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Guaranteed Last Post of 2015

Well, it’s not like I’ve been posting much anyway but this is my last post for the year. It may not seem like I enjoy writing here, but that’s not true. I just don’t feel qualified to dispense writing advice, and I don’t think anyone cares to read about my cats or whatever other silliness passes for a blog post. So, I don’t write much here.  Anyway, let’s round up 2015.

A great year for my writing. Yes, that’s a sentence fragment, so maybe not a great year for grammatical writing. In any case, I was hoping to amp up my production this year and I certainly did. I got over 400,000 words written this year, so a little better than 1,000 words per day. I published three novels and just fell short of the fourth one (will be out in early January). Yippee! And I didn’t quit my day job either!

Now that the Ulfrik Ormsson’s Saga is completed, I’ve seen an overall improvement in sales of all books in the series. I think a lot of people are like me, and prefer to wait for a series to be completed before diving in. Fortunately not everyone is that way. So thanks to those who helped support it while it was in development. I’m pleased that so many people seem to have enjoyed the books. Of course, not everyone has but then again no book is for everyone. I see plenty of classics and mega-bestsellers with 1 or 2 star ratings. So I’m in fine company.

As for reading, I did the Goodreads Reading Challenge again this year. I usually take the total from the prior year and add 10%, which resulted in my 2015 goal being 100 books. I was behind for most of the year, but a bunch of short reads helped pull me over the finish line.

I have to say I didn’t have many disappointments in my reading this year. This year continued my worshipful appreciation of all of Jim Butcher’s writing. In addition to finishing the Dresden Files, I finished his Codex Alera series. It was a stereotypical fantasy in a lot of ways (no real “dark lord” per se, though) but was just thoroughly great. Shows what a master can do with old ideas. Haven’t started on his new series — yet.

Michael J. Sullivan’s Riyria series blew me away. Just such awesome characters! Larry Corriea rocked my world again with his Hard Magic series. This year’s surprise author for me was Peter Clines. I loved both his weird fiction series and his superheroes/zombie mashup series. I immediately elevated him to favorite author status. Guess I’ll just be reading anything he produces.

There were lots of other great reads too. Bernard Cornwell, THE UNDISPUTED HEAVY-WEIGHT CHAMPION of historical fiction, can’t be omitted. Pierce Brown has me hooked on his Red Rising series. There was this book called The Martian that became a movie or something? And the heavy-hitter, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. I’m finally getting to it at the very end of this year.

So that’s the year. In 2016 I’ll be flying off in new directions. I’ll get things kicked off in January with a fantasy series that I’ve been mentioning ad nauseum in newsletters and blog posts. After that, it’s wherever the winds of fate take me.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe New Year’s Eve. Good luck and well wishes for 2016!

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Brief Update

I guess I never did any of the “last book in the series” fanfare for the Ulfrik Ormsson’s Saga. I published it in August and it has been selling great. I’m finally getting reader feedback via comments and email, so far all positive. This author gig is actually starting to feel like the real thing!

It was hard to end Ulfrik’s story. I’ve been living it for the last three years. I almost didn’t know how to write or think about any other characters. So when I had to face the blank page again I was intimidated by all the white space.

I’m in the final stages of the first book in my next series. As I’ve mentioned previously, it will be a fantasy story. It’s not an epic fantasy like the revered GRRM or Brandon Sanderson tomes. I doubt I could focus long enough to write an 800 page epic! Nope, this will be a much more personal scale. No cast of thousands for this one.  If you enjoyed my Ulfrik series then imagine something similar but in a fantasy setting.

Right now I’m working through the rewrite process. This one’s a challenge because I’m not only creating new characters but also a whole new world to go with them. Once I have all my “first readers” feedback together I’ll know where I need to tighten up the story. I was hoping to get it out this month, and if I’m really good I might. However, expect this one around January 2016.

I hope you’ll follow me into my new series. Thank you all for your support!

Here’s just a quick note for anyone stopping by here to see what I’m up to. I’ve been hard at work writing the final book in my Ulfrik Ormsson’s Saga. It’s with the proof reader now. I’ve got to get a cover designed for this one and then it should be available for purchase in the next few weeks, baring unforeseen circumstances.

The last book was both easy and difficult to write. I knew where the story was going and how it was going to end. All the major movements in the story were already conceived in great detail. Yet I still found it difficult to finish. I’ve been living with all these characters in my head for more than five years now. I just don’t think about these fictional people when I’m writing, but also when I’m away from the keyboard. Maybe I think of them even more when I’m not writing than when I am!  Anyway, saying good-bye to this world and its people was a lot harder to do this time.

While it’s not impossible for me to go back to tales of Viking adventure, I’m setting aside the historical fiction for a while. I do love history and thoroughly enjoy envisioning a time long past, but it is not necessarily my first love. That has always been fantasy fiction, with a capital F cast in mithril. That’s where I’m headed next.  I have this awesome idea for a small farm boy who is secretly a great wizard and long-lost heir to the king, and he goes on this quest to defeat the dark lord of vileness……

Okay, I’m just kidding on the plot! (She’s actually a farm GIRL. Gotcha!)  I will not be rolling out stale tropes and blatant stereotypes. Though right now I’m reading a fantasy series by a famous author that is almost that exact story, and I’m loving it. I suppose even such a worn-out story can be fun in the hands of a good storyteller. Anyway, my story will have a strong Dark Ages feel with unique magic systems, lots of good action, and all the fun you expect out of my books.

So keep watching for the final book in Ulfrik Ormsson’s Saga and if the gods are with me I’ll have a new fantasy series for you before the year is out. Thanks for dropping by!

Good thing I did not make any rash new year resolutions about posting more frequently! Truth is, despite what you see for blog activity, I’ve been busy writing. The resolutions I did make this year were to dedicate more time to the important stuff, which of course includes writing. My productivity has been great, especially considering I barely get an hour or so to write each day. I’ve found extra writing time each day and log a solid word count each week. This has been one of my more successful new year resolutions.

So where does this leave me? Well, with a new book to tell you about! I’ve released book six in the Ulfrik Ormsson’s Saga and it is now available on Amazon.com. I titled it Return of the Ravens. It’s about Ulfrik’s return from the disasters of book five and his struggles to find his place in a world where people thought him long dead. Sounds “touchy-feely” doesn’t it? Well, there’s lots of touching with swords and axes and Vikings feeling around for missing limbs after big battles. But it’s not all about the violence. There’s a story in there too. Promise! So follow the link and download a sample. If you’ve enjoyed the series so far, you won’t be disappointed with this entry.

Right now I’m taking a short break from writing, but have been steadily working on book seven. That will be the last book in this series. I won’t say I’ll never visit the Viking world again. I’ve enjoyed my time there. However, Ulfrik is feeling his age and his boys are growing up. The next generation is ready to assume the mantle of leadership, and Ulfrik’s story is coming to its end. As long as the Three Norns are willing, I should have that book out in August this year.

After concluding the series, it will be time to set my sights on other writing challenges. Historical novels have been fun, but the history side of the equation limits me in more ways than I had expected when I began this series. I’ll be considering the historical novel’s more popular cousin: the fantasy novel. More on that later. Right now, I’ve got to get back to writing!

2014 Thoughts

Well, this year blitzed past me. If I’m going to make all those goals I set for myself last January, then today I have to drop 100 lbs, publish two more novels, and backpack across Europe. I think I’ll just play Dragon Age: Inquisition and call it done.  Like everyone else is doing these days, I’m going to take a quick look back on 2014 in terms of my writing and reading experiences. These are the “input / output” facets of the writing life, so reviewing where I landed on these makes sense.

Writing

I published Shield of Lies this year. Way to go, Jerry! I thought I’d get the next one out by year-end but alas I was not as productive as I thought I’d be. So book five, “The Storm God’s Gift” will be out in late January 2015.  Looks like I’ve got a leg-up on next year’s production. Let’s keep this positive!

In terms of self-improvement, I took a course through WMG Publishing on cover design. I have a strong background in art, but cover design is really its own thing. I learned a ton from this course and it was well worth the money. I’ll be taking a few more next year, starting one in January for writing productivity. I also took a few of their lectures, which were really enlightening. If you’re a writer, I highly recommend these lectures.

In between novels I wrote a few short stories. These were horror stories and while I liked them enough, I’m not sure they’re ready for publication. Horror themes makes great short stories, and maybe one day some variant of these shorts will see the light of day. For now, they’re practice for me.

Finally, I can’t complain about income from my book sales. I’m not on anyone’s “famous list” but my books have sat all year  in the top ten of Amazon’s Top 100 Norse Fiction category. I don’t check these ranks too much, as I can’t afford to let either success or defeat mess with my head. That’s the same reason I don’t read reviews, as much as I appreciate them. I just try to do this writing thing on my own without outside influence. Anyway, the implementation of Kindle Unlimited has cut into my monthly income. I’ve decided that exclusivity is not a good business model, and so I’ve pulled out of the Kindle Select (and therefore Kindle Unlimited). My first two books will soon be available elsewhere, like Barnes and Noble and Kobo. The third and fourth have to wait out their Select terms before I can publish them with other book sellers. It just makes sense to increase my visibility at other retailers.

Reading

What a great year for reading! Each year I sign up for the Goodreads Reading Challenge, and mine was to read 60 books. I blew past that goal back in October, completing 95 books this year! About fourteen of these were graphic novels, but then a good portion of them were huge books by Stephen King, Brandon Sanderson, and Dan Simmons. So it all balanced out. One huge help for me was discovering Audible.com and audio books. Suddenly I was able to take in books while driving and doing other things. This double my reading time. Some people claim it’s not actual reading and therefore does not count toward the reading challenge. I disagree. So someone is reading the book to you. Big deal. You can take in books through your eyes, ears, or fingers and how the story gets into your head doesn’t matter, at least to me.

So what did I discover this year?  Wow, I’ve found all these great new writers I’m dying to tell you about! In fact, these are all huge name writers that I only just got around to reading. I’m sorry I took so long to find them. Here’s the cream of the crop from the year’s challenge.

Dan Simmons: Dan, why the hell did you take so long to show up in my reading stack? I swear, I’ve been looking at Carrion Comfort since the 80s so why 2014? Whatever the reason, I’m now officially a huge fan of Mr. Dan. Carrion Comfort was amazing (as well as looooong) and the audiobook performance was astounding. I tackled the Hyperion duology this year and it was awesome. That first book, Hyperion, was crazy good. This guy can write! (Go figure)

Joe Abercombie: Okay, not a new discovery this year, but I got through his loosely interconnected trilogy of books that follow on his “The First Law” trilogy. Joe’s witty dialogue is worth it alone, but his action and pacing is incredible. I’m so glad he’s a “young” writer, so I can enjoy more of his books in years to come. His so-called “Young Adult” series started with “Half a King” and it read like any other of his books without the graphic sex.

Larry Correia: I read Monster Hunter International and lost my mind. It was everything I wanted to read at that point, and I “binge read” the whole series. Considering how long these books are, I spent a good amount of time with Mr C. over the summer. He’s top notch, and while I’m not a gun fanatic I do find the gun fetishism of these books highly interesting. I would have kept going on to his “Hard Magic” series, but I held off because of the similarity to my next big discovery.

Jim Butcher: Is Jim Butcher God? Discuss. I’d been dithering about reading his Dresden Files because I heard the first several books were not good. I’m not going to listen to people anymore, because those first books were crack cocaine. I’m addicted. There are something like 14 Dresden books out there, and I’m going to devour all of these in short order. Then I’m going on to Codex Alera series. By then my temple to Jim Butcher will be just about complete.

Joe Hill: Here’s a big name related to an even bigger name in publishing. I went crazy for the graphic novel series Locke & Key, which really should not be missed by fans of horror of the Lovecraftian flavor. I then read every book by Hill, finding some better than others. “Heart Shaped Box” was excellent, and “NOS4A2” rocked the house. I’ll be reading everything he writes for the rest of my life.

I also read some real stinkers this year. One was a bestselling book that apparently induces spontaneous orgasms to every other person who reads it. I only got halfway through and wanted to die. I don’t understand the hubbub nor the claims of originality. I also dipped into a few other authors that did not live up to expectations. It’s all a matter of taste and I guess these disappointments were not to mine. Easy enough.

If I had to pick one book out of the 95 as my sole recommendation, it would be hard. I’d have to give the nod to Dan Simmon’s Hyperion. It’s absolutely amazing and probably the one book that has stayed with me since reading it.

So if you made it this far into my year-end post, you’ll be disappointed to learn there is no prize for completing my self-indulgent word-explosion. I had a good year, and I hope you did too. Here’s to a great 2015!

New Cover for Next Book

Though I’ve finished the first draft to the fifth book in Ulfrik Ormsson’s Saga about a month ago, it won’t be ready for release until mid to late January 2015. It’s in the editing process right now. However, I competed the cover artwork this week and thought I’d post up a preview. Let me know what you think!

Storm God's Gift 72dpiIf you want to know when this book and other future books will be released, sign up for my newsletter. I only use it to announce new books; no spam or pictures of my cats will reach your email. I promise! The sign up is on the right side of the front page, just below my latest releases.

New Star Wars Teaser

Just a quick note to share my excitement over the new teaser trailer for the upcoming Star Wars movie. It’s all over the internet, so if you haven’t seen it then you must be avoiding it. In that case, sorry for rubbing your face in it. Having grown up on Star Wars, I’m stoked for a new movie.

Personally, what excites me most about this preview is we’re FINALLY getting what we’ve all been demanding for so long:

Fudgcile Fliers!

A Shot-For-Shot Dissection Of All The Clues In The Star Wars Trailer

Come on December 2015!