Mix Tape from the Realm

I must preface this post with the statement that none of the artists, their music, or any of their affiliates are in any way connected with the Realm project for the purpose of promotion or endorsement thereof. ~HL Gibson

What inspires you to write? For me, it’s overwhelmingly music. I can create and relive entire scenes while listening to music. What I’m listening to is often reflected in the mood of a particular scenario or traits of a character. While I’m writing, the music must be without words, but when driving or working around my home, lyrics play into my visions which are then translated onto the page.

For the reason stated at the beginning of this post, I’m unable to share links directly to the music that most profoundly influenced Realm. I’m hoping you’ll do yourself the favor of taking a few moments to seek the music so you can retrace the steps of my journey as I wrote Realm.

I must admit, this post is a written version of a mix tape, and while we all know mix tapes are cringey, we all secretly enjoy them because of the memories attached to the songs.

Almost eight years ago, I wrote a blog post about E.S. Posthumus called Sound Travels for Your Mind. I was surprised to realize that’s how long my novel had been in the various stages of production, and I know this because the album, Cartographer, supplied the background music for my writing.

There was a point, however, during the lengthy process of editing my manuscript, having it beta read, being further edited by me, and then handing it off for professional editing that I allowed myself to slip away from the music that inspired the story and characters. I didn’t notice at first, but a few days prior to my book launch, I sensed something was missing. I always turn to music to soothe whatever bothers me, but I couldn’t decide what genre of music would do the trick. That’s when Cartographer came to mind.

It had been so long since I listened to the album, but with the first notes of “Nolitus” I was suddenly transported back to the Realm. For me, the songs provided scene description and character sketches. Specifically, “Isunova,” a beautiful, haunting melody that builds in intensity and perfectly depicts Bialig’s internal and external struggles.

Then there was “Selisona,” which I played during any scene wherein the Realmers journeyed with Rogue; “Marunae,” a song that captures Nish’s elegance, beauty, and strength, and which I came to think of as her theme song; “Ashielf Pi,” the opening credits of Realm on the big screen; and “Nasivern,” which I imagined playing during the end credits of Realm, the movie. (Yes, I admit I imagined Realm as a movie many times.)

Then I replayed a song by Adrian Von Ziegler, a Swiss composer from Zürich, who was recommended to me by a friend. For Realm, the piece called “Between Worlds” became my theme for Misko, a troubled young man whose divided heart, mind, and loyalties were a detriment to himself and everyone around him.

“Between Worlds” is incredibly beautiful, but it also sounds cold and lonely, mysterious with a layer of uncertainty, and heavy with the air of expectation. It ends the same way it began, as if one is holding his or her breath in cautious anticipation.

The last song I’d like to mention is Lauren Daigle’s “Rescue.” My husband, William, arriving home in the early hours of the morning, couldn’t wait to have me listen to the song he knew captured the battle both Rogue and Raine were fighting, believing they could save each other and never imagining that their rescue would come from a source greater than them both.

We stood in the darkened kitchen, hovering over Will’s cell with one earbud apiece, eyes locked in agreement that Ms. Daigle’s lyrics were essentially the theme of the relationship between Rogue, Raine, and their Rescuer.

I’ll never tire of listening to the music that helped shape Realm. Even as I build playlists for my other WIPs, the songs I enjoyed while writing Realm, my first published novel, will always be special.

Let me know in the comments how music plays into your chosen art form, even if it’s music!


Realm Central – Braced for Impact

If you’re a writer, perhaps your initial reaction is to cringe at the thought of someone, possibly a total stranger, writing a review of your book. This individual probably has no idea who you are as a person or a writer, isn’t familiar with your artistic or personal struggles, and may not possess the qualifications to review what you’ve created.

Or maybe you’ll chill out about the thought of someone writing a review of your work because, after all, your mom gave you a five-star review, and who’s stupid enough to argue with your mom, right?

Or maybe reviews roll off your back because you’re truly confident that your work not only satisfies you and your goals but is really darn good, and you’re rightfully proud of it. You don’t live in fear of reviews and reading them doesn’t faze you.

What if the review is good? What if it’s bad? What if it’s mediocre, and you’d have appreciated a stronger loved it or loathed it reaction?

It wasn’t until I realized that readers could leave a review on BookBaby or Goodreads for my novel, Realm, that I began to think about reviews. Reviews are coming, and that’s great because it means people are reading Realm. Do I want readers to love my novel? Of course, I do. That’s why I wrote it. I’m hoping people will get the same experience when reading Realm that I had while writing it.

But do I want to use this post to influence reader reviews? Absolutely not. The critiques have already occurred, so I’m using the easy ones to soften the blow of the harder ones that may come. And I’m not living in fear of reviews.

In my experience of reading reviews for books, I have found that they fell heavily in the five-star or one-star ratings with a sprinkling of two-, three-, and four-star reviews in between. People who left five stars quite often made the mistake of writing a lengthy synopsis and one line stating they loved the book. One-star reviewers simply said they hated it.

Despite reviews, I always make up my own mind whether or not I’ll read a book, but I’m still curious what other people thought about it. Truer reviews seem to be found in the two-, three-, and four-star comments. These people explain the why behind their statements, and that’s where I find a connection with other readers because, quite frankly, I’d like to connect with someone else over a book even if we disagree!

This is also where people will explain things such as why they awarded the number of stars they did as well as admit that what they didn’t care for did not ruin the entire book for them. That’s honest reviewing.

Some reviewers apply their own stars in their comments, which I find extremely helpful. They rate characters and their arcs separately from dialog, prose, description, and overall storytelling. It takes a bit of time, but one can tell these readers really care about what they’ve read and what they provided in return. I find these reviews to be most sincere.

Often, I must scroll through a lot of bad reviews to find the ones written by people who understand the value of a well-written critique. Most importantly, I try very hard to be the type of person who writes the kind of reviews I enjoy reading.

So again, am I trying to influence your comments? No, I promise I’m not. Rather, let’s see if we can generate something akin to a real conversation within reviews for Realm.

REALM – Book Launch Celebration

It is my very great pleasure to share the following slideshows from my book launch for my novel, Realm. This was only possible because of the overwhelming support I have received from everyone involved with the Realm project and my fans, formally known as Realmers! With much gratitude, HL Gibson

Your journey begins here . . .

The guests arrive!

Autographing my novel, Realm, for guests.

Realmers enjoying themselves!

A toast & speech

So much love & encouragement

We Interrupt This Broadcast

Happy Wednesday, Realmers! This post is coming to you a little later in the week because Realm Central needed a couple days to catch our breath after a most amazing book launch this past Sunday. More info on that coming soon!

Realm Central is pleased and proud to announce that BookBaby contacted us for permission to use the cover of Realm in their advertising campaigns. So, don’t be surprised if you see that increasingly familiar picture of an open portal popping up on social media and, quite possibly, in your e-mail inbox.

Realm is available across the globe. It’s true! I had fun with a quick search of “where to buy Realm by HL Gibson” and found my novel popped up in online stores in England and Australia. Don’t be surprised if you hear fellow Realmers say, “G’day, mate,” or that they’re “chuffed to bits” about Realm.

And lastly, a tidbit of—what shall we call this?—maintenance. Don’t be dismayed if, when you attempt to purchase Realm at a big online retailer, you’re told that it’s out of stock, on backorder, or only a few copies are left. This is nothing less than a numbers game that big online retailers like to play to manipulate buyers and artists. It’s also the reason why I published through BookBaby.

Go ahead and place your order at your favorite point of purchase. It will arrive . . . eventually . . .

Or you could head over to BookBaby where Realm is always in stock and ready to ship to you in a timely fashion. Hardback, softcover, and eBook are all available at BookBaby whether you order as soon as you finish reading this post or in the year 3039.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Communication from Realm Central

Hello, Realmers! It’s time for another update from Realm Central. This past week was Passover, so there isn’t as much to report.

All is going well here, and the reception of my novel, Realm, has been great. Sales are steady, and the trend has been to either post a picture of yourself receiving Realm or send me a photo of you receiving Realm for me to share on social media. Such fun!

April 7, 2023, marked the official launch of Realm with major booksellers such as Barnes & Noble, BAM, Walmart, and Amazon. So, you have even more online options for where to purchase your copy of Realm. Of course, it’s always been available on BookBaby and will always be available there.

As for the new trailer, it’s still in the works. A little more shooting was required, but the initial edit that I had the opportunity to view just so cool. I’m excited to share it with you. Another round of editing is required as well as recording the voiceover and applying the background music.

That is all. Realm Central out.

Not Alone in the Realm

Writing often seems like a lonely endeavor. I’ve spent a lot of time tapping away at the laptop or scribbling in a notebook. I’ve stared out the window visualizing a scene, softly speaking it aloud to hear how it sounds. I’ve walked the valley of burnout and scaled the mountain of inspiration. The writing comes fast and furiously, or the writing doesn’t come at all.

I presented myself faithfully to my writing (almost every day) even as I wanted to join friends and family in other activities. I declined invitations and didn’t issue any of my own.

I’ve been in the house alone (except for five demanding cats), but if anyone was present, I politely requested quiet, which meant I was alone in my thoughts and in the world I was creating.

As I reflect, though, I have come to realize that I was never alone at all.

There was much about writing/the writing process with which I struggled. I’m not going to detail everything here because it’s deeply personal, but the short version is that I turned everything about writing over to God. I made it my goal that all my writing and my talents would glorify God, and when I did, that’s when I understood that all the guidance I’d been praying for had occurred as I’d hoped, just not in the ways I expected. I wasn’t alone.

Then, a savvy friend, who pointed out that better critiques could be given if the beta reader was familiar with the entire work, committed to being part of my project. We traded novels from beginning to end, and what we came away with was better writing. I was not alone.

Factor in four additional beta readers, all reading the entire manuscript and all providing a different perspective. What each found polished Realm even more. Again, not alone.

Then there was my editor, whose enthusiasm for my project and sharp eye for detail, put the final polish on my novel. We met several times, e-mailed, and texted throughout the process. Amazing critiques and suggestions were offered and applied, we worked through some points to clarify what I wanted to say, and I even got to keep some things I liked without changing them. A working relationship was born, but the friendship that came from it trumped everything. Still, not alone.

Writers’ groups, friends, family, and the occasional stranger all offered encouragement and advice in person and on social media. Slowly but surely, the perceived vacuum of the writing life transformed into a community of support. And this support only intensified once Realm was published. Absolutely not alone.

And then there was everyone at BookBaby from the publishing specialist to the design team to the support staff who walked this first-time author through the process and calmed all her worries, concerns, and not a few fears. So totally not alone.

I mention all of this because if you’re considering taking the first step toward writing, please know that writing is hard. The writing life is full of highs and lows, but one thing it never need be is lonely. If you’re doing it right, you’ll be surrounded by people even when it’s just you tapping away at the laptop or scribbling in a notebook.

Bulletin from Realm Central

Hello, Realmers! Today’s report is replete with exciting news starting with a brilliant press release created by Jeanette Nelson of Gossamer Marketing Group and submitted via EIN Presswire. Over 200 news outlets, national and international, picked up the press release on my novel, Realm. Below is a picture of Jeanette’s hard work. It was an extremely proud day at Realm Central. Thank you, Jeanette, for your incredible professionalism. You are truly a talented lady.

Next is the thrilling announcement that I now have an Author Profile on Goodreads that is attached to my novel, Realm. This is where you, dear readers, become part of the amazing project that is Realm by leaving a review of my novel once you’ve read it.

Wait—what?! You don’t have your copy of Realm yet? Hurry over to BookBaby to procure your copy by taking advantage of the handy little link below. It will take you to the softcover version, and the hardcover version is at the bottom of the page should you prefer it.

Book Cover Image

Now that we have that taken care of, you have another option of where to leave your review of Realm. If you scroll to the bottom of the page where my novel is sold on BookBaby, you’ll see Book Reviews with a link to click to login. Please do so as customer feedback is so important. After all, I had you in mind when I wrote Realm.

What else—how about the HL Gibson channel on YouTube? My book trailer, Realm Walk with Me, needed to be uploaded to YouTube so it could be embedded in the press release, and since it’s there, I might as well take advantage of the channel as another way to stay in touch with readers, followers, and friends. Be sure to subscribe and turn on the notifications so you’ll be informed every time I upload to the channel. Likes, comments, and shares are much appreciated.

Now for the last newsworthy item to come out of Realm Central. About two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to work with some terrific people as we shot another trailer for Realm. The whole experience was very different from my initial trailer because we stayed onsite for the entire shoot. Seven people, two videographers, and I recreated a scene from Realm that we hope you’ll enjoy. We learned a lot with this shoot, but as always, the creativity flowed, and everyone had a great time!

I’ll let you know as soon as the trailer is released. You’ll be able to view it on my blog and my YouTube channel. I’d love to hear your feedback on it. Until then, be sure to check out the links in the body of this report and say Hello in the comments section below.

Beta Reading in the Realm

Hello, Realmers! Today at Realm Central we’re going to discuss one of the most important steps toward the production of my novel, Realm. Beta reading.

A couple years ago, a friend and I shared the opinion that writing group critiques would be more beneficial if the person critiquing had knowledge of the storyline from start to finish. That sounded like a tall order, especially if the work in progress (hereafter WIP) was a novel, but the idea made sense.

Many times, we had experienced the request for/suggestion of more backstory, dialog, character development, and character arcs from someone in the writing group. These were all valid requests and suggestions, but they were made based on the assumption that none of this existed within the story.

Please don’t hear me say that critiques supplied in writing groups are of no value. That is not the case at all. However, when a writer’s only option is to present 1500 words to one chapter (a generous quantity of writing) because of time constraints, many of the critiques supplied and questions asked could have been satisfied if the reviewer only remembered that he/she was being shown a mere sliver of the WIP and that many of his/her questions were probably already addressed.

Another issue contributing to this dilemma was the fact that the reviewer probably didn’t see the initial pages of the WIP, or he/she would have had foundational knowledge prior to critiquing. Also, when you consider the inconsistency with which members attend a writing group and that they often have no control over which WIPs they’ll review, well, you see how ineffective this process can be.

I’ve witnessed too many writers waste his/her allotted review time explaining all this away. There is, however, a major benefit to attending writing groups, and I’d like to point that out now. Make—great—connections.

If you’re going to succeed as a writer, you need people you can lean on during the entire process, and some of the most important ones will be your beta readers. Beta readers may start as your friends, but eventually, they’re going to need to be more. You need to find people who can be objective and strong, people you can trust and with whom you’ve established a solid relationship. Equally important is the fact that you must be this type of beta reader in return.

May I suggest that you make a connection and enter an agreement with one person who will become your primary beta reader. For me, this is the person mentioned at the beginning of the post. We made the commitment to read each other’s work from beginning to end thus eliminating many of the usual requests and suggestions.

The perspective we brought to each other’s WIP was enhanced by the fact that we read and wrote in different genres with different expectations for both as well as by life experiences in general. This immediately drove our critiques to the heart of our respective WIPs, eliminating all the writing small talk and allowing us to focus on any major concerns that needed to be addressed.

Side Note: Remember that trading whole manuscripts for beta reading requires both partners to have similar availability; to agree upon how long you’ll take to read and critique; to decide when, where, and how often you’ll meet; and to decide what type of critique is expected.

Then I sent Realm thought a round of secondary beta readers. I started with my non-reading reader, who prefers non-fiction when he does read. I knew that if I could snag and hold his attention, I had written something worthwhile. Because he read for different reasons, his unique perspective caught many details that were crucial to producing a great novel.

Next was a couple I knew would view Realm through a unique perception based on their own pursuits, and that was exactly what I needed. They recognized the overarching themes within Realm, proof that my storyline was intact, as well as found the small mistakes that required fixing.

Lastly, and this is where some people may disagree with me, I let my mother read Realm. Yes, Mom loves everything I write . . . until she doesn’t, and then she’s brutally honest. I can’t say how allowing your family members to read your WIP will go, but I know that if my mother doesn’t like it, understand it, or agree with what I’ve written, she’ll make me hash it out with her until I convince her the writing needs to be present and help her understand why. We don’t always part in agreement, but my editing is better because of the interaction.

This was my process for taking Realm from the roughest of rough drafts to a manuscript with which I was comfortable handing off to my editor. I sincerely hope these same people, especially my primary beta reader, will be available for my next novel. I also hope I’ll make many more connections for any future WIPs because the ultimate goal isn’t only to have my manuscripts edited. It’s to make lasting relationships.

Update from Realm Central

UPDATE: This post will probably read as “after the fact.” However, I still want to share my production process with you as promised. It’s a nice behind-the-scenes look at independent publishing.

Hello, Realmers! Here at Realm Central, quite a bit has been going on. Where do I begin?

How about the two days I spent poring over the eBook version of Realm to make sure everything looked perfect? My eyes went a little buggy even though I increased the size of the page on my laptop. Everything looked great, so I approved the proof and submitted my approval.

Next, it was time to move on to the hardcover version of Realm. That was scary and exciting all at once. Several calls between myself and BookBaby were required because the technical side of a couple uploads were, admittedly, beyond my knowledge and understanding. Linda Hawley, Publishing Specialist at BookBaby, was amazing and patient as she took my calls, responded promptly to my voicemails, walked me through a couple steps, and even did an important portion of what needed to be accomplished on her end while I held the line.

I am excited to report that the dust jacket for the hardcover version of Realm is in the works. Also, I viewed and approved the interior of the hardcover book and the non-dust jacketed book itself. Everything is beautiful and seeing all the work that I put into it along with my beta readers and my editor, well, it’s just so thrilling!

What else? A trip to Cleveland and Youngstown with the husband-and-wife photography team of Heath and Michelle Smith proved to be great fun and quite interesting. By the time this post is published, you’ll have already seen the Realm trailer titled Realm Walk with Me. If not, please enjoy watching it as soon as you finish reading.

When I told Michelle and Heath what I wanted to capture for the trailer, they knew exactly where to shoot to create the devasted conditions of Earth in the year 3039, when Realm takes place. I must say, the locations were incredibly cool and a little sketchy all at once.

Another quick trip to an abandoned manufacturing business just south of Canton was required for additional footage, but it was worth the drive for the shots achieved. And then it was an all-day session of editing. As tiring as it was, we learned some valuable lessons and had great laughs throughout the process.

I think that’s everything for now. Stay tuned as I keep you informed on the progress of my soon-to-be-released novel, Realm.

Welcome to Realm Central

Welcome to Realm Central, Friend. I am so pleased you found me.

It’s been a happy, crazy time here as my first novel, Realm, has been published. I’m excited to share it with you as your support throughout my writing process has proved to be most valuable. For that, I thank you.

I’ve provided an easy way to link to my novel, Realm, for the sake of purchase. As indicated, it’s available in hardcover, paperback, and eBook through BookBaby, so you can choose your favorite format.

As always, following me is quite easy. Take advantage of the sign-up via e-mail directly on the Home page or click the +Follow button hovering in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. In addition to my blog, there are various ways for us to become better acquainted. I can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

I sincerely hope you’ll join us in the Realm. I look forward to getting to know you better.

HL Gibson, Author













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