The world of Publishing has changed dramatically over the last decade. There is no doubt about it. We live in a time when anyone, regardless of subject matter or talent, can publish their work to the world with the investment of nothing more than time. And though there are often many reasons–and even benefits–to going the self-published route, let’s face it, the big publishing houses still lend credibility to any novel, especially a new novel from a relatively unknown author. Though the big houses may not be as important as they once were, a reader knows that any book that comes from a publishing house has been professionally edited, proofread, and reviewed by any number of industry professionals. And while it may be argued that this can have a watering-down effect as publishers try to force novels into rigidly formulaic parameters divided along demographic lines, the level of investment and professionalism that comes from the big boys is something that self-published authors very often do not have the resources or understanding to give to his or her own work.

This is important information for writers. Even if you are not interested in soliciting the big houses, this is a fiercely competitive industry with literally millions of other books vying for a reader’s time and money. It is important to know what will help your novel rise with the cream, and what will sink it into the sludge of the hundreds of thousands of self-published novels which never sell more than a few copies. With that in mind, I offer the following red flags that will count against your manuscript the moment it hits the acquisition editor’s desk. These are tips from Brandon Sanderson himself on what the big houses do not want to see in a manuscript.

1. Series. Publishers are not buying series right now. What they are looking for is satisfying, self-contained novels with series potential. I was with Brandon at Comic Con this past summer, and he put it like this (I’m paraphrasing here): It requires so much of a reader to learn a new world, new characters, and new magic systems, that if a book is successful, the publisher wants to capitalize on the work the reader already did in the first book with additional books, but, by the same token, the publishing houses are not willing to commit to a series of books from an unknown author which may never do anything.

2. Length. Publishers don’t want to see anything over 150,000 words, but often much shorter is better. Shorter books are cheaper to edit, cheaper to print, can get to market much faster, and take up less space on a retail shelf, so more of them can be fit in a given space, thereby potentially making more money for both the publisher, and the store.

Another factor of book length is psychological. Editors and agents are no different than you or me as a reader. If they have two manuscripts sitting in front of them from two unknown authors, one is short and one is long, they are naturally going to gravitate toward the short one first. It is less of a gamble to invest their time in a shorter book. As Brandon put it, “if you can tell the same story in 80,000 words as you do in 140,000, then do it.”

3. Switching points of view too fast or too frequently. This is jarring for a reader. As one beta reader put it in a review, “each time it changes perspective, it is like putting on the brakes for just a minute until I come up to speed with the new scene.”

That said, however, let me share with you a contradictory story from my own experience which made a big impression on me. Years ago, I was traveling across the country for the umpteenth time. I went to the library to find some audiobooks for the trip and ended up with, among other things, a Margaret Truman book. I knew nothing about Ms. Truman except that she has a million books out and was the daughter of former President, Harry S. Truman.

The tracks on the Truman CD’s were very short, only two or three minutes each. This is significant because when I began listening, I did not realize my CD player was set to skip tracks randomly rather than playing them in order. As I listened the book began to skip around and show me a piece of a scene here, and a hint of a conspiracy there. Since I was not familiar with this author, I did not realize this was not normal and I listened for about 15 mins this way, captivated. I then realized that something was not right, but here is the point: I was engaged in the experience. I was titillated by the hints of all the different plots and subplots it was giving me. I was far more engrossed in the book for those fifteen minutes than I ever was for the rest of the book, which turned out to be a fairly bland murder mystery with a bunch of characters I did not care about.

So for me, the rapid changing of perspective was not a negative, but I do agree with the publishers that this demands more of a reader, and a new author may not have the credibility with the readers to earn that sort of effort.

4. Cliffhanger endings. It makes sense that a publisher would not want a book with a cliffhanger ending when they are not interested in purchasing series, but cliffhanger endings can also be frustrating for a reader who then has to wait a year or two for the next book to come out.

On that note, I cannot tell you how many people have told me over the years that they do not begin a series if it is not already complete. In truth, I tend to fall into this camp as well, so I definitely understand the sentiment.

Now, fans of my books will notice that I violate most of the above items, which brings us to the last and most important principle:

5. Be true to your work. If you can incorporate the above items without compromising the integrity of the work, it probably makes sense to do so, but if you can’t, so be it. It is what it is. It is far better to put out a book or submit a manuscript that you truly believe in, rather than one you feel has been compromised. You are the one who has to live with that work. You are the one who has to speak about, talk to fans about it at conventions, and endure potentially scathing reviews from a multitude of unknown people because of it. It can be a brutal, exhausting process. Make sure your book is worth it!

As I announced some months ago via twitter and facebook, I have finished the rough draft of Hall of Mages. Now some of you are starting to notice that you have not heard any updates since then. That is mostly because there are no updates, but let me explain why:

When Hall of Mages fell into my lap (if you are unfamiliar with how that came to be you can read about it here), the rough draft which I received was not complete and needed a lot of work, but Jared, my brother and the original author of Hall, was very good at capturing the magic of the world which is what makes fantasy so much fun to read. He had a vivid imagination and it came through in his work.

So, I took what he had begun and added back stories to characters, a more thorough history of the world and magic system, and I increased the scope of the drama exponentially, but the rough draft that came out the other side had lost a lot of that magic. The wonder and excitement was gone, and I could not figure out why.

In an effort to recapture what I had lost, I went back and reread some of the fantasy that had so enthralled me in my youth, hoping to get some sense of what that missing element was in my draft. I reread Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings, The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny, A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony, Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Weis and Hickman, and I even read Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (While Mistborn is not a classic from my youth, it is a very well regarded fantasy novel of one of my contemporaries.)

Out of this diverse group, as you might imagine, I identified few common threads. Each was very different in its own right, and many of them did not follow the generally accepted “rules” of fantasy and magic systems, and that was the major clue about what it was that made them fun to read (although, admittedly, some of these magical books of my youth had not aged well, but that’s not the point). There are no hard and fast rules to what makes a book enjoyable to read, with this one exception. It was a lesson I learned years ago while teaching, and it goes like this: If you are bored and/or uninspired by your lesson, your students will be as well.

That was the key, and it was so simple. What made those other books fun to read is that their authors had fun writing them. That was what was missing from my draft of Hall of Mages. While it is a labor of love, and something I truly want to do, it has been a labor. I did everything technically correct, added everything I thought should be there, but I never got down in it enough to just enjoy the journey. I was never immersed in the world enough to have fun walking and exploring with the characters, and that is where my draft fell down.

It has only been in the last few days that I have really honed in on this fact, and regrettably, I am seriously pushing my deadline for The Knights Reborn, so it will be some time before I can bring this to bear on Hall. However, it has already helped make The Knights Reborn a better book. Working under a deadline, does have a way of wringing the fun out of a project, but this helped remind me of what was important.

I am posting today as a participant in an author’s blog-hop, wherein a bunch of different authors answer four of the most commonly asked questions that we authors hear. My thanks to Dave Butler for involving me in this. Dave writes speculative fiction. I just read one of Dave’s books, Crecheling, this last weekend and had a hard time putting it down, so take a look, or find out more about Dave on his blog here, or on twitter @davidjohnbutler. Now, onto the bloghop’s standard introductory paragraph:

We writers share these things informally during workshops and at conferences, but not so much through our open-forum blogs. With the hashtag #MyWritingProcess, you can learn how writers all over the world answer the same four questions:

Q: What am I working on?
A: Currently, I have two projects in the works: The first is the third book in my Crusades trilogy. It is entitled The Knights Reborn and takes place in 13th century England against the backdrop of the Crusades, the Magna Carta, and the Baron’s war. It centers around a once nearly invincible family of English Knights, The Dawnings, who through their desire for power, and to further their own individual agendas, have managed to sow the seeds of their own destruction on every side. In this third book, their enemies are all combining to wipe them out once and for all, and each brother must choose between his own selfish desires or the safety of the realm.

The other book I am working on is a fantasy book called Hall of Mages. My brother wrote the rough draft of this book before he passed away, and I have been working to bring it out for the last couple of years. It is a completely unique world with totally original races and an entirely new magic system. It’s going to be fantastic.

Q: How does my work differ from others of its genre?
A: In the case of the Crusades Series, I don’t really know of anyone else writing in the genre, except maybe Steven Pressfield. Pressfield refers to his books as historical war epics. Like many of Pressfield’s books, My Crusades Series is also set against a historical backdrop and many of the characters, battles, and events in the story are real, but I never wanted that in any way to interrupt the flow of the story or the adventure. I wanted the reader to be able to enjoy the story for its own merits, and, if they were interested, to be able to use the cues in the book to look into that period in history further.

In the case of Hall of Mages, I already mentioned the unique world, races, and magic system, but I think the other way it differs is that the story is not the traditional main character searching for some object or thing to fullfill a quest. Like the setting, the story too is very unique and I think readers are going to appreciate that aspect of it.

Q: Why do I write what I do?
A: Because I can’t write anything else. I know that does not sound like much of an answer, but it is the truth. Take my first book, The Knights Dawning, for instance. I have known all my life that I wanted to be a writer, but I never really had a story that I was passionate enough about to spend the thousands of hours it takes to write and revise a book to get it ready for public consumption. Still I wrote, however, because writing is my outlet. It is my therapy. This became particularly important after my brother’s death at the end of 2008.

I was struggling to deal with all the emotions surrounding that unfortunate event, so, naturally, I was writing. I kept experimenting with modern day stories that closely mirrored the circumstances of his passing, but those stories were too raw at the time, and I could not continue with them. Then, finally, it occurred to me that it was not his death that I wanted to write about, but all the choices and circumstances which culminated in his loss. That is a timeless story, a human story of weakness, mistakes, and vice which could be told in any age.

Q: How does my writing process work?
A: This is a difficult one to answer because I am a discovery writer, not an outliner. For readers who may not know the difference, it is just what it sounds like. An outliner creates detailed outlines of his or her work before he or she begins writing, whereas a discovery writer does not know many of the details or plot twists until he is already writing and they present themselves during the creative process.When I begin, I know the broad outline of the story, and some of the major plot points, but that is pretty much it. I could compare it to walking a staircase in the dark. Perhaps you can see a step or two in front of you, but that is all. You must take each step trusting that the other steps will appear as you go, and, in general, that has been the case. Although when that has not happened, serious writers block occurs, but that’s a topic for another post.

I would add to this a testimony to the truthfulness of the Pablo Picasso quote, “inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.” That is absolutely true. I have writing goals set each day, and I cannot count the number of times I have started the day pulling teeth to get anything even remotely coherent to come out on the page, and ended up shooting way over my word goal because I wanted to get the new ideas down before I stopped.

I don’t know how interesting any of that was, but you’ve read it now, so you’re stuck with it.

On that note, I would like to introduce the authors whom I have asked to carry on the bloghop:

Sarah Seeley writes dark fiction. She is the Author of Blood Oath: An Ork Love Story. Check out Sarah’s blog at slithersofthought.com Sarah also tweets @saraheseeley.

Scott Taylor is the writer of the award winning short film, Wrinkles, and of the upcoming feature film, Edwin. Follow Scott’s blog here: scottywattydoodlealltheday.blogspot.com

After much deliberation, my publisher, my editor, and I decided that we needed to revise The Knights Dawning (“TKD”) and give it the thorough editing that it never got the first time around. Below I have endeavored to answer a few of the most common questions that I have been asked regarding the changes:

1. Why did you re-edit The Knights Dawning?
2. So, what has changed?
3. What if I already liked TKD the way it was?
4. Do I have to reread the new version of TKD to understand what is happening in the rest of the books?
5. If I have already bought an old version do I have to buy the new version again?
6. How do I know if I have the latest version?
7. Will a new print version be released?

1. Q: Why did you re-edit The Knights Dawning?
A: The Knights Dawning was my first book. At the time it was released I was new to the editing/publishing world and unsure of myself. Even as my manuscript was going to press I was not comfortable with the product. I could not identify anything specifically, but I just felt that there had been too many changes and too many revisions over the three years it had taken me to get it to this point, and no one person—including me—truly had a handle on it. But I eased my reservations with the thought, maybe this sort of doubt comes with the territory. So TKD went to print and out into the world.

Well, it was not long before it came to my attention that there were problems with the editing. Every time I turned around, friends and family were pointing out new flaws. Some were minor proofreading issues, and others were more serious editing problems. For a while I tried to dismiss this with a shrug and a quip like “that’s what first editions are all about,” but then the reviews started to come in. Most were fairly positive, but even those people that had really liked the book made some mention of the editing issues, and a few of the reviewers were entirely turned off because of it.

It was a nightmare, not only because of the terrible blow I took from all the criticism, but also—and more importantly—because I knew the critics were right. By then I had flipped through the book enough to have that grim, inescapable reality shoved in my face. I could hardly open to any page without seeing some embarrassing mistake.

There was no question that the editing needed to be addressed, but now the question became, “how do we address it?” Thousands of these flawed versions had already gone out the door in print and electronic form, and despite the editing, TKD was already gaining a following. If people already like it as is, I thought, I cannot go back and change it, right?

The deciding factor came after finishing the first draft of The Knights Mourning (“TKM”). I had changed editors at this point, (one of the reasons why TKM took so long to be released.) and after going through a very intense collaborative process with this new editor in which we reviewed every page line by line, the feeling I had about TKM as a product was night and day when compared with TKD. With TKD, I felt I always had to explain, or qualify it to people, “before you buy it, you should be aware that some editing issues crept in. If that kind of thing does not bother you, then go for it.” With TKM, on the other hand, I was perfectly content to let it stand on its own. Love it or hate it, at least people would be judging the story on its own merits, rather than getting hung up on the editing.

But TKM was the second book in a trilogy. It became clear that in order to market TKM effectively, we needed a new and improved version of TKD, thus the decision was made to revise and re-edit TKD in preparation for a new printing.

2. Q: So, what has changed?
A: A lot has changed: I have streamlined the story, smoothed out the prose, and tightened up the plot significantly. The overall length (word count) is roughly the same, but it is now 103 chapters instead of 105. Nevertheless, it was important to me to cause as little confusion as possible to fans who have read an early version of TKD and are moving on to TKM. For those fans there are only two points of potential confusion of which they should be aware: 1) Richard’s opening battle that was originally a generic battle on the Iberian peninsula is now the Battle of Adrianople, a true historical battle from the crusades. 2) Henry’s first battle, which originally took place in Persia, is now overlaid with the Battle of Cresson, near Nazareth, in the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Though the outcomes and relevant plot points of these battles remain unchanged, TKM refers to these new names rather than the old ones.

3. Q: What if I already liked TKD the way it was?
A: If you are already a fan, there is no need to worry. The essential characters, story, battles, and romances are all the same. I have simply streamlined the reading experience. I would be surprised if even one single reader enjoyed the book less with these new revisions.

4. Q: Do I have to reread the new version of TKD to understand what is happening in the rest of the books?
A: Absolutely not. The only changes of which you need be aware are the names of the two significant battles that are noted above: Richard’s opening battle is now at Adrianople instead of the Iberian Peninsula, and Henry’s first battle is now at Cresson in the Kingdom of Jerusalem instead of Persia.

5. Q: If I have already bought an old version do I have to buy the new version again?
A: No. Some e-readers automatically update any purchased books when new versions are uploaded. For Kindle users, however, Amazon should have sent you an email notifying you of the availability of the new version and explaining how to update to it from within your amazon account.

6. Q: How Do I know if I have the correct, updated version?
A: On the verso page (the page just after the title page) it says “E-reader version 3.0.” any number below this number means you have an outdated version.

7. Q: Will a new print version be released?
A: Yes. With this step behind us, a matching print version of TKM and TKD will be available within the next few months.

For any additional questions, please email info@pendantbooks.com and your questions will be answered as quickly as possible.

Do you ever worry that you are not talented enough to make a go of it in a creative field? Do you watch these hacks on the televised talent shows who are reduced to tears when they are rejected and fear that maybe that is you? Perhaps you too are just a deluded simpleton with no real talent and you will never be able to run with the big boys?

Well, you are asking the wrong question. It is not about talent. How many times have you been shocked at the pour quality of the writing of a best seller? How many popular bands have you heard who would be rejected if they appeared on one of these talent competitions today? Talent alone is not what makes or breaks a person.

It has never been about talent, but neither is it about dumb luck. While there are obviously those individuals that have success handed to them, that should not be the goal of the truly passionate person. It is a million to one shot, and such individuals cannot appreciate it the way you and I do. These are the starlets and one-hit-wonders that self-destruct in very short order because they have not worked for what they have. They did not have to pay the price of sacrifice and discipline that we pay. They have not carried with them into their success the rigid armor of discipline that humbles and fortifies them, but you will. Not because you believe you are more talented or smarter than everyone else, but because you paid the price of discipline and self-sacrifice that was demanded of you and that has made all the difference.

Though you may feel that your are spinning your wheels uselessly at square one, you are not. You are climbing The Path to self actualization that most people do not yet know exists. Sure you have backslid, made dumb mistakes, and even rested in particularly challenging spots far longer than you should have, but all that travail has given you an intimate understanding of the challenges that walking this path truly holds. That understanding is the very thing we are talking about that differentiates the mature artist from the one-hit-wonder. It is a knowledge that those who have not yet had the courage to try cannot even comprehend.

As frustrating as it is to continually fall down, to feel the perceived indifference to your efforts, remember this: It was never about talent, it was always about perseverance!

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” – Calvin Coolidge

Just do the work! There is no other way to say it. Forget all the opposition. Forget all the millions of reasons not to. Forget your exhaustion, your discouragement, the dread of another day spent doing something you hate. Turn off the TV, disconnect from the internet, silence your phone and get to it, and do it now!

It is the secret that most people will never understand and of those who do, most will not have the strength to carry it out. There is one secret and one secret only to success. Work! Work and work and work until you cannot lift your arms anymore, then go to bed, get up the next day, and do it again.

I am not talking about work as many of us have been taught, long grueling hours of painful, soul crushing labor. I am talking about head down dedication to your passion with an energy and clarity of purpose that only your true passion can produce. That is the work that keeps you inching up that steep slope toward your dreams, whatever it takes. There is a price to be paid for your dreams and it is only after you are on the path to it that you realize exactly how high that price might be. There is, however, a mathematical certainty to your success provided that you are willing to pay the price demanded of you, but be warned, that price may be very high indeed.

Consider my own situation as a new author. Suppose now that my book only sells fifty copies per month and that is all it will ever sell. It will never go viral, it will never take off. Now consider that my next book, The Knights Mourning, which is due out in May, performs to exactly that same standard. They each turn in only tiny but consistent numbers from here to eternity. That is not exactly the dream of success that I had always cherished, but in a way, it is almost as good. It is a clear vision of the path that must be climbed in order to achieve what I want. There is no more guessing, no more wondering. I can say to myself, “okay, my dream has always been to write for a living, based upon these numbers and the assumptions we can make with them, the price I will have to pay to achieve that is writing “X” number of books. I can then ask myself if my commitment is deep enough. The road may be far more steep than we ever wanted to believe, but at least we have a path before us.

I have a friend who plays the harp. After every performance, invariably, someone says to him, “How did you learn to play like that? I’d give anything to play like that.” To which he replies, “Really? Would you give an hour a day for twenty years? Because that’s what I gave.” Whatever you may think of this response, his point is clear: there is a price to be paid to be great at something and understanding that price is critical to understanding if this is a true passion or not.

The first step is understanding that there is no other way in which our dreams will come to us. There is no other method by which we will gain our ends. And in truth, we do not want there to be. We need the refining that comes with the struggle. We need to work for it and gain the self-respect, and the self-actualization that does not come any other way. We do not want it handed to us, but want to earn it. We want to know that we earned it, and that everything that comes to us is not because of luck, or handouts, it is because we refused to quit. We just keep getting back up. We work and work and work until we succeed, even if it means that we reach the top standing on a mighty mountain built from the ashes of our failures. We earned it!

Every time I want to rest, to stop driving ahead, I am spurred on by this quote from Steven Covey: “We are the people we are today because of the decisions we made yesterday.”

I may be tired, I may want to stop, to rest, even to quit. But come next month or next year, I am sure going to wish I had made the effort today.

“Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be.” ― George Sheehan

“You are no Shakespeare!” That is what the little voice inside my head used to constantly remind me as I reviewed my own work (still does on occasion). It never failed: I would write something that I felt good about, go back to review it, and the little voice would appear, usually chortling derisively, “you thought that was good?” It would sputter around scarcely suppressed laughter and turn to the other little voices in my head, “Guys, come and check this out. James was happy about this piece of crap that a third grader would be embarrassed to have written.” They would all take a turn ridiculing me and finally adopt a consoling air, “Well,” they would say, “at least you never showed it to anyone.”

The voices also liked to show up when I was (re)reading one of the classics. I would be sitting there, minding my own business, really enjoying myself, and this wave of discouragement would descend upon me. The voices would return like a schoolyard bully, “You cannot do what these people have done,” they would say. “You are not the wordsmith that Shakespeare was and you cannot craft a story the way Dickens did.”

I knew these voices were self-defeating. I knew that no good would come from listening to them, but the problem was they were right! I am no Shakespeare. I am no Charles Dickens. I love writing, but that does not necessarily equate to talent, as so many tear-filled American Idol contestants have demonstrated after they are rejected from the show for no other reason than the fact that they are awful. “I love to sing and you’ll never stop me!” They scream back at the judges. “I’m going to the top and in a year, you’ll know that you blew it!”

And just like them, I continued to plug away, because what else could I do? Writing is how I express myself. It is my therapy, and often the only way I can discover or share my most sincere feelings. It is a part of me and I had no choice but to continue to plod forward. Nevertheless, the discouragement did make it easy to discard countless good ideas in the form of half-written stories all the while thinking to myself, “I’ll nail it on the next one.”

It was only when I was well into the writing of The Knights Dawning that I finally understood the significance of that statement, “you are no Shakespeare.” I had a story that I was passionate about and had determined that I would see it through to its conclusion come Hell or high-water (both of which did come in the process). But it was here that it finally hit me that I am no Shakespeare or Charles Dickens. But neither are they James Batchelor. Whether or not I have their genius for writing is not important. What matters is that just as I could not have told the stories they told, neither could they tell the stories which I have to share. They could not have created the characters that I create and I may reach people that they cannot.

We play the hand we are dealt. We use whatever skills, passions, and experiences are at our disposal to create the best product that we can, because, what else can we do? And though as writers we may never be entirely happy with the product we create at the end of the day, that discontent is what motivates us to do better the next time around. It pushes us out of our comfort zone and forces us to try new things that we might not otherwise attempt, and it drives us toward becoming the people that we always hoped we would be.

The Gate

on November 20, 2012 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

All my life I wanted to write novels. I can still remember my earliest experiences of sitting down with my brother, Jared, when I was about eight and excitedly dashing off page after page of anything that came into our heads, which masterpieces we would then inflict upon my poor sister. She would patiently read them and tell us how great they were. And what could we do since she enjoyed them so much, but write a bunch more?

Though I have lost track of those stories over the years, I have never lost my love for the thrill that comes from getting lost in creating. There is nothing quite like it and I knew even then that is how I wanted to spend my life. So, it wasn’t just the dream of writing that captivated me, but the dream of being able to spend my days in a world of my choosing, with characters of my creation. It was implanted in me at an early age and I always knew I would be an author one day. I did not, however, quite understand how that would come to pass.

The best way I know how to explain the vision I had always held for how this would work is like this: In the 90’s a television commercial aired that depicted a small internet start-up, comprised of four or five people that were pushing their site live for the first time. The group was gathered around a computer monitor waiting anxiously for the first order to come in. When it did, they all gave a cheer. The next few orders came in immediately after and they cheered even louder. Moments later, the order counter on the site began to roll into the thousands and hundreds of thousands. The cheering died and the voice-over came on the television screen and said, “facing a virtual reality?…”

While this commercial was obviously an ad to peddle some service, the idea has always remained with me. In the back of my mind I always believed that someday, when my first book rolled out, it would essentially be like that. Just the act of getting the book out, I thought, would propel me to success and the life of a writer that I had dreamt of since childhood. What I did not understand at that time is that the release of my first book was not the end of the road, it was merely the gate by which I would enter the road that could take me where I want to be.

Let me explain. I once heard a story about the members of the Uruguayan rugby team that famously survived a plane crash in the Andes Mountain. They were freezing, hungry, exhausted, and hurt but despite this they struggled to the top of a mountain. They were in no condition to make this climb, but they persevered because they knew that from the top they would spot civilization and all it represented to them at that moment: warmth, comfort, and safety. At last they reached the summit and peeked over the top and their hearts sank in despair. As far as the eye could see in every direction was nothing but more mountains. This about sums up the experience of this first book for me.

I will discuss more of the details of publishing and marketing the book in future posts, but here I want to address the period leading up to the release of The Knights Dawning. Steven Pressfield, in his book The War of Art, postulates the theory that as we get closer to doing “Our work” (“Our Work” is the work we were put on this earth to do, whatever that may be), everything in the world will align to stop us. That proved to be very much the case for me. As I moved closer to publishing The Knights Dawning, my life threatened to supernova in a way that I had not known possible up to that point. Things began to go horribly wrong in virtually every facet of my life. Things went wrong that I had not known could go wrong.

I will spare you the litany of pitfalls, disasters, and problems that befell me and my family during that period, but suffice it to say that overcoming this was analogous to those stranded survivors climbing that mountain. Through it all, I just kept thinking “I have to push through this. I have to make it to the top. If I give up here, I will never know how close I was to success and the life I have always dreamt I would have.”

The good news is that I did make it to the top of that mountain. The bad news is that what I saw was not the vista I had long dreamt of. It was something better and far more intimidating than anything I had ever imagined. It was another long trail rising steeply before me that must be climbed. I will talk more about the nature of this climb in future posts, but this much is certain: The first book, while an important milestone on the road, was not the end of my journey at all. It was only entering in at the gate, preparing me to begin the climb.