Goodreads Giveaway a Success

The GoodReads giveaway just closed with 958 people signed up for the 5 signed first edition copies. I just put them in the post today, so they should arrive by the end of the week. I am very pleased with the giveaway results. Now there are 958 people who know about the Foundling Wizard than before the giveaway.

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Scrivener for Fiction

This mroning I will be giving a presentation on usng scrivener for fiction writing.
I promissed to upload the handout. This is a set of screen shots and a description of the parts of scrivener and how I use them.

Scrivener For Fiction

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Foundling Wizard – 5 Star Review

This review contains no spoilers, it has been provided free of charge and I hereby grant the author the right to use it in future promotions, as he sees fit.

Foundling Wizard is the first book in an epic fantasy series. It follows the journey of young Lorit as he discovers his wizard powers and begins his daring journey to reach the Master Wizards who can help him develop into his full potential.

Along the way, Lorit has to avoid falling into the hands of the Priests of the Temple of Ran, save other wizards from the same fate, learn as much as possible on the go and continue to his destination, taking his charges along with him. Things become more complicated when he becomes `paired’ with Chihon, a young sorceress, and therefore responsible not just for his own life, but hers, too.

Set in a world where every member of a family had specific tasks to complete, reminiscent of a medieval society, the descriptions are perfect for giving a background image against which to set the action. I followed Lorit’s journey in my mind’s eye and, when I found – to my surprise – a map at the end of the book, I realized my mind map fitted the author’s map almost exactly right. That is a sign of good description.

James Eggebeen’s characterization is another strong point of this book. From the main characters to the secondary ones, and even the odd market stall holder – each and every one of them has their own voice, mannerisms and look. I especially enjoyed the scenes where Lorit was at sea and those where he was crossing the Plains of Grass. Different characters, perfect descriptions. Lorit’s `growth’ and development is also very well thought out, as are Chihon’s. There are enough hooks in the text to hint at trouble ahead and also at hidden motivations of people Lorit depends on to continue his quest. More than once I thought Zhimosom was not sharing everything he knew, and as he matures and becomes more experienced, Lorit learns not to rely on him as much as before. The budding affection between Chihon and Lorit is a nice addition to the story.

The plot – again, one of the best features – couldn’t have been more complex, yet stays easy to follow. There is a battle between good and evil, there is a race against time, a touch of revenge, secondary strands of friendship and even closer relationships. Since all characters are so well thought out and come complete with their own histories, there are secondary plots developing from there, too. Sometimes, these plots are strong enough to mingle into the main thread of the story, as is the case with Gareb and Yerlow. No questions remain unanswered, and several twists towards the end of the book were totally unexpected.

Who would enjoy this read? Any fantasy reader, of any age. If you like wizards and a touch of magic, fantasy lands and out-of-the-ordinary creatures, you’ll enjoy this book. There is no sex or gruesome violence, so younger readers that would perhaps read the Harry Potter series would happily be able to read Founding Wizard.
I enjoyed reading this book, though I was skeptical at first – I have read and enjoyed the Harry Potter series, often read it out loud to my children, and could not imagine another wizard story that could rival it. Well, I’m pleased to say Foundling Wizard is giving Harry Potter a run for his money. I would love to read the next book in the series, as it is clear Lorit’s journey is not yet complete.

This is a good story, very well written. Well worth the time and money. I recommend it. It gets five stars from me.

M Medler on Amazon.com

See it on Amazon.com

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Foundling Wizard – Giveaway on GoodReads

The Goodreads Give Away.

Go sign up now

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Foundling Wizard by James A. Eggebeen

Foundling Wizard

 

by James A. Eggebeen

Giveaway ends August 13, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

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JuNoWrimo 50,000 Words

I decided to participate in the the JuNoWriMo. It’s like the NaNoWriMo but in June. The goal is to write 50,000 words on your novel in one month, that being the month of June.

I only found out about it late in May and I was already 30K words into Wizards Education. I decided to take a crack at it. What was the worst that could happen?

I took a couple days off of writing to prepare. I outlined a few chapters and detailed what needed to happen in the first half of the book. Then I waited for the start.

The kick off was held on Twitter. It was a blast. There were dozens of folks all getting together to chat about writing how they were going to approach the competition. Now it’s not really a completion and it’s not about who gets there first or who writes the most. It’s about setting the habit to write. Write every day and keep at it.

Anyone who knows me knows that I can sometimes get the discipline thing right. Not always but some things just seem to work out that way.

I will have to admit that I took June 1 off early to write. I cranked out a lot or words and had a great time I the word wars. (Word wars are when a group gets together on Twitter and writes for a fixed period of time, then compares word count.)

I managed to write 50,000 words in June. Well I wrote them by June 12. Since then I have been spending more time on the edits to Foundling Wizard than writing Wizards Education, but I am about 65K words for the month. I still have two days to go.  I think I can make a few more words before the month runs out.

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Trailer for Foundling Wizard

Spent a bit of time on the trailer. I found a great voice over artist that did a super job for me.

Foundling Wizard Trailer 1

FoundlingWizardTrailer 2

FoundlingWizardTrailer 3

FoundlingWizardTraile 4

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Not Your Ordinary Vampires

Beta Reading

I had the opportunity to exchange manuscripts with Sherri Jordan Asble for some early feedback. Those of you who know me know I’m a science fiction and fantasy reader. All this new-fangled Vampires and werewolves and urban fantasy stuff just never resonated with me.

Imagine my surprise when I got into Summer Blood. It is a tale of vampires, but they are by no means your usual vampires. The main characters are a couple of vampires who long for something more than what they have been forced to become.

They find each other when both of them have slipped and let their vampire nature get the better of them. Looking for a safer climate, they take to the road and hook up with a rising star of rock. When he turns out to be more than he seems, the three of them team up on a quest for the meaning behind their inhuman nature.

I fell in love with these two vampires, who were more human than vampire. It’s a story of the search for love and acceptance more than it is blood sucking feeding frenzy.

This is certainly a vampire story worth the read.

Her web site is: sjordanasble.com
You can also catch her blog at: rubiconwriting.wordpress.com

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Revising Foundling Wizard

I completed the first pass of Foundling Wizard. Now I am in the second of five passes. I could write from anywhere electronically logging into my “writing machine”. Remember I am a computer geek. My writing machine is a virtual Windows XP box that lives in my data center (at home).

It has all of the software I use for writing on it and nothing else. I can access if from anywhere. When I write, I log on and write. It has no keyboard or display. Those come from whatever computer I use to log on.

According to the Holy Lisle How to Revise Your Novel class, I have to print it out and revise it by writing on it. It seems awkward for a computer geek, but it actually works.

 

 

Revision for Foundling Wizard

Revising Foundling Wizard

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Where I Got the Tools to Write a Novel

I’ve been dabbling in short stories since grade school. I was in an internet writing group for years where we wrote one week and critiqued the next.

The group was great. I learned how to write short stories, develop characters, how to add suspense and story arc. I learned what style worked and what did not. I enjoyed every minute of it. Several of the folks I met during those early days are now full-time professional writers. Real live novelists with publishers and cover art and book signing and all of that.

They write novels.

I tried several times to expand some of my short stories into novels. I have notebooks full of sketches and maps and character traits. I have tons of files with scenes from these yet to be novels cluttering up my hard drive. Some of them have been moved several times during computer upgrades they are so old.

Still no novel.

I stumbled upon a course called How to Think Sideways offered by Holly Lisle. There was one concept in that course that made the little light bulb come on for me.

The First Tool – How to Think Sideways

She talked about the math of writing a novel. Let’s say you are doing an epic fantasy. I really wanted to do my favorite science fiction character, but I didn’t want to kill that one by trying to write it as a novel just yet.

Let’s do the math

Your average epic fantasy is at least 120,000 words.

Each chapter should contain 3 scenes.

I decided a scene length of 1,800 words was just about right for me. That means three
scenes per chapter for just around 5,400 words per chapter.

That comes out to 22.2 chapters.

You can round up or down here if you want to. I decided to round down and figured I could always fluff things up later if I needed the word count.

Our target now is 22 chapters each with 3 scenes at around 1,800 words. That means 66
scenes if you are keeping up with the math.

Now How to Organize the Work

We have your usual beginning middle and end.

The beginning is meant to establish the characters and set up the world and location.

The middle where we develop the main struggle that explores the conflict and move the characters toward the inevitable climax.

The ending is the climax and resolution. (Where else would it go?)

The class had all sorts of nice techniques for organizing things, but I am a computer geek and I have to find a program that does this for me. If I take notes on paper and put them in   binder, they will take away my geek card and where would I be then?

The Second Tool – Storybook

I found a program called StoryBook that organized everything for me. It lets you structure your locations, characters, parts chapters, threads, everything. Best of all it’s free. (Well I have the pro version because I want to output the charts and track who is where when and all that, but you don’t have to pay for that unless you find you need it.)

After the normal learning curve, I started to get comfortable with the program. It keeps track of everything but it’s not really that great of a word processor and for the life of me I  can’t get it to output in a format I wanted so I used Open Office Writer.

That worked fine but soon I had a lot of little (1,800 word) files sitting in a folder and had to bring up a composite document to get a sense of the whole. Once I started to think about rearranging scenes or adding one here or there, my carefully designed scmene sort of fell apart.

The Third Tool – Scrivener

I got a trial copy of scrivener and cut and pasted the small files into it. To be honest, the eBook formatter was the big draw, but that’s for another post.

Now scrivener is not FREE. But it’s not overly expensive either. It’s less than I paid to have the copy shop print me a nice 580 page three-hole punched proof of my novel.

Again the learning curve, but now I can arrange scenes and move things around and quickly move about the totality of the manuscript. I bounce back and forth between the two programs. I just don’t see the power in Scrivener to organize and track the work that  StoryBook has.

The Final Tool – How to Revise Your Novel

Strangely enough the last tool was not a “writing” tool. It was the How to Revise Your Novel course again by Holly Lisle. I took it while I was still writing. It was a little difficult since I could not do the exercises.  (I didn’t have a completed manuscript in hand yet.) But it did teach me a lot of things that I should have known before I started writing.

Knowing how to revise my novel will make future writing and revising go much smoother. I can already feel it. Armed with all these tools, I completed my first novel. I am through with the first of several revision passes.  While that is under way I started my second novel.

I have finally started writing the Dil Partlaw science fiction series I always wanted to write. This is the character that got the most positive reaction from the writing groups when I used her in short stories and one that was the most fun for me to write.

What’s Keeping You from Writing Your Novel?

You don’t have to take the courses or buy all the tools, but you can easily write your novel with this simple advice. It’s just a lot of scenes that all stitch together to make the big story. Anybody can write 1,800 words. All you have to do is repeat that process 65 or 70 times with the overarching theme in place and you are on your way.

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Two Important Lessons

Two Lessons I Learned Building My First Book for the Kindle

As an engineer I always think I can figure out anything given enough time and patience. Self publishing should not be such a difficult task for someone who spends all day making computers behave should it?

I started with a bunch of short stories that I had sitting around from my writing and critique group. I compiled them into a single book of collected short works. Let’s call it Short and Very Short Stories Shared Among Friends. A nice descriptive if somewhat longish title.

I logged on to Amazons kindle publishing site and download the kindlegen program. I read all of the formatting information they provide and tried to follow it exactly.

OK here it got a little technical. I had to run it in a DOS window and supply some file paths, but being an engineer that was not so scary. Was it?

Whoops, it wants a cover. Not a problem. I have an account at iStockPhotos.com. Hop on over there and find something nice. A girl, sitting in a chair, reading a book by the fireplace. How cozy is that?

Photoshop elements and a little messing around and I have a cover! It’s all black with red letting to match the photo. Looks like a book cover.

I ran the kindle gen program and made the .mobi file. It took a little while but I finally got it to work.

Get the kindle viewer and take a look at the file before you upload it. You will be able to see what it will look like to your reader and you won’t embarrass yourself. I uploaded mine before I figured that part out and then had to buy it to get it on my kindle!

So now it is on the kindle store and I downloaded it and looked it over. The index is all wrong. Now what?

Now that I have the Kindle viewer I know what it will look like. I can’t figure out how to get it right with the Microsoft Word editor. I decided on Open Office. I read someplace they have nice templates that make it simple.

I tried half a dozen of them each one with varying degrees of success. Finally with a lot of work I got it right. Now to convert it again.

This time I used Calibre. That is a nice program that only takes a while to learn but it generates the .mobi file without having to do ANY DOS commands. Sweet!

Well not as sweet as I thought. I still had to mess with the XML data to get it just right. Eventually I have it and I like the index and all of that stuff. Great, now I have the file ready again.

Back to Amazon and upload the new ebook. There we go, it should be better now.

Now off to CreateSpace to make a print copy.

They want a PDF copy of the interior of the book. They have templates that help organize everything as well along with the margins and page left and page right and all of that nifty stuff.

It only takes me a few days to get a handle on all this and produce a nice PDF file. I upload that to create space and get a preview of what the print book will look lkie right?

Nope. They want a cover too.

OK they have the cover creator. It has lots of nice pre-made cover art that must be nice, but I can’t find anything I like. I download a template for cover art that is made exactly for my book since we now know how many pages are there.

Back to Photoshop and soon we have a cover that meets the specifications. I upload that and get a preview. Everything looks nice now and I only had to re-do the interior five or six times.

I push the OK button and get a nice message saying they are going to review my work and decide if I have gotten everything right.

While all this is going on, I am working with the artist to create the cover art for the next book I am working on. I can not find anything I like, so we’re going custom here.

I get the email notice saying I am not a total failure at book design so please go ahead and order your proof copies before we commit to print. I order 10 and it says 5 max. OK I’ll take 5 copies then. Push Buy Now and we’re on our way.

The next day I get a cover layout from my designer (and my son). It makes the cover art I did look like kindergarten finger painting. I don’t know how to make it look nice, but I sure can tell when I see nice.

do_not_do_cover_art

If you are not a graphics designer DO NOT do your own cover art. You will regret it.

So now I am sitting here with 5 books working their way to my house. All the while I am hating the cover art that I designed for them. My Son is working on a better cover design with the spine and back and all of the stuff you need on a print book that you don’t need on an e-book.

Once he gets the artwork done I have to re-load the cover art to the CreateSpace site so we can get a nice cover on the book.

Never mind that though, when I proofed the book, I realized I forgot to put any links there that point the reader to my web site so that they can purchase any future books I write.

Thank goodness for the ugly cover art. At least now I get a chance to fix THAT before print.

I am still waiting for the new cover art. You can see the book here.
Short Stories For the Kindle Reader

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