Updated: Nov 4, 2021
In celebration of yesterday’s release of the final installment in The Empire Saga, THE DARK QUEEN, we are delighted to feature a blog post from the author, M. Dalto. Stay tuned, because at the end you will find the details to an exclusive enamel pin giveaway!
Without further ado…
This time of year is very reflective, and not only because there’s a book release on the horizon.
Seven years ago, I considered writing a full-length novel with its only inspiration being a somewhat unknown Billy Joel song that resonated with me ever since I was a teen.
Four years ago, I was fortunate enough to sign with The Parliament House to publish that book.
So what happened in-between?
The three-more-novels-and-four-companion-novellas kind of a lot.
So how did you get here?
I never started to take writing seriously until I was in my thirties, and even then, I never considered being published. It was always something I did just for fun, even when I was younger. I remember keeping diaries when I was little, journals when I was older, and when my best friend and I used to play pretend and create imaginary worlds, I was the one that would always record our adventures so that we could read them later.
So, it wasn’t too much of a surprise that, when I was in school and doing well on my papers, I discovered that I may have actually had talent. Of course, those papers were ones that I had waited to write until the night before they were due with the good fortune that, whichever way I was able to weave my words together, it was enough for me to earn high enough grades with minimal effort. Not that I would condone the habit nor is it something that I encourage…but I digress.
When I first drafted Two Thousand Years, having it published was never my intention. I wrote it for fun during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in 2014 because I was looking for the challenge and excuse to finally get this particular story idea out. And it was fun—for the most part. For the first time, I was able to share a piece of my craft with people I knew and trusted, and I learned that nothing made me feel better than giving people something to read and potentially enjoy.
At the suggestion of a friend, I decided to edit my draft and post it on Wattpad with the hope for feedback from a greater audience. And it worked; I was able to get an amazing amount of feedback from so many different readers from all over the world and learn to accept commentary and critiques better than I would have if I’d never shared it with strangers before.
In 2016, when Two Thousand Years won one of Wattpad’s Watty Awards, I began to seriously consider moving forward with my publishing journey. It showed me that more than only the friends and acquaintances I’ve met through forums believed that I had something worth reading. That my story was one of a hundred chosen from hundreds of thousands to win in its award category made me take my art seriously and encouraged me to take the next step.
It was a step I never thought I’d take when I was simply writing in my diary or recounting imaginary stories.
How did you write so much in such little time?
Despite how it may seem, I am a very slow drafter when writing new stories. When I began writing Two Thousand Years, I thought it would be a one-time, one-and-done story that I’d get out of my system and wouldn’t need to think about it again. Utilizing the strict guidelines of NaNoWriMo, I was more concerned with whether I would be able to reach the 50,000-word requirement and if I’d have enough content to write to meet that goal.
By the time the month was finished, not only did I have the first draft of a completed novel, but I had the inspiration and drive to write more. What was once supposed to be a standalone story was quickly becoming a series, faster than I realized. I had characters whose backstories I wanted to share and a world I wasn’t yet done exploring. And when I discovered that the NaNoWriMo way of doing things was more of a motivator than a hindrance, I knew that I needed to take advantage of such events as they arrived if I was going to get these stories down.
So, the novellas were written during respective Camp NaNoWriMo events, whether in April or July, with lower, more relaxed word count goals, while I allowed November’s timeline for the more in-depth novels. I was motivated to write these stories, too. I had unexpectedly fallen in love with the characters I’d created, and a part of me didn’t want to let them go. The duology became a trilogy, which finally stopped at a series of four, but I’d be lying if I said more stories and spinoffs hadn’t crossed my mind since.
But why did you want to write these stories?
I’ve always been a lover of fantasy. I’ve always liked playing pretend and creating worlds that could never exist in our reality. The connection between the real world and the Empire was just another way for me to express that escapism I cherished so much growing up and what I continue to enjoy in my adulthood. By writing these stories, I’m allowing myself to get lost in the Empire with these characters who breathed life into their own existences. The words and the imagination combined for a symphony of a tale that no one could weave but me, for better or for worse.
When I started writing, I knew these books wouldn’t be for everyone. I knew I didn’t need them to be for anyone, in fact. I wasn’t writing them to sell, and at least at first, it wasn’t to share—it was a story I knew only I could tell, and I knew that I had to write it regardless of how long it took me or where the story progressed.
Even though The Empire Saga is coming to an end, there is so much more that I want to do—so much more that I need to write. With this chapter closing, another one begins, and I want to thank everyone who has remained with me throughout this time of my creative existence. I have grown, not only as an author but also as a person throughout the inception and publication of The Empire Saga. I have learned so much from my experiences and from the people I’ve met along the way, and I would not trade it for anything in the world. I merely hope that my stories can inspire at least one person who reads them— that they may feel motivated enough to get lost in a world all their own.
As a special release day event, the author—M. Dalto—will be giving an exclusive enamel pin to the first 50 people to submit a review for any of the four main titles in The Empire Saga using the form found below. Don't miss your opportunity to revisit this wonderful and expansive world and receive your piece of The Empire Saga!