Ethereal Seals Blog Update 4/12/21

It’s been a while since I shared an update. Editing book one of Ethereal Seals, working on the manuscript for book two, a long beta read, lots of health and healing research, plus increasing hours at my day job—I’ve been quite busy.

Edits and Revisions

After another read through of Blade of Dragons, I’ve finished edits as they relate to changes made in book two: Heart of Dragons. Most noticeable was Gerald Highmane’s character arc, changed from a minor villain to an antihero with his own story.

I’ve added breadcrumbs and Easter eggs—messages if you will—from certain authors I admire, like Arnold Ehret and David Hawkins. The majority of these messages relate to spirituality and health. Needless to say, Ethereal Seals is a New Age life improvement book disguised as a science fantasy.

Publication

I am satisfied with how the book reads. After passing it along to a professional editor and/or proofreader, the manuscript should be set for publication. Then I’ll need to find a cover artist to polish up the book cover.

I’m hoping to expand upon my mailinglist and perhaps hire a freelance agent to help spread word of mouth before I officially publish. This may take a while, but I’m in no hurry. Book two—and perhaps book three—will be well on its way by the time book one is released.

Exploring Atläs

It’s been fun revising the manuscript from its older self. I’ve realized there’s too much worldbuilding potential to squeeze the story into a trilogy. Four or five books is what I’m aiming for. If I could describe Heart of Dragons in one word it would be thus:

Exploration.

There’s plenty of worldbuilding with new kingdoms, villains, and protagonists. I delve into Gerald’s backstory more and explore his connection to the other characters. Tarie Beyworth and Pepper Slyhart also see a sizable degree of character growth. The prose retains its rich worldbuilding, coupled with tense action scenes and romantic feel.

Maps and Word Count

I’ve also finished the beta map for book two. I use a program called Wonderdraft, an excellent program for DIY fantasy maps. I’ll plan to do an article on the program soon.

Unlike Blade of Dragons, set at 130k words, book two will hover closer to 150k. The theory behind the word length is: if your readers loved book one, they won’t mind—and may love—the content in the second installment. Many writers have told me you can take more risks with book two. Whether or not it works, we’ll see.

I’ve enjoyed helping my beta with his second installment of his Eternal Defenders series, a classic fantasy story. As I may have mentioned, sci-fi and fantasy are among my favorite genres to read. There’s something about Thomas’ series that grips me, perhaps the way he structures his world. It also reminds me of some older video games, like Warcraft, Zelda, and Morrowind. He’s come a long way in improving his writing, so be sure to check him out here.

The past several weeks have been brutal for me, from a healing perspective. I’ve finished several short water fasts, plus a nigh 3-day water and salt only fast. My gut felt all twisted up, aching, yet by the time I finished, I felt renewed. Reborn. I’ve also hired a trainer at a local gym to help me rebuild my body on feeding days.

Though still a neophyte to cleansing, the more I read about it, the more I realize how crucial it is. For everyone. We’ve been inundated with so many toxins, poor lifestyles, and childhood traumas that it takes effort to dig through it all. The more I detox, the better my creativity and ability to brainstorm and worldbuild.

Some of the books I’ve read through recently on healing and nutrition are up on my Goodreads page.

It isn’t my passion, but I’m grateful that it’s a low-stress retail job—with a health food niche added in. I’ve applied for additional hours in other departments. With the added income, I’ll manage my expenses better and pay off my worthless college degree student loans.

Thanks for reading. May your cup overflow with abundance, creativity, and joy.


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Aspectä rey’lief, fair reader, and thanks again for reading!
—Ed R. White

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Brandon Sanderson Lecture 2020 Notes

Bestseller Brandon Sanderson

By popular demand, I am reposting these lecture notes given by Brandon Sanderson of last year.


Hello, my readers, I’ve got quite a gift to share with you today. The other week, I watched Brandon Sanderson’s 2020 lectures on creative writing. The whole playlist runs several hours, but I’ve put together a concise list of tips that I found helpful. Enjoy.

(Note, the lecture # is just how I organized the notations, not which lecture videos they relate to.)

Lecture 1: On Writing

  • Always chase publication and book writing with a passion, but don’t be attached to it.
  • Just enjoy telling stories.
  • Try things, if they don’t work, try something else.
  • Pantsiers vs plotters; both work.
  • Know when to ignore the rules or the professionals.
  • With experience, you gain intuitive writing ability.
  • Make good habits for writing consistently. (This tip I bolded for emphasis)

Lecture 2: Plot and Character

  • Plot, character, and setting are glued together by conflict.
  • Setting is the least important of the three.
  • Stories make promises.
  • Introduction shows the promises.
  • Remember to detail a character’s desires and goals.
  • Indicate what kind of plot the story is about.
  • Promise–>progress–>payoffs.
  • Plot expansion twists can work.
  • Check out the Hero’s’ journey by Joseph Campbell

Lecture 3: Plot and Character II

  • Start the intro fast and explosive.
  • Sympathize the audience with your protagonist ASAP.
  • Multiple POV cast is a double-edged sword. It is good for variety, but readers will polarize towards certain characters and dislike others.
  • Subverting expectations and promises isn’t a good idea.
  • Exceeding expectations can make some subversions tolerable.
  • Escalate rather than undermine expectations.
  • Satisfying endings are better than a twist.
  • Writers’ block solution: don’t stop writing, finish the story.
  • Epistularies at start of chapters is a viable strategy.

Lecture 4: Magical Systems and Worldbuilding

  • Sanderson Law One: your ability to solve problems with magic in a satisfying way is directly proportional to how well the reader understands said magic.
  • Soft magic: unknown cost or outcome of a magic.
  • Sanderson Law Two: flaws and limitations are more interesting than powers.
  • Sanderson Law Three: before adding something new to your magic or setting, see if you can instead expand what you have.
  • Use world building in service of character and story building, not solely for showing off or building a world.
  • Use more concrete methods through the eyes of the characters to worldbuild.

Lecture 5: Characters, Dialog, and Humor

  • Characters as living tools to tell your story, the plot’s message.
  • Establish empathy between characters and readers.
  • Show others characters liking them.
  • Establish motivation: show something they want, but can’t have. Connect personal desires of a character to the plot.
  • Show character progress. How are they going to change? Show flaws or the journey taken.
  • Characters ruled by: likability, proactivity, competence.
  • Iconic hero does not change during the course of a story.
  • Flaws: things to be overcome.
  • Handicaps: the character does not have control over these.
  • -Quirks: things that make the character imperfect, but unique.
  • Don’t write characters to a role.
  • Avoid bland monologues.
  • Dialog should convey likability, proactivity, competence, character arc, motivation, and humor.
  • Dialect: is a personal choice, but less is better.
  • Use dialog beats to slow down scene to focus on subtext.
  • Telepathy: italics with ‘said’ tag, but up to author’s choice.
  • Women in the Refrigerator: characters (especially female) killed off, tortured, or raped to further the plot or protagonist’s arc.
  • Killing a character properly fulfills an arc, or it is the direct cause of the character’s choices.
  • Wikipad, Dropbox, Hemingway are good programs to use.
  • Humor is difficult and subjective.
  • Comic drops to cut tension and induce humor.
  • Comic juxtaposition: contrasting qualities to create humor.
  • Repetitious scenario can create humor.
  • Rule of three cycles of humor with gradual escalation.

Lecture 6: Publishing Traditionally and Indie

  • Agents take 15% publishing profit, but do a lot of the business work.
  • Query letter->synopsis–>sample chapters->full manuscript.
  • Vanity press charges money to publish your novel. Stay away from them and agents who funnel to them.
  • A good agent will never charge you money.
  • Book offers with loan advances 10-20k for new authors split between costs.
  • The bigger the advance budget for publishing a novel, the better the publisher push.
  • Editors want to help you improve the story and make suggestions.
  • You can pay back advance and cancel contract if you change your mind.
  • Indie published authors get 70% of profit.
  • Platform writing via blog posts or website is important to have an online presence.
  • Need a good cover for your novel (300-500$ suggested).
  • Also need good copyediting (0.007-0.009cents per word suggested).
  • Content edits (0.012-0.015 cents per word).
  • Proofreading (0.003 cents per word).
  • Cross author promotions with other authors is a good idea.
  • Mailing lists like Mailchimp are important to form an audience and fan base.
  • Recommended Amazon price for epub novels is 2.99 to $9.99.
  • Be wary of scams or vanity presses.
  • Amazon is now a pay-to-play for advertising ebooks: thousands of dollars a month to advertise.
  • 10-15% of cover contract for Hardcover sales.
  • 6-8% of cover Paperback sales.
  • 10% of cover Tradepaper sales.
  • As a traditionally published author, you want advances that you can earn out in a couple of years.
  • Indie publishing undercuts markets.
  • Less $ for lower word count, more $ for higher on indie publishing.
  • Book signing to improve reputation and make connections, but it is a lot of work and money to pay for travel, rent, etc.
  • Sales within first week is significant, especially for best seller list.
  • Niche genres: mashing two genres together.
  • Free short stories do work to promote for indie publishers, but not for profit.

Interested in joining my mailing list? Members will receive free poetry, special deals, messages to inspire and empower your life, and short stories. You’ll also get the latest news on projects.
Aspectä rey’lief, fair reader, and thanks for reading!
—Ed R. White

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Book Review: Farseeker

Farseeker, by Joanna Starr, presented a story I’ve rarely read elsewhere. Filled with new age concepts, classic fantasy tropes, and more—the story was worth the read. Let’s dig into this review, shall we?

Premise

Farseeker is a science fantasy, with a blend of sci-fi and classic fantasy tropes. The story begins as a straight fantasy, but quickly transitions. Everything from dragons, unicorns, to extraterrestrials are present. There are a few Doctor-Who like themes such as time travel. With so much going on, the plethora of themes is a double-edged sword for the story.

Length

The book is long, at around 500 pages. Scenes organized chapters well, but sometimes chapters carried on longer than they should have. There were also some—in my opinion—unnecessary scenes that didn’t add much to the plot or characters.

Characters

Thaya, the main protagonist, is the sole PoV of the story. Her scenes were good, but lacked sufficient depth for me to connect with her character. Granted, a few scenes were excellent and marked the zenith of her arc. Overall, she was a balanced heroine with cool abilities, high amounts of action, and mediocre exposition.

The side characters were interesting, but some vanished from the plot, only to reappear much later. This made it difficult for the protagonist to bond or relate to them. Other characters like talking unicorns were amusing to read about.

Magic System

A soft magic system rules the universe of Farseeker, magic of a whimsical and unexplained nature. Thaya gains new abilities as she progresses through the story, some abilities with humorous outcomes like nauseous spatial travel. There’s also technology, with adds a nice twist to the whole fantasy-magic trope.

Conflict

The tension flowed great between chapters. The monsters and enemies were mysterious, unpredictable, and frightening. This made for a dynamic story and challenged Thaya from start to finish. There was some romance introduced late in the story, but it was underdeveloped and not particularly interesting. This may be a device for book two, however.

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The Good

Farseeker has an excellent blend of fantasy and sci-fi themes. The high tension kept me turning the pages, and offered plenty of excitement. Magic battles were flashy, satisfying, and helped with the story’s immense worldbuilding.

The Bad

Thaya came off as an protagonist who could have been excellent, but fell short. The lack of internal exposition and emotional depth—while not bad—felt mediocre. Side characters were there, and then they weren’t. This added a chaotic and disorganized feel to the plot flow.

The Ugly

There was a rape scene I didn’t care for, although it added an interesting detail to Thaya’s arc. Much of prose was somewhat unpolished and could have been condensed better.

Despite its excellent worldbuilding and level of tension, the chaotic plot felt rattling and confusing at times. The characters could have been fleshed out better, the prose polished, and unnecessary scenes deleted. Still, the story had some fascinating information in it and unique blend of themes, which bumps my overall rating to four stars. The new age concepts presented in the plot made me smile, and I love it when I find these types of Easter eggs within fiction.

For the curious and patient lovers of science fantasy—or new age fans like myself—, this is a perfect read. For those who prefer simple plots and deeper characters, you may want to look elsewhere.


Interested in joining my mailing list? Members will receive free poetry, special deals, messages to inspire and empower your life, and short stories. You’ll also get the latest news on projects.
Aspectä rey’lief, fair reader, and thanks for reading!
—Ed R. White

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SEO stuff: #bookreview #reading #sciencefantasy #farseeker

Postures for Better Creativity, Health for Writers and Artists

As writers, we often sit in front of a laptop or a book to hone our craft. Whether its reading, writing, or something between, the art requires a significant amount of sitting. However, sitting for lengthy periods can strain the nervous system and thought process. Over the years, I’ve discovered several postures that have helped me endured long writing sessions. If you’re curious about the connection between writing, reading, creativity, and movement, read on!

After my previous post on creativity, I thought I’d elaborate on how best to optimize it. It’s hard to enjoy a sore back, or that feeling of stiffness from long periods of sitting. With biohacking as one of my passions next to writing, I’ve listed some of my favorite sitting postures. Feel free to add your own modifications to these.

1. Vajrasana, Rock Pose, Thunderbolt Pose

One of my favorite sitting poses, vajrasana, otherwise known as thunderbolt or rock, stretches the lower body as you rest. You perform this pose by kneeling and sitting on your feet. This shifts the weight away from the back and onto the knees and ankles. This pose is excellent for concentration and creativity. You can make the pose easier by placing a cushion between your buttocks and your feet.

I’ve written several articles, stories, and blog posts while in this pose. It’s reliable and powerful.

2. Malasana, Garland Pose

Malasana, also known as garland squat, is excellent for the hips and lower body. After long bouts of sitting, I usually do this pose to stretch any stiff joints. You come into a deep resting squat and allow your pelvic floor to relax towards the ground. Press your elbows between your knees. This can be a tricky pose for most people to do after decades of sitting in a chair. You can place a blanket under your heels to make it easier.

Definitely one of my favorites, as the benefits of this biohacking pose, or squatting in general, are numerous.

3. Headstand

The headstand hold is a new posture I’ve adopted for creativity and biohacking. Inversions are incredible for the body, especially the brain. Headstands improve focus, balance hormones, boost creativity, among other things. I use a wall to support myself, but eventually I’ll progress to unassisted headstands.

The awe and euphoria of a headstand cannot be expressed in words, and it’s led to some major boosts to creativity. Not to mention, it helps me problem solve plot and character issues in my stories and in real life.

4. Deadhang

A simple stretch that isn’t a yoga pose as much as it is a calisthenic exercise. Hanging from a bar, as if to do a pullup, has great benefits. For one, it decompresses the spine, good after long periods of sitting. A few seconds is enough to reap the benefits; my calisthenics mentor suggests at least 30 to 60 seconds.

5. Spinning

When you were a kid, you probably played ‘merry-go-round’ with a partner. Spinning clockwise promotes vitality, and children know it all too well. It helps remove any stagnation that may have built up during long bouts of sitting. Begin slowly, maybe 8 revolutions a day. I do about 13, my palms facing downwards to ground myself, and will gradually progress to 33 revolutions.

6. Inclined Bed Rest

Even when I sleep, I stretch my body. Sleeping at an incline does wonders for the brain and spinal cord. It reduces pressure on the organs and improves sleep, while allowing the lymphatic system to drain. Elevate the pillow-side of the bed a few inches to get the benefits. Since adopting this practice, my creativity has seen tremendous improvements.

7. Rebounding

Jumping on a trampoline or rebounder is fun, and excellent for the lymphatic system. It comes as no surprise, as we all hopped on beds when we were children. Rebounding, along with headstands and spinning, should dramatically improve one’s spatial awareness and blood flow to the brain. A biohacking miracle. Better circulation means better creativity, more energy, and stronger ambitions to complete that creative project in mind.

Sometimes staring at a blank page doesn’t solve the issue of writers’ block. We, as humans beings, are creative creatures and we love to design. But we also like to move. To bend, stretch, and test our limits.

To feel human, as many yogis do.

Remember, have inspiration in all things, from taking a walk to writing a story, journaling, biohacking, or painting a canvas. After all, we are the authors of our own life stories. When we lie on our deathbed, let’s remember all the fun we had: the creation, the movement, and the joy that comes with it all.

Do your practice and all is coming.

– Sri K Patthabi Jois

Interested in joining my mailing list? Members will receive free poetry, special deals, messages to inspire and empower your life, and short stories. You’ll also get the latest news on projects.
Aspectä rey’lief, fair reader, and thanks for reading!
—Ed R. White

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On Naming Fictional Characters

Good names help both writers and readers move through a story smoothly.”

— Dan Schmidt

Naming characters in a fictional universe may seem like a simple task, but it can stump some authors. How do we approach this issue? Is there a method to naming characters? In this post, I’ll describe how I go about it, plus some helpful tools.

Some authors don’t name their characters in a specific way, instead opting for generic names without any particular rhyme or reason. Fred, John, Alice, Ryan, etc. I’ve found the generic naming system works better with simple, cheap plot themes. Even short stories or flash fiction. These ‘throwaway’ names, as I call them, work here.

A Little Research Goes a Long Way

Names have changed from era to era, at least in the contemporary world. Naming a post WWI character according to their era (e.g. the Depression-era 1930s) will seem more realistic than a 21st century trendy name. You can also go further and look up the root meaning of a name. Name.org is a great resource for that.

Fantasy Names

Other authors opt for unusual names like Legolas, Eragon, or Herä’eth. These name fit more of a niche role, with their uniqueness that speaks of a fantasy universe. That in itself grants the name attention. FantasyNameGenerators is a good website for those struggling to brainstorm.

Comic Names

For more humor, an author can name a character a funny name like Bananas. These comic names spell out the character’s attributes from the start; the author wants to make sure you to know this character’s name means something. In real life, people often name their pets in such ways, as it evokes comfort, warm laughter, or recognition.

Other Uses for Names

Names can influence how your reader views characters, particularly from their introduction. Using a scarier name, like Toothclaw, may evoke images of a bestial man, aggressive, proud, and strong. Others like Hymnfoot have a pleasant and comic feel.

Surnames

A character’s surname can be as important as their main name. Surnames are family or ancestral titles that imply characters’ bloodline, genetics, abilities, and even predictions about their future.The surname Brightshard has a fantasy ring to it, aye? It evokes images of crystals, magic, and even majesty. Meanwhile, the surname Worldscale also bears a fantasy vibe, but is more dragon-like and perhaps regal in its pronunciation.

  • With Blade of Dragons, one of my protagonists is named Gerald. The name Gerald means ‘Spear ruler of strength’ or ‘Rule of spear’. Gerald’s main weapon is a magical lance, his signature attribute. By using the name Gerald, I empowered his character and added depth.
  • My main protagonist, Pepper, doesn’t have a linguistic root meaning to her name. However, she has a fiery personality, can breath fire, and can summon wind magic that may make you sneeze. With her, I went with a name that was more reflective of her persona and magical aptitude.
  • A third character is named Tarie. In Zimbabwe, Tarie is short for Tariro or Tarisai, meaning ‘hope’ or ‘look’. Tarie happens to be a priest, representing the power of the Light, or hope, on Atlas. He dreams of bringing hope back to the oppressed people of Atlas, to help them see or look upon the Light again. In this way, the name Tarie is based off the character’s aspirations, his dreams.

Other than using the websites I linked above, you can check out ImagineForest, Writerswrite, and ElementalNameGenerators for all your fantasy needs. Here’s an article on additional tips for naming your characters effectively.

1. Genre

We’ve covered this, but you’re not likely to find a name like Legolas in contemporary fiction, unless it’s for intentional humor. Double-check your genre, and the era of your story, to maximize the efficiency of your character’s names. Things get a bit more complicated when you do niche genres, like fantasy-romance. In this case, fantasy names are appropriate.

2. Culture and Backstory Do Matter

Bonus points if you can incorporate world-building and backstory into your characters’ names. This helps tie plot elements together and gives off a wholesome vibe to the story.

3. Sometimes Simpler is Better

There are times when shorter, simpler names are nice because your reader can remember them. Other, longer names may throw a reader off. A dragon with the name Fyre’goras’thyr is certainly a mouthful, whereas the name Fyre works too. Which do you prefer, pray tell?

Character naming is vital in fictional universes. While it doesn’t have to be perfect, it can make or break your characters, the feel of your plot, or the details of your world-building. Taking time to refine your character names will allow them to shine and pull the reader in. Remember, this is but a part of building your story, and it can still be fun when you put your heart into it.


Interested in joining my mailing list? Members will receive free poetry, special deals, messages to inspire and empower your life, and short stories. You’ll also get the latest news on projects.
Aspectä rey’lief, fair reader, and thanks for reading!
—Ed R. White

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Book Review: Beyond Training

I’ve been reading more lately, delving into the world of nonfiction. And boy, what a dive it was…

Beyond Training by Ben Greenfield was a hell of a trip, a good one at that. The book was well worth the read, and I’ll share the details of my experience below.

Premise

The book starts fast and hits hard. The author covers everything from weight lifting, athletic programs, nutrition, detox, lifestyle hacking, even spiritual science, yoga, and meditation. There’s a lot here, and I was initially overwhelmed at the depth Greenfield goes into. Some of the material I skipped over, but most of it was helpful and easily applied to my own life.

The book is catered to athletes and weightlifters, but most of the information can be applied to anyone, even those seeking to optimize their IQ.

Length

The book is bulky, clocking in at around 500 pages. Each chapter contains subsections for the sake of organization. Thanks to this, I never got truly lost throughout the book. Greenfield keeps the text simple and to the point, but he also included sciencey bits for us nerds.

Information

As mentioned above, Greenfield’s chapters focus on athletes and weightlifters. Things like eating a clean, wholefood diet, living ancestrally, squatting, staying organized and in the moments—these are a few of the things he covers, and so much more. I even picked up parenting tips and advice on biohacking technology.

For this reason, not everything in the book will cater to a specific reader. Instead, the book should be read as a reference guide, with certain sections skimmed if needed. That’s what I did, and I still got a lot out of the book.

Greenfield begins with chapters on fitness, training secrets, and recovery protocols. He then branches out to lifestyle and nutrition, hormone balancing with habits like cold showers, saunas. Greenfield ends with a chapter on optimizing the brain and IQ.

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The Good

Beyond Training is a worthwhile read for anyone, with its plethora of tips about getting the most out of life. A reader can take what resonates and apply it, reaping the rewards.

The Bad

The book’s strength is also its flaw. Information overload is rampant in Beyond Training, and this might turn off some readers. Other sections are tougher to read with science jargon thrown in.

The Ugly

Some of the lifestyle tips border on either unfeasible or unaffordable. For most people, a $700 Earthpulse isn’t a likely purchase. Granted, I haven’t tried this technology myself, so it may be worth the investment. But that’s the thing: investing in one’s health is a journey, involving pitfalls, rewards, pain and suffering, joy and surrender.

Beyond Training is a fantastic read, though it may appear daunting at first. It can apply to a wide niche of readers, and due to its organized sections and chapters, a reader can find what he or she needs with ease. I will certainly reread it over the coming years—and I encourage you, dear reader, to do the same.


Interested in joining my mailing list? Members will receive free poetry, special deals, messages to inspire and empower your life, and short stories. You’ll also get the latest news on projects.
Aspectä rey’lief, fair reader, and thanks for reading!
—Ed R. White

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Book Review: Stormbringer

I finished a fantasy novel not a few days ago—and as I promised, here’s the review. Stormbringer, by Isabel Cooper, was an enjoyable read for me. I intend to read further installations when the books are available.

Premise

Stormbringer is a fantasy novel, fast-paced with lots of action. The story follows a classic mythological sequence, full of monsters, magic, and rich world-building. The occasional romance scenes add flavor and diversity to the story, especially an erotic scene towards the end between the protagonists. The final showdown with the villain is exhilarating, engaging, and left me intrigued.

Length

Chapters are fairly short, broken down into smaller scenes that alternate between the two protagonists. I found this convenient, as it was easy to park my bookmark if needed. The book, overall, isn’t long, clocking in at around 340 pages. I was able to finish it within two weeks.

Characters

Two protagonists tell the story from their PoVs. One protagonist, Amris, is a war hero, emerging from a 100-year magical slumber. He’s courageous and steadfast, having seen his share of monsters and magic. I enjoyed Amris’ scenes, particularly the bravery he employed towards the end of book.

The other protagonist, Darya, is a young woman, gifted with magical boons and keen with a bow. Her personality is rough around the edges, but enjoyable. The romance scenes felt a tad rushed and underdeveloped, particularly on Darya’s end. I’m hoping to see more depth in her character in the sequels.

Magic System

Magic in Stormbringer was generic and not explained too well. It came off as a soft magic system, whimsical and spontaneous. This was another spot that could have used more depth, perhaps a steeper cost or limitation to using said magic.

Conflict

Tension was strong from chapter to chapter, whether it was a battle against monsters, or a heart-racing romance scene. I didn’t mind the constant action, and it kept me reading. Other readers may exhaust at the fast pacing and high degree of conflict, however.

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The Good

Stormbringer has good pacing, intriguing world-building, and a story that feels organized and easy to get into. Anyone with an interest in fantasy-romance will find this a worthwhile read.

The Bad

Darya came off as underdeveloped with her romance scenes and inner struggles. Despite the world-building in lore, monsters, and gods, the magic system felt shallow to me. Granted, this was the first book; I am willing to overlook these, as sequels may build upon any shortcomings.

The Ugly

Some nitpicks from yours truly. The erotic scene towards the end of the book felt rushed a bit gaudy. I didn’t see the characters bonding, except through sex and as comrades in battle. The last chapter also ended on a flat tone in regards to the two characters’ relationship, but did well in spelling out fantasy ideas for book two.

Despite its flaws in character development and magical systems, Stormbringer presented an enjoyable fantasy world. The lore of the gods was fascinating, and the two protagonists did their jobs in telling the story from alternating perspectives. The showdown with the villain was also exciting and promising.


Interested in joining my mailing list? Members will receive free poetry, special deals, messages to inspire and empower your life, and short stories. You’ll also get the latest news on projects.
Aspectä rey’lief, fair reader, and thanks for reading!
—Ed R. White

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Writing Update: 02/03/21

The Pleasure of World-building…

I must confess, the pleasure of world-building is indescribable. Creating entire universes from thin air brings joy to my soul. Purpose. It drives me into the moment, grounds me to my body, mind, and soul.

I’ve begun another revision pass to book 1, Blade of Dragons, after the updates to some of the character arcs. The manuscript is, otherwise, polished for a beta manuscript and should be ready for publication soon.

Polishing the Series Now or Later?

That said, I may hold off on releasing Blade of Dragons until later. Using a strategy that Michael J Sullivan recommends, I would polish the rest of the series first, allowing world-building and plot interconnection to weave the stories together. Due to Ethereal Seals’ heavy world-building, my intuition wants me to lean this way.

When finished, this will enable me to use book 1 as a promo story, setting up sales for the rest of the series. The downside is it will take considerable time before any of the stories get released. For me, that isn’t a huge issue, for I view writing as a therapeutic and spiritual exercise.

The Merits of Creative Writing

After 2020—the horrendous year everyone wants to forget—I’ve come to value my writing more on its merits. It grounded me amidst the chaos, kept me occupied during lockdown, and gave me inspiration. Excitement for life. Looking back on 2020, I see only achievements, what I have accomplished.

Work on Book 2: Heart of Dragons

Heart of Dragons has been surprising considering the changes in the character arcs. Fortunately, the story-character progression is a lot more intuitive and organized than it was in book 1. In Blade of Dragons, I had little choice, as certain scenes had to play out for the reader.

Book 2 feels more wholesome, and its progress is strengthening book 1. Heart of Dragons expands on the world-building expressed in Blade of Dragons, and this created a massive science fantasy universe, one that had me wondering if I’m in over my head. That’s one of the joys of world-building, ha?

Regardless, the alpha manuscript from years prior is reading better. I have no doubt this will be a series with a dedicated niche of readers when I’m finished.

Book 3: Soul of Dragons

The rough manuscript from years ago hasn’t aged well, and I have yet to examine it in detail. Still, it has a treasure trove of excellent ideas I intend to draw from. With changes to the first two books, Soul of Dragons will take some drastic turns. I am excited to work on it once the first two books are set.

Book 4: Empress of Dragons

Book 4 is still in an abstract state, but I have a loose idea on how to outline it. It’s possible I will expand on it and build a fifth book: War of Dragons, if the Divine Spirit guides me that way. I do have some ideas in mind, new continents and planets for the protagonists to explore, plot twists, and so forth. These will tie into the story introduced in book 1.

Supplementary Stories

The Ethereal Seals universe is vast, and I may produce series that take place in different parts of the cosmos. These books will make references to Pepper Slyhart’s story on Atlas, among other things. In the meanwhile, there’s Tempest of the Dragon and Muffins and Magic, two standalone stories that came to me during the last few NaNoWriMO contests.

I’ll get to them eventually!

Maybe.

Tempest of the Dragon

Kyosenko, a samurai outcast in Japan, discovers his destiny with a girl named Mina, a cursed Black Serpent in disguise. He vows to protect the ensorcelled girl with his life, venturing with her across ancient Japan—to a place where Mina may find salvation. But there is another threat, an organization that wishes to capture Mina and abuse her arcane powers.

The Kaji Clan.

Set in ancient Japan (or China, if I decide to change it) the story and world-building is a lot simpler than Ethereal Seals. It was a breeze to write during NaNo and I enjoy the characters and story I’ve come up with for it.

Muffins and Magic

This story is a contemporary fantasy with humor intermixed. I don’t have a logline or description of it yet, but the protagonist is a baker with magical powers. He defeats challenges and enemies with his delicious cooking skills, winning their hearts. Unlike Blade of Dragons or Tempest of the Dragon, most of the conflict in Muffins and Magic is half-hearted, geared towards a casual audience.

Right now, I’m making good progress on my newest book, Stormbringer, by Isbabel Cooper. It has enjoyable world-building, characters, and plot. Even some steamy romance. I plan to do a book review when I finish, and read more of her books, as I need further exposure to the fantasy-romance niche. Unfortunately, I can’t write any fantasy stories without some romance subplot. It’s a curse.

In other news, I’ve been going to the gym and meditating more. I may pick up sketching again at some point too.

Blogging Update

From this point, I want to shift the purpose of my blog a little. I’m aiming for more of an intuitive and creative experience—not just for me, but for you too, dear reader. I’ve also considered vlogging and podcasting, but not anytime soon, if I do decide to do them.

Instead of forcing the muse to write mechanically, I’ll allow it to work through me. No one should pretend to be something they’re not, nor conform to a system. As cosmic witness, this will undoubtedly produce blogging content of a more beautiful, if esoteric, nature. That said, I cannot predict when the muse will emerge, or for how long. I ask for your patience, dear reader. Thank you.


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Aspectä rey’lief, fair reader, thanks for reading.
—Ed R. White

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Taking Some Time to Rest

Quick post today. I’ve decided to take a break from blogging to recharge my batteries. 2020 was a rough year—for all of us. I’ve decided to catch up on some other activities, in addition to starting a beta read with Tomas Grizzly.

My meditations are going well, and I am doing several bodily and spiritual cleanses to prepare myself for this new year. It had me thinking: what will 2021 bring? Will wee see peace and truth return to society? What new challenges will arise? I have no doubt that all of us will be able to face them. Head on.

Change is what inspires us. It encourages growth. Development. We cannot force change, only surrender to it and learn to adapt. As Bruce Lee said:

Empty your mind; be formless, shapeless – like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.

I’ve started on a new science-fiction book called Hyperion. It has great world building, and the concepts therein are fascinating. I have several more books on my 2021 reading list to go over. Exciting.

Book 2 of Ethereal Seals: Heart of Dragons has begun. The alpha manuscript is underway, with some exciting plot and character developments that old beta readers of book 1 will enjoy. Once I get the manuscript polished, I’ll be looking for betas for that.

My goal is to do three to five beta manuscripts before I publish the first book, Blade of Dragons. This way, I can interconnect the books better than if I did them one by one. This is a strategy that Brandon Sanderson recommends in his lectures on writing epic fantasy.

Thanks for reading. Enjoy the wintry weather, and may peace and prosperity find you.


Interested in joining my mailing list? Members will receive free poetry, special deals, messages to inspire and empower your life, and short stories.

You’ll also get the latest news on projects.
Aspectä rey’lief, fair reader, thanks for reading.
—Ed R. White

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Huge Christmas Book Giveaway!

A short post, but worth sharing. A fellow blogger is hosting a massive Christmas giveaway! You can find all kinds of books, mostly in the fantasy and sci-fi genres, with a few historical fiction, romance, action and thrillers in the below list. All free! Select the images below to be taken to the giveaway pages. There are over 400 stories waiting to be read!

Merry Christmas!


Interested in joining my mailing list? Members will receive free poetry, special deals, messages to inspire and empower your life, and short stories. You’ll also get the latest news on projects.
Aspectä rey’lief, fair reader, thanks for reading.
—Ed R. White

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