“The Mad Voyage of Prince Malock” is now available!

First book in the Prince Malock Duology

The Mad Voyage of Prince Malock

You read that headline right. My fantasy novel, The Mad Voyage of Prince Malock, is now for sale on Amazon, Kobo, and Smashwords* for $7.99!

Here’s the synopsis:

Prince Tojas Malock, Crown Prince of the island of Carnag, is chosen by the sea godess Kano to go on a dangerous and potentially lethal voyage to the island at the edge of the world, World’s End.

Confident in his own skills, Malock assembles the finest crew money can buy and sets out into the mysterious southern seas beyond the edge of the Northern Isles. But when he loses almost the entire fleet in a month, leaving a single ship struggling to remain afloat and a ragtag crew that wants to be anywhere but, Malock realizes that he is in way over his head. It doesn’t help that the information about the southern seas provided to him by his lover – an aquarian woman named Vashnas, the only mortal to ever reach World’s End and return alive – turns out to be less-than-accurate, causing him to wonder what else she might be hiding from him, and why.

Kinker Dolan, an old fisherman from the small and obscure island of Destan, has a secret. It’s a terrible secret, a secret that fills him with guilt and shame in equal measure. Yet when he attempts to flee Destan to escape his guilt, he ends up getting drawn into Prince Malock’s mad voyage, where he must use all of his wits and knowledge to keep his life – and his secret – safe.

With mortal-eating gods, murderous aquarian pirates, and betrayals within the crew itself, will Prince Malock, Kinker, and the rest of the crew of the Iron Wind make it to World’s End alive? And even if they do, how will they react to the true purpose of the voyage?

And if you want to be immediately notified of when the sequel, The Return of Prince Malock, is released, then subscribe to my email newsletter here.

*Will be available in Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and other ebookstores very soon.

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What are your goals as a writer?

One of the most important things I have learned about the writing business is that you should be clear about the goals you want to achieve. Your goals determine how you approach your writing career . . . or your lack of one.

As an example, the writer who wants to publish only one book will have to approach the writing business differently from the writer who wants to make an entire career out of writing. The writer who wants to publish one book need only think short term, whereas the writer who wants to make a career out of this writing thing has to think long term, as in five, ten, or more years.

I’ve already written about my goals as a writer before. These goals–to be great and to make a living off my fiction–inform nearly every decision I make regarding my career as a writer. If a decision will not help me become a better writer or help me make money off my writing, I generally don’t do it.

Notice how my goals don’t include:

-Getting on the New York Times Bestseller List
-Becoming a household name that everyone knows (but not necessarily loves)
-Writing The Great American Novel
-Selling a million copies of my first novel
-Writing a book that becomes a classic
-Being published by a big publishing company
-Becoming a creative writing professor at a prestigious university
-Getting a blockbuster movie made out of one of my books
-Having my stories analyzed in creative writing classes across the country
-Appearing on every late night talk show whenever I have a new book out
-Getting represented by a literary agent from a famous literary agency
-Being invited to speak at campuses, writer’s groups, libraries, and bookstores around the country

There’s nothing wrong with wanting any of that and if any of it does happen to me, hey, I won’t complain. Those just aren’t my goals at the moment. Perhaps I may aim for some of those later on, but right now all I want to do is become a great writer and make a living off my work and I can do all of that just fine without any of that other stuff.

You might differ. Maybe you want all of that or only some of that or maybe you want something else entirely that I didn’t even mention. Maybe you have the same goals as me. Whatever your goals may be, it is important to be clear about them. If your goals are muddled and confused, then don’t be surprised when that happens to your career.

I’ve notice that a lot of beginning writers don’t have very clear goals. They talk about making a career out of their work, but get obsessed with one book or don’t try to learn business or anything that could help them long term. I used to be that way, too, until I realized that writing is a business as much as an art and that if I didn’t want to get screwed over by agents, publishers, or anyone else who tries to take advantage of unsuspecting beginner writers, then I needed to learn that business.

If you do not care to make a career out of writing–maybe you only do it as a hobby or simply want to do it as a side thing to have some extra coffee money–that’s fine. It means you will have to approach the business differently from how I or other writers like me do, but again that’s totally fine. As long as you are clear about what your goals are and don’t try to pretend your goals aren’t what they are (such as publishing only one book and claiming that’s enough to constitute a career, for example), then you will probably do fine (‘fine’ being relative here, of course, depending on your goals).

Starting Editing

Recently I have started editing my soon-to-be-released first novel, The Mad Voyage of Prince Malock. I am largely doing this to fix some of the more obvious errors I made while writing it, as well as to figure out the book’s exact timeline. It takes place over several months, which is longer than usual for my works, but I didn’t work out a timeline while writing it and now I am doing so to make sure I didn’t make any glaring errors.

Keeping track of time in a novel is always a difficult task, even if you keep it vague and nonspecific. So far, I have not found any glaring time errors, but I just started and there’s still quite a bit to do, so I may spot something later on.

After that, I intend to have some friends look it over, then have it copyedited, finalize the cover, format it, and then publish it on as many ebook stores as I can (Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, B&N, etc.). I will also do a print edition that I will release shortly after the ebook version.

I do not have a release date for it yet. Depending on how fast things go, I may publish it as early as the end of June or as late as the beginning of August. It’s actually coming along a lot faster than I thought it would, really. I’ll make sure to announce the release date on this blog so I’ve decided on it, though, so stay tuned.

-Tim

Another victory

Today I finished the third draft of my upcoming novel, The Mad Voyage of Prince Malock.

I am done rewriting or, as some writers call it, ‘redrafting.’ I will put it aside for now, work on a few short stories, and then come back to it to do some editing. I could do the editing right away, as I know of several problems that need to be addressed, but this draft was a lot harder for me to write than the last two and I would like to focus on something else for a while, just to give my mind a break.

After I edit out those errors, I will then give it to some friends of mine to look over. And after that, I will get it ready for publishing, which should be sometime later this year if all goes according to plan. So excited.

-Tim

Worldbuilding and short stories

Short stories generally do not require as much worldbuilding as novels.

That may seem an obvious thing to say, but it’s something I sometimes struggle with when I’m writing fantasy or science-fiction short stories. Unless I set a short story in a universe I have written in before, it means coming up with a new world to write in. I try not to do a whole lot. Whereas with a novel I might map out the history of the world (to varying depths depending on the needs of the story, of course), with a short story I will stick strictly to what I need and never make notes on it, again unless it happens to be set in a world I’ve already written in before.

Still, despite that, writing short stories can be difficult for me because I run into a couple of temptations.

The first is to expand the short story into a full-length novel. This isn’t an entirely bad thing to happen, mind you, but I don’t always want to write a novel because I’m not always interested in fleshing out a world or universe in immense detail. Sometimes I just want to explore a simple idea, without having to commit to the length of time a novel usually requires.

The other temptation is to not use any of my good ideas. This thought stems from my fear that I might “waste” a really good idea that I could use for a novel later on, but it’s a really silly fear when you think about it. I don’t believe there is such a thing as a “wasted” idea. After all, there’s nothing stopping me from taking that same idea later on and expanding upon it in greater detail in a novel.

Nonetheless, every time I sit down to write a speculative fiction short story set in a universe I’ve never written before, I feel like I have to do the same amount of worldbuilding I would do for a novel. This is where I am thankful for the Ambage, my writers’ group. For both of the anthologies that I’ve contributed to so far — Constellations and Fantastic Depths — I’ve forced myself just to write my stories and do only as much worldbuilding as each story requires, no more, no less.

Once I get past this irrational desire to worldbuild in excess, however, short stories are usually great fun for me to write. Not quite as fun as novels, true, but they are still fun, as writing should be.

-Tim

Blogging less and Writing more

Hi, guys.

You may have noticed that I have been blogging far less often than usual recently. Days can go between blog posts and I don’t always write substantive articles, either.

That’s because I’ve recently started to teach myself ebook formatting, as well as cover design. Not only that, but I’ve increased my writing time from two hours a day to four in order to produce more work and finish my novel, The Mad Voyage of Prince Malock, quicker.

All of this takes up a lot of my time, rarely leaving me enough time to blog. Because I want to be a career writer, I figure it would do more for my career if I spent less time on this blog and more time writing (or formatting or doing cover design, etc.). Doesn’t mean I have abandoned this blog. It just means I am putting my priorities in order and I realized that blogging was less important and less helpful for me as a writer than, say, writing my novel or making covers for my books, for example.

I’ll still try to update this blog a couple of times a week, but probably no more than that, I’m afraid. Just thought I’d let y’all know.

-Tim

Speaking Better Spanish

In response to this prompt (yes, I know it was posted a while ago, but it inspired me so I thought I’d write a post about it), I would like to be fluent in Spanish. I already know some Spanish from Spanish lessons I took a while ago and I can even read and write in it to an extent, but I’d hardly call myself fluent in the language.

If I was fluent in Spanish, the first thing I’d do is translate some of my stories into Spanish. That way, I wouldn’t have to pay a translator to translate my stories and I could expand my audience beyond the English-speaking world.

Not only that, but it would force me to look at my stories with new eyes. While I’m no translator, I understand translations well enough to realize that it’s not easy to translate a story from one language into another, even when the languages are as similar to each other as English and Spanish are. Doing my own translations would force me to think more carefully about what I meant when I used this word or wrote that sentence, which in turn might help me become a better writer.

At any rate, learning Spanish would also help me communicate with many of my fellow human beings better, which is in itself a good prize, if I do say so myself.

-Tim

To Rewrite or Not to Rewrite

Recently I’ve been reading the Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing blog series by author Dean Wesley Smith. Like his wife’s articles on the business of writing, there is a lot of good information, both on the business and art of writing, and I highly recommend them to anyone who is serious about starting a long-term writing career.

In particular, Smith’s post on rewriting (which you should read, by the way, because it’s quite excellent) got me thinking about how I usually approach writing. Normally, I do what is apparently called “redrafting”; that is, I write three different drafts of the same story (at least for novels, anyway). After that, I’ll go through and edit the last draft three times before I decide to show the story to anyone else.

This method usually works for me and I generally enjoy it, but reading Smith’s article on rewriting, I wonder if I should try being a “three draft” writer sometimes. His process is as follows:

First draft I do as quickly as I can, staying solidly as much as possible in my creative side, adding in things I think about as I go along, until I get to the end of the draft. Again, I try to write as fast as the project will allow since I have discovered a long time ago that if I just keep typing, the less chance I have to get in my own way and screw things up.

Second draft I spellcheck and then give to my trusted first reader.

Third draft I touch up all the things my first reader has found and then I mail the novel or story.

If my first reader hates the story, I toss the draft away and redraft completely.

It sounds like a recipe for mediocre work, don’t it? But apparently it works for him quite well (he’s traditionally published over 100 novels and hundreds and hundreds of short stories). And not just him, either, but he says that other professional writers use a similar approach and have similar success in publishing and making money off their work.

Of course, I’m not Dean Wesley Smith. As he says, every writer does it differently, so what works for him may not work for me and vice versa.

Still, I would like to try this method out sometime, just to see if it will work for me. It sounds like a lot of fun, if a bit scary. Maybe I’ll use it for my next novel, just to see see how it works for me. I might be pleasantly surprised.

What are your thoughts on rewriting? Share your thoughts in the comments!

-Tim

Victory! (Again)

As of this morning, I finished writing the second draft of my upcoming fantasy novel, The Mad Voyage of Prince Malock. At 125,437 words, it’s longer than the first draft, but also a lot better because I understand the characters, plot, and world better than I did in the first draft.

Per my usual method, I am putting it aside while I work on something else. Then I’ll write the third draft and move onto the revision process and, after that, publish it.

Like with the first draft, this draft just flowed out of my fingers onto the computer screen like a fountain. That it’s coming so easily just blows my mind and makes me think I’m onto something (although of course this “something” will require a little revision before it’s ready to show to anyone).

-Tim

Experience and Imagination

Writers need experience and imagination.

When I say “experience,” I mean actually going out and doing things, meeting new people, or learning new skills. If you have ever gone fishing, for example, then you will be able to write more believably about fishing than the writer who knows about fishing through research only*.

As important as experience is, however, you also need to set aside time to reflect on your experiences in order to draw out the details that will make your stories that much richer. This is where imagination comes in, helping us transform the facts, details, and memories of our lives into interesting stories that other people will want to read and maybe even pay real money for.

Because the fact is, living an interesting life is no guarantee that you’ll write interesting stories. You need to learn how to write and reflect, as I wrote earlier. You need to learn how to turn your experiences into fuel for interesting stories and in order to do that, you need to make a regular writing schedule.

The exact balance between experience and imagination is difficult to achieve and varies from writer to writer. My suggestion is to set aside a certain time every day for writing so that you will always get at least some writing done, even if you live a very active life (if you need some help with that, you might want to read this blog post of mine I wrote back in November of last year on the subject).

*This not a slam against research. You can’t experience everything you write about, after all. I say experience is preferable; however, if you are unable to learn about the subject you’re writing about firsthand, then research is the next best thing.

How important is experience for writers? How do you achieve the balance between experience and imagination? Share your thoughts in the comments!

-Tim