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Monday, September 17, 2012

I've Moved

I guess I should put a post here: earlier this year, I migrated to wordpress.

You can find my up to date blog at

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Home Stretch

Last night I clawed my way over the 80,000 word mark for The Cerberus Rebellion.

Before the weekend, as I was walkung into my night job, I had a flash of inspiration and used Evernote to plot out the last 8 chapters.

Well, one of those chapters turned into 3 chapters but if the last 8 end up between 2-3k words I'll end up just above 105k.

It's a little higher than I wanted to end up but I figure with rewrites and edits I'll cut a few thousand words out.

I'm still hoping to make my self-imposed deadline at the end of April but if I'm over by a week it won't hurt

I'm still looking for Beta Readers and expect to be through my own first draft editing by the end of May and would like to get it to an editor by the middle of June.

If you're interested, please post a comment.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Junk it!

So I was writing a chapter that, when I had started it, felt like a good idea. It filled in some information, introduced a new POV character that I intend to carry on to the next book and did some world building in the process.

And then, about 1,000 words into it, I hit a wall and realized that the chapter wasn't contributing to the story as much as I expected it would and was in fact breaking up the pacing of the story. So I did what I always do, threw it into my "Snippets" folders and started a new chapter.

I have over 6,000 words in my Snippet folder. Some of it may be salvageable, but for the most part there's nothing for me to do with those words.

It seems strange on one hand that I can put so much effort into a chapter and then throw it in the bin. Oh well, back to work!

Friday, March 23, 2012

New Hardware

So, up until now I have been writing either on my desktop computer downstairs or on the laptop that my mom gave with almost no functioning keys and a ten pound paperweight.

I had to buy a wireless keyboard/mouse combo in order to function. The problem with that was that even with the wireless keyboard, I would have to set my laptop on the coffee table. For anyone with a wandering 1 year old, you know what trouble having a laptop open can be.

So I've been restricted to either waiting for him to go to bed or going downstairs and writing on the desktop. Since I work 4 nights a week, that cuts out a significant portion of my writing time and my wife works nights sometimes too so I can't just go downstairs to write.

Well, we recently paid off my wife's laptop on our best buy card so I started looking at laptops for myself.

I finally settled on a toshiba ultrabook. It's crazy thin, has a Solid State Drive and only weighs 2.47 pounds.

I just got it on Wednesday and spent most of the night getting it set up, but I can already see that I will be able to get a lot more writing done.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Looking for Blog Tour Hosts for September!

I'm looking for Indie Author and/or Fantasy book blog sites to host a September blog tour to celebrate and announce the release of my first novel; The Cerberus Rebellion.

If you have a blog or know of one that might fit the bill, please leave a comment or tweet me @authorjkjohnson.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

How Many Points of View?

As I was planning out The Cerberus Rebellion, I had to make a decision on how many Point of View characters I wanted to include.

I had already concluded that I would be writing in third-person limited. I have written some short stories in first person and I have a couple of pen-on-paper novels written in third person omniscient, but right now 3rd Limited is where I feel comfortable. I like how 3rd Limited allows you to show a character from a different point of view by having them appear in someone else's POV chapter.

Part of my goal in writing The Cerberus Rebellion is to tell the story of how the events of the book, and ultimately the series, affect my main characters.

I wanted to avoid the overwhelming number of points of view (especially as seen in the Song of Ice and Fire novels by George RR Martin) while at the same time telling the full spectrum of my story.

I've decided to start my first novel with 4 main points of view. I was going to include some secondary POV characters for one-shot chapters but decided that those stories could be used for short stories or novellas at a later time (kind of how David Weber fills out information through his anthologies).

How do you decide on how many POV characters to use? Do you think more than 1 is too many or do you like to see multiple sides of the story?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Getting the Ball Rolling

And by "Ball" I mean Advertising/Buzz.

While The Cerberus Rebellion may only be half-done, it is fully on track for a late August release. And as I look around at the various book blogs and advertising venues, it's easy to see that now is the time for me to get going on my advertising.

I've already schedule an Author Interview on Two Ends of the Pen that will be posted September the 14th. I've also put in an email to the Kindle Fire Department to see if they do scheduling that far ahead.

I'm looking into sites where I might be able to do an interview before my book is published as a way to garner some new followers but I'm thinking that it may be best to wait until it's ready to sell before I get too much attention.

Anyways, when do you start your promoting for a new book? And do you have any suggestions for sites or blogs to talk to about an author interview or feature piece?

Any advice would be great!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

"Success" as a Self-Publisher

When discussing any endeavor one of the things that comes up is whether or not you are "Successful".

The problem with discussing success in self-publishing is that everyone is going to have a different definition of success for themselves.

Some people will consider a successful launch as success, while others will hold themselves to a dollar amount or a number of sales within a time frame before they consider their book a success.

For example, I have 4 tiers that I feel my work will fall into once I get it published and into the public.

Tier 1: Raging Success. Each book will not only recover it's cost, but will fund above and beyond the cost of the next work (editing, advertising and cover work).

Tier 2: Success. Each book will recover its own cost but will also make between 25-75% of its cost in profit, thus helping to fund the next book.

Tier 3: Mediocre. Each book will recover it's own cost and up to 25% extra.

Tier 4: Not successful. The book, at best, recovers its cost or not at all. 

I plan on giving my books a 9 month window before I make a decision on the results. That will give me enough time to really work on the advertising and get the book out there as well as work on the next one and make adjustments based on feedback and sales results.

So what do you consider success? Just getting published? A certain dollar amount or a certain number of sales within a given time frame?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Short Stories as World Building

As I approach the halfway point in writing the first draft of "Griffins and Gunpowder: The Cerberus Rebellion" I have been thinking about ways to provide backstory without infodumping in the middle of a chapter

I think that one way to do this is to write some of this backstory and information not crucial to the plot (yet still useful) in the form of short stories, novellas and novelettes.

I'm hoping that this will serve both as extra information for those that are interested and as a way to introduce readers to my world and maybe convince them to buy my larger works.

To this end I have roughly plotted out the first 3 Short Stories, a Novella and a Novelette for my world.

Through these stories I intend to provide some context to the catalyst for my series arc, some back story for one of my secondary characters and for one of my main characters.

So how have you countered the problem of infodumping? Have you gradually worked it into the main story, used short stories to tell some of the background information or have you found another way to provide background without overloading the reader?

Leave a comment below and let me know your methods.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

When it rains... pours.

After fretting so much about the title of first Gunpowder Fantasy novel - how much of the plot to give away with the name, how to tie it to the relevant part of the story, etc - I finally decided on "The Cerberus Rebellion".

It makes it clear what the book is going to focus on without giving away too much.

Soon after, the titles for the subsequent parts of the series and even a strong candidate for Series Name have emerged.

My current leader for series name is Griffins and Gunpowder:(Insert Book Name Here)

And for book names I'm looking at using the sigil of each house as the focal point for the book and having that house do a lot of the work.

The only thing that has to be settled is the sigil of a major house. I was going to have their sigil be a great-eagle but I couldn't find a solid phrase that would work for a title.

So now I'm leaning towards tiger or great-boar.

The problem also arises that if I can't get everything done in my planned stretch I'm going to run out of houses to focus on and will have to break my convention. But I suppose that I'll build that bridge if it cones to it.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Finally Found It!

So I think I've finally found my title (or at least narrowed it down to 2 options)!

42,000+ words in and it finally came to me.

My problem, I think, was that I was trying to avoid giving away too much of the plot in the title. I realized, however, that to some point that can be a good thing. Additionally, my title choices don't give away the series plot and instead focus on the events of the first book.

So hopefully by August I should have "Hellhound's Revolt" or "The Cerberus Rebellion" on e-readers everywhere!

Goals for this Year, as an Author

I'm going to admit, this is mostly a "To-Do" list for myself as I have a terrible time remembering the most mundane details of day-to-day life (ask my wife) while I remember the most minute details of half a dozen different fictional worlds.

My primary goal, obviously, is to get my current WiP finished, run through beta-readers, edited and published. In working toward that goal, however, there are smaller milestones that I need to accomplish.

The first of which is purchasing my Scrivener key. At the suggestion of several people on twitter and kindleboards, I decided to give this program a try and boy do I love it! The ability to have all of my research notes, family trees, character profiles and the like in one place makes life easier.

I also need to get a website going. Hopefully my wife can find some time to help me with that in between her part time job and handling the now-walking hurricane that is our 1yr old son.

Doing the math with where I am in my plot-line, how many words I've written and how many words I average per weekend, I think that by June or July I should have the novel through at least two rounds of beta-readers and hopefully have an editor arranged to send it off to.

I'm also considering writing some short stories or novellas to go along side this world (maybe build some buzz for it) that I plan to write while my book is with my beta readers.

So we'll see how much I get done this year.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Brave New World

As I've mentioned before, I've decided to go ahead with my plans of writing my new work-in-progress as a "Gunpowder Fantasy."

One of the problems that I've come across already is the lack of previous work in this area. There are a handful of books that have used this sub-genre title and I'm sure that there are other previous works that have integrated gunpowder into a typical fantasy setting.

The problem of course is finding those works.

So in writing my Gunpowder Fantasy, I've had very little in the way of other work to compare mine too.

I think this will probably work to my advantage as I will have a completely clean slate to work against. I don't have many preconceived ways to integrate the magical elements of my world with the rest of my world.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Gunpowder Fantasy - Chapter 1 Excerpt

Eadric set his glass down on the star that marked Aetheston's location on Zaria's northern continent. It was nearly thirteen thousand miles from Ansgar to the Istivani capital of Kyros, if one sailed through the Strait of Steimor and marched overland, and another eight thousand overland to the Etroiti fortress known as the Citadel. Even by rail it would take his armies nearly a month to reach the Istivani capital; it would take significantly longer to march his armies to Kyros.

There was always the option of sailing his armies to Etroit, but finding the ships to carry almost two hundred thousand soldiers would be nearly impossible and it would still take nearly a month to sail them to the Citadel.

“Your Grace.” Eadric's steward had entered, silent as a whisper. “Would you like me to summon your council?”

“Yes, please do Charles.” Eadric nodded and picked up his glass.

He studied the lands that he ruled and took note of the various sigils that marked the holdings of his many lords; the shields that marked the holdings of his Dukes were the largest. There was the sigil of House Jarmann at Agilard, the only duchy east of Aetheston; the black pegasus against white of House Chalmer in the West Valley, the castle nestled into the Spine Mountains against the border with Beldane; the blue hydra against orange of House Seward at Sea Watch, on the southwestern coast of Ansgar; the red centaur on a blue field of House Ridley in White Ridge, nestled between the Vast Sea to the south and the three peaks of the White Ridge on its north; the white great-eagle on black of House Croutcher was last, the Arndell Duchy was the largest duchy by miles but sparsely populated in the far western corner of the nation.

Other, smaller shields marked the eleven earls of Ansgar, two east of Aetheston and nine to the west. Shields smaller still marked the forty-two baronies that divided the rest of the nation. He was not as familiar with the baronies as he was with the earldoms and duchies, but then he rarely had the occasion to deal with many of them.

He had, of course, met every one of his sworn nobles at his coronation, or their ascension for those few nobles that had taken their seats after he had been crowned. But the lesser nobles had smaller estates to care for and could scarcely afford frequent journeys to the capital to pay homage to their king.

Eadric was still focused on the map when the door groaned open and his council entered.

“Your Grace,” Lord Alden Hanley, Earl of Hamilton, was a tall, slender man who walked with the help of a black ebony cane. His brown hair and full beard were well shaded with gray but his brown eyes were still sharp, and careful. He wore a white shirt, brown trousers and a blue tailcoat with a brown bear, the symbol of his house, sewn over his heart.

Before Eadric's ascension to the throne of Ansgar, Alden had betrothed his oldest daughter to the Crown Prince. The move had established the Earl as a close advisor to the new king when Eadric had come to power and the king gave extra weight to his opinion.

“Lord Hanley,” Eadric clasped the man's hands and inclined his head to his father by law.

“Your Grace, you are looking well today,” Lord William Richards said with a bow. Baron Saxan had long been one of Eadric's closest advisors. He had been brought to court at the age of five by his father to learn the ways of the capital and the court of the nation's ruler.

William and Eadric had been tutored by the same teachers, taught of swords by the same master at arms and had ascended to their titles at nearly the same time. Eadric had raised him to Lord Councilor as one of his first acts.

He stood nearly the same height as Eadric, with a similarly athletic build. He was shaved bald, the thin mustache and well-kept red beard the only hint of his hair color. He wore a pair of simple glasses over his crystal blue eyes. His blue tailcoat had a double row of golden buttons and his family's signet embroidered across his heart: a pair of red swords crossed over the center of the blue field.

“Thank you, William,” Eadric presented his signet ring for his friend to kiss.

“My King, I see that the sums you have been spending on Dragonsalt have not been in vane,” Lord Peter Wellstone said with a smile. As the Chancellor of Ansgar it was his responsibility to keep the kingdom's books and accounts.

He was the youngest man in the room, only just into his twenty-fifth year, but was by far the best with numbers. He had been an apprentice to the last Chancellor, his childless uncle the previous Earl Colby, and had taken to his studies with fervor.

He carried a stack of ledgers with him at all times, books filled with figures on the kingdom's incomes, expenses and coffers. He was a small man, not very assuming at first glance. His short black hair was well combed and his blue eyes glanced back and forth every so often as if of their own volition. He wore the black tailcoat and trousers that were popular with the Court as of late. His badge, three black huts on a gray field, was sewn onto his chest.

“A pinch before bed helps me sleep,” Eadric lied.

Your Grace,” a voice said in a lilting, sweet accent. Altavius Dohr's accent was less pronounced than it had once been, or so Eadric was told, but it still marked him as one not native to Ansgar's common tongue.

The elf was the oldest member of Eadric's council. He was, in fact, the oldest person on this side of the world, at least as far as anyone knew. He had traveled across the Vast Sea twelve hundred years earlier with the first colonists to leave Welos.

Altavius had served as advisor to every single king since Liam the First King. Hundreds of years ago, one of Eadric's ancestors had tried to grant him a small estate on the ocean shore in the Elsdon Duchy, but the elf was a High Priest in some elvish order, and they were not allowed to hold lands.

Altavius' eyes had once been a deep sapphire, they were now a pale blue and his once brilliant red hair was now silver white and was tucked behind his long, tapered ears. He had once stood more than a foot taller than anyone else in the room but was now hunched with age and leaned heavily on his staff.

The apple sized emerald held in the staff’s heavy iron setting pulsed gently. He wore the brilliant green robes of an elfish priest, half a dozen heavy amulets hung on golden chains and jeweled rings sat on each finger.

Eadric's four advisors sat in the leather chairs. Each took a moment to adjust to the thick cushions in their own fashion. Lord Wellstone rested his stack of ledgers on the small table beside him. Altavius leaned his staff against the chair's arm. Lord Hanley hooked his cane on the back of the chair and Lord Richards pushed back into his chair and stretched his legs out before him.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Gunpowder Fantasy

So after doing a little bit of research, I have discovered that I'm not the only person writing "Gunpowder Fantasy." That is: fantasy set in a world that includes gunpowder and it's associated weaponry but does not focus on steam-power or other elements typical of a "steampunk" novel.

Some previous work in this area includes Winter Wolves (Amazon link) and The Black Prism (Wiki link).

It doesn't seem to be a particularly expansive sub-genre (a google search really only turned up these two links). However, I'm definitely going to continue on my current path and work in this sub-genre with my Yet-To-Be-Named-Novel.

And as for YtbNN, it decided to throw me a curveball and adjust the plot-line, leaving around 30,000 words that need to be adjusted to fit the new pace of the plot. And as I was reworking the plot I realized that the way that my world was set up wasn't going to work either. So I've remapped the world, twice.

On this current world, I've added another two major nations and a handful of city-states that are currently just going to be secondary background work (who knows, maybe they'll play a major part later).

My overall plot for Book 1 is still intact, however, and as I work through it I will be working on the overall plot for the series and on Book 2 as well.