Amazing month

September 2019 was one for the record books.

Saskatchewan Entertainment Expo (SEE)

Artist Alley table layout, SEE 2019

I had a great time at SEE this month, selling 16 books, which might be a record! On top of that, I got my picture taken with my kids and Billy Dee Williams, which was amazing! You don’t really get a chance to talk to the celebrity when you’re doing the photos, but just saying a few words, and hearing his voice was like a soothing balm for the soul.

Can’t wait to go again next year!

Amazon sales

A local friend of mine read through my book series on Kindle Unlimited, finishing A Noble’s Quest last month, and then pounding through A Wizard’s Gambit and A Hero’s Birth this month. Add those pages read to the sale of the ebook trilogy to someone in the UK, and two paperback books through Amazon, and that’s a good month!

Patreon

I doubled the number of patrons this month, thanks to some generous D&D players! We ran two groups through a Prologue session to give them a sense of scale for the world and threats to come, which was a lot of fun, and you can read about that in a previous post on this blog. I’m working on the audio for a podcast for the second group’s experience with the prologue, and it’s taking me a while to get through. But it’ll happen! I learned a lot from this first one, so future files should be much cleaner and faster to check.

Dungeons & Dragons on Discord!

I think I have officially thrown in the towel on board game design. With work days being longer than they were in Guelph, and not having my Guelph game design friends here in Saskatoon, I just don’t feel up to it anymore.

And I’ve found a really great group of people to play Dungeons and Dragons with, so we get together 1-2 times per month. I’ve been playing a gnomish wizard and enjoying the experience quite a bit! I don’t normally play spell casters, but had a fun idea for a cowardly wizard who only wants to have a store to sell magical items that he makes. He’s grown more brazen as he gains power, but still prefers it if other people do the heavy lifting. That said, one of the players called him the MVP of one of our previous games because he dished out serious amounts of pain with a lot of burning hands spells!

But I miss DMing. Our DM here in Saskatoon is good, but his game is pretty old-school. It’s been 100% dungeon crawls up to 4th level, and we got rail-roaded into staying there longer than we would have liked.

So I got to thinking that I want to run something as well. As often happens, it started with a map…

Kingdom of the Sun

Nothing fancy, just a small slice of a world, as is my usual way of starting out. When I thought about actually running the game, I got an idea for a split campaign… starting players out with level 15 heroes of the realm who are investigating something peculiar. The Forest of Woes sounded like a nice place to start, and I began generating ideas for NPCs in the Lordship of Invenny, and a kernel of a quest popped in my brain.

Here we are, a few weeks later, and this map is just one of several. The entire first adventure for the level 15 characters is planned out, and I’m happy with how it came along. The plan is that they’ll play one session as the heroes to learn about the setting and back story, and then think about what they want to do to create their own level 1 characters who will start off far to the north of this location. I’ve even got some ideas of how that second session will start out, but it will be much more free form. I prefer it when the players help me discover the world, rather than having a campaign on rails that they need to follow.

I popped the idea online, with the added idea that Patrons who support me at $3/month would get a guaranteed spot at the virtual table. I didn’t get any bites on that, but that’s okay. I’m just looking forward to DMing again! But if anyone ever does decide to back me, the funds will go back into my book writing.

There’s some debate about the DM-for-hire model, but I figure people used to pay $5 every two weeks to sit at my table when I ran a game in Guelph, so $3/month for a game wouldn’t be too much of an ask. Could be some people will decide to donate later, but even if no one does, I’m feeling energized and happy, forging another world in my universe! I’m going to ask the players if they’d be okay with recording the session as a podcast, so you might just be hearing about this some more later!

Coffee, art, work, MeWe

This month I tried out a new fundraising platform that a friend pointed me towards. Ko-fi is a site that lets people give small one-time donations to someone. If you really want, you can even buy someone multiple cups of coffee at a time. There’s no fees for using the site itself, from either the person giving the donation, or those receiving, although PayPal does take a bit. I chipped in a coffee to the makers of the site after receiving 8 coffees in two days, because it’s nice to give back, especially when they don’t demand anything in return.

Now, the “buying me a coffee” thing is a bit of a ruse, because of course that money isn’t being used for coffee. I state right on my page that I’m saving up for the art for A Queen’s Edict. And I’m really close to getting there, already! The majority of the money I’ve saved has come from book sales, with donations from Patreon and Ko-fi helping, too!

I’ve added a little button on the right side of the screen, so if you ever feel like kicking in a one-time donation, it’s right there. As an added perk (?) I take a selfie thanking you for the coffee to share with you and show the world how awesome you are. Don’t believe me? 

So there you have it. Donate a coffee, get a picture of me thanking you. You can forget you ever saw it, doodle obscenities on it, print it out and burn it… the choice is yours!


Work continues on book 4! There’s more departures from the original D&D campaign, with added scenes to tie everything together better and ramp up the pressure on the characters. I’m trying out a new format with this one that’s worked out pretty nicely thus far. The three protagonists get their scenes in the same order, every chapter. Grace starts it out, Sardo is in the middle, and Trai wraps it up… it’s in their birth order. I don’t know if I’ll stick to that through the whole series. There will probably be times when I want one character at a particular point in time, and it won’t make sense to keep that ordering. In fact, I hadn’t expected it to work out as well as it has throughout 85% of this book. It might fall apart at some point, but I’m hoping to make it through the whole book with it.

I think my biggest worry was that it would feel clunky. For instance, in previous books, sometimes I’d end a chapter with a character, and want to continue on with that character straight away for the pacing of the novel. Some chapters a character wouldn’t have their POV come into play at all. So I like this because it forces me to sit down with each character and not play favourites. Everyone has a voice, solving that main criticism of A Noble’s Quest that the characters felt a little flat (although I like to think they come alive more in A Wizard’s Gambit and A Hero’s Birth… I’m just starting this new series out on the right foot).


There’s a new social media platform called MeWe. It’s pretty good! I’m thinking about switching over to it as my main social media site. I’ve already set up a Genre Fiction writing and reading group, a personal writing group, and a personal game design group. Quite a few people are checking it out, so I’ve dropped Facebook and am limiting Google Plus to mostly sharing posts about writing and game design, like what I used Facebook for. If you want the more personal side of my posts, you’ll have to follow me on MeWe.


Work on the audiobook for A Noble’s Quest continues! I’ve been listening to the chapters as the voice actor finishes them, and I’m really happy with his work. This is his first audiobook, and he’s really knocking it out of the park.


Lastly, I’ve been working on Wizards’ War. The playing cards came in, and they look great! I’ll be using them at SkyCon Light on April 28th in Kitchener. Additionally, I’ve been working on revamping some things for the game, and have printed off a new poster for the latest board, and some additional pieces. I didn’t have time to get the new board set up fully for SkyCon, but that’s okay. I’ll get it done in lots of time for both Origins and GenCon. Thanks again to my friends who are bringing it with them to let people try it!

 

Boxing Day Sale!

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

If you’ve been waiting for the completion of the Empire’s Foundation trilogy before you start reading, you might want to get an early jump on it!

Advanced Review Copies (ARCs) of A Hero’s Birth are out. The paperback is formatted and I’ve submitted everything for A Hero’s Birth and waiting on their review of the files so I can order an author proof to make sure everything looks good. So long as there aren’t any delays with CreateSpace, I should have the paperback books ready to roll before GenreCon!

In the meantime, you can get A Noble’s Quest and A Wizard’s Gambit for just 99 cents today! I’ve got a Kindle countdown deal going on, and both books are heavily discounted to help people prepare for the release of book three in January!


In other news, my flash fiction Carbon Concerns has been submitted to a magazine called Futuristic Canada by Dark Helix Press.

“So what’s next?” you ask.

Behold!

 

That’s right, the Strongblade Siblings series will be at least 4 books. Maybe 5. I’ll have to wait and see how book 2 goes, because there’s a TON of content for that one, and it might need to be split into two separate novels.

With almost 75,000 words written for A Queen’s Edict, the only problem is funds. I’m banking pretty heavily on my first trilogy doing well after it’s complete. I need this series to succeed, or the next four books don’t get published. Period.

I’ve already run two Indiegogo campaigns, raising over $2000 that went toward costs for editing and art. It was necessary to complete the first trilogy, because I wanted to finish what I started. Now, after getting developmental editing notes from two different editors I’ve learned a LOT about story structure, so I think I can get away without that. But I can’t keep relying on free editing from my aunt, and I certainly can’t afford to sink money into amazing cover art. There are just too many other things that we need to focus on paying for and I won’t put my family in debt for my hobby, no matter how passionate I am about it.

If you’ve enjoyed my work and want to see where the story goes next, I need your help. I’m just one person, I’m an introvert, and not particularly good at using social media and marketing myself. What helps authors succeed is word of mouth from readers.

Here are two concrete things you can do to help:

  1. Leave reviews on my books on Amazon.com, Goodreads, or wherever else. The review doesn’t have to be long or detailed. Reviews are a numbers game, and once I have enough of them, I can have a chance of getting accepted by Book Bub, a site that promotes discounted ebooks. Just by putting A Noble’s Quest up on Book Bub for 99 cents, I can make the money back for the investment from people continuing on with the series. My books have great legs, with many people continuing to read into the series once they start. It’s finding readers that’s the tough part.
  2. Tell your friends. A quick post on social media, or even just sharing a post I make that you like, can help dramatically increase the number of people who learn about my writing.

I’ll be doing all I can to promote my work. My wife knows the journalism industry and writes great press kits, so I’ll be casting a wide net across the country with the completion of the trilogy. I’ll be doing book readings, signings, and continue going to conventions. I’d like to hit a bigger one this year to increase my reach. When people see my art, and hear how passionate I am about my books, they often buy them. I’ve had people say they’ll wait until the trilogy’s finished, because they don’t want to wind up with a series that’s incomplete.

Additionally, I’ll be submitting shorter works with the help of my Patrons. If I get some stories published the traditional way, I can start applying for government grants to offset my editing/art costs. I already have two (1100 Before Gods’ War was published by HDWPBooks in their Theme-thology: New Myths collection, and Dangers of Tensire was published by Phoenix Quill in their Scoundrels anthology), so it won’t take much more before I can apply.

In the meantime, I’ll keep writing. I love it and can’t imagine stopping. Who knows? Maybe some year down the line we’ll have the money and I can pay for editing. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll get to publish them sooner if this series does well.

Much work, new visuals, wow…

Monthly report for November, 2017

I did a lot of “behind the scenes” work this month. For instance, I updated this website – pretty much every page on the site was updated. Some of it was grammatical errors, but most of it was content. For instance, the Friends page was updated with a few new people, and a couple were chopped because I haven’t heard from them in ages.

Wizards’ War prototype v4.0 is coming along. After play testing the 2’x2′ board size, I’m confident that it’ll work. I think bigger would be even better, but since I have to balance size and cost, 2’x2′ is as small as I’d want to go. All of the art for the units is done, which is pretty exciting!

There’s a magazine that’s looking for Canadian submissions, and I put together an 800 word flash fiction. I’m … not really sure it’s good enough. I know I say that about all my writing, but I mean it this time. Moreso. It’s just so hard to tell an entire story in so few words. I don’t feel like there’s enough room for meaningful character growth. So I’m flip-flopping on it. The story’s just too straight forward. If I can find a way to add a meaningful twist, I might salvage it.

Edit: So the night I initially wrote this post, I went and worked a bit more on A Queen’s Edict and then came up with a twist for the flash fiction. It’s 300 words longer now, and I’m pretty happy with it.

In other news, the cost of all my books have gone up.

But Ryan! Why!?

Because I need to value my books appropriately if I hope to continue publishing. If I keep trying to sell at low prices, I can never get ahead to pay for editing and art. I really don’t want to run any more Indiegogo or Kickstarter campaigns for my writing, so the prices have edged up. A Noble’s Quest is up to $5 USD for Kindle, and $15 USD for paperback, A Wizard’s Gambit is $6/$20, and A Hero’s Birth will probably be the same, since it’s not too much longer than book 2. Short stories are still only $1 each.

I got some work done on my next book, too. One day I blitzed 2000 words on A Queen’s Edict, which I’m pretty happy about. It’s a Sardo scene, and I really like her. I mean, I like all three protagonists, but I think she might be my favourite. There’s something fun about a noble roguish character. She has Eliza’s charm, but can drift through a variety of social situations, not stuck with being a noblewoman. In this scene she sneaks away from a high-level meeting to have a meal with the troops and listen to their stories. It gives her context in a larger war that she knows little about. And the intel she gathers comes in handy in uncovering more details in the high-level meeting that the party might not have discovered, otherwise. I think I’ll share some of it with my Patrons this month. If you’d like to see exclusive sneak peeks, all it takes is a couple bucks per month. You’ll also hear about my process, and get access to a few short stories that I’ve published with the help of my Patrons!

In related news, I did up a quick text graphic for A Queen’s Edict so when I post lines from it over on Twitter I can start posting the picture to go with it.

Related to the last news, Harvey did up an omnibus cover for the Empire’s Foundation trilogy. This’ll only be available in a digital copy, because all three books in one would just be far too massive to print.

And more art! These are the four pictures for Thrak’s armies. I’ll be painting their unit tokens soon!

Last, but certainly not least, editing continues on A Hero’s Birth. It’s 87% edited, with three chapters remaining. I’m really hoping we’re done before Christmas, but these last three chapters are long, with a great many battles to play out. If we’re not done before Christmas, I’m not sure I’ll have time to get the paperback novels out in time for GenreCon, and that would suck. But we’ll just have to wait and see. It’s certainly not impossible we’ll be done by then.

February Recap

Since I did a GenreCon-specific post this month, I didn’t feel the need to do a two-week post, but rather another monthly one. Plus, our house has been a plague outbreak centre, with two weeks of flu, followed by a stomach bug.

I’ve sent off an 1800 word piece of nonfiction to a CBC contest. It’s my first piece of nonfiction, but it’s about a topic that’s very near and dear to my heart: narcissism. After years of being under the thumb of a narcissist, I felt the need to share my story to give other people hope that there is a way to deal with toxic parents. Special thanks to Karen Conlin for squeezing me in for editing, and T. Pascal for taking a look at it and giving me such glowing feedback!

Also, I’ve finished the first draft of Dark Ones, a short story about a monk named Eshe who has her life torn apart when an army of barbarians led by a dragon sack her town. That’s being submitted to Baen for their short story contest. I’m interviewing editors right now, sending out samples. If you’re an editor and interested in auditioning, get in touch with me so I can send you a 500 word sample to go through. My aunt already went through it, so I know what’s wrong with it. May the best editor win my undying devotion, and years of editing work. 😉


I’m excited to announce that I have a new Patron this month! She came in the middle of the month, which was a big surprise because I only ever talk about Patreon at the end of the month … and it was Patreon that sent her my way. She’d just supported another artist, got a suggestion to check me out, and did! So that was exciting.

If you’re interested in becoming my Patron, just click that link. I’ve added a new perk for the $2 level, where you’ll receive sneak peeks at pieces I’m working on. For instance, this month you’ll receive the full short nonfiction piece I put together for the CBC contest I mentioned earlier. Patrons helped me cover the editing costs for it, so I’m sharing it with them exclusively! If it doesn’t get picked up by the CBC, I’m not sure I’d self-publish it. So this might be your only chance to look at it!


I’ll be attending Gryphcon from March 3rd to 5th. The Saturday is going to be grueling, at 14 hours long. I doubt I’ll go for that whole time… 8am startup is a bit too early for me! Maybe 10am-6pm, depending on how busy it is. But it’s not like it’ll be roaring busy at 8am or anything. It’s a smaller con, with about 300 people in attendance last year.


I had my best week ever on Amazon Kindle Unlimited this month! Over 1300 pages were read. Often I’ll have one person read something in a month, sometimes two, but this month the stars aligned and two people read through both A Noble’s Quest and A Wizard’s Gambit at the same time. I love looking at this graph, so I thought I’d get a screenshot before it disappears in a month!

Sometimes I amuse myself

Writing went well this week. I had a couple nights where I sat down and words flowed without too much trouble. Part of this was because there were excellent philosophical discussions between Trai and his cat. The conversation ended with a wonderful/awful turn of phrase that fit Trai’s personality perfectly. I’m usually no good at that sort of thing. Sometimes when I think something’s funny, writers will say, “Don’t do that.”

No, seriously, when I wrote 1100 BGW (Before Gods’ War) (about minotaurs), I put in a line about how one of the big males was attempting “to cow” a female. I liked it. Someone else said whether I put it in intentionally or accidentally, it needed to go. Sure, it was corny, but sometimes I like to write corny things, dammit. But as it was part of an anthology, I decided to heed his advice and turf it.

But this time it’s my own work, and I will not apologize.

I talked about Eclipse in last month’s Patreon supporter e-mail (you want in on the scoop? Pledge $2 per month to get these sorts of fascinating feline insights (not to mention your name in the dedication section of my next release, an e-book of your choice, and my eternal gratitude)), but I might just talk about her again next month because I’m so pleased with this joke.


Paperback copies of all my books will be available at The Round Table! I dropped them off this weekend. This is an exciting development, because the game store has a strong fantasy vibe to it, and I feel like “my people” are going to see my books there and be interested.


The next Guelph Genre Fiction meeting will be at Miijidaa Cafe + Bistro, beside The Bookshelf in downtown Guelph. If you’re interested in learning about book promotion, or sharing your own successes and failures, please feel free to come by on Sunday December 4th at 2pm!

Halloween Giveaway

spooktacular

I’ve posted a couple times about this event in passing, but as it’s coming up soon, I figured it’s time for a front-and-centre approach.

Over 100 authors are taking part in the Spooktacular Authors Giveaway, where you can win copies of books and anything else that the authors are willing to give as prizes. Additionally, there’s a grand prize of $100 USD PayPal cash. All you have to do to get entries is follow authors on their preferred platforms (as long as those platforms are Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and/or mailing lists. No G+ love 🙁 ).

I’m giving away three stories to two lucky winners, including my soon-to-be-released short story, Macimanito Môswa, about a demon-possessed moose that terrorizes a suburbanite mother of two in the isolated wilds of Northwestern Ontario.


 After a period of crippling self-doubt, I’ve come out the other side and started writing again. While not up to my usual weekly goal, it’s a step in the right direction. I think Trai’s cat might be my favourite character. Why? Find out by supporting me on Patreon! Just $2 gets you behind-the-scenes access, and this month’s sneak peek is all about the black cat named Eclipse.

Coordinating

This week I started to settle into my new volunteer role as Genre Fiction Coordinator with Vocamus Press. I met with the chief architect of the group to talk about some ideas moving forward, and I’m setting up my first official informational meeting. That’s not to say there won’t be informal discussion as well, but we have a topic that we’re definitely going to talk about: conventions! I’m pretty excited to talk about them, and gauge interest from the other authors in Guelph. It’d be great if we could set up a table and grow our readerships, while offering a wide variety of books.

I also flexed my Genre Fiction Coordinator muscles and talked to the Creative Writing group at the university this week. They had a table out, recruiting people, so I stopped by and gave them my card and a brief rundown of what I’m doing with Vocamus Press. It’d be nice to get some younger writers in there, too. Maybe the more experienced writers will be able to help them along on their journey.

If you are in the Guelph area and at all interested in writing genre fiction (or anything, for that matter), feel free to get in touch with me and we can either talk one-on-one, or you can attend one of our meetings. The current plan is to meet once every 2 months, and maybe there will be some extra events if there’s interest.

October is going to be jam-packed. On top of Thanksgiving with my wife’s side of the family, I’ve got Book Bash and the official meeting with the genre fiction writers on the 23rd, where I’ll be talking to them about attending conventions.


patreon-cover

I started a Patreon account. The idea harkens back to ye olden times when artists had patrons who paid them to create. The difference is, today you can have lots of patrons, and each provides a small amount to help an artist thrive. In some cases, there are artists making a living wage (or better) through Patreon. Sure, that’s a rare case, and I don’t plan on getting to that point, but it can be a huge help to fill the world with beauty.

Okay, my books are filled with adventure, intrigue, and battle … not sure anyone would call that beautiful, but I like it!

I know a lot of people have already contributed to my Indiegogo, and if you have, this isn’t aimed at you. You’ve helped so much already! But if you know someone who’s interested in fantasy and might want to sponsor a writer, please consider sending them my way. My first goal is only $25/month, which will put professional art on the covers of my short stories, as well as allow me to pay for editing. At that amount, I’ll still be covering novellas, novels, and conventions myself, although those are all higher goals.

Even $1/month is a big help, and you’ll not only get an e-book per month at that level, but also get your name listed in the Dedication section of all the books I bring out while you sponsor me. Thanks in advance for your help!


Missed my writing goal by this much! In case that didn’t come through clearly, I was 850 shy of 3000. But I already started my writing for next week while the rest of the family went out for groceries. There was a conversation that happened between the characters that I wasn’t expecting at all. It was stuff I’ve had in the back of my brain since forever, but figured it’d just be “author knowledge” and not come out on the page. But then this druid was there, and has a totally different perspective on existence than any of my main characters and bam. There it was, pouring out of my finger tips. Love it when that sort of thing happens.

Slacker

I’ve been reading Stephen King’s book On Writing over the last few days, and it’s fascinating. My wife’s aunt got it for me a while ago, and I had put it on the shelf, thinking maybe I’d look at it eventually. Generally speaking, I don’t like the idea of people who have found success telling others what to do. Put ten successful people in a room, and they’ve probably gotten there different ways. You see this sort of thing in the infamous lists that go around now and then with advice from writers who have made it … and they all say different things.

So I was pleasantly surprised to read that Stephen King doesn’t believe in a magic bullet. Anyone with any shred of common sense would realize that’s true, because if you could just copy successful people, there would be no unsuccessful people.

I enjoyed reading about his past, and was surprised to see him mirror some of my own beliefs about writing. I think he’s a bit harsher on some points, and I disagree that you need to write every day, or that you should read 6 hours per day (ain’t nobody got time for that!), but some of his points are interesting. He’s made me smile and laugh a few times throughout. His history is full of wild stories, and his ideas of a writer’s toolbox are fascinating. I aspire to become a good writer, even if he doesn’t believe I can ever be a great one (because I wasn’t born with the gift). But I’d be happy with good.

And I’ll admit to having more than a little envy when I read that he made $200,000 on the paperback publishing of _Carrie._ I can’t even imagine finding that sort of readership. It’s also impossible to think what I’d do if that sort of money fell into my lap. One thing’s for sure, I’ll listen to King’s cautionary tale, and not fall into drugs and alcohol! I imagine a big chunk of it would go into fixing up the house, or paying off the mortgage. Having an extra mortgage payment worth of money every 2 weeks would be like winning the lottery for the next 30 years.


I had a few slow writing nights early in the week, and when I sat down last night I’d only written 1200 words. Instead of writing, I set up the bones of a Patreon page, in case I felt like setting up one. With the thought of getting paid every time I bring something out, I was seriously considering firing it up. However, my timidity struck, and I realized I don’t even like to ask people to buy my books when they’re already out. “Buy my books!” posts are something I hate, and even when I do remind people that I’m a fantasy author, I try to do it in a creative way. Doubling that effort to try to sell books and find patrons sounded awful, so I think I’ll abandon that idea.

That took up a night that could have been used for writing. I was a little worried I wouldn’t hit my minimum goal, but then I sat down and the words flowed like a river. 3000 came and went with no trouble at all!


It’s hard for me to believe, but I’m up to 12 reviews now for A Noble’s Quest on Amazon. After sitting at 9 for so long, I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever hit 10, and all of a sudden I’ve had 3 in the last couple weeks. Maybe it has to do with the offer to give free advanced copies of A Hero’s Birth to people who review my first two books on Amazon? Maybe it’s serendipity.

At 4.1 stars, I’m so happy that people are enjoying the book. I’m going to print off some posters and put them up around campus to advertise that my books are available through the Campus Bookstore. Maybe I’ll find a few more readers that way.