Update #33 - December 21, 2013 (previous updates listed below)
Hope you're enjoying the first day of winter. A few days ago it was starting to
look like Narnia around here in the Mohawk Valley as we were getting
several early snowfalls. My shoveling time was eating into my editing time.
Today, however, there has been a steady rainfall and milder temperatures are
in store for the next couple of days, so it seems more like early spring than
winter which is fine with me. But it won't last long, I'm sure.

Since the last update, I have been editing Part Ten of my epic fantasy novel
and have completed Chapters 86 - 91. Only seven more chapters to go in Part
Ten, and then on to Part Eleven (Chapters 99 - 103) which concludes the
book. As I said previously, two people are currently reading the sections I
have already edited, and when I am done with my edit, I shall read their
comments and make any necessary changes. After that, I want to read quickly
through the entire book as a
reader, not an editor, to gage the story and its
pace as a whole. Writing and editing such a long work does not allow me that
point of view as I could spend hours or days on one chapter alone. I need to
act like a reader for a while and view my work as a finished product, and
hopefully, see where it works best and where it may need a bit more tweaking.

Though it still sounds like a lot of work ahead, I'm hoping to have my edit
done by the end of January and get on with my readers' recommendations.
After that, maybe I can start seriously thinking about when I will release this
book in published form, most likely first in Kindle format. After thirty-five
years in the making, this book is eager to see the light of day and take flight. I
look forward to announcing that date. Until next time, Merry Christmas!

Update #32 - November 25, 2013
It's exactly one month until Christmas, and as usual around this time of year,
my writing habits become a bit more relaxed (and some days ignored) as there
are just too many other things that seem to take over my time. Already a bit
of snow has found its way to Central New York, and though we still have
almost a month left in autumn, I'm already hoping for an early spring. But as
usual, we'll have to take what we get weather-wise and live with it.

Now here's where I stand book-wise. I finished editing Part Nine of my novel
which covers Chapters 79 to 85, and began editing Part Ten a few days ago. I
will get to each of those chapters as time, job, Christmas shopping and
weather allow. Two people are also reading the chapters I have already edited,
and I welcome any input. And because of this, the other day I performed
another major edit on Chapter Four which I believe greatly enhances the flow
of that chapter. There was a lot of exposition in part of it and I realized I
didn't have to dole out as many specifics as I did. Now it reads much faster
and seems more interesting with less information which will appear later as
needed. I had always thought that section of the chapter seemed to slow up
the pace of the story a bit, and another pair of eyes confirmed it for me.

So until next month, I'll edit as much as I can. In the meantime, take care and
have a happy Thanksgiving!

Update #31 - October 22, 2013
Another month has swiftly passed by, so I'm here with my latest book update.
It will be brief. Since I last posted, I completed editing Part Seven of my epic
fantasy novel which covers Chapters 60 to 70. And earlier today, I also
finished editing Part Eight (Chapters 71 to 78). So that leaves me with 25
chapters to go. After that, I will format the book into three volumes as it is a
monster-size novel and then do some final proofreading.

Also, earlier this month I published my children's adventure novel
Journey as a Kindle eBook, so it has been quite a productive few weeks for
me. It is available to download on Amazon.com.

If you're in the northeast, I hope you're enjoying the changing foliage. As it's
going to get nippy here the rest of this week, I don't expect the colorful leaves
to last much longer. I'll report back in November, hopefully without any
snow outside my windows. Take care.

Update #30 - September 23, 2013
We finally made it to autumn and another one of my monthly book updates.
Since my last post, I finished editing Part Six of my epic fantasy novel that I
completed writing in May. Part Six contains Chapters 48 to 59 and ran for 300
pages before I trimmed it back to a slightly trimmer 280 after a few weeks of
editing. I find that as I get deeper into the book, my chapters tend to run a
little bit longer, so I'm not going as fast as I first thought I would. Still, it's
fun to reread parts of the book I haven't looked at for quite some time.

Later this week I will tackle Part Seven which contains Chapters 60 to 70. This
section of the novel picks up where Part Four ended. I would have already
started editing this part a couple of weeks ago but decided to take a short
mental break from this book and work on
another book. No, I wasn't writing
a different book, but was instead doing a quick reread and minor edit of my
children's adventure novel
Gabriel's Journey so I can republish it as a Kindle  
Gabriel's Journey was first published in 2003, and now ten years later,
it will soon be available as an electronic download, probably sometime
between mid October and early November. I'll post information on my
website when it's ready. Throughout next year, I'm hoping to convert my
Endora trilogy novels to eBooks as well. Stay tuned. See you next month.     

Update #29 - August 20, 2013
Hello again. As August flies by, and with it another busy summer, I'm
looking forward to enjoying the cool days of autumn, my favorite season.
This fall will mark thirty-five years since I first began to plan the epic fantasy
novel that I finished writing this past May and am currently editing. Since my
last post, I finished editing another twenty chapters, having completed
Chapter 47 yesterday. This takes me to the end of Part Five, with six more
parts (or fifty-six chapters) left to go. And when this book is finally published,
whether first as an eBook or in traditional form, it will be in three volumes
because the work is so long--just over 2600 pages before editing. But I'll have
more about that as I get closer to publishing.

As there isn't much new to report this month, I decided to give you a second
preview of my book. I posted the first one last November (Update #20),
leaving out all the major character names then as I didn't yet want to reveal
them. Same policy here, but there is only one major character name in this
excerpt, so the reading of it will be much smoother. The passage below is
from an earlier chapter in the book. It involves a hired hand (who shall
remain nameless for now) of one of the major wizard antagonists in the book
who is sent outside a small village one autumn night to complete a vital, yet
possibly dangerous task. Being a somewhat cowardly individual in this
particular instance, the man cons an inebriated local resident into doing the
job for him.

At last the caves appeared in view, looming off to the left like yawning stone
faces chiseled into the cliffs. A handful of tall pines stood scattered about,
their boughs bobbing in cool currents like the arms of slender giants. Thick
grass and weeds, now dry, brittle and lifeless, littered the base of the rocky
formation. On the opposite side of the road directly across from the caves
stood the dilapidated remains of a two-room wooden guardhouse. An army of
weeds and sapling trees slowly consumed it over the years. 1_______ hastily
studied the caves from the road while trying to keep George Bane on his feet.

“Time to see exactly what you’re made of, George. Your tales of derring-do
have come home to roost. Do you have what it takes to live up to them?”
1_______ shook George by the shoulders to boost his confidence. “Or are you
merely a drunken fraud like your friend Gill?”

“Gill’s not
here with us?” George asked, craning his neck for a look.

“We left that mess back at the tavern. All the money goes to you–
after you
fulfill the terms of my dare.”

George gazed at 1_______, his face wrinkled as if he had just awakened from a
deep sleep. “
Dare? What dare? Why are we here?”

“Apparently you put away too much gin into that fat head of yours, my dear
friend.” 1_______ held up the pouch of coins in the torchlight so that George
could see it. “Remember our bet? Don’t go to sleep on me now.” He hastily
poured a few coins into George’s hands. “Take these with you into the cave to
boost your confidence.”

“I can
have these?”

“Sure! Sure! And to earn the rest, all you have to do is walk far into those
caves for an hour or two and you’ll be golden.” 1_______ planted the torch
into George’s hand. “Take this to find your way around. Oh, and I have
another little incentive for you. My good-luck piece!” 1_______ reached into a
pocket and removed a small glass sphere slightly larger than an acorn. It
glowed with a bluish-white color in the fire light, capturing George’s
fascinated attention.

“That’s such a beautiful, uh–
what is it?”

“An old bauble I like to carry around,” 1_______ said, massaging his whiskers.
“Here. Take it.” He handed the sphere to George, watching his eyes pop open.

“I couldn’t!”

“Please do. It’ll bring you good luck when you’re inside the caves. Guaranteed
to drive away any fears you bring along.”

“That’d be a good thing,” George mumbled, still unsteady on his feet.

1_______ sported a toothy grin. “Yes, it truly would. So are you ready?”

George snapped to attention, a dimwitted smile pasted on his face. “I believe I
am. Just point me in the right direction!”

“My pleasure,” 1_______ whispered.

He gingerly led George across the road to the small patch of land in front of
the caves. The scent of pine needles soaked the air. After stomping a path
though the weeds, they approached one of the openings in the cliffs. Inside it
appeared darker than the night.

“I’ll wait for you out here,” 1_______ said, backing off.

George stood like a child before the mouth of the cave, eerily lit in the glow
of the torch. He glanced at 1_______. “You want me to go in

“Yes! Yes! That’s the dare.” 1_______ hastily removed the pouch of coins and
held it up, shaking the bag so the silver and copper half-pieces jingled. “This
is the reward that awaits you. Now in you go!”

George scratched his swimming head, a part of him wondering if this wasn’t
some weary and complicated dream. “Well, all right then. If that’s what I’m
supposed to do.” He took a deep breath and placed a foot inside the cave,
ducking slightly as he stepped through the entrance and disappeared within.
1_______ darted across the road at that point, hiding behind the corner of the
abandoned guardhouse. High above, a black crow descended in a graceful
spiral, quietly landing on top of the cliffs.

Hope you enjoyed this teaser. See you in September!

Update #28 - July 21, 2013
It has been a hectic month since I last posted an update. In late June and again
in early July, communities up and down the Mohawk River Valley in Central
New York had been hit with
severe flooding, damaging homes and businesses
over several counties. Since we have had a particularly rainy spring around
here, the ground was so saturated that those early summer rains had no where
to go. Mud, and then dried mud, was the theme along many streets in the
area afterward. I was fortunate here in Little Falls having only to put up with
a few inches of water in the cellar (which was quickly pumped out), taking
detours to and from work a few times, and getting dirty pant cuffs while
walking through a muddy mess in the parking lot at work. Many people had
their homes, businesses and property devastated by the multiple floods.

Driving through the neighboring village of Herkimer where I work the day
after the flood, I noticed a dust cloud farther up the main road and had to
quickly roll up my windows as I passed through, realizing that all the mud on
the highway had dried and was swirling in the wind. Far worse, though, was
looking out my right car window and seeing the homes and businesses around
the village park all sitting in several feet of water, as if a lake had formed
overnight in the middle of the community. Similar sights were common
across a large section of the state. And though the area has started to dry out
after several days of sunshine, many people will have a long and difficult road
before getting their lives back in order.

And now on to some writing news, and some good news at that. I have been
busy at work editing my epic fantasy novel since June 10, finishing up
Chapter 27 yesterday. That takes me through the first three of eleven parts in
the book. I would have been a bit further along, but as you may have noticed
on the home page of my website, my novella
A Christmas Castle is now
available as a Kindle eBook on Amazon.com. I took some time off in late June
to re-edit that book as I haven't read it in some time, and published it as a
Kindle eBook after a suggestion from my sister-in-law who informed me that
it was a free service for authors. That tidbit quickly got my attention.

The process to create the Kindle eBook was easy and kind of fun, and as time
allows, I will also convert my other published works to this as well. It also got
me thinking that maybe I will initially publish my epic fantasy through
Kindle, making it available much sooner to the public than through the
traditional publishing route. I will let you know the closer I get to finishing
the editing process. I eventually will publish a paper book copy of this novel
and also
A Christmas Castle, but self-publishing takes a little more time and
money. An eBook may be the way to go for starters. And even if you don't
own any type of eReading device, you will still be able to read a sample of the
book online or even download it to a regular computer as far as I know. To
link to my Kindle listing of
A Christmas Castle, click here.

So until next month when I update again, take care.

Update #27 - June 17, 2013
This will be a brief update as there isn't much new to report. After finishing
the first draft of my huge epic fantasy novel in May, I took a three and a half
week break from writing to rest and recharge. Last Monday I starting editing
the entire literary monstrosity, and at this moment I have finished the
prologue and the first six chapters of one hundred and three. I'm aiming to
complete a chapter a day with one day off each week to rest, though a few of
the really long chapters might take two days each. But it will get done. So
that's the latest. I'll keep you posted each month with a progress report.
Hopefully by sometime in October it will be fully edited. So until next
month, take care and have a happy summer.   

Update #26 - May 16, 2013
I am happy to report that I finally finished the first draft of my current novel
yesterday evening. The epic fantasy, which I had been writing off and on for
the last fourteen years (though full time for nearly the last four and a half
years), weighs in at just over 2600 typed, double spaced pages. And though I
have edited each chapter and each section as I went along, I expect to trim it a
little bit more when I begin editing the entire book sometime in early June.
But the toughest part is over.

It has been a long road from the autumn of 1978, almost thirty-five years ago
when I first began to nurture ideas for this story. In 1988, I had completed my
first outline, though it wasn't until June of 1999 when I wrote the first words
of this book. Now I will treat myself to a short break before diving back into
the work, though now as a full time editor, a job which I enjoy very much.

I plan to provide more specifics on the book as I get ready to publish it, but to
read an excerpt now, check out Update #20. And to learn more about where
my ideas for the story originated, also check out Updates #7, #15 and #17,
among others. So until next month, I'm going to put my feet up and relax
for just a bit. Stay well.

Update #25 - April 30, 2013
Our prolonged winter weather here in the Mohawk Valley has relented today,
bringing sunshine and window-opening temperatures that are supposed to last
throughout the week. Fingers are crossed. Too nice to write my book and
update my website, but I am dutifully doing both. And as I didn't want to
wait until the stroke of midnight to publish this post, I shall do it now in late
afternoon and finish my book writing this evening. Here's the latest.

I started writing Chapter 103, the last chapter in this book, on March 30,
certain that it would have been completed by now. But I'll admit that my
daily word output has lagged of late as I mentally tweak the outline for these
final pages and try to wring out the last bit of energy in me to complete this
task. But fear not, I am about to cross the finish line. Chapter 103 is close to
forty pages long right now with about three scenes left to write. I should
finish them up either this evening or by tomorrow morning at the latest.
Then after editing the chapter tomorrow as well, I will go back and reread and
edit all of Part Eleven (Chapters 99 - 103) as well as incorporate a list of about
two dozen minor changes I made along the way. And when all of that is
done, the first draft of this book will be officially finished.

So sometime by the middle of next month I expect to post the May update
with the good news. Then I shall take a few weeks off and begin editing the
entire novel from page one. Still lots of work ahead, but the most difficult
part is only a few paragraphs from being over. Until next time, take care.

Update #24 - March 25, 2013
Since I missed posting a February update due to some computer issues that I
referred to in Update #23 (which, by the way, are still not entirely fixed as I
keep getting error messages as I compose
this update), I decided to write a
second, brief post in March to make up for last month's absence. And since I
actually have some real news to report, that makes it all the better.

Late into the evening two nights ago after I got out of work, I
finally finished
Chapter 102 of my current book, the key chapter in Part Eleven, the last
section of my epic fantasy novel. At eighty pages long, it takes the prize for
being the longest chapter in the book, though I never expected it to be so.
But I still need a couple of days to edit it, so it will probably slim down just a
bit when I'm done. After that, I can move on and write Chapter 103, the last
chapter in the book! When that task is completed, I will then reread and edit
the five chapters in Part Eleven as I do each time I complete a section in this
book, including incorporating additional notes I have made along the way. It
will be at that point when the first draft of this novel can officially be declared

Will I celebrate? Collapse? Cry? Or maybe just catch up on some much needed
sleep? Too soon to tell yet. But I know that I
will take at least two weeks off
from doing anything with this book (perhaps three if I start to enjoy the free
time) in order to let my mind settle before I hunker down to edit the entire
tome as I will at that point at last be able to view it as a whole.

So, God willing and computer willing, I will return in April with my next
post. In the meantime, enjoy the arrival of spring, such as it is. So long.

Update #23 - March 11, 2013
No, I did not forget to post last month's update nor fail to remember that
February had only twenty-eight days in it. Instead, my nearly eleven year old
computer decided to crash on the last Saturday of last month, making me miss
my monthly update deadline for the first time in almost two years. And while
my computer still has a few glitches to be worked out, I am able to write this
brief update to let you know how my current book is progressing.

I am still writing Chapter 102, the second-to-last chapter in my book, though
during my computer-less days, everything was written on paper and had to be
transferred to my computer files afterward, slowing down my progress just a
bit. I will have to do that again in a few days when the machine goes back to
the shop. After this book is finally finished, I will update my Model T desktop
to something with a little more kick.

I have completed fifty-eight pages in Chapter 102 and am near the end. It has
turned out to be another monster chapter, but as it is an important one, I
shouldn't be surprised. Still, it has felt like pulling teeth to complete this
project, but like the last stretch of any race, getting to the finish line is a
grueling task, as if someone is moving back the finish line ribbon the closer
you get. But I
will get there, I promise. Just a little farther to go until the
first draft is finally done. So until next month (or perhaps later again this
month to make up for February if I have any news of significance to report),
take care and enjoy the arrival of spring. Stay well.

Update #22 - January 26, 2013
Remember the tale of the tortoise and the hare? While working on my epic
fantasy novel this past month, I definitely felt like the tortoise, plodding
along to get to the end of Chapter 101 that I began in December. I had only
completed twelve pages of that chapter last month, having abandoned my
usually disciplined writing schedule as Christmas rolled around and my
creative battery was nearly drained. But early into January after a short rest, I
was ready to tackle the remainder of this book and finish Chapters 101 and
102. That was the plan anyway.

But a couple of head colds along with some crazy hours at work kept me from
getting back into a regular writing routine, though I kept plugging away at it
when I wasn't outside shoveling that annoying white stuff that kept falling
from the sky. Anyway, my tortoise-like persistence paid off, and I finally
finished Chapter 101 the other day which weighed in at 33 pages. So now
you're thinking:
Great! He has only one more chapter to go! Well, not so fast.

When I finished writing Chapter 100 in early December, there was a little bit
from the outline that I decided to put into Chapter 101 instead which was to
be the key chapter in Part Eleven, the final section of my book. Anyway,
those few sentences from the outline turned out to be much longer than I
anticipated when written as a story. I also included with that the first bit of
the Chapter 101 outline, and so made all of that a stand-alone chapter. This
new, completed Chapter 101 sets up the main plot elements in Part Eleven
which will now comprise Chapter 102 which I've already started writing.
Chapter 103, I promise, will now conclude the novel. Really, it will. Trust me.

And now for a little informational housekeeping. In my November 30, 2012
post (Update #20), I provided my first excerpt from this story (minus the
character names) whose setting was inspired when taking a walk along Eighth
Lake in the western Adirondack Mountains in New York State while on a
camping trip with some of my family. I don't recall much from that trip, first
assuming it was during my high school years in the late 1970s. But I still
wanted to know exactly when I came up with the idea of having one of my
characters, a wizard, living upon a small island on a lake in the wilderness.

So when visiting with my mother a few weeks ago, I went through some of
her voluminous photographs that hadn't been placed in albums yet and came
across a few pictures labeled as Eighth Lake. There weren't many, and none
showed the lake itself but only the campsite we had stayed at, but the date
written on back was July 1982, the summer after my first year in college. My
older brother, who I thought had been there, said he had not come along,
though an older sister and at least one of my two younger sisters were there as
the pictures confirm. One photo also featured my uncle, and as he and my
aunt were avid campers, we were probably visiting them at Eighth Lake while
they were camping there.

Regardless of the particulars of the trip, I was just happy to verify a date of
July 1982 as when the hike occurred. It was that summer when I walked with
my father and at least one other person along the lake and spotted the island
on the opposite side. Perhaps my uncle and/or my sister(s) came along since I
remember there were a few of us in the group. But I definitely
do recall
buying a topographic map of the region on the way home in a general store
in the small community of Inlet nearby. I was going to include an image of
that map in the November 2012 post, but I couldn't find it at the time and
thought that maybe I had discarded it years ago.

But last evening when I was preparing to begin this update, I decided to
search once more and found a poster board in a plastic frame in my writing
room closet that I had used on occasion at some book signings years ago. As I
used to keep the topographic map in that frame, I removed the long plastic
clips from along each side and looked behind the poster board. Sure enough,
looking a bit yellowed and dingy, was my US Geological Survey map of the
Raquette Lake Quadrangle which contained Eighth Lake in the lower left
hand corner. On the western side of the lake you will note the small island
that attracted my attention and fired up my imagination during that hike.

And with that, this minor literary curiosity is sufficiently solved, at least to
my satisfaction and perhaps only to my interest as well. But at least it helped
me to exercise my writing muscles on this bitterly cold January night. Here's
hoping it's a little bit warmer when I post my February update. Take care.

To read Updates #10 - 21 from 2012, CLICK HERE
~ The Author's Official Website ~
Copyright © Thomas J. Prestopnik
2005 - 2014
All rights reserved.
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A monthly update on my current work in progress.
On the left, a not-so-good photograph of my US Geological Survey map of the
Raquette Lake Quadrangle in New York State which depicts Eighth Lake in the lower
left hand corner. To the right is that same section of the map which I scanned on my
printer. The small island visible on the western side of the lake inspired one of the
scenes in the epic fantasy novel I am currently writing.