THE AUTHOR'S JOURNEY

ROOTS & BRANCHES

I was born in Southeast Texas (specifically the Beaumont region) where I grew up most of my life. I began my interest in story-telling as a young child playing with LEGOS, and creating adventures and statistics for my brothers’ and cousins’ tiny plastic characters. It grew from there with pen and paper role-playing games, in which I was also always the story-teller (gamemaster). My interest in fantasy was introduced from my older brother from when he first read me “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien aloud, and eventually into dabbling with different computer games in the genre. It didn’t stop there, as I began to create stories on RPG forums through a make-your-own-campaign format with strangers from around the world. It was shortly after that in which the amorphous concept of Penthara began, some near fifteen years ago. It has reformed and matured and materialized into something tangible and polished throughout that decade in a half. And in the meantime, I injected myself into the workplace of popular nightlife venues at the exact same time it all began. The purpose was, and always has been, to work on gaining a real following of people who have shook my hand, looked at me face-to-face, and hopefully respected and admired me for whatever my endeavors were. And though it has been an interesting adventure of peaks and valleys, it has proved far more fruitful than futile. In the end, my aspirations for networking growth took me to the capital city of tourism on planet Earth: Las Vegas, Nevada ... where anyone can meet someone at any random time. The world I created was intended to become a video game adaptation, and I write each chapter and end each chapter with a cliffhanger as if it were to become a television movie series one day. My aspirations are high for the series and I will not relent on my intent. 

MY WRITING CREED

I do not, and will not, write about moral concepts I find unrealistic – good versus evil. I have always been more inclined to the grey story and grey characters, which remind me of how real life would play out. My writing is mature-oriented, and is a story about people against their very own worst enemy – themselves and their choices taken in such moral crossroads. I will not distract the reader with monsters and a plethora of races to learn, whether they are common tropes or new altogether. I keep my characters humanized, but original, and my concepts unique and complex, but defined. But can someone write fantasy without dragons and undead, vampires and werewolves, orcs and dwarves, or monsters and demons? Yes, it can be done. And I wanted to remove certain popular tropes while “fixing” ones I consider broken in most classic fantasy stories; while also introducing something original with my own signature. Furthermore, I do not write about a single main character. That is not my way. And just because I give a character a POV chapter does not make them more important than those that do not have POVs. A character’s purpose just may be to give a certain perspective on a more important character in development to the plot. And characters you pinned as side characters may end up turning out as the make-or-break-it links between how the story unfolds.

WORLD-BUILDING PROCESS

This is my shared experience. This is not the right way to create a believable fantasy world by any means. Some of the most successful popular authors that have inspired me I have come to learn do not outline at all. So, by no means is this a road map to success. I am simply being an open book on my own personal process of constructing my world and story. And yes, I do categorize and outline.

MISTAKE: I used to draw the map, create the world, and try to fit the story within the world I created. That honestly set me back years wasted in confusion in how to puzzle-piece things together. Now I have this new quote I live by, in real life and my story-telling:

"Let the story create the world. Don’t let the world create the story.”

THINGS TO ESTABLISH:

  1.  Historical: You need timelines. World history timelines, regional timelines, war timelines, main character histories, and important side character histories, as well as unique racial and concept timelines. Yes, that is a lot, but if you do not preset it, you will only find yourself making contradictions throughout your story.

  2. Geographical/Political: Having a deep understanding of the terrain layout and political powers of a region are important. Also factor in religious practices that hold sway in power in certain territories, if that plays a part in your story.

  3. Concepts: I have files upon files and notebooks on top of notebooks filled with concepts over the races in my realm, the way magic works, theology, and other unique aspects to my world.

  4. Culture Topics: Go in specific explanations for the different races or nationalities or sects and organizations.

  5. Characters: Of course, you need to establish your characters. I write in point-of-view style, so I first decide who they will be and why. Just because someone doesn’t have a POV in a book does not count them out from being a “main character”. The POV might even be more of a side character that you simply need a viewpoint from looking at a main character of whom they companion besides, to get an outside perspective. I also go into house names and the important members of the family, as well as individuals belonging to a particular group that is regularly discussed. And believe it or not, I know when each and every character will die or won’t die. I know which book and when it happens, by who and how.

  6. Glossaries: Do you use weird fictitious words in replacement of others? List them here and what they mean. I even invented an entirely new measurement system and way of describing time. Songs, drugs, poisons – list them here.

  7. Miscellaneous Things (Forget-me-nots): I may be in the flow of a chapter, but then suddenly an epiphany strikes me of something I may add wayyy later in Book 5, or something at the end of the book in another character POV. These are all the little things you don’t want to forget that can greatly impact your story that you want to file somewhere to go back and reference.

  8. Chapter Files: Sometimes I will write a chapter in play-form first. Not always, but sometimes. Meaning if it is a heavy dialogue chapter, I will just write the dialogue exchange between the characters. Then later I will implement the narrative around the dialogue when inserting it into my actual manuscript. I set these exchanges in folders designated to dialogue. Here I also go about my chapter synopsis outline book by book. I go over potential future POVs, romances, deaths, major injuries, major relocations, etc.

  9. Book Files: It is here where I write my actual manuscript and the hundreds of edits inevitably to follow upon file after file after file of self-edits, long before it ever reaches professional editing. And then within that are also the professional edited folders throughout the entire process, as well as formatting test when implementing paperback and eBook official versions for publishing. 

CHARACTER POV PROCESS

I relate my experience to writing my characters much like being an actor. Specifically, in writing different point of views for entirely diverse characters, I have to completely immerse myself into becoming them. For instance, the instrumental music I play to set the tone for the skyborne hunter of hunters (Westwalker) is not the same playlist I have when writing in the shoes of a naïve teenage noble girl with wild aspirations and constant daydreams (Ebrielle). The background score I set for battle chapters of Ondrew and Westwalker are not what I play for intrigue chapters of Honorah and Ebrielle. And then there are times I have to truly put myself in a dark place to reset with no distractions, becoming the sinister and highly-prejudice torturer of the dungeon prisons (Honorah). At times, I can shift into them immediately, and other times, it takes days of transitioning to “become them” again. Sometimes it is music and sometimes it is mere sounds of the particular setting I am writing about that I need. And every now and then even, I might need to be completely immersed in my room with the lighting a certain way or outside on a patio or beach in order to get the clarity I need.   

SELF PUBLISHING - THE TRIAL, THE ERROR, & THE SUCCESS

I will be transparent and say that originally this novel series was going to be called the Kingfall Series. It was going to be 5 books. Each book lasting exactly 1 season and named as so forth: The Dawning, The Sunder, The Reaping, The Umbra, and The Torrent. Book 1 would have consisted of the story in the north (the exact story conveyed in the actual published Kingfall, with a Part 1 and a Part 2. Part 2 was going to switch to Goldgarden and Az’Dayne with different POVs the reader followed that was occurring simultaneously as Part 1. This would have made Book 1 around 1000 pages, not ready until 2021, and cost twice as much to publish. Book 2 beforehand would have ended up near 1500 pages as well, until I reevaluated … Through careful recalculating I decided to mitigate it into 10 books instead, with the ability to pump out books faster, anticipating one new book per year (year and a half max). Therefore, some couple of years ago the series name changed, as well as the name of each book, and characters involved within.

Here has been my journey, step by step, and it was by no means the correct sequence you should follow. I am simply sharing my personal experience:

  1. I came up with an idea of the story in my mind. I created the characters. I gave them histories. I fleshed them out. I made them real in my mind, as palpable as you and I.

  2. I drew my world as I saw fit. I put the pencil to paper and let my imagination form the shapes.

  3. I developed the rest of the world: geography terrain, politics, religion, races, magic, concepts, timelines, wars, unique fantasy elements, songs, poisons, drugs, alcohol, anything… I wrote or typed it down.

  4. I researched other popular fantasy authors, even one’s of whom I have not read their series, and I read the synopsis of their world and story to ensure no one could accuse me of copying their own author signature of what they created. I was pleased to find out that through all my research I did not find anything similar to what my imagination had conjured and I continued. (Fact though: my story originally had dragons, and I threw them all out halfway through, as I wanted to attempt at a fantasy story without the overdone trope … though I LOVE dragons, and it was hard! I felt that they can often distract from the story and characters with an overwhelming “cool factor”, and I believed I could create a world even more intriguing without them.)

  5. I always knew my story was too vast to be just one book. Or even a trilogy. This had to be a true series. I came up with ideas for names as mentioned above. I will omit the rest, as it was already elaborated upon.

  6. I plugged my story into the world I drew on pencil-crafted maps and basic paint programs on my laptop. And I tried to make it all work. For years. And failed. And eventually allowed my story to slightly morph the world map that I drew. I used to tell myself, “Ah, you can’t do this, the map is showing this!” But then I told my ignorant self, “It’s not published yet, you idiot. You can change anything at any time!”

  7. I wrote the chapter synopsis for Book 1. And several books following. I recorded every intended character death, plot twist, major battle, romance, heavy character change and in which book it would take place.

  8. I began writing the book. This was years later than step 1. I used to save each chapter in a separate file not knowing any better. Coming up with formatting by opening up a fantasy paperback novel and adjusting the margins and justification as I thought made sense?

  9. I wrote book 1. Self-edited it some three times over. And only then did I discover the simple templates for auto-formatting from KDP. And that was two years later. And wow, that changed a lot (face-slap). So, I spent a while making sure my book was plugged into the right format and looked sharp, and then I began researching for the publishing process.

  10. I first researched and hired a weapons graphic artist. I believe a book cover should be more than just an eye-catching-must-grab. It is your brand. Think about it. I wanted someone to be able to walk into a book store and be able to browse over 100 book covers and when they see the green glowing rim, over the black and white shadow fire, with a unique fantasy weapon in the center of the sphere to think without looking, “That’s Ezekiel Eversand!” I am writing a series. I had to come up with a consistent plan. My artist I found was perfect for bringing those fantasy weapons to life, that would differentiate each book installment.

  11. I next hired a designer to implement the weapons artist's graphics onto the book cover, as fitting to my brand’s vision described above. He is who I shared the signature look with of the green magic rim and shadow flame concept with.

  12. Next, I hired a cartographer specializing in fantasy maps. The maps I drew in detail, they converted into pleasant book-style black and white versions to insert into my manuscript.

  13. I bought my ISBNs from Bowker. Think of it like your book’s social security number. This is your book baby. It needs one. And actually several; one for each intended published format.

  14. I bought a domain under my name for this official website.

  15. Final and most important (and expensive) steps approaching … I researched and hired my 3 editors: structural editor, copy editor, and final proofreader. This definitely took up 70% of the cost of making the book, and took over five months to complete, but this was more worth it than I even paid. At first, I was hesitant to expose my work to someone and have them “chop it up”, but that was completely the opposite of the experience I received. I was going to skim and only hire one editor and thought my story was a green-light to go, but wow was I humbled … My best advice to any new author is DO NOT skip these three editors. It was a priceless polishing educational experience.

  16. I began soft social media marketing of a projected date on all platforms.

  17. I bought my copyright and Library of Congress Control Number from the government website.

  18. I spent the quarantine working on my author website (AND BOOK 2).

  19. I uploaded to Amazon KDP, and started tinkering with formatting errors and final fixes I needed between my paperback and eBook version.

  20. I started hard marketing for my publicized official launch date. I hit up my Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit powerhouses and called in favors as I have given them throughout the years. I have been in the business of networking for the past decade and a half, so I used this to my advantage. And then, of course, I called upon my own following of people who have come to know me, shake my hand, and respect an interest in my endeavors to buy this book I have been teasing about all these dedicated years.

  21. The bars in Las Vegas reopened from the mandated quarantine of COVID-19 on 5-29-20, the day of my official publishing launch, and I finally celebrated accordingly! (: