Working as an Infrastructure Architect failed to bring me a sense of achievement. I looked back at my work and realized building computer networks would not endure. When I looked at it, I doubted anyone would come up and say, 'Hey, thanks for building <insert uber computer server here>."
One night I went to bed and couldn't sleep. I turned on the light and stared at some paintings my son Adam had created for his Business Studies class. Suddenly, stories and intricate plots consumed me. The next morning I wrote them down in Excel and went from there.
Having a part of yourself 'out there' brings a great feeling of success. Each day now I wake up and think "How I can improve?" Get better. Write better. Immerse others in my world. I enjoy the positive feedback as well as the constructive remarks - It makes me a better writer.
Because of this feedback, I can hold a print copy in my hand and pass it down to my children. There's just something cool about having your kids search your name on the internet and discover that you have produced something that many people enjoy.
Either that, or it’s a mid-life crisis that I'm sucking others into.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
It has to be the hidden 'eggs'. Every story is written with two things in mind.
1) The 're-read' test. Those surprises that pop up from nowhere once you are familiar with the story. Those hidden plots and encounters. There are a lot of those in my books.
2) An interweaving story. When you read one book from the series, you are rewarded with a bigger view or understanding of the global story that spans the Drift Worlds Saga. It is very complicated to achieve and a lot of editing and beta readers are involved.
3) Finishing! That moment you take a break and wait for the feedback. You fix grammar. Listen to your readers and make changes. They spend their valuable time to read your works, and their feedback in any form is like gold. If someone takes the time to comment, then that means they have an investment in your story. If they didn't, then they wouldn't bother. It may sound odd, but whenever I sit down and write, I look forward to the critique at the end, and it is always foremost in my mind.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Editing. Man I hate editing, so I procrastinate and spend it with my family. Currently I work from home, performing network support, and taking care of our toddler. It is wonderful to play with her during the day and form new ideas through play. I also play on-line games and Kayak when the weather is good. When the little one is in bed, my time is spent with my wife discussing plots and sub plots (Kassidy has over twelve alone) and how they interweave between characters and books. Editing and cover design also kicks into our spare time. I look forward to the daytime and spending it at the swimming pool or the local park with the little one. Her expressions and excitement at seeing life really inspires some of the Ferals you will meet.
What is your writing process?
I daydream a lot, and then try to remember it. Excel is a constant companion. I use it to link story lines and timetable events. Chronology is important to avoid story flaws. The most important part are the brainstorming sessions with my wife, Kristina. She turns my raw writing into something that is readable. Her work in editing and spotting flaws is impeccable and meticulous. Without her, I honestly believe I would not have made it past two downloads.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
It has been great! The ability to link with other providers is invaluable. The reporting system is great and easy to use. Uploading from MSWord is a tool I can't go without. SEO tools points me to areas of weakness with marketing, while the graphing tools let me analyse trends.
We started with just a website and Facebook, but Smashwords has made a real difference.
What was the first story you ever wrote?
The first story I ever wrote is entitled, Kassidy. It is still in the edit stage, along with its sequel. I stopped writing the novels to concentrate on "Dalynia - Nature's Slaughter" - my entry for the Baen Books Fantasy competition. The word limit was around 8,000, which is why Dalynia is a nice, quick read. I decided to write Dalynia as a forerunner to Kassidy. That way, even if it didn't win, at least it wasn't a complete waste of time. After the competition, I had another look at Dalynia. We designed a cover, researched ISBN's, and released it on our website.
I made a ton of writing errors in Kassidy, and I am so glad I didn't publish straight away. The difference between Dalynia and Kassidy is very noticeable. I wrote a lot of superfluous junk in Kassidy. To me it sounded eloquent, but it just bored everyone who agreed to test read for me. I submitted my first two chapters for appraisal and got a "could do better.” I will say that it did get a lot better after the first two chapters. The whole appraisal experience gave me the kick I needed to research and read books about writing. Action dominated and plots formed. The middle and end are very different from the beginning. Kassidy has been revamped and follows the vein and feedback I have received from the appraiser and my readers.
I can say this because I've fixed it, but it's been a huge journey so far and the fans we have gained along the way are very encouraging and supportive. If you enjoyed Dalynia - Nature's Slaughter, then I'm certain you will enjoy Kassidy. Familiar characters return in the form of Cravius, the son of Garos, and his silver wolf, Shem. I would say more, but you know, spoilers and all.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Drift Worlds is based the struggle between four separate worlds. The free short story series introduces the reader to each world, its cultures, beliefs, and people. We see through the eyes of the Grandparents of the main characters in the Novels and the ramifications of the choices they make. Each story is unique but also linked to every other story, either directly or indirectly as we take the reader through '6 degrees of separation."
How difficult was it to write an interspersing story?
Extremely difficult. Excel proved invaluable along with great alpha readers. Time was very problematic as we examined the facets of the story. Moving characters from their position as 'mains' to 'support' took a lot of effort. The short stories were read many times and choices had to be made to either 'stereotype' and support a complex storyline or to keep it simple and involve more time 'carving out' the characters and their environment. Each short story, and book is different from the other and I hope we achieved this in a simple, easy to read series.
What are the Drift Worlds?
There are four main worlds circling their own sun and numerous 'orphans' caught in their rogue path.
Methuselah: The dominate world that conquered its neighbors. Driven by 'faith magic' and a zealous church (split between moderates and zealots) that stops at nothing in its mission to bring everyone to their faith. Methuselah is internally divided between church and state. We experience the constant struggle between the monarchy and church systems. Right and wrong. Legend speaks of a great Paladin that will rise again, restore the raging bitterness within the church between the moderate and the zealots, and bring order to chaos.
Aazronia: The agnostic world powered by magic, divided into four specialties. Elementals, Wizards, Coercers and Summoners. The Aazronian's live in great towers that float above a hostile new world discovered after their original world was destroyed. They struggle to free themselves from Methuselah while battling the Abominations and Treants that threaten them every day. Aazronian's believe only in their own abilities and a vision that one-day a child will be born between two worlds who will save them all and rid the world of their Methuselan law.
Whetu: The druid world that strives to live in harmony with nature and maintain peace among the worlds by serving as Ambassadors and aiding the sick, afflicted and those in peril. Rangers and Druids coexist co-exist in harmony, and pray to the Earth Mother to deliver a child whose power will unite both nature and mankind.
Ketu: The world of hybrid Ferals devoid of magic, mutated by the power of the grey ore mined relentlessly by Aazronia and Methuselah corrupted nature’s inhabitants and merged them with humankind. Ferals fight amongst themselves and anyone else who threaten their home world. Conquered by the mighty Bishop Belle, the Ferals raid passing planets to gather knowledge and technology against Methuselah and each other. It is rumored amongst the species that one day a Bard will rise from their ranks whose skill, intelligence and cunning will retrieve a great treasure that will unite them all.
What is the timeframe for Drift Worlds?
The short stories are currently being released. We are pleased with their current pace of downloads. Two more short stories are planned for release this year. One very soon followed by the final story in the last quarter. A tentative release date for the Kassidy series is 2016. I am currently writing the final book of the Kassidy trilogy with each book averaging 280,000 words. Multiply that by three and then add the free short stories and it equals a lot of editing time.
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