Tag Archives: Oberon’s Dreams

Oberon’s Dreams is the Kindle Daily Deal!

My first traditionally-published novel came out back in May, and it’s had a little trouble gaining traction. I suspect it has mostly to do with the branding, mainly because the reviewers are saying so.

Seems it’s not the story they thought they were getting (a sea-faring pirate tale), and somehow my Dragonprince fans aren’t getting the word that there’s another story they’ll probably like.

Admittedly…there’s no dragons in it. But there’s action. There’s adventure! There’s a charming rogue thrown back through time and caught up in a war between two ancient gods!

Anyway, it’s been languishing in obscurity for a couple months now, but it’s got a good chance to break out of that because today it’s been selected by Amazon as one of the two Science Fiction/Fantasy titles in the Kindle Daily Deal.

The Kindle Daily Deal is a huge promotion that has a habit of vaulting books onto the bestseller list. Oberon’s Dreams could certainly use that treatment, so wish me luck!

And if you haven’t read it yet, grab a copy during the promotion. You can save a couple bucks and help me climb the charts at the same time.

New Release! Oberon’s Dreams (The Godlanders War, #1)

I have a new book out! I’ve been talking about this one for a while, but Oberon’s Dreams is now available. It’s the first book in a new adventure fantasy universe that I’m really excited about.

Corin Hugh thought his mission had come to a highly profitable end. But King Oberon made sure his quest was just beginning…

After a three-year search, Corin has found the lost city of Jezeeli. The dashing, quick-witted pirate promised his crew that they would be rewarded with a treasure beyond their wildest dreams, but the ancient ruins hold no treasure—only stacks of strange books. Left to die in a fire set by his mutinous crew, Corin is mysteriously rescued and transported back in time to a city ruled by King Oberon.

Only Oberon has the power to send Corin home. But the tyrant Ephitel–a brutal god whose name strikes fear even in Corin’s time–has designs on Oberon’s throne. Can Corin defeat the mighty Ephitel and change the course of history?

With a supporting cast of mystical druids, a gentleman thief, and a banished courtier from the House of Violets, Oberon’s Dreams is an action-packed, richly imagined adventure fantasy.

Oberon’s Dreams is the first book in the Godlanders War. Get your copy in ebook, audiobook, or paperback at Amazon.com.

1492 in Oklahoma City (Restaurant Review)

If you like Mexican food and you live in Oklahoma City (or near enough to visit), I’m about to make your life better. If you live more than…oh, let’s say three or four hours away, I’m just going to make you intensely jealous.

As you know by now, I’ve spent the last two months in a frantic writing frenzy. When I’m writing under deadline (just like writing with a day job), the key becomes to get as much work done as possible in my alone time. This time around, that largely happened in the wee hours when everyone else was blissfully asleep.

But I have long made a habit of taking advantage of mealtimes for that purpose, too. That was particularly important when I had a day job and writing at work posed a questionable risk to my ownership of my work. For that very reason, I wrote most of Gods Tomorrow on long lunch breaks at Buffalo Wild Wings.

This time around, I’m in a different part of town (although, come to think of it, I spent a decent chunk of time at Buffalo Wild Wings, too). Still, my new favorite is a Mexican place in Midtown called 1492. I’ve been in two or three times a week for months now. I’ll order a soft drink and some entree (usually a half-order of chicken fajita nachos, which comes with some of their excellent guacamole), then enjoy free refills on their chips and salsa while I sit and write for hours.

My chief judgment of a Mexican restaurant falls on their salsa. I always eat a lot of salsa, and anyone who can make a good salsa can handle Mexican cuisine. I’m a tough judge to please, though, because I’m picky about textures. I don’t much like a super chunky blend. I like a smooth, even flavor, rich in spice but not overwhelmed by one strong flavor (like the jalapeno bite at Ted’s, the Texas chili at Abuelo’s, or the vinegar at Chilis).

See? Super picky. But 1492 makes my ideal salsa. I love it every time. And, as I said, anyone who does good salsa can do the rest. Their guacamole is excellent. I’ve also had tamales, enchiladas, tacos, and quesadillas. All delicious. When we take our kids, we always get a big bowl of the yellow queso, and it always gets scraped clean.

They call themselves a place for “New World Latin Cuisine,” which is the fanciest euphemism for “Tex Mex” I’ve ever heard. Located as they are in Midtown (1207 N. Walker, OKC, OK 73103), they can get crowded weekdays over lunch and weekends in the evening, but I’ve gone more than once for Saturday lunch and stayed til almost dinner time without ever having to feel guilty for taking up a table.

Of course, that’s a big deal to me. Restaurants are not designed to accommodate free-loading novelists, but I have never felt rushed or unwelcome, even when the words were really flowing and my visits stretched dangerously close to criminal loitering.

The prices are reasonable for mid-tier Mexican–you can expect something in the same range as On the Border, Poblanos, or Abuelo’s.

If you live in the Oklahoma City area, I have to recommend a visit to 1492. And when you’re there, tell them international bestselling fantasy author Aaron Pogue sent you. They’ll have no idea what you’re talking about, but maybe if enough people do that, I’ll start getting free guacamole or something. That would be delicious.

FTC Notice: I have not been paid or otherwise endorsed in any way for this recommendation. However, maybe if we all work together, we can turn that around. What do you say?

Working for the Man

I’ve mentioned more than once that I’ve been working on a book for 47North, a science fiction and fantasy publisher owned by Amazon. I even wrote an article for Unstressed Syllables explaining how to submit a book to an Amazon imprint. That has been one of my most popular posts there.

But I don’t think I’ve ever shared the story of how I ended up with a traditional publishing contract. There are some restrictions in the contract as to what details I can share, but the story’s mine to tell. So here we go.

Submission guidelines

I told the story in the aforementioned article, but last January I decided that I wanted to get something published by 47North. I’ve really loved the control (and profit) available through self-publishing, but the one big thing I lack is advertising. I’m making enough revenue now that I could afford to pay for some promotion, but I wouldn’t really know what is worthwhile. And I don’t want to spend the time on trial and error.

Meanwhile, several of the standouts in the self-pub community were crowing about their deals with Amazon imprints. Amazon is far more responsive to author needs than New York publishers. They offer much fairer contracts (in a lot of ways) and pay approximately twice the royalties you’d get from anyone out of Manhattan.That’s not sharing secrets from my contract, that was the buzz about Amazon publishing before I ever heard from them.

So I decided to do a deal. As I said, I’ve been most satisfied with self-publishing, and I had no intention of quitting. Instead, I hoped to sell a book or two to Amazon, experience the traditional publishing process for the sake of my bucket list, and then watch while their promotion spilled over into new loyal readers (and more profit) for all my other books.

As it happens, nothing came of my carefully-crafted submission. It got lost in the slush pile. Instead, someone from Amazon contacted me spontaneously in May because they’d noticed how well Taming Fire was selling. He was clearly surprised to hear that I had contacted them way back in January.

Still, everything worked out. We had a phone call to discuss what they could offer and what I was looking for. I took care to stress my commitment to Consortium Books, and they had no problem with that. None at all. Obviously they’d hoped I would want to republish my proven series through them, but when I said that was impossible, they were still just as interested in hearing what else I had to offer.

And that was…nothing. Between Consortium Books and Draft2Digital, we’ve gotten really good at publishing, so everything that I had ready to publish was already published. I did mention a new property in a new universe that I had started for a class last spring.

It was 15,000 words (which would qualify as a short story) and an outline, but that was enough to interest them. They didn’t even ask to see the pages. They signed me to a three-book deal on an outline.

That’s a big deal. It happens all the time for big-name authors–guys like Stephen King and James Patterson–and sometimes for midlist writers who’ve been working with the same publisher for a long time. But mostly publishers won’t even start to talk about a contract until they’ve seen a complete manuscript.

And here I got a three-book contract on an outline. I’m still a little bit in shock at that. I’m big time.

Deadlines

Of course, that meant I still had to write the book. And I had to write it good enough to justify the advance they paid me back in June. I had no doubt that I could do it, but that was still a stressful pressure hanging over my summer.

My busy summer. See, in June I hired my first (paid) employees at Consortium Books. We have an Acquisitions Editor and a Senior Editor, plus a Marketing Director hired in September. So I spent my summer on such inescapable chores as payroll taxes, group health insurance, and pursuing our nonprofit status.

I planned to get that stuff hammered out quickly, then set my employees to work while I turned my attention to the book. I figured if I took two months on chores, I’d still have two months to write the draft (August and September), and all of October for revisions before I mailed the book off for my November 1st deadline.

That…didn’t quite work out. I started June with 15,000 words of story written, and when October rolled around, I still had 15,000 words.

Even then, I was slow to start. Day after day slipped by when I had no more than a couple hundred words to show for all my effort, and I needed to be doing about 2,000 a day for all of October.

As I fell further and further behind, I kept trying to jump start my process. I would dedicate more and more hours to writing (or, as it so often turned out, not writing). I rebuilt my outline repeatedly. I spent a lot of time psycho-analyzing myself and tried a dozen different solutions.

My wife just kept reminding me, with more faith in me than I’ve ever had in myself, “You’ll get it done at the last minute. You always get it done at the last minute, and it’s always wonderful.”

And, of course, she was right. Look for Oberon’s Dreams on bookstore shelves in May. And watch for updates here in the meantime; I’d love to do a cover reveal once we have final art, if they’ll let me.

As for me, I’m going to keep putting in the long hours, now that I’ve found a schedule that works for me. I’m really hoping I can write and publish at least two new books in the time it takes Amazon to publish the one I just delivered.

Any votes on which two new books I should write?

Meanwhile, in Oklahoma City…

A title like that really shouldn’t be followed with fascinating tidbits, should it? But life has been action-packed around here lately, and it’s only getting more interesting by the minute.

Here are some highlights:

Most of my books are now available on Kobo!

That means you can get DRM-free ePubs even if you’re not living the in the US. (I hadn’t realized Barnes and Noble made that restriction). We’re working on getting all the Consortium Books library up there, and will have it shortly.

Draft2Digital (my new e-book publishing platform) is…functional! Sort of!

Man, that should really sound more exciting than it does. As of yesterday afternoon, we can now add new book projects, input all the basic sales data, upload a source document (Word or Google Docs), and then generate a beautifully-formatted e-book. We haven’t integrated the tools to publish that book to our various vendors yet, but I’ve done proof of concept and tying all the pieces together shouldn’t be too hard.

I just signed a three-book deal with Amazon’s sci-fi fantasy publishing imprint, 47North! (Yes, these all get exclamation marks. If they didn’t deserve exclamation marks, they wouldn’t be news.)

That was actually last Wednesday, but Amazon has agreed to publish and promote three books in the World of Auric superhero-fantasy series. I’m really looking forward to experiencing the (somewhat) traditional publishing process, and especially to the promotional partnership Amazon can provide.

And while I was writing this post, I was contacted by an anime production group interested in developing the Dragonprince’s Heir into a feature film, or possibly a series!

I have no idea how much interest you would have in seeing that, but I find the idea fascinating. And, of course, it gives me an opportunity to find new readers in another market altogether. That some exciting stuff!

And, finally, I recently approved our next title from Consortium Books, Myth Reaver: Downfall, by Joshua Unruh!

It’s neo-noir Viking fantasy, which means it’s huge and dramatic and all kinds of grim. If any of that sounds at all interesting to you, you’ll probably love the book. It’s epic in scale and tone, and perfectly executed. I’m so proud to have been a part of this story’s development.

I really wanted to mention this one sooner, but I saved it to the end because it comes with an offer! Draft2Digital will be building us an Advance Reading Copy of Myth Reaver: Downfall sometime tomorrow, and Josh offered to let me share copies with my readers.

I’ll probably make a separate post about that tomorrow (if I can find the time), but if you’ve read this far, you can get a head start. Leave a comment below asking for an ARC of some grim Viking fantasy, and I’ll make sure you get one.

Now…I guess I’d better get back to work!

NaNoWriMo Every Day

I started writing books when I was…let’s say twelve. I first wrote Taming Fire while I was in college (ten years ago now), but I didn’t really hit my stride as a writer until 2007. In 2007, I finally finished two novels (my second and third). It felt awfully good to finish up two books at once, but those two had been slowly coalescing for most of five years.

So at that point, I was ready to accept that my “pace” for writing novels was about 2-3 years per title. To put that in a perspective that’ll be useful later in this article, those two novels combined came to 180,000 words. So I was writing about 36,000 words a year.

For that matter, the original version of Taming Fire (what you know as Taming Fire and The Dragonswarm), ran 140,000 words, and I wrote it in four years. That’s 35,000 words a year. See? I had a consistent, stable pace.

Then in November of 2007 somebody convinced me to try out a project called National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo for short). The goal of NaNoWriMo is to complete a short novel (50,000 words) within November’s 30 days.

The rules are totally unenforced, but they say you have to start at the beginning of a new project, you have to write 50,000 words on that one project, and you can only count words written between 12:00am on November 1 and 11:59pm on November 30.

That’s it. You don’t have to finish the novel. You don’t have to edit it. (In fact, they strongly encourage you not to.) Quality isn’t at issue. It’s all about setting an aggressive pace.

I’d been trying for years to get my dad to write, and my sister had expressed an interest, and I was still on a high from finishing those two books in the summer, so I decided to do it. I got Dad and Heather to join, and we dove in.

I knew just how ridiculous 50,000 words in a month was (from my established pace of 36,000 in a year), but it couldn’t hurt to try, right? Even if we failed miserably, we’d have the beginnings of a novel to build on later.

To my surprise, it wasn’t ridiculous at all. That first year, we all three won (meaning we hit 50,000 words before the 30th). And I did better than that. I wrote all the way to the end of my novel…at 118,000 words.

Yeah. That changed my perspective a little bit. It was actually a pretty good story, too.

I’ve never recreated that NaNoWriMo experience. November’s always a busy time, and my life has gotten hectic, and (the real heart of the issue) I didn’t really have anything left to prove after that. So I’ve limped through or I’ve muddled the rules or I’ve just skipped NaNoWriMo altogether in the years since.

But I still use “NaNoWriMo” as a yardstick for writing. To complete 50,000 words in November, you need to average 1,667 words a day. I usually prefer to schedule my writing around weekdays, and leave myself the weekends to either decompress or catch up, so that requires 2,333 words a day Monday-Friday.

(To put it in that context, my phenomenal first NaNoWriMo novel averaged 3,933 words a day.)

Last week I talked about my due dates and the crazy ambitious schedule I’ve been wrestling with this semester. In the two months since I quit my day job, I’ve written

  • 50,000 words on The Dragonprince’s Heir (The Dragonprince Trilogy, #3) for Master’s Project
  • 20,000 words on Faith (Ghost Targets, #5) for Writing the Novel
  • 15,000 words on Oberon’s Dreams for Tutorial in Writing

That’s 85,000 words in two months, or 1,393 words a day. Oh, but I’m not done. I probably mentioned this last week, but if I’m going to pass all my classes (and graduate), I have to turn in 40,000 words on Faith for Writing the Novel at the end of the semester.

Another way of saying that is that I have to write 20,000 words between now and 10:00am on Wednesday, May 2.

And since I’m heading to Little Rock in a couple hours to visit Dad and Heather over the weekend, another way of saying that is that I have to write 20,000 words in three days. So…remember that first NaNoWriMo novel that I wrote unbelievably quickly? I have to double the rate of that one if I’m going to pass this class.

Don’t worry. I’ll do it. I’m amazing. But still…I really shouldn’t be using up time hanging around here. So…see you sometime next week!

Overworked

My day job is killing me.

I’m not complaining! My day job is a dream come true. It’s also a frantic sprint from the moment I wake up until I collapse every night.

Writing is not exactly the leisurely, contemplative life I imagined as a kid.

Faith

I think last time I posted I was panicking about a deadline for the first third of Faith (Ghost Targets, #5). I made the deadline. It was a close-run thing, but I managed 12,000 words in three days while out of state celebrating my in-laws’ anniversary.

When I got home, I turned in my pages to the professor and then immediately started panicking about my next deadline. That’s the one you all care about, I’m sure.

The Dragonprince’s Heir

I’m attempting to complete The Dragonprince’s Heir (The Dragonprince Trilogy, #3) as the final project for my Master of Professional Writing degree from the University of Oklahoma. In April I’ll submit a finished manuscript to a panel of three much-published authors (Deborah Chester, J. Madison Davis, and Mel Odom), and then a couple weeks later I’ll have to go before them and defend it as a publishable work.

If they approve it, I’ll receive my Master’s degree. If they don’t, I won’t. Simple as that. This is my masterpiece, in the original sense. It’s fitting that it’s also the culmination of the series that made me famous.

But given the importance of that project, I hate that I’m having to rush it as much as I am. The book is about 2/3 done at 60,000 words, and I have the rest plotted and outlined, but I’m rapidly running out of school year.

In short, I need to write 30,000-40,000 words (approximately 120-150 pages) in the next three weeks.That will leave me just one week to revise the whole thing up to a standard my judges will consider “publishable.”

The good news is that it’ll leave me seven weeks to publish it. That’s longer than any of our projects has ever had to process through Consortium Books. Again, given the importance of the project, I love that we’ll be able to take it slow.

Into the Flames

And with all this hanging over me, I had to interrupt my writing time last weekend because of a critical deadline at my day job. My other day job, I guess I should say.

This week we published Jessie Sanders’s debut novel, Into the Flames, which is a young-adult urban fantasy with some incredibly engaging characters. I read it as a partial manuscript over a year ago, approved it as a rough draft, and spent the last year waiting anxiously to find out what it became.

That finally happened last weekend. Two days before we took it to press, I finally cleared my schedule and curled up with my Kindle to read the final draft.

It was phenomenal (of course). Halfway through the afternoon Saturday, I looked up at the end of a particularly exciting scene and said, “Is this really my job?”

I love it. I love the writing, and I love the publishing, too. Every bit of it makes me better at my craft and brings better works to the reading public. That’s a rewarding feeling.

Auric and the Wolf

Meanwhile, I’m working on other projects of my own, too. I’m helping develop a new digital book production company, I’m preparing some Dragonswarm short stories for the Consortium of Worlds collections, and I’m publishing the short stories I co-created in the world of Oberon’s Dreams.

Notes from a Thief” is already out (with a recently redesigned cover that’s just stunning). And in the last week I did a big rewrite on “Auric and the Wolf,” in which I made the kid actually fight the wolf. Much more exciting that way.

That one should be out in a couple weeks. I’ll let you know when it’s available.

Live Life

I was also contacted out of the blue by someone from the University of Wisconsin who’s putting together an anthology called Live Life. They asked me to contribute a work (or works), with all proceeds going to The American Cancer Society.

And I just happen to have a perfect piece: the literary story “Building Plans” I wrote for Advanced Fiction Writing last fall. It’s about a single mother who’s widowed young and trying to find some way to make her life go on working. Seems pretty fitting, really.

I spent today mostly getting caught up on chores, but tomorrow I’m back to writing on the Dragonprince. Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.