Writing Update February 16, 2018

It’s about that time again to announce how things are going with my various writing projects. Those of you who subscribe to my newsletter already know that I’ve been shifting my focus more and more towards book 3 of the Adventures of Keltin Moore. Well, I’m officially announcing that all other writing projects are going to be placed on temporary hold as I focus all of my writing time on finishing Keltin’s next adventure.

The reason for this change in emphasis is that plans for my next book tour are well underway, and I kinda need a book to promote for it. 🙂 The dates and locations of the tour are still being determined, but right now I can say that it will happen in late September/early October and will take place across Washington, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming. One exciting addition to the tour this year is a likely stop at the Snake River Fandom Con in Pocatello Idaho, which will be a new event for me. If there are any other places you’d like for me to visit while on this tour, be sure to let me know.

I did also want to quickly mention at least one event I’ll be doing a little sooner and closer to home. I’m planning on having a vendor table for my books at the Brass Screw Confederacy in Port Townsend Washington on June 8-10. Mark your calendars now for this fun and friendly festival celebrating all things steampunk and be sure to stop by to say hello!

Looking Forward to My 2018 Book Tour

With at least one book coming out this year, I’m starting the process of planning my 2018 book tour. Last year was my first time touring outside of Washington state to promote my books, and it was a definite success. Hoping to build on that success, I’m looking for book stores, libraries, Cons, and local writer groups that may be interested in hosting an author reading, creative writing workshop, or book signing.

If you’re somewhere in the United States and would like for me to visit your town, please let me know, especially if you have any connection to a venue where I could market my books or give one or more of my creative writing classes. Then again, a venue may be more willing to host something if they know there’s a lot of local interest, so make your voice heard if you’d like to have me and my books come to your town!

Christmas-Themed Fake Quotes from My Stories

“Keltin, is there such a thing as a snow mirage?”
“What are you talking about, Jaylocke?”
“I’ve heard that in the desert, you can get so hot and thirty that you begin to see things that aren’t really there. Do you think you can get the same thing out here?”
“I doubt it. Why?”
“Look.”
Keltin turned to look where his apprentice was pointing and saw that one of the evergreen trees on the far bank of the Wylow river had been festooned with decorations. Delicate glass ornaments hung from every bough as small woodland creatures scattered silvery strands of tinsel along the green needles. Keltin turned back to Jaylocke as the squirrels and rabbits began laying brightly wrapped packages around the tree trunk.
“I think we’ve been out in the cold too long,” he said.
– (not from) Into the North

“No! I don’t want to!” shouted Vin, the talking sword. “You can’t make me!”
“I can, and I will!” said the knight holding Vin. “Now get in there!”
“No!” screamed Vin as he was plunged into the still body before him. “You monster!”
“Oh hush and carve the turkey,” said the knight.
– (not from) Magic, Mystery and Mirth

“Huh,” said Keltin.
“What is it?” asked Bor’ve’tai.
“Nothing,” said Keltin, looking at the still beast he’d just brought down. “I’ve just never seen a serpent stag with a glowing red nose before.”
– (not from) The Beast Hunter

Well, Journal, there’s good news and bad news. It’s Christmas Day, and against all odds, Santa did come! Unfortunately, instead of six months of food and a shotgun, he brought me dress socks and a sweater with a bird on it.
– (not from) Lost Under Two Moons

Expressing Gratitude as an Author

With Thanksgiving coming up next week, I’ve been thinking about all of the supportive people that I’m grateful for. They say that it takes a village to raise a child, and I think it must take a whole community to support a writer.

Of course, authors do have some unique ways to express gratitude for special people. Many of our books start with an Acknowledgments page where we list a few specific individuals that were instrumental in seeing the project all the way to publication. We can also dedicate our books to people who have touched our lives in a special way.

Even so, I’m often worried that I’ll forget to mention someone that I’m truly grateful for. I try to compensate for this by thanking groups of people like my beta readers, street team members, and friends. While this may result in someone feeling slighted, my hope is that I can better show my gratitude by the way that I treat my friends and fans on a regular basis. Sure, seeing your name in the front of a published book can be exciting, and having a book dedicated to you can be touching, but isn’t it more meaningful to have a relationship that demonstrates gratitude and appreciation? The kind of relationship that goes beyond the books?

I know that I could probably get more sales and reviews if I hounded my friends for them, but I prefer for my friends to be friends first and fans second. If they do buy a book or write a review, I would want it to be because they either liked the story or wanted to support me in my craft. That’s the sort of fan that I’m truly grateful for, and I want to express my thanks, once again, for all of you that have shared in this wonderful adventure thus far. I couldn’t do it without you.

Creating the Weycliff Wayfarers

I thought I’d take the opportunity to write a little about one of the more prominent societies presented in The Beast Hunter, my steampunk monster hunter novel and the first installment of The Adventures of Keltin Moore series.

Their Name

Originally, Jaylocke and his people didn’t have an original name and I simply called them gypsies. However, it was never my intention to suggest that these people should be identified as Romanians, and I did a great deal of research to make sure that I avoided having too many similarities with them. My goal with using the word gypsy was to conjure up a fanciful, nonspecific image for the reader, similar to the way that people think of a corsair as merely an exotic pirate as opposed to a citizen of the Ottoman Empire.

I eventually decided to give these mystical, wandering performers a more specific name after talking with a good friend of mine who spent much of his childhood growing up in France. He told me that the term gypsy has a very negative stigma for many Europeans, and that even though he had nothing against Romanian people, he still had a hard time ignoring the prejudices that he had been raised with as he read my story. I decided that it would be better to avoid the risk of alienating any of my European readers while at the same time taking this as an opportunity to get creative and come up with something more original instead.

Their Ancestors

The close relationship between the Weycliff people and their ancestors was actually inspired by my own personal experiences in genealogical research. As a Mormon, I believe that families are eternal, and that it is important to not only know what the names of my ancestors are, but what they were like as well. I took that idea and contrasted it with the way helpful ancestors are often portrayed in other fantasy novels as being little more than a nameless group of spirits with no real personalities of their own.

I thought it might be more interesting if a wayfarer had to know his family history in order to choose which ancestor to call on in any given situation. The result was a magic system that was both straightforward and complex, with a lot of opportunity for unique subplots and conflicts along the way. The only downside to this approach is that I have to maintain an increasingly complex family tree and family history for Jaylocke as I write the series to avoid giving him one-too-many great-grandmothers, but I think it’s definitely worth it.

Their Place in the World of Keltin Moore

While I did avoid using the term gypsy to avoid possible reader prejudice, it was always my intention that the Weycliff wayfarers would be the victim of bigotry and stereotyping. Along with the Loopi, the wayfarers have to deal with hostility and distrust from their fellow hunters to such a degree that it eventually becomes one of the key dynamics in the novel’s second act.

Interestingly, when I had my Beta read for The Beast Hunter, one of my readers said that she felt that the hunters’ prejudice was unmotivated. In her eyes, there wasn’t anything in the behavior of the Weycliff that justified the level of animosity that they were faced with. While I appreciated her comments, I decided to leave the relationship between the hunters and wayfarers the way it was, as I believe that prejudice is, among other things, an unjustified reaction to someone else just because they are different.

Writing Update September 28, 2017

It’s been a couple of months since my last update, so here’s the latest on my current works-in-progress.

First though, a general update. Some of you may remember that earlier this year I announced that due to some significant life-changes I’d have to reevaluate my priorities in how I make a living and provide for my family. Luckily, since then I’ve had some new opportunities open up, the biggest one being my ongoing creative writing classes at South Puget Sound Community College. This steady work has allowed me to keep my family my first priority while still leaving time and energy for my writing career.

Speaking of my writing, here’s some specific updates:

The Next Keltin Moore Novel

After many false starts, this first-draft is finally in the groove. The instigating event is locked-in, and Keltin is firmly on his way to his next adventure. I’m also beginning the groundwork for establishing some new characters, as well as figuring out how to tie-in subplots from the first and second books. I have a feeling like this is going to be a good one for both new readers and fans of the Beast Hunter from Riltvin.

My Next Short Story Collection

I currently have four short stories for this collection, and half a dozen potential other pieces to add. Unfortunately, I’m not having any success with short fiction right now, so I’m taking a break from this project for now. Hopefully I’ll still be able to finish this one for 2018.

My Secret Project

I’m making very good headway on this project which has been in the works for more than a decade. This is definitely a passion-project, so I don’t mind taking the time to make sure it’s exactly what I want it to be.

 

Link to all of my books on Amazon

Link to my SPSCC classes

Rejected Titles for Lost Under Two Moons

Norman Mailer said “if you have to pick [the title] after the book is done, it’s like trying to buy the right wedding ring.” This was definitely the case with my first novel. In fact, the book didn’t even have a working title until the first draft was finished. For the longest time, I called it Other World: Survival, but I never really liked the name.

It wasn’t until I started assembling a BETA read team that I finally decided to pick a title. I knew it would have to be something unique while being easy to remember. I started brainstorming any titles that might even remotely work. Vague, obscure, clichéd… it all went into the list that I then sent on to my test readers to vote on.

After I sent out the list, I realized that I was actually hoping that one title in particular would win. I started to worry that no-one else would like it, but when the results came back I found that it had gotten the second-most votes from my readers. That was good enough for me, and the book was known from that point on as Lost Under Two Moons.

Having said all that, I thought it’d be fun to share some of the possible titles that were sent to my BETA readers to consider. Here are some of the more interesting ones:

A Journal from Another World
Alone In an Alien Nowhere
Alone With The Bigamouths
Cry of the Bigamouth
How I Survived Other World
I Want to go Home
“I’m Not on Earth Anymore”
Journal from Another World
Letters from Another World
Lost on an Unknown World
My Life on Other World
No Man’s Land
Other World Castaway
Planet Stranded
Stalked by Bigamouths
Survival on Another World
The World of Mr. Screech

…and perhaps the oddest of all…

Utility Knife On Another World

The Spell of the Yukon

As part of my research for Into the North, I read a lot of stories, poems, and songs penned about and by the prospectors of the Yukon Gold Rush in the late 19th century. Just for fun, here’s one of the shorter pieces that I found.

The Spell of the Yukon

I wanted the gold, and I sought it;
I scrabbled and mucked like a slave.
Was it famine or scurvy – I fought it;
I hurled my youth into a grave.
I wanted the gold, and I got it –
Came out with a fortune last fall, –
Yet somehow life’s not what I thought it,
And somehow the gold isn’t all.

No! There’s the land. (Have you seen it?)
It’s the cussedest land that I know,
From the big, dizzy mountains that screen it
To the deep, deathlike valleys below.
Some say God was tired when He made It;
Some say it’s a fine land to shun;
Maybe; but there’s some as would trade it
For no land on earth – and I’m one.

You come to get rich (damned good reason);
You feel like an exile at first;
You hate it like hell for a season,
And then you are worse than the worst.
It grips you like some kinds of sinning;
It twists you from foe to a friend;
It seems it’s been since the beginning;
It seems it will be to the end.

I’ve stood in some mighty-mouthed hollow
That’s plumb-full of hush to the brim;
I’ve watched the big, husky sun wallow
In crimson and gold, and grow dim,
Till the moon set the pearly peaks gleaming,
And the stars tumbled out, neck and crop;
And I’ve thought that I surely was dreaming,
With the peace o’ the world piled on top;

The summer – no sweeter was ever;
The sunshiny woods all athrill;
The grayling aleap in the river,
The bighorn asleep on the hill.
The strong life that never knows harness;
The wilds where the caribou call;
The freshness, the freedom, the farness –
O God! how I’m stuck on it all.

The winter! the brightness that blinds you,
The white land locked tight as a drum,
The cold fear that follows and finds you,
The silence that bludgeons you dumb.
The snows that are older than history,
The woods where the weird shadows slant;
The stillness, the moonlight, the mystery,
I’ve bade ’em good-by – but I can’t.

There’s a land where the mountains are nameless,
And the rivers all run God knows where;
There are lives that are erring and aimless,
And deaths that just hang by a hair;
There are hardships that nobody reckons;
There are valleys unpeopled and still;
There’s a land – oh, it beckons and beckons,
And I want to go back – and I will.

They’re making my money diminish;
I’m sick of the taste of champagne.
Thank God! when I’m skinned to a finish
I’ll pike to the Yukon again.
I’ll fight – and you bet it’s no sham-fight;
It’s hell! – but I’ve been there before;
And it’s better than this by a damsite –
So me for the Yukon once more.

There’s gold, and it’s haunting and haunting;
It’s luring me on as of old;
Yet it isn’t the gold that I’m wanting
So much as just finding the gold.
It’s the great, big, broad land ‘way up yonder,
It’s the forests where silence has lease;
It’s the beauty that thrills me with wonder,
It’s the stillness that fills me with peace.

The Collected Poems of Robert Service

Copyright 1907, 1909, 1912 by Dodd, Mead and Company, Inc.

Fake Quotes from My Stories

Jaylocke inched closer to Keltin, doing his best to remain silent in the deep snow.
“Aren’t you going to take the shot?” he asked, nodding towards the beast moving along the far bank of the icy river.
“I can’t,” Keltin whispered.
“Why not?”
“I can’t pull the trigger while wearing these mittens.”
– (not from) Into the North

“Die, foul wizard!” screamed Eric as he launched himself into the room, only to be met by a young man in strange clothing with some sort of puppet on his knee.
“Err, I think you’re in the wrong story,” said the young man.
“Oops, sorry about that.”
“Try knocking next time!” said the puppet.
– (not from) Magic, Mystery and Mirth

Baron Rumsfeld turned to Keltin.
“Captain Moore, I need a brave volunteer for a dangerous mission.”
Keltin nodded somberly. “All right. Let me go look for one.”
– (not from) The Beast Hunter

This world is completely alien. the sky, the land, the moons. Two moons. How can that be? I must be on another world, as impossible as that sounds. Alone and stranded on an alien world. And before you ask, no, I don’t have any cell coverage here.
– (not from) Lost Under Two Moons

Writing Update July 7, 2017

I realized this morning that I haven’t posted an update on my various writing projects since the release of Into the North, so here’s a quick rundown of how all of my current stories are going.

The Next Keltin Moore Novel
I’m happy to say that the third installment in my monster hunting series is going strong, though I’m still in the early stages of the first draft. I won’t say any more than that about the plot or characters though, so please don’t ask. 🙂

Lost Under Two Moons Sequel
I’ve decided to shelf this project for the time being, as I have been having major issues since I started the project several years ago. Perhaps with time I’ll come up with a story that will do my first novel justice, but for the time being, I’d rather dedicate my time elsewhere.

Another Short Story Collection
This will likely be my next publication, and will include several stories that have appeared in other collections, including a steampunk-themed adaptation of an Edgar Allan Poe story and a space opera about a fantasy-themed resort planet. While I’m still deciding on the other stories that will be included, I do know that one of them will be an exclusive Keltin Moore short story, which should help keep fans satisfied until the third book is out!

My Mystery Project
I’m about three-fifths of the way through the first draft. That is all. 😉