All posts by jmoellerwriter

on writing speed, part II

Continuing with yesterday’s post, part of the reason I write so quickly is that it is a splendid time to be a writer. Compared to as recently, say, 2008, the difference in opportunities for writers is astounding.

Amazon, Kobo, Apple, and Google Play are all competing to attract self-published writers to their platforms. Amazon just added pre-orders and Kindle Unlimited for self-published writers. Kobo is available in a bunch of countries, and keeps connecting with self-published writers for promotions (like happened with FROSTBORN: THE GRAY KNIGHT back in August). Apple added iBooks as part of the default installation with iOS 8, and as part of that did a huge promotion of book bundles from self-published writers. (Full disclosure: I was invited to participate, but I didn’t have time to pull anything together.) Google Play is available globally, and regularly puts out a newsletter boasting of improvements to their platform and interviews with best-selling self-published writers.

So you have all these different sellers competing to get writers on their platforms and their devices. But back in 2008, before the Kindle, the only way to get published was through traditional publishers and agents, and the submission guidelines for traditional publishers and agents essentially boiled down to GO AWAY AND NEVER EVER BOTHER US AGAIN FOR ANY REASON.

Amazon & its competitors, by contrast, have put out a giant flashing neon sign that says EVERYONE WELCOME! You can write as many books as you want, and Amazon & competitors will be delighted to have every last one of them for sale. This is very different from a traditional publisher, which only publishes a fixed amount of books every year.

So a big part of the reason I write so fast is that there is the opportunity to do so. If I was trying to write for a traditional publisher, with only one book a year, I wouldn’t write nearly as fast.


on writing speed

Someone mentioned that I seem to write fast compared to other writers. This amused me, because I’ve encountered people who can do a novel in a week.

But I do write pretty fast. Two reasons why.

One, since 2011, I’ve written exclusively for ebooks. So that means we don’t have to deal with all the stuff of legacy publishing – typesetting and page proofs and warehousing and shipping and all that.  In the old days you could only print so many books and stay profitable, which was why writers had to write slow. Now I can write as much as I want!

Second, I’ve had a lot of practice. I believe FROSTBORN: THE DARK WARDEN was my 33rd novel – 12 GHOSTS books, 7 DEMONSOULED books, 6 FROSTBORN books,  4 in THE TOWER OF ENDLESS WORLDS, 3 in THE THIRD SOUL (I count the first five novellas as one book), and my one attempt at a thriller novel that sells one copy every other month. I’ve done this before, and when I type “CHAPTER 1″ I know exactly what I’m getting myself into.

Writing novels is a lot like baking elaborate cakes from scratch. The first time, you go very slowly. But after enough practice, you can go much faster, and the cakes will actually taste better than your first one.


how long did it take to write FROSTBORN: THE DARK WARDEN?

How long does it take a writer to write a book? Depends on the writer, of course. In my case, it took me twenty-six days to write the 97,000 words of the rough draft of FROSTBORN: THE DARK WARDEN. Here’s how many words I did per day:

Day 1 3500
Day 2 3700
Day 3 2200
Day 4 4300
Day 5 3800
Day 6 3200
Day 7 3100
Day 8 3600
Day 9 1300
Day 10 3600
Day 11 5300
Day 12 3500
Day 13 4200
Day 14 3500
Day 15 4500
Day 16 2300
Day 17 5800
Day 18 5100
Day 19 4000
Day 20 3700
Day 21 4600
Day 22 3700
Day 23 4000
Day 24 3600
Day 25 4200
Day 26 1800


FROSTBORN: THE DARK WARDEN rough draft done!

I am pleased to report that the rough draft of FROSTBORN: THE DARK WARDEN is now finished. 97,000 words in 26 days.

Now I’m going to start on THE PALADIN’S TALE, a FROSTBORN short story I’m going to give away to my newsletter subscribers when THE DARK WARDEN comes out. If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, you can do so here and get THE PALADIN’S TALE for free when it’s ready.


Caina Amalas, coffee, and Vienna

Writers get ideas from many different places. In my case, I get a big part of my story ideas from history. Today is September 12th, which seems a good day to tell where I got the idea of Caina Amalas opening a coffee house in GHOST IN THE ASHES.

The idea came from the Battle of Vienna in 1683, when the armies of the Ottoman Empire besieged Vienna. Turning the siege, a Polish-Lithuanian adventurer* named Jerzy Kulczycki volunteered to seek aid. He slipped out of the city, disguised himself as a Turkish soldier (avoiding capture by singing Ottoman songs as he marched), and made his way to Duke Charles of Lorraine, who promised to come with help. Kulczycki returned to Vienna with the message that help was coming, and the city leadership decided to hold out rather than surrender to the Ottoman army.

On September 12th (331 years ago today), the relief army attacked under King Jan III Sobieski of Poland, Duke Charles, and several other noblemen of Poland-Lithuania and the Holy Roman Empire. During the resultant battle, which featured the largest cavalry charge in recorded history, the Ottoman Turks were defeated and Vienna saved. The people of Vienna rewarded Kulczycki with money and a house, and King Jan gave him many sacks of coffee beans captured from the Ottoman camp. Using the coffee beans and the money, Kulczycki opened Vienna’s first coffee house, and while coffee had been known in Western Europe since the late 1500s or so, his coffee house helped popularize coffee. In Vienna in particular, coffee houses became centers of intellectual and social activity.

Which explains why Caina, as a spy, would be most interested in owning one. :)


*Given that at various times Kulczycki was a captive, a soldier, a nobleman, and a merchant, “adventurer” seems like the best description of his career.

the gift of the dark elves

Today, a bit of lore from the FROSTBORN world:

The dark elves had many slaves, and when a favored slave reached old age and a final illness, sometimes the dark elves would bestow a gift. A spell that induced a deep sleep, and as the slave slept, he dreamed a dream of impossible bliss. All his wishes and desires fulfilled, his friends and loved ones gathered around him, even as his body succumbed to thirst. The nature of the dream ensured that it would last for years.

But then, as the slave’s body entered its final moments, the dark elves would awaken him. The dream would shatter, and the slave would awaken and realize that it had been nothing but a lie, that he had been left to die by a master that no longer had a use for him.

Sometimes groups of dark elves would gather around to see the slave’s final expression of horror as he died, and would admire it like an audience admiring a singer. The more artistically minded among them would capture that moment in paint or stone and gaze upon it fondly for centuries to come.

This may be a plot point in FROSTBORN: THE DARK WARDEN. :)


GHOST IN THE HUNT question & answer time

There were some good questions and comments on GHOST IN THE HUNT, so I decided to round them all up here. (My answers are marked off with “JM sez”.) Note that this post will have !!!SPOILERS!!! for GHOST IN THE HUNT.

Margie asks:

So what really happened to Kylon and his wife? Are they still alive? The comments near the end about the stormdancer that threw the huntress into the sea seems to say so . . .

Will New Kyre be woven back into future stories?

Will we ever find out what’s actually happening with the Pahdishah?

JM sez:

The beginning of what happened to Kylon in New Kyre was hinted at in the short story GHOST SWORD. We’ll find out exactly what happened between the Red Huntress and New Kyre in the next book, GHOST IN THE RAZOR.  That said, Cassander Nilas was telling the truth when he described how he had hired the Huntress to kill the archons who favored allying with the Empire against the Umbarian Order. GHOST IN THE RAZOR will reveal what exactly when down when Kalgri went to New Kyre.

Currently, there are only four people in Istarinmul who know exactly what happened to the Padishah. Grand Master Callatas is one of them.

Cassandra asks:

Every time Laertes or Nasser commented on her ‘male’ gender or about how she should get a woman, I about laughed by ass off! The Ghosts series is my favorite series I have read so far. I am really curious if Caina will ever find another person she will love like she did Corvalis. Cheesy I know, but I still wonder.

JM sez:

That’s one of my favorite running jokes in GHOST EXILE so far. Laertes has a lot of daughters to marry off, and Ciaran the master thief seems like a competent, solid fellow. A bit too grim and wrapped up in his own head, but obviously not the sort to sleep around and carry on with loose women in taverns. Of course, Ciaran is a wanted man, but if Callatas finishes the Apotheosis they’re going to die anyway, and if they defeat Callatas, Laertes will still need to find husbands for his daughters.

As for romance, well…future books are coming. Caina might intellectually think solitude is probably the best choice for her, but her heart and body disagree with her intellect on that matter.

Ashley asks:

I noticed mention of Murvain and Ark towards the end of the book. Will we see either of them in a future book? I also wonder what it would be like for Nernia and Claudia to meet, it seems to me like it would be a very amusing conversation to say the least.

JM sez:

Ark and Muravin are still alive, and working with the Ghosts in Malarae to keep the agents of the Umbarians (like the Silent Hunters and others) out of the Imperial capital. They’ll both turn up in future books, but not for a while yet.

Nerina Strake and Claudia would be hilarious together. Naturally, they will have to meet at some point (likely under conditions of crisis), but I haven’t decided when yet.

Annie asks:

I was amused when I read that the Voice made Kalgri’s new body into a mix of Caina and Claudia…But I was wondering what gave you the idea for Kalgri’s new body to be a combination of those two ladies?

JM sez:

A two-part answer. First, it amused the Voice, because the nagataaru very much enjoy trolling. (If you’ve ever read CS Lewis’s PERELANDRA, the scene where the possessed Weston pulls the wings off alien birds just for the lulz is essentially the mindset of a nagataaru.) So since Kalgri had been defeated by Caina and Claudia, it amused the Voice to rebuild her face in an amalgamation of Caina’s and Claudia’s features.

Second, Kalgri herself had something to do with it. Neither Kalgri nor the Voice are entirely in the driver’s seat, and Kalgri influences the Voice and vice-versa. Kalgri was focused on Caina and Claudia before she fell off the side of Silent Ash Temple’s mountain, so she subconsciously influenced how the Voice rebuilt her.



GHOST IN THE HUNT released & spoiler discussion thread!


I am pleased to report that GHOST IN THE HUNT is now available! You can get it at AmazonAmazon UKAmazon CanadaAmazon GermanyAmazon AustraliaBarnes & NobleiTunesKoboGoogle Play, and Smashwords.

Quite a few people have read the book already, so if you have questions or comments, feel free to leave them here. Note that the comment thread for this post will likely have !!!SPOILERS!!! in short order.



It is funny how events tend to cluster, and today I got a bunch of emails and Facebook messages asking when the next FROSTBORN book would come out.

Well, the next FROSTBORN book will be FROSTBORN: THE DARK WARDEN, and I am currently on Chapter 4 of 24 for the rough draft. Usually I don’t release the book description until later in the process, but since I wrote the outline for THE DARK WARDEN the better part of a year and a half ago, (and since BIG THINGS will happen in the book!) it seems a good time to share!

RIDMARK ARBAN is the Gray Knight, questing to stop the return of the terrible Frostborn to the High King’s realm. For years he has sought the secret of the Frostborn, and now the answer is at hand within the walls of the cursed citadel of Urd Morlemoch.

For the Warden of Urd Morlemoch knows the secret.

CALLIANDE seeks for her past, her memory lost in fog. She seeks to stop the return of the Frostborn, a secret trapped within her damaged memory. The truth of her past awaits within the walls of Urd Morlemoch.

For the Warden of Urd Morlemoch knows who she really is.

THE WARDEN has been imprisoned within Urd Morlemoch for centuries beyond count, his potent magic chained behind its walls.

But his final game is almost complete.

And worlds beyond count shall tremble before his power…


love stories

I read a review of GHOST IN THE STORM that caused a moment of reflection.

I used to detest writing anything even vaguely romantic. This is why neither GHOST IN THE FLAMES nor GHOST IN THE BLOOD have no romantic subplots whatsoever, the closest being a retired veteran’s long quest to save his kidnapped wife from slave traders.

Later, it occurred to me that that I was like a baker attempting to make cakes without sugar. It is, of course, possible to make a tasty cake without sugar, if you use enough spices and the right ingredients. It is also possible to ruin a cake with too much sugar.

However, it is nonetheless much easier to bake a cake with sugar than without.

So it is with romance. It really is a vital part of the writers’ toolkit. It can provide character motivations, subplots, and character development. It is a remarkably versatile storytelling tool.

But one thing is clear: if two characters have a romantic relationship, the story is all the better if they suffer for it, if they have to work for it.

A thought which occurs to me as I look at the outline for future GHOST EXILE and FROSTBORN books. :)