Novel Ideas: A Novel a Year?

It’s a sign of our time, to be sure, but one of the issues for writers that has risen especially with the advent of the self-published artist is the notion of how to stay visible. To that end, the rate at which one has to put out books—especially as a flighty public finds so many other media to catch their eyes—has increased dramatically. Where once a book was a very personal process, that allowed for time and dedication and that very personal touch, deadlines are getting ever so much crunchier, and every stage of the process is finding less time to devote to their field.

In point of fact, it’s often advised today for writers to get as much as a book a year out if they want to stay in the spotlight. Some people even go as low as six months—a concept, I have to say, that would even begin to label Stephen King as something of a slow writer, and that’s just sick to think about.

Personally, I think it’s a load of hogwash. Naturally, there is more pressure on indie and self-pubs to keep up the pace, as they have more to worry about in the fading spotlight than big names like George R.R. Martin or J.K. Rowling. It’s the tragic inverse of fame; as fame goes up, the demand may increase, but you can also afford to crack the knuckles and take a bit of lean-back time without fear. You know your readers will come back. Indies have no such job security—go too long, and your readers will simply move on to a dozen or more other indies, or so stands the theory.

George RR Martin at the Comicon

The Martin. Lord of Epic Fantasy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fact is, it’s madness to expect every writer to meet such a rigid standard. It’s not going to happen. Each of us writes at different paces, not to mention the fact that each writes to different styles, different genres, and certainly different lengths. A saucy romance writer is much more likely to meet such a deadline than an epic fantasy novelist.

The important piece of the puzzle is to get your book done and get it done right. Will some over-anxious folks peace out before you can get your next work out if you take your sweet time? Of course, but that’s the beauty of marketing—separate from the act of writing, its sole goal is to win people over. Focus on the writing when you’re writing. Focus on the marketing after. Don’t muddle the two, or both will get watered down in the process. Fans will be much more disappointed if your fear of abandonment causes you to toss out a half-baked novel at them.

Stop the Presses!

Stop the presses!

Well…actually, no, crank that printer and keep the good times rolling: this little writer made the news today. The Hollow March and I took up joint space today in the pages of the Lansing City Pulse, in a full page article for which I’m eternally grateful. Catch the title of my upcoming second novel, see me ramble on about literature “goldmines,” and catch a few of my quirks…

As if they weren’t apparent already, of course. Must be the poetry–I think I’m a little transparent. Fantasy fans, read on.

Check it out here.

Or, alternatively, if you live in the Lansing, Michigan area, go grab a copy of the City Pulse off any number of street corners. Here’s hoping the pictures turned out alright in print!

 

The Hollow March Begins

For two years, I have spoken here and there of a mysterious book in progress. Between bouts of poetry and short story fancies, I have penned, edited, and re-edited this work countless times, in my own attempts to reach that forever out of reach pinnacle of perfection we writers view as something akin to the Garden of Eve.

Well, a writer is never fully satisfied in his own work. It is our way.

Yet in two months time, I am proud to announce today, “The Hollow March” will be available in e-book and print, from Kindle to Nook and back to the glorious old ways of literature. Only two parts of the puzzle remain, and both are to my viewing pleasure: the cover art and the maps that span the breadth of this work’s imagined world.

The map, I am proud to say, rests comfortably in the hands of my good friend (and one of the book’s editors) Nathan Hartley. The previews I’ve received via camera phone (while small) certainly have me anxious, and I look forward to the time when I will soon have them-in hand, both in the digital sense, and the delightfully physical (pictures to follow when that day arrived, by the by).

As for cover art, the artist should be settled within a week or so, with the month after given over to their labors. It’s amazing to see the breadth of people already sending in applications though, from all corners of the world. Especially where, being an indie author, I lacked the funds that the publishing companies do, I was astounded to see such an overwhelmingly positive response, and hope to continue viewing the same. So much fascinating work to behold…from the comic to the dark heart of cyberpunk-style CGI. It’s a trip.

Thanks to the people at ConceptArt.org for a lovely site by the way – they really streamline this process. If you need artists for any project – books, games, what have you – I highly recommend them.

But I suppose I’m nerd-squeeing at the moment (writer-squee, it’s the same thing, really), so let’s get back on topic. “The Hollow March” – what is it, you may ask? Well, dear fellows, it is a fantasy novel subscribing more to the modern approach in style: realist fantasy, which is to say, more in the vein of George R.R. Martin than J.R.R. Tolkien. Magic lurks in the shadows, but the world before your eyes is one of renaissance—and turmoil.

Because every good bit of literature needs turmoil, no?

For your viewing pleasure, though, here’s a more accurate summary:

“It is a time of upheaval in the Idasian Empire. As religious fervor stirs dissent among the people, and the winter winds loom, thousands gather behind their aging emperor on a march to war.

In the midst of this, young Rurik Matair blunders home with childish notions of revenge, and an unlikely band of sellswords at his back. The third son of a backwater nobleman, Rurik was destined for a life in service to the crown. But when he reached beyond his station, he was banished from his father’s house with nothing to his name. Tired and hunted, he returns after two years abroad. Yet all is not as it appears. As Idasia’s brutal war threatens to stagnate, old rivalries rekindle. Other players shift through dark games behind the scenes, and old magicks rise against a tottering throne, stirred on by a woman with nothing left…”

What do you think? As that is, at present, likely what’s going to be slapped on the back of this book—“the blurb”, as we call it—if there’s any way you think it could be improved, I’d surely love to hear your input.

Also: keep your eyes peeled for a preview in the days to come, to give you a little taste of how this book runs. A look into the author’s mind as it were–though I’m sure mind surfing is something of a terrifying process.

So to sum: December. Keep your eyes and ears open, people, because “The Hollow March” will be ready for your bookshelves or your electronics. Good Christmas gift, don’t you think? *nudge-nudge*

Finished at last!

“Man tames not vengeance; vengeance breaks the man.”

It is with these words that the fruit of my labors begin. Thirteen short stories led me to this point. Months of labor led me to this point. Long nights. Early mornings. Rushing to heel with pen and paper in hand, to scribble down a passing thought, a fleeting fancy. Inspiration and dedication have led me to at last announce the completion of my dearest creation to date: my novel.

“The Hollow March” has been my been my obsession. At long last, I have finished it. Laid down the final word, breathed in a sigh of relief and adoration, and leaned back to run my eyes down my work. Over 200,000 words, more than 350 pages strung end to end in our dear friend Microsoft Word (using friend loosely here of course). Backed up, filed away, stored and ready and waiting.

Tonight, and for the next few days, I may take a dramatic bow and vanish into the great beyond. For now, I feel a great need to celebrate, before the next stage begins. Editing is just around the corner, and it is all the longer. But the work is down, the words stretched end to end, and I am content, for the moment, to rest.

I hope you all have a wonderful day and a wonderful weekend. May our rapidly descending Fall find you as well as it has found me!

Contained

The walls arise,

stacked atop a pile of numbers–

lettered maze

enfold the secrets of the world

between thy shifting corridors

of papered thoughts

and novel dreams.

Fight your life to be entombed

in shadowed corner fair

locked beneath the earth–

a cool, a dusted prisoner

handled only vacantly

by young eyes consumed

by deadlines foul.

Summer Reading

File these away under finished...

Between everything I’ve had going on this summer I would say that’s a respectable bit of reading to have done, lo these past couple months of warmth and sunlight, no? From vibrant and mystical fantasy to gritty, nihilistic dramas of the modern age, these books have carried me healthily through a good bit of summer.

Of course, it’s still not over. But I’m running out of my summer stack–just a couple more to go!

Currently reading “The Surrendered,” by Chang-rae Lee.

Fascinating read. It’s Lee’s fourth book, and this one takes place in the aftermath of the Korean War, following three characters specifically and how they are dealing with different aspects of that aftermath. You see the horrors of the war, as well as decisions made following it, and how those decisions have followed certain characters all the way into the 1980s. Not for the squeamish or the faint-hearted.

Yet as I work my way through this novel, I find myself wondering what might come next. Any of you have any suggestions of must-reads?

A month of summer lies yet ahead, and I am always looking for more reading material to greedily devour. Believe me, I’m easy–I read any and all types.