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Medieval Musings:

Your Newsletter from Paul J Bennett

"This whole series is well thought out... it is one of the best series I have read" - Ian

In this week's Medieval Musings:
  • My writing process is still evolving!
  • Burden of the Crown Cover reveal
  • History of Meceria = Part II
  • Coming Soon - Ashes
  • Work in Progress Update
  • Author Spotlight & Book Giveaways

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The Evolution of My Writing Process

As I sit here, writing this article, I have just completed writing Burden of the Crown. That makes six novels set in Merceria, with one short story collection and a background novel plus a yet to be released novel starting a new series, all in just over two years. How did I accomplish this? Good question.

I’ve been trying to write stories for as long as I can remember, but I’ve always run out of plot long before the book is finished. The problem, for me at least, was that I didn’t plan out what was going to happen. This is referred to, by authors, as writing ‘by the seat of your pants’, in other words, making it up as you go. These authors are often called ‘pantsers’ for this reason. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this process, but for me, it doesn’t work.

I discovered, when I was writing Servant of the Crown, that I worked better with an outline to follow. Over the course of the next few books, my writing process has evolved into something that I’ve found to be quite successful. Will it work for you? Perhaps, but everyone is different. If you’re a writer, you need to find what works best for you. But in case you’re interested, here's my process.

When I’m writing a book, one of the first things I do is create a short outline, no more than a paragraph or two. I typically have a number of these on hand at any point in time. Currently, I have about of dozen of these standing by, including ideas for new series.

Step two is to take the paragraph and expand it into a slightly more detailed outline, usually anywhere from two to three pages. If this part is successful, I’ll decide if it’s to be a short story or a full-length novel.

Step three is to begin a chapter breakdown. I like to use numbered lists (bullets) to do this. Each item represents a chapter with a paragraph to describe what takes place. If the mood strikes me, I may include some key dialogue that I’ve thought of.

I used to then detail out each chapter, which would be two to four thousand words, depending on the size of the chapter. Now I don' feel it necessary to do this step, which has noticeably increased my daily word count!

Step four is the actual writing itself. These notes I accumulate are live documents, that is to say, I will often modify them as I go when I think of new items to add. The advantage of this process is that I may detail a section in a later chapter which requires, for example, the introduction of a new character. I can then go back and add that character or reference in, something I couldn’t do if I was pantsing.

This evolution in my writing style and has allowed me to actually complete my books, something in the past I could never do!

Cover Reveal: Burden of the Crown

The first draft of Burden of the Crown is done and is already being shared with the Beta Readers. It will be sent to the ARC team in early September for a late September release!

History of Merceria: Part II

Eastwood Expansion

For its first two centuries, Merceria was content with the region they held, but with an ever-growing population and warriors eager for wealth, it became necessary to move eastward in search of more lands. They pushed the boundaries of the realm, creating smaller settlements as they went, though few of these survived for more than a generation or two. The areas of Stilldale and Haverston were the outer limit of this expansion, and then, around the year 230 MC(Mercerian Calendar), explorers discovered the Elves.

This race had been observing Merceria's expansion for decades but had largely ignored them. Now, however, the Humans were coming closer to the Elvan lands, an act that could not be tolerated. The Elves launched pre-emptive attacks on Haverston and Stilldale in that year, driving the Humans from Haverston, forcing them to abandon the place, but the settlers of Stilldale held their ground. When word reached Kingsford, King Eldred organized a campaign, sending riders forth to explore the area to the east. Many of these failed to return, but enough succeeded to get a rough idea of where the Elves were based.

In order to pursue an extended campaign, the king knew he would need an advanced base from which to operate. Picking a defensible position in the hills, they founded Shrewesdale in 233 MC, which quickly grew to become a major city. Shrewesdale, unlike Kingsford and Colbridge, was planned from the start to house troops and consisted of a large fortified area. Initially constructed of wooden palisades, the discovery of a cache of stone nearby in the hills, soon allowed a more permanent structure to be created. Shrewesdale quickly became an important location and was bolstered by more troops. The Elves, lacking sufficient numbers, never attacked the fortress, instead targeting the production of food with raids.

For years, the Mercerians were unable to make headway against the Elves, then, in 250 MC, they managed to narrow down the exact location of the Elves home in the Darkwood. Taking a longer-term approach, the Humans moved a large army to the location where Wincaster now stands. The intent was to create a military camp from which attacks could be launched against the Darkwood.

Following the pattern of Shrewesdale, they started by constructing a palisade, large enough to hold a sizable army. This was later reinforced by walls of stone and a keep, though the keep itself collapsed many years later due to bad construction. Unfortunately, the army of Merceria was never able to successfully penetrate the Darkwood, eventually having to settle instead on a truce with the Elves in 252 MC.

Coming soon - The Frozen Flame Series
Ashes: Book One
She is on the run from her family, while he desperately hunts for his!

To Natalia, there is no choice.

Trained as a battle mage by the family, she has the potential to be the most powerful spellcaster they have ever produced.

But their price is too high; her freedom!

Athgar's future was pre-ordained.

Follow in his father's footsteps and marry the girl chosen for him.

All that changed the day his village burned to the ground.

Will his thirst for vengeance put her life in peril?

Discover a land steeped in magic and mystery in Paul J Bennett's series starter Ashes, from his new series The Frozen Flame.

Work in Progress Update

I started this week by reworking the end of Burden of the Crown. The original ending lacked some oomph and felt a little week, so I changed it up, and I think it works much better now. Usually, when I write a book, I already have an ending in mind, and Burden was the same, but when the time came to write it, it felt like it just kind of petered out. The new ending gives it much more finality and, I think, more emotion. It’ll be interesting to see what the BETA readers have to say.

Speaking of BETA readers, their feedback has been invaluable through my wiring journey! So far,  their most significant influence has been in Heart of the Crown, as the finished product looks significantly different from the original outline, primarily due to the feedback I received.

Burden was not the only thing on my plate this week, I’ve also been working on The Making of a Man, the Baron Fitzwilliam origin story. It takes him from birth to adulthood, showing how he became the man he is in the Heir to the Crown series. I had actually started on the outline a few weeks ago, but the time away let me think things through and add in more details.

His background has a direct influence on his actions in Sword of the Crown, but if you’re expecting a loving, doting father for him, you’ll be disappointed. Fitz is a man that overcomes his background, becoming the epitome of nobles despite his upbringing. There’s also some familiar faces in this story, apart from Richard Fitzwilliam and his brother, Edward, that is.

Until next time, here is a tiny little snippet of my present WIP, The Making of a Man.

Happy Reading!

Lord Douglas remained where he was, clutching his dead wife’s hand in an iron grip.

“My lord,” said one of the women, “you have a son. What shall we do with him?”

He tore his gaze away from the body of his wife to glare at the woman. He moved toward her, staring down at the infant swaddled in cloth.

“You,” he declared, “are Lord Richard Fitzwilliam, and you are responsible for killing your own mother, the only person I ever loved. I shall never let you forget that!”

“He’s but a wee baby,” the woman defended.

“He has cursed this house!” yelled Lord Douglas. “Take him away!”

Author Spotlight!

Check out these featured books that are free, discounted, or new releases. These authors are returning the favour by sharing my books with their readers.

Reaper Girl: Leliel is a grim reaper who made a mistake. She tried to reap the soul of a man who wasn't dead, and now she has to fight the Underworld to get it back...and somehow resist falling in love with him at the same time. Originally appeared in Under Her Protection: Stories of Women to the Rescue....

Re-Camelot: Seventeen-year-old Arthur Godwin-Dragos finds himself much unlike his childhood heroes who fought for the grace and honor of Camelot. Banished to a bleak boarding school in England, Arthur cannot help but retreat into the fantasy of his mother’s old tales. Longing for his own destiny...

A Dead Wizard's Dream: An afterlife under threat. A reborn Prophet in peril. A ragtag band of faithful Knights, grumpy Nomads, mad Wizards and corrupt Corsairs on a death-defying quest to rescue him. Will swords and sorcery prove enough....

The Sword and the Ring: Aimie, a naïve but feisty dreamer struggling to escape the toil of her parents’ tavern, convinces Connell, an honorable Greymark Knight, to escort her on a long journey. Danger confronts them at every turn, from brutal thieves, a ghostly wight, and....

Book Giveaways!

While you wait for the release of my next book, here are some great stories for your TBR pile!

- The Frozen Flame Cover reveal
- History of Merceria- Part III
- Who are the Saints?

-Orc's of the Continent 
-What are some of my favourite movies?
-More Contests

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Happy reading from Paul J Bennett,
Author of Epic Fantasy in the Land of Merceria and beyond!

Medieval Musings: A Paul J Bennett Newsletter

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