Reven Archer Black: Author of Fantasy & Speculative Fiction

Home » Blood & Heritage Series » Ascension » This is Not a New Year’s Resolution… Okay, so I’m a Terrible Liar

This is Not a New Year’s Resolution… Okay, so I’m a Terrible Liar

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More aptly, this post should be entitled: “How a Writer Spends Their Vacation” or “A Sketch of 2015”. But I’ll go the resolution route because I haven’t made a New Year’s resolution for something like 20 years. I just don’t. We did them as kids, but along the way I decided it just wasn’t me. I tend to jump into the new year and see where I end up. I keep several To Do lists and they roll from month to month, regardless of the year.

This year’s going to roll a little differently. Call it a job hazard. Call it evolving. Kind of like my winter holiday. I ended up doing work through most of it. But not writing. Well, maybe some ideas came to the surface. No, most of this work was the other stuff; the stuff authors are expected to do in 21st century to get noticed and interact with the rest of society.


La Vacation

We packed up and were out the door on December 19. The train ride was relatively non-productive with a budding headache and a glitchy internet connection. As with most visits to my family, I didn’t quite know what my time away would look like. And, considering my partner was with me this time round, the chances of getting work done was not very likely. Still, I brought everything I could think of that would be useful: the laptop, updated files I had synched from our PC, all the accounts I’d need, and naturally, pens and paper. So if there was a chance to get work done, I’d be on it.

The first few days: not about anything creative. Then I must’ve gotten bitten by something because a flood gate opened and wouldn’t stop. The week before, I’d been writing notes for a romance project, and had to put it aside. But one night, I was all by my lonesome and listening to my father’s Spotify account play through.

Then I heard it. That one-thing-leads-to-another song that drove me nuts for the rest of the whole vacation: Eklipse‘s cover of “Wonderful Life“. I loved it. So I tracked down Hurts’ original. THEN I couldn’t stop listening. I watched the video several times. Then it drew me back to the romance story and became the sort of anthem.

But it doesn’t end there. No. I started to poke around stock photo sites. In fact, I started to binge on stock photo sites. Because while I had a romance in mind, I’ve also been worrying about Ascension (what else is new?) The fact is I’ve been agonizing a bit over potential covers and what they might look like. I wanted to find that *perfect* photo to best suit the main character and make an elegant, epic fantasy cover that could draw attention and still represent the darkness and mystery inside.

It’s never that easy.

For months, I’ve been having a terrible time. Mostly it’s been a nightmare in the hair department. Really. Is it so difficult for there to be more photos of longer haired guys? Le sigh. In any event, I came across a photo set that had a couple potentials. But I wanted more. And heck, I felt I needed more if I want to get a decent website built for Blood & Heritage. I adore Sherrilyn Kenyon‘s website. It’s an experience. So completely immersed in her world. Visual. Interesting. Educational. An awesome site for fans of her series. I aspire to have something like that, especially since I’m sitting on all of this extra information, kind of like Tolkien… just without going as far as Tolkien.

Enter how I spent the majority of my Christmas: on my laptop, running the battery and processor to an inch of their existence, sifting through stock photo after stock photo. I couldn’t stop myself. I’d think of some new search term and off I went. My laptop started conspiring against me. Pretty sure it wanted me dead.

On the upside… after going through thousands of photos and really justifying having a cooling pad for the laptop, I came home with a wealth of resources and new ideas to play with. The *perfect* character profile photos for some of the main characters, a host of other choices for the other characters, the most awesome photos for the romance story I’d originally been working on, and some other goodies!

Not a lick of anything got written.

That’s the funny part, I’ve come to realize. That whole “author” (or “writer”) thing? It’s a loaded word. Writing is just one part of the battle; my preferred part. But it isn’t the whole. Now we’re expected to reach far beyond ourselves if we want to get somewhere. Branch out into all the other facets of what makes the literary world happen. If we aren’t our own agents, we’re still our own publicists, techies and website builders, often visual artists, and salesmen. In some ways, it’s exhilarating. Especially when we have the power to share more about our worlds (says a world-building nerd) using social media and websites, instead of merely locking our inside notes away. But sometimes it’s just downright exhausting.

Though during my work-cation, I scribbled down plenty of new ideas that I intend to enact this year, as described in the next section. Thank God it’s only January.

Also awesome: I came home with new pretties. When it comes to gift-giving, people cannot go wrong in giving me books. And that’s been the truth for as long as I remember. It started a long time ago, before my childhood bedroom became a mini-library with a bed and clothes inside. I had books in the closet, in the drawers, on the desks. My armoire was 3/4 clothes and 1/4 book. It’s no better now that I’m in my own apartment. If I could build shelves all over this place, I would. Why is there NEVER enough space?!

The 2014 literary haul looked something like this, PLUS 3 Terry Brooks books I’ve already put on the dedicated Terry Brooks shelf:



To which my brother added (roughly paraphrasing here): “I want you to read that [N.K. Jemisin book] in 2 days and give me a report.”

YEAH. If I was Spencer Reid, maybe. I love bricks and I speed read. Not THAT fast.

Time to get busy.


That Aforementioned Sketch of 2015…

With that bit of last year officially finished, it’s time to look forward to the new, this 16 days in. I guess you could say I have 5 very clear resolutions that I’m (not) making, the overall “promote and write more” notwithstanding.


Resolution #1: Blog Series: Finish the Old

I started the Inspiring the Author Within blog series in 2014, then fell off the wagon partway in. Got so caught up in writing scenes that the blog didn’t happen. Best intentions, right? I figure I should really finish that this year. So I’ll dig deep and pull out the rest of the articles I meant to write. Tie up a few loose ends.


Resolution #2: New Blog Series: “Breathing Life Into an Epic Fantasy”

Once the old is finished, it’s time to bring in the new. I’ve spent years working on Ascension and Blood & Heritage. I’d like to delve more into the creative journey – the process – and share things I’ve learned along the way. From characters and plot to world-building and technology.


Resolution #3: Terry Brooks Reviews

Something that’s been on the way for a long time: I need to work my way through ALL of Terry’s Shannara series, from chronological start (ahem, “Running With the Demon”) to finish. With only 2 more books left in the series (!!), it’s an opportune time to hop to it. But I’d like to do more than just read them. I’ve not been as involved in reviews as I feel I should be. I’ve always been a hungry reader, but fiddling with reviews just got in the way of enjoying more books, so I didn’t do them. Although now I’m starting to think I ought to, even if I’m not terribly good at them. I can certainly see the value they have for authors, especially considering the rise of Indie authors.

So here we go. I’ve got it down. Me and my Terry Brooks collection need to have some snuggle up time. All reviews will be published on this blog and on my Goodreads account.


Resolution #4: Website for Blood & Heritage

I’m happy to say this one’s been started!

I want to have a virtual home for this series, a place where its secrets and truths can be gathered and explored further than just the pages of a paperback or eBook. A place where more of their world can be revealed – the stuff that didn’t make it into the book because it was too much (or relatively irrelevant) and would’ve resulted in nasty info dumps. A place where the bits spread across the books are gathered into smaller, definitive spaces. So far, I’ve been pulling out my notes for character profiles, although there will be more about the nations.

But shh, it’s in hiding for now. Reveal will come later in 2015.


Resolution #5: Rewrite Descent

This is a must. Descent currently sits in 1st draft edits and desperately needs love. I have a very large pile of notes to be applied to the manuscript, and it’s growing almost daily. So much garbage to be removed. So much rewriting to be done. By the end of the year, it needs to be in its 2nd draft. No ifs, ands, or buts. -_-


So there. I’ve done it. Publicly locked myself into a serious To Do list.  Come December I’ll either be pleasantly surprised or hitting my head on the desk.

And to all of you with similar lists: I wish you luck and a right good time in making them come to fruition. Let’s make 2015 awesome!


Thoughts? Comments? Musings that go great with cookies from the Dark Side?

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