The Atheling’s Mock Cover In Progress

Ta-daaa~. ^_^ This week’s update starts with a cover reveal for The Atheling. Although, not really. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s still a work in progress because the painting is unfinished and the place holders in the layout needing cleaning. But since I am sharing step-by-step progress on this book, here’s today’s work.

Atheling Cover WIP
Still a work in progress, but it’s coming along.

I will continue working on the airship details and adding wings, but I’m not done with anything that you see here. I work in layers, refining details as I skip around with whatever I feel like working on. So, yes, I still have a long way to go, but I love how it looks so far in the series cover format. I had to share.

In other progress, I’m up to chapter 5 for the fourth revision, which includes the feedback from my beta readers. I’m mostly correcting the typos or places that need a little work according to that feedback, but I’m seeking more ways to cut word count and mentally calculating how to make the drastic changes toward the end that will shift several chapters into the next book.

Progress on book 5 has dropped to adding notes related to changes made in The Atheling.

Anyway, keeping this update short because *GASP* my dog is napping! (Ever try to type or paint with an attention-craved whippet/rat terrier sitting smack in the middle of your lap?) One of the hazards of working at home is that people tend to think you’re not doing anything important. Since they think you’re “free”, they often interrupt or make plans in spite of the fact that you’re trying to actually work … with, you know, deadlines and objectives and all that real work-world stuff that earns paychecks. Dogs are worse at recognizing work time than people.ย So, instead of having to pet the dog every five minutes, I might actually be able to get some more work done this afternoon! Shhhhh …

Nicholas sleeping :)
Omg! Nicholas is sleeping! Now to see if I can accomplish anything before he wakes.



Beta Feedback Is Da Bomb

Slowly but surely, it’s getting there.

So, I finally got a chance to work on the cover for The Atheling today. I keep rearranging my design elements because I can’t find a position that pleases me completely, but otherwise I’m now cleaning up details for the faces and have a sketch and underpainting for the airship. It just needs wings. I might be shrinking it to sit in front of the moon a little more once I get some of the details on it.

Other progress on the novel includes hearing back from several of my beta readers! (Yay for beta readers! I don’t know what I’d do without you guys!) So, I’ve been doing the easy edits like spelling errors. (Wow, you’d think I was drunk while writing some of those typos.) >.< But I’m making notes on anything that requires a little more work like slow places or scene changes, and those will take a little more effort and time. I’m wondering though …

Everyone knows how much the word count is bothering me this time around. The other books in the Elf Gate series are large, but this is the largest one I’ve created to date. I keep trying to consider which scenes might be disposable, but every time I think I could make another cut, I realize it wouldn’t make that much of a difference to the overall length and might kill some of the personality. Plots without personality are very boring.

Last night when I woke with insomnia at 2:00 A.M., I tried (again) to think of a solution for a more reasonably sized volume, and I may have come up with an incredibly painful possibly brilliant idea.

It will be a lot of work to rewrite because it would remove a huge chunk of plot, rather than just one or two scenes, and drop it into book 5, instead. If I do this, publication for The Atheling might run more toward July than June. It’s that big of a rewrite. (My beta readers are probably making faces about now wondering what kind of George R. R. Martin ploy I might be considering for such a drastic move, but I assure you the cuts won’t be that drastic.) I will play with the ideas tomorrow and see if I can rework the details that must connect to the other plots, but this might be just what the book needs to make it less of a monstrous undertaking to read. (That means I’m both excited and dreading this at the same time.)

The chunk salvaged for book 5 would then definitely force me to split book 5 into two new books. An unplanned book 6 would be necessary to finish rewriting the original manuscripts toward their new series ending. More work is the last thing I need right now, but the quality of the product comes before publication dates.

Thanks to my beta readers, however, I’m now one step closer to that goal. ๐Ÿ™‚

Shutting Down Old Web Site

The “Links” and “My Books” pages have been added now, which means there is nothing left at the old web site anymore. If you have not already changed your bookmarks from there, please do so. I will leave that page available for six months as a notice to late-comers before deleting the website completely in October. The Bad Cat Ink G+ page has been given a forwarding message with everything else deleted. That will only be up for another week, though.

The old website had several exterior blogs attached to it. I can’t decide whether to do that again, or not. For now, I don’t have links to those blogs anymore. I have to look them over and see if their content is worth transferring, or if I should just delete their articles and let them go. The blogs were on the topics of book reviews, vampires, and Elder Scrolls games. How do these relate to my writing?

Book reviews should be rather self-explanatory; as a writer, I love to read, too. And I’m more than happy to help promote or discuss books I enjoyed. It’s very likely this blog will be resurrected in some way, even if in conjunction with this one.

Vampires and elves are characters I love reading about and probably 90% of my book collection involves them in some way. But every time I did research on vampires for my own novels, I had to wade through the mire of ridiculous, but sadly common, misconceptions about “vampire literature”. I had hoped to use my blog to shed some light on the subject. And, no, that’s not a pun. Vampires not being legitimate if they don’t burn in sunlight is one of those misconceptions. I got tired of frequently explaining that not even Dracula burned in sunlight, so I figured if I could write one article and always have it for reference, I could share that, rather than wasting time rewriting that information on multiple occasions. I might revive this blog as a separate thing because I know I’ll probably wish I had my article links ready the next time I seek out more vampire lore and face-palm over someone fussing about “real” vampires not sparkling.

And anyone who knows me knows how much I love Elder Scrolls games. This influences my writing in a big way because I often “test drive” my characters in the games to help flesh them out. Now I barely have time to play games at all — maybe on the weekends. So, I doubt I will revive this blog, but I’m sure you’ll see many future references to how I use gaming as a sort of idea generator or storyboard for my writing. I take many screenshots, and I love to share the stories behind them. In fact, I just finished successfully completing the Civil War quests with Erys in the Imperial Legion. Great exercise for getting into a military mindset for that character.

Morning Splendor
Erys surveying his kingdom … Skyrim style.

Anyway, the main site is up and ready to roll now! Everything else will be done at a slower pace, so that I can get back to focusing on The Atheling. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Bad Cats

Kathy and Koshka
Kathy and Koshka … the original bad cats.

Well, I didn’t get much accomplished on the cover art today, but I did update the “About” and “Contact” pages for this new site. I combined the information about my publishing imprint and myself on one page this time. And I transferred all of my contact information from the old site, with the exception of G+, which I will no longer be using to conduct services.

So, if you’re curious about how my business got its name, click on the “About” page for that information. Meanwhile, since the Internet clearly doesn’t have enough cat pictures … ๐Ÿ™‚

I didn’t get around to working on any cover art today because of the time spent here still trying to find my way around the dashboard. I suppose I should break down and read the tutorials, but why kill the mystery of hunting for which buttons do what? It’s a good thing this is just a web site and not a time machine, or I’d be in deep trouble.

I did, however, get around to working on some more organization for book 5. I’m trying to collect all the data I’ve written so far about the elven histories and document the references in chronological order while creating a summary for a time line. (Clearly, I’m not juggling enough publishing tasks right now.) I realize this task would make most peoples’ eyeballs melt from sheer boredom, and it’s not a lot of fun for me, either. But this is the price I pay for writing a novel series. The information has to be accurate and consistent between each volume.ย This is basically what my job was when I worked with the Dragonlance books, too — collecting data and organizing it, page-by-page, for future reference, like a a wiki-encyclopedia for my own books.

But my highlight of the day was getting this review from a beta read of The Atheling.

This is by far the most incredible story I have had the pleasure of reading in some time. For me, the storytelling is the most enthralling and captivating since Inkheart; the plot is the most astoundingly complex and impressively compound since The Lord of the Rings; and the characters are so thoroughly authentic and credible as to make me forget they are fiction. Truly a work of art, a literary masterpiece. I would buy the entire series in hardcover at the blink of an eye. I already am rereading book 1 while waiting for the next chapter. Phenomenal writing.

This is what keeps me going just when I start to ask myself why I bother to keep writing. This is why. Besides the fact that I love telling stories, it makes me happy to hear that someone has enjoyed the stories I’ve been telling. It’s the readers that truly give stories life beyond the draft board.

Moving Day!

I’ve moved a lot over my lifetime, usually about every 3 to 5 years. I’ve always looked forward to unpacking and decorating my new space, exploring my new location, and just the fresh energy that I get from starting over. I’ve noticed that because of this wanderlust, I often get the budgies after 3 to 5 years in the same place — the sign of someone who knows nothing but life as a nomad, perhaps.

I’m going through those budgies right now, in fact. But while I can’t move from my current location just yet, I can look forward to moving Internet “homes”. So, pardon the boxes and stacks of packing paper whilst I settle in and transfer stuff from my old place, and let me introduce myself.

I’m a dark fantasy author, editor, and illustrator. You probably noticed because of all the books, dragon and gargoyle statues, and teacups already dotting the desk.ย My workspace is affectionately known as my “dungeon” because of all my creatures; but they inspire me to write adventures, so it’s all good.

writerly work space
Beware the statuettes, stuffed animals, and dust bunnies.

I’m currently working on getting the 4th book in my Elf Gate series published, and I’m working on the cover design while the script is in the hands of beta readers. I’m also organizing the leftover plot cards and threads to write what is supposed to be the fifth and final book for this particular series. So, web design and content must now be added to my weekly tasks as I do these transfers. I’ll check back in a little bit at a time.

Yoroshikuonegaishimasu. Nice to meet you.