Aug 30, 2010

Whethering Storms

Reaper's Flight is speeding its way through final edits - it's been much quicker and more painless than book 1, and I'll confess to a bit of mixed feelings on that. But, really, I think the majority of my trepidation comes not from the questions of "is it ready to release?" but more a renewal of my inner monologue and introspective curiosity of an undefined path.

I was introduced to the idea of "the road less travelled" at an early and impressionable age, and over the years I've added to that concept the counterpoint of "sometimes the roads are less travelled for good reason". And yet, here I am, continuing to embark upon an author's path that - at least in recent years - is counter to the established.

Just like in my earlier flirtations with music production, I see a pretty impressively endowed Industry, casting a tremendous shadow upon me and others like me. Authors who do not believe that one must be signed to the great and all powerful Oz, and that he's really just a little guy sitting behind his curtain pulling levers and hoping we don't look too closely at him. We are told - on professional websites, at writer's conventions and the like, that the individual does not succeed. We are given countless and often contradictory advice on how to write submission letters, how to try and seem marketable to a literary agent, and... well, the advice goes on and on.

I won't lie; a publishing contract - oh, yes, and certainly a tidy sum of cash - wouldn't send me into a spiralling depression. A bit of industry validation is always a good thing, and it would definitely broaden my audience. It would make future literary ventures also possible, and to be honest, the more financial and marketing elements of publishing tend to feel more like distractions from the act of creation. And I'm not even all that much of a purist!

I've submitted to a few agents who seemed in the proper market, but the ones accepting unsolicited queries rarely seem to have a lot of books published I've even heard of. It makes sense that the ones who publish the most wouldn't necessarily need to post out for the thousands of unpublished authors who would happily ship out their life's work to them for even the fleeting glimmer of hope that they'll get picked up. The polite declines I've received have never gotten me down, either. That was a pleasant surprise. I suppose, unlike the more intimately personal music, I'm just not so tender about my books. At least, I think that's part of it.

Added to that is the inexplicable reassurance that my books aren't half bad. I enjoy the stories they tell and on the levels they tell them. The idea of being signed or picked up by a publishing house rather feels like a secondary aspiration - I'm not writing to be published, I'm writing to put my tales on paper.

Speaking of which, I've got the next few projects laid out - - I've taken a week to pause and gather my sense of direction - - a short novella will be released in the early spring to present the background of one of the main characters of the current series of books; more on that after Reaper's Flight is available. The final book in the present trilogy should be out around this time next year, earlier if possible. Two anthologies of short stories about the world introduced in this "Aerthos Trilogy" is in consideration, as is another possible series focusing on Favo Carr, one of the more scoundrelly of the secondary characters. He's fast becoming one of my favorites, and I just can't tell more of his story now without hijacking the main plot. But I'll get to him soon enough, don't you fret.

I'm also looking into developing out some of the cross-marketing ideas for the books as well. Tarot Cards, stuffed animals, that sort of thing. I'm working with an artist friend of mine (he did the editing for "The Morrow Stone" and produced an amazing cover for HL Reasby's "Akhet") to do the covers for all three of the Aerthos books, but I can see more possibilities for the material, as well. So, see? I have the occasional marketable braincell as well.

I've also already figured out the setting for my next books - it'll be a bit darker, a bit more R to the current PG of the Aerthos books. Additionally, I want to put some more meat onto the bones of my children's story anthology. It has about 5 stories so far; I'd like to have 25-30 when it's time to actually publish it.

The time travel and zombie books are on the back burner for now. I don't have the time to put anything down on either one, and by the time I got around to them, I just don't expect there to be much interest for the themes. Additionally, my sci fi screenplay has been shelved, as has my "Pilot" book. Back into the vault, you two. I'll have to get to them later; just no time in the present. Ditto for my "Union Jack" treatment.

Now that I look at it, am I ever going to be caught up? I suppose, to be fair, it's better than the alternative, no? Okay, I've rambled long enough. I have a book I should be editing now. Plus, Hurricane Earl is bothering some friends of mine in Puerto Rico. Looks like there's a lot of storms on our horizons. Time to hunker down and prepare.


Aug 11, 2010

Top Ten list!

Was recently contacted via Twitter regarding the Morrow Stone - a reader posted their blog with a top ten list of their favorite books, and included Morrow Stone at number 10.

I'm ashamed to admit I have no words to express how delightful that is. I'm really just pleasantly gobsmacked by the idea that people would LIKE my books at all, but there were definitely times that I worried about the delusionality of it all.

Doing anything that people love doing becomes at times a contest of will - - though most often pitting your own will to succeed against your will to not embarass yourself. And through my years of music production, I really saw a lot of bands that - to channel a bit of Simon Cowell - were really kidding themselves. And it wasn't that they sucked; the quality and skill of a musician isn't so clearcut. It was usually that they weren't very good and didn't realize they weren't that good.

A failure to honestly scrutinize onesself is a dangerous thing. Check the mirror before you go out. Look to the blind spot before backing up. Do you have your keys/wallet/cell phone? Are you forgetting anything? Have you practiced your ass off to become as good as possible? Have only your parents heard what you do? Have you considered all the angles? Are you ready?

Speaking of Simon Cowell, my heart breaks watching those shows when a child is thrust before the judges' headlights, and is clearly their first time auditioning for anything. Parents? Hello? What the hell?

I'm not saying that risk is bad, or that you should never try new things, or that it's wrong to hope for the stars. But if you're going to jump for the stars, you really should try and limber up first so you don't pull a muscle. Learn all you can before getting into that situation, talk to people who've been there, practice practice practice. Perform live (if your ambition is suitably designed for such things), and get some people as friends who aren't afraid to point out ways in which you can improve.

And then, when you're pretty sure you're ready for it, jump from the lion's mouth.

Now - - granted, even after all is said and done, all these things cannot guarantee that you're going to be the next Lady Gaga or Sting or Brad Pitt or whoever - but there is great satisfaction to be found when you know you've done your absolute best, even if you don't make the big millions.

Sometimes, just seeing your name on a blog of a complete stranger is enough to make your entire journey seem worth the effort.

Have a good day, my friends. Be delicious.

Reaper's Flight: Post-Production

Sorry for the delay on my updates - I'd been bouncing around between introversion and distraction in my writing - shifting between "all sail, no rudder" and "all rudder, no sail"; I finally found my wind last week and pressed through until Book 2 of the Aerthos books was wrapped. I've started the oh-so deliciously tedious and occasionally heartbreaking editing process, although I already feel much better this go round.

I'm not logically certain that I should feel so confident, but there it is. Book 2 - "Reaper's Flight" is much more ambitious - we see more of Aerthos this time, with travels to centers of mythological and historical wisdom; we see more technological marvels and even pick up with Rom's journey over the Great Wall that haunted her youth in the scientifically stunted community of Oldtown. Old friends, new enemies, and even a look under the hood, so to speak, as to the nature of Rom and the Sheharid Is'iin.

From a specifically trichotomous (I dare you to find a way to use that one in a sentence!) perspective, I've technically passed the halfway mark in this Big Story, but I already don't want to leave. Book three (tentative title: Fall of the Shepherd) is already laid out and waiting for me to dip my quill (how did that sentence become so naughty?), but I will be spending my time also developing out a novella I plan to release - potentially for free, or at the least as an appendix to book three - focusing on the main villain, Artifice.

I do enjoy a good villain - and when I say "Good Villain", I mean the ones who have a perfectly sound justification for all their naughtiness. Take Darth Vader, for example. He was so much more interesting when he was caught between his love for his son and his loyalty to his Emperor. Granted, it was a challenge to follow him down the dark and sinister path towards the dark side, but I kind of have to point a finger of blame on George Lucas for that one. All the pieces were there, it was more a case of actual movie production dropping the ball.

But that whole idea of "best intentions" serves me not just as a warning sign for my characters, but for me. As much as I enjoy the stories that are there to be told, I am aware of the responsibility I have to tell them well. I'm not just concerned about people finding the books to be a waste of their money, but a waste of their investment of time. Every minute someone spends in one of my books is a minute they're not spending elsewhere - that's an investment which humbles me more than I can say.

But after all is said and done, I believe that all these characters - regardless of the outcome of their choices - have wonderful stories to tell. The whole world I'm discovering right along with my readers is even more fascinating than I had promised - and even as I fall ever deeper in love with it, I have to force myself to remember that it is only my vacation home.

We'll visit it together, shall we? And then come home and talk about our journeys.

So for now, the first draft of Book 2 is complete - it is being given a couple rounds of edits, and then will be into the final stages of production - design, cover art, etc. I've come up with a nice concept for the cover - and will probably have Morrow Stone re-designed as well, to balance all three books out with a solid visual staging, but don't worry - 2nd Edition of book one will also drop in price the moment book 2 is launched.

Plus, I'll be attending the Emerald City ComiCon 2011, and handing out freebies with the book art as well. Presently, we're on track for a September/October launch.

More deets as they become available.