Last week was a good week. I finished a great novel and wrote a review for it. Shoutout to Trudie Skies for her book “The 13th Hour-Book One of The Cruel Gods”. Great book with detailed world building and beautifully flawed characters. No cookie cutter cardboard Mary Sues here. I’m anxiously following Twitter for news of book 2.
I’ve begun to finally compile and expand the short stories I wrote for my high fantasy realm, “Ezrahn”. One of these stories appeared last year in the Depths of Love anthology. I’m also trying to figure out how much of my world building I want to put into a website of sorts. Maybe after I have this collection and start the “Favored” books I have plotted as well.
I’ve also begun plotting the next phase of the Collective world. It will definitely be a “Case Files” type of presentation and hopefully have stories spanning their entire history and dealing with historical objects, like Excalibur and the Holy Grail, and mythical creatures, like Bigfoot and mermaids. I’m also hopeful to drag a few other faces into participating because there are some author friends I’d love to collaborate with.
I returned to my day job however so it might slow me down a little. I’m hoping with my new laptop though I’ll be able to continue working in the evenings when my kids go to bed.
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.
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.
January was a good month for me on a lot of fronts, although I didn’t blog about them. I did put a bit more of my writing journey on Facebook on my author page though.
January Writing News:
30558 words written. Most of it in my just over 27k MG/YA fantasy novel. “Sibling Rivalry: A Children of the Realms Tale” will be getting pitched to agents and editors during the February 3rd #SFFPIT event in Twitter. You can check it out at this LINK. If anyone is on Twitter and would be willing to help Retweet me, you can find me on Twitter under andrewmferrell
My February goals include knocking out the rest of the two short stories I’m working on for my Meteor Fall project. Hopefully then that collection will start to come together. I’m working with some great friends of mine in the writing world. I think readers will enjoy the world we’re creating.
I’m also planning on getting a big chunk of my wip “Bible of Mars” done. This was an idea my father in law came up with when we used to carpool to the day job. Involved people having migrated from Mars to earth for some reason. I ended up finding a plot and outlining it last year. I don’t think I’ll finish it this month. It should be a fun SciFi romp though.
Family Heritage Book 3: Reunions & Rebellions is in the hands of some betas and proofreaders. I have a cover mock-up I’ll share later this month I think once I think I have a handle on its publication date.
On the home front things are going pretty good. My oldest started his job and it’s going alright except for constant changes in his sports schedule messing with his work schedule. But basketball season will be over soon and then he can put in a few more hours. We’re getting along pretty well. I’m proud of the choices he’s making lately with regards to school and his future.
Emma and Jackson are still giving Dad a run for his money. Here’s Emma and I playing on a 15-20 ft snow pile behind our house yesterday.
It was harder to climb than I thought it would be because the snow was very fluffy and didn’t pack down well. I kept sinking and sliding back down. It was fun though. Wife and Jackson watched from a window and laughed pretty hard at “Daddy fall down. “Daddy fall again”. As Jackson put it. He’d had enough by this time and had gone back inside.
I have a short story of n a collection called “The Depths of Love: an SFWG anthology” due out February 10th. I happen to know if you preorder the ebook and send a screenshot to the publisher, you are entered to win a paperback copy of any short story collection they’ve published.
Cloaked Press also has its 2021 edition of Spring Into SciFi coming later this month or first week of March. Currently accepting submissions for the first Summer of Speculation themed anthology as well. Catastrophe is the theme. All the details are on their website.
I’m hoping to get more updates here on the blog in the future. Maybe just a weekly check in with some more writing and family news as that’s my focus here. Thank you all for coming along on this crazy journey with me.
The age old debate amongst writers. That eternal battle between Plotters and Pantsers. I’ve always considered myself a Pantser. Most of the time I have a character and a vague idea and away we go. Probably why I have a thumb drive full of unfinished half baked ideas.
This week has started out different. As I finally draw into the closing chapters of this round of the dots for Book 3 of my Family Heritage series, I had a villain and an idea for book 4.
Monday morning it hit me and by noon I had plotted out a high level outline for the entire book, while working my day job.
What’s more is book 5, which was little more than the idea of having shifters in it, has become an actually plotted book as well. Down to villains and their goals and scene outline.
I’ve never written like this before and it’s a little strange feeling. I’ve now dusted off an old idea I’d filed away and am working it through as well.
Last night I asked my wife about something she’d talked about. One of those, “Honey you should write this moments,” she’d had months ago. She hadn’t figured out the last couple of characters (based on our nieces and nephews), and I told her about my outlining this week. I mentioned I’d like to take a stab at coming up with a story using these characters but I needed the details.
This is where I surprised her by admitting I don’t normally plot my writing. I take the vague idea or character and just turn them loose. Then I write up the incident report. She couldn’t believe that because of how I am in my personal life. I’m a planner. I’m a step 1 is followed by step 2 and so on.
She’s convinced that I’m definitely in possession of multiple personalities and she wants the Pantser to be more involved in my day to day life. What’s more is she’s trying to name the personalities. I just chuckled at her.
A dear friend of mine shared a tweet that got me thinking. I’m sharing the tweet as I’ve tracked down the original author and followed him and his friend he mentions. It’s, to me at least, a very powerful way to look at two of the arts.
For myself, as I have trouble drawing stick figures, and my musical talents were left behind in high school band, I thought, how does this apply to me?
The answer became clear quickly. Writing is how we decorate the mind. Writers take a complex idea, and distill it down into words that, when ingested, fill a room within your mind, even if only for a little while.
Some of these keep these rooms throughout our life and they form a part of who we are. Perhaps they help us deal with a difficult or painful situation. Maybe they form a basis for how we react to something in our lives, or how we perceive justice or what we consider our moral right.
Writers entertain us, inform us, and, if we let them, teach us something. These lessons may be about our world, or just their world. But either way, they can leave this room within us, decorated with their words. With the emotions and images they co hire within us. These rooms are just as powerful as a master’s painting, or a composer’s magnum opus.
So if you’re a writer like me, don’t give up on your creations. Someone out there is waiting for you to decorate a room in their mind, whether they know it now or not.
June 16th, 2020, I turn 38. In two years I’ll be 40 and on the downhill slide as people look at it. If you’d asked me 20 years ago where I’d be, I never would have thought: married, three kids (one of which a teenager), and working in a factory. I’d hoped to be writing, which I am, but it would be nice to be sitting on a nice big publishing deal or something.
I got to my day job this morning and was talking to this new kid from third shift. I say kid because, turns out he’s 19. I’m officially twice the age of a coworker. The next milestone would be when there are coworkers younger than my kids.
So I made a comment about the music I was playing on the stereo and he mentioned he writes songs, music and lyrics, the whole nine yards. I asked him if he’s done anything with it and he got shy and said no. I instantly saw a flashback to when I started writing and never let anyone read or see any of it. I didn’t publish my first book until I was 32.
I told him this, and I said to him. Go for it. Don’t wait. Don’t waste years wishing you had tried it. Even if you lay down the tracks and post it to iTunes yourself. I told him about my cousins son who did this and actually made some money doing it.
I hope he took my advice and he goes home, dusts off those sheets of paper and gives it a try. I’m sure I’ll see him around. So I’ll try to keep encouraging him.
It’s a small thing but it made me feel good to talk to him and maybe help him a little. Something put him in my path today. Whether you believe in Fate or Karma or any of that stuff. I do, and I feel good about the conversation. My spirit and my drive to pursue my dreams is bolstered. I hope his is too.
See ya around Gentle Readers. Hopefully I have some news about Family Heritage Book 3 soon.
Time flies when the world is in crisis and you have three kids to keep track of.
The Coronavirus Pandemic is still in full swing though states are starting to open up a bit. We shall see if this is too soon or not in the coming weeks and months. I’m not a fan of groups of people anyway so that part of the social distancing hasn’t bothered me much. It has been annoying that I couldn’t take the kids to parks or anything when the weather warmed up. Trapped at home has not been kind to my littles. And my oldest, well, he’s had an ok go of this home school thing when they shut schools down in March. Beyond that, we’ve eaten more takeout from local places to help them stay afloat and tried to find creative things to do at home. Which has translated into yard work mainly. We’ve planted some flowers and set up a little fairy garden area that Emma loves. We’ve also take a plot at our village’s community garden. We’ll see how it goes. Not much to show right now except a plot of dirt.
The second bit of unpleasantness to get out of the way is the situation that began in Minneapolis with the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. His murder has ignited protests all over the country and even foreign police are condemning the actions of the officers in Minneapolis. I am appalled and angry that this shit keeps happening in America.
This is a horrible tragedy that has sparked riots and looting as things continue to escalate in cities other than Minneapolis. Even as close to me as Green Bay saw violence at a protest over the weekend. There are reports of rocks being thrown at police.
I’m not going to rehash all the events. I simply want to state that I support the calls against racism, transphobia and all the other despicable-isms. I’m about all lives. Because this issue is about Blacks, I’m in. If it’s Native Americans protesting a shitty pipeline on their land, I’m in. If it’s Pride rallies, I support you too. I can’t do live protests, my anxiety around large groups of people wouldn’t let me contemplate it. So I try to be supportive in other ways. Donations, signing petitions, voting appropriately and encouraging others to as well. So for those out there fighting this fight that needs to happen, I see you. This cishet white guy is sick of the racist bullshit as well.
Now onto more pleasant events for those who’ve stuck it out this long. My oldest is driving. He was able to get his learners permit when the DMV reopened to limited services.
It’s going quite well. I feared this day, teen drivers being potentially what they can be, but he’s doing what he should and is attentive on the road. I’m proud of him. Now if the usual teenage surliness would go away, everything would be great. It’s to be expected though. He’s 15 and trying to figure out himself and his place in the world. I try telling myself I wasn’t much better. Hell, I moved out of my parents house a couple months after I turned 17. I hope this pandemic is cleared up in time for football season. I don’t know if either of us could handle him not getting to play football this year. He needs the activity. Playing basketball in the yard by himself isn’t cutting it for his energy level.
Those who have read about my daughter know that she’s passionate about a great many things. She has her YouTube channel and a Facebook page to document the many things she gets into. This past weekend we were able to begin again the adventure of raising monarch butterflies. We found our first eggs. She was beyond excited when we found the first one. We ended up with ten from our excursion into a marshy area. All ten hatched within a few days and we’ve added a dozen more as well as some that we found already hatched into tiny caterpillars. Now we wait and see if this next batch all hatched, as well as continue to hunt for more. Keeping these beautiful creatures from all becoming bird food is a noble cause right?
How to begin to describe my youngest child. Perhaps this image will help you. Picture a Tornado wearing a Hurricane Jacket, plunked down into a Volcano, while riding a Tsunami during an Earthquake. That should give you a pretty clear picture of the Incarnation of Chaos this little one has become. He chatters away at you, mostly making sense, and understands more than he pretends to. Close to bed time the other night, my wife asked him, “What do you want for snack?” He looks right at me and plain as day said, “Ice Cream Cone Daddy.” Then went back to snuggling his mother while I made him a little cone with orange sherbet. He tests my patience almost as strongly as his older brother. He really riles his sister up. He will pick something up, a toy or doll or whatever. If she decides she wants it. She goes up to him and as she’s asking him for it or offering something different in trade; she snatched the item and leaves. Then you hear, “EMMA!” at the top of his little lungs. Sometimes I think he takes her favorite doll on purpose just to make her angry.
He’s also quite entertaining when it comes to big brother, “Teta.” (Emma started calling Mason, Teta, pronounced TeeTah, and it’s kinda stuck.) So Jackson has a poop diaper, we can all smell it. Mom asks, “Jackson, did you poop your pants?” “No.” He replies with this smirk on his face. Mom asks, “Who put the poop in your pants then?” “Teta.” He yells with a giggle and a look at his older brother. Teta was a good sport. He just said, “Jackson you weren’t supposed to tell anyone.” Which set everyone to laughing, even Emma.
All three of my kids challenge me to be a better person. To set a better example than what they may see around them in these times of crisis. I just hope I’m doing a good enough job.
My writing has been up and down the last few months. I’m still hitting my word count goals but I’m no where near ready to publish anything because I keep bouncing from project to project, unable to focus on much except knocking out Tales Of Ezrahn short stories. I think I almost have enough for a collection so maybe if I can knock that out I’ll be able to get back to Mike’s journey. Book three needs some rewrites then off to my editor. I hope he’s ready to deal with Colleen coming back into his life and a betrayal from The Council.
Until next time, my Gentle Readers. Keep on keeping on.
Hello all. February has been a crazy month so far and it’s not over yet.
Emma (my 3yr old) has a YouTube channel now for all the adventures she gets up to. we also started a Facebook page and Instagram account. She’s really enjoying all her activities. Her mom and I are loving sharing our unique girl with the world. You can find her on YouTube at http://bit.ly/EmmasWorld
She’s already surpassed 100 likes on her Facebook page which is amazing. One of the best stories out of this so far has been tweeting with Ted Allen from Food Network’s Chopped. When she was just a few months old, Emma would stop and stare at the screen any time Ted talked. Now that she’s cooking on YouTube, I tweeted him telling him. He responded the next day, not once, but twice.
My oldest is rocking the basketball court and getting lots of playing time on Varsity as a freshman. Here he is taking the tip-off on the Junior Varsity game tonight. He then went down and scored the first two points of the game between either team.
Lastly for this update has to do with short stories. I’ve been working on a few the last few months and one of my favorite lines is from one dealing with the God of War )or lack there of) in my fantasy realm, Ezrahn.
Kreios was a General before he killed a demigod in self defense and became a Master of War. Now, as he learns why there is no centralized overseer of conflict, he discovers that it is his destiny to become the new God of War. With the help of the magical Emerson’s and armor that make up the powers of War, he sees that having the many demigod Masters, keeps the world in conflict far more than if there was the single God. After he strips the Armament and status of one of his fellow Masters of War, he says, “I am War, so that there can be Peace.” He then sends the now mortal Master Into the battle he was formally orchestrating. I can’t wait to share these stories once they are all done and bundled together. They’ve been a lot of fun to write.
Take care, keep writing, and I’ll be back soon my Gentle Readers.
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.”