Writing Update (and a Story) – May 2022

The Mage Knight, Book 4: Still completed, still undergoing editing and cover art. I apologize for the lack of progress on this book, but it looks like I’m not the only one struggling – my editor and artist are both going through some things.

Undisclosed Title, Book 5: 10,565 Words (About 12% completed)

So, I’m making progress once again. Slow, sure, but steady. In the meantime, here’s a bit to consider:

One of the questions I get often is, “What was your inspiration for writing these books?” The answer is that there are a great number of things, but one thing that inspired The Wind Lord’s Gambit in particular is this rather off-color joke:

A lazy little bird decides not to fly south for the winter, and instead lays about while the other birds are migrating. Soon, the weather turns bitter cold. The bird tries to fly to find food, but his little wings freeze and he falls to the ground in a large field. “Surely, this is the end for me” thinks the little bird.

A cow walks by, and, by happenstance, poops all over the little bird. The poop is warm, however, and it revives the bird. In fact, he is so happy that he starts to sing.

A nearby cat hears the singing bird, finds him in the poop, and eats him up.

The moral of the story is:
– Not everyone who craps on you is your enemy.
– Not everyone who gets you out of crap is your friend.
– If you are warm and happy in a big pile of crap, keep your mouth shut.

There you have it. That was the inspiration everyone has been asking about.

Writing Update – January 2022

I haven’t exactly been doing a very good job with my promise of more frequent updates, have I? Such is life, I suppose.

My goal was to have the fourth book in The Wind Lord’s Gambit, called “The Mage Knight”, published before Christmas. Clearly, that did not happen, and only part of it is my fault. COVID-19 has caused so many “supply chain disruptions”, and the people that support me getting sick does not help me publish books.

Further, I started a new job. It is a great job – a wonderful job, one might say. I hope that it will give me the peace and tranquility I need in my life to be able to write more. But right now, it is a huge drain. New beginnings, a lot to learn, and the need to “prove oneself” all conspire to leave me exhausted at the end of the day.

I also grossly miscalculated how rough it would be going back into an office. After two years of working from home, I thought it wouldn’t be a huge drain on my psyche. I was so very, very wrong. The drive time alone, which takes one to two hours out of every day, has a massive impact and that doesn’t even count getting dressed up in clothes I don’t want to wear and pretending to be someone I am not for eight to ten hours. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if I could write for a living? Such is the dream, anyway.

I’ll get there, though. The next book will come out – trust me, I’m more anxious than you – and the fifth and final book in the series will get written. After years of writing Young Adult fiction I’m eager to stretch my metaphorical muscles and write something a little grittier. And I will, God willing.

Writing Update – October 2021

I vowed a few months ago to write more and to provide regular updates. Life has once again conspired to kick me in the teeth – despite having gotten two shots of the COVID vaccine, I got COVID, and I got it bad.

I was terribly sick for weeks, and have been recovering for months. I still don’t feel like I’m back to my old self, and perhaps I never will, who can say. I had a brief scare where the doctors thought there might be damage to my heart; it turned out not to be the case, and my heart is fine, but the theory and subsequent testing was terrifying.

For now, here’s the current status; I apologize for not making more progress:

Current statuses:

The Wind Lord’s Gambit:
Books 1 thru 3: Now available in Hardcover

The Mage Knight, Book 4: Completed, waiting for editing and cover art. We are anticipating a pre-Christmas release date.
Undisclosed Title, Book 5: 1586 Words

Side Project:
The Daedalus Project: 14596 Words

Writing Update

Current statuses:

The Wind Lord’s Gambit:
The Channeler, Book 1: Now available in Hardcover!
The Guardian, Book 2: Reformatted for hardcover, waiting for cover art resize.
The Blood Mage, Book 3: Reformatted for hardcover, waiting for cover art resize.

The Mage Knight, Book 4: Completed, waiting for editing and cover art.
Undisclosed Title, Book 5: 1586 Words

Side Project:
The Daedalus Project: 14596 Words

Personal Update

I haven’t made many personal posts here, but perhaps now is the time.

I started writing the fourth book in the Wind Lord’s Gambit series on March 17, 2019.  In the first three months following, I had completed about 20% of the book.

Then, I promptly wrote absolutely nothing for two full years.

A fan pinged me on Facebook a couple months ago to ask if there was going to be a fourth book, and where he could go to get updates on progress and such.  My instinctual first response was, “Yes, I’m working on book four, and you can get updates on my website.”  Before I hit send, though, I reconsidered.  I wasn’t actually working on book four in any meaningful sense, and my website hadn’t been updated in years.  I actually still hadn’t posted that the third book was available.  My question to myself was, ‘Why do I suck?’
I don’t write to make money.  I have a day job for that.  It would be nice if someday I could write full time and churn out novels like other authors (I have notes for ten or so books in different settings).  For now, though, it’s my hobby.  I just want to tell stories that people (hopefully) want to read.

I say this to explain.  The end of 2019 marked the ending of a job and position that I loved. It inspired me and made me want to do great things in every aspect of my life.  When it ended, I moved on to a new position that did not inspire me;  it drug me down, made everything more difficult.

Then, COVID dealt the entire world a sucker punch.  Others have written about how it was a ‘Black Swan’ event.  (A black swan being a thing that people used to assume was something that didn’t exist, until one day someone found tons of black swans).  My day job moved to full time remote.  I used to have separate computers for my work, my writing, and relaxing.  Suddenly, they were all in the same place.  Work space had become the same space as relaxing and writing.  Something had to give, and writing, being a hobby, was the thing that suffered.

Another issue that COVID dealt me was that I didn’t have to put on a suit and be in an office anymore;  I was home, and I could wear whatever I wanted whenever I wanted.  This freedom was an important development step for me;  I am, and always have been, transgender.  All my life I have struggled with this fact, from the time I was eight years old and told my parents I didn’t want to be a boy, I wanted to be a girl and learn how to dance.  Being unable to reconcile this with my ‘normal’ life has been the single biggest source of my depression over the years, and, at a few low points, led to me feeling suicidal.  For those who say I’m “choosing” this, I’m not.  No one in their right mind would choose this.  The only choice I’m making is to open up about it.

Coming out as transgender was one of the more difficult things I’ve done.  Most of my friends and family were incredible, and they accepted me just as I am.  A few friends didn’t understand, and have left my life.  My son, unsure at first, has become my biggest cheerleader, and I’m grateful for him every day.  My partners, too, accepted me fully, and they have been a constant source of love and support.

For those who ask the questions, “Are you going to change <blank>”, where blank is any number of things, the answer is most likely “I don’t know.”  I’m still figuring things out.  But I have decided that I’m going to continue to write under my birth name (and yes, this is my birth name, IV and all.)

Still, reconciling all of this, coming out to people, and adapting to a new way of living took it’s toll on me, and again, writing was the thing that suffered.

It took kind words from a few diehard fans to snap me out of it.  One friend bragged on me to one of her friends.  Another friend told me how much he loved the books.  Simple things, simple praise, but that was all it took.  It snapped me out of my funk at got me writing again.

It’s a funny thing, how not writing leads to more not writing, but the inverse is true, too – writing leads to more writing, and I ended up writing the other 80% of the fourth book in about two months, while working my day job and helping to care for my family.

Now, I doubt I can keep that pace up indefinitely, but I’m going to strive to be more open, provide more updates, and hopefully publish more books.

For now, Book Four of The Wind Lord’s Gambit, “The Mage Knight”, is completed and has been turned over to my editor.

The Blood Mage (The Wind Lord’s Gambit)

Book 3 now available in paperback and on Kindle from Amazon.

Buy The Blood Mage now!

Magic has returned to the world, bringing with it chaos and calamity as men and women struggled to control this new power. The government crackdown on users of magic was as fierce as it was inevitable. Tommy Nelson, originally drawn into a world of dark and light magic against his will, has grown in power and confidence. Now Tommy is out in the world, beyond the safe walls of his home, trying to evade capture while helping to hunt down users of dark magic. Tommy now finds himself in increased danger – danger which will come from sources he doesn’t even suspect.

Author Q & A from a Texas Librarian

I had a question and answer session with a Librarian from Texas, here are the results:

Q: How old were you when you knew you wanted to write a book?

A: I fell in love with reading at a very young age, and had a deep and abiding love throughout my life. However, it wasn’t until my mid-teenage years when a friendship with Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon showed me that writing a book is something that real people do, not something that “other people” do. That kindled my desire to write.

Q: What is the first creative writing you did that wasn’t an assignment for school?

A: That’s a tough one to remember. I wrote a great deal of poetry as a young adult, but I often ended up using it for school assignments at a later date – does that count? I think I wrote my first short story just for fun when I was 14. It was very short, and very bad.

Q: What do you think makes a good story?

A: One of the biggest things, for me, is believable characters. That is, characters that act in a way that is consistent and predictable with human behavior. Few things frustrate me more than seeing a character and thinking, “Yeah, right.” Beyond that, I think a good story needs to compel the reader, or listener, to want to hear what happens next.

Q: Who are some of your favorite authors?

A: J. R. R. Tolkien, of course. Louise Cooper. Michael Moorcock. H.P Lovecraft. Edgar Allen Poe. Robert Heinlein. Raymond Feist. Glenn Cook. Mercedes Lackey. Susan Cooper. I could go on and on, because there are so many authors that I adore and/or admire.

Q: If you could give your younger author self one piece of advice, what would you say?

A: Just get words down on digital paper. I had a strong tendency to write and re-write the same paragraph over and over again, trying to get it perfect. I would analyze every word and try to decide if I should use a different one, and pretty soon, I’d spent a dozen hours and not written a single full page. Write the words down, then go back and agonize over them later – or, don’t agonize over them and trust your editor.

Q: Do you hide any secrets in your book or references that only people who know you might get? Why?

A: There are so many secrets, references, and jokes in the books. Some, only people who know me might get. Others, I doubt anyone will ever find/figure them out. As for why… I do it because it amuses me, and because I hope some day, people will figure them out and send me an “Ah-hah!” email.

Q: Is there a message in your book that you hope readers take away?

A: Certainly, and I don’t think many of them are exactly hidden – self reliance, hard work, personal responsibility. But there are some more subvert messages, as well. Not everyone who helps you is necessarily your friend. Not everyone who doesn’t help you is your enemy. Your friends are people who you can rely on in a pinch, and you should know who those people are.

Q: Tell us about your protagonist. Was there a real life inspiration for him?

A: I’m assuming you mean Tommy Nelson, although I have heard arguments that other characters are the protagonist. Tommy is a conglomeration of traits that I have seen in a variety of people over the years. For example, his naiveté and innocence at the start of the books is a reflection of my own similar traits as a child and young adult. His name is a tribute to two very important people who were instrumental in my formative years.