Monthly Archives: October 2012
Posted by Will
You may have heard or seen another entry in this fun blog post that’s making the rounds, called The Next Big Thing. As writers, we are picked out by someone who’s read our work and nominates us to write up our latest for all and sundry. Then the new author also nominates someone and Lather-Rinse-Repeat. I hope this doesn’t turn out like all those chain-letters clogging my in-box…
Since my good friend, fellow author and dedicated beta-reader Katharina Gerlach tapped me, I am honor bound- and frankly, tickled pink- to carry on. The difficulty is choosing which book to write about. The next project likely to publish is a short book of tales, but for a number of reasons that’s not a standard “fit” for this kind of blog. So I will use this opportunity to write for the first time in some detail about my unpublished monsterpiece, and the character who really started it all. I hope you enjoy!
1. What is the title of the book?
“Judgement’s Tale” is a novel-length story of the Lands of Hope, clocking in at a bit over 200k words. Or, in epic fantasy, a fair-sized beginning.
2. Where did the idea for the book come from?
I cannot tell a lie: he told me. Well, Solemn Judgement doesn’t talk much- but he showed me his half of the tale on his own, in bits and pieces starting around thirty years ago. What I didn’t realize until just a few years back was that this OTHER tale, with a different set of characters in a somewhat different place, was connected to the first like the back of a coin. That’s all the rage today- lots of characters, separated across the kingdoms and unaware of each other- but back in the early 80’s when I was first seeing all this, it didn’t occur to me. Then again, I didn’t think I’d ever end up writing about the Lands of Hope anyway.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
It’s straight-up epic fantasy, with the usual flavors of mystery and horror to it. My previous stories have leaned more towards heroic fantasy, and the shortest is really a sword-and-sorcery tale. But the Lands are wide and there’s room for lots of shades of… well, purple to tell the truth. My writing can dip into many genres, but it’s still nearly ultraviolet.
4. What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Tough call. The main character Judgement is so adult inside, but just sixteen outside. He needs a gunslinger’s game-face, the ability to convey disapproval without speaking, and has to look like he’s not old enough to drink (not that he would anyway). Richard Harris would have been perfect for the scribe Valenthur, perhaps William Goldman for the sage Cedrith (but it would be a BIG departure for him). The other main characters are also young-ish men, around 17-20, so I suppose we could raid the casts of Twilight and Supernatural- but no biting, and wear some more colorful clothing on set please. One large middle-aged woman with a pleasant smile but capable of gritty self-sacrifice for Natasha the healer; Nicolas Cage could play Alendic the actor-adventurer. And a slender young female for Linya, the mage. Many others still TBA!
5. What is a one sentence synopsis of your book?
To save an adopted world where he can find no place, Solemn Judgement must become a hero, or he won’t live to become a man.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Definitely, one of those two. It was the first publication-ready tale I composed, back at the end of 2010. For some strange reason, an unknown author querying unsolicited on a 200 k monsterpiece of epic fantasy didn’t garner much attention… after compiling a 200% rejection rate (one pile of form rejections, one pile of no responses), I decided to write some shorter stuff, and to self-publish it. Every so often I pull out the draft and polish, and wonder- and I also have submitted it several times to publishing houses who have actually called for this kind of stuff (along with thousands of other folks, naturally). So- we’ll see.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I translate this as- when did Judgement’s incessant pressure to write his story become a din I could not ignore. I always knew the story, at least most of it, but I never believed I could get it all on paper. But he broke me down sometime around the start of 2009, and I had the draft done (polished since, but nothing too major) by the end of 2010. Two years, where does the time go?
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
“Judgement’s Tale” is just like GRRM’s Game of Thrones or Tad Williams’ Shadowmarch series. Except there are slightly fewer characters and not everyone is a jerk.
This business where “realism” means you have evil in your soul has got to stop. Fair warning readers, this extends to all my writing- the Lands of Hope are a place where the good guys kicked out the bad ones 2,000 years ago. Are there criminals? The occasional greedy noble? Yes. But the people you meet everyday are all basically GOOD. Sheesh. There’s plenty of adventure, but this is not “The Godfather” in chain mail. I focus on what heroes do, not how bad guys interact.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The heroes themselves- “inspired” probably isn’t the right word, more like kept beating on me. I know, you’re thinking get the long-sleeved coat; but it’s not just an internal struggle here. I’m talking about REAL people who urged me… OK, it’s complicated, but the bottom line for you is that I am not a writer. I am a chronicler, and this world everyone calls mine has witnesses. So, I don’t make things up, I just look at what happens and then jot it down. You might meet one of the heroes someday yourself, just ask them. The point is, there are a ton of these heroes and I’m quite sure there’s enough material already to keep me busy the rest of my days. Even though the good die young, if you take my meaning.
10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Well, I’m sure it would be interesting to know that it’s going to get published. And someday it will! I think I have to decide if I’m ever going to be “discovered”- if yes, then it makes sense to preserve “Judgement’s Tale” as the entre’act of my canon. The events of the tale come early on in the Age of Heroes (1995 ADR, only one tale online is from an earlier year), so it’s a good “origins” tale. I always figured as I gained success- here’s where the REAL fantasy starts- that my online sales would reach a point where I’d be tempted to release the book- but then again I’d be attracting attention from agents and publishers too. Nice, happy problem! And then, I wake up. Stay tuned.
I’ve answered the questions and now it’s time to tap other authors who I think deserve your attention. I can have five, and I’m going to burn one on Katharina Gerlach who tagged me in the first place. Back at you, woman! Seriously, her writing is wide-ranging and prolific and fun, whatever your taste she either has or is translating a book for you– in German or English, no less!
I will also single out Tracy Falbe, who writes just the sort of epic fantasy I admire. I’ve read the first book of her Rys Rising series- holy smoke, it’s free! And I think you would enjoy it as I did. I can tell she’s worked hard for her success, and it looks like she’s got a hot tour going on now, so check her out.
Finally, I want to shine a small light into the dark corners of the online author world, and single out Antonio Diggs. Here’s a man who is quietly writing, working on an enormous set of tales the likes of which any fantasy author can appreciate. I’ve beta-read a lot of it, and in turn, he’s read just about all of mine. He’s not bringing them out yet, but I have confidence- actually, high hopes- that he will. You won’t be disappointed by the “Bound” series. So just keep the name Antonio Diggs in your memory, and then in the future you’ll see it online or in a store and think “oh yeah, I know this name. He’s a great author, I know because… whatever the hell that guy was, said so. Before they took him off with the long-sleeved coat… whatever his name was.”
These people are The Next Big Thing. Because I say so!
Posted by Cat-Gerlach
For the last year (ever since the 6th of January), I have been translating my German novels into English to create a backlist. I managed to publish one, but the others will have to wait for December, and I tell you why.
My fingers are itching to create something new!
As much as I love my old stories (I invariably rewrote them partially), my Muse keeps jumping around like an ADHS-toddler on amphetamines. “Have you thought about.. What if.. can’t we start…” It’s really, really hard to push all these wonderful ideas to the side and stick to my translation schedule. So I did the craziest thing, I upped my daily quota from a comfortable 1500 words a day to 2500 words a day (except for weekends, they have to stay free for family affairs). That way, I’ll be done by Halloween. I’m so looking forward to that.
The next story I’ll write has been sitting at 50K last NaNo. Upon rereading it, I scraped most of it (which leaves me 16K). I’m now trying to get it to 75-90K during NaNo and December. I know I can do it.
What do I like better? Translating or writing new fiction? What a question. Both are fun, but creating something new will always outshine any other writing related activity for me.
I hope to see you when I start releasing all the translated novels. 😉
Wonder what they are about? leave a comment.
Posted by Debbie Mumford
I’m currently on the opposite coast of the good old USA from my home. My daughter is rapidly approaching her due date with her second child, and I’m *helping* by playing with my not-quite-two-year-old grandson while hoping to meet my new granddaughter before I have to go home. Happy times!
Anyway, in honor of the new arrival, I thought I’d share a children’s story with you this week. Deirdre’s Dragon was my very first sale, and the basis for my young adult novel Faery Unexpected. I hope you enjoy meeting Deirdre and Roddy!
by Deb Logan
Deirdre rubbed her eyes, and then stared open-mouthed at the dragon squished onto the window seat. He was shiny, golden, and too big to be believed.
The dragon oozed off the cushion onto the hardwood floor. He yawned and stretched, reminding Deirdre of a really big (make that gigantic!) cat.
She stood perfectly still, heart pounding so hard her fingers and toes felt like they might explode. She wondered if the dragon was hungry, but mostly she wondered what dragons ate.
“Caviar,” the dragon rumbled, licking his lips. “You know, little black fish eggs, but I’ll settle for peanut butter and jelly on rye.”
“You, uhh, you talked! Where did you come from? Wait a minute. I didn’t say that out loud.” Words gushed from Deirdre’s mouth. She was standing in the library of Gran’s Scottish mansion talking to a dragon, and all she could do was ask stupid questions.
“Of course I talk,” said the dragon, “and I hear your thoughts, too.” He lifted his lip in what Deirdre hoped was a dragon smile. “As to where I came from, why, you called me.”
“I did? I didn’t mean to. I mean, I’m sure you’re a very nice dragon and all …” her words trailed off. She took a deep breath and tried again. “How did I call you?”
“You touched that silver medal, and on your twelfth birthday, too.” A wisp of smoke escaped his nostrils.
Deirdre hoped he didn’t belch up a flame. With all these books, she’d be toast in a heartbeat! Oh, yeah, the medal. She glanced at the ornament clutched in her sweaty palm. The bright disk boasted a tiny picture of a dragon in mid-flight.
“I am bound to the females of your bloodline,” the dragon continued, “but you must be twelve before I’m allowed to show myself.” He lowered his head and looked straight into her eyes. “Happy birthday, Deirdre.”
“Thank you.” Mom would be pleased. Even with her mind in a whirl, Deirdre remembered her manners. Mom. Aha! “Does my mother know about you?”
“Of course.” He turned his jewel-bright eyes away from Deirdre and glanced around the room. “She’s heard all your Gran’s stories, just as you have.”
“No!” Deirdre cried, stamping her foot. “That’s not what I mean, and you know it.” She decided to be more specific. “Does my mother think you’re real? Has she ever talked to you?”
The dragon ambled to the hearth and curled up in front of the extinct fire. “No.” He yawned and nestled his triangular head onto his front feet. Claws flashed, and then retracted, rescuing the hearthrug from certain destruction.
“The enchantment skips a generation. You won’t be ready to give me up when your daughter turns twelve.” His eyes sparkled, laughter dancing in their depths. “But when your granddaughter comes of age, well, that will be another bowl of caviar.”
“Well … what if I don’t have a daughter? Or a granddaughter?”
His head jerked up, his eyes round as saucers. “No granddaughter? But you have to have a granddaughter!”
“No, I don’t,” Deirdre said, her heart skipped a beat. Arguing with a dragon might be dangerous, but this was important. “Mom says I can be anything I want.” She planted her fists squarely on her hips and stared up into the dragon’s glittering eyes. “Dad says so, too. I’m going to be an astronaut and discover new planets.”
The dragon stared at her. His huge eyes whirled, and the spiky tip of his golden tail beat a rapid rhythm on the hearthrug. “Maybe you could have a daughter before you go exploring?”
She relaxed a little and considered his suggestion. “Maybe, but I might be too busy training. You might have to wait until I get back from my new planet.”
He looked so disappointed. She wanted to ease the sting. “Maybe I’ll name my first planet after you. Say, what is your name?”
He stood proudly on all four feet, wings furled tightly against his back and made a noise that sounded like chewing up rocks and gargling the slurry.
“Oh.” She cleared her throat — it hurt just listening to that name – and said, “well, maybe I’d better just take you along when I go exploring.” She paused, thought about that terrible noise, and asked, “I don’t suppose you have a nickname?”
He grinned his toothy grin and said, “You may call me Roddy.”
Voices in the hall interrupted them. Deirdre turned from the dragon to stare at the closed door. A moment later, it burst open and Dad stepped into the room.
“Hi, Dad,” she said, stuffing the medal into the back pocket of her jeans. She glanced over her shoulder at Roddy.
The majestic beast was gone. In his place lay Gran’s favorite toy — the dragon she’d told all her stories about.
Late that night, Deirdre snuggled under the covers of the huge bed in Gran’s guest room. The old mansion whispered and creaked around her. Another night she might have been frightened, but not tonight.
Tonight Roddy lay stretched across the length of the bedroom floor. His huge bulk protected her from the unaccustomed night sounds.
“What if Mom comes in?” she whispered.
“She’ll see a toy on the floor,” he replied. “Go to sleep, Deirdre, you’re safe with me.”
She closed her eyes and thought about home. What was she going to do with a dragon in Denver?
“Have the time of your life,” came the nearly silent answer. “We’ll have wonderful adventures. Just wait and see.”
Posted by Sue
I have always been a dreamer. When I was a child, I had wild fantasies about all kinds of things. As a young teen, I had a sleeping dream that stuck with me and I fantasized about being an alien from another planet in another solar system. (Yeah, I know, kinda weird, but hey–why not? Writers do have vivid imaginations, after all.)
Dreamers have billions of ideas to choose from and think about. Down through the ages, daring inventions were preceded by dreams. Everyday normal people have all kinds of dreams. I taught middle school for many years and saw many student dreamers. Some dreamed of being famous sport stars, or music stars. Some dreamed of becoming doctors or lawyers.
What do you dream about? Is it being someone other than who you now are? Is it doing something you now don’t know how to do?
Some would say that there are two kinds of people: dreamers and doers. What? Why can’t we be both?
First we dream. Then we build the foundation with reality to make the dream come true. Do you dream of being an accomplished musician? Then you practice your instrument. Do you dream of being a sports figure? Then you practice your sport. Do you dream of being a writer? Then you practice your writing. Don’t plan on writing your first book and making a million dollars from it. Write another one. Then another one. You are building your foundation for successful dreaming.
Be a dreamer, then be a doer. Go for it!