One Month Anniversary!

It is hard to believe it has been one month since I first published A Promise of Iron.

To mark such an auspicious occasion I am running a special thank you promo to all my newsletter subscribers 1/19-1/23. Promo will begin tomorrow AM so check your email!

In addition to this special promo, the monthly newsletter will host giveaways, world updates and exclusive content. You don’t want to miss out.

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Thanks for reading.

Salt & ruin,

-Brandon

Part One: The Song of Creation

An excerpt from the Grimorlin

The Song of Creation

-Oration performed by a Seveli Justicar. Transcribed by Valan Forvana in the year 3622, Illyrian Long Count

In the beginning, there was Void. All that had been was Void. All that was was Void. But Void was not of what was to come. Low and blessed did two voices wake from slumber. One was of salt and of sustenance and of keeping. One was of ruin and of wrath and of terror.

And the voices did sing, their separate notes, both soft and terrible. Their words told of what was to come.

So did Void stand, for his way was of what had been, and he was fearful. In challenge he did cry out to the voices. And he did boast, and he did bargain, and he did threaten.

The voices heard not. Their song sustained until their chorus became as one. And then there was a tremor, beating in time to the rhythm of their voice. And the heavens did quake and did tremble. And there was much fear. Then the song ceased, and all was silent and there was stillness once more.

Void, fearing what was to come, called out to the nothingness. He did not boast, and he did not bargain, and he did not threaten.

Then there was a light, both violent and terrible. And Void did cower before it.

Low and blessed was the light.

And it shone upon the heavens scattering the darkness. And the light did shine upon Void, and it came to know the nature of things, and it was displeased.

So it came to pass that the light splintered and became two, just as the voices were two. And they took form, dual as were the voices, though in harmony and concert and chorus they were.

And the first voice, one of salt and of sustenance and of keeping did look upon Void with eyes for the first time. And it looked upon him with pity.

So did the second voice, one of ruin and of wrath and of terror, look also upon Void with eyes for the first time. And it looked upon him with anger.

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Thanks for reading.

Salt and ruin,

-Brandon

Part Ten and Three: The Hustle

Retweet, like, follow, rinse, repeat. Feed the algorithm. Keywords, promos, giveaways, ARCs, reviews. Build your brand, build your base. Work the room, network… prowl. As daunting as it is disillusioning— the hustle is real. 

One powerful review can spark another while one bad review can set you back. Don’t get too hung up on either. Believe in your work or don’t publish it. The reviews are a technicality, a necessary evil to the indie publishing world— but they don’t define your work anymore than the art on the cover. 

Eager, hungry #writers lurk in every corner of social media. Collectively, they are the same. Desperate not for fame or riches, but for their words to mean something to someone other than themselves. How do you separate your voice from the chorus? 

It takes time. It takes patience. And when it does it usually happens organically. People are smart and numb to the endless stream of advertisement they are subjected to. It is the long con that separates— building real relationships with digital people. It is the slow play six moves ahead that pushes you to a critical mass. And it takes help… lots and lots of help. 

Keep working. Stay humble. Stay hungry. You have to feed the algorithm. Write, link, blog, post. Content…content…content. Linger in the background, answer the questions, earn the rep, earn the likes, earn your stripes. You gotta keep moving. You gotta hustle. 

Want to encourage an indie author? Follow their blog, their site, their half a dozen social media accounts. Write reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. And most importantly keep reading. As much as we write stories for ourselves, they are meaningless if we are the only ones to read them. 

Thanks for reading.

Salt and Ruin,

-Brandon

Part Twelve: Community

After thousands of hours, multiple drafts, rewrites, recasts, painful cuts, alternative endings— I was able to put the keyboard down. The work was imperfect as we all are imperfect, but it was finished. I felt a sense of pride in the accomplishment, then a measure of panic. I no longer had an excuse. “I’m still working on it…” was no longer a valid answer when asked how the book was coming. It was time to put it out there.

I won’t pretend to call myself a writer or an artist. I am an amateur who writes as a hobby. But I can understand how an artist or writer might feel when they put their work on display. You are exposed, every flaw, every blemish. It takes courage to subject yourself to scrutiny. It takes courage to welcome feedback from complete strangers. It takes courage to act as if you belong.

It also takes a great amount of trust, not just in your ability but in the hearts and minds of those who read your work. This could double as a referendum on the state our society is in… where discourse over the internet has made kindness harder and harder to find.

In my short experience…this literary world is full of kind, compassionate people. They are a community, a community of people no more like-minded than in any other aspect of our society. Yet they are bound together with a love of reading and a desire to get their word into the world.

Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, allauthors etc…etc… communities within communities. Here, if you look closely, you will find people selflessly working a lighthouse to help other authors find their way in the storm. Participate. Engage. Ask. It will take work to promote yourself, just like every other step on this journey. But start first with the community. Promote others. Read the works of others and hope they will do the same. Don’t worry— you got this!

Thanks for reading.

Salt and Ruin,

-Brandon

Part Eleven: The wise women in the woods

The hero’s journey has many recurring themes. Supernatural aid, the wise man, the helper that appears innocently dressed as a beggar, shop keeper, or editor supreme, is as prevalent in my story as it is in… my story.

With my manuscript complete and heart filled with joy, I stepped bravely into the forest of self-publishing… and got lost immediately. Thankfully, there are those who have walked this path ahead of me. Some were kind enough to leave breadcrumbs.

Reedsy.com was my one-stop-shop for finding and partnering with developmental editors, proofreaders, illustrators, interior designers etc. It was also a veritable treasure trove of information on how to publish your book once you were eventually finished.

It was there that I partnered with true professionals, freelance editors, artists, and authors willing to offer their time and expertise helping other dreamers find their way through the trees. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for, so no, these services were not free— nor should they be. But what I found was a range of options at varying degrees of experience and cost. I chatted with perhaps 30+ individuals through various stages of this project, and never once did any of them make me feel like I didn’t belong.

There are other sites, other communities on Facebook and Twitter that were also helpful in navigating through those first critical steps. The important thing is I realized quickly that despite the fear of the unknown, I was far from alone. Every hero needs a guide, that mystical figure that seems to nudge you in just the right direction. To the Tom Bombadil’s of the world— blessings!

Thanks for reading.

Salt and Ruin,

-Brandon

Kindle E-Book is Live!

For those that can’t wait for the hardcover the E-book is now live! The button on the front page will take you there, or the direct link below

I hope you enjoy reading it…. and if you do leave a review!

Blessings!

-Brandon

Part Ten: Traditional vs. Self-Publish

I figured that it might be valuable to share some of my experiences in self-publishing a book. I will be hijacking the blog for a few posts and offer some tips, and more importantly, point out the pitfalls of publishing your own book. Keep in mind this feedback is entirely one-sided as I did not attempt the traditional path of publishing a book…. So take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Writing a book may be the least complicated part of this whole experience. When I began writing A Promise of Iron, I wasn’t sure I would publish the work. But once I finished the first draft, it seemed like an awful waste to keep it to myself… so I looked at what options were available.

Traditional publishing vs. self-publishing— this was the first real question. Do I send the manuscript to a dozen or more publishing houses in the hopes that I would get a book deal? Or do I foot the bill to professionally publish the book myself? I elected for the latter for a few reasons.

The main reason was the fear of rejection. What if they ALL say no? What if after six months of correspondence and emails and submissions, I was still without a book deal? I would have wasted a great deal of time (and paper) and would have been no closer to my goal. I had to rationalize that a “NO” was the most likely outcome for an unpublished author with no credible reason for writing a book, and I had to recognize what kind of toll that might have on my fledgling ego. At the end of that experience, I might have been left asking should I continue vs. could I continue. Stubborn as I was, I wasn’t going to give a “NO” the chance of stopping me.  

The second reason was creative license. This is not to say I am incapable of receiving feedback or that I didn’t welcome it; quite the opposite. This was more or less that I didn’t want the buck to stop with an editor or publisher about what is in or not in MY story. Now I could be completely wrong here, but the concern I had was that sacrifices would be made to increase the financial viability of the book. Because this is less about making money to me and more about sharing (what I think is) a good story, I wasn’t comfortable risking the integrity of the story.

The third reason was the viability of the alternative. When I first explored the options between the popular online retailers, I saw a path to publish that was not only possible; it was highly accessible and transparent. I did some research and found myself on a couple of different websites that connect authors with industry professionals for editing and illustration services…. And that is when the dream of publishing a book became a reality.   

Thanks for reading.

Salt and Ruin,

-Brandon

Part Nine: Blessings

It has been an absolute whirlwind of a week, but it is finally here. When I began writing what would become A Promise of Iron all those years ago, it was a dream and nothing more. I never thought I would ever finish the book, let alone publish it.

There are so many people to thank, so let me cover as many as I can. You all deserve more credit than I can conjure in a blog post— but I will do my best.

To Shayne, for taking the time to read something so unfinished that it made your eyes bleed because you knew I needed the encouragement. And yes, as it turns out… it was an Impairor.

To my father, who I am pretty sure has never read a book for fun in his life. Thank you for reading and loving what you read- and yes, I will do my best to give a satisfying ending to the series.  

To Carrie, editor extraordinaire. Thank you for helping me polish what was an uncut gem into something worth sharing.

To my family, for listening to me at length whenever they made the mistake of asking me how the book was going.

To all the friends and family that have encouraged me along the way, blessings! It is not easy to open yourself and your work to the world. Your kindness and support gave me the courage I needed. And your enthusiasm for the work gives me all the reason to keep going!

And to Leanna, my most supporting wife. You have been there every step of the way— daring me to be great. What possible words could I offer other than to share those that were inspired by you… “She wasn’t the reason I chased iron, but she would have been enough.”

My hope is that you all enjoy the book as much as I enjoyed writing it. Blessings!

Thanks for reading.

Salt and Ruin,

-Brandon

Part Four: Characters

Hello family, friends, and fans!

It was clear in the early stages of writing a first-person narrative that a compelling cast of characters was needed. The problem was I didn’t have any- not from the first work, at least. Names existed sure, but no motives, no heart, no conflict. I want to say that I had a plan all along, that I wrote each chapter intending to introduce someone of importance; that would be a beautiful lie. I wrote without much of a script to follow, then took pruning shears to the words until something resembled a story. This had a fascinating evolution on certain characters, especially when considering word count and clarity. What I ended up with is not, nor will ever be perfect, but I think we got close to a core cast that helps to tell the story without me relying on exposition. Here is a brief glimpse into each, their motivations, and a little bit of their background.

Faerin: He was the start, always has been, always will be. His story evolved the most as I thought of his motivations. He is oppressed, scarred, and alone in a world tilted to keep him (and those like him) continually oppressed and scarred. He dances between naivety and trusting no one. He is also supremely capable, something I had to temper more than once as he came off a bit too shiny. In some ways, he is a product of that tough life- the antithesis or antidote to Cyllian oppression. As the story is told entirely from his perspective, you get a view that is very personal and perhaps more than a little jaded.

Crylwin: He was Faerin’s friend from the start, but his motivations weren’t clear to me until Edwin, and the House Monroe became a fleshed out fixture in the story. There were elements of his character that were the most fun to write. He is angry, bitter, impulsive- but not half the fool he plays to be. His motivations are perhaps more secretive than others, due in part to his own story not really being told until book two.

Lira: This is why you work with editors. Lira’s first pass was a mess; a wordless doll used only as a prop for Faerin to fawn over. This is likely because not even a whisper of her character arc existed in any prior work. She was there, popping up in the second chapter like a flower through the snow- but her character did not get any justice until 2nd and 3rd revisions. To quote more than one early reader/editor, “I hate Lira.” Point taken, and hopefully, the final version gives her the justice she deserves. She is a more complicated character than you might see at first glance, one that is as much at odds with the world around as Faerin. Her pain is more self-inflicted and stems from her desire to change the world and an inability to do so. What does that push her to do, and where does her sentiment stop and action begin? Her motivations can be obvious at times, but I caution all is not as it seems.

One of the interesting aspects of writing from a single perspective is telling only that perspective. How accurate is that perspective? Is it accurate or much like history, flawed with perspective? What does the passage of time do to that perspective? There is an element to that in A Promise of Iron, one of the few intentional, not accidental layers that add depth to each of the three main characters.

Thanks for reading.

Salt and Ruin,

-Brandon

Part Five: Names, Languages, and Magic

Hello family, friends, and fans!

Odd sounding names and words of power are expected fantasy tropes as much as the ubiquitous black stallion and magical swords… oh wait. The creation of names and languages in A Promise of Iron was equal parts real-world inspiration and old-fashioned sounds-good-on-paper-ism. Faerin, Crylwin, Sunemere, and the like are mostly made up nonsense words (in case you didn’t realize). When I got stumped or wanted something to feel a little more authentic, I would borrow from our world. When I did, I would often use root words from Latin, Arabic, Irish, German depending on the culture I was crafting that word for. You won’t find any direct translations (I hope), but there are enough anagrams to point you in the direction.

For the most part, this story is told in Cyllian, as it represents the dominant culture and the native language spoken by the main characters. For obvious reasons, this is translated for your benefit into English and a somewhat modern version of it at that. There is some in-world complexity that will delve deeper into that fact but rest assured it was as much a tactical decision as it was the most obvious solution in writing something that was both authentic and relatable.

Names have significance in A Promise of Iron; they have power, more so than I got a chance to properly explore. Names lie at the heart of quin and weave, though not in a way that should feel terribly familiar. Without giving too much away, I can safely say that weave does not exist as a list of arbitrary words held in a mysterious book written in a dead language for our heroes to find; there are plenty of books for that already. In this world, the power is not in the knowing but in the naming of an object, a place, a person. You bestow it an identity. You grant it perspective. You speak it into existence. 

Assuming you have a dog, he goes by many names (canis, alkalb, madra, hund). Those are names given to it by someone else. He doesn’t respond to “dog”. He responds to a name, a name you have given him. When you named your dog, you created a word of power!

Don’t believe me? Does he come to you when you call that name? Through repetition and encouragement, he can be expected to know his name and come when called. He could also ignore you, go the opposite direction, or respond to another name entirely. The success of this depends on Ccruffy making a choice to obey your command. There are many factors that go into that choice and depend as much on Scruffy as they do on you.

It is not enough to name a name and assert your mastery. The named must first agree that you are their master. Obedience is earned.

Thanks for reading.

Salt and Ruin,

-Brandon