Wednesday, July 26, 2017

GUEST BLOG - Hunted: A Jonathan Harker Novel by Christopher Draven

Becoming a Writer…

The hardest I’ve ever worked was when I decided to become a serious novelist. It seemed so easy to start. Typing words into a computer? Far from strenuous. In my estimation, there were only two steps to becoming a bestselling author:

Step 1 – Write the next great novel

Step 2 – Everyone will love it

Only, it didn’t happen that way. Step 1 quickly morphed into several pit traps. Looking back, it was all stuff I should have known. I tried to jump past the hard work, and anything worth doing well takes work.

This post is a collection of some thoughts around the largest blunders I made. They aren’t earth-shattering truths that instantly propel you to Step 2, but let’s hope by reading you evade some of the pits I fell into along the way.


Few of us have the luxury of an abundance of free-time. Work, social, and familial obligations take many forms; with each claiming an ever-growing block of time. Getting away to write is a challenge.

Grabbing an hour here and there is better than nothing, but it is hard to make any real progress on a novel if you are constantly context switching. I found the work got easier when I gave myself three to four hours to concentrate on writing.

“But that’s just not possible for me,” she said. “I have {insert reason}.”

I don’t mean to come off as rude, but it’s up to you to find the time. I am not dismissing the importance of {insert reason}. You know your situation best. However, don’t expect to get the novel written if you don’t spend time writing.


Just as important as finding the time, is finding the place. Where will you feel most comfortable spending hours staring at a screen (or notebook) trying to figure out the right word – so that you don’t sound like a parrot who uses the same phrase repeatedly.

For me, it was getting out of the house. The home was full of distractions, obligations, and temptations.

“I’ll just watch this episode of my favorite DVR guilty pleasure,” I said. “Then I’ll get back to writing. I promise!”

Nope. That didn’t work. I got more done when I got out of the house. Surprisingly, the noise of a busy public place helped me focus. And if my coffee shop offered an ‘Author in Residence’ award, I’d certainly win by ‘hours in residence’ alone!


Writers with more success and experience than me have discussed this topic ad-nauseum. It is critical that you outline the story – before you get started.

When I started Hunted, I had a general idea of what I wanted in the book. I jotted down three to five scenes that would be cool, but I didn’t draft a complete outline.

I carried on, grabbing an hour here and there, thinking I was making progress. I allowed the story to ‘organically’ develop – or that’s what I told myself. Crafting the story in this way left me in a lurch more than once. Jonathan got stuck. I wrote him into strange corners and offered no way of returning to the main story arc.

In all honesty, however, it wasn’t Jonathan’s fault. It was my fault. I had no idea what was next, and I was expecting Jonathan to tell me. Only, he’s a fictional character – he can’t tell me anything.

Note: There will those who disagree; those who say characters are alive and write themselves.

You’re a fortunate person! However, it’s not a likely development for a novice writer who spent no more than three hours writing each week.

Why deal yourself an insurmountable hand when you are starting out?

Write an outline and modify it to accommodate exciting changes as they develop. Having a general guide to where you’re going helps.

Seriously, Take it Seriously

Moving from ‘Hobby Writer’ to ‘Author’ should include a plan for tracking your time and expenses. Knowing how much time is spent writing a book is invaluable.

When I wrote Hunted, it took me four months. I can’t tell you the number of hours, as I didn’t formalize my tracking until I started book two. However, with book two I have a clearer understanding of how much time it takes me to complete a novel. That information is key to planning important due dates and deadlines.

Knowing how long a first draft will take helps me coordinate with my editor. From there, I can determine at which point I’ll need to engage the cover design artist. Which all leads up to my marketing plan, and the most important date of all – when the novel is released.
Without tracking the details by clocking in and out from my job as an author, I can’t accurately forecast. Using something as simple as a spreadsheet to record the essential details will put that information at my fingertips.

Each time you sit down to write, track the Date, Time-In, and Time-Out. Oh, and make sure you record which book!

Don’t give up

If the call to write is there, then make sure you write. When you finally hold a copy of your novel in your hands for the first time, it makes it worth the work.

Good luck on your journey. And remember, don’t give up!

Hunted: A Jonathan Harker Novel
Christopher Draven

Genre: Supernatural Thriller/Urban Fantasy

Date of Publication: May 14th, 2017

ISBN: 978-1547126866

Number of pages: 270
Word Count: 55,000

Book Description:

Slinging Spells with Broken Ribs Isn't Easy

Jonathan Harker, mage and life-long demon hunter, wakes to find himself tied to a chair and severely wounded. His captor, a demon in service to a summoner who wants Harker alive.

Armed with impossibly powerful magic and a gang of demon toughs, the summoner has snared Harker in a deadly trap. Nothing is ever easy, and being new in town has left Harker with few allies. However, with help from a Fortune-Teller named Clover and a self-described "Kitchen Witch" named Momma Dee, Harker fights back.

To prevail, Harker must walk unprepared into a pit of demons and black magic - and come out alive on the other side.


My brain righted itself, and I could pull my thoughts together.
Neither demon seemed to possess magic. Instead, the creatures relied on their strength and speed. There was no matching those physical attributes. To survive, I would need to use a different tactic. Direct confrontation had failed, twice. My next trick was misdirection.
“Tell me,” I said. “How did a low-powered summoner rank high enough to afford two Demon Nobles?”
Both demons, who were whispering to one another across the room, turned to face me.
“You know us,” Cresh said with a tone of surprise. The demon still pressed one hand tightly against his wounded side.
“Yes,” I said.
“You knew and you still entered to battle?”
“To be fair,” I said. “I had no idea who was waiting.”
Cresh huffed a small laugh; Mindal growled.
Well, I thought. I know which one is the smart one.

About the Author:

Christopher Draven has worked as an instructional designer, newspaper journalist, and ghost writer.

One soggy Monday morning, he committed to leaving behind the soul-stealing work of corporate puppetry and escaped to a meadow where he could concentrate on his passion. Since that fateful day, Christopher has focused on learning the craft of fiction.

Hunted: A Jonathan Harker Novel was Christopher’s debut, and his best friend said it was swell.

Twitter: @writerdraven

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