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.