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All posts for the month June, 2016

Character Intro: Patrick Hood

Published June 26, 2016 by nruhwald

Here’s the first sneak peak at my upcoming novel, The King’s Children. This is the introduction scene for one of my two main characters. This section and others can be found on my Sneak Peeks page.

 

Patrick Hood leapt over mossy rocks and fallen trees as he sprinted through the moonlit forest. The silver bells on his sleeves and the hem of his long coat followed him with ringing music. Behind him, the hunting party shouted and cursed as they tripped and stumbled in the dark, crashing through the underbrush. Rifle shot smacked into a branch several yards to his left.

Not their worst shot, which said more about the marksmanship of the would-be heroes of Hawestone Village than it did about his ability to evade them.

He stopped, crouching in a patch of tall ferns growing beneath an ancient oak. The bells fell silent as the strangeling hid motionless in the dark, watching his pursuers. All of Caladavan might seek to punish him for being half-faerie, but his heritage had its benefits as well. His vision at night, as well as his hearing, was as good as any wild animal.

The hunters stopped, panting, to listen for him.

“You can’t hide from us, strangeling,” their leader shouted into the night.

On the contrary, Patrick could have escaped them easily enough. He knew his eyes would light up green with reflected light from their torches and he waited for them to see it.

They stomped around in the leaf litter, huffing like a herd of confused bulls. Perhaps he overestimated their powers of observation. He waved an arm, and the resulting jingle drew their attention.

The pack resumed their chase with a blood-thirsty howl.

Patrick darted out of the ferns, his coat ringing merrily.

Oh what they would do to him if they ever caught him. He could almost smell their murderous intent.

He caught a long willow branch, and used it to swing over a perfectly ordinary clearing in the woods.

When he landed, he jogged a short distance away and waited. Presently he was rewarded by the sound of cracking branches and profuse swearing.

Two days ago, the men had carefully dug a deep pit in the forest, and smoothed the sides to make climbing out next to impossible. They painstakingly laid long, interlaced branches over the top, and covered it with leaves to render the trap invisible. Patrick had watched them from the forest canopy, nodding appreciatively at their ingenuity.

Apparently they hadn’t recognized their own handiwork in the dark, and the trap they had so carefully created snared only themselves.

 

Thanks for reading. This section and others will be permanently available to read in a Work in Progress page on my blog. Part 2 of this excerpt is available here.

The King’s Children will be released, completely free for your favorite ereader, in the summer of 2018.

 

This is Me…Again

Published June 23, 2016 by nruhwald

keyboard-621830_1280

To follow-through on my previous post regarding motivation, I am going back to the Blogging Fundamentals course I started and I’m actually going to do it this time.

As such, this is my introductory post revisited.

I’ve been blogging for almost three months now, and I’m quite pleased with my success. That being said, my blog looks much different than I originally envisioned it, and not just visually. I originally planned to have an edgy philosophical/theological/writer blog, but my first set of posts came off as intellectual.

Nothing wrong with that, but not as I planned. Things really took off when I started blogging about writing, however, so I think I’ll stick with that. A writing blog, with occasional theological/philosophical undertones.

The key is to consider what the purpose of this blog is. I wanted to be able to connect with people and build a following, before I asked them to fork over some money for my latest novel.

I’ve realized that I want people to get to know me as a writer. Not necessarily every other thing I think about.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about allowing people to get to know not only me, but my work as well. With that in mind, I am in the process of creating and/or adapting some short snippets to feature on my blog. The equivalent of teaser trailers, I suppose. Soon you, my readers, will be able to meet some of my characters.

How soon? Oh I don’t know. Currently I’m in the contemplative stage of this process. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Pick up Your Pen and Write

Published June 20, 2016 by nruhwald

writer-1421099_1280Excuses

Sometimes I don’t feel like it.

I have a headache.

I’m not feeling well.

I don’t know, I’m just in a slump.

I just don’t feel as wonderfully creative as I did yesterday when I wrote practically all day and cranked out over 2000 words.

So do it anyway. Because, just do it.

One might say this is part two of an earlier post I wrote entitled Why I Don’t Want to be a Serious Writer. I still feel the same way, I think.

I don’t want try to be someone I can’t be yet. I just want to be…a novelist.

I like that word, okay?

Since then, I haven’t changed much. Mainly I think I just obsess less about the things I should be doing that I can’t do.

Even so, never let that be an excuse to “not feel like it.” That applies to blog writing (etc) as much as it does to my other work. Sometimes I don’t feel like putting in the two posts a week, or trying to connect with a million strangers in the hopes that someone will care when I am eventually able to self-pub my debut novel.

Sometimes…I just have to suck it up and use it as inspiration for the blog post I was supposed to write yesterday.

Get Past It

We all struggle with motivation from time to time, so in the second half of this post, let me share with you how I escape the doldrums and move back into the trade winds of productivity.

First of all, you won’t always “feel like it.” At least not until you start doing it. I often find I get into a mini-slump after a really, really good day of writing. That’s because I contrast how creative I felt at the time with how I feel after a relatively long break (a night’s sleep, lets say).

But I didn’t start that creative day feeling like that. I still had to get into it, and then yes, the creative juices got going and practically nothing could knock me out of it.

Don’t tell my profs, but I’ve written straight through some classes riding a creative high. Sometimes I wonder, though. I’m not really a note-taker, and then they see me studiously writing away. And what about the quotation marks and the big paragraphs and the lack of bullet points? Can they see that? Do they know? But I digress.

To get into the creative mindset, I usually start by thinking about what it is I have to do while doing something else. I may type up what I last wrote, or do some light editing. Or read what I wrote last and then go play some computer games, so I can think about it for a bit.

Sometimes this works, and sometimes I get tired afterwards and just go to sleep. Usually this just means I have to stop watching TV and go write earlier, but sometimes I means I gave up. Don’t give up. Just do it.

That sentence. In your head. Write it down. Even if you’re not feeling it. Pick up your pen, and write it down. Even if you don’t have a sentence in your head. Pick up the pen. A sentence will come to you if you stare at the page long enough.

It’s taken me as long as half an hour. Or more, I don’t really pay attention. But I find typing up or reading what I wrote last can shorten this time. It gets my head into my story.

How do you stay motivated?

The Importance of a Good Pen

Published June 14, 2016 by nruhwald

writingfantasyPens in the Writing Process

Everyone writes differently. Personally, I like to write everything out on paper first, and then type it up onto my computer.

But that sounds like a lot of work, you say. What’s the point of making more work for yourself? It’s really less of a make-work exercise than it sounds. I do this for two reasons: creativity, and editing.

Writing is a lot of work. More to the point writing-editing-rewriting-editing-editing is a lot of work. While I type up what I’ve written, I get a good opportunity to give my prose a once-over, tightening up sentence structure and sometimes adding things when needed.

Of course, there are always those days when I’m feeling a bit lazy and just highlight trouble spots for later.

As I’ve mentioned before, I like to do anything deeply creative with a pen and paper. The keyboard is the realm of blog posts, school assignments, and editing. Although occasionally if I have a creative moment and want to vomit it onto something in rough strokes, I will use a keyboard because I type faster than I write with a pen.

Qualities of a Good Pen

A good pen has to be your partner in the editing process, an extension of yourself. In order to fulfill these requirements, a pen has to have three traits: a soft grip, easy flow ink, and a fine nib.

The soft grip is a must because if things are going well, you’re going to be hanging onto that sucker for a long time, and you don’t want to be interrupted because your fingers are getting sore. Or because of the dreaded writer’s cramp.

Easy flow ink is for me by far the most important attribute. I hate having to fight with the pen to get it to write for me. It also has to be dark ink, so I can read it easily. I have enough trouble reading my own writing without having to strain my eyes because the ink is too pale, or a weird colour, or I used a pencil. I like gel pens for this, preferably the ones that don’t leak at the nib too much.

The fine nib is more of a personal preference. I think it looks neat and professional, and it means I can write smaller, thus making the best use of my writing journals.

What do you like to write with?

Why I Don’t Want to be a Serious Writer

Published June 12, 2016 by nruhwald

Since I’ve been looking into this self-publishing business, I’ve discovered all the things I should be doing to promote my work and myself. The blog, the social media, the “sales funnel.”

In order to succeed at blogging, I have to start getting into photography to produce pretty pictures for my blog. Oh and I have to become a graphic designer to make those pretty pictures prettier. And I have to become a marketing expert to learn how to make proper ads, and take courses. And I need a website. And I have to be serious and treat it like a business. And and and and…

Ugh. Make it stop. Please.

Since when did being a writer become about something other than writing? Except of course, in those incredibly intimidating statements that read something like “unless you have perfect content, nothing you do is going to go anywhere.”

I am a bit of a perfectionist. I want to do what I do well, and I’d like to be recognized for it. But at some point I’ve had to rethink what it is I really want, and stop freaking out about everything.

I write because I enjoy it. I’ve been doing that since grade 3 with only my own satisfaction and the support of my family as a reward. I like making up stories. My characters are cool people, and I like hanging out with them. That’s really why I write.

What if I never become a full-time writer? Would the world end? Would that mean I gave up?

I still want to be a full-time writer. And I still may do all the things I mentioned in the first two paragraphs of this post. But I’ve decided that what I really want is to enjoy the journey, without fretting about where I’m going to end up.

I’m not even bothering to find a pretty picture for this blog post. Hah. Take that, lords of blogging. You don’t own me.

Obviously, I’m still going to write. I may even stay on Twitter. But I’m not going to be serious. Not necessarily flippant either, but not serious. Being serious is no fun.

Which Publishing Method Should You Choose?

Published June 9, 2016 by nruhwald

bookpublishingThe publishing world used to be simple. You sent your manuscript to the publisher, and if you kept doing that maybe eventually you got published. At least, that’s how they show it in the movies.

I don’t know. I wasn’t alive when the world was simple.

Maybe it never was. Now there are big publishers and small presses, big agencies and boutique agencies, vanity presses, and independent publishing. What’s an author supposed to do?

Then they say, “only you can decide which publishing method is right for you.” Great, that’s so helpful.

Traditional Publishing

This is supposedly the respectable route. The route where you don’t end up with a million unsold books in your basement. It’s also the route I was dead set on pursuing back when I really didn’t know much about all the options available.

Pros

I knew a little about self-publishing, but I thought traditional was the way to go if you were really serious about making it big. After all, you could get access to the big publishers with their fancy marketers and all the other people who know what they’re doing.

You don’t have to pay anything, and you get access to a team of people who will edit the book, design the cover, do the marketing.

All I had to do was get an agent, and then a publisher, and they would take care of everything. Right?

Cons

I soon began to realize the amount of work, and waiting, and frustration, that goes into just finding an agent. Trying to write a query letter was like pulling teeth. Then I had to do the same with a synopsis. At the end of that I had a maybe-okay query letter and synopsis with which to hopefully snag an agent. Past that point, everything was in their hands.

And I learned that if I got an agent, that agent’s first priority would be their agency, not me. Apparently I would have to worry about whether or not my contracts were fair, even though originally that was the agent’s job.

Even if I managed to jump through all the hoops the publishing industry uses to filter out only the manuscripts that will make them the most money, and dodged the bullet of a bad contract, I still would have to learn how to market my own work.

Self-Publishing

So I started looking at the other options. Specifically e-publishing. It’s a brand new world with ebooks these days, and many writers are packing up their things and heading West.

Pros

Ah, ebooks, I thought. No unsold manuscripts sitting in the closet. I get to pick the cover art, or work with a cover designer myself. (I also get to pay for it myself, but that’s beside the point.)

I decide when my manuscript is ready for publication. I decide what, and when to write next. I get to not-give-a-rip about what anyone else thinks will sell.

Best of all, if my first (third, fifth) novel doesn’t sell, by definition no one was watching. If my novel was traditionally published and didn’t sell, my agent would know, my publisher would know.

Everyone would know.

This way, if it doesn’t work the first time, I can always get my marketing act together later and rerelease it.

And I can start out slowly. There’s no tedious process of sending out queries, waiting fretfully, trying to figure out why the responses aren’t coming. I can just start, and do whatever my budget permits, and build on that. I don’t need the agent to call to celebrate. I can celebrate the little things. Like whenever I get a new follower.

I have time to figure everything out, and I’m in control the whole time.

Cons

By now you’ve probably guessed independent publishing is the way I’ve decided to go. (Btw, I hope to be making noises about cover reveals and release dates in about a year.)

I’m on my own now. I have to either do everything myself or pay someone to do it for me, with no guarantee of return. But I like this.

I get to do everything my own way (provided it works), and at my own pace. And I don’t have to worry about impressing intimidating publishing professionals. At least not yet.

Book Review of The Sword Bearer by John White

Published June 2, 2016 by nruhwald

SwordBearerCoverSynopsis

(from Amazon.com)

“It was John’s birthday. He would be thirteen. And what’s more, it was on this day that his grandmother would tell him the mystery of his locket . . . And of his parents. But it was not to be. Before he could find out, he was magically transported to the land of Anthropos where he was startled to be hailed as the Sword Bearer, the slayer of the Goblin Prince. Here, in the imaginative story of the early history of Anthropos, John White captures the excitement and wonder of another world.”

Review

John White’s The Sword Bearer features a Bristish-grandfatherly narrative voice, and a magical adventure undertaken by a realistically imperfect child protagonist. Much like another well-known British author of fantasy children’s books we all know and love. Granted, John White is not C. S. Lewis, but who is?

I enjoyed The Sword Bearer because it provides interesting characters and dramatic adventure. And I’m always looking for biblically-sound Harry Potter alternatives. The Sword Bearer is both entertaining and spiritually meaningful.

I just wish that Anthropos, John White’s fantasy world, seemed a little more convincing. The world of Anthropos seems to solely consist of what is being portrayed in the novel and nothing more. If this was a movie, the audience might have a nagging awareness that what they are watching is a movie set.

The protagonist, John, in his imperfection strayed into un-likability for me a time or two. Fortunately, my interest in other characters kept me reading until John got himself sorted out, but generally I prefer to be able to root for the main character throughout the story.

Beyond that, The Sword Bearer is a wholesomely entertaining read, perfect for those of us who have reread The Chronicles of Narnia a dozen times and are looking for something a little different.

 

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