Saturday, September 22, 2012

Writing Circumstances Beyond My Control

The day a book goes "live" on Amazon or Barnes and Noble is exciting in a sickening, hang on for dear life, all I can do is watch everything unfold sort of way.

For the past five years, my imagination and efforts have been consumed (for the most part) by the creation, rewriting, tweaking, overhauling, and details of a book I once called The Sword of the Patron. It was the first novel I ever began to write, and now I would say it is in something like its third version since its inception. And that labor of much angst, joy, struggle, and triumph is now available for sale, over a week before I thought it might be on the virtual shelves.

Until now, the fate of my work has been more or less in my hands. I could have my say about what stayed or went. I could advocate for the story, or the look of the book, or the promotional information. But now that the book is released, it's like sending your child  away to college. You've done all you think you possibly could to prepare that child (and yourself,) but now that it comes down to it, you have basically zero ability to direct the path the book now follows. The public is free to pan it or champion it, and all you can do is watch.

I am horrible at this part of the process. Part of me wants to cheer and celebrate, but a much more demanding part of me wants to curl up in a corner and hide for the next age of this world. A million authors have said this before, and a million will say it after me...and even though I've released a couple books before this and I always say "be honest in your reviews," I'm terrified people will tell me my baby is ugly.

For the record, nobody has yet. But they have said my baby isn't perfect. As much as we all know our work is flawed, I am positive that I have written Curse Bearer the best I could possibly write it right now. And what if that turns out to be just "pretty good?" Only in the arts can "pretty good" be devastating.

So if you see me over the next few weeks and I seem sort of foggy and wide wide eyed, it's just because I'm working through my day in an only slightly decreasing state of terror. Eventually, I know my heart rate will get back to normal and I will come to embrace the thoughts people leave in reviews. And then...it will be time to write another book and go on the crazy-coaster all over again. :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Curse Bearer Gets Its Cover

Yes, fantasy fans, here it is! If you aren't one of my facebook contacts, perhaps you haven't seen this yet: The cover for my book releasing October 2012!

I have known what the cover painting for this book was for quite a few months, actually, since Christina Hess did such an awesome job of getting it to me so quickly. I even had a pretty clear idea how the text would play out. But still, when you see it attached to an email that says "This project is done and going to the printer in the morning..." that's still pretty exciting stuff. I don't know if that ever gets old, no matter how many books you write.

So keep your eyes open for Curse Bearer at your favorite book etailer...I will be sure to post an announcement when I know the book is up for pre-order or regular sale.

Thanks for dropping by!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Great Crowdfunding News!

I'm excited to report: with just a couple of days to go in the Launch Curse Bearer Kickstarter Campaign, the small army of backers has reached the campaign's goal of $3500 worth of funding! As of Thursday morning, the amount raised tipped over the "success" level, so that means all of the marketing stuff I have planned for the book is a go. Of course, the campaign remains open to donations until midnight of the Saturday, September 15th, so if you or someone you know was still thinking of contributing, it's not too late. The one thing about advertising and marketing--there's no such thing as too much of it.

The crowdfunding trend is one I am finding very interesting. Projects tend to have excellent success or crash completely. From what I am seeing, it has about 20% to do with what the project actually IS and 80% to do with how that project is presented.

For example: a book project with a garbled description is pretty much doomed to failure. The general public seems to think, "Dude, if you can't even write a paragraph on your Kickstarter page, why would I read a whole book of your garbage?" Little do they know how incredibly hard it is to boil a book or a related fundraising campaign down to a few pithy paragraphs. To this day, I admire advertising copy writers for their skill in this.

If your video is one of you sitting on your futon with a blank wall behind you and your cat occasionally getting is the way...well, it's not going to go well. People want to feel like they are getting behind someone destined for success. I, honestly, was extremely worried about my video, because I know it lacked production quality (my fault for having to throw it together in a matter of a few days), but fortunately, it seemed to be just good enough to get people to hang with it.

And I don't think it's any coincidence that the most successful projects combine a completely "I never would have thought of that" concept with a hysterical video. We all like a laugh, and apparently, we'll throw money at people who make us smile. (Note to self--figure out how to be funny.)

In a time where so many of us are scraping as best we can to pursue our dreams, the crowdfunding trend seems to be an excellent option. That is, until so many people try it that it loses its novelty, and then we'll be looking for new options.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Of Books and New Names

Today, I got the official word that the adjustments to the series name on my novel releasing next month are locked down. The journey through titles on this coming book has been something like canoeing through rapids.

I wrote two-thirds of the manuscript back in the rough-draft stages (wow, that seems like ages ago) calling it nothing but "Danae's Story." I have always had a deep an abiding loathing of titling my works. I never title my drawings. I always struggled to affix a title to my films in college, and then they usually turned out to maintain the name of the works I was adapting for film ("The Highwayman," based on the poem by Alfred Noyes, and "The Cat and the Fiddler," based on the short story by Lloyd Alexander, for example.) This title-phobia extended quite naturally into when I started writing fiction.

I finally settled on a title of The Sword of the Patron for my novel, since I was going to start showing it to people and I figured I better be able call it something. But fantasy novels have long used the "____ of the _______" formula for titles, so publishers and editors are now prone to shy away from them.

After David Farland critiqued the first third of the book for a workshop I took with him about a year and a half ago, I shortened the title to drop the opening "the." He referred to the book as Sword of the Patron, and I typically did too, whenever I talked about it. But it was still a blank-of-the-blank. Let's be honest.

Written World Communications/Other Sheep wanted something crisper for the book, and that's where the title made it's final transition to Curse Bearer. It's more central to the story and bears multiple meanings, so it was a good switch.

The book remained, however, the first book in a proposed trilogy, and can you guess what format the trilogy name followed? Yep. Blank-of-the-blank. The series has been The Call of the Creator for almost as long as the book was The Sword of the Patron. But time has passed. Much editing has transformed the book. It's not the same story it was under either of those titles. And so, like Sword of the Patron had to go, so did Call of the Creator...at least for the series. The new name? After much thought and mulling of the overarching elements of the series, I've landed on...

The Risen Age Archive.

It's got an epic sound. There's no "of the" to be found anywhere. And to all of your consternation, I'm sure, you won't learn what that series title means until at least book two. I hope you'll follow Danae at least that far and find out the root of this new moniker.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Home Stretch


For those of you who have been waiting for more Windrider Sketches, I do apologize there haven't been more forthcoming in the past few weeks. It seems my attention has become completely monopolized by the last stages of getting Curse Bearer ready for its release this October.

I imagine it's possible that some of you who frequent this blog may be familliar with only Vinyanel and his exploits, so maybe a little summary is in order...

Curse Bearer is the novel I started before I wrote a single word of Windrider stories. Back when it went by its old name, Sword of the Patron,  I can credit the connection I made with Diminished Media to Curse Bearer's presence on a forum. You see, I was participating in an online critique forum over at ChristianWriters.com, and Tim Ambrose caught sight of the type of work I was writing and asked me if I would consider submitting a story to the then brand-new Digital Dragon Magazine. Hence, The Windrider Saga was born, and grew up quickly, while I also plodded through revision after revision on Patron. (Trust me, it needed it.)

Curse Bearer clocks in at about 125,000 words (in the 500 page range as paperbacks go) and is nearing its release, a couple months shy of the manuscript's 5th birthday. It doesn't much resemble the story that I first wrote in that original draft--the first novel I ever tried my hand at, and one I started naively pitching at writer's conferences long before I was ready. (God Bless Jeff Gerke for being so encouraging when I was clearly leaping before I had the sense to look.)

But time, determination, editing, and probably a little bit of luck have all converged, and here I am looking at having my third book released in two different series, all within 12 months of each other. It's crazy and exciting and exhausting all at once. But the typeset version of the novel is coming together, the cover is in the works, the marketing campaign is gathering funds one donation at a time.
Oh, and did I mention, the advance readers are starting to send in their thoughts on the book? I had to grin when I read this line from an upcoming review: "The story sidetracks a bit to introduce Culduin, the awesome elf of hotness, but the sidetrack is massively excused on his behalf. He's just a nice guy who patches up Danae, but he's also full of elvish awesome." It's always a shot in the arm to know the goal you've set for a character appears to have been achieved. :)

So, since I haven't managed to do anything more on the Windrider front, I'll throw a newly-scanned version of Culduin, the reader-dubbed awesome elf of hotness. ;)

I hope you'll join me on the adventure Curse Bearer begins this fall. It promises to be an exciting ride.