Eight Year Blogiversary

Eight years ago this week, I registered on WordPress.com! It took me a while to get the courage to actually blog, but I finally started that journey a few month later. I published my first blog post on September 3rd, 2013.

As a child who hated writing, I never would have imagined how much writing I would accomplish in my life. Over these past 8 years, I wrote several pictures books (that I still hope to some day have published), journaled about ideas for seven chapter books (that I still want to write books about), blogged 149 times, gained 37 followers (look out J.K.), and became a real author when I self-published VERVE STONES, UNDER, AND NINTH NIGHT!!!

Thank you to God, my family, friends, and readers who have made “author me” possible! My wife is the reason my blog posts sound engaging and are mostly error-free!

What are exciting things that you can celebrate in your life? Now more than ever I find it is helpful to reflect on joys and accomplishments. I’d love to hear about yours.

BACK OF BEYOND: LEGEND OF SPOON (BOOK 2) Update – Editing chapter 22 out of 40 total chapters. I’ve experienced a tremendous of lack of creativity and major writers block for the last several days. Yuck. Hopefully I’ll feel inspired and focused again soon. These are strange days.

Encouraging Words Go a Long Way (Part 2)

These comments from friends and family members are vital to me and my motivation to write. Especially a self-published writer like me. Never in my wildest dreams did I envision having readers. Readers! Readers excited to read my next book.

It makes me feel like a real author. It reminds me of waiting anxiously to read the next HARRY POTTER book. Or FABLEHAVEN. Or STORMLIGHT CHRONICLES. So many amazing books have sparked similar feelings for me. It is surreal and inspiring when I hear that my book is exciting others.

By the way, our kids love your chapter hooks in Under. Tonight they were complaining, ‘Nooo, read the next chapter.’ Solid job!”

My son learned about cliffhangers when we read UNDER. Stopping was a special challenge every night. Thanks for that.”

“My friend’s 11-year-old son is reading your books and he’s really enjoying them. He’s going to use one for his next classroom book group.”

“My son read your books. He wanted to know when the sequel to VERVE STONES will be available.

“I cannot pull my daughter away from reading UNDER!”

When I read UNDER to my daughter, she repeatedly shouted out, “Dad this is so good!”

Most of these comments were texts or made in passing but they are what sustains me in my writing. What words can you give to someone that would encourage them? I’d love to hear about it.

100 FREE e-Books Provided!

Between last Sunday, Monday and Tuesday I “sold” exactly 100 FREE Kindle eBooks. <insert big smile> That happened because of my incredibly supportive friends and family! Thank you for getting the word out! I hope all my new readers are enjoying the stories!

BACK OF BEYOND: THE LEGEND OF SPOON (BOOK #2) update: I just finally finished chapter 17 out of chapter 41. I created a new chapter this week.

Free E-Book Promotion

On behalf of social-distancing, school closures, and many parents working from home due to the Coronavirus, all THREE OF MY KINDLE E-BOOKS ARE FREE for a limited time. Download your free copies on Amazon today!

Click HERE for your FREE Kindle e-book copy of NINTH NIGHT.

Click HERE for your FREE Kindle e-book copy of UNDER.

Click HERE for your FREE Kindle e-book copy of VERVE STONE (THE LEGEND OF SPOON BOOK #1).

Please share so that others can enjoy too! Thanks!

How I Created My Favorite Supporting Characters (Part 1)

When I get hooked into reading a book, I often fall in love with one of the supporting characters. They add humor, wisdom, and depth to a story. Some of my favorite ones I’ve written are in NINTH NIGHT.

Liam’s twin brothers, Carson and Kyle, were hands down the most enjoyable characters to create. I wanted the humor of a bickering old couple that’d been married for sixty years in the form of a pair of six-year-olds. I tapped into my time teaching third graders to help Carson and Kyle come to life. When I got their combined voice in my mind, I found myself building a scene and letting the twins loose within. Carson and Kyle’s actions helped me navigate through parts of many chapters. I hadn’t imagined anything like them when I first came up with the idea to write a love story on the Washington State Coast, but now I can’t imagine the story without them.

Grandma and Grandpa Davidson are based on my own Grandma and Grandpa Aries. My Dad’s parents always wanted to send us home with food, money, or the shirt off their backs. Super generous!!!

Who are the supporting characters you remember from your favorite books? What did you love about them? I’d love to hear from you!

BACK OF BEYOND update: I’m partway through chapter 17 out of 40! I’m adding new material to this chapter so it’s taking longer to create.

I’m Back to Writing

Robin Puelma returned my second set of edits and feedback over a month ago. My excuses for not diving in as soon as possible include the Seahawks, fantasy football, school stuff, spending time with friends, rewatching The West Wing with my lovely wife, walking to the park with my daughter, and a lot of family time. I’ve reached the part of the school year where I don’t need to stare at a wall every night to recover the energy I lost teaching third graders in the middle of a school remodel. (So glad to finally have finally passed the “beginning of the school year exhaustion” and happy that my classroom remodel is almost done!) I can’t spend the hours on it that I want to, but I can now at least squeeze in ten minutes of editing here and a thirty minutes of revising there!

Things I’m looking to make happen in my writing world:

First, placing UNDER, NINTH NIGHT, and VERVE STONES on the local author’s shelf at the Lacy Timberland Library. Next, finishing Robin’s feedback and changes and sending the polished draft to another friend who wants to edit and revise. Last, I’m very excited to share the finished BACK OF BEYOND’s cover finished art from Jake at J Celeb Design. He created my VERVE STONE cover art. He outdid himself with his new latest cover. Truly, it is always even better than I can imagine (and I imagine it being very cool).

Do you have a time of year that you are least productive? Fall is obviously mine! I am so glad that that time is passing.

Superhero Stories in Disguise

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I believe many popular shows, movies, and books are superpower stories in disguise.

I LOVE superpowers! I grew up watching Spiderman, Batman, and the X-men cartoons just to name a few (otherwise the list would be too long). I wait eagerly for Superhero movies to be released and try to watch them in theaters as soon as they come out. I have always enjoyed learning how each hero got their powers. I am captivated by the evolution of the characters, watching them fail, train, and then grow into the heroes they needed to be to save the day. I love superheroes so much that my wife helped me decorate my classroom with a superhero theme. (She has tried to decorate it in all sorts of things before, but cutesy doesn’t work for me. This is much more my style! Thanks, Wifey!)

Every super hero has an origin story depicting how they obtained superpowers. Spiderman received his powers from a radioactive spider. Wonder Woman discovers she’s a demigod. Tony Stark keeps shrapnel out of his heart by building an arc-reactor that he later uses to power a suit of armor. Captain America receives super soldier serum. Batman trains his mind and body in order to gain superhero abilities. You get the idea.

I see other popular shows, movies, and books in the same light. In Harry Potter, characters use wands to produce superpowers. The Lord of the Rings, the rings of power give their wearers superpowers. The Stormlight Chronicles have superpowers in the form of shardblade or bonding with a spren. Mistbornhas superpowers from burning metals in their bodies. Naruto uses chakra. Gummy Bears use gummy bear juice. Ninja Turtles use ooze. Dragon Ball Z uses ki. I could go on and on. I have a feeling I could find superpowers even in some of those cheesy Hallmark movies my wife watches.

My love of superpowers means that I can’t help but have them in my stories, too. When I go to write a story, they are usually the first thing I research. I create worlds and storylines with superpowers in mind. In VERVE STONES, rare characters can access verve stones which give a variety of superpower abilities. In NINTH NIGHT, I included the mystery of a mythological creature so there is at least a possibility of a superpower. In UNDER, Boyd uses a superpower from the Glide-Suits. In a story in production, superpowers are passed down from descendants. For example, King Midas passes on his golden touch.

I nerd out about superheroes. What is your thing? What could you talk for hours on end about?

Self-Publishing is NOT for the Faint of Heart

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Self-publishing is not for the faint of heart. I struggle with distractions, finding time to write, finishing drafts, and writer’s block. Not to mention, the need to be a teacher, dad, husband, and follower of Christ. When I decided to self-publish I really had no idea what I was getting into. It is a lot harder than I ever imagined (and I knew it would be hard). There are a few things I really dislike about it, but there is one part that I truly hate.

Accepting negative feedback from my editor friends (even when it’s essential) is high on my list. To help make this step easier on my heart, I’ve developed a system. First, I read through the entire edited manuscript and correct the easiest corrections like spelling and grammatical errors. Next, I read over the plot and character comments because they usually require only minor changes to the story. Finally, I address the meaty-feedback that calls for me to add or delete a scene, make major character adjustments, or rework my plotline.

Receiving negative reviews on Goodreads or Amazon is also high on my dislike list. Getting ratings and reviews is paramount to having any success as an author. For VERVE STONES, it was mostly my friends and family memberswhoreviewedthe book. These reviews convinced other readers on Goodreads and Amazon to purchase the eBook or paperback, or read the book on Amazon Unlimited. Negative rating and reviews are a painful part of putting my creation out for the world to judge. But I also believe that they demonstrate the authenticity of a book’s reviews. (After all, not everyone is going to like any given book. I mean, every book from the Harry Potter series had some one-star reviews so I’m certainly not alone.) That said, when you get a whopper like this review, it takes a few days to calm down and try to laugh it off.

Formatting. Formatting is the bane of my existence! (Spoiler alert: there is one thing I hate even more, but boy is this a close second.) I often joke that formatting is a curse word in my house. As a self-published writer, I am in charge of getting all the formatting just right. I must select fonts, sizes, and spacing. I add chapter titles and headers. I insert maps. I add gutters for the binding. I make sure everything you see (or don’t see) on the page looks as perfect as possible. When I first started, I naively thought this step would be easy. I mean I wrote a whole book. Surely, I can just upload it and it will look great. Nope. I spent over a week uploading a manuscript (over and over and over again) to CreateSpace Digital Proofer, which allows me to view my fully-formatted book in an online virtual environment. It must detect no errorsin the document. After pulling out what I little hair I have, I finally begged my technologically-gifted-wife for help. She discovered that I made a small error that was messing everything up. GRRR! As frustrating as formatting is, I still don’t consider it to be the worst part of being a self-published author.

My number one, worst, most difficult part of being a self-published author is—SELF-PROMOTION! Ew. I despise asking anyone for help. Especially my friends and family. I also loathe bragging about myself. (Those compliments you read on my blog are usually written by my wife. She reminds me to be proud of what I’ve accomplished. I’d rather crawl under a rock, but I try.) The number of books for sale on Amazon is overwhelming. With so much competition, I struggle to find ways to promote my stories. Giveaways on Amazon work a smidge. Giveaways on Goodreads are expensive. Advertisements cost more money than I wish to spend on a hobby. I want to get my book into the hands of not just friends and family members, but strangers. I want my books to excite people to read and it brings me great joy when I hear they do.

I dream of a day where a team can do all these things for me, but for now, I continue to be grateful for a way to get my words out of my journals and into a book.

Any other self-publishers out there? What was the most frustrating part for you? Feel free to explain in the comments below.

Happy 1ST Birthday NINTH NIGHT

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I self-published NINTH NIGHT on August 11, 2017. This time last year I was packing our stuff in Bellevue in preparation to move into our friends’ house in Olympia. Our plan was to live with them so our daughter could go to the neighborhood school with our friends’ kids while we attempted to purchase a house in the same neighborhood. At my new school, I worked unpacking boxes and organizing bins of books in my new classroom. Pretty much August was a blur of boxes.

Publishing NINTH NIGHT was a needed distraction during a stressful time adapting to a new house, job, and town. I wrote this story for my wife. She edited it twice in order to make sure it passed her high expectations. I wanted to create a story she’d enjoy. (Added by the wife editing this post: she loves it!)

I chose Cannon Beach as the setting because of its beautiful beaches, familiarity, and small-town feel. I lived in Quilcene, Washington from kindergarten through second grade. I enjoyed using my firsthand knowledge of small-town living to help bring Cannon Beach to life in NINTH NIGHT.

Thank you to everyone who read this book and especially to those who reviewed it on Amazon! NINTH NIGHT is a summer love story for young adult readers. It has a hint of fantasy because I can’t write a story without some kind of superpowers. (My wife says superpowers may be a bit misleading, but my definition of superpowers is a bit broader than hers.) Now is a great time to read this book if you want that summer feeling to last a bit longer. Be sure to check it out!