Interview with S.D. Howard, Author of The City of Snow & Stars
Author of Christian Fantasy. Developmental Editor. Story Coach. Entrepreneur. S. D. Howard helps authors create and polish their books through his work in the publishing industry and through his own platform at The Editing Bard. For years, Howard has devoted himself to helping authors put their best books forward.
Howard’s writing tackles issues of abuse and trauma, of the perils and triumphs of faith and, most importantly, of the sturdiness of the human soul through the lens of a fantastical world. Within the stories, survivors of trauma will find comfort in the fact that they are not alone. Those who haven’t experienced trauma are given a glimpse of what they can do to walk beside someone who has.
What is your favorite part of the writing process?
This is probably one of my favorite questions when it comes to writing. The last couple of years I’ve developed a strong writing rhythm centered on knowing my book goals. See, I love books I get so caught up in that I end up binging it in one shot, and I wanted to write stories like that for other people.
I wanted to not only write bingeable books; I wanted to craft them. To build something which would leave readers with no choice but to continue reading because it’s enticing them. My goal is to tell wonderful stories that give readers an amazing experience.
What is the biggest piece of advice you have for new writers?
Going off what I mentioned above, I would say developing a writing rhythm of their own. That doesn’t mean they need to write every single day, because honestly, I don’t think it’s doable for the majority. A better goal would be to set aside 1-2 hours every week and try to complete one chapter if possible. Or maybe plan out the events at a high level so whenever they have the chance to write, they are better prepared.
Do you have a writing routine?
I do! haha I’ve set aside time every Friday to write my book, and while most times it gets taken over by something else, I do my best to stick to it. The thing that makes it easier to do when I sit down to write is knowing my goals for the book. Frankly, if you don’t have any goals, you’re going to write aimlessly.
Here’s how I break down my goals:
Total word count for book: 80,000
Total chapters for book: 40
Act transition chapter: 10, 20, & 30
Minimum word count per chapter: 2,000
Words per hour: 700-800 (average on good day)
Hours needed per chapter: 3-4 (I always round up)
My first draft will typically end a little under 2,000, but I know on the back end I’ll be adding more to flesh it out, so it doesn’t bother me. The goal is to complete the book, and doing it this way allows me to craft something wonderful.
Why did you choose to write in the genre you did?
I love Fantasy. Growing up reading The Lord of the Rings obviously had a tremendous influence on my writing, as did reading Stephen R. Lawhead, Ted Dekker, and Frank Herbert, to name a few. But when it came to Christian Fantasy… I was hoping to avoid it haha
During the campaign for The City of Snow & Stars, I felt God strongly telling me to focus on Christian Fantasy and Christians as my audience. It didn’t exactly thrill me since many Christians have flat out told me they don’t read the genre because it tends to be preachy, judgmental, and downright cringe.
As I moved through the revisions process of publishing, I felt my viewpoint shift. My book tackles many hard topics Christian authors avoid like the plague (in general) and I wasn’t okay with that. The topics of abuse, human trafficking, and the question of “why does God let bad things happen?” are not topics to be avoided, but addressed and explored.
What have you found to be the most challenging and rewarding aspects of being a writer?
I think the most challenging part has been marketing the book. Again, Christians don’t like Christian Fantasy because it usually sucks haha Thankfully, the reviews on Amazon say otherwise about my book, but that doesn’t make it any less challenging. People will make an assumption about who I am (I’ve been told to repent for my heresy in writing the book), or about the book without ever reading a page.
The rewards, though? I’ll point to each and every review The City of Snow & Stars has and how they have said it touched their lives.
When I set out writing this book, I was dealing with sexual trauma from my childhood, and it spilled over into the book as a way to process things. And the people who have reached out to me and thanking me for talking about this issue and how they felt heard/seen… That’s all the reward I need.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Trinia’s Gift is the ability to duplicate herself perfectly in mind and body yet, every time she uses it, she feels like she loses another piece of her soul. Her abusive and power-hungry father, Caderyn, wishes to exploit her gift to create an army that obeys his command and rebuild the Airgíd Empire that fell a thousand years before.
Going on the run, Trinia seeks out the aid of the kingdoms that destroyed her people. When things don’t go as planned, she’s forced into trusting a failed mage, a man of legend with a vendetta, and a talking wolf to help her reach her goal by making a promise she isn’t sure she can keep.
As she wrestles with the ghosts of her past trauma and new ones that keep piling up, Trinia begins to wonder where the justice is in it all, and whether she has what it takes to stop her father and save her people.
The giveaway will run 7/19/2021 - 7/26/2021
Here are the prizes:
Grand prize: 1 Signed Illustrated Copy + 4 one-hour Coaching sessions with S.D Howard. (Winner will also receive a free eBook of standard edition)
1 Signed softcover copy
One 30 min coaching call with S.D. Howard
Free ebook of the standard edition