Weekly Writerly Review 1/17/2022

This past week was not as strong on the writing front as previous week as I returned to the day job. I managed a couple thousand words across a few projects. Hoping to get my routine back on track with the minor adjustments to my schedule.

My query for “Sibling Rivalry – Children of Nature and Time 1” was rejected right away with a form letter. I haven’t sent any more yet, but I have a short list of agents I want to query. I’m struggling with the potential I see in it; and wanting this story in my hands now. I’ll see how I feel by next week about it.

Tales of Ezrahn – Volume 1 is coming along. Just over 40k words. I’m thinking about launching the website for the realm and subsequent books, but I feel like I need to get more of the world ready for publication before I do so.

I’m trying to decide what to do about a couple of other projects I have sitting. I’ve got demon hunters, and Family Heritage book 4, my Bible of Mars tale, and subsequent Ezrahn tales. I don’t know what I’m going to go with honestly.

I didn’t do much reading, but I picked up a beta reading project for a friend in a writing group. I got some more of the Spring Into SciFi 2022 submissions read – I’m almost caught up to the current list. Shaping up to be a good selection so far. Only a couple that just don’t fit the vibe I’m going for with my publications. I also started going through this parenting book my wife got me to help us with our toddler. Jackson can be a handful at times and this book is supposed to help us deal with his behaviors by addressing the problem proactively. I’m a few chapters in, and it has potential. It has a fair amount of homework involved, but if will help us with him, and actually all three kids, then I am game.

Until next week, keep reading and writing folks…

Book Review – Advocatus by A. R. Turner

Hilarious Debut…

This debut novel from author A. R. Turner is funny from cover to cover, even though it could make you think.

Felix is a rookie lawyer ready to strike out on his own and make a name for himself. The problem he has though, is one last case – defending an evil magical warlord against a laundry list of charges.

The plea – Innocent of course.

Felix then embarks on a journey through cases riddled with psychic frogs, goblins, and time traveling wizards. All the while, something is brewing in the world. A court case unlike the halls of law and order have ever seen.

The case? Humanity vs. The Balance of Nature. The judge? Habeus, God of Justice in all his deific glory. Sounds simple enough right?

There’s just one problem. If Felix loses this case, it’s not just over for him, but for all of humanity as well. No pressure at all.

My Rating : 5 stars

I can’t wait to see what A. R. Turner does with this realm in the future.

Enter “The Collective” – Shared Universe writing

Enter “The Collective” – Shared Universe writing

Some years ago, I read a book by a good friend of mine that was called a “shared universe”. Basically, several authors wrote stories within the same world. Sometimes they overlapped and sometimes not. It was an intriguing concept that swindled around in the back of my mind for awhile.

Fast forward a little and I came up with an idea for an alternate history world. In this world, a meteor shower has the potential to trigger an event – originally just that an object of some type would gain a special ability. I invited some of my friends in on this idea. In our discussions it was decided that the effects of a meteor shower became more in that it could grant supernatural abilities to humans/animals, or even cause strange mutations.

To combat this potentially dire threat to humanity, The Collective was born. The original concept was a mashup of Warehouse 13 and the Men in Black. Agents would collect the objects or people affected by meteors and protect humanity. The more dangerous objects are locked up in one of several Vaults across the world in the different branches of the Collective.

What came next was our crisis. The Astrology agents within the Collective discovered an impending meteor shower of global proportions. With not enough agents to cover this type of event, the agency went into crisis management mode. They had to protect humanity, and maintain their secrecy from all but the upper most levels of the intelligence community.

With the basic world building complete, we all got to work on our individual stories, bouncing ideas back and forth, sharing characters and referencing the events, both in the past and the current crisis. Along the way we name dropped popular myths and legends like Excalibur, Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster as all having ties to the Collective.

In the end, it presented a unique challenge to wrestle six authors’ stories into a cohesive book. Based on early feedback, it appears to have worked.

Will I continue to work with this shared universe and the other authors involved? Definitely. We have several novel ideas either alone or in pairs, as well as planning another short story collection collaboration for 2022.

If you’d like to check out the book, you can find it on Amazon. And below is our amazing cover from Fantasy & Coffee.

June 2021??????

How in all that is written is it June already? It feels like we just had the doubleheader of my wife’s birthday and then Valentine’s Day. Lots to talk about so I may ramble a bit.

February I participated in a Pitch Party on Twitter (you can follow me here). I got a grand total of 1 like from an agent, so then I panicked. I’d written the story, almost 30k words, in January. Could I do this? Should I do this? I figured, what the hell. Worst she can say is no right? It’s never stopped me before. So I sent in the query packet. Then the crippling anxiety set in. February was a horrible month writing wise and March wasn’t much better. I’m getting back into a grove now, but none of my projects are holding on as tight as that one.

Fast Forward to April 7th, and I got the form letter rejection. No agent for me this time. I’m still thinking this one has commercial appeal and I’m going to query it again. When I’ve had a chance to study how to write better queries.

Meanwhile, I received feedback from a beta reader for Reunions & Rebellions, the third book in my Family Heritage series. She loved everything, including the ending. Except the girls sounded stilted and formal in their conversations. So I’ve reworked a few scenes with the help of my amazing friend Leya.

The day job is going well. Still slinging cheese but I’ve been promoted to a full time operator. Little more money and so far it’s easier on my wrists and shoulders. Feet still kill me almost everyday but might be time for a new pair of work shoes.

Cloaked Press is growing. Through our partnership with SciFi & Fantasy Writer’s Guild, we launched Depths of Love 2021. A short story anthology featuring tales of love in all its myriad forms, not just your typical romances.

That’s not all. Spring Into SciFi 2021 launched right on time this year as well. In its fourth year, this series of anthologies continues to be my best seller, both in copies and kindle unlimited page reads. I’m overjoyed that I got to share these stories with the world.

Our newest themed anthology, Summer of Speculation launches its first edition on June 21st. with a theme of Catastrophe, I wasn’t sure what kind of stories I would get. It’s turned out better than I hoped. It can be found HERE.

Ok onto the family side of things. I’m now the father of a high school junior and a kindergartener. We’ve been raising what we thought were frog tadpoles, turns out they must be some sort of lizard as they are well past the turning point to be frogs. Still waiting to see what they become.

It’s also Monarch Butterfly season here in Northeast Wisconsin. This is our third year helping these little beauties and I think we’re already nearing our total from last year. Between eggs and caterpillars we have nearly 400 already. We’ve seen Facebook posts from people who e crossed the thousand mark before now, but we just like to try and help as much as we can. The more we have, the more milkweed we have to collect, which means the more we find in the milkweed. Still, the look of pure joy and wonder on Emma’s face when she gets to hold the big 5th Instar caterpillars or the emerged butterflies is totally worth it. Jackson is starting to get into it a bit this year as well. You can follow Emma’s journey on her Facebook page, but it would be awesome if she got some more YouTube followers. She loves hearing comments from her “fans”.

I think that’s all for now but hopefully soon I’ll have a release date for Reunions & Rebellions. Until next time.

February already?!?!?!

How does this happen? We are already a month into the new year. I feel like I just woke up from the sensory/family overload of the holidays. Oh wait, that’s cause I spent this last weekend at an indoor water park, sharing a villa with my wife’s entire family (Parents, brothers and sister, plus their spouses and kids). All told we had 19 people in this spacious 5 bedroom, three story house. It worked, on a lot of levels, but it was also… well, crowded isn’t the right word. I’m going to miss everyone and wouldn’t trade the experience for the world, but I am glad to be home.

I finished a beta read of a thriller novel this past week and managed to get my word count in on my own projects. This week I need to focus on getting Spring Into SciFi 2020 ready for betas. This means I have to cut two more submissions to hit the magic number of 13. I’ve whittled it down to 15, three of which are already confirmed accepted for publication. This is the worst part of my job doing this, because I don’t like sending rejection letters. Sometimes you get an easy one, the person sent in something way outside the submissions guidelines (way too short, way too long, or the one guy who sent me erotica when I specifically point it out as not what is wanted for these collections). Most of the time, however, there are great stories and I just don’t have the room/funding to publish them all. So 13 is our magic number and we’re cutting down to that this week. Updates will come via the company’s website (http://www.cloakedpress.com) , and social media platforms.

I’ve been looking into ways to improve my editing skills, not only for myself but to utilize this within the business and for friends/critiquing. I think I’m going to look into some EFA courses, and possibly this online coursework through San Diego Extension. Will just have to figure out the funding for either/both of those avenues. I could probably file for a student loan for the San Diego stuff, but I don’t know how the wife will take that. We’re trying to cut debt, not create more.

Anyway… I’ll leave you with a snippet from one of my short stories I’ve written recently. “The Blacksmith” originally was supposed to be about a group called the Highwaymen, that protect merchant caravans, or retrieve stolen goods, for a price, within the Realm of Ezrahn. As I wrote it, it became more about a young man who wanted to be an adventurer, but found all the adventure he could handle right in his own hometown.

***

“The Highwaymen? Are you out of your mind, boy?” the older man said. “Take it from Old Sawyer, you don’t want to get mixed up with they’re mercenaries. That’s no life for a young man. Selling your soul for a bit of coin. No. You’d be best to go marry that blacksmith’s daughter who fancies you. Learn her father’s trade and make babies. That’s my advice.” Old Sawyer drank deeply from his tankard. “Fetch me another round, if you please.” He tossed the young man a gold coin.

Gareth stared at the coin a moment. It wasn’t often gold showed up in his little town. Silver, sure, especially when the merchants passed through. The shiny metal mesmerized him.

“Boy,” came Old Sawyer’s voice, breaking the coin’s spell. “Get me a bowl of that stew I smell as well. A half loaf of good warm bread should go nicely. Do that, and you can keep the change.”

Welcome to the Roaring 20s…

Hello all. It’s been a year and a half since I last posted so this one is going to be a bit long. Lots of big changes so I’m going o have updates in my Fatherhood, Writing, and Business aspects of my life. So break out the jazz music and brush up on your Charleston.

Fatherhood Updates

2018 ended with a bang as we welcomed a third child into our family. Jackson Warren Ferrell was born November 24th after a long labor. He wasn’t ready to leave mommy and he’s still a snuggler a year later.

Here he is a week ago beating me at his version of checkers.

His sister joined her older brother and her parents in wearing glasses this past November, just weeks before Jackson’s first birthday.

We built a snowman this week because Wisconsin got some great packing snow. Our Olaf didn’t last long as it warmed up enough the next day his head separated and had to be rebuilt.

My oldest child is a freshman in high school now. The only freshman (and only one other sophomore) that got consistent playing time on varsity football. He got his letter and pin for his jacket. He’s slowly earning more time with varsity on the basketball court as well.

Here he is during football season with his sister.

Three kids has been a huge adjustment for our family in terms of time management and trip planning. Thankfully my beautiful wife is a wizard at that aspect and manages to get us everywhere we need to be.

The challenge I’ve faced lately is trying to remember that Emma isn’t older than she is. There are times she says and does things that would lead one to believe she’s a lot older (maybe even a teenager in some ways). The next minute she’s melting down over something so minor (to us parents at least) and it hits you that she’s not quite four. She’s still figuring out how to handle her own emotions and feelings and navigate the world. It’s a work in progress for all of us at this stage.

Writing Updates

2019 was a good year. I joined a 365 Challenge on Facebook that really helped keep me accountable. I developed a much better writing routine through the groups founding principles of just 10 minutes a day. I drafted several pieces I’m still working on. I also finished and published my second novel, “Through Darkness to Light”. In addition I had a new cover done for book one to make them flow better.

You can click the images to be taken to the Amazon product page.

2020 is going to be bigger yet. I’m finally working on my high fantasy realm Ezrahn via short stories to build the world lore and flesh it out more. I’ll definitely be sharing snippets via my Facebook page and Twitter accounts so be sure you’re following me there.

Business Updates

Cloaked Press enters its third year in 2020. We’re launching Spring Into SciFi 2020 in February/March which will be our 6th short story collection. We also published our first stand alone novel, “To Visit Earth” by British author, Ian Hugh McAllister.

We redesigned our website recently to hopefully provide a better user experience. We also now offer editing services for authors on a budget. I feel our prices are very competitive for what we offer.

Our Kickstarter to expand into more single author novels, novellas and collections isn’t fairing so well and in its final hours is still a long way from being funded. We’ll still get there, just will take us longer to take in these projects.

I think that’s all for now. I hope you’re still with me and I look forward to sharing more of my journey as a Father, Author, Blogger, Publisher.

February 8th, 2018 Update – Fatherhood, upcoming projects, etc.

Hello my Gentle Readers. I just wanted to check in and let you all know how my 2018 is shaping up so far. We are more than a month in now and things are really hopping.

Cloaked Press, the publishing company I started last year, is turning 1 year old this month. We are launching our second short story collection, Spring Into SciFi 2018, on March 20th, 2018. (Obviously 2018, since it’s in the title. Haha). It’s very exciting. I’ll throw out the cover here, but if you’d like to get your hands on an ARC and get a chance to talk to some of the authors, then you can join the Launch Street Team.
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I am woefully behind on my own writing projects. My demon infused novella has stalled out. Editing books 2 and 3 of my Family Heritage Series is taxing to say the least. I hate editing/revising. I just want it to be perfect when I bleed that first draft onto the pages, you know? Hopefully once I get Spring Into SciFi put to press, I’ll have more energy to devote to my personal projects.

I hope everyone has been enjoying the guest posts and the recent Meet The Author Monday interviews. I’d love to have more authors to feature on my blog, so if you know any that should be shared with the world, please send them my way. They can get the details on the Meet The Author Mondays Page.

Lastly, I want to tell a story about my daughter (who will be 2 in April). For at least the last 6 months, I have been the primary person to put my daughter to bed at night. I warm up a bottle of milk, we snuggle under a blanket in the recliner in her room that I bought for my wife when she was nursing. We have a tradition of her talking to Quack Quack, which is me making a shadow duck on her ceiling using my cellphone flashlight. She and Quack Quack talk about her day and then he gives her a “shadow smooch” and she finishes her milk. Normally, I would end up falling asleep in the chair with her and wake up a few hours later (usually when we both have turned into the furnace we become when we sleep). Then I could put her in her crib and go to my bed. I know this was a cause for dissatisfaction for my wife, as I didn’t get to come back and spend time with her before she went to bed. Lately that has all changed and my feelings are bittersweet about it. Our routine is slightly changed: warm bottle, snuggled in recliner with blanket, conversation with Quack Quack. The difference is when she finishes her bottle, she hands it to me, and says, “Done.” Then she will usually roll over like she is going to snuggle in, and immediately starts to kick the blanket off, telling me she’s, “Done”. If I ask her, “Are you ready for your bed?” She will tell me, “Yes. Done.” or “Night Night”. If I don’t move fast enough to put her in her bed, she gets quite upset with me.

I miss the snuggles, but I am grateful for the hour or two that I get back in the evening as it has helped me to get things ready for Spring Into SciFi, and actually get a little bit of editing done. Here is a recent picture of my little princess. She has her pajamas on still, but she put her mother’s snow boots on so she could take a sled ride with her grammy. (For the record we waited until later and had real snow worthy clothes on when the sled ride happened.)
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