Where The Woods Grow Wild: Synopsis Reveal and Beta Reader Request

*Deep breath* Okay, here we go. The sneak peek series for Where The Woods Grow Wild is officially starting. If you missed the announcement and the schedule last week, check out this post so you know what’s coming up.

Synopsis Reveal

First things first: the synopsis, as promised. This was no easy task. I tried to write the synopsis as close to the back-cover blurb as I could, as opposed to a long, dreary summary. It’s a bit on the long side to go on a book cover, I think, so I’ll have to make some cuts in the future. But for now, this is what we have.

Beyond the streets of Bardun Village, a forest grows. Nobody goes in. Nothing comes out. The townspeople abide by the unspoken rule not to meddle with whatever mysteries hide in the trees.

Martin Colter just wants to make it through another workday at the Cabbage Cart Inn. Elodie Tuck would rather climb trees in the orchard than run errands for the mayor. Together, they’ll do anything to liven things up, until a mischievous escapade lands Martin behind the tree line, where an unknown creature lurks in the dark.

Martin makes it out of the forest—barely. Left with one hand and a strange poison in his veins, he and Elodie must adapt to a new way of life.

But the forest isn’t done with them yet. When Martin and Elodie return to the woods in search of the animal that maimed him, they find more adventure than they bargained for.

Separated and lost in a tangle of fantasy, they discover that more than animals come to play where the woods grow wild.

Getting in was easy. Getting back out is the tricky part.

My main struggle with the synopsis/blurb was deciding how much to reveal. As a reader, I generally want to know as little as possible about the plot specifics when I pick up a book. I prefer concepts and hints. At the same time, I want my audience to know what they’re getting into.

Of course, feedback for improvement is always welcome! This is as close to completion as I could wrestle it for today’s post, but I’ll definitely come back to it.

Hopefully by the time the book cover finalization rolls around, I’ll have figured out how to condense the blurb even more without resorting to formulas and generic rhetorical questions. Will I be able to pull it off?

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Beta reader spots are now filled!

NOTE: This is an edited version of the original post (obviously). I know the post has been up for less than a day, but all the beta reader positions have been claimed.

I’m blown away by all the positive responses to the synopsis and the request for beta readers. Thank you so much to those who volunteered to lend me a hand! I’m looking forward to completing this project.

To those who may still have wanted to volunteer or didn’t see the post until now, I’m sorry you missed out! I honestly never expected the spots to fly so quickly, and I even took on more beta readers than I had originally planned. Hopefully you’ll stick around for the release of Where The Woods Grow Wild later this fall!

Stay awesome, everyone.


I believe that brings the first sneak peek series post to an end! Thanks for stopping by to check it out. The next series post will go up Wednesday Sept 7th, and it’s all about the characters in Where The Woods Grow Wild. Be sure to come back!

In the meantime, have a fantastic day!

Where The Woods Grow Wild: Sneak Peek Series Announcement

It’s been some time since I got this excited about a blog post. As many of you know, Where The Woods Grow Wild is nearing completion. I don’t have a release date set yet, but I’ll be pretty surprised if it’s not a bestseller available within the next few months.

A lot of you awesome people here on the blog, as well as Twitter and Facebook, have been expressing excitement about the book. I can’t thank you guys enough! Your support is what keeps my fingers on the keyboard some days.

To tide us all over until the actual release, I’ve decided to do a gradual curtain lift on some of the content in Where The Woods Grow Wild. I hope these reveals generate even more buzz prior to publication (for me as well as you!), and the dates I set will give me that delicate sense of urgency to get the job done.

So what exactly do I have in store?**

August 31st – Synopsis Reveal and Beta Hunting

Starting things off this Wednesday, I’ll be posting the finished synopsis of Where The Woods Grow Wild and asking for beta readers (let the nervous pacing begin). If you think you might be interested in beta-reading but want more info, keep that tab open on Wednesday.

September 7th – Meet the Characters

A week later I’ll introduce you to a handful of the cast members from Where The Woods Grow Wild. You’ll meet the protagonists as well as some of the secondary and side characters.

For each character, you’ll get a glimpse of who they are, what their role in the story is (all spoiler-free, of course!), and some representative dialog lines (those of you who follow my #1linewed and #2bitTues shares on Twitter will probably recognize those lines).

September 9th – Story World Overview

Just two days after you meet the characters you’ll get a glimpse of the story world as well. Expect to see a completed map (perhaps more than one?), my favorite visual inspiration pieces, and an introduction to some important locations. Time to get my tour guide mojo on!

September 14th – Read Chapter One

That’s right, I’m doing it. On the final Wednesday of this series, you get the chance to read the first chapter of Where The Woods Grow Wild. Not gonna lie, it’s one of my favorite chapters, and I’m totally terrified thrilled to share it with you.


By the end of the series I hope to have accomplished two things. First, I want to be that much closer to publication. These shares and reveals will keep me on my toes, and that’s when I’m most productive. Second, I really hope to get you guys pumped about Where The Woods Grow Wild’s release. Gotta be honest, right?

You’ll get tired of me saying this, but I truly am grateful for all the support you’ve shown so far. We’re getting closer to the end goal every day!

In the meantime, mark your calendars and stay awesome! Hope you all have a fantastic weekend.

**Note: regular blog posts will not be interrupted by this series. If you’re just not interested in Where The Woods Grow Wild, no worries! There will still be other content popping up. Stick around! 

The Six Question Character Challenge: A Glimpse into “Where The Woods Grow Wild”

The splendid writer and blogger S. M. Metzler tagged me to participate in this illustrious phenomena. The goal of the tag is to answer a series of prompts or questions from the perspective your w.i.p.’s characters. Be sure to read my tagger’s post over at Tea with Tumnus!

I’ll be introducing some characters from my work-in-editing-progress Where The Woods Grow Wild, a fantasy-adventure novel coming later this year.

The six questions/prompts to answer are as follows:

  1. A contradiction within the character (the good kind that indicates depth)
  2. The character’s Myers-Briggs type
  3. Favorite color
  4. How would they slay a dragon? (Hypothetically, since not all stories have dragons)
  5. What is their darkest secret?
  6. Where do they see themselves in ten years?

It seems past participants have included photo references for their characters. I will not be doing so, simply because I prefer to keep those to myself. I’m just selfish like that. Also, if the answer to a question includes a spoiler, I’ll skip it for obvious reasons. I don’t know if that’ll be the case or not.

Enough about me. Let’s talk about these wonderful people who are my characters.

Note: There are a bunch of super-fun characters I could have chosen from, but I decided to stick to three for brevity’s sake. You’ll have to meet the rest some other time. 


Character 1: Elodie Tuck (co-protagonist)

The contradiction: Elodie is fun-loving and mischievous. She’s not afraid to risk a bit of trouble for the sake of a good laugh. At the same time, she’ll often be the first to take level-headed action when things get serious.

Myers-Briggs type: ENTP

Favorite color: Yellow, without a doubt.

How would she slay a dragon? Elodie isn’t the best with weapons, so she’d probably hit it with a big stick while it slept. It’s a small dragon, okay?

What is her darkest secret? She’s afraid of the dark. Fairly trivial, but she’ll never admit it all the same.

Where does she see herself in ten years? Probably hiding in the apple orchard to skip work.


Character 2: Martin Colter (co-protagonist)

The contradiction: Martin trusts his own abilities and willpower to overcome any obstacle, but the fact that he’s missing a hand sometimes renders him frustratingly useless, and he easily gets discouraged when that happens.

Myers-Briggs type: ESTJ

Favorite color: Blue

How would he slay a dragon? Well, Martin only has one hand, and he’s never used a melee weapon in his life (unless a dull wood-chopping axe counts), so if he ever encounters a dragon…let’s hope he’s smart enough to run.

What is his darkest secret? He can’t stand to see others get hurt because of him, especially when it’s because of his handicap, because the perceived guilt is hard to shake off.

Where does he see himself in ten years? Married to Elodie, of course We’ll take things one step at a time.


Character 3: Podgin

The contradiction: Podgin prefers a life of solitary food-hoarding over interacting with other people, yet deep down he hides a particular fondness for a few of the other characters.

Myers-Briggs type: ISFP

Favorite color: mushroomy brown.

How would he slay a dragon? He wouldn’t, because in the event of a dragon appearance he’d be hiding in his oven.

What is his darkest secret? He knows far more about some of the other characters than anyone suspects. Certain people confide a great deal in him and trust him to keep his mouth shut, which he loyally does.

Where does he see himself in ten years? Comfortably in his hole-in-the-ground home with no one but his beard and a dish of truffles for company.


There you have it! The Six Question Character Challenge. I must say, that was loads of fun, and it helped me get a fresh look at my characters.

I would tag specific people, but I’m not sure who has or hasn’t been tagged already, and I feel like I always end up tagging the same bloggers. So here’s what I’ll do: if this blog tag looks fun to you, consider yourself tagged by me. Fair enough?

I look forward to sharing more information about the characters, plot, and story world of Where The Woods Grow Wild. In the meantime, there’s still work to be done!

101 Lies Writers Tell

They won’t all apply to you, but I guarantee some of them will. (I thought it would be really hard to come up with 101 entries, but once I got the ball rolling…well, let’s just say the list didn’t take long.)


1. I don’t need to write this down.

2. No one will notice this plot hole.

3. I’ll remember that idea in the morning.

4. I can get through this chapter without coffee.

5. I’m a decent proofreader.

6. My friend’s a decent proofreader.

7. That was the last typo.

8. I can write while I watch.

9. Just a quick five-minute Twitter break.

10. No, I don’t actually have a crush on my character.

11. This rewrite should only take an hour or two.

12. I’ll save my snack for when I finish the chapter.

13. Yes, I take a break every hour.

14. That two-star review didn’t bother me.

15. I’m going to write every day this month.

16. I really didn’t enjoy writing the villain’s death scene.

17. Sales aren’t important to me.

18. Yes, you can be in my next book.

19. No, those aren’t tear stains on the page.

20. One red pen should be enough.

21. There’s no way I’ll lose this sticky note.

22. My second draft probably won’t need that much work.

23. I’m super flexible. Interrupt me anytime.

24. Of course I don’t get jealous of other authors’ success!

25. I don’t even pay attention to my follower count.

26. My debut is a bestseller. Didn’t you read my Twitter bio?

27. I’ll only need to print one copy.

28. This Sims character looks great on the cover.

29. I can skip the proof copy.

30. Decaf is fine.

31. Sure, you can read my first draft.

32. My characters don’t mean that much to me.

33. What sketchy Google searches?

34. Parties? Yeah, I can skip writing this weekend.

35. No, I’m not writing down that random couple’s conversation.

36. I’ve never researched assassination methods.

37. No, for real. I #amwriting.

38. I’m just wearing earphones for style. Feel free to talk to me.

39. It doesn’t bother me when crappy books become bestsellers.

40. I don’t daydream what my book would look like as a film.

41. My protagonist has nothing to do with me at all.

42. I value your opinion about what I should write next.

43. This chapter offends you? Let me get rid of that for you.

44. No writing snacks today.

45. My draft will be done by the end of the month, no sweat.

46. I’ve never cried with my protagonist.

47. All my Pinterest boards are public. I don’t keep secrets.

48. Your DM convinced me to buy your book.

49. My work space is always in Instagram condition.

50. I never struggle with self-doubt.

51. Microsoft Word fonts look great on book covers!

52. Sleep trumps writing.

53. I always evaluate writerly quotes before I share them.

54. The world really needs more vampire stories.

55. Shirtless, six-pack dude on the cover? A mark of quality literature for sure.

56. Shampoo commercial babe on the cover? A mark of quality literature for sure.

57. My fantasy book title needs the word ‘Chronicles’ in it somewhere.

58. Every person on earth must love my book or else.

59. I have to get each scene right on the first try.

60. No, I don’t leaf through books just to smell the pages.

61. Writing a book is easy. Anyone can do it.

62. Someone didn’t like my book. I guess I failed as an author.

63. My characters always obey me.

64. Writing is just a hobby. I don’t take it that seriously.

65. My characters must all be gorgeous or no one will like them.

66. Needs more prophecy.

67. Keep spamming your buy links. I’ll probably give in eventually.

68. You have a second cousin who also writes? Of course I’ll email him right away.

69. Anyone could be a bestseller if they just had more time to write.

70. No, I don’t collect rejection letters.

71. The fact that ‘erotica’ exists as a genre doesn’t make me gag.

72. Of course I always follow my own writing advice.

73. I only get on Youtube for research purposes.

74. You self-publish ten books a year? You must be so gifted.

75. No, I’ve never used Jelly Beans as motivation.

76. It’s safe to leave the house without a notebook.

77. It’s safe to leave the house without pens.

78. It’s safe to leave the house.

79. Talk out loud to my characters? Nope.

80. The thousands of writerly advice blog posts I see each day really shape the way I write.

81. That book cover you made with MS Paint looks great.

82. No, I wouldn’t rather live in my story world.

83. I don’t go to coffee shops. I guess I’m not the real deal.

84. I don’t use the latest Mac. I guess I’m not the real deal.

85. Yes, cat. You may sit on my laptop.

86. I regularly take days off.

87. Sure, I can leave this scene half finished. I won’t lose my train of thought.

88. My character’s eye color is always consistent in first drafts.

89. No, none of my character names have real meaning.

90. Needs more love triangle.

91. 99c is a fair price for all the work I put into this book.

92. I don’t need to write today.

93. Noise is fine.

94. I got my opening line right on the first try.

95. I got my opening line right on the second try.

96. I got my opening line right on the fiftieth try.

97. I’m satisfied with my opening line.

98. I read every single free ebook I download.

99. Romance based on physical attraction alone is healthy for readers, right?

100. I’ve never wanted to change my name to something more ‘authorish’.

101. It’s hard to make money as a writer? You’re the first person to warn me about that.

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There’s a confession booth in the back. Feel free to visit.

 

 

 

What If My Published Book Isn’t Good Enough?

I’m going to think out loud a bit here.

If you could sit down with an author you admire or enjoy reading and could only ask them one question, what would it be? I know what I would ask.

“What do you do when your first published book doesn’t match the quality of your second or third?”

It’s no secret that writers are constantly learning and improving their craft. Their voice develops, their skills are sharpened, and they find little by little what truly works for them.

I self-published my first novel, Little One, in the summer of 2015. It wasn’t the first novel I had written, but at the time it was the best, and I felt I was finally ready to take it all the way.

Now, a year and two months later, I’m eyeing potential release dates for my second book, Where The Woods Grow Wild. It’s not a sequel to Little One, nor does it have anything in common in terms of tone or content.

Not only that, but the closer I get to publishing Where The Woods Grow Wild, the more I feel Little One just isn’t that great. Besides a slew of technical problems during its first weeks of life, I’ve improved so much as a writer in the last year that I’ve come pretty close to unpublishing Little One for good. I don’t want it to misrepresent me.

I’m also ridiculously pessimistic.

On the flipside, I’m probably being too critical of myself. Little One isn’t bad. It’s accumulated nearly 1000 downloads in 12 months (granted, most of those are free grabs), and it averages 4.7 stars on Amazon and 4.45 on Goodreads (and that’s after Amazon obliterated most reviews by friends and family). I’m frequently humbled by the glowing feedback I receive.

And yet, I know Little One could have been better. A lot better. I also know Where The Woods Grow Wild will be better.

Part of me wants to unpublish Little One and treat Where The Woods Grow Wild like a debut novel. Gotta put my best foot forward, right? Another part of me knows I should be proud of Little One regardless of its flaws and move on. After all, everyone improves over time. I never expected Little One to be my masterpiece.

Have those of you with published work ever felt this way before? If so, what conclusions have you come to? Give a brother some pointers here.

10 More Incorrect Assumptions About Writers

This post is a somewhat snarky continuation of last month’s 10 Incorrect Assumptions About Writers article.

#11 Writers don’t actually work that much

Grab a notebook and a pencil and people admire your dedication. Crack open a laptop and everyone assumes you’re playing games. Granted, all the Netflix jokes we make don’t help our case, but still. We writers take our work pretty seriously.

I’ve had people watch me type away for a bit and then say something like, “So…is that work stuff, or are you just goofing off?” I know they’re probably joking, but how would it look if I walked up to a busy firefighter and said, “So…are you putting that out, or just toasting marshmallows?”

#12 Writers are always available for language-related favors

I think every writer in existence has experienced this at least once. Your classmates need a paper proofread, and it’s due in an hour, and you’re not busy so you can do it for free, right? Well…no. Not right. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind lending a hand (and I did all throughout college). I’ll be glad to look over your paper. If I can do it when it fits my schedule, and if it’s only a few pages, and if I don’t have paying work to finish first. Because, believe it or not, I do occasionally get paid to do just that. Wait in line.

#13 Writers need English and/or Creative Writing degrees

Did I take creative writing classes in college? Yes. Did I graduate with a degree in English? Yes. Did it revolutionize the way I write fiction? No. Most of what I’ve learned about writing has been through my own writing and reading. I know of writers who got all the degrees and drastically improved because of them, but degrees don’t grant you innate skill, nor do they guarantee success.

[Note: my classes, teachers, and studies were fantastic. I’m not degrading any of them. I did learn stuff about literature, grammar, history, etc (go to college, kids!). But I didn’t learn anything about creating a story from nothing and putting it into writing that I didn’t already know (or would come to know in the future) from experience and self-teaching.]

#14 Writers always stay indoors

We stay inside a lot because that’s where our work is, and we love our work. But that doesn’t mean we’ll burst into flames if we walk out the front door (well, most of us won’t). Writers love walks, nature, cities, fresh air, sunshine/rain as much as anyone else (Pokemon Go, anyone?). If anything we wish we could be out more, but, you know, laptops have a limited battery life.

#15 Writers lack social skills

Again, we joke about this a lot. But most of the time it’s just not true. A lot of writers are introverts, and a lot of introverts are shy (there is a difference, people), but we can still go out, smile, shake hands, meet people, converse, and interact with society when we want to. Maybe we just tend to want to a little less than others.

#16 Writers hate editing

Editing, the great evil torture process that stifles creativity and drags writers down into the mire of technicalities. Actually, there’s just as much creativity in rewrites and edits as there is in first draft writing. I know a lot of writers (myself included) who enjoy the second and third draft process just as much as the first draft. Now, proofreading? That’s a different story…

#17 Writers want to be just like famous authors

“Oh, you write fantasy? So you wanna be the next Tolkien/Rowling/Martin, I guess.”

No, actually, I don’t. Tolkien, Rowling, and Martin were/are talented, successful authors that a lot of people look up to. But Tolkien gets boring, Rowling spams plot holes, and Martin needs to get his moral compass checked for signs of life (my opinions, calm down).

My point is, I don’t want to be them, or even like them. I want to achieve what they achieved, yes, but in my own way, with my own voice, and my own stories.

#18 Writers disregard basic and routine activities

“You’re a writer, huh? Must be nice to work from home. You don’t have to get up early, shower, or follow meal schedules like the rest of us. You don’t even have to get dressed if you don’t want.”

Bottom line: that’s a bunch of garbage. We work hard. Most of us have other jobs. We follow routines. We have self-respect and a sense of hygiene.

Writer does not mean slob.

#19 Writers need to work with major publishers

Would I love to have one of my books eventually published by one of the big names? Of course. Are my career as a writer and my love for storytelling defined by that factor? Absolutely not. Mainstream publishing houses have competition in the form of indie-publishers, self-publishing, etc. I don’t need a six-figure deal to be a good writer.

If anyone’s reading this that wants to offer me a six-figure deal, I graciously accept. 

#20 Writers thrive in coffee shops

This is true for some writers, but not for all. I’m jealous of the people who a.) have access to coffee shops nearby, and b.) look super sophisticated with their million dollar Apple devices while still getting chapters done by the refill.

I’m not that guy. For instance, I’ve been into Starbucks three times in my life. Once as part of a group. I didn’t order anything. The second time was in February in Chicago. I panicked and ordered a slushy. The third time, I tried to order coffee. Emphasis on tried. Turns out you need a degree in Latin just to get a napkin in that hipster nest.

Starbucks is the worst. That’s really all I’m getting at in this whole post.


Take this post with a grain of salt and a pinch of humor. If you’re guilty of making any of these assumptions, ultimate shame on you. Now, you’ll have to excuse me. It’s almost 2:00 in the afternoon. Time for me to get dressed.

A Writer’s Seven Deadly Sins

Today’s brief post is brought to you by the morning grumpies and perhaps a pinch of tough reality.

Procrastination

The punchline of many writerly jokes on social media, procrastination is the subtle, seemingly harmless force that keeps masterpieces unpublished.

Perfectionism

Thoroughness is your friend, but at some point you have to let go of your manuscript and accept it the way it is. No story will ever be completely flawless no matter how much you fret over it.

Haste

Then again, rushing things is the quickest way to kill your book. Trust me, I know. Writing takes time. Editing takes more time. To hurry is to miss a glaring plot hole or typo.

People-Pleasing

Everybody thinks their opinion is the One To Rule Them All. Be teachable, but make your own decisions and stick to them. Your story offended that one lady at Walmart? Be polite, but at the same time…who cares?

Mediocrity

The more people climb above the standard, the more the standard will rise, and at the end of the day we might actually start to drain the waste out of this saturated market.

Emulation

Respect, learn from, and admire your favorite authors, but don’t try to be like them or sound like them. Find your own voice, develop it, and make it shine.

Inactivity

Inactivity is procrastination’s older sibling. If you sit around watching Youtube videos while waiting for ‘inspiration’ to hit, you’re doing it wrong. Inspiration gives you ideas, but it won’t finish a draft for you. Only discipline can do that. Not only that, but the longer you go without working your writing muscles, the harder it’ll be to sharpen your mind when you try to get back into it.


Thanks for stopping by. Go forth, confess your sins, and write stuff. Catch ya next time.