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The Mountain of a Novel

As I've learned throughout the last few years, writing a novel is like climbing a mountain. There are roads to climb, and there may be some rocky terrain as you write. But as you climb over the precipice and write "THE END," you'll feel like you've climbed a personal Mount Everest.

I'm taking my current novel, A DROP TO DRINK, like that, but instead of one single mountain, this mountain is many-tiered with steep sides and, from how it looks like right now, an unreachable summit.

But I can't start looking at the very tippity-top until I reach my other goals first.

On Sunday afternoon, I reached the peak of the first stage in my journey. I crossed the 25,000-word mark, which represents the halfway mark for NaNoWriMo. I'm currently in that leveling out period, the "OK, I've passed the first leg, it's time to gear up for the second." The second represents crossing the NaNo finish line of 50,000 words. I should do that without a problem by Thanksgiving Night; in the next 10 days, I'm scheduled to cover four games. I think I've got that 50,000 words handled.

But after I cross the NaNo finish line, there's another steep incline to go -- the three-book, 250,000-word mark. It's an immediate steep climb that will be eclipsed when I crack 65,264 words in this project. I'll be close. I'll claw at the rock and my fingers will be bloodied, but I will fight to get there. Once I hit that mark, it'll be a leveling out until I reach 75,000 words.

The next hill starts there, bringing me to the minimum goal on this book of 90,000 words. But I won't stop, I don't think. I'll climb, and I'll climb, and I'll climb, writing words and bringing this novel to its inevitable conclusion -- hopefully -- before we welcome 2011 into our lives.

Writing a novel can be a challenge; an easy one, at that. I'm on No. 13. I've challenged myself 12 prior times, and I've succeeded in reaching the summit every time.

Will I reach the summit of No. 13? Yes. I have to. If not, I've failed myself as an author, and I've failed you as a reader.

I don't know the meaning of the word fail.

I'll see you at the top.

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Hello all in JFV Land! Just Johnny here with a couple of updates for you on this overcast Wednesday morning here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

* First, I want to update you on the progress on the release of OBLOERON: THE RISE OF THE DARK FALCON.

(Hears crickets chirping.)

That was quick. Moving on.

* We're nine-plus days into NaNoWriMo 2010, and I'm a little south of 17,000 words into A DROP TO DRINK. The story is coming along well, and I'm pleased with my progress so far. I've churned out in the vicinity of 2,500 words a day the last three days, and the word flow is coming at a remarkably steady clip. Yesterday I had six straight hours of writing time at my local Starbucks, and I made use of my time. My writing time took me into Ch. 7, and hopefully I can come close to finishing Ch. 7 today. If not, there's always tomorrow.

I don't feel the need to rush, as I've said before. I'm currently a day ahead on the "race" to 50,000 words, and if I keep this pace up, I'll cross the 50,000-word mark well before November 30 with plenty of hours to spare.

* Currently reading R.A. Salvatore's GAUTLGRYM. Don't know how I feel about it, and I usually don't say that about Bob's work.

* I've checked the prices of my eBooks on Amazon Kindle, and I wanted to update the prices for you, just in case you've been interested in my work but didn't want to pay $2.99. Anyway... the current prices are as follows, and you can follow the Amazon Author Central page link below to purchase them.

Turning Back The Clock: Listed $2.99, on sale on Kindle for $2.39. It should also be noted that TBTC has a 50 percent discount on Smashwords until November 19; use coupon code KU34T and receive the book for $1.49.

The Obloeron Trilogy: Listed $4.99, on sale on Kindle for $3.89. It should also be noted that TOT has a 50 percent discount on Smashwords that ends today, Wednesday, November 10, so hurry over to Smashwords. Use coupon code SS62D and receive the book for $2.49.

A Galaxy At War: Listed $2.99, on sale on Kindle for $2.39.

One Hero, A Savior: I recently lowered the price of this book from $2.99 to $1.99.

I'm also a part of two anthologies: The BUMP IN THE NIGHT 2010 Halloween anthology (nothing wrong with being scared in November) as well as fellow fantasy author David Dalglish's A LAND OF ASH, which is on sale for .99 cents on Kindle. I'm joined by David as well as David McAfee, Daniel Arenson, Michael Crane and Robert Duperre.

Keep in mind that even if you have a Kindle, you can still download books on Smashwords with your USB cord (don't throw the thing away!). Enjoy your Wednesday, and I'll be back soon.

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We're humming along.

A DROP TO DRINK has begun taking form, seven days into NaNoWriMo 2010. We're one word over the seven-day minimum -- 11,669 -- and we're on pace to finish the 50,000 words on November 30. of course, I could mosey ahead and finish on November 29, but there you are.

This weekend was a difficult weekend: I covered two games Saturday, which limited my writing time to a scant few words here at home and about 100 at the Auburn, Mass. Starbucks. It also caused me, at the time, to panic: I didn't want to fall too far behind, especially when this time last year, I had neared the halfway mark on the forthcoming ZOMBIE SHOWDOWN. I didn't get anything written Saturday night, and went to sleep wondering how I would make it all up. But as I woke up on Sunday and did the math, I realized I wasn't too far behind: only about 800 words separated me from the six-day mark. I managed to crank those out in no time Sunday morning, and then I worked on Sunday's later in the day. All told, Sunday was a 2,488-word day.

Am I pleased I've made it this far? Of course. I don't like playing catch-up, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

I've already said I'm taking a slow route with this novel. I'm five chapters into the story, which isn't bad. Looking at the positives, I still have loads of material to work with; I'm on page 3 of a 23-page outline, with a 90,000-word minimum on this story.

I'll be writing deep into December at this rate.

But truthfully: I'm not complaining. Not one bit.

NaNo 2010 goals:
Words to 50,000: 38,330
Words to 65,264: 53,594
Words to 90,000: 78,330

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Closing in on the personal goals of 2010

Back in January, I set a few personal goal for 2010: Write three full-sized novels totaling 250,000 words. For some authors, that would be a major obstacle to overcome. For others, not so much.

I set those goals for one reason: to give myself a challenge. I've never written three books in one calendar year; 2006 does not count, because I finished writing TURNING BACK THE CLOCK in January 2007. Standing here on November 2, I don't really think it'll be an issue, especially since we're in the midst of NaNoWriMo 2010. Will I complete my goals? I really hope so: As I reviewed my notes yesterday afternoon, I saw I have the chance to write a pretty hefty novel here: I have three story lines to weave, along with 24 pages or so of notes to work with. That said, and knowing my capabilities, I should hit 50,000 words within 30 days. I have no doubt of that.

I'm also looking at a goal of 90,000 words for this novel, which would take me to mid-December, but more importantly, I started this novel 65,264 words (I have a Post It note with that number to remind me) shy of my 250,000-word goal, thanks to the near 105,000-word first draft of ROGUE AGENT and the 80,000-word first draft of ROYAL SWITCH, the two other novels I wrote this year.

Last night, I put 1,891 words (four-plus pages, one chapter) into A DROP TO DRINK.

There's only 63,373 words left to go to the 250,000-word barrier, and 48,109 to the NaNo goal.

Are you coming along for the ride? I'd love your company.

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I've written that characters drive an author's story. The characters are the ones that truly know the story; the author is only the conduit between the characters and the page. There have been times my characters and I have gotten into drunken fistfights.

Suffice it to say, the characters always win. But I digress.

Today I'm going to introduce you to the characters you'll read about in OBLOERON: THE RISE OF THE DARK FALCON, coming to digital bookstores everywhere soon. These people sat on my shoulder and whispered into my ear for several years, telling me to do this and do that. For quite a while, they were close confidantes.

Without further ado, the characters...


The protagonists:

Krampel Paddymeyer is the series' protagonist. In DARK FALCON, he is introduced as a slave to the Caravan, a group of gypsy-like merchants who travel across the breadth of Obloeron, trading and selling goods. He breaks free of his bonds and hurries to the nearest township, Cassimina, where he is taken in by Vossler, the local tanner and cobbler. Vossler, however, is no ordinary citizen; he unlocks the power held deep within Krampel -- the ability to wield a great sword of the past, Flad-rul. Krampel becomes a bounty hunter, taking bounties without prejudice, under the pseudonym Dark Falcon.

Vossler is a supporting character of part one. As mentioned above, he is the tanner/cobbler of Cassimina, but none there truly know his past. He was a great warrior who pried Flad-rul from the cold hands of his master and took it as his own. He sought out one to teach the skills of battle to after that, coming to Cassimina for a long retirement when he couldn't find a student worthy to teach.

Lutricia Juniper is the series' secondary protagonist and the female lead. We meet Lutricia in part two of DARK FALCON. She is the daughter of Lord Juniper, a wealthy land owner. She longs for the life of a bounty hunter and, after hearing Krampel is the best there is, her father hires Krampel to be her teacher. She is a headstrong individual who tries to get through the walls Krampel puts up.

Radamuck Rosar enters the story in part three. At this point in the story, Radamuck is a general in his father Ricanack's army and is on the hunt for a criminal. He, too, is headstrong but not as confident as he is in THE OBLOERON TRILOGY. He is also ready for a little adventure, as he knows that adventure will be hard to come by when he ascends to the throne of the Golden Mug.

The antagonists:

Cairn Ford is the main antagonist in the story. He is the High Imperial Inquisitor of the southlands, where he has instituted a tight reign on the populace, reaching as far south as Salva on the southern peninsula. He hires Krampel to fetch two criminals, as the Inquisitor has plans for them -- and their blood.

Danolf Joocston is a minor antagonist in DARK FALCON, but he plays a major role in the series as a whole. He is a young wizard employed by the Inquisitor for his alchemy work; Joocston is present in the prison of Carackstine when Krampel brings Jath Verbinks to Ford. His work will be revealed in book two.

Piety Crassnick is the bully of Cassimina, but in the end becomes a brutal person, wanted by the dwarves for the slaughter of a local populace. He bullies Krampel during his time in Cassimina, and is conspicuously absent during an orc attack.

There's more to learn about these characters. You'll have to read the book in order to find out more.

It's almost time. Be patient, and you'll soon have it.

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A Saturday Night Revelation

Over the course of one's writing career, one must tackle obstacle after obstacle. Whether it be querying to an agent/publisher or just getting that first draft onto the screen, one must overcome obstacles if one is to grow in this business.

I learned that on Saturday night.

In my scant few years as an author, I've learned about showing and not telling (I have a HUGE problem with that), pacing a story so it moves fast (it's why I don't write romance), and I've learned about an author's voice.

Now let's be clear with something. Before a few months ago, I had no idea of the differences between active voice and passive voice. I truly didn't: The Fitchburg Public School system must have forgot that part. Either that or I was distracted that day. Who knows? I just had no idea about it. Sue me.

Eliminating passive voice can be tricky if you have no idea what you're doing. Once I found out that I had a bunch of passive voice in my work, I went back into the soon-to-be released OBLOERON: THE RISE OF THE DARK FALCON and removed it to the best of my ability; my editor has it now. I then went through the next two books that will be released in the first half of 2011 and removed passive voice.

And then on Saturday night, I went into one of my previous-published books and did a complete re-edit.

Commercial time: While I read/edited ONE HERO, A SAVIOR on Saturday, I found it to be one of my best works. I don't give this book enough credit, I think. It just doesn't have a huge audience because of the Christian overtones, but hey, whatcha gonna do? The prose is descriptive, the sword fights fast-paced. The reader can feel themselves in the world. End of commercial.

Of course, this was a book I wrote four years ago and released three. The big question is, why didn't I have someone else look at it before I published it?

My answer: I don't know. I'm not using my lack of knowledge as an excuse. I failed, but in the great scheme of things, it's not a huge failure -- especially in this grand time of digital publishing. With an eBook, an author can load a completely fixed version and have it ready for sale a couple of hours later. You can't do that with an ink and paper book: You have to wait months.

The huge failure on my part would have been if I did not take the knowledge I know now and did not apply it to the past. That would have been the failure; the failure of keeping crappy writing in the market instead of doing everything in my power to correct it.

(And yes, that means I see myself going through THE OBLOERON TRILOGY and TURNING BACK THE CLOCK to see where I messed up and fixing it. Oh, the life of an author.)

Now that I know this, I can keep it out of my writing the first time. I hope.

John's Amazon Author Central US page
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Yours truly stopped by the Variance Publishing blog today to discuss writer's block. Hope you don't mind if I just copy and paste the link in lieu of re-posting the blog...


Hope you enjoy, too!

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