The time has come! All weekend long, eBook copies of my fantasy novel, The Hollow March, will be available free of charge through Amazon’s Kindle store. My birthday gift to everyone else.
Enjoy while you can!
The time has come! All weekend long, eBook copies of my fantasy novel, The Hollow March, will be available free of charge through Amazon’s Kindle store. My birthday gift to everyone else.
Enjoy while you can!
As many of you know, this weekend includes the day of Mothers, or at least the United States version. It also includes a lesser known holiday, much more compact and dedicated to many less shinies than the former: my birthday. While I’m not a big pusher of my own holiday bliss, it did seem a good time to take the opportunity for a giveaway, so here I am with writer’s cap in hand.
All weekend long, eBook copies of my fantasy novel, The Hollow March, will be free to anyone interested in revenge-filled, character-raging, backstabbing, magic-dealing (can you even handle that many qualifiers?) literary goodness. Copies can be picked up through Amazon, and with luck, if there’s some book love going on there, the lovers will kindly poke other lovers of fantasy, or some fantasy loving mothers, and so on and so forth, starting a chain reaction of poking that either overload and implodes Facebook (sorry Facebook), or puts a smile on one little writer’s face.
Need a reminder what it’s all about? Check out The Hollow March-dedicated page on the right side of the screen.
And if you need any gift ideas, I’ll let you in on a time-honored secret among writers: reviews are the best method to a fellow’s heart.
Meanwhile, the first stage edits from my editor (For the sequel, At Faith’s End), are nearly all integrated now, and that just leaves a couple more beta readers and another round of editing (consequently, I’ll be seeing Mr. Hartley again this weekend), between my side of that literary venture and completion. Is it time to start thinking cover art once again? Most probably. Stay tuned.
There will probably another arms flailing reminder of the giveaway on Friday, but I’m told it’s good to plan ahead. And now I leave, as ever, at your mercy, oh gurus of the Internet.
From At Faith’s End:
“ Fever made a crossroads of the flesh. Iron bound it down. Iron, after all, was the ages old remedy for’ magic. Or so the old wives claimed.
Sweat made a sheen of her olive skin, sun and stone her only companions. And the woman, hovering at the edge of it all. Charlotte could see it through her eyes, yet she had the prescience of her own sight as well. Abandonment. This was all that remained to her. Even the keep would not hold the witch now.
Clouds bled the horizon of its precious light. She sat among the rocks, watching as the distant sky lit with nature’s solemn trill.
She did not remain to listen to Usuri’s own tears fall. ”
~Charlotte, Chapter 16
Happy Valentine’s, everyone!
The above, my friends, is what people where I come from call a tease. It also happens to be an excerpt out of the second novel in The Haunted Shadows series, At Faith’s End, specifically from one of the Charlotte-centric chapters. I offer it as a means of announcement: I can now proudly say the first stage editing of the beast is nigh finished. What of it remains should be completed over the course of a very long car ride in the wee hours of the morning to come (to be explained later).
What does that mean? Editors, check your in-boxes this weekend, as I’ll be sending copies your way. You too, beta readers. Presumably, the pestering, somewhat addle-brained (but hopefully loveable?) act of a nervous writer will shortly follow. My condolences.
Final word count: 178K-ish. Another beefy entry into the fantasy genre, but it also means it’s a good deal shorter than the first, curiously enough. As in, about 20K words shorter. Let’s see if I can resist adding another scene or two into the mix once all the peer reviews or over, shall we?
(For those that need to catch up, take a look at the first book in the series: The Hollow March)
I would also like to send congratulations (they’re not really belated, because I already congratulated her on more personal notes!) over to Mrs. Emmie Mears—a fellow writer—for recently wrangling herself an agent. They can be wily and slippery devils. If you get the chance, swing by her blog and give her a round of applause yourself—and keep an eye on her. She’s going far, I tell you.
Sadly, not all the news today is good news, though. For those of you that didn’t catch my tweet on the matter, my sister-in-law’s mother passed away suddenly yesterday, after a long struggle with cancer. I’ll be driving down south in the early hours of the morning tomorrow to pay my respects and support to both my brother and sister-in-law. As such, my presence over the weekend shall likely be the barest flicker of a candle’s light, at best.
Please keep their family in your thoughts. For more information on this broad and terrible group of diseases, as well as the struggle against cancer, I encourage you to visit the website of Cancer Centers of America.
The writer is an oddity in this world for a simple reason: he is more than the personality of self, but a soul that must be capable of tapping into a hundred different personalities as the pen may guide him. The writer, matched perhaps only by actors, artists, and spies, must have the capability to tap into the inner workings of the mind and breathe life into characters that are nevertheless nothing like him.
Remember that little detail the next time someone sneers and calls your labors child’s play. Also refrain from biting. People don’t like biting very much.
Yet the problem with this arrangement is that, often enough, we find ourselves at the whimsy of moods. Fickle things, really, but they can be the key difference between a well-written scene and a downright enthralling one. I would never council a writer not to write simply because he doesn’t feel quite into character—that’s the beauty of editing, of the multiple drafts we must insist upon our craft—but it can make things difficult. Some characters may be so inherently different—perhaps so dark, or so flamboyant—that our own minds cannot begin to connect with them on a regular basis. The mood—their mood—may strike us once in a month, once in a year, and if we do not throw ourselves at their scene in that time, we may never capture perfectly that essence for which we so strive.
I know, I know. You’re thinking: Chris, why are you making this sound almost spiritual? Are you high?
We are notoriously fickle people, us writers, and this is the reason. We have to be. Our moods roll with the wind, and our writing with it. Though we can train ourselves to perfect the skill of our pen, the creativity behind it ebbs and flows as the storm upon the sea—we never know quite when and to what means it will gather.
Fortunately, there are ways to help manipulate ourselves. To manipulate the moods and personalities we so crave. While nothing’s ever certain, they can help:
Distraction, distraction, distraction—
Having a touch of ADHD, my mind has the unfortunate knack for bouncing around in a thousand different directions at one time. Ideas are a plentiful harvest, but they’re as distracting as they are engaging. It becomes hard to sift through, to settle down, and address a single point.
Relevance: I want to finish writing At Faith’s End. After that, I know I need to get to the third and final chapter of that saga, but I may need to take a little break before I pop into that little scene. Idea overload, and if I don’t get some of them at least started on paper, my brain is likely to reach critical mass and internal combustion, I am told, is an incredibly unproductive way to approach any day.
So. At Faith’s End is very nearly done. On my initial end, anyhow. Beta readers, editors, keep your eyes open—it’s coming at you soon. Curiously, it came out a good bit shorter than the first—though I imagine that’s probably better by most estimations. The wordiness—I do have a knack for it.
But I also have another novel in mind. Not in Lecura (the same world as this Haunted Shadows trilogy). Not even fantasy. Probably overplayed but—apocalyptic. As in, still happening, not post. And no, there would be no radioactive zombies. It would take place in America, though vague on specific settings. Main character? Probably a sniper. Thoughts? Concerns? Pleas of: oh God, Chris, no?
There are also some short stories I need to get around to tidying up, possibly more relevant to any fantasy interests out there—the short stories The Haunted Shadows is based on, actually. The Company of the Eagles. As you can probably guess, it’s a little more focused on who it followed, each is sort of serialized adventure-wise, but taken together paint the whole of around a year in Rurik Matair’s exile. It would likely be released in two collections.
And that’s for starters. I want to write scifi. I know this. I want to dig my hands in and mold that side of my imagination a little more—novellas, another novel, lord, but I do love to get off track.
It’s a curse. Somehow, it probably ties into the fact that I’m so very good at reading that it can be a distraction to the writing.
Also: snowpocalypse. Particularly if you’re in the northeast. These are the times you wish you still had snow days.
Or quite possibly lived in Hawaii.
It’s a short one for you today, folks. Just wanted to send out a few notices. To those that might be interested, I finally got up off my lazy-author-bum and made an Author Page on Facebook, so if you enjoy the site, my ramblings, and (hopefully!) my writings, you can show support here:
. It includes contact information, as well as links to all the other myriad places you can hunt me down.
For those of you that weren’t aware, a page was already set up for my Fantasy works specifically, at The Hollow March. On the one, you’ll get links, notifications, and discussions in my own snarky brand of rambling this site has hopefully already conditioned you toward; at the other, you’ll receive any book-specific updates I may have.
Let me also take this opportunity to give a status update. Between job hunting (again), and the mine work before that, and indeed the move to Michigan, my writing progress notably slowed for a while there. I’m not just talking blogging, I mean the actual sit down and type until your fingers brand fantasy scribble fest that is the production of the next book in the Haunted Shadows trilogy.
I can now report it is coming along well. The book is written. Its ditches are dug and battle lines drawn. First stage editing is approximately 3/4 of the way complete, and then I’ll be doing the rounds, sending it to editors and beta readers. Consequently, if any fans of The Hollow March are potentially interested in the latter role, try hitting me up. Depending on how many have already undertaken the position, and based on our chat, I’ll see what I can do.
Have a lovely a weekend! If you’re like me, it will probably be spent snow-covered.
The fact is: writing can seem at first a terribly depressing field. Believe me, I know—you tack a determination to write onto someone already struggling with depression, and you get someone already prone to the blues receiving a steady stream of disappointments. No one ever said we set ourselves up to be the steadiest sorts.
I have spoken before of endurance, of perseverance, and I will confess the notions can come out as just so many words—a wisp in your ear that is gone by the time you turn around to greet them.
The reasons are plenty…
Reason the First
Though we talk the big game about passion and art and the need to write (all true, mind you), most writers are like the majority of people in the world: in some sense, we want to succeed. It’s not even that we need the big movie deals, or a fanatic cult (ala The Following—don’t watch it, it’s cheesy and terribly predictable), but we want to be able to point at something and say: You see this work? I wrote this, it touched someone beyond myself, and I am proud. Vindication, I suppose.
I know for all my protestations otherwise, I felt it when undertaking The Hollow March–whether I wanted it or not, the feeling lurked, just out of sight.
Especially in a world where the volume of writers has soared through the ceiling, as every Tom, Dick, and Transfalmadorian are able to turn to self-publishing to get a word out, is also a horrendously difficult field in which to get noticed. Slush piles are bigger than ever. As such, the opportunity for disappointment seems to grow, and while we can point to similar stories around the world, there is always that niggling little voice telling us: yes, but that’s not you, is it?
Reason the Second
Loneliness. You will hear many writers speak of it. Though some are capable of immersing themselves in sound, many must isolate themselves to work. The office cubicle may make you itchy, sure, but at least you know you can lean over the wall to talk to someone, or walk down the hall. With writing, we may spend hours in our own little world, and especially if reason the first is letting us down, that sense of isolation—isolation for seemingly no reason (so we tell ourselves) walks the dangerous line of feeling overwhelming.
Reason the Third
Too many hats. It began with a blog. Alright, manageable enough, right? You’re getting the hang of this. A blog post a week, perhaps, to connect with folks while you write. How about a Twitter? 140, alright, that’s not so bad. Have you considered a Facebook page? Well, I—Don’t forget to make two! One for you, and one for your book! Oh, and Tumblr, don’t forget about Tumblr…
ADD. It’s what you begin to feel like. Or being trapped in a bouncy castle. Writers are their own greatest advocates. At first it might seem glamorous—do what you want, when you want, how you want it—but it can wear at you quickly. Because it means you’re also out there without a lifeline. There are no promotions for good behavior. A writer can no longer be “just a writer.” He must also be a sales rep, a public relations whiz, and quite possibly, one of those fellows on the side of the road dancing around with business signs.
You are the alpha and the omega. It’s self-pub law, but even if you hit it big, the burden is increasingly being put on the writers themselves. There are no breaks, no real days off. If you’re self-conscious, or simply not sure what to say, or if the first two reasons have gotten you down, this can be (or feel) devastating, and you run the risk of a serious burn-out.
My, my, cheery today aren’t we Mr. Galford? Yes, I am, and I’ll tell you why: I have come to terms with these things, and what’s more, I know that everyone struggles with them equally.
Cease to abstract it. Can you point to examples of exceptions? Yes, but they are only that, the exceptions, and while you might feel surrounded to them, know that there are many of us in the same crowd, all feeling equally surrounded. You might say, “Chris, but I wrote a book and no one’s biting,” you must know that there are others around you looking at you with awe and wonder saying, “My god, I wish I could do that—you actually wrote a book? And published it even? You’re so brave.”
What you take as disappointment, other will take with jealousy. You may feel like the lowest end of the food chain, but I assure you that you are not, and there are many feeling the same way.
Take the disappointment—I’m not saying it won’t come. To look at the world as nothing but optimistic doesn’t get you anywhere either, but there’s a balance to be struck. Step outside yourself a moment. Don’t lock others out. If you’re struggling, I guarantee you there’s someone else willing to lend your hand.
Keep your fingers nimble, but keep your eyes open.
Sometimes, there is simply no substitute for art. Oh, the words will capture the image for you. Sing into existence the very fabric of the worlds that bind, but there is something to be said for actually seeing. Books will paint you a thousand pictures over their course. Yet it is one that captures that initial glance, which teaks curiosity and twists the mind inside-out with glorious wonder.
Bearing that in mind, it is with great pleasure today that I kick off the month of November with an art-related announcement. Today marks a re-release of The Hollow March onto all Amazon-based retailers, complete with spectacular new cover art by the same artist that gave the book its first touch-up: British artist Matthew Watts.
This one’s a bit lighter than the last, you may notice, and that means less trouble with details lurking in the shadows. Light or dark, it certainly still captures Watts’s mastery of scenery intensely well! Just look at that detail. Gone too from this edition are the encamped plains of Idasia, traded for a more intense mountain capture–but I hope the storm of the thing still sings to you all.
To check out the art in more detail, and to get yourself a shiny new read, check out a copy of The Hollow March today at:
And if you like the art, give Matthew’s ego a boost with some heartfelt e-mails to matthew_watts18 (at) hotmail (dot) co (dot) uk
I would also like to take a moment to announce another upcoming gem: the one year anniversary of the Hollow release! In honor of the day, from December 4th to 5th, e-book copies of The Hollow March will be 100% free on Amazon’s kindle network. So if you’re one of those that’s been hemming and hawing this will be your chance. A Goodreads event has also been set up to offer reminders to those potentially interested…
As ever: may literature light your way, gentle readers! And remember: an extra moment for a review in the aftermath can help a lowly writer’s day flourish.
If the title made you start humming Eye of the Tiger, I tell you this: put on your boxing gloves, or turn about now.
Conflict! That is the name of the game today fair fellows. So often conflict drives to the heart of our own personal lives—a multitude of conflicting ambitions, needs, and uncertainties. From the epic struggle of man vs. toaster on a late morning wake-up sprint, to the classic struggle of two for the heart of one (THE HEART WANTS WHAT IT WANTS), conflict is, honestly, what makes the world half as interesting (and vexing) as it is.
It should come as no surprise, then, that conflict is key to literature. While it could come in the form of some heavily armored fellow stomping down the lines with mace-in-hand (hello Sauron), it could also be a character’s struggle for acceptance, a war for the heart or information, from internal to external and all the delicious blends in between. Conflict keeps us interested. Conflict gives us something to worry about—something to stir hope against. We want to see how others can overcome because, more often than not, we don’t always have the luxury in real life.
We like to see people that don’t have to sit there and take it.
And what’s more along those lines: as in real life, conflict seems to exist to build character. Is your novel about the characters in it (if you tell me no, I refer you again to the boxing gloves of GTFO)? Then there should be conflict to spur them on.
As much fun as it would be to watch a character sit back on his farm and milk a cow for 900 pages, detailing how content he is with the cow (the cow is a lie), that scenario brings no change. It brings no growth. Nothing develops. Conflict is experience, and experience is what shapes us—we need it to add that dose of spice to existence. Likewise, by the end of a book (series, etc.) we should be able to compare character A from before the madness, to post madness, and see a notable change of figure.
Why? Because we want to have been along with them for the ride. We want to have seen the change that shaped them into the characters we know and love (or hate—this applies to bad guys too).
In my own novel, The Hollow March, we might take the character of Rurik, for example. Kind of a putz of a youth in the beginning, he is, willfully self-deceiving and heedless in his pursuit of what he thinks is best. It’s not healthy. It’s not good. He’ll theoretically have two more books over which to make his changes, but even by the end of this first outing, he is a changed character. We have seen him confront his fears head-on, walked with him through war and a very unfortunate few cases of drinking, and watched in the same horror as he to see the results of many of his actions—actions he threw himself into with the best of hopes, of intentions, only to see worse outcomes for the doing.
Will conflict always end pretty? No. It certainly doesn’t for Rurik, or Essa, or most of the other characters in The Hollow March, but then it wouldn’t be real to us if struggles didn’t lead to more struggles, and there weren’t a little pain before the breaking of the dawn.
Change will not always be for the better, but it must be.
As I said: struggle builds the character. I would say, no pain no gain, but this isn’t a sports movie, I’m not the inspirational coach, and you’re not about to win the championship game. Unless you are. Then I have to ask why you’re taking the time to read this. Bad sports person, bad.
But to do conflict well, there are also a few things we need to remember. Keep the list and hold it tight:
Stay loose, and look for all the angles. People are layered, intricate monstrosities. You have your posers and your hangers-on, but in the end, no two people’s goals will be the exact same—and neither will the way they hope to achieve it. We all react differently to the strife in between, and rarely will all of us take the smart path. Hell, that conflict may stretch on a long while for no reason other than our own bungling. Things, as they say, have a way of getting worse before they get better.
Growth. Change. Humanization. Associate those three words with your conflicts, and you will be a better writer for it.
Have you read part one, as yet? If not, then I think you’re taking this a little out of turn, don’t you? Honestly, if there’s only two parts and you can’t snatch them up in the right order…
That said, if a little refresher’s in order, we already covered from conflict to purpose and that quaint little road we call “the beginning.” The frame of the thing has taken shape, but some of the juicier bits still require that special bit of tweaking only an author can muster. Be it of love or a very compulsive and twitchy tick we call “the scribbles,” the meat of what is to come still remains, and the mind finds itself faced with the following:
How does it end?
The ending must tie up the loose ends (but know that there will always be at least on reader there to point out all the loose ends you didn’t address to their satisfaction!), resolve the overarching conflict (unless you’re tying this into another series, you rascally devil you), and give your readers something to show for sticking with you for so long.
And that, as they say, is that. Ten Things. Beginning to end and through enough meat to put some serious flesh over the heart of your masterpiece. Now you just have to write the bloody thing. But don’t worry, buck up kiddo, after that comes the real fun–editing.
Wait: we did cover sarcasm’s importance in literature, right?
But seriously, while I may not have covered everything, these questions are all key to helping relate your story to us. If it doesn’t mean something to you, after all, what are we supposed to take away? A wise man once said that every scribble is piece of your soul poured out on the page–you’ll never get it back, but if you’re lucky, you can share it with the world. Help to make our eyes dance with envy of that soul, friends.
Give to us the world.