Cover Reveal: The Hollow Crown (Kingfountain book#4)

Filed under: Jeff's Blog,Novels — December 5, 2016 @ 3:58 pm

I’ve been waiting for days now to make this post, so I’m excited to do it now. As I wrote in the author’s note of King’s Traitor, as I was writing that book, I saw immediately another series in the world of Kingfountain. As you already know, the prequel novel The Maid’s War will be out in just a few weeks (January 3, 2017), and will include a print, Kindle, and Audible versions.

But the next book in the Kingfountain series will be coming out June 13, 2017. It is titled: The Hollow Crown and will include a new generation of heroes as well as familiar faces you’ve come to love. This may sound unbelievable, but my editor has enjoyed it even more than the original series. If you don’t want any spoilers, then don’t read the book description on-line. If you can’t help yourself and have to know, then by all means go ahead and read a snippet about it in the link above.

Here is the cover art that I’ve been dying to share with you.

the-hollow-crown

 

Pre-orders are also available for Book 5: The Silent Shield which will come out August 22nd. And if all goes well and I stay on schedule, the 6th and final book of the series will be out before the end of next year. Fingers crossed!

There will be an excerpt of The Maid’s War featured in the December issue of Deep Magic. Check it out here!

Sci-Fi Roots

Filed under: Uncategorized — November 15, 2016 @ 3:27 pm

I’m a fantasy author, but it may surprise you to know that my first love was science fiction. I still have strong memories and impressions dating back to 1977 when I was sitting in the Century movie theaters on Winchester Blvd in San Jose (which, incidentally, kind of looked like a trio of mini-Death Stars) and watching Star Wars. You know, the original. That was an event that shaped my love of the genre. So in honor of Rogue One coming out next month, I’m dedicating this blog to the science fiction favorites of my childhood and why I loved them.

winchestertheater

  1. Star Trek: it was a tradition in my house on Saturday afternoons to watch re-runs of the original Star Trek. I loved the cheesy fight scenes where Kirk always got beat up but still managed to win the fight in the end. Troubles with Tribbles always made me laugh. Harcourt Fenton Mudd. Some episodes were funny. Some were scary. I loved it when Spock nearly broke into a smile when he realized he hadn’t killed his friend Jim Kirk after all in a fight-to-the-death scene. Phasers set to stun!
  2. Star Wars: I can still remember feeling the movie theater trembling as the Star Destroyer went overhead. Light sabers were so cool, but I was afraid of them at first because one wrong move and you lose a limb. I favored Han Solo more than Luke (“Hoke religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid!”) and when he showed up to save the day as Luke was about to destroy the Death Star, I wanted to jump out of my seat and cheer.
  3. The Black Hole: this was a much-hyped Disney movie that I was so excited to see but it was actually very boring. I wanted to like it! I was incentivized to like it. The thought of a space station perched at the edge of a black hole was so cool and the special effects were not Star Wars level but interesting. Maximillian the robot with the helicopter blades was terrifying. I loved Vincent the floating droid.
  4. Lost in Space: not the lame movie but the original TV show! This is about a family that literally gets lost in outer space and visits strange planets. Great family dynamics and the robot was just funny and cool. The theme song was a favorite of mine for years. The villain/antagonist (Dr Smith) kept shifting from conniving to cowardly to pathetic. In fact, I think Maderos created the word pethet just to describe him. But I still remember the show very well. My brothers and I used to make paper characters out of the various cast members and play with them. There was no such thing as binge-watching back then!
  5. Battlestar Galactica: I mean the 1978 version. My favorite character was Starbuck, the smooth talking gambler and best friend of Apollo. This was Top Gun but with strange Egyptian-like jets. There was also some interesting religious symbolism woven into the story line (the Lost Tribes and other subtle nods that I appreciated). The Cylons were great baddies. Seeing the roving red lights on their helmets and the noise they made was akin to Vader’s mask. I loved the sound effects of the ships and the dog fights in space. And Starbuck, of course, who could never decide which girl he loved most.
  6. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: Buck and Wilma, what else can I say! The chemistry between those two characters was amazing. I also loved the cheesy karate fighting that Buck would do, as if all martial arts vanished in 5 centuries of technology adoption. He was clever and funny and always breaking the rules. But he was a Virtus character, one willing to sacrifice himself for the good of others. Twiki, the robot, drove me nuts, even though the voice was dubbed by Mel Blanc. Scariest episode? The space Dracula guy.
  7. The Six Million Dollar Man: and also the Bionic Woman. Loved both shows. As a kid, it was fun pretending you could lift heavy objects or run super fast (but in slow motion) just by mimicking the sound effect they’d use. I was terrified by the Fembots, especially when their faces came off. And the all-time most intense episode was the Death Probe ones. Bionic man versus intelligent machine. Loved and feared it.
  8. The Incredible Hulk: I categorize this as science fiction, right? Bruce Banner always homeless and getting into trouble. Lou Ferigno with dusty green skin shows up to smash things and growl. I used to play The Hulk on the playground at school as a kid instead of soccer or kick ball.
  9. Star Blazers: my first venture into Anime. I can still hear the theme song in my head. The earth has been bombarded from space by poisonous bombs that are destroying all life on our planet. The faithful crew of the Argo go on a quest to stop the destruction and heal the planet. The best part? The ship’s most powerful weapon—the wave motion gun. Want one!
  10. Robotech: my second major foray into Anime. I liked the first season best and have been re-watching it on Amazon Prime lately. It’s about a race of giant aliens, the Zentraedi, who are seeking to reclaim a lost battleship which crash landed on earth. The humans have rebuilt it and use it to defend the earth against the invaders. The technology, called Robotech, enables them to built F-14 tomcats that can transform into battle droids. Cool stuff! My favorite part was the love triangle story between Rick Hunter, Minmei, and Lisa Hayes. They did a great job at character development, cheesy as it was. If you wonder where I get my twisted penchant for torturing my characters, part of it comes from watching this series.

robotech-trio

I’ve written in the fantasy genre for a long time. But I should confess that there are a few science fiction type novels stewing in my creative imagination and have been there for a long time. I used to work in Intel’s Research & Development factory in the 1990’s and saw what science could do first hand. But for an author crossing genres is risky. Some fans don’t want to follow along into a new frontier.

 

What about you? Was your first love fantasy or science fiction? Would you follow me if I took you on a different kind of adventure? Just askin!

 

-Jeff

Cover Reveal: The Maid’s War (Kingfountain prequel)

Filed under: Uncategorized — October 5, 2016 @ 6:28 pm

I’m super excited to share with you the fantastic cover art for my next book: The Maid’s War. This is the one I mentioned in my previous blog post. It is a novel I was inspired to write based on Ankarette, the queen’s poisoner, that so many of you know and love. I have ideas for more stories about her, so we’ll see how this one does before I consider writing more. She’s one of my all-time favorite characters and I loved coming back to her part of the story.

But for now, feast you eyes on the cover!

maidswar-cover-copy

 

This book will be published on January 3, 2017. There will be a Kindle, print, and audio version as well (narrated by Kate Rudd, of course!). She loves this series as much as you do.

You can pre-order it here:

Now, to clarify. This book takes place prior to The Queen’s Poisoner, which is why I called it a prequel. If you’ve never read any of the Kingfountain books, it is also a good place to start because it explains the mythology and magic system of this world. My personal view is that it should be read after The King’s Traitor and before The Hollow Crown. Let’s just say there is some unique information in this book that will be helpful to know before starting the new series next June.

I will be doing a Facebook Live event on Wednesday October 12th on the Deep Magic Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/DeepMagicEzine/) to discuss Maid’s War, some Deep Magic news, and would love to have you stop by and ask questions.

See you then!

What comes after Kingfountain?

Filed under: Jeff's Blog — September 6, 2016 @ 12:58 am

Today is pub day for my novel, The King’s Traitor. Everything about the Kingfountain series has been a risk for me. Writing from the point of view of an eight year old protagonist? And a boy at that? Thwarting the love interest in book two and making everyone (including myself) cry? Imposing a gap of years between the action happening in all three novels? I know my publisher was scratching their heads at what I was thinking. But that was until they read the manuscripts and fell in love with the world of Kingfountain too.

As many of you start and finish the 3rd book of the series, you’ll be asking yourselves–what’s next? What does Jeff have up his sleeve?

I’m ready to announce just that.

While I was writing The King’s Traitor, I realized that there were more stories to be told in the Kingfountain world. It was like coming to the end of a tunnel and being able to see a huge vista ahead. I saw quite clearly where the story could go with another similar time jump into the future. A story that includes the cast you’re already familiar with while introducing the next generation and giving them the limelight. The idea for a 3-book story arc came to me while doing more research and crystallized around a new protagonist. I pitched the idea to my editor. He absolutely loved it.

So I’ve signed a three-book deal with 47North to bring you this new tale. Book 4 of the Kingfountain Series will be called The Hollow Crown. You can expect it to come next summer, followed by books 5 and 6 before the end of the year. The first book is already written and my early readers have all said they might like this new story even better than the first part of the series. I’m humbled.

Wait, there’s more news!

While writing in the Kingfountain world, I hinted many times about the most famous of all the Fountain-blessed individuals, the Maid of Donremy. In the back of my mind, I’ve had several backstory novels simmering and decided to write one, intending it to be only a novella. By the time I was finished, it was a full novel instead. I loved writing this story and set it from the point of view of Ankarette Tryneowy, the famous Queen’s Poisoner from book 1. She has been sent on a mission into the heart of Occitania to find the sword of the Maid and learns about her vivid history and how it is still tangled with her own realm. This book is called The Maid’s War and will be published this January as a bridge novel to tide you over until Book 4 is released. The first few chapters will also appear in my e-zine Deep Magic in December’s issue. It’s also a great way to introduce someone to the world of Kingfountain and its magic. I’ll announce pre-orders for both through my newsletter when they become available .

vatnajokull-ice-cap-iceland_67773_990x742

(Fun fact: image of the Vatnajokull ice cave–an inspiration used in the Kingfountain books)

I hope you enjoy the finale of the first installment of the Kingfountain series. Hopefully the ending will leave you as satisfied as it has me and anxious to read more!

Until we meet again,

Jeff

Maude Adams 1

 

(Fun fact: this is a photo of Maude Adams, the American actress that inspired Richard Matheson’s novel Bid Time Return, which was became one of my all-time favorite films, Somewhere in Time. This is the picture that inspired my description of Ankarette Tryneowy in The Queen’s Poisoner.)

 

One Million Words

Filed under: Uncategorized — August 4, 2016 @ 9:48 pm

I created this blog 10 years ago to document my journey to publication. It’s really not worth reading chronologically, but I recently went back to a post I made on June 28, 2006. At that point in my life, I had recently shut down Deep Magic. I was also about to start writing a little book called The Wretched of Muirwood which I later self published. I had written nearly one million words up to that point. They were my practice words.

wretched-of-muirwood

And so forgive me for being a little nostalgic a decade later. Deep Magic is back with bold new stories and an awesome group of people working together to make it all happen. It’s a dream come true and I have to thank you, my readers, for reading the stories that come out of my imagination.

It was Terry Brooks who first taught me the “one million words” principle. It goes like this. After you’ve written your first million words, you are ready to start being a writer. It was true for me. If I ever write a book about my author journey and the craft of writing, you know that lesson will be there!

Last month marked another major milestone in my life. One day during the month of July 2016, I sold my first millionth book. It was probably a Kindle version of Landmoor, for all I know (wouldn’t that be ironic?). I’m still a little stunned and don’t like bragging, but I wanted to celebrate the occasion with you. So, to each and every reader and fan who reads this silly little blog:

Thank you!

million_generic

Wheeler HS 16-9

 

New short story & on-line writer’s seminar

Filed under: Jeff's Blog — June 22, 2016 @ 12:21 am

What an amazing month it’s been! I’ve re-booted Deep Magic: the E-zine of Clean Fantasy and Science Fiction, spoken to a huge crowd at a local charter school, became a Wall Street Journal bestselling author because of The Thief’s Daughter and will be teaching a fiction writing class for Writer’s Digest entitled “Raising the Stakes: How to Keep Readers Hooked on a Series”. It’s been a busy month!

First off, let’s talk about Deep Magic. This is a passion project of mine. We had a great launch and the reviews coming in are amazing. We’ve pulled together short stories from authors you know as well as those you’ll learn to love. All stories are without sex, gore, or swearing (AKA “cleanreads”). But that doesn’t mean we skimp on the plot, character development, or excitement. We’ve been inundated with story submissions beyond our wildest dreams. It’s hard saying no to so many excellent offerings, but we’re really trying to pick the best of the best.

For my contribution, I donated a story that has been a seed idea for many years. I didn’t think it was big enough to sustain a novel, but it was big enough to almost be called a novella. I’ve loved quest stories since my childhood and this is a spin on that style. I say spin, but I should say ‘twist’. The main character, Rista, is the daughter of a very famous yet humble man who everyone knows as the Beesinger because of his special magic. He’s the unlikely hero from a previous epic quest who saved the world from a deadly villain. When trouble comes knocking on the door of the homestead, he’s away on a journey. It’s up to Rista to rise to the challenge. This story is very personal to me because the two main characters are based on my own coming-of-age teenager (who read the story and offered her input) as well as a family friend, one of the best dad’s I know. I loved creating a new world and a new magic system just for this story. Who knows–maybe this will morph into something new in the future? Check it out in the June Issue of Deep Magic.

beesinger

Secondly – a shout out to John Adams Academy in Roseville, California! They invited me to come speak to grades 4-6 to a packed auditorium. It was a blast and during their campus event that night, I sold three boxes of books and could have sold more if I had them. What an enthusiastic group of fans. It was a great time and a wonderful experience.

Third – what a launch for The Thief’sDaughter! This book has a higher reader rating than any other book I’ve done and was on the Wall Street Journal bestseller’s list. Best of the all, many readers liked it even better than Queen’s Poisoner, which is rare. I’m thrilled by the reaction and now the building enthusiasm for book 3 coming in September. If you haven’t pre-ordered it yet, please do. Those pre-orders really help with the NYT, USATODAY, and WSJ rankings. You’ll find it here. I don’t know why Amazon is pricing is less than the first two books. But hey, I’ve not heard anyone complaining!

Finally — I was invited to teach a class as part of Writer’s Digest University. It’s an hour-long session on Saturday, June 25th. Even better, they will be archiving the classes so that people who can’t attend the live session and listen to it later and see my presentation and hear me talk about the craft of building tension. Writer’s Digest has pulled together some great authors for this event. Look it up on-line if you’re interested in attending.

writersdigest

Link is here

I’ve also signed on with 47North for my next series, but I won’t be announcing that yet. Sorry for the teaser but…you know me, I like ending on cliffhangers! Stay tuned and while you’re waiting for my next book to come out, pick up a copy of Deep Magic. If you’re already a Kindle Unlimited customer, it’s part of the catalog so you can read it for free.

Happy summer!

 

Deep Magic is back!

Filed under: Jeff's Blog — May 6, 2016 @ 5:00 am

I’ve been giddy with excitement about this for months now and can finally share it. After a 10 year hiatus, Deep Magic is back! Ten years ago, we shut down the e-zine after a four-year run including 49 issues. In June, exactly ten years later, we’ll be re-launching Deep Magic: the E-zine of Clean Fantasy and Science Fiction. I’ve pulled together the original founders (myself, Jeremy, and Brendon) and we invited some new people to be on the team, like Charlie Holmberg! (many of you know…she’s quite famous now after Disney secured rights to her Paper Magician series). Also on the team and the ‘voice’ behind the Deep Magic social media accounts is Kristin Ammerman. We’ve been joined by an editor I’ve been working with for several years now, Wanda Zimba, as well as a cohort of spectacular First Readers who all jumped on the chance to be part of this.

DeepMagiclogo2

Deep Magic will be a bi-monthly e-zine exclusively on Kindle and available worldwide through the Amazon store (tip of the hat to our friends in the UK, Australia, Canada, and many more countries!). The first issue is available for pre-order now. The links are on our website:

www.deepmagic.co (notice the URL is .co not .com — it’s not a typo!)

If you’d like to be on our mailing list (and I hope you do!), you can sign up through the website or on the Deep Magic Facebook page here: Deep Magic e-zine. Those who sign up in the next few days will receive a chance to win a copy of the Kindle version of my upcoming novel, The Thief’s DaughterI’m going to randomly pick from the list of those who have subscribed and will e-mail a link to the e-book which you can download to your device. 

What’s in store in the first issue? If you want to read gripping stories that doesn’t rely on sex, swearing, and graphic violence—you’ve come to the right place! In our first issue (which we’re labeling Issue 50 BTW), we bring you an interview with Brandon Sanderson (thanks to Charlie!). I’ve also provided an original short story of mine called ‘The Beesinger’s Daughter‘ especially for this issue. You will also find an extended sample of Charlie’s latest novel Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet which hasn’t even been published yet. We also have short fiction from Cecilia Dart-Thornton, Carrie Anne Noble, Steve Yeager, and Brendon Taylor. But we will have more than stories. We also have an interview with Harper Voyager executive editor David Pomerico. Oh, and a writing craft article by NYT bestselling author Anthony Ryan. As you can see, we’re bringing some pretty awesome stuff. We think you’ll love it so much you’ll want to tell all your friends about it on social media (and Kristin hopes that happens too!).

I really believe it was the experience of working on Deep Magic ten years ago that made me the author I am today. I’m passionate about this e-zine because I have a deep conviction that readers are hungering for more cleanreads and just don’t know where to find them. I also want to help other authors get published and paid professional rates. Deep Magic allows me to combine the two. I’m incredibly grateful to have been blessed with the opportunity to see this vision fulfilled.

Now quit reading and stop by the new website!

www.deepmagic.co

-Jeff

 

Kindle First: The Queen’s Poisoner (my new book!)

Filed under: Jeff's Blog,Novels — March 1, 2016 @ 9:08 am

It’s finally here — the big secret I’ve been hinting at for months! When Amazon Publishing offered me the Kindle First deal for my new book last year, I was giddy with excitement but couldn’t talk about it openly. Here’s how it works. For Amazon Prime members, you get to select one free book a month through the Kindle First program. This is going on in the US, UK, and Australia for The Queen’s Poisoner. But it gets even better. If you’re not an Amazon Prime member and you still want to read it before the pub date (April 1st, no joke!), you can download the Kindle version now for a much reduced price. It’s a screaming deal for a brand new book.

The Queen's Poisoner

 

But the news is better still. This is also my first book that 47North is publishing it in Hardcover. They rarely do this but I’ve been pushing for it all along and they’re taking a risk to see how my fans react to it. So if you have *ever* wanted to own one of my books in hardcover, please order this one! Get the kindle version too. No problem. Oh, and for those who will ask about the Audible version–yes, the narrator of the Muirwood series (Kate Rudd) performs the voices for this new trilogy.

queenspoisoner-hardcover

This book will be followed on May 31 by the sequel, The Thief’s DaughterAnd soon to follow, on September 6th, will be The King’s Traitor. Yes, all three books are coming out a few months apart. I’m so excited! Here’s the cover for Book 2, all ready to go.

The Thief's Daughter

So what’s it about? This is a new idea that has been bubbling inside me for years and I break new ground in this series. It’s a new world, a new magic system, and the characters–I’ve just fallen in love with them. In this series, the main protagonist starts as a young boy in book 1 then becomes a teenager in book 2 and an adult in book 3. I’ve never skipped so much history between books before, never written such a young hero before, but it really works. My editors absolutely loved this series and thought each book got better and better, upping the stakes and making the situations our hero faces more and more desperate. This series is an emotional roller coaster. I think you’re going to love it.

I’m so glad that I can finally talk about the Kingfountain series. 47North really wanted to surprise you (my fans) in a good way with this Kindle First deal and discount. I even went to Hollywood in December to film some short videos introducing the book. You can find them on the Amazon page about the book.

Thanks for being patient with the big secret. I hope you enjoy my newest creation and are entranced by it as well.

Hope to see some of you at LDStorymakers conference in May!

 

What love really looks like

Filed under: Jeff's Blog — February 12, 2016 @ 8:19 pm

I don’t know if I’ve been a hopeless romantic for most of my life, but probably so. All my books have some romance in them–well, except maybe the Wishing Lantern! One of the reasons I’ve loved The Empire Strikes Back so much is it coined the phrase “scruffy-looking nerf herder” which continues to be an inside joke in my house.

nerf-herder

As a kid, I also completely got hooked on the cult HBO favorite “Somewhere in Time” and thought how cool it would be to time travel back to 1912 to find the right girl. Science Fiction meets history? Love that theme.

Somewhere_in_Time

So now I’m a dad, the father of five kids, and wondering how to raise them in a world that is obsessed with porn, unrealistic body images, objectification, almost zero father-figure role models, and pretty much pushes the boundaries to the edge and beyond just to get noticed.

True story – this week my teenage daughter related a conversation in one of her classes between a group of guys and girls talking about the various ‘body parts’ that they were attracted to. Nothing about personality, nothing about qualities of character. Body parts. She’s told me once that if someone isn’t looking into her eyes, they’re not looking at her real self. “I’m up here,” she said, gesturing in a circle around her face.

Added to this conversation have been several exchanges I’ve had recently with friends about the new Shannara Chronicles show on MTV. I was super excited to watch it because it’s based on my all-time favorite fantasy novel, Elfstones of Shannara which is the book that lit the fire in my head and made me want to write. As I watched some of the promotional trailers for it, I began to get an unsettled feeling about it. It was produced and funded by MTV, after all. So I opted to wait things out instead of watch it right away. I’ve had friends and family who have seen it and I’ve read many reviews, including the parental warnings on IMDB.com. Let’s just say I’m disappointed (but not surprised) to learn it’s very sexualized and violent. It’s not Game of Thrones, to be sure. But I have decided to wait for VidAngel to release it. If I’m uncomfortable with my kids watching a movie, it’s probably not something I should see either.

So how do you raise children today and teach them what love really looks like? I’d love to hear what you do. For myself, I try to role model at home and smile when the kids catch us kissing in the kitchen. For my wife’s birthday, I shared with her an excerpt from a great novel I’ve been reading called Can You Forgive Her?  by Anthony Trollop. The 19th century author perfectly captured, in my opinion, the essence of true love (not to be confused with ‘to blaive’ and as we all know, ‘to blaive’ means to bluff!). It’s come closer to my belief than anything else I’ve read.

trollope

“I do not know that Lady Glencora’s heart was made of that stern stuff which refuses to change its impressions; but it was a heart, and it required food. To love and fondle someone,—to be loved and fondled, were absolutely necessary to her happiness. She wanted the little daily assurance of her supremacy in the man’s feelings, the constant touch of love, half accidental half contrived, the passing glance of the eye telling perhaps of some little joke understood only between them two rather than of love, the softness of an occasional kiss given here and there when chance might bring them together, some half-pretended interest in her little doings, a nod, a wink, a shake of the head, or even a pout. It should have been given to her to feed upon such food as this.”   –Anthony Trollope

So for this blog, I recommend watching or reading something truly romantic. Something that goes deeper than skin. Something that makes your heart skip a beat, smile, and squeeze a hand. If you’re looking for something safe for the kiddos (like I always am), I can’t endorse enough Brian Bird’s excellent TV series “When Calls the Heart.” Season 3 begins in a week. Can’t wait #hearties!

WCTH

Jack & Elisabeth

Love is in the eyes.

 

-Jeff

The lonely profession

Filed under: Jeff's Blog — January 22, 2016 @ 5:51 pm

I’ve had some conversations and interactions lately that have reminded me that writing is truly “the lonely profession.” Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining nor is this posting a rant. Being an introvert, I’m very comfortable in my own head (where all my characters live!) and I don’t often feel the lack of human interaction because of friends, my church, and my awesome family.

 

But I do remember what it was like before my big break happened. I remember and even sometimes still feel the loneliness and the self-doubt that plagues so many of us who spin worlds with our words. Most of you reading this aren’t writers and wouldn’t understand. But I know that there are some reading this blog who are aspiring writers themselves. This one is for you.

lonely-author

My first advice: Stick With It.

 

In all the literature I’ve read, all the motivational talks I’ve listened to, all the interviews I’ve watched, the common thread of success can be summarized in one word: persistence. Being a writer, you have to be able to tolerate criticism, relentlessly write, read a ton, and interact little with other people. As my wife likes to remind people, I worked in the tech industry for 20+ years before my writing took off. If you are writing for any other reason than you positively, absolutely, cannot not write and your head will actually explode if you don’t, then it’s probably not a hobby or career path you’ll survive. There is a lot of waiting, a lot of waiting anxiously, and a lot of uncertainty. The market is totally saturated with authors in all genres right now since self-publishing became viable, if you hadn’t been able to tell! We’re all competing for the same readers, which means author royalties have been trending down. If you can handle this then by all means proceed to my next paragraph.

 

My second bit of advice: Create a Mastermind

 

Before I signed with 47North, I thought writers had an “editor” they worked with. What I didn’t realize was that it truly takes a mastermind to produce a novel. Let me introduce you to mine. First off, there is my wife and best friend Gina. I use her for a sounding board for my ideas and she’s one of my early readers who gives me very critical and helpful advice, especially around dialogue and characters. If any of the character relationships in my books have left you all tingly inside, you can thank her. I also have been lucky to have support from some very important people who help me during my process. One is my sister Emily who has read practically every story I’ve ever written. I think she hasn’t read my high school garbage, but that’s a good thing. She’s been through the wilderness and watched my writing style grow and mature. I also have a few kind-hearted friends from church named Karen, Robin, and Shannon who always get the first crack at early versions of my books before they get submitted to my publisher.

 

Once I’ve submitted a manuscript, the size of the mastermind increases. I have a great editor at 47North named Jason Kirk who reads my books fast and provides some directional feedback on what’s working and what isn’t. It’s mostly very high level and always helpful. After he’s read it, the next person who looks at it is my dev editor, the talented Angela Polidoro. I’ve nicknamed her “Eagle Eyes Polidoro” because she has an absolutely uncanny ability to spot consistency errors not only within a book, but within a series. She keeps me honest and provides the line-by-line, page-by-page comments that every author really needs. I didn’t even understand what dev editors were (it’s short for ‘developmental editing’) before I started working with them at 47North. They are super, super important. They really help bring the manuscript to the next level and are absolutely worth the cost, in my opinion. But that’s not it. After the dev edit, which catches and fixes a lot of problems, the next step is the copy-edit. Part of my team is a fantastic editor named Wanda Zimba who has been with my books for a while now. She knows my style, knows my books, and finds the pesky grammar mistakes that made it past everyone else. I don’t think I’ve ever published a book that was 100% free of errors. That may be impossible. But you should see all that we do catch. It’s impressive.

 

There are others who are part of the mastermind as well, which I don’t want to ignore but don’t have time to write about presently (like marketing, publicity, etc). Most self-published authors have to play many or all those roles themselves. But I highly, highly encourage you to get professional editing services (dev editors and copy editors). You can listen to your early readers and that’s helpful. But what an author really needs is someone who doesn’t pull punches and offer concrete advice, page by page, to improve the flow of the story. I wouldn’t have made it without these folks.

 

My third bit of advice: Stay Home and Write

 

There is a lot of misperception about the life of an author out there. Very few do book signings. I’ve only done a handful myself. There are some authors I know that wouldn’t write books if they couldn’t meet fans at a signing booth at a convention. I’m perfectly happy staying at home and writing, so I tend to be a minimalist when it comes to this area. Here’s the brutal truth. They are costly and rarely provide the return on investment (ROI) for the publisher or the author. The nice thing about them is meeting your publishing team and fellow authors. When you get a bunch of us together, it can get pretty rowdy. But they are an expense, not an activity that generates much, if any, income.

 

My last bit of advice: Say Thank You

 

Now this post was targeting those who want to be authors someday. What about the rest of you? You, my friends, are the audience. You cannot know the good your words can do in lifting up a lonely author’s spirits. A piece of advice I’ve heard regularly and totally ignore is “never read your reviews.” I disagree and I read every single one, the good, the ugly, and the vague. I really try not to let my head get all puffy with the praise and I shrug off the criticism. I try to appreciate all the feedback I get as a gift. If you particularly enjoyed reading a book, take the time to post a review on Goodreads or on Amazon’s website. Your feedback actually helps sell more books. Take a moment to write a personal note to the author if you really, really, really like a book. We all love hearing from our fans. Even better, help spread the word. You are the single most important factor in whether more people read a book. You have tremendous power.

 

I cannot tell all of you how grateful I am to you, my readers, for allowing me to have this new career. I love being home when my kids get home from school and hearing about their day. I love researching new book ideas and creating new stories to spellbind and entrance you and keep you up at night WAY TOO LATE. You cannot know how much it means to me to have you as a fan.

 

Thank you for being on this journey with me!

Jeff

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