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Writing & publishing my first novel

The Corral Ring is the first book I wrote, ever. I am very proud of the fact that my first was one that I was finally able to publish.

Everyone says when you start out, you should plan to write a few books before you write the one that you want to go places. I like the deep end, though, and my patience is selective. That said, there was no getting around it.

My stubbornness and perfectionism inevitably led to The Corral Ring receiving significant rewrites as my ability as a writer improved. The world remains largely the same, albeit with a large section of the imagined history, equating to an entire fictional age, being erased. Story-wise, it reflects the original plans very well, but as I learned new techniques, it changed subtly in setting, name, and character starting points for character development purposes.

Originally, the world was 100% my own creation, with no ties to existing mythology or deities. I drew great inspiration from my reading of Terry Goodkind’s ‘Sword of Truth’ series, several years before. The idea of a world being my own, and taking on the challenge of creating situations and stories where, despite wizards as main characters, they can’t just wave a hand and solve the world’s problems, was both interesting and appealing. I also love the medieval period of history, and designing my mythos in my own world allowed me to work with that style of time-period.

Mr Goodkind’s series was a gateway for me into the world of fantasy, and as I read more works from other authors, I came to appreciate the effects that were available to authors whose worlds were closer to home – dropping hints as to potent figures, dealings with known gods, and incorporating (and thus informing of) lesser-known deities from various mythologies. Undoubtedly, of those books, the series that had the biggest impact on me, and which actually brought me back to writing after I took a long break after designing my mythos, was Jim Butcher’s ‘The Dresden Files.’

I had always agreed with the notion that if you’re going to write about something from mythology, you should tie in as much as you can, but that seemed like a daunting prospect to me at the stage where all I had was my new, entirely fresh world, and hadn’t even started writing about it, yet. I told myself that since it was my own, I could pick and choose and it wouldn’t matter – a loophole in my own outlook, if you like. Mr Butcher’s world, though, where he pulled off just that – incorporating every flavour of mythical being across every mythical lore – inspired me to go big.

So, I began expanding my mythos, and pre-emptively tying in those new creatures and crafting references upon which to draw, later. Then, once I finished writing the book, I went back and transformed the story and world so that it fit with my updated mythos, bringing it within our world. It was a creation with its own setting that I had to export and find a place for in the new setting that I desired. That’s what led me to medieval Albion, with a tale of an alternate history that will, as the series progresses, explain how we arrived at the present day.

It wasn’t an idea born overnight. It was a long, meticulous process spanning two-and-a-half years (although I also completed a degree in that time). ‘The Corral Ring’ served as my ‘sandbox,’ allowing me to hone my skills. I invested in the idea, entirely, and have already got ideas for multiple series within the same world.

For me, my first book will remain the most significant milestone in my authoring career, because it feels as though it’s where I grew up as a writer – learning what came naturally and where I was lacking, and working to overcome those weaknesses. That’s not to say I haven’t got a long way yet to grow, but that it’s the place I grew the most. I’m extremely pleased and proud to be able to publish this book, and I hope readers will find it as enjoyable to read as I found it to create.

This was also all before I began learning about the post-manuscript steps involved in the journey to publication. It took me several months to learn and execute them as an independent, aspiring author with a very limited budget. Nevertheless, it was a highly enjoyable experience – even those tedious stretches, because of the satisfaction they yield once complete. I encourage anyone who has or is, presently, entertaining the idea of writing a story, to give it a jolly good go, because it’s worth it.

Already written your first novel, or in the process of doing so? Why not share your experience? I, certainly, would love to hear it!

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