Tag: future

The Shadows Danced

The Shadows Danced

“The Shadows Danced” is set to release on August 1st, 2017.  There’s a long road between here and there, but I’m looking forward to the journey.  Here’s a peak at the technical steps of my writing process, for anyone interested.

Making the Plan

Generally, my books start with a character.  The first book I remember reading on writing was Robert Peck’s “Fiction is Folks.”  My mother kept it on a shelf in the living room, and I picked it up one day and read it straight through.  The big-idea of the book, as the title puts it, is that fiction is folks.  Books are about people.  So, naturally, if you know the characters well the fiction will flow easily.  Of course, the idea for Averelia started with a world instead of people.

My dad loves science fiction of all flavors, and I grew fond of them as well.  One of my favorite ideas was a tidally locked world, that is, a world which doesn’t have a day-night cycle, but is permanently set in either night or day, depending where one stands.  Scientifically, it presented problems.  The light side would always be ash and lava, and the dark side would be a frozen wasteland.  I moved away from sci-fi and let Averelia grow a little more, fantastic.  The world became less physically harsh, and people flourished.

Cities bloomed, cultures grew, individual stories popped into existence, and before I knew it, I had a world full of folks, and that’s all fiction needs.  I was ready for the next step.

Setting Pen to Paper

The hardest, but often most enjoyable, part of writing is, well, writing.  After the planning, the research, the design, the dreaming, I get to sit down in my comfy armchair with a laptop and a cup of coffee or tea and explore a world of my own creation.  Honestly, there’s almost nothing like it.  Every sentence, every turning page, is a discovery.  For the most part the actual writing process doesn’t involve many decisions.  I just choose where to point the lens.  I know I’ve planned well when I can sit down and let the characters simply exist and act as they would if they were real.

The most exciting moments of writing are when I realize what a character is about to do. , rather than decide what a character is about to do.  It’s a subtle difference, but it makes a world of difference in the feel of the text.  Currently I’m writing a conversation between three individuals and it’s fun just to let them talk – or not talk – as they really would.  “What would they say?” is a very different question from, “What do I want them to say?”

So I plug away at the keyboard, excited to see where my characters go next, how my world unfolds, and how the story is told.

The Editing Process

After the last sentence of “The Shadows Danced” is written – and I take a good few days to breathe – I’ll set in to the editing process.  These are two very different stages, and they use different halves of the brain.  Writing is creative, free, and fun.  Editing is analytical, structured, and challenging.  They’re both enjoyable in their own way, but I’ve found any attempt to mix them into one stage only ends in depression, anxiety, and a million renditions of Chapter One.

Being a fairly poor college student, I’ve found I can’t afford most professional editors. Instead I’ve trained myself to do the hard work of fixing grammar, analyzing sentences, and chopping my book into little pieces and stitching it back together.  It takes a few weeks, and I’m sure it never ends in perfection, but after a few rounds of editing the book will feel much more polished and coherent.  It’s hard work, but it’s worth it.

The Last Steps

Self-publishing is blessedly simple after a few days of poking around.  I’ve already put together the cover, so it will just be a matter of formatting, uploading, and a few days of waiting.  I use Amazon’s Kindle Direct for eBook publishing.  It’s companion site, CreateSpace, is fairly straight-forward for paperback editions.

Then it’s on to marketing.  I still have no idea how to properly market an independent Christian fantasy book.  It seems like a fairly small niche, so if you enjoy my books, thank you!  Be sure to share them with your friends, give them as gifts, and – best of all! – leave reviews on Amazon!

Thanks for reading!

To follow my progress on “The Shadows Danced,” check in whenever you like.  There’s a progress bar on the sidebar of my site that will be updated as often as I work on the book.

It looks like this:

The Shadows Danced
Due:8 months ago

Thanks for reading!  Leave any feedback or thoughts in the comments!

-J. Christopher Earl


A New Home

A New Home

As I write this I can hear the noise of my wife brushing her teeth. The faucet is running. There are a few sharp taps as she knocks the brush against the edge of the sink, banishing the last drips of water from the bristles. From my chair I can barely hear her flossing, except the occasional click of the string snapping out of a particularly tight spot. She steps out for a moment, dressed in a maroon blouse, black sweater, and faded jeans. Her hair is tied back in a pony-tail. She checks her phone and stands idly for a few seconds before returning to her bed-time routine. Meanwhile, I’m tapping at a new website, figuring out the nuts and bolts of a new system, hopefully a better system.

The wind rasps through the trees on the other side of the street. Upstairs I hear our neighbor’s water running. There are footsteps. Still, it’s grown quiet. Marissa gives me a minty good-night kiss, but not before I promise not to stay up past midnight. She shuts the bedroom door, and I’m alone with my thoughts.

Graduation is only three weeks away, and then… what? Summer holds all kinds of mysteries and terrors. I’m supposed to make rent, which will probably go up. There’s a baby due in July, and I’m supposed to be a dad? I said something about a book coming out in August. Well, I guess I wasn’t planning on getting much sleep anyway. At least I’ll have something to do. Fall brings another school year for Marissa, her last, but likely her most difficult. I have no idea how she’ll manage with a baby to think of on top of all the studying. Then winter, and Christmas, the turning of the year once again, another birthday, more rain, the “pink mist” of the local cherry trees will come out again, and then she’ll be done with college as well. And then? Is that when the world will open to me? Is that when I will be able to step out of this crowded city into a new home?

For now, I’m still working at the local bakery – garlic bread is on the far side of the far island, top of the shelf, gold foil, can’t miss it – still dreaming of strange worlds – would Sam really say something like that when faced with that kind of creature? – and still trying to make a difference in my local community through my church. All of it seems a little pointless sometimes, when nothing is moving no matter how much effort I put into it. It’s incredibly easy to become discouraged.

Still, for now, this is my home. This is my life. It’s not glamorous or glorious. It’s often quite mundane and monotonous, but I think I must love it, for it’s what I have. I would much rather love what I have than what I might have. I think it will save me some trouble.

Welcome to the new site! Take a look around, and check in from time to time. I’ll be updating more regularly now that school’s almost over. I look forward to the coming days! Thanks for joining me as I face them.

-J. Christopher Earl