A fantasy fiction series by Todd A. Phillips
It's amazing to me to work on this site and see how long it's been since I began this journey. I certainly never dreamed it would take this long to complete the series. When I began, I thought that I could have all four books done in a year or so. Wow, was that wrong. Life has a way of changing even the best-laid plans.
I have decided to give up on content management systems and go back to hand-coding my sites to get better performance and a better reading experience. This is particularly true for folks who are choosing to access the site to read on their phones or tablets. I am publishing each book here to read for free on the site either online, or by using the excellent Spritz reading tool for those of you who like to read quickly with minimal eye strain. If you want to keep a copy of the books, there will be links to purchase options at a minimal cost. Yes, I know that a paperback over twenty US dollars is expensive, but that is almost no profit to me (less than a dollar per book) for print on demand. I am assuming that most people will want to purchase ebooks, and I am setting the prices there to be less than three dollars.
You can contact me using the contact address at the bottom of the page.
I've completed the final draft of The Rat's Trial. All that's left to do is final editing and adding the cover art. With that in mind, I'm hoping to find a young artist who is looking to make a name for themselves to do some work for me. I need cover art for the books, some incidental artwork for the site, and possibly some work for another book project I'm also working on.
The Rat's Trial is a longer book, and the adventure takes place in an alternate version of Mikey's city of Kor Opan. Both Charlie and Melissa come closer to understanding their gifts of creation as they stand against a terrible new foe. Mikey and the other heroes fight nearly to the death to save the city and its inhabitants from a demon army bent on endless dominion.
If you are new to the Imprisoned God series, I hope that you will read the first book here on the site while you wait for The Rat's Trial to be released. Once we get closer to publication, I will share the first few chapters here on the site, so keep checking back.
You can also track progress on our Facebook page at http://facebook.com/imprisonedgod, or by following @imprisonedgod on Twitter.
Thus far, I've done the cover art myself for each of my novels. I'm an adequate Photoshop user (read that as I'm a hack), but I'd really like to find a talented new artist to work with to create artwork for the novel covers and a few pieces for the website. I am willing to compensate you for your time and effort, of course, but I am hoping to work with someone who is more interested in getting recognition for their work to expand their portfolio. In other words, I can't afford to pay very much at this time but I would do my very best to positively advertise your work and recommend you to others.
If this sounds like a good opportunity to you, please contact me using the contact form here on the site. Please also include your DeviantArt link if you have one, or other link to where I can see some of your work. I'm eager to get started, because the second book, The Rat's Trial, is now draft complete and just needs some editing and the cover art before it can be released.
I really hope this will lead to a valuable partnership.
Among the changes since the last time I posted here, the site is being completely rebuilt. This happened for a variety of reasons that I won't bore you with. Suffice it to say I am once again working on the Imprisoned God.
The last time I posted I mentioned that my parents needed all of my attention. A very few months later we lost my mother to a cancer that everyone thought she had beaten. It's been nearly a year since we lost her and I still miss her every day, and find tears in my eyes whenever I think of her. I'm finally shaking off my grief somewhat and trying to emerge from the dark place in which I've been living for the past two years.
It's fairly obvious, if you've been checking the site, that nothing has happened here for a while. My only explanation is it's that time of life. As in, it's that time of my life when my parents are needing increasing amounts of care, and it seems that everyone around me needs my attention more than my own interests do. I apologize to those who have been waiting to find out what happens next in the story.
I also need to apologize to folks who have read the first book, because I've decided to change the story somewhat. For this reason, I have unpublished The Seeker's Journey while I make revisions to the book. Once that is complete, I will re-publish and offer free updates to everyone who purchased the original version. If you're curious what kinds of changes I'm planning, let me just say that a nearly universal reaction to the prologue has been "huh?" So, the prologue is going away and there will be more focus on what Melissa goes through as she adjusts to her adventure.
The good news to take away from this news is that I am once again working on the series.
In a perfect world I would be announcing the release of the Rat's Trial right about this time. Unfortunately, real life has intervened with some rather unwelcome distractions. Honestly, ‘distractions' doesn't come close to describing the past couple of months. My mom is fighting her second bout with lung cancer, and nearly all of my attention is on supporting her and getting her where she needs to go. We have a great deal of hope for her getting through this, but even so, it's my mom and I have to be there.
On the business of writing, the draft of The Rat's Trial is nearly complete. My wife is helping out by reading through the draft and giving me her feedback. As usual, her questions and suggestions are really helpful to me. What's not so good is that she has suggestions that would necessitate changes to the first book. Sigh. I'm still looking at that possibility. And honestly, every time I read through the first book I find things that need to be revised. Fortunately, those things are very small changes, but I care about the quality of anything I make. So I think there will be a revision in the offing sometime this year.
The discount coupon offer at Smashwords will be ending at the end of December 31st, so be sure to order your copy soon.
To take advantage of the 50% off coupon, use coupon code LJ62P when ordering The Seeker's Journey at Smashwords.com.
The ebook version of the Seeker's Journey has been made available for purchase at both Barnes & Noble and at Kobo. It was rather surprising to me to go out to a couple of the sites that Smashwords distributes to and search for the book and find it in their catalog. What was a bit more surprising to me was that I found ebook versions of a couple technical books I wrote years ago.
Apparently, the publishers are making more and more books available online as ebooks. Although, in the case of my computer books, I don't think there will be many calls for a study guide on migrating to Microsoft Windows 2000 Server. I could be wrong, but that's my guess. :)
I had a pleasant surprise waiting for me when I got home from work last night. There was a package from Lulu.com containing the proof copies I had ordered. I hurried into my office to open the package and then sat there for several minutes holding a physical copy of the Seeker's Journey. I've accomplished many things in my life, but very few have the same feeling as holding a copy of a new book that I wrote.
That's a feeling I've experienced a few times now, mostly in computer-related technical books, and once before with a novel. It's a very special feeling for me. I love books and I love to read. One of my dreams has been to own a home with many (and I mean a lot of) bookshelves lined with novels and reference books that I've read. We've come close to that, sometimes cursing the piles of books we are trying to navigate around (thankfully, we're getting more and more into eBooks). So it was a happy event at our house last night when those first copies arrived.
I'm not unhappy with Lulu.com; I'd like to state that right up front. They've been a good place for me to have books printed on demand, and their eBook service wasn't bad. However, I have reconsidered my decision and gone with Smashwords.com instead.
The reasoning went something like this. My mother-in-law has a Kindle and wants to read my book (for which I am very grateful). But the need to produce a Kindle-compliant version of my book got me into looking carefully at what I could do through Lulu, and I discovered that they would only produce ePub or PDF copies of the eBook and would only distribute (other than to their own site) to the Apple iBookstore. Well that would be awesome if the iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch platform were all I cared about, but like I said, my mother-in-law has a Kindle. My initial plan was to leave the book at Lulu for print and iPad and then publish at Smashwords for everything else. The publishing process and superior toolset at Smashwords sold me, and I un-published my eBook at Lulu and published it instead through Smashwords.
Whew! It's finally done and up on Lulu.com for download as an eBook or as a paperback.
The Seeker's Journey by Todd A. Phillips (link deactivated due to change of publisher).
Friends have been asking for weeks what I was planning to do when the book was published, and we came up with all kinds of ideas. But after working on the production files all night and almost no sleep, all I want to do is take a couple days off. :)
After some rest, I'll be digging in on the second book in the series. Be sure to watch for updates here on ImprisonedGod.com.
I've had the full draft of the Seeker's Journey online in my portfolio at Writing.com for the past couple of weeks. Many people have taken the time to read it, and several have provided some constructive reviews, such as these excerpts:
A fantastic opening Chapter,I was gripped by the tension of the piece and look forward to discovering more of what is going to transpire between your characters. – SteveElvis
For the most part you have a great writing style. This is fast paced, keeps the reader wanting to read more. As far as I'm concerned the 'hook' is there right in the beginning. – Marsha Musselman
I really enjoyed the work so far. You have a gift for drawing the reader in and making me want to read more. – Alexia Laine
Now I'm spending time going through the manuscript making some changes that were suggested by reviewers, and doing some additional tweaking that I've been thinking about. I've found it very helpful to discuss the situations that my characters find themselves in, even if the dreaded "why would this character think that?" question does tend to come up more frequently than I would like. Once this round of editing (I'm still finding the odd typo here and there) and tweaking is done, it will be time to publish. :)
I'm leaning toward publishing through Lulu.com, because they can publish the book as both an ebook and a hard copy through one process. I love what Smashwords.com offers for ebooks, but the desire to have a real paperback to lay on the desk is strong. No matter which publishing path I take, the main concern for me is to have a wide variety of options for my readers: the Sony Reader, the Kindle, and the iPad are primary concerns, but so are traditional book stores. I'm hoping to have these tasks complete by the first of September, so that they won't be on my plate when school starts.
On top of working a full work week and writing fiction on the side, I'm going to be teaching a course on technical writing at my son's school this year. Wow. As if I needed more on my plate. Honestly, I'm really looking forward to teaching again after many years away from it. I'm just hoping I can stay at least one step ahead of my students. :)
I went out to Mount Baker this past weekend with my wife and son to get out into the wild and take some pictures. I had this idea that if I could find a rocky path leading up into the mountains I might be able to use that to represent Melissa's journey in the first book.
The weather wasn't really cooperating with us, being rainy and foggy (well, cloudy, but we were so high that the clouds were like fog), but we still managed to have a lot of fun. My son and I discovered we have a mutual dislike of heights; the last few miles had plenty of places where the world seemed to simply disappear into a foggy void mere feet from the side of the car. At least he was able to read; I had to watch the road carefully and get us to the top safely.
Full credit for the picture on the book's cover goes to my son, Corwin Phillips. I actually took the same shot, but I liked his so much better than mine.
Now, only the editing and production work remains before I can publish the Seeker's Journey. My wife is making good suggestions for ways to make some situations more (her words) believable. She reminds me from time to time that women see the world differently than men do, and often require a bit more explanation. I feel lucky to have her consulting, although I notice a lack of advice about the male characters…
The first book in the Imprisoned God series is now draft complete. The Seeker's Journey describes the discovery by Charlie and Melissa Thompson that they can create new worlds through Charlie's stories. As Charlie writes the stories, and Melissa reads them, some mysterious magic takes place and the stories become reality. The first time they are given direct confirmation of this, Charlie suffers a nervous breakdown, troubled by the guilt of all the terrible things he has written about and perhaps directly inflicted upon the characters in his stories.
Melissa comes home to find that Charlie has been attacked by someone or something and that the local police think that she had a hand in the attack. The chaos that ensues is carefully orchestrated by a strange shadowy figure that only Charlie and Melissa appear to be able to see. Charlie wakes up in a hospital, under restraints and sedation to manage his emotional condition. Melissa wakes up the next morning trapped within the worlds of Charlie's writings. And thus her journey begins, and she begins searching for the heroes from her husband's stories to help her set things right and restore her husband.
Now that the first book has been drafted, I'm working hard to edit and revise the story, preparing it for publication. The manuscript is just slightly under 80k words at this time, and will likely add some text here and there to fill out ideas. As soon as I have finished my edit pass, probably within the next week, I will be looking for people to read through the entire story and help me locate any remaining errors and to recommend improvements. While that is in progress, I will return to the work of drafting the second book in the series, the Rats' Trial.
My next task for this project will be to create the cover for the book. I would love to find an artist to help with this, especially one willing to trade for services. Lacking the help of a design guru, I will be making a cover for the book myself and doing the best I can.
My current plan is to self publish the Seeker's Journey through Smashwords.com. Print copies will be made available through Lulu.com somewhat later, since I will have to reformat the manuscript for print layout. The target date for publication depends largely on the success of the test reader phase (as in finding qualified people to review and suggest changes, and in how long that process takes). I'm hoping to publish by the end of August, and will post updates here as they become more solid.
I've gotten back to work on the Imprisoned God. Finally. This is what comes of letting my friend talk me into going back to play an old MMORPG that we played many years ago.
I'm working through the first section of the manuscript, editing, and looking for ways to separate it into it's own volume. There are four natural sections in the story arc, and I'm finding that there is enough material to separate them into volumes based on those sections. I am making some adjustments to the plot to further support this separation, and this is where the hard part comes up again: I need to cause bad things to happen to good characters. Like Charlie (the Imprisoned God) I feel guilty when I cause pain to characters that I've come to feel are real living people. But without BAD THINGS in a story, there is no sense of suspense and no sense of triumph over difficulty. It has to happen, but that doesn't make it any easier for me.
I have no difficulty understanding the concept of hardships moving a story forward. In the first novel I wrote, many years ago, I actually got rather ruthless about the whole concept. I certainly didn't go hog wild and kill people off right and left, but I did kill off one of the key characters because it came to be the right thing to do for the story. This becomes a bit less comfortable when the key idea of the story arc is that creating an idea can affect reality. It leaves me lying awake at night wondering if I'm doing the right thing by my characters when I expose them to hardship. It also firms my resolve to always create a way to destroy the evil that I create in the story.
I spend a lot of time thinking about this responsibility. We can face evil with courage and strength if we believe there is a way to triumph, maybe not for ourselves but for those we love. It disturbs me to a deep fundamental level when I see movies and books coming out today that seem to cheer for the monster; where the basic idea is that there are things so powerfully destructive and evil that we cannot hope to survive. In the face of this pervasive pessimism, is it any wonder so many of us feel hopeless today?
So how do I write about evil and destruction while building a story of hope and courage? I keep my heart focused on the goal, believing every moment that my characters will emerge victorious and better off for what they have experienced. By believing that for every monster I create, there is an effective way to defeat that monster. And by believing that by holding true to values, faith, and each other, my characters will find the way to move forward through darkness and reach the light.
Wow, the story was flowing so well for so long that I was convinced my issue would be more a matter of finding material to cut out of the manuscript rather than figuring out what to write next. This story has been telling me what to write next for weeks, and now it's apparently taking a break. But I'm not ready to take a break. I have a schedule to keep up with. Hello? Is anyone in there?
Writer's block is something that every single writer I have ever known has had to deal with at one time or another. In my case, I'm still writing; I write every day for a living. But my writing on the Imprisoned God has been taking a break. The way I look at the process of writing, you can deal with a situation like this in various ways.
I could choose to panic about not having gotten anything down on paper for the last week or so. That's the natural reaction for many writers, especially when the story has been flowing so nicely from brain to fingers to keys to computer screen for so long. I could also choose to react to that sense of panic by saying things like "I'm just not meant to be a writer" or the ever popular "what's wrong with me?" but I know from experience that dry spells happen and it's most likely nothing to worry about.
I've known quite a few writers who, when faced with the dreaded writer's block, simply take it as a sign that they need to spend some time doing other things. Maybe it's spending more time with your family, or your dog, or taking time to enjoy a favorite hobby. Just take a break. This is how I like to look at it; it's not a problem, it's an opportunity to revisit other parts of my life.
I'm blessed with a very supportive wife, and she will listen to me talk about my doubts or ideas for the story I'm working on without really needing to know everything that's going on. She still believes I'm a good writer (she tells it like I'm a great writer that's just about to win huge acclaim and fame, but that's one of the many reasons I love her so much), and she reminds me that she knows that my ability isn't the problem. She will listen, she will read sections of what I'm working on and offer her insights. Often, this is enough to get me kick started again. Usually, when I'm blocked, it's because my subconscious is still working out what feels right for the next steps in the story.
I am convinced that we writers, and any creative individual, do most of the heavy lifting of the creative process subconsciously. That's why the ideas just seem to appear from nowhere and seem so effortless. I know from experience that if I give my subconscious mind a chance to puzzle its way through the situation in my story that it will find a solution. I only consider myself to have true writer's block if my subconscious has posted an Out of Office message saying something like "I give up, I'm going to play World of Warcraft for a week and then go on vacation…"
The message here for you aspiring authors is this: don't give up and don't beat yourself up if the flow stops. Sometimes you just need a break, and sometimes you need a little support to get you started again.
Now to decide what to write about Melissa entering the world of her husband's fantasy story…
Older entries dropped to save space.