Every book has a Big Three: Characters, Setting, and Plot. Each of these elements influences what the story becomes. Change any of them, and the book alters dramatically.
Characters are a tremendous driving force in a story. They can shape the direction of a plot when they respond differently than you had expected to an event. Invariably, my characters take over entirely, and my carefully crafted plotlines are abandoned as strong personalities steer the story where they want it to go. Inevitably, the story ends up better than my original plan for it.
Sometimes, a character forms in my head and has a story written around them. Other times, as a story is developing, characters get created and plugged into the plot as they are needed. Usually, a combination of both those methods comes into play. Occasionally, a minor character tells me they have a story of their own. This happened with James Grenleigh—who launched my series, really, because I wasn’t planning a sequel to Rose until he spoke up.
What goes into creating an unforgettable character? A lot. Every major character—the protagonist, the villain, and any secondary characters with a significant role—must have layers. They need likes and dislikes, things they are good at and things they are not, different personality traits and moods. Characters should be relatable—readers should be able to identify with some aspect of the personality or motivation of at least a few of the characters. When this doesn’t happen, reader disconnect occurs—the reader simply won’t enjoy the book as much as they otherwise might have.
Every major character has a backstory, some of which will make it into the text and most of which won’t. The secret of the backstory is to include what’s necessary and interesting without bogging the story down.
Every character must have motivation. People don’t go around doing things for no reason—neither should characters. There should be an instigating factor that forces them to act or a payoff for an action they choose to perform.
Each major character must have desires, goals, and a method to achieve them. Whether or not that method will be successful is the main thread of the plot. The main characters must grow and change as the story progresses—sometimes they improve, and sometimes they degenerate. And everyone, even when their goals conflict, must believe that what they are doing is right.
Each character’s relationship to the protagonist is vital, since everyone, including the villain, is there to enhance the protagonist’s story. Main characters drive the plot. Secondary characters must support the hero or the villain. A minor character is like an extra in a movie—an unnamed body in the room: a soldier, a servant, a villager.
As I develop characters, I pay careful attention to their
My characters become very real to me. I become friends with them, and they live on in my head long after their story is told. In upcoming blogs, I’ll share some character sketches from the series, along with 1st-person perspectives from some of the major characters and details that weren’t included in the books. Stay tuned!
I pride myself on my work being as accurate as possible. The historical fantasy genre allows for a lot more creative freedom than does historical fiction, but that word “historical” is still there, and I want my work to ring true for readers. Thus, I try very hard to get the facts right. My heroines do a bit more independent wandering than would have been permitted for women of their respective times, and some of the described clothing is not entirely accurate to each period, but for that, I claim my “Fantasy!” license.
Other things are exact. Moon phases, for example: I really wanted a full moon for Myrhiadh’s traipse up the turret stairs to Jae’s bedroom, but the date the action took place was a new moon, so I had to figure out how she was going to perform her stunt in the pitch black. I added a few candles in various locations to assist her. Scenes involving horses are accurate - I’ve been riding horses for more than three decades, and an author of historical stories must get the main form of transportation right. My dates jive, my details mesh. I go to great lengths to make sure that the minutiae are correct. Characters will sometimes get the details wrong - facts can get muddled over time, after all - but I know exactly what really happened, and the characters’ mistakes are entirely planned.
Readers have been thrilled with The Curse of Caledon and how all the little details came together to connect the first five books. Things that had looked like loose ends all interwove and made sense. All carefully orchestrated from the beginning.
So imagine my horror when I was researching the medieval torture instrument, the rack, and found a website that informed me that its first use was in 1447.
I was planning a significant role for the rack in 779. That wasn’t the worst of it, however, since Guardians isn’t published yet, and I can change anything. The worst was that King Kerrion mentioned using the rack in Dragon’s Fire in 1218—and that book was published.
Dismayed, I started figuring out how to make changes to the scene in Guardians that extensively involved the rack, intending to make at least one book right. In so doing, I discovered that the rack’s first use in Britain was in 1447. The device was used elsewhere long before that, even dating to BC usage.
Ah, relief. Although Caledon is Celtic and modeled after the UK and Ireland, I can still claim “Fantasy!” for the presence of the rack 700 years before its first use in Britain. After all, Alexander the Great used it to torture a bunch of pages who were planning his assassination, so the knowledge and use of this marvelous invention might easily have reached my fictional land within 1000 years after that. Happily, I kept my rack and tortured my characters to my heart’s content.
The rack was known as one of the most painful forms of medieval torture. I chose it because it was one of the less gruesome methods of torture that I researched.
I am an editor, as well as an author. I work for StoryShopUSA, and I do freelance editing for select clients. I self-edit my work because I can detach from my writing, look at it with a critical eye, and tell myself, “This is boring, unclear, wordy, or unnecessary. Fix it.”
However, every writer, regardless of experience, genre, training, or skill, needs editors/readers to give feedback on a work in progress. A writer cannot produce a quality book alone.
I have a set of Beta readers to critique my manuscripts. They each have different strengths. One points out historical errors: things and words that are out of place and time. Another is detail-oriented. She picks on mechanical faults and points out plot holes and makes suggestions to fix them. A third is very sure of what she likes and doesn’t, and has no qualms about telling me. All are avid readers of a variety of genres. One of them even reads in two languages.
My husband, Cameron, is my editorial assistant. He’s a computer engineer, and he thinks like a computer. He’s logical, quickly gets bored with “fluff,” and he notices everything I’ve done wrong. He reads the stories at the second draft stage, to pick on big errors before I spend a lot of time fine-tuning syntax and word choice. He then rereads them just before publication, to analyze and critique Every. Little. Thing. (He is a lucky man who can say that his wife wants him to point out all her mistakes!)
I appreciate the input of all my Betas, but even kind criticism can be hard to take. As a writer, you become very attached to your work. Sometimes I need a day or two to think through another’s comments before I can focus on rewriting the issues. (Cameron says I have to think about it long enough to start believing that the changes are my idea!)
It’s far easier to accept criticism on small points that are easy to fix than on bigger ones that take more time and effort to repair. After all, changing a repeated word is neither difficult nor painful. Rewriting a character, a scene, or a story thread that spans the book is another matter entirely.
My biggest editing issue is what I call The Curse of Author Omniscience. I know everything about the story I am developing, including what happened before the action started and what will happen after it ends. I know what everyone looks like, the minutiae of every setting, and what is going on in everyone’s thoughts. Many of the details in my head will never make it into the text.
But because I know everything, sometimes I assume that my reader does, too, and I leave out important details because I feel they're redundant. After all, I've been thinking about them for months. To me, they're ingrained and obvious.
When my husband read the second draft of my work in progress, Guardians of Caledon, he came to a place where my heroine started lying to her brother and thought, "Why won't she tell him the truth here? Maybe she's resentful for how he treated her...?"
Sure enough, she was, but the sentences that showed how she was feeling in response to her brother's behavior - the motivation for her lie - were several paragraphs further along. I had left my reader guessing. The details were in the wrong place.
Cam suggested that I move those sentences up to just before the heroine starts lying - and the scene took on a whole new level of energy.
In spite of my Editor Hat, I couldn't see the problem when I was revising. I know the story and the character too well. The Curse of Author Omniscience had struck.
Never underestimate the power of a reader who doesn't know everything to help improve a book. I’m very grateful for my Beta readers and the constructive criticism they offer.
A fellow writer recently asked me whether I thought the following quote from Willa Cather is accurate: Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of fifteen.
The key word there is “basic.” Yes, your basic knowledge of how to form and punctuate a sentence and organize your ideas is acquired in the early grades.
However, in a broader sense, I disagree strongly with this statement. Good writing requires far more than the knowledge of how to form and punctuate a sentence and organize ideas. Age and experience are tremendous contributors to a writer’s skill and content. I believe that, generally, the older a writer gets, the better they become at their craft. We are all growing and changing and “becoming” as we live, and everything that touches our lives enriches us as writers.
I acquired a lot of college-level creative writing skills in my early twenties when I worked with my mentor for four years. He taught me concepts and principles for developing plots and characters that I never heard mentioned in grade school, and I’ve been improving on what I learned ever since.
I don’t write now the way I wrote 20 years ago. Nor do I currently write the way I will 20 years from now. In fact, I see a vast improvement in my writing skills and style from the release of Dragon’s Fire in 2017 to the writing of Books Six and Seven now.
Even the development of characters is seasoned with age. As a teen, I could not write characters over the age of 23 or male characters with any degree of believability. My outlook on life at that point was too narrow and inexperienced. My characters’ interactions have improved over the years as I gain more to draw on from my own interactions with others of all ages. I anticipate that everything about my writing will only strengthen as I continue to grow, learn, change, and practice.
Life enriches writers; experience molds and shapes them and enables them to tell stories in a richer, more fascinating way. Writers learn for their whole lives, and each learning experience adds a new shade of color or a new element of shadow to their storytelling.
Writing is not like gymnastics where you are finished competitively by the age of twenty. Nor is it like brain surgery where you have to get it right the first time. A good writer must move beyond the basic skills of putting words to paper in a logical order, and age and experience are essential for that. Fifteen is a wondrous age, but if it’s all you have to draw on as a writer, it will never, ever be enough.
I’ve started plotting Book Seven, which will begin filling in some of the “silent years” between Books One and Two. I collected the information that I had alluded to in the first five books and looked at it in astonishment.
I had way more material than I expected. I dropped a lot of hints in the first five books about the events between 1250 and 1330!
I started organizing all the information into a plot, but it came out as merely a recounting of events, not a story. It’s not enough to write that this happened, and then this happened, and then THIS happened. A plot is human experience in relation to events. A good plot needs emotion and conflict and character investment. It requires a problem, and steps to solve the problem, and a “wow, how are they going to get out of this” moment, and a climax.
Secondly, the story needs some sympathetic characters for the reader to cheer for. As I looked at the plot I was working on, I realized that none of the characters were likable. I had made my main characters people who had been mentioned in previous titles. They filled the roles I had prepared for them, but not one of them was going to appeal to readers as someone to root for. Even I didn’t like them. They were perfect villains, every last one of them, and the storyline was much too dark.
The plot didn’t have the level of action and excitement I like to maintain, either. Where the climax should have been, the story just deflated like an overstretched balloon. I was portraying events, but I wasn’t telling a story.
I had 15 pages of ideas and had experimented with numerous ways of arranging those ideas, and I wasn’t happy with any of them.
Back to the character drawing board. I desperately needed a likeable character, so I created a new heroine. It took a while to figure out exactly how she was going to fit into events that had never considered her existence before. I didn’t know who or what she was, or what relationships she would have, or how she would come into contact with my wonderful villains, whom I liked a whole lot more once I had someone good to counter them. So I let all the characters hold conversations in my head, until one morning while I was driving, the plot “clicked.” I was pretty excited! Suddenly, I knew who this new heroine was, and why the events of the story would matter to her. Ups and downs and human conflict and a thrilling climax appeared where once I had a “history-book” recounting of events.
Book Seven is going to contain a lot of new material in addition to the stuff I alluded to in earlier books, but that’s what makes it a story. The plot is developing quickly and will soon be at a point where I can start writing. That's exciting because two weeks ago, I had nothing but some unsatisfactory notes!
Now that I have characters with goals to achieve, who will experience the events that shape their lives with passion and feeling and finally come into such conflict with one another that everything explodes in an “edge-of-your-seat” conclusion, I can start another amazing journey. It’s the beginning of a story that will make readers say, “Wow, what a ride! I liked the hero, I hated the villain, I loved the story, and I can’t wait for the next one.”
Writing first drafts is incredibly fun. I get to tell myself a story, and no one else has to see it. I don’t have to fret about syntax or word choice, or even worry about story mechanics. If plot holes appear, or a character does something weird with no believable motivation, it’s perfectly okay. If I come to a rough spot, I can write something cliche and dumb. All those things can be fixed later.
Every time I finish a drafting or editing pass, I like to leave the story to “steep” for a few days before going back to work on it again. I feel like that time away from it allows me to look at it with fresher eyes when I dive in again.
Each first draft I create is different. Some are powerful and ready to go straight to editing after one or two read-throughs and a few minor adjustments. Others are weak, and I know it. They require lots of rewriting and structural fixes before they are anywhere close to good. My current work in progress, Guardians of Caledon, has a solid beginning for a first draft, weakens in the middle, and then rebounds at the end, though it still needs work throughout. It has a few character motivation and development issues. It contains some minor plot holes that I was aware of as I wrote, but I didn’t want to take the time to figure out how to fix them right then and lose the story’s momentum, so I merely noted the problems and kept writing.
All these things must be fixed, but not in the first draft. The first draft is just getting the story out. Fixing problems is for the second draft and the third. That’s when I go in and start to strengthen the plot, fix the holes, and fill in the gaps where motivation is required or unclear. I fact-check for historical accuracy. I improve dialogue and imagery, add color and depth to settings and characters, and generally start to make the story GREAT.
Fixing those issues might require several passes. I may change large chunks of the story in six or seven drafts, or I might be satisfied with the work by the time I complete the third draft. I’m rarely done in fewer than three.
That’s when editing starts. You might ask what the difference is between drafting and editing, and it’s a fine line. What I call second and third drafts and so on is also called substantive editing, which looks at the story as a whole for structure, organization, and logical consistency. I consider the story to be at the first editing stage when I am willing to let my Beta readers have it because I no longer find elements of it embarrassingly bad. There might still be small problems with plot or characterization, for which I will ask for input and ideas, but by the time I finish drafting and start editing, most of the story design flaws are fixed.
Editing looks at the story with a magnifying glass. Now I look for the best way to say things. I analyze whether I am using active or passive voice and use active whenever possible. I try to phrase things as clearly and directly as I can without losing the details and the shading. I read aloud to make sure that the dialogue flows when it’s spoken and that the narration isn’t awkward. Reading aloud also helps to catch repeated or overused words, and forces me to slow down and really SEE what I’m looking at.
Further editing passes look for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors that might have been overlooked before now, while still fixing any previously targeted issues that may have slipped my notice. In all, I will usually go over a manuscript thoroughly at least twenty times before I declare it ready for publication, and then my husband and I go over it again as we format it for uploading to Amazon.
This doesn’t mean I will never make a mistake, or let something pass that should have been corrected, but it does mean I work very hard to make the books as perfect as I can for my readers. Writing, editing, and publishing a book is not a process that should be rushed. Quality takes time. I have learned to love every part of preparing the Dragon's Fire Series for publication, and I am very proud of each title.
My mother taught me to read when I was three. I may not have been entirely ready to learn, because I recall a lot of screaming (from me, not my mother.) Regardless, she never was one to give up, and before long, I could read.
I started devouring books. A book of bedtime stories a couple hundred pages thick with no pictures was one of my favorites. It was designed to be a read-aloud, but I read it to myself.
I started writing stories before I could spell. I was about six and a half years old when I produced my first masterpiece, “Stragling Snaks,” (Strangling Snakes.) I wrote stories at home frequently—nothing to do with school assignments—just for my own pleasure.
I excelled at creative writing in early elementary school. My second-grade teacher made a big “TV” out of a box, and the authors of the best stories of the week got to sit in the box to read their work to the class “on TV.” I was an almost-weekly occupant of the box.
By fourth grade, I loved writing horse stories. Teachers tried to get me to expand my repertoire, but by this point, my parents had become strict about the content I was allowed to produce, and while the rest of the class composed ghost tales and made up legends about Greek gods, I wrote what I was permitted to write—mostly horse stories. My fourth-grade teacher wrote in my report card that I had “no imagination.”
When I was eleven, I wrote my first novel on 150+ single-spaced pages of foolscap. I had found my writing passion. Throughout my teen years, I wrote several more books and attempted to have some of them published. One manuscript came close, but after some back and forth communication about it, it was rejected at a senior editors’ meeting.
I kept writing. All of my first drafts were written entirely by hand. Thousands of pages. I’m left-handed, so I always had a blue ink smear on the baby finger of my left hand that I could never entirely wash off.
After I got married, I wrote a novel that checked in at well over 1000 pages. I submitted it to publishers, and that’s how I met my mentor, who I am still working with at StoryShopUSA.
John saw the raw potential in me and trained me to write well. He taught me how to take a story idea and flesh it out using active voice, engaging the reader’s senses so that the words jumped off the page like living things. He taught me how to hook a reader and how to write realistic dialogue. We worked on developing plotlines and using plot gimmicks and plot plants to give readers “wow!” moments. I worked one-on-one with him for about four years, produced a number of different titles, and learned a great deal.
I took a hiatus from writing in 2002, just before the birth of my second child. I couldn’t keep up, couldn’t find the quiet focus time, couldn’t justify the hours of selfishness required to produce books. Some people manage to write with small children, and my hat is off to them. I don’t know how they do it.
Fourteen years later, in 2016, a story started teasing me. It played in my head for about seven months while I determined NOT to write it down. I knew how stories consumed me once I started them. My youngest child was now almost ten, my oldest, seventeen. I still felt that I didn’t have time for writing amid all my other responsibilities. But the story won, and on a rainy evening at the end of July, I sat down and started typing what I was sure would be nothing more than 70 pages of silly romance.
Two and a half years after starting that story, I published the fifth in my series, completing the adventure of the Dragon’s Fire that my silly romance had grown into. And I’m still writing. There are so many more stories to tell. When I finish telling stories about Caledon, there will be something new to write. All my life, when I’ve finished a book or a series, I’ve thought, “I can’t do any better than that.” Then I think of something new, and away I go with it, and it’s better than before because age and experience generally improve writers.
I don’t regret taking 14 years off for my young family, but I’m glad that I’m making time to write now. Caledon has increased my confidence, taught me many valuable lessons about myself, and improved me as a writer and an editor. And I’m loving every minute.
Sometimes I only get an hour a day to write. Sometimes I get no time at all. But making time to do what I love is so important. I’ve found a piece of me that was missing for 14 years, and I’m not going back.
Clean Fiction: a story free from excessive foul language, violence or gore, and graphic sexual content.
Modern literature is full of all of the above. Countless times, I’ve checked out the first few pages of a book to be slammed with F-bombs and lengthy and graphic descriptions of murder, torture, violence, and sex.
Book covers, too, throw “unclean” images in your face. Finding a cover for Myrhiadh’s War was particularly challenging. Searching through potential artwork on my favorite website, I almost became convinced that every female archer in the world plies her trade wearing a bikini. I had started to despair of finding an appropriate cover when I came upon the image that now graces Myrhiadh’s War, and I bought it in a hurry. She may have been the only decently dressed female archer in the collection.
I don’t think a story has to be wrapped in filth to hold a reader’s attention and be an intriguing, edge-of-your-seat book. A writer’s frequent use of multiple swears merely indicates that they don’t have a sufficient grasp of the language to use it skillfully. Sexual matters can be handled without requiring intimate details. Excessive gore is unnecessary.
I don’t think that a clean story has to be wrapped in faith, either. Many modern “clean fiction” offerings are overtly religious. If a reader is looking for a story where the problems are generally solved by the miraculous intervention of God, fine, but in my opinion, a lot of Christian novels contain cookie-cutter plots and predictable endings. A few are nothing short of sermons masquerading as stories. I’ve read truckloads of them. I even read one where the main character stated that she was so happy being engaged, she’d love to be engaged forever. That’s eye-rolling, unrealistic purity.
When I was a child and teen, I was allowed to read only religious fiction. I was expected to write it, too. Every story I turned out had to have a Christian message said my parents, said my church, said my friends. I got tired of it. I was ready to break out of that pattern and try something new and fun.
I think there’s a place in the market for clean books that aren’t blatantly spiritual—where characters who don’t attend church faithfully or pray about everything solve their problems with intelligence, courage, and resourcefulness.
Not everyone wants to be preached at every time they open a book for entertainment, but neither do they want to be sworn at and assaulted with bloody, gory, sensual details. There has to be a balance: a sweet spot where believable characters solve problems in an exciting, unpredictable way without inappropriate details. And that’s where the Dragon’s Fire Series fits.
I have received criticism from some people who disapprove of this series’ content—most of them cite religious reasons for shunning it. Some of them have read the first book, some of them haven’t. Frankly, my books are less fantastic than those of C.S. Lewis, a mainstay author for many religious readers. If you’ve read Tolkien or Rowling, you’ve delved much further into fantasy worlds and magic than the Dragon’s Fire Series will take you. Nonetheless, my critics are entitled to their opinions, informed or not.
I’m also entitled to mine. I won’t write things that I would be embarrassed to read aloud. So you won’t find anything stronger than an occasional use of “damn” or “hell” in my books. Stronger language is left to the imagination, such as when Lauryn writes “three exceedingly uncomplimentary words” on a piece of paper she gives to another character in The Curse of Caledon. Descriptions of suffering are kept minimal and are not especially graphic. Sex scenes are almost non-existent, and what is described is not intimately detailed.
I consider the books suitable for ages 13 through adult, though I am aware of a nine-year-old who loves the Dragon’s Fire Series, and my oldest known reader is 82. Just as storytellers of old gathered entire villages around fires at night and regaled multiple generations with tales of magic and adventure, the Dragon’s Fire Series is a modern version of that classic genre, suitable for almost everyone.
I don’t wrap my historical fantasy stories in filth or faith. I deliver exciting plots, believable characters, and realistic situations solved by ingenuity, intelligence, and perseverance; fun to write, and fun to read. I make no apologies for that. I’m filling a gap in the modern fiction world—clean, but not religious; just great storytelling.
When a person decides to self-publish, they dream of having an overnight bestseller. The reality is that sales are slow, marketing is expensive, and advertising doesn’t always work. Fiction books are a hard thing to market, because nobody needs them, and thousands of them—some well-written and some less so—are flooding the market now that self-publishing has become so affordable and accessible. The abundance of less-well-written books makes readers understandably skeptical of the quality of anything independently published.
Once an author has published a book, she has to find readers. Everyone has friends, and some of those interested/supportive friends will buy the book. Selling to that inner circle is easy. The hard part is breaking out into the wider world of people who don’t know you. And that’s where readers can really help an author whose work they enjoy.
The first way to help is to buy the book—or books, if you like the stories and enjoy the author’s writing style. The next way to help is to tell everyone how much you loved the book. Word-of-mouth is THE BEST way to advertise books. You have many resources available to you to tell your friends about the fantastic story you just read.
Not comfortable talking about the book? You can write about the book! Write reviews. You don’t have to give five-stars unless you feel the book deserves it. Any review is helpful, so long as it’s fair. Your critique doesn’t have to be flowery or intellectual. It can be as short as saying that you liked/loved the book, you recommend others should read it, and you are looking forward to reading more from the author. Leave reviews everywhere! Goodreads is an excellent place to review books. Book retailers’ websites (like Amazon,) and your social media/social media groups, are also good options.
Lend your copy to friends. People are willing to spend a few dollars on food or drink they’ve never tried, but they are far more reluctant to try a book by an author they’ve never heard of for a similar price. Allowing them to read your copy might open their minds to the idea of purchasing the rest of the titles for themselves. Some readers are reluctant to lend their book, thinking that it will hurt the author’s sales. Yes, lending the book does reduce sales, but the early stages of an author’s publishing journey are about getting people to read the book, trust that the author can deliver a good story, and want more. Sales are secondary. If I get 10 fans who love the story for every copy I sell, I’m happy.
On that note, consider donating a copy of the book to your local library.
Follow the author on social media—whichever platform(s) you use most often. (Yours Truly is on Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter!) Your friends will see that you follow the author without you having to say anything directly. Like, comment on, and share posts from the author’s accounts. People will see it! It’s as simple as a click, and maybe a few words of your own about how much you liked the book.
Sign up for the author’s mailing list. I cannot stress this enough. My mailing list is the best connection I have to my readers. Amazon does not share your information with me when you buy one of my books, and social media limits the posts that you see. Mailing list subscribers get exclusive content, like advance viewing of text and back cover copy, cover and other images, as well as background and inside information about the books that I don’t share anywhere else. They get all the news about sales, contests, and events, with no fear of missing anything important. In addition, if I need to move my books from Amazon to a different vendor (for example), or my website goes down indefinitely, my mailing list subscribers are guaranteed to find out where I’ve gone, where they can find my work, and how they can contact me.
One mailing list subscriber requested an autographed copy of a book for a family member, and another, fearing a missed title, got direct information about book availability. I respond to every reasonable request or inquiry personally, and I consider every subscriber on my list my friend. So if you’re not on the list, get on the list! You can sign up right on the homepage of this website—I require only your email address—and you’ll receive one or two emails per month from me.
Lastly, consider giving the book(s) as gifts to others who might enjoy them. Christmas is coming—you can shop from the comfort of your couch! Books make a great gift for any occasion: birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, going-away parties, housewarmings, thanks-for-having-us-for-dinner-this-was-cheaper-than-wine, and “just because.”
YOU are my best marketing resource, and I am grateful for any assistance you can give me. Word-of-mouth is THE BEST form of advertising. Nothing beats you saying, “I loved it. You should read it.” And every time you do, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
Last October, after a little more than a year of writing, I had five interconnected historical fantasy novels ready to share with readers. With a great deal of excitement and trepidation, I launched the first in the series, Dragon’s Fire. The Rose of Caledon followed at Christmas, and Myrhiadh’s War two months after that. The Brigand’s Promise needed some rewrites due to a plot hole, and I released it in June of this year. The Curse of Caledon, the fifth book in the series, ended up needing extensive rewrites due to a date miscalculation, but fortunately, the changes did not affect the previous titles, and the manuscript is currently undergoing editing for release in the very near future.
When I started writing The Rose of Caledon on July 31, 2016, I did not expect the book to become anything I would want to share. I did not expect it to spawn a series, or to morph from a simple romance into an eight-hundred-year mystery set in a fantasy world with elements of magic thrown in. But Caledon reached out and embraced me, and I never wanted to leave. Characters became my friends, and I couldn’t wait for the part of the day when I could sit down and write.
Caledon has been good for me. I’m spending time doing something I absolutely love every day, and I have grown more confident as a person, a writer, and an editor because of my time spent there.
I grew up in a strict, religious family. The legalistic tenets of faith extended to influence my writing—so much so that my fourth-grade teacher wrote in my report card that I had “no imagination.” For years, I wrote what others expected of me, with varying degrees of success. But when I started writing the Dragon’s Fire Series, for the first time in my life, I wrote what I wanted to write without caring what anyone else thought. This formula works. I’m writing these books for me, and I’d write them even if nobody read them (although my enjoyment of them exponentially increases when others love them, too!)
I see my skills improving with every book I turn out. With each new title, the writing gets tighter, and my editing eye picks up on more things that I need to change and correct before publication. And the process becomes more and more fun as I go. I’ve loved writing for nearly 40 years. In Caledon, I’ve found myself as a writer and as a person. And one year after publishing, my journey is only beginning. I have so many more stories to tell!
So don’t stop reading! See you in Caledon...
Check out my interview with blogger Fiona Mcvie! https://wp.me/p3uv2y-75n