Weekly Writerly Review 2/1/2022

Well. I’m a day late on this one but we closed out January with another 2k+ week. This put me over 14k for the month. Not as good as last years 30k but I’ve been a little scatterbrained. If I could find the one project that would consume me like that, I’d be off to the races.

I am up to one of my favorite stories in Tales of Ezrahn. Master of War tells the tale of Kreios as he discovers the godly forces behind all the war in the realm. Editing is going slowly but steadily. I might have this ready for betas by summer at this rate.

Blogging is going fairly well with my two a week schedule. Thank you all for coming along on my writing journey this year.

Weekly Writerly Review 1/24/2022

This past week started off strong, and then stalled out on me. I did manage over 4k words for the week. I got some editing done on my short story collection as well as added some words to a different project I’m working on. A couple of blog posts got added into the mix.

I went through a few of the latest submissions for Spring Into SciFi 2022 so I am almost caught up on those at this time. Still excited for this year’s edition and the other two collections planned for June. Trying to find traction for the Kaleidoscope project in attracting talent, but it’s still early. I’m sure it will work out in the end.

I grabbed up a MG fantasy beta read from an email list I am in, because I hope it will help me with my own MG stuff. We’ll see. They want it turned around by the end of the month or so. I have to get cracking on that tonight.

My oldest had a couple basketball games this week. I love watching him on the court or the football field. I can tell that it is his zen, the place the feels the most at peace and centered. The littles have had trouble with their “listening ears” this week. It’s frustrating but we have more good days than bad days. I keep telling myself they are only 5 and 3. We’ll get there.

Until next week. Keep reading and writing folks…

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…

Weekly Writerly Review 1/10/2022

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. 

Until next week folks, keep writing and reading.

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.

1 Month Down 2021 Edition

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.

Becoming a plotter?!?!

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.

Decorating the mind…

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.

38 years old…

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.