Turtle Island

Since Aliens and Cowboys is finally coming to an end (I think?) I’ve just been struggling with writing the ending. I know what I want the ending to do, I’m just having troubles putting it into the proper words.

I do still have my block distraction project, which is The Runes of Elsewhere, but even that series is at a bit of a crossroad in my mind. So I’ve been brainstorming about new story ideas.

I’ve already got a Christmas story planned for next NaNoWriMo, so I’m thinking the logical choice would be to actually write Turtle Island… the first decent story I ever wrote. Unfortunately it was back when there wasn’t computers, so it’s lost forever.

Since I still know the premise behind the story, I’ve been doing some plot development and I think it would make for a nice stand-alone story and I can easily turn it into a sort of origin story for the Aliens and Cowboys series as it’ll take place about 20 years prior to the events in The Cowboy and the Aliens.

I won’t even start to write this until Aliens and Cowboys is finished, then it will become my block distraction project for The Runes of Elsewhere.

Creative Writing Class

To further my writing (and maybe figure out what the hell I’m doing) I enrolled myself in Creative Writing Level 1 and Level 2 through Mount Royal University’s Continuing Education program. Level 1 started in October and ran into December, then Level 2 started in January and just ended.

For the program we needed to define our Work In Progress for the class. Aliens & Cowboys was too far along to use for the class as there’s far too much history for anyone new to understand, so I decided to use my block distraction project, The Runes of Elsewhere for the course.

I got a lot of good feedback on my writing and have already made numerous changes to what was originally released to my patrons.

NaNoWriMo 2022

After the success of Witches and Werewolves that I wrote for the NaNoWriMo 2021 contest, I’ve decided maybe I’ll try it once again, only this time I’ll have the characters and plot sorted out beforehand.

I’ve also decided that I’m going to make it a Christmas story and it’s going to tie into my Runes of Elsewhere series, which I will continue to write once I complete Aliens and Cowboys.

I still haven’t decided on a name for this story yet, I was thinking something about Elf on the Shelf, but everything about that is copyrighted to the n-th degree.

In the simplest summary, an elf helping Santa on his Christmas Eve deliveries gets betrayed and stranded on a farm without communication or magic. It’s her mission to try and return to the North Pole, find out who betrayed her and try to get justice for doing her wrong. Anyone got any ideas for a title?

NaNoWriMo 2021

Witches & Werewolves is a story I wrote during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). It was more or less just to prove to my creative writing class that I could do it. It was definitely difficult to meet the 50,000 words in 30 days target, but I managed to do it.

Most writers that participate in NaNoWriMo do all their plotting and planning in the months leading up to November, they even have sessions to help with this process… but not me!

I happened to watch a movie with my daughters on Halloween day when one of them asked, “What would happen if the werewolf only turned human on the full moon?”

Good question! It got me thinking and I don’t think a reverse werewolf story like this has been written before. So after thinking about it until November 5, I decided I had enough ideas to write a story.

I joined NaNoWriMo, almost a week late, and STILL managed to hit the target… albeit around 11:30pm on November 30th (50,320 words!)! Then December and January were editing and revisions and today the book is available.

It was a fun little story and is already popular on SOL. Check it out!

Update on Life

Just to let everyone know, I am doing OK. I just haven’t done much writing in the past couple of weeks.

My family went for a final campout of the season at my cousin’s golf course at my mom’s request. It was her final camp trip as she passed away on August 31st, two days after returning home.

My mom loved to go camping, even though the last couple of times this summer it had been so difficult for her that she was pretty much limited to staying inside the motorhome, but it was what she loved. Her request was that her ashes be spread on crown land where we go boon docking. So we’ll be doing that next year. May she rest in peace.

With her passing, I’ve done a lot of thinking about life and it has caused me to reconsider the way people live in my Aliens and Cowboys story, and the way that the medical system works. So I will be making some changes and it will affect numerous chapters throughout the story.

I will not go back and edit the chapters on the free sites, but I will be making the changes to the content of the books. In all honesty, my patrons and the free sites are more like the rough drafts of the stories, I give it to the readers on the site and they give me feedback, it’s like having thousands of beta readers. Then I take all their feedback and suggestions and modify the story that ends up in the books.

So if you’re thinking about buying the books, I’d suggest holding off on that as I’m nearly done writing Book 3 and at that point in time I’ll be putting them on the big sites like Amazon and Rakuten/Kobo.

Stay safe!

Runes of Elsewhere

Every writer gets writer’s block from time to time, so my solution to getting around writer’s block is to keep writing, but switch projects.

As a treat for all my patrons, I’ve released the first 5 chapters of the next series I’ll be working on, it’s obviously far from finished and I haven’t run this through any editors yet, so this is truly a vomit copy.

No one has seen this yet, so I’m looking for some feedback. Please let me know what you think!

Check it out on my Patreon site.

Writing Resources

I was talking with another new author recently and we got on to the topic of what we use in writing our books. So here’s a breakdown of my writing resources, for anyone curious about the process.

My most important writing resources are my imagination… after all, it creates the stories! Followed second in importance by the patrons that support me, paying as little as $1 for advance access to everything I write, and third is the thousands of beta readers that read the rough second drafts on the free sites and provide invaluable feedback!

Second drafts? Yup, as Terry Pratchett says, “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.

Here’s all the technical nitty gritty…

Being an IT guy, I started off using Microsoft Word, then trying Google Docs for writing my book. Then I learned about Scrivener and have never looked back since. It’s just so much better for writing, planning, character development, name generation, compiling and, well, pretty much everything that relates to writing a book! Plus it’s a simple one-time fee!

My main computer is an old iMac, although I also have Windows and Linux computers in my house… hey I’m still an IT guy at heart. The decision to buy an older used iMac was so I could use the original, tried and true Scrivener program, although Literature & Latte do have a Windows version available now that is comparable to the Mac version.

A big bonus is that Scrivener also works on my iPhone and iPad and they all synchronize via Dropbox. Believe it or not, most of my writing is done on my iPhone and iPad, whenever I get a few minutes of free time. I do use the computer for writing as well, but it’s main purpose is editing and compiling. My backups go to iCloud and other cloud storage services.

For grammar checking small snippets, I use GrammarChecker.io, but my primary grammar checker is Pro Writing Aid, because it can work directly with my Scrivener files.

For my Book Covers, I use GetCovers.com, they’re a great team that do quality work for very reasonable prices. I originally used another book cover site, they had good quality, but it was just so expensive and now that I’ve experienced GetCovers.com, the quality actually wasn’t as good.

For my stunning book advertisements, I use BookBrush.com. They make it easy to create awesome advertisements for pretty much any social platform or application.

For my website, I host with my own hosting company, Hosting Hero (a play on my old Computer Hero IT company) using the Managed WordPress plans. Then for my theme I use Divi from Elegant Themes, a truly customizable page builder for WordPress.

For all my graphic needs I use 123RF Stock Photography for the major graphics and use Gimp to edit them and if I have to make maps I use Inkarnate.

Why Aliens and Cowboys?

Traditional nomenclature is usually spoken as “Cowboys and…”

Originally did call my story Cowboys and Aliens, but the story grew into a series and many people commented on the similarity to the 2011 movie or the graphic novels of the same name.

Fortunately, I have some smart beta readers, one of my readers mentioned, why not reverse it to be Aliens and Cowboys, since the premise of my series is almost the exact polar opposite of what the movies and graphic novels were about.

So that’s how the series got to be called Aliens & Cowboys.