December NaNo Update #1

The fact is, I've dropped off and I'm not where I'd like to be.

The other fact is, I've written a heap of words in 9 days.

The sad fact is, most of those words were written in the first 3 days.

Here are the rest of the facts.

Day 1: 3,487
Total: 1,3487

Day 2: 3,231
Total: 6,715

Day 3: 3,118
Total: 9,869

Day 4: 820
Total: 10,689

Day 5: 2,909
Total: 13,600

Day 6: 0
Total: 13,600

Day 7: 980
Total: 14,580

Day 8: 0 (planning day)
Total: 14,580

Day 9: 278
Total: 14,858

(I should be at 25,859.)


1. Not pushing myself hard enough. I've spent more time on the internet than necessary

2. Going out without writing first. I think going out is important, but if I'd written first, then I wouldn't have fallen behind.

3. Not getting up early in the morning to give myself a head-start. The first day I got up at 6:00am. The next day it was later. Now I'm back to my normal self. Getting up earlier is the single best thing I could do to keep my targets.

I think I can catch up if I put my mind do it. However, if I think of it as trying to catch up, it could be self-destroying. So for now I just continue as if I'm right on track.

An idea: You see how in the first 3 days I wrote roughly 10,000 words? Maybe I should do a few more intense bursts like that, at times when I have no plans to be anywhere. That sounds plausible to me.

What would you do at this point?

Psych! NaNoWriMo in December!

For various reasons I've decided to do my NoWriMo in December rather than January. I just succeeded my first day, however, I've decided only to post my numbers once a week, so as not to clog up my blog with boring number posts. (Not that many people actually read it.) That means I still have accountability here, and if I succeed I'll be able to look back on my success. As for now, I'm posting daily updates on my personal FB page, as well as publicly on Twitter @RyanSullAuthor.

See you around!

NaNoWriMo in January

Me: No.
You: Why not?
Me: Because it's exam time, and not only do I have to rehearse and play my own 20-25 minute recital, I'm playing for three others as well.
You: But how will you write a book?
Me: Usually I just write it. But I like the idea of writing a book in a month, so I want to try it myself. January is when I have the least going on, so I'm going to do a NoWriMo (Novel Writing Month) then. It also means I get all of December to finish editing Knives in the Shadows and thoroughly plan the NoWriMo novel.
You: But you failed epically back in December 2010. What makes you think you can do it this time?
Me: You never know if you don't try. Not trying guarantees you won't succeed. At least giving it a shot gives you a chance of success.
You: But what if you fail again? Will you give up writing forever?
Me: So what if I don't manage 50,000 words in a month? If I'd given up in December 2010 I wouldn't have a book out on Amazon. I have too many books in my head for me not to write them.
You: What about the whole NaNo community that's buzzing about in November? You won't have that support.
Me: I'll have the support of my best friend, who will probably be writing at the same time, plus those online I regularly check in with.
You: So what made you suddenly change your mind and want to try again four years later?
Me: I was reading this blog post about NaNoWriMo by Kia Zi Shiru which detailed ways to approach NaNo, and something called the Reverse NaNo jumped out at me. She says, "This is my personal favourite way to write as it builds some leeway in your writing early on. It pushes you to your limits early on so that you have a calmer end of the month. The first day you write 3346 words and on day 30 you write 1 word."
You: That's awesome.
Me: I know. Normally you have to write 1,667 words every day, but with Reverse NaNo, once you pass day 15, you write less than that. And less and less each day. It's also a good idea because you're the most enthusiastic at the start of the project, but then as your enthusiasm wanes, it turns out you don't have to write that much, so you may as well.
You: So you're really just going to do this by yourself?
Me: You're welcome to join me. If you can't do NaNo in November, but you still want to write a novel in a month, do this NoWriMo with me in January. Some extra company and accountability is always a good thing. I imagine I'll be updating on progress here on the blog, and we can also follow each other on Twitter and update progress with a unique hashtag.

Comments make me feel loved.
Are you doing NaNoWriMo? Have you done it before, and have you won? What book are you working on?

See the Rebranded Cover for "Aundes Aura"!

So I'm not revealing the cover for Knives in the Shadows just yet, but I'm too excited not to show off Aundes Aura with its new facelift. You'll at least get a hint of what the font might look like for Knives.

Firstly, here's what Aundes Aura's cover has looked like since it came out a year and a bit ago.

And secondly, here's what it will look like when I update it.
I did like the original cover, but it was important for me that there be continuity between the books in the series. I like this one even more. It feels more mature.
Comments make me feel loved.
When should I update the cover? Straight away, or should I wait until the second book is out?
Do you agree that covers should be branded, or doesn't it matter?

New Cover, Title Change, Rebranding and What Gets Me Writing

There's no photo today, because the only logical photo would be a screenshot of the new cover, and I don't intend to release that until the book's out, or maybe just before. For now, only a few people have seen the cover, and there's been a great positive reaction from everyone. But who knows, I'll probably end up showing it off early, because it's so darn cool.

So while that's under the wraps, I have something you probably should know -- the new title for the new book. Three Bridges has been Three Bridges ever since I first came up with the bare basics of the plot as it was four and a half years ago. So when it came time to contact a cover artist, it was strange for me to think Three Bridges, while fitting for the three characters, wasn't particularly evocative. (I ended up adding a fourth character anyway.) I knew there'd be better titles out there, and weird as the experience was, I went to brainstorming new titles, thinking about themes, tone and events. I came up with a list of twenty or so titles, most of them slight variations of another, the difference between in or in the. So Three Bridges is henceforth . . .

Knives in the Shadows
And boy does it look nice on that cover! I'm in love with the fonts she's used, which takes me to my next point.
I'll be rebranding the cover of Aundes Aura so that sitting next to Knives in the Shadows they will look like they are part of the same series -- which would be great because they are part of the same series. All this means is that the fonts on the cover of Aundes Aura will be changed to the same ones used on Knives. This also means I can update the blurb on the paperback to the more recent version found on Amazon.
There isn't much that can get me writing. Writing is one of the hardest things in the world, and that can put me off it, but I still come back to it because I love creating the worlds, creating the stories, coming up with great passages, and seeing a project all the way to the end. I love having written, and no amount of difficulty in writing can stop me from eventually finishing my books. I've proven it once, I'm about to prove it again, and I'll keep doing it with this series and the next. I'm getting faster each time, and my writing's becoming more refined, my characters deeper and my world richer.
With all the difficulty of writing, all that time spent staring at the screen thinking, What am I going to write now? (which happens even when I've planned things out), what can get me writing after a full day of stuff? A shiny new cover, that's what!
I couldn't write much because I haven't been in the swing of things and I got really stuck at 95 words. I pushed on, though, up to an almost sort of reasonable 192 words. It isn't much -- I tend to write closer to 500 words -- but it's done something very important. It's pulled me through a part I was stuck at. Now that I'm through, next time I'll be at an easier spot. Sometimes you get those 100-200 word days and you just have to think, I'm glad I'm through that tough spot now. Thanks to that, the next session will be easier.
If not for that awesome cover, I wouldn't have written anything. I'm eager to show it off and that's part of why I want to hold back. I want it there to motivate me to get cracking, because every time I write, it puts me closer to finally showing off the awesome cover and, best of all releasing my new book (which I believe is also awesome, and will be even better once I've finished editing).

Enter the Kindle Fire Giveaway - Author Feature: Deborah Jay with "THE PRINCE'S MAN"

Welcome to the June Free Kindle Giveaway! Every month, gives away free kindles to one or more lucky giveaway winners. Entering is simple–just follow the directions on the rafflecopter at the bottom of this post! But first, take a moment to learn about an amazing book from one of our giveaway sponsors!


Rustam Chalice, hedonist, dance tutor and spy, loves his life. So when the kingdom he serves is threatened from within, he leaps into action. Only trouble is, the spy master, Prince Hal, teams him up with an untouchable aristocratic assassin who despises him.

And to make matters worse, she's the most beautiful woman in the Five Kingdoms.

Plunged into a desperate journey over the mountains, the mismatched pair struggle to survive deadly wildlife, the machinations of a spiteful god - and each other.

They must also keep alive a sickly elf they need as a political pawn. But when the elf reveals that Rustam has magic of his own, he is forced to question his identity, his sanity and worst, his loyalty to his prince.

For in Tyr-en, all magic users are put to death.
Award winning novel, THE PRINCE’S MAN, has been described as ‘James Bond meets Lord of the Rings’ - a sweeping tale of spies and deadly politics, inter-species mistrust and magic phobia, with an underlying thread of romance.
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Current price:  $3.99
On offer from 19 – 22 June 2014 will be priced at $0.99

Deborah Jay writes fast-paced fantasy adventures featuring quirky characters and multi-layered plots – just what she likes to read.
Living mostly on the UK South coast, she has already invested in her ultimate retirement plan – a farmhouse in the majestic, mystery-filled Scottish Highlands where she retreats to write when she can find time. Her taste for the good things in life is kept in check by the expense of keeping too many dressage horses, and her complete inability to cook.
Her debut novel, epic fantasy THE PRINCE’S MAN, first in a trilogy and winner of a UK Arts Board award, was published in July 2013, with THE PRINCE’S SON due out in 2014.
Urban fantasy, DESPRITE MEASURES, published in December 2013 is the opening novel of the projected five book CALEDONIAN SPRITE SERIES.
She also has non-fiction equestrian titles published in her professional name of Debby Lush.


Rustam laid the elf in the shade beneath an ancient spreading oak. His breathing was audible now, but that was no more reassuring. Now it rasped and bubbled like a drowning fisherman, and when Rustam touched his face, the skin burned.
He looked around for Risada and found her kneeling by the stream, scooping water in her cupped hands. She had removed the net and hat, and her pale golden hair tumbled down her back, kinked into waves by its confinement. Rustam’s eyes fixed for a moment on the graceful arch of her throat.
He shook himself. “My Lady?” he called softly, aware that she was still furious with him.
She glanced up, frowned, and then rose to her feet. “Yes?”
Rustam pointed at the supine elf.
“What do you expect me to do about it?” she inquired icily.
Rustam shrugged. “I don’t know. I just thought you might have some idea; he’s hot as a baker’s oven.”
“What did you expect? He has very little chance of surviving this journey.” The sunlight faded from the clearing and Risada glanced up at the clouds beginning to amass overhead. “Especially if winter decides to break early.”
She knelt down beside the elf and touched his flushed cheek and forehead. “He has a fever—”
“That’s what I said!”
If you will let me finish? In my saddle-bags you will find a small twist of blue paper. No, the other side. Yes, that’s it. Bring it over here with a canteen.”
From the paper she took two pinches of powder and mixed them with a small amount of water in the canteen cup.
“Hold his mouth open.”
Slowly Risada dribbled the potion into the elf’s mouth, holding his jaw closed when he choked and gagged. Then, satisfied that he had swallowed enough, she rinsed the cup and stood up. “That should reduce the fever, always supposing he responds like a human. It’s all I can do; I’m not an apothecary.”
Rustam tightened the horses’ girths while Risada filled the canteens. They had just remounted when thundering hooves pounded down the slope behind them and three riders burst into the clearing.
On the edge of his vision Rustam saw Risada drop the bay mare’s reins, draw her dagger and raise a blowpipe to her lips in one fluid set of movements, while he struggled awkwardly to free his sword from the saddle scabbard beneath his left thigh.
Nightstalker pranced eagerly, destroying the tiny moment of concentration he needed to snap his mind into high speed. The elf bounced in front of him, blocking his view. He cursed and curbed the mare sharply. She half reared in protest.
The glint of a blade sliced towards him. Rustam threw himself sideways just as Nightstalker squealed and lashed out with her hind feet. Already off balance, Rustam slithered from the saddle pulling the elf with him, and they crashed heavily to the ground.
Hooves rose and fell finger distance from his face, trying to trample him, and they might have succeeded had his beloved black mare not lunged at the attacker’s brown gelding with her teeth bared.
Rustam rolled away, finally managed to shift his time sense, regained his feet and darted in beside Nightstalker. He dragged his sword free with a satisfying rasp of metal on leather. The soldier, dressed in Melcard’s maroon livery, guided his frightened gelding around the angry mare, and with a curdling battle cry attacked Rustam. His sword arced downward and Rustam ducked, twisted around as the horse passed him and sliced upward. A severed arm thudded to the ground at his feet.
Uttering a hysterical shriek, the soldier dropped his reins, and his horse lurched to a confused halt. The man sat frozen in shock, gazing without comprehension at his bleeding stump. Rustam sprinted forward, swerved around the spurting jet of bright blood—no point soiling yet another shirt—caught hold of his victim’s sword-belt and dragged him from his saddle. One quick dagger thrust ended the man’s worry.
Rustam turned to see Risada not faring so well. The blowpipe was nearly useless against fast moving armoured targets, and her dagger was too short to menace their swords. She was still mounted, but one rider was circling to get behind her.
Rustam vaulted into his saddle. Nightstalker grunted an objection at his rude arrival but bounded obediently forward. One soldier’s back was towards him; the other saw him coming and cried out. The nearer one began to turn, pirouetting his horse on its haunches, but Rustam’s charge brought him quickly within range and although the man managed to raise his sword awkwardly to parry Rustam’s first blow, it flew from his grasp and the backswing sliced through his neck.
Turning to confront the last of their attackers, Rustam found only an empty saddle. The man lay spread-eagled on the grass, a tiny yellow feather adhering to his exposed throat.
Risada was already off her horse, kneeling beside the sprawled tangle of limbs that was the elf. As Rustam jumped down from Nightstalker’s back to join her, she rose gracefully to her feet.
“Somehow I don’t think falling on top of him has helped his chances of survival.”


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Enter the Kindle Fire Giveaway - Author Feature: Rebecca Hamilton with "THE FOREVER GIRL"

Welcome to the June Free Kindle Giveaway! Every month, gives away free kindles to one or more lucky giveaway winners. Entering is simple–just follow the directions on the rafflecopter at the bottom of this post! But first, take a moment to learn about an amazing book from one of our giveaway sponsors!



A Cult. A Murder. A Curse.

At twenty-two, practicing Wiccan Sophia Parsons is scratching out a living waiting tables in her Rocky Mountain hometown, a pariah after a string of unsolved murders with only one thing in common: her.

Sophia can imagine lots of ways to improve her life, but she'd settle for just getting rid of the buzzing noise in her head. When the spell she casts goes wrong, the static turns into voices. Her personal demons get company, and the newcomers are dangerous.

One of them is a man named Charles, who Sophia falls for despite her better judgment. He has connections that might help her unveil the mystery surrounding her ancestor's hanging, but she gets more than she bargains for when she finally decides to trust him.

The Forever Girl is a full-length Paranormal Fantasy novel that will appeal to lovers of paranormal romance, urban fantasy, witches, vampires, ghosts, paranormal mystery, and paranormal horror.



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This is a past Ryan Sullivan appreciation post

The Destination

Dear Past Me,

I appreciate you.

Well done for getting over your cold in the space of a week. Even though you didn't get the 1200 word essay in that Friday when it was due, you sacrificed sleeping on Sunday night and handed it in on Monday. You didn't give up on it and I'm proud of you for that.

Well done on getting your recital band together and practising. For a first rehearsal, it sounded awesome. You played better than you thought you would, and though it wasn't perfect, it was cohesive. By the way, you can play an A blues scale over that II-V-I comp in C. So much cooler than just D dorian.

Thanks for completely scrapping two components of your piano test on Thursday. You relieved me of a ton of stress. You will lose a lot of marks, but you'll pass quite comfortably. You're right not to be worried about the sight-reading. You were commended on your expressive playing. Don't stress about "The Silly Exercise". Play the bits you can, and bash through the rest. You'll get more marks that way. And DO ask Craig if you can do the arpeggios test you missed earlier in the semester. It could be the thing that pulls you through.

You'll get sick again on the Tuesday before the above test, but supermarket medication is surprisingly effective and it'll pull you through so you can keep practising. You'll be better on Thursday.

Well done on publishing your first book last year. Realising your dream at 20 years of age is pretty awesome. If you keep going at this rate, it's a good thing you've got a lot of dreams. You may not have worked on Three Bridges for a while, but if you focus on your assessments for now, you can have a stress-free six week break where I know you'll finish all your edits, have a cover made, publish it and start working on your next one.

I'm proud of you for advertising as a piano teacher back in February. Occasionally you'll get contacted by potential students, but nothing will come of it. Don't worry. Keep going. Because the night before your Thursday piano test, a woman will comment on your Facebook post and suggest you also post to a particular page. And you will. And the morning of the test, you'll be greeted with a message and two comments enquiring about lessons. Don't get your hopes up yet because I have no idea what happens, but it was a good move opening lessons up to 4 to 6-year-olds. You've been hoping to hear from this person.

You'll procrastinate the night before the test by staying back at Uni and talking to cool people. But practising isn't going to do much at that point anyway, so go ahead and help your friend practise for her recital. She'll appreciate it and you'll enjoy it. Even before then it'll come up that you teach piano in Scoresby and are trying to get some private students, and she'll give you the Facebook page of her friend's music school and say you should email them and see if they have any work available. You haven't done it yet so when you contact Present Ryan tell him he should. Jumping in at the deep end is scary, but he'll have to do it many times if he wants music teaching to be his primary income. After a few years it won't be so scary.

Thanks for doing all the things that make you who you are. Learning French, speaking French poorly, singing, playing and teaching piano, writing books -- you do these because you enjoy them and you love seeing yourself improve. People say it's about the journey and not the destination. Sometimes that's true. But so often it's about the destination. Working on these things can be difficult. Spending an hour at the piano working on a single difficult passage can be harrowing. Writing a book can take a year or more. Usually the words don't flow from your fingers, but come in bursts of three.

But it's not about the journey; it's about the destination. And the destination can be amazing.

Present Me

I Have A Cold

I was perfectly fine yesterday. I got up, went to Uni, came home and relaxed. It wasn't until I was trying to go to sleep that I thought I might be getting sick. When I woke up it was unmistakable.

Growing up, I went to school regardless of how I felt. Colds, fevers and headaches weren't enough for Mum most of the time. I'd be sick for a week or two, tired, unable to concentrate properly.

It's taught me some kind of resilience, and that's great I guess, but now it's up to me how I approach this. Rather than continue being sick for the next two weeks, I want to get it out of the way as soon as possible.

On Saturday I'm going to see the musical Wicked with some friends. I'd really love to have a good night, feel happy and positive and not worry about giving a bug to my friends.

So I stayed home today, rested, and drank a lot of tea.

This is probably an awful blog post, but hey, what's a blog for? Here's a snapshot (literary snapshot) of my life.

Time to go make another tea.

Do you have a killer remedy for colds?

Hindered by Fear

Ultimately I think that's what it comes down to.
Sometimes it's a simple fact of me being busy at the time, or maybe I'm between projects. That's not when it happens. It's not until I actually have a project in front of me that this fear springs forth.
I don't believe in writer's block. All that means is that you haven't planned enough. I firmly believe in procrastination. No, it's not a good thing; it's the worst thing. But it definitely exists. It's not enough to realise that you procrastinate. If you want to stop doing it so much, you have to find the reason behind it and attack that.
For me, the reason behind it is fear, at least in some form.


What isn't scary about a blank page? It's like Microsoft Word's depiction of an atheist's death: nothingness; blank space; no thought or existence.


When I finally get past the blank page and start throwing down words, certain scenes can give me pause. Why? They're never what I imagined. When I have scene ideas, I see a movie in my mind's eye, or maybe three-second Snapchat videos. Translating film to novel doesn't work the way I'd like. I'd love to write a scene and for that movie in my mind to start playing in my reader's mind. But it doesn't work like that, and when I write it, it actually comes out better than I could imagine -- but different. Because of that, I can never know how it'll turn out. Like people are afraid of the uncertainty of death, I, on a basic level, am afraid that what I write may not be up to the standards of my imagination.



I've only run into this more recently as I've begun editing Three Bridges. Can I really make it better? Really? Do I actually have the required skills to implement my editor's suggestions? Am I up to the challenge, the great undertaking that would lift my book to greater heights? What if I destroy the book I've worked so hard for? What if the time I spend editing could have been spent writing a new book, and what if the editing makes no difference to how the book fares in the real world?
It's all fear of the great unknown.
While fear still hinders my progress, I've learnt to take steps to make the challenges of writing a novel less daunting.


Planning three different phases of the novel-writing process is what's helped me the most.
While writing Aundes Aura, I only ever planned three to five chapters ahead, with a basic overview in my mind. It took me three years to write the first draft. Three Bridges had a chapter-by-chapter plan from start to finish. It took me a year and a month to write the first draft. I had a better idea of what was coming, and so was able to approach it more aggressively without fear of the unknown.
The Blank Page:
Through pre-writing, I was able to get a sense of the scene without getting bogged down in details and trying to make the writing sound good. I write the basics of what's going to happen in the scene. Often I put down in quotes any sentences I might like to include, or dialogue ideas.
Because my editor covered lots of different aspects of my novel, I found it daunting. To divide it into achievable chunks, I pulled out the points that needed addressing and separated them into "big-picture" and "small-picture" edits. Now my only focus is on the big-picture edits, starting with the most difficult task -- adding new chapters. I'll keep chipping at the dot-points until the big-picture edits are done, and then I can work on the small-picture things: description, emotion and character voice.