of paper or write a couple sentences, there is no excuse. I have used every excuse possible and I have fallen victim to the lie of telling myself that I have too much going on to worry about writing. It is time to stop this and get back to it.

I have made the committment to write a book. I have a story to tell and I am going to get it on paper. I will set aside some time each day to write a little and concentrate on the book. In addition to this, I will update my blog every week at least. I have neglected this as well and it is time to get back on top of things.

I have read a lot of inspirational things from many places in regards to writing and the motivation of writing. The first thing you need to know is why you are writing. It is not for my ego or that I need something to do. I am writing what I imagine, feel, and the story that I have in my head. If I do not tell this story, then who will?

Just remember, those who speak of greatness live in the shadow of those who do it.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Progress Update

I have started to read the chapters that I had written and I am pleased. So far, I have about 50 good pages of writing that I think is finished for the first draft with only a few minor changes. That is much better than I thought it would be.

I have run into a problem though. I am running more than one story in parallel, in order to keep the story from being too linear. However, in order to make it the way I want, I have to introduce more than one string of stories. I have not figured out the best way to do this without confusing the reader yet. I am going to be working on that next before I continue to write. Once I have that complete, the rest of the story should unfold pretty quickly.

50 pages done, another 50 pages drafted, about 450 more to go!

Friday, May 23, 2014

"Distracted" - A Short Story

The squeal of tires echoed in Darren’s head, slowly replaced by the hollow moans of pain. He did not remember the events that took place that morning three months ago, but the sounds and burnt rubber smell haunted his dreams. The pressure of the airbag on his face was lingering as he sat there with his head in his hands. It was a week after his seventeenth birthday and his life had completely changed.

“It is time,” the guard said in a deep voice breaking Darren’s reverie.

The words came across heavy, like a weight being placed on his shoulders. Darren knew this time would come. He would have to face the family of those who lost their lives while he was sentenced for something he did not remember doing. Darren stood slowly as the chains around his hands and feet clattered. He was about to find out the price he would have to pay for an honest mistake.

Darren was led into the bright court room which only made is orange jumpsuit more incriminating. The silence that filled the room made it surreal, low sobs in the front row occasionally breaking through. He shuffled his way to the table while waiting for the judge to enter. Reporters anxiously wrote notes as whispers arose from the family members sitting behind the low wooden wall.

“All rise,” the bailiff called. Everyone responded by standing swiftly as the bailiff continued, “the honorable Judge Michael Thorton presiding.”

The judge walked up to his podium and motioned for everyone to sit down. He took a deep breath before continuing, looking Darren straight in the eyes. “Will the defendant please rise?” Darren’s lawyer tapped him on the shoulder indicating it was time for sentencing. They both stood from their seats and waited for the judge to continue. “Darren Ryan Harrison, you have been found guilty by the State of North Carolina for three counts of involuntary vehicular manslaughter. While your actions appeared to be minor, the consequences are irrevocable. As a direct result of texting while driving, your actions have resulted in the death of three individuals and impacted countless others.”

Darren looked down at the table, ashamed for what he had done. Texting was something that everyone did. He did not think that it would ever result in something like this. He took the lives of three people because he could not wait to get to school before pulling out his phone.

“Mr. Harrison, please look up while I am speaking.” The judge was stern and unmoving. “You will be an example for everyone in the State of North Carolina. Driving while distracted will not be tolerated. You are hereby sentenced to ten years in a maximum security facility for each count.” The gavel slammed down hard. “Court dismissed,” the judge declared.

The sound struck Darren in the heart before the words truly sunk in. Thirty years in prison. Almost half of his life was now forfeited for a simple text message.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Return

The last two weeks have been some of the longest in my life. I have been working on the renovation of the new house, working my day job, and starting back at school. This has left me very little spare time in which I used for sleep. I do not think that things will truly settle until I finish the long list of to-do items, but I can dial it back a little.

Unfortunately, I have made zero progress on the book. I have not thought about it or even opened up the document on my computer. I am hopeful that this break will provide some perspective. My plan is to restart my effort by reading what I have written already. This may give me more ideas or question some of the decisions that I have made. It will also let me see if I fully explained a vision that I had in my head.

This will definitely take some time, but I want to get this right instead of pushing something out. My goal is still to have the first draft final by September, however this may be a stretch. If we don't set goals, then what do we have driving us?

I am picking up the book again next week. You will start to see updates again, progression on characters and the world development. Thank you for your patience and understanding during this break. Sometimes you have to take care of business and the things in life first.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Busy Life

There have been many changes in my life over the past two months. My wife and I bought another house and renovating it. That means I have work in the evenings and weekends. Our daughter started to walk (which is both scary and exciting!). My father passed away. Next week I start school again.

I am not complaining. I like to be busy. It is the type of person that I am. Being able to exercise my mind, then do something physical like renovations is good for you. My wife thinks that I am crazy for taking on so much at once, but I want to get it done.

Back to the book. Progress has been slow, but still going. I have taken a step back to review the high level storyline, plots, characters, etc. There are some things that I think could be better and debating whether to change them now or in the second draft. Part of me wants to do it now so I can build it deeper in the story. I will play around with it and see how it goes.

It is exciting to see the characters in your head come to life on paper. You get to describe what you have been imagining for a long time and tell people the story you have been thinking about. Of course, that makes it easier to write and harder to edit later. One thing that I have learned from an editor (reading articles) is this: If you put too much detail in the story, the person will not be drawn to it. It is overload and the person does not use their imagination. Some things are worth putting in detail, but not EVERYTHING.

I am trying to use words of wisdom where I find it. I keep a separate file with these little tips that I can go back and review once in a while. The hard part about that is choosing which of the tips is valid and which are not. Every book is different and writing styles vary. You just have to use common sense, do what you think is best for your book and be open to criticism.

My goal is to finish the first 100 pages of book, send it to a couple people for review and feedback while I work on the next 100. It would be interesting to get this feedback during the process instead of after the book was completed. There may be some mistakes that I can correct and save time later. I have to keep in mind that every reader has different opinions. Not all suggestions will be implemented, but it is a start.

Ok, back to work!

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Price of Freedom (Sestina Poem)

Since the winners were announced and mine was not chosen among them, I can now post the poem here. If you want a refresher on what a Sestina poem is, click HERE.

The Price of Freedom

Light over the earth shall fall
casting forth shadows on stone.
The hero will fight for freedom lost,
Where those without would see no hope.
And all we can see is the future red,
Love and peace changed forever.

The sin of war will be forever
Spreading hate to all that fall.
The land stained in deep red,
Covered by the tomb of stone.
All that remains is the idea of hope,
True love and happiness lost.

In the battle, ideals will be lost;
Moral compasses changed forever.
The hero will lean heavily on hope,
with nothing under to brace the fall.
Swords will drop solid as stone,
Rivers flowing a ribbon of red.

Hands stained with innocence red,
to ensure the war is not lost.
Heart of the hero turned to stone
will remain changed forever.
As those around the hero fall,
so does the feeling of hope.

Darkness befalls, engulfing hope;
Covering the hero in red.
Time has expired with the fall
of a warrior now lost.
The fight for freedom rings forever,
Memorials cast in stone.

Families stand by tombs of stone,
Grasping to the idea of hope.
Courage, Sacrifice, and Honor forever,
the flag folded of blue, white and red
Handed to the boy of a father lost.
The truth of freedom is in the fall.

The hero will remain solid as stone, his soul stained red.
Still clinging to the idea of hope, the love once had is lost.
The price of freedom is forever, held high until the fall.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Yesterday I received a call from my mother during the day. It is worth noting that my mother and I only speak after work hours or the weekend unless something is wrong. This let's us know that the call is important. When I answered the phone, I knew something happened. My father had passed away.

There is a range of emotions that run through you when something like this happens, but I should explain the situation further. My father and I were not close. Ok, that is probably an understatement. My father left when I was very young and we had seen each other on occasion. He did not have a hand in my life or development and he was not a father figure to me. But that does not stop me from feeling a sense of loss and sorrow.

Over the next few days, family will be traveling and arrangements will be made. I am sure there will be arguments over who gets what and so-and-so is entitled to this. All of that does not matter, but we all have these family members who think about themselves before anyone else. It is sad.

During this time, I will be humbled as I am reminded of my own mortality. The thought of leaving this world, not taking advantage of the time that I have, not spending enough time with my wife and daughter.......I have to use the time I have left wisely.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Going back to school......again

Well, it has happened. I have enrolled in college for my fourth degree. My company is sponsoring a full paid college degree and I could not pass up the deal. They will cover 100% of the tuition, fees, books and materials. I will start on May 6th for my Master of Arts in Organizational Management.

This will definitely cut into my writing time, however, I still believe that I can maintain my deadline for September on the release of my book. I have been making slow progress lately but feel good about where it stands right now. It is interesting to see that some days I can write a lot and others I can barely form a coherent sentence.

The journey continues and the obstacles change. I will not give up and I will succeed. I just might have to sacrifice a little sleep once in a while.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Flash Fiction Topic

While I am waiting to hear the results of the poetry contest that I submitted to last month, I will prepare my submittal to the Flash Fiction Contest. The deadline is April 15th. I have been going around and around on different topics for this. It seems like an easy thing to do, but writing something that inspires emotion and deeper thought within 500 words is not that easy.

I have decided to write about something a little closer to my heart. Something that speaks to me in a way that I cannot help but instill emotion. My story will be from the perspective of a young teenager about to be sentenced for killing two people as a result of texting while driving. This is a serious problem in our society and it is something that I think a lot of people can relate to.

I want people to read this and understand that while they think it is a small thing, the consequences are huge. Not just for the person texting but also the people they can hurt. It is a shame that texting while driving is not enforced with more strength in our country. Many people get into accidents that result in injury or even death.

When I said that this holds a special emotional place in my heart it is because I have seen this first hand. A couple years ago, my wife, a dear friend, and her baby that was less than one year old was struck by a distracted driver of a commercial semi-truck. They were at a standstill in traffic and the truck driver did not see them because he was reaching for his cellphone. I cannot legally go into much more detail than that, but I can say that everyone is alive. God had protected all of them, especially the child.

Unfortunately, I believe this type of thing happens too often in our country. I will write this story, submit it and then publish it. I want everyone to read it and share it with all of their friends. Texting while driving is NOT ok. If you think you are better than everyone else, you are not.

I am not sorry for my strong opinion here and you will not be able to change it. Thank you for reading.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Free Book by Stephanie Brown

A month ago, I posted the release of a book by a friend of mine, Stephanie Brown. She has decided to offer the book for free in order to gain exposure and reviews. If you are interested, you can get a free copy from April 4th through April 8th on Amazon. CLICK HERE.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Marketing Techniques

I have been doing some research over the last two months on marketing of books. It becomes apparent very quickly that most of the success of self published authors comes down to luck. Some marketing techniques that have worked for some have not worked for others. Some books sell really well while others do not. However, I did come across some common themes that give a little insight to increasing your "luck".

Social Media

Social media has become the backbone to advertising in the past couple years. Places such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and even Pinterest has reached millions of potential customers in the click of a button. The trick here is to grow your groups, learn how to market within these online environments, and make your advertisement attractive.

Another important point here is that people are more likely to read your post if it is funny or has nothing to do with selling something. People are on these websites for social reasons, not to buy. However, the exposure and generating buzz can only help.

Increase your Book Reviews

Submitting your book for free may seem like crazy at first but let's talk about it. If you were to go to Amazon to buy a book and it had very few reviews, would you read it? Would you spend the money to buy a book that nobody else wanted? There are mechanisms within Amazon that allow you to give away your book for free for a limited time. This will count as a "sale" even if there is no revenue involved. You have a window to put your book up for free and advertise that people can grab it. This will generate reviews. Not everyone who downloads your book will write a review, but any review you get will help generate future sales.

I know that some people would say that you shouldn't give your work away for free or give something away that you could be making money off of. The thing about that approach is that it is short term. If you sell your book for $3.99 and ten people are brave enough to buy it, you will make some money even though it is not much. If you give your book away for free for a limited time, yes, you would lose those potential customers. Let's say you give away 100 e-book copies. This cost you absolutely nothing to do. Even if half of those people write a review, you will have 50 reviews on your book. It will now show up on 100 different lists of "People who bought this also bought....". In addition, if those people like your book, they will buy your next one and refer it to a friend.

It is not about the short term gain, it is about the long term vision of building a fan base.

More books equals more sales

From what I have read, it appears that people with more than 4 books as an author sell more. This is not a proven fact, just an observation. If you think about it, the idea is pretty rational. If an author can reach a reader or group of readers and the book is well written (important point there!), then the reader typically wants to read more by that person. How many times have you read a book by an author and purchased another written by them because you liked the way they wrote, told a story, etc? I do it all the time. Repeat book readers goes back to my previous point, building a fan base.

In addition, the more books you have written, the better chance you have of being visible. This is not magic. This is just logic.

Book Covers Matter!

I cannot stress this point enough. People do judge books by their covers. This happens all the time and has only increased in the e-book industry. In a world where you can see thousands of books in the click of a button, you have to stand out. Your book cover has to reflect the genre and be professional enough to be taken seriously. You cannot expect people to spend money on something that does not look professional.

Look at other books in the genre that are selling well. What is it that sets them apart from the others? What about the books that you have read that you like? What caught your eye and made you want to buy it? These are all questions you need to ask yourself when you buy a book cover.

Change, Evolve, Innovate

The world is changing every second. What was popular one minute is old the next. You cannot expect to upload your book, stand back and say, "Give me money!" You have to drive your sales, push different avenues to reaching new potential customers, and keep changing. I am not saying that you have to change your cover every week. Nothing that drastic. But you should be updating your blurb summary of your books, reading reviews for feedback, and updating your books to correct errors. Maybe your cover is not working. You have to make that call. It may be possible to reach out to your fan base for feedback on your cover.

Innovation is a tough word for anyone. It is easy to do the things that work because they work. Do not be fooled by this. Those who do not change in an ever-changing environment will die. Ok, a little over dramatic but you get my point. Try different things. You may fail at most of them but you may also stumble on the one marketing avenue that slingshots you into high sales. You have to try. Nobody will do this for you.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Apple Settlement give Amazon Customer Credit

In a turn of events, Apple gave Amazon (and other retailer) customers a total of $166 million in a settlement due to price-fixing. Apple had worked with five publishers to fix the price of eBook sales which resulted in over charging its customers.

See the articles: GIGAOM and CNN Money

It was stated that,
"Illegal actions by these publishers forced consumers in New York and across the nation to pay artificially inflated prices for e-books," said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, in a statement.

Amazon is sending its customers emails that said,
"Good news! You are entitled to a credit of $xx.xx for some of your past Kindle book purchases."

This is further proof of the conspiracy of traditional publishers trying to drive prices up to increase their commissions. Do you think that the author of these books had any say in this? Do you think that Apple will ask the authors for money back? I hope not.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Standing Still

One of the problems about working full time and trying to write a book is time. It is easy to work too much and burn yourself out, which I have done on several occasions. Burning the candle at both ends will definitely wear you out. This is what I feel like at times:

And just because Peanut Zombies are cool:

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

New Contest - Flash Fiction

There is a new contest available through the Charlotte Writers' Club called the Ruth Moose Flash Fiction contest. I have not decided on a topic yet, but this is good practice to use clever words to invoke emotion and tell a story with few words.

Flash Fiction is defined as a short story, usually 300 to 500 words long, that has the normal characteristics as a normal short story. This would include the protagonist, conflict, obstacles or complications, and resolution. Trying to add all of these aspects in 500 words is a challenge, but can also be fun.

So, I have a decision to make on what I want to write. The deadline is April 15th, which means that I have some time. I am open to any suggestions or ideas on a topic. Unfortunately, after I write it, I am not allowed to publish it on the website until the contest is over.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Short Story Post 4

Before reading this, please be sure to read Post 1, Post 2 and Post 3. Or you can click on "Short Story" on the menu for the full story.

It did not take long for them to walk across the small port town to the stables. Jaina was true to her word. Supplies were waiting for them set against the wall of the stable. Beside them, two of the most beautiful horses that Erik had ever seen were tied to a post. The stable master was carefully checking them one last time before their departure. When he saw them approach, he hobbled around the horses to greet them. He had a hunched back and a bad limp, favoring his right leg. That did not stop him from smiling widely as he welcomed them. He was obviously good at his job.

“Lady Jaina,” the man bowed a little lower than one would expect his body to allow. “I have been expecting you. It has been far too long since you have graced us with your presence.”

“Good to see you, dear Tagron. I would love to stay and talk, but we must be on our way immediately.”

Without complaint, Tagron went to work on loading the horses practiced efficiency. He introduced the horses as he worked. “This fine beast is Brannon. He is very strong, but stubborn. You have to watch your supplies because he likes to steal food.” Tagron turned to the other horse with a beautiful brown coat, “This is his beautiful girlfriend, Briella. She is more elegant but will keep Brannon in his place. Together they will be a great team and you will travel fast.”

Erik took a step forward, admiring the tall strong creatures. He reached out to place a hand on Brannon’s neck. The horse responded with flapping lips and stomping one foot. “He likes you.” Tagron said. “What is your name?”

“Erik. My name is Erik Steele,” he replied.

Tagron squinted as he looked at Erik curiously from head to toe. “You are not related to….nevermind. You have to excuse an old man.”

Erik silently gave thanks to Teylon for the man not pressing him further. Steele was a common name in the Gaena Province. Very few people would draw the connection between him and his father Devlin Steele, Leader of the Assassin’s Guild. Erik did not look like his father which helped him deny any relation. Where is father was tall and lean, he was short and muscular. His father had long black hair, a well-trimmed beard and dark brown eyes. Erik had light brown hair, no facial hair and blue eyes. In fact, if they were in a room standing next to each other you could only seem a small resemblance in the nose.

“Thank you again, Tagron.” Jaina said in a sweet voice. This was definitely a side of her that Erik did not expect. Jaina reached up to kiss Tagron on the cheek. “My father would be most pleased.”

“Anything for the daughter of House Claymore,” Tagron smiled and bowed again.

Once Tagron was finished fussing over the two horses he took a step back nodding his approval. Jaina mounted Briella with the ease of a practiced rider. Erik fumbled with the reins and barely pulled himself up in an awkward manner. The short laugh from Jaina caused his face to turn red. Jaina turned the horse, giving it a swift jab with her heel. Off she went down the narrow street in a full gallop. Erik looked over to Tagron who shrugged his shoulders in response. He rolled his eyes and started off after Jaina. If this was any indication of the trip to come, he was going to be frustrated for weeks.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Creating Side Plots

In the past month, I have dumped all that I had in my head onto the screen. I was able to write more than 120 pages of details and draw out the storyline. Then I went back to the beginning and started to write the first draft. I was writing happily until something seemed out of place. I stopped to think about what I was doing. There was something wrong and I could not put my finger on it.

A week went by, due to work and other things going on. I picked up the story, scanned through it, and stopped at the same exact spot. I can only assume that this is writer's block. But that did not settle well with me. I would not accept it. I took the only action that I could think of......ask for help.

I tapped my friend on the shoulder (well, sent him an email) and asked if I could run it by him. I explained my situation and that something was wrong. I made some suggestions of what I thought might be the problem and I wrote a two page summary of where I was and where the story was going.

It did not take long for him to point out the problem. My story was becoming too linear. There was not enough depth in the story due to the lack of well developed side plots. I started to do it, but when I reached the point where something should happen, I could not write it. It was not developed.

The light went on in my head and the problem was staring me in the face. I am thankful that I have enough courage to admit that I am lost and even more thankful for friends that are willing to help. I am sure that one day they will get tired of me. Now, I am spending the time with story weaving. The side plots, back story, relationships, and driving factors for the characters. This will create the depth and realism within the story. Then I can finally move forward!

Back to writing!

Monday, March 10, 2014

First Month

One month ago, I started this journey to write a novel. I have worked hard in my spare time between being a husband, father, and working my full time job. There have been times where I am frustrated and discouraged. Don't let anyone fool you....writing a novel is hard!

Luckily, I have a very good support system. I have friends that are encouraging and my wife has been a source of inspiration. I am able to voice my frustrations and share my doubt without fear. When talking to one of my friends today, I was voicing my frustration with how far away I am from my goal. He turned the conversation around on me, telling me to put things in perspective. It has been ONE MONTH!

It sounded very strange to me at first. Has it really only been one month? I went back to look at when I setup my blog and the first post, February 6th. One month.

So many things have happened since this journey started. I started this blog, posted many different topics, wrote an outline for my novel, wrote over 120 pages, wrote and submitted a poem for a contest, joined the Charlotte Writers' Club, did research on publication, cover art, proof reading, and formatting, and laid out a plan for several other books. That is a lot to accomplish in one month.

The lesson that I learned here was sometimes you have to stop and think about where you have come from to see how much you have accomplished. It is not always about reaching the final goal, but the journey along the way.

A special thank you to all of my friends and family that have been supportive of me in this journey.

New Menu and Pages

If you have visited my blog before then you noticed some changes. I have changed the heading banner at the top of the page, which I proudly created. This was an opportunity for me to use my limited 2D Art skills and distract me from writing for a little. I have also added a menu at the top of the page which links to my website. Please bare with me as I continue to work on this in my spare time. It will grow to be more, but I am not there yet.

There are several things that I would like to change in the future. I want to make the transition between the blog and the website seemless. I have not figured out how to do this yet, due to an issue with the menu link opening a new page instead of redirecting. My web design skills are a little rusty. I also want to start putting information up about other indie author's books, books that I am currently reading or read, and any reviews that I have. This is to branch out more to see others work and get opinions. In order to successfully market a book, you have to know your market.

If anyone has suggestions, ideas, feedback or want to provide some help please let me know. I am always looking for new ideas and ways to improve. Also, if any indie authors want to submit their book for review or provide a guest post you can email me on the "Contact" link in the menu.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Short Story - Post 3

Before reading this, please be sure to read Post 1 and Post 2.

“You will have your hands full with that one,” Captain Warwick said, breaking the silence. “She is to be escorted by you alone to Fedoria in the Highlands of Caelda. Nobody is supposed to know who she is and she is to be protected at all costs.”

“Captain, you cannot be serious. That is all the way across the Shifting Sands to the Alteen Province. Going that far south will take weeks.” Erik started to protest but Warwick cut him off.

“Do you forget who you take orders from, boy? I still own you. When I say you will do something, you do it.” The seriousness in his tone assured Erik that he does not have an option.

Erik was not bothered by the fact that it would take him several weeks of travel to Fedoria and back. In fact, it was a nice thought to get off that wretched boat for a while. However, traversing the Shifting Sands while being weighed down with a woman is a burden that would likely get him killed. When he did not respond, Captain Warwick continued. “Gather your belongings and take this map. I have marked the way for you. Horses and supplies are waiting for you in town.” The Captain’s voice changed to one of efficiency instead of anger. “Deliver the girl and meet us in Southport in three weeks. We have a load to deliver there. Do not make me wait on you.”

With the map rolled up in his hand, Erik found himself on the other side of the door as it slammed shut causing him to jump. Damned door. Erik spent the next hour gathering the few items he had in the bunks and trying to get his mind set for the road. The only reason the Captain chose him for the job is because he is the more civilized among the crew, which does not say much. He would try to make the best of this trip but he had a feeling that would be more difficult than he would like.

Erik made his way through the boat to the docks where the woman was waiting. She was standing there with one hand on her hip and the other twirling a lock of dark hair. Erik rolled his eyes as he stepped off the boat, thinking to himself, “This is going to be a long trip.” Jaina made a huffing noise while he stumbled onto the dock. His bag hit the wood in a solid thump. He could feel the tension between them, thicker than the salt in the air.

"Glaring at me with your eyes will not make me move faster, Miss Claymore". He could not remove the ironic tone from his voice when he spoke her name.

"I did not ask for your opinion. We may be forced to travel together, but that does not mean I have to like it,” she snapped back with her own haughty tone.

Shouts of laughter burst forth from the boat. The crew had been listening to every word, enjoying the misery of Erik’s assignment. “Hey, boy!” Smitty shouted. “At least you have another woman to talk with!” The crew laughed louder at the comment. Erik made a rude gesture with his hands before scooping up his pack and walking past Jaina. Regardless of how the crew treated him, he felt a little sadness leaving behind the Anne-Marie, which was properly named after Captain Warwick’s daughter that died many years ago. The ship had been his home for three years, it was only natural that is had become a small part of him.

Jaina outpaced him, her long legs making longer strides. “My father has arranged all of our supplies. We must hurry if we want to travel today.” Jaina’s pace picked up as she walked toward the center of the small town. “The sun has almost reached its peak and we only have 6 to 8 hours of light left.”

“Fine, lead the way.” Erik replied with more than a little sarcasm. Even though it was his job to lead this trip he apparently did not have control over where they were going.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Poetry Submission

Recently, I joined my local writer's group: The Charlotte Writers' Club. Being part of a group such as this one allows a writer to meet other like-minded people, expand their networking, utilize the club for various workshops, and contest entries. The most recent contest that was open is the Deane Ritch Lomax Poetry Prize. The rules are fairly simple. You write a poem, pay the entry fee and submit. Sounds easy enough, right? There is only one small have to write poetry.

Even though I have not shared with many people over my life, I do have a natural affinity to poetry. The artistic form of using complex words to shape a vision without directly stating it has always been fascinating to me. The largest challenge for me is choosing which style I want to write in and the fact that the poem cannot be published. That means you will not get a preview of the poem, sorry.

What I can tell you is that I have chosen to write a Sestina. A Sestina is a unique poem style that centers around six words. There are Six Stanza's (paragraphs), each containing six lines. Each line ends in one of the six words in a certain order. This order is pre-defined. Then the poem is closed with an Envoi, which is three lines at the end, consisting of all six words, two for each line.

Sound complicated? It is. But once you go through the process of writing a couple of them it gets much easier.

The submission deadline is March 18th. I have already submitted my poem into the mix, so we will see what happens. The winners will be named in a couple months. There will be a First Place Prize of $100, a Second Place Prize of $50, a Third Place Prize of $25 and three Honorable Mentions. The winners will have to read their poem in front of an audience at an awards presentation during the monthly meeting.

Wish me luck!

Click HERE if you would like to know more about Sestina Poems.

Short Story - Post 2

“Come in!” The Captain’s voice boomed in great contrast to the knock.

Erik pushed hard on the heavy wooden door forcing it to creak and moan as it opened. When he entered the small room the door slammed shut behind him. Erik jumped at the sound and Captain Warwick let out an evil laugh. No matter how many times he was summoned to that room, the door always received the same reaction.

Captain Warwick was standing on the opposite side of a large mahogany desk that seemed far too valuable for the boat that carried it. He was a tall man with wild red hair that was untamed and windblown. Erik could not help but stare at the man as he loomed over the desk, his large hands holding open a map.

"Always the scared little girl." Warwick extended his grin and motioned to the chair across from him. "When you are done pissing your pants, come introduce yourself to your next assignment."

"I am not an assignment!" The young woman bolted upright from her seat. Her long black hair hung past her bare shoulders. The motion seemed to put Erik in a trance. Before he realized it, the woman had turned around to catch him staring at her. He immediately turned his gaze downward as his face turned red in embarrassment.

"I don't care what you are called. Let's be done with this so you can be off my ship." Captain Warwick smacked his hands on the desk, drawing attention to the map. The woman turned back around as Erik slowly made his way forward.

Erik stepped up to the captain’s desk to take a seat next to the woman. The captain remained standing, tracing lines on the map before he started to speak again. “Erik, this Lady Jaina Claymore, of the Noble House Claymore. Lady Jaina, this is Erik Steele, one of our finest deckhands.”

The words that left Warwick’s mouth seemed to be forced. This was the first compliment that Erik had received from the old sea dog. Turning toward Jaina, Erik extended his calloused hand without looking at her face. “A pleasure for you, I am sure,” she said as she ignored his hand. “Captain, you must have someone more civilized for this task. You cannot expect this….” She gestured toward Erik with her hands, “… lout to escort me!”

Lout! He might not have known the word, but he understood enough by her tone that it was not a compliment. Before he could respond, Captain Warwick spoke up. “Lady Jaina, you are a guest on my ship and you will control yourself.” The green in his eyes glowed a little darker and he lowered his voice in a serious tone. “I do not care who your father is. I will feed you to the sharks if you speak to me that way again.”

Jaina sat in her chair with a scowl on her face. It was obvious that she did not like Warwick but she did not speak another word. When he was sure that she would remain quiet, Warwick continued. “Erik will escort you. I owe a debt to your father and this is my payment. Now get off my boat before I make you spread your legs for my crew.”

Jaina stood up and stomped out of the room. The sound of her shoes clacking on the hardwood was drowned out a second later by the door slamming behind her. Erik did not move as he waited for Warwick to give him orders.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Map Progress

I re-worked the map a little. I did not like the way it flowed before. There were too many open areas of land. This feels more like the Kingdom of Amleer to me. Next, I will break it into the Five Provinces by using mountains, rivers, and other natural landmarks. Then I will add key cities and ports.

The Kingdom of Amleer is made up of The Five Provinces.

- Gaena Province (North)

- Alteen Province (South)

- Enton Province (Central)

- Eld'hui Province (East)

- Sibel Province (West)

As I develop these further and draw the landscape of the map, they may change slightly. But I think that you get the idea.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Map - Progress Update

Started on my map today. This is the first pass at laying out the basic shape and water. I have a lot of work left to do, but you can see that it is coming along. Not sure about the shape yet, but it seems to be unique.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Short Story - Post 1

The part of me that has extreme attention problems has taken over at times. This has allowed me to work on a short story that I will be releasing in the next month. I do not have an exact date, but it will be soon. I wanted to write something within the world that I am creating, while keeping the story plot separate from everything else.

Any feedback that I get on this writing will help me learn and grow as a writer. Please feel free to point out any flaws and my love obsession with the comma.

Here is a preview of the beginning:

“The true measure of a man is not counted by the number of battles won or riches gathered. It is measured by the line of women waiting when his ship docks.”

- Captain Warwick of the Anne-Marie

The boat swayed gently back and forth against the dock as waves brushed against the hull. After a long night of drinking in the small harbor town, the crew of the Anne-Marie moved slowly across the deck. Smitty, the first mate, barked orders from the upper deck while the crew struggled to keep up with loading the cargo. The cool breeze did nothing to suppress the heat from the summer sun.

“Boy! I told you to move that crate to the other side!” Smitty yelled. He was a portly man with beady eyes. Not the brightest of men, but tough.

Erik let out a deep sigh as he picked up the heavy crate and carried it to the other side of the deck. He had joined the crew three years ago to find a better life. Loading and unloading crates was not what he had in mind. It took a five year commitment to join the Anne-Marie and Erik had no plan of staying one day longer than he had to.

“Boy!” Smitty had a way of getting under his skin, calling him a boy when he was clearly a man. “Hey, boy! Report to Captain Warwick!”

Without looking up at the first mate, Erik made his way across the main deck to the small hallway leading to the captain’s door. He stopped for a moment to take a breath and attempt to straighten his clothes. The ocean salt prevented any such act from being successful, keeping his clothes stiff. He kneaded his calloused hands together nervously before lightly knocking on the door. Being summoned by Captain Warwick was never a good sign.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

World Building

As I write, I have come to the conclusion that I need to stop for a little while to work on World Building. I have a lot of ideas in my head on the history of the world that I am creating, the landscape, special cities and towns that the story will take place. In order to realize this to the reader and provide a clear understanding, there are some things that I can do to make this better. After all, my goal is to create an engaging story that the reader feels is real to a point.

Over the next two weeks, I am going to work on developing a map of the world. This will contain landscape features, such as mountains, rivers, seas, and other important items. This will also show the divisions of the land so the reader can get a feel for the conflict. In addition to this, I will be working on the overall history of the world. This will explain the mythical gods, the history of the people, wars, and anything that has driven the culture over the last thousand years.

I plan to release this as something free for people to read. Most likely I will upload it to my website and Amazon. It would be in support of the books, not a book in itself.

By doing this, I want to create a deeper culture for the characters to live in. I want the stories to come alive within a world that has meaning to the reader. This has driven me to change my focus to writing a series of books. I am still working on the first book, however, I have been able to write the general outline for the next two in the series.

Exciting times and a lot is happening. Check back soon. I will be posting many things, such as pictures as I work on the map and history excerpts of the land and people.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Fear of Perfection - Writer's Block

There are many different types of writer's block that one can encounter over a long period of time. This can be related to a certain scene, writing a description that is just out of reach or your idea just does not feel right. The one form of writer's block that I have the most issue with is the Fear of Perfection. Why did I capitalize it? Because this is a problem for me.

As a writer, I strive to put forth my best work. At times, it may seem like my writing changes or has a certain feel. Most of the time, that is on purpose. The fear that I have is that the reader will not grasp the reasons for these decisions. If you write with certain inflection or dialect, it is for a reason. Unfortunately, it is not always interpreted that way. Sometimes when you write something, people just see the words and think you are inexperienced or uneducated.

I spent a lot of time on the first four chapters of my book, ensuring that I get the tone correct, the writing is done well, and I do not dilute it with nonsense. By doing this, I have spent more time on these chapters that I care to admit. The worst part it, I am still not happy with it. I am now stuck in the editing cycle of trying to word these chapters to get my vision across. This could take hours, days, or weeks. That is a lot of time that I do not have to waste.

In situations like this, you are your worst enemy. It is time to take a step back, review my goals and what I am doing. I am going to take the time to read other authors that are an inspiration to me and draw from their experience. Striving to be the best writer you can it not a bad thing. If it prevents you from actually writing, that is counter-productive. I am going to accept the first four chapters as they stand and continue writing. It is time to let my creative brain tell the rest of the story. I always have the chance to rewrite later as the tone is worked out.

Another bit of advice I picked up is to let others help. Friends, family, and fellow writers are always willing to lend their eyes and opinions. Let them help and take the criticism. This will save you time and give you perspective. I truly believe that most people are trying to help and not be vindictive.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Book Release - Stephanie Brown

I am happy to announce that a good friend of mine has released her first book online. I had the pleasure of reading the book before release and it was definitely worth my time. It gave a very good perspective of the two main characters, Adrian and Miranda. I don't want to spoil the book for anyone, but the two have a chance encounter on a tour bus leaving from France to Rome. Their interest in each other grows along the way. Upon arriving in Rome, something terrible happens.....they are taken hostage.

Love Condemned is well written and unique. Give it a try and support fellow self publishers! Also, she is great at receiving criticism.

Her book is for sale on Amazon HERE!

If you are interested in learning more about Stephanie Brown, visit her blog at:

Friday, February 21, 2014

Charlotte Writers' Club

One of my goals that I listed in an earlier post was to join a local writers group. I am proud to announce that I have joined the Charlotte Writers' Club. They are a well organized group that provides a variety of skills and experience. Among these are workshops, guest speakers, contests, critique groups.

Check out their website if you are interested:

I look forward to meeting people in my area with similar interests, building a network that I can lean on for advice, and someone to voice my frustrations to as well.

Now, back to writing!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Time Management

One of the hardest things about trying to write is managing your time. I am a full time employee, a father, and a husband. A lot of my time is spent providing for my family and trying to spend as much time with them as I can. Please don't misread this because it is not a complaint. It is the opposite. I fully embrace my roll and love spending time with my family.

When trying to write there are several things that you need.The mindset to write, the place to write without being interrupted, and more importantly, you need the time. My family has been very supportive of this. I am a very lucky man. In the evenings, I have dedicated some time to going into my office, putting in ear plugs, and just writing. I will do this for 1.5 hours at a time. Do I write an entire book in this time? No. But I make progress.

I continue the battle on a daily basis to manage my time. I have resigned to the fact that I cannot write every day and there will be times when I go several days without writing. This is difficult when you are trying meet your goals (as discussed in an earlier topic). The important thing to remember is to not give up. Take the time you can to write and when you do not have time, don't stress about it.

Here are a couple quick tips that I found to help:

- Always have a way to write down ideas or thoughts (notebook, tablet, email)

- Try to set aside scheduled times to write

- Ensure you have a place to go to when you write where you will not be distracted

- Writing should be fun. If you are not enjoying it, step away

I know this sounds like simple advice, but when you implement it, you will see that it works.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Update - Introduction

Now that I have spent a long time telling you about my thoughts and some learning experiences about the book I am trying to write, it is only fair that I release a little more informtion about the actual book. First, you have to understand that I am a dork. Not necessarily a nerd, but definitely a dork. Yes, there is a difference. Don't get me started on the difference of a geek!

Ok, I am getting off track. Back to being a dork. With that said, I have always been drawn to the land of magic and imagination. I have read dozens of books, if not more, in this particular genre and one that I am most excited about. You are not limited by the laws of nature or man, you can write what you imagine. This is very appealing to me. My first book will be fantasy fiction.

I am still working out the details and it will evolve as I write. Here is the introduction to the first chapter:

The Time of Darkness is coming. Shadow Casters shall rise against the Light King, who shall lead the Kingdom of Amleer. Born from Light, the Darkness shall come; more powerful combined than each alone. The war will begin, many will die, and only one will be left standing.

- The Chronicles of Teylon, 1608

This is the story of a boy from a broken home, forced to live in poverty while searching for his father. Magic, war, polictics, and love all crash together causing chaos and confusion about who he really is. This is the story of Ardus Claymore.

I would love the hear some feedback or comments from anyone. Please post here or email me at:

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Writing Tense

Determining what writing tense to use when writing your book can be tricky. There is no one set rule for the tense you are supposed to write in. What I have learned is that the present tense is one of the most difficult. I spent some time researching this, going back to the books that I have liked or thought were well written. For the genre of my current book, fantasy fiction, I will be using the past tense.

The past tense allows me to tell the story without everything seeming to be important. However, there is a problem. I am terrible at writing in only one tense. This comes from my lack of discipline and experience. It took me a long time to write the first chapter of my book. I was continually questioning my tense and how I worded a sentence. I thought about the flow of the sentences and the story. Then I realized something. This is something that I am supposed to do later.

I need to write. Get the story out and onto the screen. Write the chapters and let it flow. After finishing the first draft, I will go back and edit the tense, ensure proper grammar, and look at the flow. Then I will have a couple people proof read it, hire a professional proofer and then I will be much better. Would it be easier if I wrote everything in the correct tense the first time? Absolutely. But that is not how my brain operates.

My advice to anyone who is looking to write is, play to your strengths. Let others help you and hire what you need. If you are a grammar person, then you can do that yourself. But if you are like me, you tell stories, you like details and fighting scenes. The writing is the inspiration. Yes, you want your book to be perfect, well written and professional. Just remember that you do not have to do this alone.

Write. Be open to criticism. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Ideas, Ideas, Ideas - Distraction in Disguise

Distractions come in many forms. When I sat down to think about my book and the plot summary, ideas started to come to me. I thought about at least a dozen other plots that I really like. One of them in particular could be a great book (which I plan to write after this current one). It is great to have all of these ideas come to you and your creative mind is working well. But there is a down side to this as well. From what I have read, this is a common distraction for writers and can lead to a form of writer’s block.

I have questioned my story plot on occasion, which is healthy. It is good to revisit this at times and I am sure that I will revisit it again over the next couple months. However, there was a time period of two straight days where I did nothing more than think of new ideas and change my plot. This caused everything that I wrote to be invalid or needing to be modified significantly. Do I have a better story for it? Absolutely. Was it necessary for me to do that? Probably. But I need to make sure that I do not do this every time that I revisit the plot summary or I will never finish a book.

What I am trying to say is that you will always have different ideas and different stories in your head. As you read more (always recommended), experience life, watch movies, or anything else that can provide inspiration, things change. Your thoughts and feelings change which causes your ideas to be different.

I have decided that the best way for me personally to deal with this is to write down everything that is an inspiration or an idea that I have before I sit down to write. Get it all out of my head and on paper. Ensure that I do not miss an idea and feel secure that I can let it go for now. It will be there to revisit later.

This has led me to clear my mind and get back into the story that I am writing. I can concentrate on what I am doing, but the ideas that I have did not go away. I have read on a couple of blogs where people have asked the question: If I am writing a story and come up with a better one, should I stop and write the other or try to write both at the same time? The advice given in the scenario is neither. It is best to write down all your thoughts on the other idea. This may be a couple sentences or a couple pages, but get it all down. Then go back and finish your original story.

Story hopping will kill you as a writer. You will not dedicate your full attention to the story you are writing. The readers deserve better and you should always demand the best of yourself. If you start a story, complete it. If you want to write something different, then write it. Just know that your chances of finishing a book are greatly diminished if you let yourself wander or be distracted by ideas.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Goal Setting - Be Realistic!

Setting goals is difficult when you are writing a book. If you spend any amount of time reading blogs or guides on book writing, you will learn that a book will take as long as it takes. There is not one set of rules or timeline for writing your book. At the beginning, I set goals for myself. And I failed. My goals were unrealistic and inflexible. This caused anxiety and stress that was unnecessary and counter-productive to my writing.

Let’s talk about what a goal is. A goal is something you want to achieve. Therefore it should be achievable, right? A goal is not a dream, it is not a deadline and it is not something beyond your control.

I set a goal for myself to write 4,000 words per day, no exceptions. While this is great in theory (yay, I can get my book done faster!) it was far from achievable. I have a full-time job, a wife, an 8 month old and a teenager. My life is a constant state of flux, or more commonly known as chaos. It is not a reasonable goal to say that I will write that much without exception. It is great to have a plan, but let’s be realistic about it.

When I did not reach my goal the first time, I was devastated. Then the second time was even worse. I had become demotivated quickly and questioning whether I have the skills to even finish a book. After this happened to me, I took a step back to evaluate my goals. More realistic goals would be to spend a set amount of time per day working on the book, regardless of how much I actually write. This could be spent on the story plot, character development, or writing. Forget the word count altogether. A story is not defined by how many words you write. It is how you use the words you have. Just remember to set small goals, large goals and maintain your vision. More importantly, let them be what they are…..goals. They are not concrete deadlines and things will happen. Roll with it, recalibrate, and move on.

Don’t let your goals become a roadblock!

Here is a list of my goals:

1. Write for one hour at least 3 days per week.

2. Complete the first draft of the book by end of June.

3. Join a writers group in my area.

4. Read a new blog/website each month.

5. Publish a book this year.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Where to Start

First, I should remind everyone that I am not a published author. I do not have all of the answers and I do not claim to be an expert. The information that I am sharing will be the process that I am taking to write a book, regardless if it is the best methods out there or the "right" way. I think that you will find very quickly that there is no shortcut to writing a book, no magic formula that will allow you to produce it. You have to try different methods of writing and decide which one works best for you. There are a lot of resources out there that can help you and a lot that I use on a daily basis. Just know that each of them has wisdom in one form or another, but you have to try them to determine what is the best.

So, I started this journey and I told everyone my lifelong dream of wanting to write a book. Now what?! Well, since I have been thinking about this for a while, I have been reading and putting together what I felt is the best method for me to write. I can tell you, the theory that I developed did not work. I will explain this a little later. But first, let's talk about the subject and plot of the book. Generally, when you decide to write a book, you already have a great idea or story in your head. If you do not, then I would suggest reading more, watch tv and movies, and think about what inspires you. Whether it is mystery, fantasy, science fiction, or any other genre, you have to connect with it. You cannot expect a reader to connect with your book if you cannot connect with it yourself.

I have a long list of ideas for several books. Fortunately, I know what I want to write for my first novel. So, how do I take that idea and turn it into something useful? This is where the work comes in. Writing a book takes a lot more planning that people think. The plot to a story has many different aspects to it. It is not just telling a good story that makes a novel. You will end up writing the first three chapters and drifting off. Unless you are one of the lucky ones out there, then I have to you say that you suck! The rest of us normal people need a roadmap of sorts.

One resource that I found to be helpful was a website with free information on How to Write a Book. In particular, the section on building a Story Plot was very informative. It is a well written guide for asking yourself questions, laying out the Story Goal, Consequences, Requirements, Forewarnings, Costs, Dividends, Prerequisites, and Pre-Conditions. This allowed me to dive a little deeper in my story and really question the internal and external conflict and motivations of the main characters.

The next step that I started on, which I hinted at earlier, was a detailed outline. I sat down and laid out my book chapter by chapter. I have over 20 pages written with the high level details explaining what will happen. This sounds like a great idea and should be easy when you sit down to write the book, right? Well, this is where the individual preferences come in. I am not the type of person that can detail the whole story out in an outline. I can put down the basics, but when I sat down to write the first chapter I was stuck. I could not get past the second page. Everything I wrote felt like I was trying to force it into the outline and make it nice and neat.

Since this time, I have kept the outline in the background as a reference. I update it based on my writing in order to keep the overall vision there. My focus is on the story, the details, the characters, and the flow of writing. Since I have taken that approach, I have written over 6,000 words in the last two days (in between my normal full time job). The story feels more alive in my head and I do not worry about making everything fit in a certain chapter. Basically, I have learned that my process is to have a basic outline, but let the story tell itself. Don't force it.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Beginning of the Digital Journey

Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Theodore Roach. I am an aspiring writer. For years, I have written many short stories, poems, novellas, and other works both individually and collectively. The dream of becoming a published author started when I was little. My mother taught me how to use my imagination and transform that into words on paper. The experience was something that I could never replace. I was hooked. Stories were pouring from my brain faster than my hands could write.

Fortunately, I was able to win some contests when I was younger which helped push me to finish more stories. However, I will never forget the day that I learned the hard truth.......I would have a better chance at winning the lottery than becoming a published author. The traditional way of publishing at the time was extremely competitive and an elitism group that I could never hope to penetrate. I gave up on my dream that day (it was a Tuesday and fitting enough it was raining). My life was changed forever. I no longer saw the hopes and dreams of a child because I had to figure out what to do with my life.

I stopped writing for a number of years until I was in college. Creative writing classes sparked that fire inside me again and the stories were pouring out. My professor at the time was impressed with my originality and dedication to writing once I started. Of course, I had horrible grammar and a weird love obsession with commas. Still do. But that is another story for another time. The point is that I started to write again. I knew that I would not be published and considered an "author" but the satisfaction from using my imagination and writing was something I could not deny in myself.

That was over a decade ago. I am still an avid writer. With many stories and thoughts in my head, I cannot express the joy I have from shutting off the world to escape in the world that I create. Several months ago, I was researching how difficult it would be to vanity publish a book. I know what you are thinking, but I will just say it. I wanted to be published, even if that meant I was the only one to ever see it. To have a book finished with my name on it, sitting on the bookshelf in my house. It was something I wanted more than anything as a child, and now.

Luck. That is the only word that I can think of to describe it. It was pure luck that I came across the blog of a man who had created waves in the publishing industry. J.A. Konrath. If you have not heard of him or read his site, I highly recommend that you do. He is a true inspiration. Joe's blog has changed my life. I read almost every single blog on his website and the invaluable advice to authors and aspiring authors about self-publishing. I could not believe what I was reading. You mean that I can write what I want, have someone edit it, add awesome cover art, publish it and make money? No need for a contract or the countless rejections and uncertainty?! I was so stunned that it took months to sink in.

So, here I am. My name is Theodore Roach. I am starting my novel this year, reviewing and revising it, having it edited and published. This year I will have my first book and I will be an author. Am I naive enough to think that I am the best at this? Absolutely not. But I have to start somewhere and I want to tell my stories. I want to learn from feedback and grow as a writer. This is an exciting time. This blog will be a place to share my journey. The ups, the downs, lessons learned, and any advice I get along the way. Maybe I will even sell a few books.