Sunday, November 16, 2014

Queen of Angels Help

My latest fantasy novel Queen of Angels spent eleven months languishing in the (invited) submission queue of a publisher I did not know was in financial trouble. Consequently I am behind schedule in getting it out to my fans. Any agents or publishers in blog-reader land who are looking for new material, contact me. My writing almost never needs any mechanical edits; I work very hard to produce a good, clean, grammatically sound manuscript. Oh, I generally spin a pretty decent yarn, too.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Goblinopolis for Free!

The Kindle version of Goblinopolis is free today!

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Toast to Venkman

I have come to the conclusion that the comedic actor I most admire is Bill Murray. He does what he wants, when he wants, the way he wants. A man like that has to be respected and, truth be told, envied. I have added him to my list of humorists with whom I'd like to have dinner, along with such notables as Mark Twain, Will Rogers, W.C. Fields, Groucho Marx, Robert Benchley, James Thurber, Dorothy Parker, E.B. White, H. Allen Smith, and Will Cuppy. Of course, of these Murray is the only living representative, but I estimate my chances of success are approximately equal with all of them, so it matters little.

Mr. Murray, I salute you and your free spirit.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Marketing Novels

With the popularization of self-publishing and the resulting glut of books available for download (ignoring for now the print book, which I truly fear is headed for extinction--and a disastrously sad day that will be for all mankind, too), it has become more and more difficult for those of us who have finally broken into the traditional book publishing game to distinguish our offerings from the DIY novels.

Don't get me wrong; my first novel, Tangent, was published by a press so small that only two books ever came from it. My second book, the humorous non-fiction work Ex Mentis Saxonicum, was outright self-published, and never marketed at all other than by word-of-mouth. I am therefore quite sympathetic with all who choose self-publishing as a means of bypassing the years of frustration and dashed hopes that often accompany trying to wedge one's foot into the door of old-school publishing. The problem is that there are now hundreds if not thousands of new titles every year from which readers must select. I have been writing for publication for 35 years; my books are well-written and expertly edited. How do I get across to potential readers that my novels are a cut above and deserve to be read?

Authors traditionally rely on their publishing houses to do the lion's share of the marketing, but small presses have neither the staff nor the deep pockets necessary to make themselves heard over the tumult of hundreds of larger, better-funded firms. What it all boils down to is that loyal readers play an absolutely critical role in the success of an author not signed with a major house. If you are reading this blog and want to see my novels coming out at reasonable intervals, I would ask that you make as much noise on social media as possible. I am working on a humorous video that will hopefully go viral, as well.

I love writing, and I love thinking that people enjoy reading what I write. If you want to see more of it, spread the word. Together we can accomplish the seemingly impossible. I have faith in all of you.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

No Drought of Doubt

Since my earliest memories I have been a creator. I don't mean to imply by this that everything I've created was worth the effort I put into it, or in fact any effort at all, but create I did and continue to do. Over the years, by talking to others of like ilk and reading their comments, I've come to understand that almost all creators alternately admire and despise their creations. In my own case that extends beyond the creation to the creative urge itself. I wonder how much simpler a cast my life would have taken on if I could just have been content with coming home from work and flopping down in front of the television like the vast majority of other American males my age.

But no, I had to roll up my sleeves and hit the drafting table, wood shop, easel, cement mixer, yard, ham shack, typewriter, keyboard, modeling bench, or some other locus of dabbling and drilling until it was time for bed. It got to the point where I owned a television solely for the purpose of watching taped movies a few times a year. I haven't subscribed to any cable TV service now for over half a decade. You'd think that as a fantasy and science fiction author I'd be into watching television shows and movies of those genres, but I can seldom rationalize giving up enough time from writing to accomplish even this pleasant activity, though it might quite legitimately be thought of as 'research.' (Why 're-search?' Does that mean you didn't find it the first time?)

Returning to my thesis, if indeed there is one, this love/hate dichotomy with the products of one's own mental perspiration recurs as a philosophical topic for me periodically, most often when I am engaged in a certain unavoidable biological function that lends itself well to cogitation. Most of the things I create I regard, quite frankly, as crap, especially when I compare them with what others working in the same medium having produced. My admirers, if there are any left in the general population, feel otherwise and have told me so on occasion. There's no accounting for taste.

Writing, the creative activity in which I am now involved full-time, is something of an exception for me. Sure, I still churn out crap on a regular basis, but unlike many of my other creative pursuits if I designate a piece of writing as having little to no value I have the option of fixing it, at least so long as I catch wind of the excremental aspect before something unfortunate like publication happens to it. That's a luxury many other art forms cannot be said to enjoy.

Irony stalks into my life regularly and from various directions. One of her favorite paths is through my writing. I can spend months slaving over a hot keyboard to produce a novel, polished to what appears to me to be mirror-finish perfection, only to have it either ignored or outright rejected by publishers, agents, reviewers, and even the man who comes to change the bulb in the street light out front. By the same token, some shallow throwaway piece I wrote while waiting at the doctor's office ten years ago and hastily edited for submission ends up being a finalist in a prestigious literary competition. Does this illustrate an intrinsic fairness and force of justice pervading the universe? I hardly think so.

In fact, it almost seems the more work I put into things, the worse they stink. This blog entry, for example, took me well over an hour.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Yet Another Feeble Tolkien Ripoff

In the days of Astranärion, when green and lush still were the glades and cool copses of fair Navillona, before the first rumor of the evil that was to spread from this verdant land until it covered the Four Realms in a sodden, suffocating blanket of hate, a man walked alone. He was not outcast, nor suffered he from any ailment or gross disfigurement that might seemingly cause him to seek out a solitary existence. He moved along paths seldom tread for his own purposes, shunning contact for the distraction it offered, pulling him away from his thoughts. Ever he sought counsel within himself, heeding no voice of bird or beast, looking at times at the sky, yet in truth seeing it not.

For fully a fortnight wandered he in solitude along the high waypaths that rode the hillsides midway between the sea foam and the shoulders of the Mithinn; in all that time he spoke not, and nor did he eat or drink save sunlight and morning dew. At last came he to a splendid valley, surrounded on three sides by blue and gray peaks, graced by two swift-flowing streams and overlain by a thick carpet of grass most green. In the midst of the valley stood a singular column of granite, many ells high, left by some unguessed-at act of nature or wizardry of the Elder Peoples. At its base he built a small cairn of stones, and on this cairn he broke his long fast.

A city grew from this beginning, a city whose like had never before nor since been seen in the lands of mortal men. Many towered it was, with sharp pinnacles aspiring to the heavens at the four corners of a magnificent curtain wall, wrought by dwarven skill from stone quarried from deep within Darva Mithinnu, the mountain of thunder. At its center was the Tower of Lemiol, hewn from the very living rock of the granite column, for Lemiol it was who founded the city, and ever did that tower bear his name.

Far and wide about the tower were gardens and parks, margined by broad avenues of close-set cobbling, and along these broadways sprang up the dwellings of the people of Pendu Leimol. Lemiol was a chieftain of the Estracar and his people flocked to him when he summoned them from their havens across the wide, storm-ridden gulf. It was fated that all Estracar should make this journey and take up abode in mortal climes since the Folly of Indüriner, who in madness sat himself upon the High Seat of Estra, the One, the only place forbidden to the people of Estra in all of the Blessed Realm. At that moment the lands of the Estracar broke apart from the body of the Blessed Realm, and became islands, havens hidden from mortal mariners yet much lessened from their former splendor. And Estra pronounced upon them this doom: that they should seek out mortal shores and there abide amongst the strifes of men and the other peoples, until they were at last called back from exile after many long ages.

So set forth Lemiol from the quay at Astranärion, sailing alone in a ship of deep blue Bhidras wood, which could not founder or be driven from its course by any save Lemiol or The One. He was in appearance as a mortal man, with long, fine, brown hair, a sharp nose, and piercing gray eyes. A careful observer might note in him an almost undefinable aura of grace and a fluidity of motion that bespoke his magical nature.

The Estracar were magical beings, born to magic and trained in its use from an early age. They never revealed their true nature to mortals, becoming known rather as sorcerors or mages or wizards or thaumaturges, or by a host of other labels that fell far short of reality. The sendra, the innermost caste of mages, knew them as carres inorpeth, the chosen ones, who were fittingly thought to be born to magic. Certainly the offspring of Estracar and mortals made exceptional mages, and they seemed to take to the rigid discipline of the thaumos, the spell-casting magic, far more quickly than did normal students.

While the Estracar were immortal, those who chose to dwell too long in any one place began, as a result of the distance between themselves and the Blessed Lands from which their power emanated, to fade, until they were almost transparent, possessing only a wispy gray outline that could easily be overlooked by any but the practiced. These poor souls were often called ghosts or spirits by the unenlightened, and feared greatly by the common people. As a result they wandered in solitary exile, far from inhabited places, for Estracar were acutely tuned to the joys and fears of mortal men and suffered greatly when confronted by intense fear or anger.

I can’t keep this up.