Spilling the Secrets on My Newest Novel

I’ve kept the novel I’ve been working on for the last three months a secret because making myself wait to share it motivated me to keep working on it and because I don’t like to share things too early. I need more than some character sheets and world building to comfortably announce what my novel is about. Mostly because the story could change quite a bit from the idea I had in my mind to the first draft I write, and because there is always the chance that I may decide that the story isn’t worth pursuing while writing the first draft.
But once that first draft is finished…I’m committed!
I finished the first draft on Christmas Eve (which made a fantastic Christmas gift) so that means I can finally spill all the secrets on my newest novel.
Yay! 🙂
So let’s start with the genre. It will be another YA fantasy, although the tone will be a bit darker than The Hashna Stone. Also unlike The Hashna Stone, the main character will be female and it is entirely in one point of view.
Synopsis: 
Everything changes when Azrin, daughter of the most feared warlord in Asarna, finds out the truth about her heritage. The unimaginable knowledge forces her to rethink, not only who she is, but the views she’s held all her life. Will she let the secret she’s discovered ruin her, or will she fight against everything she’s trained to be?
Azrin
Introducing the Main Character
Now that she is sixteen, Azrin is allowed to become a warrior and pledge her allegiance to her father, the clan leader, and her clan, Dorgan. Being a warrior means that she finally gets to go on the raids that Dorgan is famous for and prove her worth as a warrior.
When her father refuses to let her go on the raid, she wonders if it is some sort of test, and decides to sneak off after the warriors anyway.
It doesn’t make sense that she wouldn’t be allowed to go when every new warrior is always taken on the next raid to prove themselves. Not being allowed was as bad as failing the test that determined if you were worthy of being a warrior. Were you really a warrior it you weren’t allowed to go raiding?
Azrin know it wasn’t because she wasn’t a worthy fighter. She had been training since she was seven and while her father was perpetually disappointed with her twin brother, he seemed to single Azrin out for special training that she simultaneously resented and was proud of.
Azrin knew that the extra training, though painful, was preparing her for something big, but she didn’t know what.
After a falling out with her father, Azrin accidentally finds out what it is her father has in mind for her, and she sets out to do it without his knowledge, seeking to win his approval back.
Other Characters:
Bryden–a sixteen-year-old bastard who lives with the town’s blacksmith. His mother was a slave, taken captive from another clan during one of Dorgan’s raids, who died giving birth to him. No one knows who his father is, but unbeknownst to most, Bryden carries the secret with him, knowing his father wouldn’t take too kindly if he revealed it, and bitterly not wanting to claim a father who wouldn’t claim him anyway.
Azrin befriended him when they were young, but after a falling out when they were twelve, hasn’t spoken to him for four years. But events play out in a way that leave Azrin no choice but to–at least begrudgingly–speak to him again and eventually admit the value of his friendship.
Delzred–Azrin’s father is cold, unforgiving, and ruthless. He is the clan leader of Dorgan, the clan that has been thrown out from the other clans of Asarna and banished from interacting with them in anyway. For generations, his clan has been forced to raid and steal from the other clans because none of them will trade with them (although they do enjoy the excuse to enact revenge on the clans who wronged them).
Delzred has found a way to make Dorgan a part of the Clans of Asarna again, though it make take a bit of trickery and Azrin is absolutely essential to the plan.
Does it have anything to do with The Hashna Stone
This book has nothing to do with The Hashna Stone and is a completely different story set in its own world and its own characters, so if you haven’t had the chance to read The Hashna Stone, you can still enjoy this book.
Well, there’s the scoop on my newest project! I’m loving this story so much and enjoying writing Azrin. She is pretty much pulling me along and I’m just writing what she does. She definitely made writing the first draft interesting!

New Year’s (Writing) Goals

The new year is a time to reflect on what happened in the previous year and dream about what may happen this year, but I haven’t spent that much time on either of those things until today.

It’s been a rainy, gloomy, sleepy day that hasn’t been good for productivity, but it did make for the perfect opportunity for some refection.

A lot of wonderful things happened in 2019. I moved into a new apartment, published my first book, and married my best friend. One might think that with so many amazing things that happened in 2019 that 2020 couldn’t possibly be any better. But I have a really good feeling about 2020 and am convinced that it will be even better than last year.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions because people don’t tend to stick to those, but I’ve found that what works for me is to regularly evaluate where I’m at and where I want to be and list what steps I need to take in order to get there.

So I may not have some big resolution, but I do have goals I want to achieve in the next few months (which, to me, is much more doable than a vague or overwhelming New Year’s resolution).

One of these goals has to do with writing of course, because what would life be without constant writing goals. 😉

I’ve planned out the next steps I need to take with my manuscript and jotted down tentative dates for when I will start and finish each step. This includes reading through a printed version of the first draft (Which I’m working on now!), writing the second draft, sending it to beta readers, writing the third draft, sending it to more beta readers, then writing a forth draft, then (hopeful) it will be finished and I can start phase two and get an editor to look over the first few chapters.

Why only the first few and not the entire book?

That’s another goal for 2020. I’ve decided to give traditional publishing a shot with this new novel.

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I’ve given the indie author life a try, why not try traditional as well? 🙂

Since agents are likely to request a sample of the first pages or chapters in a book along with the query letter, I think it would be a good idea to have an editor look over it before sending (something I wish I would have done with The Hashna Stone).

These steps span out until April, so when April comes, I’ll reevaluate again and set new writing goals. That might mean a new story or yet another draft of my current WIP, depending where I’m at with it.

But whether I get an agent or self publish again, 2020 will hold yet another published book and all the work and thrill that comes from it.

And that, to me, will make 2020 a smashing success.

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I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s celebration! Any favorite memories about the holidays that you care to share? What about New Year’s resolutions? Any big plans/goals for 2020?

***Also, I haven’t forgotten about sharing some tidbits on this novel I’ve been keeping a secret. I’ll be sharing next week! But if you don’t want to wait that long, head over to my Patreon page for all the details.

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Back from NaNoWriMo

Hey Epic Dreamers! I thought I’d let you know that I am still alive. NaNoWriMo didn’t kill me and I don’t hate words and never want to write again after the experience. 😛

After finishing five (Or is it 6 now? I’ve lost count.) NaNoWriMos, I do find that it is easier and not as overwhelming as it used to be, but at the same time it still requires dedication, patience and a laser-like focus on writing.

I tend to write sporadically with some days only reaching a little over 400 words and other days writing 4,000. Instead of beating myself up for this yo-yo writing style, I’ve learned to embrace it. Some days I have more time than others and some days I have to spend an hour or two world building or researching or simply trying to figure out what comes next (because I completely pantsed this novel).

I learned not to sweat the days I didn’t write much because I knew there would be other days where I would write for hours in a wonderful writer’s bliss and make up for it.

I had about 4,000 words left to write on November 30th, but I drank some coffee and didn’t do ANYTHING else but write until those words were down and I’d officially won.

I actually enjoy the longer writing sessions. It really allows me to get into the world and get my head in the character’s mind and that’s when writing stops feeling like work and becomes magic.

So, that is my advice for anyone writing: write until it feels like magic.

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But, just because I finished NaNo doesn’t mean the work–ur uh magic–is finished.

I’m currently at 100,000 words for this project and I’m barely halfway finished, so I’ll be keeping this post short so I can get back to writing.

Before I go though, I do want to share some news I think you will all like. The project I’m working on right now will definitely be something that I keep working on until it is published (yay!). So you can be expecting more books from me.

I am absolutely in LOVE with this character and her story! I’m having so much fun discovering the story and getting to know the characters, and I can’t wait to share it with you!

It’s not time to reveal anything yet, but I will be letting you all get a gimps of my new project as soon as I’m finished with the first draft. For now I’ll just say that the world is loosely based on Norse/Viking society and it is about the daughter of a war lord who…

Okay, I’m zipping my mouth closed. No more secrets!  You’ll have to wait until I’m finished with the draft. 😉

Meanwhile, follow me on Instagram because I do occasionally let a few secrets out over there…especially pictures where some of the words to my WIP are visible and snippets of what I just wrote on my stories. It’s all great fun! 🙂

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Growing as a Writer: NaNoWriMo

If you aren’t familiar with NaNoWriMo and you are an aspiring writer, you should go to their site and sign up right now.

Seriously, what are you waiting for?

Okay, really though, NaNo played a huge part in getting me to take my writing seriously and in motivated me to take my writing to new levels.

If you’ve somehow never come across this magical place and time for writers, I’ll explain what and how NaNo works.

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Let’s start for what this strange group of letters means: National Novel Writing Month.

It’s exactly what it sounds like; Writers from across the country band together to do the unthinkable and write an entire novel (50,000 to be more accurate) in a month.

It all takes place online, so no need to travel to another state of pay for a conference. 🙂

When does this mad rush begin? November! So for those of you who haven’t heard of it and want to try it, this is perfect timing. You can still do some last-minute planning before November and NaNo begins.

If you aren’t sure if you want to participate, well, I’m about to make you want to. 😉

 

Gives you a support group

Writing a novel can be a lonely process. Even if you aren’t writing a novel and write short stories or flash fiction for your blog, it can be difficult to find others who enjoy writing fiction like you do.

NaNo gives you a way to meet other writers so you aren’t so alone in this this solitary art.

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Pushes you to your edge

When I participated in my first NaNo, I’d never wrote 50,000 words in one project before. My largest story at the time was about 12,000 words. So yeah, taking on NaNo was a leap for me, but it pushed me to write more than I thought I could and taught me that I had more in me than what I was using.

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Sure that first NaNo project was a mess that I would never show anyone (I should probably go back and read it so I can get a good laugh), but with every year that I participated, my writing and word count per writing session improved.

I  began to create plots easier, get to the essence of a character faster, and writing scenes came more naturally.

I even wrote the first draft of my book, The Hashna Stone, during NaNo. 🙂

 

Gives you a rush of accomplishment

If you feel stuck in your writing, want to challenge yourself, or just want to explore working on a bigger project, NaNo is perfect for that.

I knew what I wrote for that first NaNo project would never be used for a published book (or even shown to a single person) but I’d never felt more proud then when I verified my word count and officially wrote my first 50,000-word novel (which is actually a really small novel, but it was a lot of words for a single story than I’d ever done before 😛 ).

If you don’t do it for another reason, do it to prove to yourself that you are a writer. Sometimes you need to prove to yourself that you can do it…that you take writing seriously enough to make it a priority.

Completing NaNo gives you a different mindset.  “Oh I’m just playing around with this writing thing,” becomes “I am a writer. There’s no reason I can’t write a book just like all the authors I look up to.”

Once you do that, writing a 140,000-word novel seems more possible (looking at you Hashna Stone 😛 ) and you go from aspiring writer to writer. 

All that said, you better join NaNo this November. *wink*

If you want to do NaNo together, look me up. I’ll be happy to be your NaNo buddy! My user name is AnnaFoxwrites. Or just click here

Oh, and since I’ll be busy novel writing, I won’t be posting for the month of November…as is my custom. 😉

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Introducing my best Friend

Hi Epic Dreamers! I have some exciting news to share with you. I usually don’t post about my personal life, but this particular event in my life is worth mentioning even if it isn’t writing related.

I’m just going to say it…I got married!

Not only did my dream of publishing a novel finally happen, but a few weeks after, I got to marry my best friend.

I bet you’re all wondering who this guy is and how we met so I’ll tell you our story (and I’ll throw some of our wedding pictures in too).

It all started with The Hashna Stone and this blog. Well, in a way, I guess it started before because Eddy and I went to the same church for years, but we never ended up in the same groups and never really talked. I’d seen him around and I knew his name and he knew mine, but that was about the extent of the relationship.

Eddy found my blog and started reading the chapters of The Hashna Stone that I posted.  He must have been impressed with my fantastic story-telling abilities *wink* because he messaged me and told me that he was enjoying the story.

I was flattered as any writer is when someone shows interest in their work, but I had no idea that he had another reason–besides complimenting me on my story–in starting the conversation.

Over the next month and a half, we sent messages back and forth. I thought he was just being nice–having a friendly chat. Even when he invited me to go skating, I still didn’t suspect a thing.

It wasn’t until he stayed by my side for the whole night that I realized he was interested in more than friendship.

The next day, he asked for my number and after only a week of texting each other like crazy I knew that this guy was going to be my best friend.

In the months that followed, I learned more about him.

He was an amazing, empathetic listener. Being an INFJ, I was used to everyone spilling their problems on me, but not having much patience with listening in return, but when Eddy and I held conversations we spent equal time listening and speaking.

I loved that he was an introvert like me and didn’t need the constant noise and stimulus that most extroverts never seem to get enough of. I was thrilled that he didn’t shy away from deep conversations and enjoyed talking one-on-one for hours. (Which is what totally makes an INFJ happy 😉 )

There were little things that we found that we had in common, like we were both interested in archery (I’d only gone as far as owning a bow and shooting it a few times…he was in archery in high school and went to tournaments). We both loved music and he played the guitar and I played the piano (well, saying that we can play is generous…more like we play around and pretend we can play 😉 ).

But what really made my little writer self happy was that he loved books and had an affinity for fantasy which–being a fantasy author– makes me ridiculously happy. 🙂

He’s been with me through this entire writing-a-book process and was even one of my beta readers for one of the early drafts of The Hashna Stone.

So–to speed this story up a bit–we hit it off right away, he stuck with me and was my support though some of the roughest patches in my life, and three years after we started dating, I am now married to my best friend.

I can’t say enough about this guy. I didn’t believe that someone like him could exist.  He makes me feel like I am the most beautiful, exceptional, loved girl in the world.

If you would have asked me before we started talking if I believed in soulmates, I would have said that I  wasn’t sure if something like that existed, but now I know it does. Something about him called to me from those first few conversations, and we connected so easily and quickly.  It seems strange that I ever lived without him and it feels like I’ve known him for my whole life.

I know this sounds terribly cliché and like romantic drivel when I say this, but I’m going to say it anyway; It feels like my life didn’t truly start until he came into it. Like life was frozen, waiting for something I couldn’t explain, and it didn’t began to thaw until I met him.

I’m not sure how to end this post, since it is so different than my usually content, so I’ll end it with this: I’m one happy little writer. 😀

If you want to see more wedding pictures, follow me on Instagram. I’m sharing a picture every week. 🙂

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More than a Coffee Cup


There is such a cool story behind this adorable mug, and I just have to share it even though this is a bit different from the usually type of blog posts I have here.

It started when I saw a friend’s  (Barb) post on Instagram of her own adorable little coffee cup and I commented, “So cute. I want one,” not really expecting to get one of course, but Barb unexpectedly offered to send me a mug.

See, the mug in her post was sent to her by someone in Canada after Barb had commented on how much she wanted a mug like that. (It has it’s own little story you can read in Barb’s post @barb_ready_writes)

Barb told me that she would find the perfect cup for me and she did!

The cup talks about being courageous and not giving up when you’re being tossed by a storm, and that was exactly what I needed to hear.

For the last two week of so, I’ve been wondering if wondering if I should set this whole writing thing on the side…not give it up completely…just not devote so much time to it.

I’m thrilled with the accomplishment of actually writing and publishing a book and don’t regret the time and money I put into it at all, but I did wonder if that season in my life had come to a close and if I needed to back off on the writing/marketing/Patreon/blog posting (you know…all that stuff that comes with being an indie author).

It can get exhausting and, frankly, I was getting discouraged with it all. I knew that a book isn’t going to be an overnight success just because you put it out there and tell your blogging and Instagram friends about it, but I had hoped that sales would be a little better than they are.

I believe that God can speak through a stranger and his voice whispers through acts of kindness. Barb and the coffee cup she sent reminded me that I shouldn’t give up just because the waters are rough.

I believe that God has a purpose for everyone and I know that writing stories is mine.

Every time I look at this coffee cup, I’ll remember that I have the strength inside to keep going no matter what.

 

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The Hashna Stone’s Publication Journey and What it Taught Me

I can’t believe it! The little story I wrote for this blog three years ago has grown into a 400-page novel with a beautiful cover. I am beyond excited that it’s turned out so well and that I finally get to share it with the world.

Who knew that the choose-your-own-adventure story we played around with would plant the seeds for my debut novel? Looking back on those first few chapters I wrote, I would have never thought they’d turn into a book.

You see, the idea I had for The Hashna Stone wasn’t one of my “real” book ideas. I had quite a few ideas tucked away in my head or in some word documents on my laptop, and they were my real story ideas–the ones I would one day turn into those books I’d always dreamed of writing.

But The Hashna Stone? I was just playing around with it. I didn’t feel it was “good enough” to be a full-length novel, but it was the perfect little story to post on my blog. It was fun, but not complicated. The characters were engaging without being too complex.

But once I was finished posting those small chapters here on my blog, I realized there was more to the story than what I first thought.  I realized that if I dug into the characters a little deeper, thickened the plot, and expanded the story, it would be what I thought all those other story ideas were: book worthy.

It still wasn’t going to be one of my “real” books though. It was just going to be a little something I wrote for the fans that played the choose-your-own-adventure on my blog. I wasn’t going to pay for editing, formatting, or a cover because it was just a fun little project that I had going. I looked at it as more of preparation for when I wrote my “real” book.

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BUT…after working on it for about 6-8 months and realizing just how much there really was to the story, I didn’t want to put it out there without giving it a fair chance. To have any chance at success, my book would need an editor and professional cover at the very least. The problem was that these things can get extremely expensive. We’re talking $1,000-$3,000 for editing and $300-$500 for a cover.

And that was just the bare minimum. If I wanted it to look good on the inside, I would need to hire someone to format both the paperback version and the ebook. It was also highly recommended that a book goes through more than just an editor, so I would need to hire a proofreader as well (another $1,000 or so). And I didn’t even want to think about marketing. It would be a waste to spend so much on the book and not have anyone see it, but marketing costs would really put me way in over my head with expenses.

I had a problem.

we have a problem

I’d put way too much work into The Hashna Stone to make it a free eBook that I put out there with a cover I made myself and no one to check for errors but a few beta readers (which really isn’t even a beta reader’s job). But I couldn’t afford all the bells and whistle I needed to give my book the makeover it deserved.

With those facts in mind, there was only one way for me to do this: start querying agents.

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If the self-publishing route was too experiencing, than I would have to throw my book on the all-too-slim mercy of agents and publishing houses.

I knew I’d chosen a tough path that not many authors have had success with, but it was better than letting my book languish away in a metaphorically dusty folder on my laptop.

Fast forward 30 queries later and I still didn’t have an agent.

My lack of an agent didn’t make me doubt the quality of the book. I’d read plenty of authors’ stories and knew that even good books take time to get an agent and it could take me sixty queries to get an agent.

But I wondered if my lack of success was because I was going in the wrong direction. Maybe The Hashna Stone wasn’t meant to have a publishing house dictate its final outcome.

I decided to go back to my original plan to self publish. By this time, a year had passed (full of a lot of events that were unrelated to the book but that forced me to have to put it on hold) and I found myself in the perfect spot for self publishing. I had some extra time on my hands as well as some unexpected funds that would just be enough to pay for an editor, proofreader, cover artist, and some one to format the book.

I have never felt more alive in my life than in those early months after I decided to join the ranks of indie authors. It was a whirlwind of searching for the right people, hours and hours of editing, tons of internet research on self publishing and (surprisingly) having a blast at marketing.

There were a few setbacks along the way but (you know about the cover trouble), for the most part, the self-publishing journey has been smooth–a fact for which I am so thankful. This being my debut novel, there are a ton of things that could have gone wrong.

But The Hashna Stone is a stubborn little thing that wouldn’t let anything get in its way. Not being categorized as a “little story for my blog” by me. Not agent rejections. Not being sat aside and neglected for months because other things in life needed attention.

It knew what it was and wouldn’t let anyone or any circumstance tell it any differently.  It knew it was just as great as any of the other story ideas floating in my head, and it wasn’t going to let me rest until it proved that it was a real story.

The Hashna Stone taught me a valuable lesson: just because others can’t see who you are, doesn’t mean you aren’t that person.

For so long, I couldn’t see the true value in the story, and it wasn’t until two years later, after a lot of hard work and learning, that I’ve sifted though the dirt and found the “gold.”

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Which is another valuable lesson The Hashna Stone taught me. Some things take time to mature to the level of excellence that they were meant to be and as much as you may be tempted to rush the process (publishing it myself without the prep work) or to throw it away and start on something else more “worthy” of you time, you’ll never see the true value of that thing if you don’t stick with it until its process is finished.

If you find yourself in a place where you don’t feel valued, don’t feel talented, don’t think that your goals and dreams could ever be achieved, remember The Hashna Stone and how, even when its own author didn’t see its true value, it refused to give up.

Just because things aren’t working out now, doesn’t mean that you should give up, and just because people can’t see your real value doesn’t mean you aren’t valuable.

The Hashna Stone’s own author didn’t think it was a “real” story, but its joined the ranks of millions of published books out there and proving to me and everyone who didn’t believe in it that it is indeed a real story.

*For those of you who have read about the cover trouble I’d been having with the paperback…Yes, this post means it’s over! I’m so pleased to announce that The Hashna Stone is available as a paperback as well as an e-book.

Want to stay in the loop with real-time updates? Follow me on Instagram! That’s where I did the cover reveal for my book. I share my progress on whatever I’m working on at the time, and Instagram followers will be the first to know about my new book projects. 😉

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Writing Doesn’t Have to Come Naturally

Sometimes it seems like writing comes so much more naturally to everyone else. I mean, Brandon Sanderson can sit and write for 8-10 hours a day and I’m over here trying to keep myself from thinking about the ice cream in the freezer so I don’t get out of my seat for the seventh million time in ten minutes.

After the year and a half it’s taken me to finish the four drafts of my WIP, I feel like I’ve been hunted by the nine riders, stalked by a schizophrenic mole-looking creature who only knows one word (precious), and carried an all-powerful ring that will only make you go stark-raving mad if you hang on to it for too long.  In other words; finishing a book is like traveling to Mordor and back.

(This is me when I finally finish a story.  Yes, the rigors of writing leave your face smeared with dirt and scattered with scratches.  You didn’t know that?)

But before I can celebrate my hard-one victory, I realize that Brandon Sanderson’s book totaled 1,087 pages.  Talk about wanting to crumple up my 419 pages and throw them into the fires of Mordor.

I think I’ll get that ice cream now and eat the whole carton.

That’s it.  I should give up writing.  Let’s face it; Writing is harder for me than everyone else. Some days it takes me an hour to come up with a hundred words because I’m like Kronk in Emperors New Groove.

Okay, okay.  I shouldn’t compare myself to other writers. There’s a lot of talent out there, but that doesn’t make me less talented. Besides, every word I do write is a drop in the vast amount of practice needed to be a successful writer. It’s alright if writing is hard. It isn’t supposed to be easy.  Like Ernest Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” 

That’s not painful at all.

Writing is a challenge, and it’s okay to admit that to yourself. You may think that you’re the only one struggling with it, but guess what?

You aren’t.

Want to know a secret? (Okay, well it’s not exactly a secret, but act surprised anyway). It took Sanderson twelve novels before he was published. Twelve of them! What was wrong with the guy? Didn’t he realize that writing was too hard for him?

No, he didn’t. Because it wasn’t. Writing is a process that gets better with time. The more you write, the better you get.

What would have happened if he’d given up after that 12th novel? We wouldn’t have impossibly long books to read, that’s what!

huge book Brandon Sanderson book

(An actual Sanderson novel)

I’m sure sometimes he thought, “This writing thing is so much harder for me than everyone else,” but he didn’t let that stop him. And because he kept going, he is now a best-selling author with more than 20 books and novellas published. The guy is so popular, that his signings can last up to five hours!  (He needs someone to build him a robot arm that can sign things for him. I mean, he probably has to wear a cast after all that).

The next time that you think writing is only difficult for you, be glad that you aren’t Sanderson in an arm cast.

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Why The Hashna Stone is Currently only an Ebook (The Cover Epic)

If you are wondering why The Hahsna Stone is available as an Ebook, but not a paperback, wonder no more. I am about to reveal to you the many, many trials that my book’s cover has had to endure. This string of evens could be its own book…an epic even.

So without further ado, I present to you….

The Cover Epic

The first attempt at a cover was from someone on fiver.com, but I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the way it turned out. It is a very inexpensive place to get a cover for your book, but it shows in the quality.

After several revisions to the image, I finally bought my own image of a gemstone from IStock. It looked better with my image on the front, but it still had a less-than-stellar look to it.

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I thought I would be stuck with it because any other cover design service was way out of my budget, but then I came across someone who designed beautiful covers for a price I can afford on Instagram.

I thought I was finished with the cover difficulty, but it turned out it was just beginning.

The girl I got to design the cover did a stellar job. I couldn’t have been more pleased with the way it turned out. She did the whole thing within four days, which I was thrilled with because it put me about two months ahead of schedule. And even better…there was only one change that needed to be made with her original design. I’ve heard of authors going back and forth for months with their cover designer, so it was a relief that I wouldn’t have to do any of that.

It was a minor change about the way the claws looked–which I had anticipated might be hard to pin down immediately since they were attached to an animal that was a figment of my imagination–and she said she’d get on it right away.

Then two weeks went by with no word at all. Not even a “Hey I’ve been busy, but I will get to your cover soon,” type of thing. It seemed strange that this one small change was taking her so long when the entire cover only took four days. So I decided to email her to see if it was giving her trouble.

No response. I even messaged her on Instagram, but days went by without a single thing. It was fine if she hadn’t completed the changes yet, I just wanted to know what was going on. I hadn’t paid for the service yet, so if it didn’t work out, I could just find someone else to do the cover, but I wanted to know if I should wait for her to complete it or look for someone else.

A MONTH went by without a single word from her.

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I’d placed my order for the cover on June 7th, received the first version on June 11th, and on June 12 she emailed to say she was going to make the change.

Here it was, July 2nd and with my two emails and three Instagram messages ignored, I was about to panic. The messages on Instagram hadn’t even been marked as “seen” so I was a little worried about her. She seemed to have disappeared into thin air. There weren’t any new post on her Instagram account or anything.

I was worried for my book as well. The days until The Hashna Stone‘s release were counting down and I now had just a little over a month to find someone who could create a good-quality cover within my budget, and do it in such short notice.  I knew it would be difficult to find someone who could commit to finishing the cover in a month because they have other clients and may not be able to even start on my cover for a month.

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Ideally, the cover should have already been finished by now so I could do a cover reveal and market it a bit before it launches.

I went to sleep that night of the 2nd, with all these thoughts running through my head, and decided that I’d waited on the girl long enough and I just needed to find another cover artist before it was too late.

I wake up to find her email in my inbox. No joke, she FINALLY emailed me, and even had the cover finished.

I was thrilled to finally have things moving again! I paid for the cover (eBook version and paperback) and was sent…ONLY the eBook cover.

I had to email her back that I hadn’t received the paperback version and had to wait another two weeks to hear from her again. She apologized and said she thought she did send the paperback cover, but it turned out she  forgot to hit “send.”

I was just happy that I finally had both covers and…wait…is that a JPG?

She’d sent me a JPG when Amazon required that you use a PDF for the paperback cover.

By now I was dreading emailing her because her response time was so slow. By now it was July 22nd, exactly three days less than a month before my publication date. At this rate, she wouldn’t even respond until two weeks before I released the book, which would give me very little time to do a cover reveal, market, and send a proof copy to myself to look over one more time for any mistakes.

By some miracle, she emailed me the next day with the correct version of the cover.

Well, at first glance I thought it was the correct version, but it turned out what she sent was a PSD (I’ve never even heard of that one).

At this point, I was internally kicking myself for not just spending the extra $300 for a professional to create the cover. It would be worth it to avoid all this hassle. I’d be willing to sacrifice the discount to have peace of mind that my cover would get to me on time and that I would be able to upload it to Amazon without any problems.

By yet another miracle, she emails me the next day and this time it is a PDF.

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I am about to throw a party! I was so relieved to finally be done with the dang cover.

Things hadn’t gone so smoothly, but that was all in the past and I could upload them to Amazon and then I could get to the fun stuff and do a cover reveal.

But the cover drama wasn’t over. This is the lovely sight that I was greeted with when I uploaded it to Amazon.

Kicking myself yet again for going for not just spending the $300, I emailed her about the trouble I was having and had to wait a little over a week for a response.

It was now the very month of my book’s publication and I had 18 days left to do all the aforementioned things that are supposed to be done before a book launches.

I won’t bore you with the string of emails that followed in the next two weeks (thankfully her response time got a little better), but none of the covers she sent were sized right.

She finally sent me one that looked correct when uploaded to Amazon, but when I went to approve it (Amazon requires that you launch a previewer and look over it and hit an “approve” button before going any farther in the publishing process) I wasn’t allowed to because Amazon caught an error in the sizing.

I ended up having my brother look at it. He isn’t a cover designer, but an engineer, so he’s really smart and knew how to resize it using some other program that wasn’t Adobe (I didn’t have Adobe, so I couldn’t even attempt to resize the cover myself).

After playing around with it all night, he got one to work, and I could hit the magic “approve” button.

Of course, I was wary after all I’d been through with this cover, but I was hopeful that this time it would work.

I sent for a proof copy and in a few days got one, but it turned out that the sizing was still wrong because there was a thin white line at the bottom where the cover didn’t quite reach.

My brother resized it again and I ordered another proof.

And never got it…

Today is three days after my publication day, and I still don’t have it. All I got was an email from Amazon saying that the package was delayed.

I went ahead and hit the publish button Sunday, so it would be ready by Monday, the 19th. All I could do was hope that the cover was the way it looked on the online previewer.

Amazon doesn’t let you publish your paperback immediately like it does an eBook, so it was in “review” for about 18 hours or so.

Since I never got to look over a physical copy of the book, I wasn’t really surprised when I got an email from Amazon saying that there was a problem with the way the cover was sized and that it needed to be changed in order for me to publish it.

That left me no choice but to contact the cover artist, yet again, and see if she can get the cover she made to meet Amazon’s requirements.

And this is where the story ends. The Hashna Stone is in “review” again with the latest resize of the cover, and I’m waiting to see if this cover drama is finally over.

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I don’t mean to make it sound like I’m complaining about the girl who made the cover. She’s very sweet and she did an excellent job with the cover art.  It’s just disappointing to not be able to use something you paid for…especially when I asked if she could do book covers for Amazon specifically and was told, “yes.”

Needless to say, I’ll be forking over the standard price of a book cover next time publish a book. 🙂

***If you do what to read The Hashna Stone, and don’t want to wait for the cover drama to resolve itself, you can get the Ebook!

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The hashna Stone is Available for pre-order!

I can’t believe it! The little story I wrote for this blog three years ago has grown into a 417-page novel with a beautiful cover. I am beyond excited that it’s turned out so well and that I finally get to share it with the world.

Who knew that the chose-your-own-adventure story we played around with would plant the seeds for my debut novel? Looking back on those first few chapters I wrote, I would have never thought they’d turn into a book.

(Isn’t the cover gorgeous?!)

It’s been a long road to this point, but I’m proud to announce that The Hashna Stone is available for preorder and will be published on the 19th!

I’m doing something extra special for those who preorder: I’m giving away an exclusive short story about Samel, one of the characters in the book.

There’s only four days left to preorder so don’t miss out on this FREE story!

***To be added to the list of people who will receive the exclusive story, take a screenshot of the page that says you’ve preordered and email it to me at authorafox@gmail.com.

It makes me ridiculously happy to get to finally share this book with you all!

I’m so thankful for for all of you and all your support. Your kind words and encouragement has meant the world to me and has, quite literally, made a dream of mine become reality.

I have a feeling you’ll  enjoy this version of The Hashna Stone even more than the blog version  because the characters are richer, the plot is more complex, and the world more colorful.

I thoroughly enjoyed writing this story and hope you will enjoy reading it. 🙂

***NOTE: at this time, Amazon doesn’t allow preorder on paperback books, but I will be releasing BOTH an eBook and a paperback on the 19th.

 

And I can’t end the post without saying saying… Happy Birthday Invisible World!!! (And sorry you didn’t get your own birthday post this year 😛 )

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been blogging for five years already.  Sometimes I feel like I’ve just started, and sometimes I feel like I’ve been doing it all my life and can’t imagine a time when I didn’t blog.

When I started Invisible World in 2014, I had no idea that it would lead to me writing and publishing a book.

Thank you Invisible World and thank you Epic Dreamers!

Want to stay in the loop with real-time updates? Follow me on Instagram! That’s where I did the cover reveal for my book. I share my progress on whatever I’m working on at the time, and Instagram followers will be the first to know about my new book projects. 😉

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Grow as a Writer: Pick up a New Hobby

We’ve all felt guilty for spending our free time doing something other than writing, but what if I told you those hobbies that stole from your writing time actually helped your writing?

It may seem counter intuitive to take time to do something that isn’t writing and expect it to improve your writing, but there are some really good reasons why hobbies make you a better writer.

 

Helps you relate to characters

If all of your characters have shelves of books and stacks of notebooks with half-finished stories in them, you have a problem.

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Sure, it can be fun to give characters a love for reading or writing since it is what you are passionate about (and it’s definitely not wrong to do so) but your characters won’t seem real if they all enjoy the same things. People in real life have divers interests, so your character should be no different.

But how do you give your characters different interests and still make those interests seem real?

Give them an interest in one of you non-writing hobbies.

You will already know a lot on the subject, so you can pepper your knowledge into the character’s thoughts or dialogue to make the character’s interest authentic, and since you are passionate about that subject, it will be easier to translate that passion on the page.

And to give yourself more options, it doesn’t even have to be the exact thing that you do. For example, I love to sing and took piano lessons as a young teen and wanted one of my characters to have a love for music as well, so I gave him an aptitude for the guitar.

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I may not play the guitar, but I could use my memories of my first piano lessons to write his first attempt to play the guitar–all the wrong notes,  feeling awkward as you try to get your fingers in the right positions, the thrill you feel when you get a succession of chords right and excitement that you are actually playing a song. 😀

You can do this with any hobby. If you love to knit, give your character a love for crochet or sewing dresses. If you create digital art, your character could love to paint.  If you took ballet as a kid, your character could love to salsa dance or break dance.

*(I thought I’d add that there is nothing wrong with researching a hobby if you want to give your character a love for something that you’ve never done. It just saves time and makes it easier to write when you already know and love the hobby you give your character.)

 

Gives your brain a break!

Have you ever had a tune stuck in your head, but you couldn’t remember the lyrics? You would sit there for minutes, thinking so hard about it, but the words just wouldn’t come. Finally, you’d give up and go do something else. The moment your brain completely unfocused on trying to remember and got absorbed in something else, those lyrics would miraculous spring into your head.

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The same thing happens with writing. When we come across a problem in our story or an obstacle our character is facing that we need to create a solution for, we will sit at the computer screen and agonize over it when sometimes all we need to do is step away.

Our subconscious is a brilliant thing and will come up with a solution for us as soon as we distract our thinking minds and push our problem to the back of our minds to work out.

If you hobby is something like jogging or biking, then it gets you out of your head and gets oxygen and blood flowing to your brain so you can better solve those problems.

If it is something like sketching or photography, it keeps your creativity flowing while still giving you a rest from writing.

Whether your hobby is active  or more sedentary, it gives your brain a break so even if you don’t come up with an answer to your story’s problems while doing whatever you are doing, you’ll be refreshed and ready to think of something creative to fix it.

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So, writers, don’t feel guilty for spending some time doing other activities besides writing. You’ll get some valuable incite to your characters (not to mention you’ll know how to write a fight scene if your hobby happens to be something like jiu jitsu or boxing 😉 ), and make your writing time more productive because you’ll avoid feelings of being “stuck.”

I hope I’ve inspired you to start a new hobby or go back to an old one you’ve dropped!

I’d love to know what hobbies my fellow writers have! I enjoy singing, as I’ve mentioned, and I also like to paint (and am guilty of pushing it aside so I can write…I haven’t picked up a paint brush in months!)

 



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Where Imagination Soars