New book: A Riddle of Scars

I am very happy to announce the availability of my fourth novel, A Riddle of Scars. It is sold exclusively through Amazon in paperback, and coming soon, Kindle format. This is book one of a new trilogy, The Pillars of Taesia. I hope to write books two and three in the next two years, respectively.

A Riddle of Scars
A Riddle of Scars, book one in The Pillars of Taesia trilogy.

Work began on this story almost three years ago, but I didn’t actually start writing it until January of this year (2019). Prior to composition, I came up with the story idea over a period of about a month, jotting notes into my paper notebook as I went. After another few months went by, I play-tested several key elements of the plot with my D&D group.

This is the first book I’ve written where I tested out the plot through role-playing. Some things worked better for the RPG format, while others work better in prose form. I synthesized that experience and adjusted the book’s plot accordingly.

It took me about a month to generate my plot event list. This is my version of outlining my plot. I write a single sentence or two to describe each scene and then arrange them in the order they will appear in the book. This gives me a chance to eliminate plot holes and make sure foreshadowing occurs where needed. I also spend some time profiling my characters. I make detailed notes about their physical and emotional characteristics as well as their emotional development, trials, and troubles that will occur throughout the book.

For this project I worked with my editor, Alison, and cover designer Steven Novak. These two brilliant folks have been with me since Ohlen’s Bane, my second novel. Novak actually helped me revamp the cover to my first book, Ohlen’s Arrow, so technically speaking he’s been with me almost since the beginning of my writing career.

Alison played a key role on this project, not only by providing proofreading and editing services par excellence, but also by helping me flesh out the characters and giving them even more life than I had hoped. When I was close to beginning work on the project, I decided that if she wasn’t on board, I wouldn’t write the book at all.

A Riddle of Scars is available at Amazon.com.

Subjective reader perspectives

As an author, I serve two masters: myself, and my readers. I want to write a story I would want to read, but I also want to write a story my readers would want to read. Within my group of readers, there’s no way to count the variations of subjective tastes and preferences.

After publishing The Taesian Chronicles, and getting feedback from various readers, I’m struck by the difference in tastes from one reader to the next. One reader will comment about my pace and level of detail during combat scenes, feeling it goes into Matrix mode where there’s actually too much detail. Another reader will commend me for my level of detail, often saying, “I can envision everything perfectly in my head.”

Although I’d love to please 100% of my readers, with 100% of my writing, I know this is not possible. When a plurality of my readers give me feedback that something needs to be improved, I listen and take steps to correct it in future works. When equal parts express joy and displeasure about something that is obviously a matter of subjective opinion and preference, I listen and see if there are any lessons to be learned, but I don’t stress about it too much. You can’t please everyone.

I could make the best chocolate ice cream in the world, but the vanilla lovers will still have a problem with it.

And that’s okay.