Introducing Worldbuilding Basics!

I’ve decided to dedicate some time to Youtube and helping my fellow writers, DM’s, and generally anyone interested in creating fantasy worlds. It’s still me, so a little dash of humor and a whole lot of info will rain down. My first attempt is a little amateur, but I’m learning!

Top-Down Worldbuilding

Sleep is for the dead.

Every creative person has a groove period, those precious few hours when they’re at their most creative. Mine happens to be from 1 am until my mortal enemy the sun rears its ugly head. It doesn’t jive well with a 9-5 job, I can tell you that.

So, I wrote an outline for Goblins, Parents, and Other Monsters. It was just an Act 1-3 breakdown to cover all the important points. Then I went a step further, doing a chapter-by-chapter breakdown detailing all the major notes and comedic hooks. My best humor isn’t forced, so this much planning is something I’m not used to. Shocker, I know.

Well, as it goes with our best-laid plans, the first draft was 40 super-swell pages. All but 9 were promptly deleted after I decided it had gone five chapters and no one knew what the antagonist was going to be. So I went with a shuffle, moving around a later chapter to the front. It was a funny ‘Day in the life of Leanna Moonbody’ kinda thing. My first reader, CJ Perry, took a look and said, ‘No conflict. Scrap it.’ Well, damn.

So another reorganizing shuffle took place. Conflict, humor, antagonist, action. Hit all the 101 beats correctly. Well, now we’re off to the races, and while the outline is mish-mashed for the first five chapters, I think I can get it on autopilot real soon. Once that comes, oh, what a happy day. I can let the words take hold of me, clicking away until my blood nemesis the sun comes to taunt me. For now, I’m still in the ‘fret over every page’ phase.

So much rides on the beginning of a book. It’s silly, really. Even movie trailers want to skip that part. “Just montage it in the first 5 seconds, then skip to the exploding truck scene with the lightsabers and the sabretooth tiger!” Well, yeah, the middle parts are cool. The ending is even cooler. If the beginning was so damned awesome, we’d have two hours of Luke Skywalker harvesting condensers in the freaking desert.

All things Wicked Instruments

With the release behind me and the marketing just getting started, I’m already hard at work on book three, which I’m proud to announce is Goblins, Parents, and Other Monsters, which I expect to be out later this year.

Following the events of The Princess and the Holy Juggernaut, Leanna finds its difficult to strike a balance in her new role. With her past clawing at her and an uncertain future in the face of a group bent on her ruin, she finds unlikely allies and new enemies.

As with the first two books, this begins a new two-book tale in The Wicked Instruments, which I’ll be writing back-to-back. I can’t wait to show you all where our heroes end up this time!

Penning sequels and news…

When I completed the original draft for The Singer and the Charlatan, it was over 130,000 words. In its current incarnation, it’s now 2 65k books. Returning to the second book proved a little different an experience than what I expected. I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll just put in a recap chapter at the beginning and call it a day’. Yeah, easy.

My editor pointed out some wonderful examples for me in the manuscript for The Princess and the Holy Juggernaut where she couldn’t remember certain small things I recycled from the first book. She’s been inside and out of that first novel several times, and recently. It showed me not every detail is going to stick. I know them because they’re my ideas, I wrote them. So it was quite a learning experience for me to see that ‘I don’t remember this’ on several sections. It also made the second book better, because I’m not taking shortcuts. Another full re-edit and polish of the book was in order, beefing up what I guess I’d call ‘reminder text’ to bring readers back up to speed. In some cases, an additional sentence or two worked, while entire paragraphs and rewrites were needed elsewhere.

It actually made me feel even stronger that the second book will be even funnier than the first.

In other news, The Princess and the Holy Juggernaut will likely drop in February/March, I’m still pinning that down. I’d like to have a Day 1 Ebook and Paperback available now that I understand how it’s done. All of this release stuff comes on the heels of a blog tour I’m doing with Goddess Fish in January for Book One. Work continues on Horses on the Wind, my anti-romance comedy experiment. I don’t know if the warped humor will play well, but I’m having such a fun time with it.

So, Happy Holidays to all, expect to see more news in the coming weeks!

Release Dates and Sequels

The Singer and the Charlatan releases on November 18. I could not possibly be more excited. I just want to get this out into the world already. I want everyone brought into this fun world that I never thought would see the light of day.

As for other projects, the follow-up to The Singer and the Charlatan, The Princess and the Holy Juggernaut (working title), is going out to beta readers next month. I’m targeting a spring release for that.

After that, I’ve been working on this bizarre, comedy/romance hybrid called Horses on the Wind. Whether that sees the light of day, who knows, but I’m having a lot of fun with it. I imagine by the release of The Princess and the Holy Juggernaut, I’ll be working on book three and four of The Wicked Instruments. Busy, busy, busy.

Writing Process

Technically, I wrote The Singer and the Charlatan in a week. I had been working as co-author for years with C.J. Perry (his first novel, Dark Communion, is coming out soon!), and we both decided after years of beating our heads against a wall in epic fantasy to try writing solo.

It wasn’t until I had a week’s vacation from work that I decided to sit down and really write. Originally, out of all the years of Dungeons and Dragons, Shadowrun, Pathfinder, and Vampire campaigns, I swore that Leanna Moonbody’s story couldn’t be told. It was complicated and equal parts full of comedy and insanity. As the DM (storyteller) for that campaign, I decided to see what it would be like to take the reigns off my fellow players. Rather than pushing a rigid narrative of my own design, every player’s whim became reality.

Leanna was asked where she was from, and replied only with, ‘the South’, with no memory of where that was specifically, but the answer was good enough for her. Trixi didn’t want to cast her spells anymore, and would rather leave it to her god (a random dice roll).The pilgrimage for her god would have to wrap around the ring of eastern cities and end with a trip to a Magic City, and so that’s what happened.

With this level of chaos, it’s easy to see how the narrative could get lost. When I sat down for that first page, it was an exercise in showing how it could be done, not that I would do it. Surely, some details wouldn’t translate well to paper, and I’d hit a stopping point where the comedy and the chaos would disrupt the narrative.

I kept saying that, over and over again, as the words poured out. 238 pages in one week. I left it alone, half-finished, for two months. Sure, it made me laugh, but could I really wrap it up? I sat back down over Summer 2015 and finished it out. 450 pages, all told.The narrative never fell apart, the jokes kept rolling, the chaos only made it better.

Of course, epic fantasy can clock high page counts, but fantasy comedy? Probably not, in retrospect. CJ Perry told me almost from the beginning it should be two books. I stubbornly denied it, only conceding that if beta readers came back with the same thought, I’d split it up. Well, that didn’t take long. I learned something important from that, something I’d never heard before – ‘laugh fatigue’. It’s one of those things you know, and we’ve all been there with a comedy that goes on too long.

Splitting it was the best decision I could have made, though. It allowed for sharper motivation, a more concise flow, and when the laughing stops, the book is over. Hopefully, that translates to wanting to have another wild ride with Leanna and Trixi in the second book.

Leanna & Trixi

Leanna Moonbody is a young, fiery redhead playing guitar for coins in the city of Kingsfield. She spends most of her money on the latest fashion, and the rest she hides away, dreaming of taking a trip to Saul, the decadent city of artisans, and playing the Saul Amphitheater to a crowd of thousands.

Trixi is a blonde priestess of “Our Lord”, although no one can be certain what god she’s referring to. She can keep pace with a dwarf in a bar, enjoys a good wager, and has quite a low opinion of halflings. When destiny calls upon her to raise a massive flock and lead them to the fabled Magic City, she finds the best person for gathering crowds – Leanna Moonbody.

Together, they’re either unstoppable or a force of nature. Not like a rainbow, more like a tornado.