Finish a First Draft – the Elephant Method

For me — like most folks with a day job — finding the cumulative time to finish a new first draft is a tricky business.

It’s not just the time though.

Most folks can patch together a spare hour a day.

For me it’s the mental fortitude required to weather a day at work, then the commute home, then dinnertime prep and youngster bedtime routine.

I’m pooped.

But it doesn’t matter. There is a window of time to be claimed. A sweet spot I must make my own.

This is what I call the elephant method. It is the only option open to non-fulltime writers.

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time.

Not that I’m into that sort of thing, mind you!

A few hours every night will add up to a finished draft.

One word at a time. One page at a time. One chapter at a time. Before you know it, you’ve got a draft done and you’re ready to edit and prepare it for the world.

Indian Elephant by ATArts “Actual eating not recommended”

If you’ve ever wanted to write a novel, why don’t you write one alongside me?

Doesn’t matter what genre it is. Turn off your inner procrastinator and your inner critic. Just let your creativity flow and you’ll be amazed at what you’ve got to give. This method is about short bursts of speed and momentum. Imagine a charging elephant. It takes a bit to get to full speed, but once you find your flow… look out! I’ve written a few books now and this whole writing thing hasn’t got any easier than when I began my first book. I’m still an elephant, but I don’t mind at all.

Every book is a new challenge. A joyful, painful, maddening creation. It will test you and reward you in equal measure. I love the writing process and live in fear of it too.

I’ll be posting my word count regularly to keep me accountable. I’ll not let the fear of failure overcome me.

I’ll aim for about 1500 words everyday for 6 weeks or so.

That should build up to be about what I need to finish the first draft of my next novel, Darkness Bright.

Feel free to post in the comments about your first draft progress or any questions you might have.

Heck I’d just love to see folks cheering us on. (I’m desperate for external validation!)


Progress Log

Monday, 16th October – 1633 words

Woohoo! I started with a win and beat my daily 1500 goal. Don’t worry, I’m sure that there will be days where I dip under. Such is life. Anyhoo, this little parcel is made up of the scribblings I wrote on the train commute to work and then a sprint at home after making (and most importantly eating) dinner.

Anyone else hit their targets today? If you didn’t, not to worry. Tomorrow is just around the corner. Onwards charge!

P.S. Thanks so much for all your supportive comments below! I’m feeling the love. 🙂

Tuesday, 17th October – 885 words

First bump in the road. Didn’t hit my 1500 goal. I stupidly started reading critical reviews of my books after a reader said my latest work was “poorly written”. Take that confidence! Thwack. I hope I can iron out any issues presented.

I must be a sucker for pain to then go and see if anyone else thinks my books bite the big one. Why do bad reviews always stick at the top of Amazon’s review list? They must be upvoted by folks deciding not to read them. Ha! Tonight I will dream of an army of fae folk upvoting the positive reviews to get them to the top of the barrel. Speaking of which, my son requires a coin for the tooth fairy. Despicable wretches who trade in teeth… reminds me of the Jandans. What odd customs we humans cling too.

Enough of the moping, Benny Boy! Fear not. Tomorrow is a brighter day. A day to accomplish great things!

…”A day for harvesting teeth!” squeaks a voice from the shadowy innards of the wardrobe behind me.

Who said that? … Bloody toothfae!

Amanda’s Books and More

An Exciting Mix of Politics, Magic, Wit, and Possibly Unrequited Love

Dead Letter was my introduction to Benjamin Descovich’s epic fantasy series Dragon Choir. He has gained my admiration with his literary skill. His writing style is formal, but not austere. It’s intellectual, but not difficult to comprehend. He mixes politics, magic, wit, and the possibility of unrequited love. There is adventure, suspense, and mystery. Who is behind the worst crimes and what is a dead letter?

The content is young adult appropriate. Descovich’s characters are well developed. His heroine, Kettna, is personable with weaknesses, strengths, driven by love and a sense of duty to her fellow Calimskan citizen. The conflict in her relationships adds further layers to the story. For example, her relationship with her parents isn’t perfect, especially not with her mother, and her boyfriend is missing or not wanting to be found. There are twists in the story with a few loose ends at the end that will leave you wanting to read more! I am certainly looking forward to reading more books in the series.

Check out Amanda’s Books and More!

The Book Addict’s Reviews

I am now a Huge Fan!!

Jump on Board this Amazing Series!!!!

This was a really good read! I’ve been a huge fan of detective mixed with fantasy stories since I first started reading the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. I don’t know if there is a special button I’m supposed to be pressing on amazon to find this wonderful mixture, but since I haven’t been able to find a book that is just as good as that series elsewhere I highly recommend reading Dead Letter. I imagine the sequel is just as awesome, so you should already go ahead and buy that while you’re still shopping!

The setting is awesome, and character development is there! It’s refreshing and fun. Full of cool twists and turns. I don’t even know what more you could want from a book???? Nothing. That’s what.

I don’t say this often, but I think this author may become a new favorite of mine.

Although a warning for those who are a bit faint at heart. There is some gore, not much but a bit to throw you off if that’s not what you like in books. But if you don’t have an issue with the gore then I recommend you click buy immediately 🙂

Dead Letter Cover is Hot Property

I’ve been getting so many compliments about the cover art on Dead Letter!

You can see why. It is so eye catching and dynamic. The colours have really come alive and the shadows and smoke add the perfect sense of mystery to match the story inside.

I love it and I’m so glad that my readers love it too.

This post is a massive shout out to the cover artist, award-winning illustrator, Amit Dutta aka Monkey Bread.

Thanks a bunch, Amit!

You ROCK the set!!!


Amit captured a scene in the novel with more magic than I ever hoped would be possible. The cover shows Novice Kettna, casting a modified cantrip called Hot Hand.

She grasped the lock on the door with her super heated hand and focussed all her remaining mana into the spell. The lock went red-hot then yellow and the timber around it smoked and cindered. Kettna’s legs gave way, her body weak from the intense magical strain, but she would not let go of the lock.

I just love the detail of the magical tattoos brimming with power! Especially the visual description of some symbols being triggered and others not. Fantastic stuff!

Check out more of Amit’s portfolio on Tumblr and his Deviant Art page.
Find him on Facebook.
Get in contact and commission him for your next project.

Want a free copy of Dead Letter?

Click here for more details.

Big Al’s Books and Pals

Rip-Roaring Adventure
Full of Intrigue and Espionage
Five Stars!
Elrin is a young man, not yet twenty, trying to find his way in the world without his father. He’s currently serving as a messenger between a priest he trusts – Herder Kleith – and the Guild Master. Nosing around the Guild Master’s study, waiting to deliver a missive, Elrin picks up a mysterious dagger to study. When he overhears secrets between the Guild Master and an unknown source his life is suddenly in jeopardy. Narrowly escaping the Guild Guards, Elrin flees to Kleith who dresses Elrin in priests robes and sends him across land and then to the Hoard Islands to seek the Dragon Choir for help. Kleith is unable to see the dagger in Elrin’s possession, but knows it well. It belonged to Elrin’s father, Arbajkha, who has been missing for over half of Elrin’s life.
Thus begins this rip-roaring adventure full of intrigue and espionage between political and religious leaders who wish to hold power over all the surrounding nations and the sea. Elrin inadvertently ends up with an eclectic band of diverse rebels who wish to free the Jandan slaves and restore justice to all. As with every epic fantasy there are many characters, but I found each one fully rounded and unique. I had no trouble liking or identifying with all of the heroes. The bad guys were the most vile ever to live. There are epic battles with swords, magic, and arrows on land and cannons with black powder at sea as pirates join in for their share of the spoils while still aiding the rebellion.
There are prophecies to decipher, ogres, evil redeemers, mage priests, drakkin type warriors, a beautiful assassin, a confused naval captain with a decent heart, hobbit type humans, dwarfs, a young elemental acolyte they name Amber, and dragons to boot! This intelligently told story is bound to sweep you up as the plot twists and turns with each new revelation. If you love intricate high fantasy epic adventures, Dragon Choir is worth checking out. A small warning though, this book does end in a cliff-hanger that will have you waiting on the edge of your seat for the next book.
Rating: ***** Five stars
Check out Big Al’s Books and Pals website here.

Dragon Choir Hit #1 in Amazon Charts!

AMAZON_BESTSELLERA massive thank you to all my supporters in the UK and Canada who helped Dragon Choir reach dizzying heights and made me an Amazon Bestseller!

  • #1 for Epic Fantasy
  • #1 for Sword and Sorcery
  • #1 for Contemporary Fantasy


With your support I also broke the top ten overall!

  • #4 overall in the UK and Canada

With all of your help Dragon Choir even cracked the top #100 in the USA, the toughest market of all!

I am so very thankful to have such a great response to my promotions for Dragon Choir. Still buzzing with the excitement of the past week riding the charts so high.

Thanks Amazon and thanks to my fabulous fans of fantasy!

Amit Dutta

Amit is an award-winning concept artist with a knack for environmental design. Looking at the technical expertise displayed in his works, you would never guess that he is self-taught. While working a day job in IT as a senior technical analyst, Amit burned the midnight oil painting nights and weekends, before he made the inspirational leap all artists dream of … working full-time for his art.
He has carved a career for himself through hard work, passion and a dedication to improving his skills.
Not only is he busy working on freelance work, he has dedicated his time to help other visual artists enhance their skills. Improve your craft with content rich art lessons via his Youtube channel. Amit’s contributions to budding and emerging artists are a fine example of how creatives can work better together. I’m a strong believer that when artists share their talents and collaborate, we build a stronger, more fertile art community.
Check out my favourites from his portfolio.
Stealin by Amit Dutta
The Last Outpost by Amit Dutta
The City of Dimah by Amit Dutta
Pole Station AlphaOmegaOmicronZeeTheta by Amit Dutta
Vurt by Amit Dutta
The Final Voyage by Amit Dutta
HEATHEN – Brotherhood Colony Outpost by Amit Dutta
Four Seconds to Green by Amit Dutta
Amit’s talent has been recognised by the world famous studio, Weta Workshop. His work was was handpicked and published in Paul Tobin’s Science Fiction and Fantasy showcase White Cloud Worlds Volume 3. He features alongside other New Zealand greats famous for their work on The Lord of the Rings, Mad Max: Fury Road, King Kong, Chappie, Chronicles of Narnia, Avatar and District 9.
If you are in New Zealand you can check out his work being shown in the Imaginary Worlds exhibition which is open until 8th Feb 2016.
Check out more of Amit’s Portfolio on Tumblr and his Deviant Art page.
Find him on Facebook.
Get in contact and commission him for your next project.

Fan Art First

Dragon Choir has it’s first work of fan art and I am blown away with excitement!

Zix was one of the first artists to feature on my site with her beautifully detailed vector art.

Check out what Zix has created.

Elrin and Minni by Zix
Elrin and Minni by ZixPainter

Fans of Dragon Choir will see how beautifully the relationship between these two characters has been captured. Both looking up at the stars like they see the future, yet from different perspectives. For me, it captures the moment they find common ground.

Elrin and Minni (WIP) by Zix
Elrin and Minni (WIP) by ZixPainter

I was so touched by this image, I asked Zix if she would let me in on how it was created.

“The idea of them lying under a cloudy night sky came to me accidently, while I tried to fall asleep (it’s a normal thing when inspiration comes to you just before you’re going to enter dreamland … at least in my life).
Since I’m not a professional artist, there were new things for me to work on: first of all, of course, the perspective. I had to stop drawing from time to time to study the anatomic form of my left hand for hints. Secondly, it was interesting to think of their outfit, with which I spent quite a lot of time. Colouring is always the most interesting step for me, so I put a lot of effort into it … as always 🙂 And the third new thing was painting the grass with this perspective, I tried my best there…”

Zix, you have done me a very special thing by creating this picture.

Thank you so much!

You can check out more of Zix’s works on her Deviant Art page.
A left field connection here… She has done a fantastic Robert Downey Jr. too. If you are a fan like me, you’ll love it!

Andrey Vasilchenko

Andrey is one of the finest hands in fantasy illustration I’ve come across. He illustrates fantasy themes both with original flare and old world technique. There is something about Andrey’s style that reminds me of his great countryman Ilya Yefimovich Repin. (Even Repin dipped his brushes in magic when he did—the world famous—Sadko in the Underwater Kingdom). That said, in my opinion, Andrey gives Repin a run for his money with fantasy art. Check out my favourites from Andrey’s collection.

Reward by Andrey Vasilchenko
Reward by Andrey Vasilchenko
Slave by Andrey Vasilchenko
Slave by Andrey Vasilchenko
The Hunt by Andrey Vasilchenko
The Hunt by Andrey Vasilchenko
Waterfall by Andrey Vasilchenko
Waterfall by Andrey Vasilchenko
Castle by Andrey Vasilchenko
Castle by Andrey Vasilchenko
Magician by Andrey Vasilchenko
Magician by Andrey Vasilchenko
Forest Demoness 2 by Andrey Vasilchenko
Forest Demoness 2 by Andrey Vasilchenko

Andrey is a freelance illustrator and has been picked up by Alawar Entertainment Inc, who are responsible for the tremendously addictive puzzlers that have hit it big as apps, including projects such as Treasures of Montezuma 4, Treasures of Montezuma – Arena and Farm Frenzy 4.

Treasures of Montezuma Arena - background by Andrey Vasilchenko
Treasures of Montezuma Arena – background by Andrey Vasilchenko
Check out more of Andrey’s awesome art at his Deviant Art page and his ArtStation page.
Find him on Facebook.
Commission him to do your next project via his website.

Recycle Art

Recycle Art began ten years ago and first began selling their magnificent steel sculptures to the public four years later. Each work of art is made out of reclaimed car and motorbike parts sourced from local junk yards. Designers, welders and helpers make up a fifteen person team that tackle any sized project.

The Recycle Art Gallery The Recycle Art Gallery

As well as forging their own artful designs, Recycle Art can create a custom sculpture just for you. They are so good at what they do, all you need to supply is a picture or a model.

Skinny Dragon - 50cm by Recycle Art
Skinny Dragon – 50cm by Recycle Art

Good things come in small packages. This little delight reminds me of Prisella, from Dragon Choir.

Chinese General by Recycle Art (custom order from model)
Chinese General by Recycle Art (custom order from model)

This guy is the legendary general, Guan Yu, (best call him Guan Gong in case his spirit gets offended) made famous and then deified for his role in the Three Kingdoms period. I love Chinese history and I’m a sucker for Chinese folklore. The stories about him are a beautiful artful confusion (not confucian) of both.

Warrior - 2.2m by Recycle Art
Warrior – 2.2m by Recycle Art

Medieval walking dead warriors are much more frightening than the modern day urbanite variety. Look at the imagination that has gone into the kit on this guy.

Dragon Coffee Shop - 15m by Recycle Art
Dragon Coffee Shop – 15m by Recycle Art

I love a coffee as much as any stereotypical writer out there, but I must say that I would trip over myself to get into a coffee shop that looked as monumentally awesome as this. Who’s in with me?

Glad - 5m by Recycle Art
Glad – 5m by Recycle Art

Never fear. If the big dragon won’t let you near her hoard of coffee beans, just call in the 5m Gladiator to distract her.

Dragon 2012 - 2m by Recycle Art
Dragon 2012 – 2m by Recycle Art

The attention to detail on these dragons is phenomenal. The postures and anatomic proportions really demonstrate the skill of the artists.

Dragon 2014 - 2.5m by Recycle Art
Dragon 2014 – 2.5m by Recycle Art

While I have focused on my favourite fantasy creations from Recycle Art’s portfolio, be aware that Recycle Art do far more sculptures in every different style imaginable. They have cars, motorbikes, animals, dinosaurs, insects, fairies and furniture…anything. If you can think it, these guys can sculpt it. They are a seriously talented and dedicated team of artisans.

Browse their online portfolio at
Like them on Facebook.
If you are in Switzerland or passing through, drop in:

Im Spilhof 3

5626 Hermetschwil bei Bremgarten AG


Get in contact now and commission a sculpture for yourself or your corporate headquarters for guaranteed attention.
+41 56 633 30 66
+41 79 677 89 90