Saturday, December 29, 2012

Mary of the Aether Giveaway

Goodreads is giving away five paperback copies of Mary of the Aether, so if you don't have one, this is your chance. It runs until January 10, so hop on over there and enter to win. Right here.

In other news, Thorn and Shadow is now at a publisher, under consideration. Cross them fingers, friends.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

First Nibble

Well, the first publisher I queried about Thorn and Shadow has expressed interest in reading the whole manuscript. That bodes well. The actual comment was "You have caught my interest," so that's always good to hear. I will try to get the manuscript in the best possible shape this week while a bunch of crazy holiday activities are going on, so I can send it to him before I leave town for another trip next week.

My wife has been reading the manuscript, and she is making far fewer scratch marks than usual. That also bodes well. When proofreading for me, she marks typos and writes little notes in the margins when she spots trouble or plot holes or clunky prose. Thorn and Shadow appears to have far fewer of all of the above than my other manuscripts.

And there you go, people. Maybe one day you, too, will be reading about the thorn that pierced the shadow.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

What is Thorn and Shadow?

Well, what is Thorn and Shadow all about? Let me give you a bit of a blurb. Here it is.

The Garden of the Old Planter on Haven Ridge is the last bastion of green and growing things in a world that has turned into a vast desert. A young woman named Adhi lives in a small village in the shadow of the Garden wall. One day, she spots a massive army of men with swords and spears marching out of the dunes, approaching the ridge, driven by some terrible power. Soon Adhi finds herself at the heart of a conflict over the fate of the Garden and the whole world.

There you go. That's the blurb. As an added bonus, you will see men fighting bears and elk and bison and leopards. What more could you want?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Thorn and Shadow is Done

Thorn and Shadow is done. And when I say done, I mean pretty much, for the most part, done. My wife is going to read it during the annual family drive to Disney World and give me some feedback, so that may be incorporated into the mix at a later date. However, other than that, the story is sort of and mostly and fairly well done.

The story of Adhi and the Garden of the Old Planter clocked in at 87,492 words, 22 chapters plus an epilogue. After the Christmas holiday, I will put on the final coat of varnish and begin the process of querying publishers.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Eyes Glazing Over

There comes a point when I'm in the midst of rewriting a novel where I've read the darn thing so many times that the words just turn into a jumble of nonsense. Names and adjectives and he said and they said, it all just runs together, and I can no longer read the thing. Suddenly, it just seems like an absolute mess, and I can't make heads or tails of it.

Not sure that makes any sense, but the point is, there comes a point in rewriting where you just have to walk away for a while, because you have over-saturated your mind with the text. I believe I am at that point with Thorn and Shadow. I've gotten there with all of my novels at some point in the rewriting process. I rewrote Mary of the Aether twelve times, and the high number of revisions was partly the result of not stepping away and getting a fresh perspective.

So there you go. Over-saturation, folks. It can be a killer. Put your manuscript down for a few days or weeks and come back to it with fresh eyes.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Klown Kroo - A Random Sample

Last time, I gave you a random sampling of Mary of the Aether. Well, look, I am in the business of giving free samples to people, so today I would like to give you a random sample of another novel. You see, I may be on the verge of publishing my post-apocalyptic novel, The Klown Kroo. Fingers are crossed, luck beads are ensconced in the silver cage, but I should find out soon.

Anyway, to that end, I thought I might offer you a random sampling of The Klown Kroo at this time. So here it is. It is a tale of parasitic infections, rampaging hordes, clowns, tyrants and juggling and knife fights and rubes. See, it has every good thing.

Here is your sample, folks.

          The crowd began rocking the trailer back and forth, the axles squealing as if in pain. Annabelle stumbled into the makeup table, scattering jars and pencils and rags. The cooler on the shelf tipped over, spilling half a dozen bottles onto the floor.
          “Open the door,” Telly said.
          Karl opened the door, and a sea of leering, diseased faces peered in. Bodies were pressed up against the back of the trailer in a heap. Dirty faces, stained clothing, toothless mouths. Arms reached through the open door, fingers clawing along the frame. Telly took a step back to avoid the grasping hands and began swinging away. The shillelagh thumped off arms, hands, stomachs, legs, and with each blow, the crowd’s frenzy intensified.
          “Karl, help,” Telly said.
          Karl had ducked behind the door to avoid the hands, but he stepped out into the open now and raised both fists. He had big hands, rough knuckles.
          “Come get your money’s worth, rubes,” he said, and began punching into the crowd.

And there you go, folks. Maybe someday soon this delicious tale of circus antics, enraged sick people, armies and crumbled Arkansas towns may be an e-book that you can read and sigh and swoon over.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Mary of the Aether - A Random Sample

Haven't read Mary of the Aether yet? Well, that'll make reading the sequel a bit complicated, don't you think? Maybe the book's blurb is not compelling enough. Well, let me offer you this bit o' story from a later point in the novel to encourage you in every way, shape and form to finally check out Mary of the Aether. We're talking about an eventual four book series here, folks, so wade in.

           A gentle clanking sound roused her sometime later. She recognized it as the sound of the loop handles on the dresser drawers rattling. She opened her eyes to find that she had drifted into a light sleep, tossing and turning on the bed so that her face was now pressed against the wall and one leg dangled off onto the floor. The room appeared brighter, as if Aunt Carole had snuck in while she slept and plugged in a dozen lamps and turned them all on, but the light had a soft, shimmering quality quite unlike the unnatural glare of a bulb.
           Mary rolled over, nearly toppling off the bed in the process, catching herself by snagging the edge of the blanket. Light filled the room like smoke, but it appeared heaviest in the space above the dresser, where a glowing mass like a miniature sun blazed. Mary held up her hand to block it out, but the light shone through her hand as if she were made of clear glass.
           “What…what is it?” she gasped, sitting up.
          The mass of light convulsed, and a shape appeared in the center of it.

Well, now, isn't that random and weird enough to make you want to read the rest of it? Available as Kindle, PDF, html and paperback. All appropriate links at my website - HERE

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

So Many Ideas, So Little Time

Torn! I can't decide what to write next. I still can't decide, people. I worked a little bit on Mary of Starlight. Then I went over and wrote about 500 words of Oumings in the Dark. Can't decide which one to focus on. On the one hand, I do want to finish the Mary saga. On the other hand, it'll be a long time before Mary of Starlight ever get published, so what's the hurry?

Here's a sample of Oumings in the Dark:

As Muz pulled back, reaching up to snag the edge of the curtain, a face materialized, like a pink monster breaking the surface of a still pond. It slipped out of the net of purple wisteria, a contorted demi-man of some kind, mouth fixed in a rictus of agony or rage, a scraggly beard on sharp cheekbones and cleft chin. His eyes were devil eyes, Muz thought, bloodshot and glistening with some ugly madness. Human faces were already strange enough to the Ouming, with their small pointy features and fat lips, but this was something else altogether, some hateful thing.
                Startled, Muz lurched backward and fell off the stool. He just managed to fling the curtain over the window before he fell, clattering to the wood floor with a thump and a cry. He lay there for a minute, afraid the terrible face might suddenly poke through the curtain and enter the house. But it wasn’t the monster face that roused him, in the end. It was the harsh voice of Master Torbin from the study.
                “What are you doing in there?” he said, his voice echoing down the long hallway. “Are you dropping my things? Did something break?”

Does that sound like something worth finishing, or should I continue with the mystical, magical Aether adventures? Someone tell me! 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mary of Shadows - Sneak Peek

Fans of Mary of the Aether, it's still going to be quite a while before the sequel comes out. Mary of Shadows is slated for summer 2013, but I thought I might give you a tiny sampling from the first chapter, so please enjoy.

            Humid summer heat lay on Chesset like a damp blanket, plastering hair to faces, shirts to backs. Aunt Carole’s makeup ran down her face in long, multi-colored trails. The presents had been opened, but really, what do you give a Lightbearer? Some perfume and lipstick from Kristen, who had been goading Mary into, as she put it, fancying herself up for a while now. A nice card from Aiden with a sweet little note scribbled inside, accompanied by a silver charm bracelet. And, wonder of wonders, a cell phone from Aunt Carole—Mary was the last of all her friends to get one. All of the gifts were now safely tucked back inside one of the gift bags and sat at the end of the bench. Only cake with too-soft icing and melting ice cream remained.
            “Fifteen years old,” Kristen said. “Isn’t that the age that you’re officially supposed to go wild?”
            “Now, let’s not even suggest it,” Aunt Carole said, fanning herself with a magazine.
            And then, as if Aunt Carole’s words were the cue, the screaming began. It came from the far side of the park, a man’s voice but high and cracking. A figure stumbled out of the line of trees, hunched over, a man clutching his face. He wandered into the park, past the swing set and monkey bars, past wide-eyed children and a pair of Corgi dogs on leashes who couldn’t decide whether to bark or whimper. The man’s eyes were covered, but he stumbled right toward the picnic table, as if seeing it in his mind.

And there you go. There's a tiny morsel from the first page of the first chapter of Mary of Shadows, and it's all I can give you for now. The book comes out next summer from Whiskey Creek Press, so keep checking this blog for more bits and pieces until then. In the meantime, be sure to read Mary of the Aether.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What Time Is It? Time for Oumings.

Okay, decision made. Thorn and Shadow is done and in the hands of my first draft reader. When she finds the time, she will work her way through it and make various notes and circle the typos and such. In the meantime, I have begun work on another novel. Yes, I have decided to start something brand spanking new instead of going back to work on Mary of Starlight.

Why work on a sequel to a book that doesn't come out until August of next year? That was my thinking. Therefore and thus and such, I have started work on a fantasy novel called Oumings in the Dark, very loosely based on my short story of the same title (which, by the way, got reviewed at this website once upon a time and called "a nice little piece."). And that short story was based on a novel I attempted to write in high school called The Fifth Crystal. Yes, ladies and germs, the origin of this one goes way back.

Anywho, it is the story of a stubby race of furry critters called Oumings who are enslaved to humans in a rather dreary kingdom for some terrible thing their ancestors supposedly did. It will involved intrigue, bloody combat, assassinations in the dead of night, touching moments, betrayals and dreadful monsters that eat people (and Oumings). What more could you ask for? What more?!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thorns and Shadows

Well, I finished the initial review of Thorn and Shadow. Read through the whole thing, made some minor edits along the way, a few additions and deletions and changes, and I have to say, with some degree of relief, I think the book works. It's a short little novel (87,000 words) compared to everything else I've written, but it moves and flows and has some real emotional heft to it. That's my impression, anyway. We'll see how the first draft reader feels when she gets hold of it.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Okay, I moved past the rough part of Thorn and Shadow. Actually, I just worked my way through one of the key scenes of the novel, a pivotal and emotional moment that is vitally important to everything that comes thereafter. And, oh, sound the sacred chimes, the scene works. I mean, you never really know until the first read-through, right? You never know if a scene really works, even though you wrote it yourself, until you get some distance from it and then read it.

In this instance, the scene works. It involves a big emotional turning point, and it works. Noice! All is right with the world. I will sleep easy tonight.

Friday, November 23, 2012

My Stars and Garters

Oh, man, sometimes you're just working your little way through the rewrite, nixing a word here and there, switching an adjective or two or three along the way, murdering your adverbs, and it's all just flowing and going. And then! And then, ladies and gentlemen, you get to a part of the manuscript that is so rough, so disjointed and poorly written, that you daren't hope it will ever work. You even consider deleting whole paragraphs, whole chapters, or maybe just loading up the MMORPG that you are currently subscribed to (for the record, it's Rift) and wandering around a digital world in which the manuscript doesn't even exist.

Yes, that is what happened this evening, and it was such an important scene. Such an important scene. I wanted it to work immediately, but it didn't. Oh, how it didn't! But I refused to walk away. I stuck it out, hammered away like a little Fix-It Felix Jr., and gradually it took on some semblance of okay. It will need more work eventually, but at least I can now stand it. I am hoping the next scenes will be in better shape.

We shall see.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Halfway Through

Well, I'm halfway through the initial rewrite of Thorn and Shadow. It's just a cursory rewrite, nothing major, just a tiny bit of polish to make the manuscript readable. So far, there are parts I really like, parts that are okay, and some parts that will need a great deal of work at some point. Overall, I think the novel works. My only concern is that it might have too many characters. We'll see how my first draft reader responds.

Anyway, I am leaning in the direction of working on Mary of Starlight next. Yeah, I've got another novel I want to write, but I'd really like to get Mary Lanham's story told. There are some epic/touching/compelling things I've got planned, and I can't wait to write them. Oumings can wait. I don't know. Maybe I will change my mind again before I move on. So many ideas, so little time.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Pain of the First Read-Through

So when I'm working on a novel, I do not, under any circumstances, go back and reread what I've written until I have finished the whole thing. Too much discouragement can keep me from getting to the end. Once I get the whole thing written, then it's time to read it for the first time. And, yes, it can be painful, because, up until then, the novel is still that pristine and perfect thing that resides in my imagination. The words never quite live up to what was in my head, so that first read-through can be a slog. Rewriting, for me, becomes a process of shaping those clunky words into the best approximation of what I had in my head. There's just a lot of work to be done.

Now, that makes it sound altogether unpleasant. However, from time to time, as I read through the first draft, I find a passage, a paragraph or maybe just a sentence that turned out just the way I wanted it to. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a sublime moment, and it makes all the rest of the work worthwhile.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I Miss NaNoWriMo

I got done too soon, people, and now I miss NaNoWriMo. I was part of the action, part of the adventure, part of the daily grind, the sweat and tears. I got to watch my friends as their word counts went up or just sat there. It was all so exciting, and now it's over. I finished my novel mid-month, and I'm out of the game. And rewriting doesn't count, even though I have thousands of words to rewrite, including but not limited to clunky dialogue, typos out the wazoo, strange transitions, plot holes and needed scenes. But NaNoWriMo doesn't care about such things. NaNoWriMo only cares about first drafts. Oh, I know how you are, NaNoWriMo. I know how you are.

In other news, the blog Little Library Muse posted an excerpt of Mary of the Aether. It's the scene where Aiden and Mary are trying to lose creepy old Iris who starts following them at the gas station. Well, here's the link people: Little Library Muse.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I Win, NaNoWriMo, I Win.

That's right, NaNoWriMo. You heard me. I win. I just completed the first draft of my novel, Thorn and Shadow, on November 14, all 86,277 words of it. You thought you could stop me, didn't you? Oh, I know how you are, NaNoWriMo. I know the way you try to break people. I'm aware of your tricks. But I defied your every wish and finished the novel. I win. Take that back to your hovel in shame and disgrace!

Okay, to be fair, I didn't write the whole novel during November, only the last 22,000 words. Nevertheless, the first draft is done, and there it is. Epilogue and everything. Now, of course, I have to go back and do one million revisions, but that's just the way it goes.

Thorn and Shadow turned out to be one of my shorter novels. It might grow in the rewriting, because there are a few scenes I know I need to add to flesh things out. I expect it to top out around 90,000 words. And that's just fine. It has a nice, brisk pace.

So, there you go, people. If I can defy NaNoWriMo's tricks, so can you. Get that novel finished and rub it in his filthy face!

Good luck and God Speed,


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Eight Novels

Thorn and Shadow is done except for the epilogue. Not sure if the ending is too abrupt or not, but I think it's a short enough novel that a lingering denouement would not help the pacing. The NaNoWriMo page says I will be done with the novel by December 4, but actually I should be done with the first draft by tomorrow night. That'll be one more novel completed.

As I tally it up, that means I've written eight novels in my lifetime. I probably shouldn't count the first one, as it was profoundly terrible, nay, vomitous. I don't even remember the name of the first one. I wrote it in my first year of college. It had something to do with two brothers finding a mysterious red crystal in a cave that turned out to be part of an alien's spaceship and had powers. Blah blah blah. Awful. Nauseating.

The second novel was called Deep Water. It was a very personal novel, written with a lot of emotion, in the year of our Lord two thousand and one, but it needed a lot more rewriting than I was willing to put into it at the time. It currently resides in a plastic box in the closet.

The third novel was called Dreaming of Shadows. It wasn't well thought out. A meandering plot with some interesting and disturbing scenes involving paper-skinned monsters called Teshogats, it ultimately added up to very little and ended in an unsatisfying way. I wrote it in 2004-2005 or thereabouts. No publisher loved it.

The fourth novel was Mary of the Aether.

The fifth novel was called The Klown Kroo. It is still looking for a publisher. It is my wife's favorite of all the things I've written. It is also disturbing enough to cause me some trouble, so it may never see the light of day. I mean, clowns and post-apocalypse and brain worms and zombie-like hordes, you can see how that might all add up to disturbing things.

The sixth novel was Mary of Shadows, which I have already signed the contract for. It comes out next summer.

The seventh novel was a rewrite of Deep Water. It wound up being over 200,000 words, so I split it into two volumes: Bloodstone and A Whisper in the Void. It is sitting at a publisher right now, being considered. I should hear something one way or the other by the end of this month.

And there you go. The novelistic history of Mr. Jeffrey Miller. I didn't even touch on all the unfinished novels. This blog entry is already too long, as it is.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Possibilities and Crazy Things

Well, I just passed the 80,000 word mark in Thorn and Shadow. We are at the climactic chapter, with all sorts of crazy things happening. I'm talking blood, critters falling down dead, ribbons of light, people being impaled, rampaging animals, dreadful voices. So far, this has been one of the funner writing experiences I've had. There really hasn't been any part of this novel that was difficult to write. It has a nice, steady pace that just ramps up into fun and crazy things. I enjoy it. Will other people enjoy it? That remains to be seen.

At this pace, I will be done with the novel in another week or so, which will mean I have nothing left to do with the rest of NaNoWriMo. For my next project, I think I will go back and finish working on the second sequel to Mary of the Aether. It's called Mary of Starlight, and it will also ramp up into crazy things. In fact, it will get so epic near the end that I find the prospect of writing it daunting.

On the other hand, I might not finish Mary of Starlight next. I have an idea for another fantasy novel that I want to write. When I was in high school, I attempted a novel called The Fifth Crystal. It was more than I could manage at the time, so I got about fifty pages in and gave up. Nevertheless, it is an idea that I want to revisit, and I know how to make it work now. I actually wrote a short story called Oumings in the Dark that appeared in the fourth issue of a magazine called Encounters that is very loosely based on the same idea. The link is here. Anywho, I might write that next instead of the next Mary novel. We shall see.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Oh NaNoWriMo

Are any of you participating in NaNoWriMo? We're only ten days in, folks. Don't collapse now. Press on! As I mentioned before, I am using NaNoWriMo as a means to propel me to finish Thorn and Shadow by the end of November. I should be able to do it. I'm past 77,000 words, and I've got another, say, 20,000 to go.

You want to know the secret to completing the NaNoWriMo? Here it is: write. Make yourself write every day, folks. I don't care if you've got diarrhea, dentist appointments, family reunions or gout, make yourself sit down every single stupid, sweaty day and pound out the words. You don't have to like it. You don't have to want to do it. Wrest control of your own self and make it sit before the computer and write.

And that, gents and dames, is the secret to completing NaNoWriMo. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Meet the Author

I did a Meet the Author event at a Middle School this evening. Parents and kids came to the school library, and I read a couple of chapters, gave away some copies of the book, sold other copies, signed copies, handed out bookmarks, answered various questions about writing and publishing and Mary of the Aether.

It turned out to be a fun event. I met some fans of the book, which is an interesting and new experience. Here's a couple of pics from event.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Climactic Moments

I've passed the 75,000 word mark in Thorn and Shadow, and we're approaching the climactic moments. I just finished a particularly bloody scene with stabbings and broken teeth and various awful things happening.

I had one of my stranger writing moments the other night. I was out for my evening walk when I got inspiration for the next scene in the book. As I worked through it in my head, suddenly I wanted very much to write it down, but I was two miles from home. So I pulled out my iPhone, opened up the email app and wrote out the scene using that awful fake iPhone keyboard. It was dark, I was walking, there was occasional traffic to be mindful of and the auto-correct kept wrongly correcting things, but I finally got the scene written. Then I e-mailed it to myself, all while continuing to walk. I couldn't help it. I had to get the scene out!

Anywho, in other news, I am heading back up to Prairie Grove Middle School tomorrow evening to do a Family Literacy Night event. I will be talking about the writing and publishing process, reading some passages from Mary of the Aether, and possibly even selling a few copies. I have no idea what to expect, how many people will be there or how it will be received. We shall see!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Dust, Decay and Blood

Well, I've got various things a'brewin' for Mary of the Aether. I am still working to promote the novel. To that end, I've got an interview at the YA Promo Central Website. Click on the title there to head on over and read it. I also have an excerpt that will be appearing soon on the Little Library Muse blog. I'm not sure exactly when that will appear, but I'll link to it when it happens. In the meantime, you might head on over to the website and see what they're all about.

I continue to work on Thorn and Shadow, inspired by NaNoWriMo to get the thing completed by the end of the month. I think it will happen. I just passed the 70,000 word mark, and we are heading into the final stretch. So much dust, decay, blood, fighting, fear, anxiety, guilt and apocalyptic events, I can scarcely contain myself, people.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pressing On

I passed 62,000 words in Thorn and Shadow. I just wrote a chapter of turgid emotions on the eve of a big, world-shattering battle. In other news, I did an interview on Mary of the Aether for an indie book website. Not sure when it will appear, but I'll post the link here when it does. I have another interview lined up for November with a YA book review blog. So there you go. That's the latest news.

And now, here is a random, unedited, first draft paragraph from Thorn and Shadow, picked at random:

She rounded a bend in the stream and saw a field of flowers before her ringed in stately palm trees. The water traced a course along the western edge. Coconuts littered the ground, and a small monkey was busy picking at one of them, trying to get it open. When he heard Adhi approaching, he looked up, uttered a plaintive sound and scampered up one of the trees. Pansies, petunias and blue bonnets formed chaotic swirls of deep purple and blue and yellow. Adhi was tempted to stop and rest a while, but she pressed on.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Of Thorns and Shadows

Well, I continue to plug away at Thorn and Shadow. I'm 56,300 words into the novel, a little over halfway. It's strange how I see myself returning to the same themes over and over. This is unintentional. It's like a kid who keeps picking at the same scabs. I can't help it. I find myself wrestling with the same thoughts, the same feelings, the same ideas. The particular stories are different, however, so it's almost like I come at the same things from different angles. I wonder if other writers experience this phenomenon. I assume they do.

I have written fourteen chapters. Here are the current chapter titles:

1 - The Shapes of Men
2- Scattered
3 - The Spirit of the Old Planter
4 - Volunteers
5 - Blood on the Roots
6 - Secret Places
7 - Of Water and Voices
8 - Light and Spirit
9 - The First Stirring
10 - Pursuit
11 - To the Wall
12 - The Clearing
13 - Dust
14 - Breaking the Wall

Not sure why I post chapter titles like that. It helps me to just keep track of where I've been, I suppose. Now, you might be saying, "Well, what is Thorn and Shadow all about?" It's about the Garden of the Old Planter on Haven Ridge, and the girl, Adhi, who is tasked with defending it from the thousand-strong army of Deti Maranam, Lord beneath the Sand. Adhi, by the way, in the Tamil language means "the start of everything."

In other news, I just received twenty more copies of Mary of the Aether. I will need them for the literacy event at the school coming up next week. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

What's Next for Promo?

What's next in the world of author promo for my first novel, Mary of the Aether? Things have been quiet for a while, no book signings or anything, but the next big event is coming up. A friend of mine works for a local school system, and I will be doing a literacy event at the junior high in a couple of weeks. The plan is to give a thirty-minute interactive presentation on how to write a novel. We'll talk about the story-germ, character development, common grammar mistakes, plot and the climax and resolution, all of that fun stuff, and then the kids get to do a little writing of their own. It's the sort of thing I would have loved at that age, but we'll see how it goes.

The library at the school has agreed to buy a few copies, and about a week after the first event, I will return to do an evening presentation for parents on getting published. We'll talk about querying, synopsis writing, self-publishing and indie publishers and all sorts of good stuff, and hopefully a few latent writers will get motivated. Afterward, I will set up a book table to maybe sell some books.

So there you go. That's the next big event. Anxiety? Of course, but what can you do? You just have to push through the anxiety.

In other news, I am at the halfway point in Thorn and Shadow. 50,000 words is upon me! I am enjoying writing it, and the story is just flowing nicely, all the pieces coming together and crazy things happening. There is blood, dust, rampaging bison, out-of-control tree roots. What more could you want?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Best Time of Day for Writing

What is the best time of day for writing? I used to know the answer to that question. For years, I have done most of my writing late at night. In fact, it is often the last thing I do before going to bed, sit down at the computer and hammer out 1,000 words or so. The feeling of accomplishing a personal goal even helps me to sleep.

However, I also find that the internet, with its flash games, facebook, various trivia-laden websites and those accursed MMORPGs are all pretty strong distractions in the wee hours. Maybe it's because my mind is shutting down and losing concentration, as midnight gives way to morning. Not sure. But I do find lately that I write more effectively earlier in the day. I have even managed some healthy word counts in the morning, which once would have seemed terribly unlikely.

I also find that when I hit that 1,000 word goal earlier in the day, I get to carry that sense of accomplishment with me throughout the afternoon and evening. It's a good feeling to know that you have, in some small way, fulfilled your destiny on any particular day.

At the moment, I am still working on Thorn and Shadow. As I've gotten back into work and responsibilities, my daily word count has dropped back into the normal range from my lofty Moorcockian goals. Nevertheless, I am approaching 43,000 words, and almost at the halfway point of the story. I just finished the part of the story where a bear is about to eat people, so that should be fun to write.

And on that note, I go to bed!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Random Paragraph Time

I want to play a little game. I am going to select a random paragraph from each of my books and publish it here. I will be careful not publish anything that might be too revealing, but otherwise randomness is the order of the day. Here we go.

Mary of the Aether

Mary struggled to find something else to say. What he wanted, he could have. That was the truth of it. The magic that he longed for was right in front of him, and he didn’t even realize it. The beautiful coincidence did not escape her, and she felt a responsibility to share something with him. Her fear was that if she told him everything, he wouldn’t believe it; he might accuse her of concocting the whole thing in order to patronize him. She couldn’t prove any of it. The orb was gone, and the rusty box proved nothing.

The Klown Kroo

David stumbled across the room, his shoes crunching on glass, and took a seat at the table. He didn’t know if he wanted to cry or pass out. Maybe both. He swept the last bits of glass off the table and rested his cheek on the cool, polished wood. Annabelle was applying some kind of clear ointment to Karl’s cheeks, and he watched her with heavy lids. She had a lovely face, made all the more lovely by the flush in her cheeks and forehead. Her dark hair was tangled with sweat and plastered to her temples.

And now he did cry, though he wasn’t really sure why. Tears spilled down his face and dripped onto the tabletop. He wiped them away and quickly hid his eyes behind his hands.

“Karl.” Annabelle spoke softly. “Karl, you’re gonna be alright.”

Mary of Shadows

And so Mary Lanham walked away from her own birthday party, and eyes were no doubt upon her, and whispers were no doubt already going forth. Once again, Mary was the target of strange people, what could she be hiding? That was how the gossip would go, she imagined. She skirted the edge of the park to avoid most of the stares and headed for Main Street. Aiden was at her side, as always these days, and he took her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze—his way of letting her know that he understood her worry. They walked in silence all the way to Main Street, then crossed the road and headed up Neser Hill.


Finally, her voice trailed off into quiet sobs, and for a long time they heard only wind through the shattered door. Tendrils of smoke curled down into the cave, and Jeren smelled the stench of burnt stone. He picked himself up and moved toward the barrels, sliding them out of the way one by one until he revealed the huddled form of the girl, her face buried in the nest of her arms. He tried to give her the sandal, but she would neither take it nor look at him. He laid it down beside her and turned back to the gaping door. The ladder had broken in the fall and lay in pieces with the remains of the door, which meant they no longer had easy way up. He figured they might be able to stack barrels to form a kind of crude staircase, but then what?

A Whisper in the Void

“I was trying to leave,” Mithlen said, gesturing back toward town. “Too many crazy people down there, too many bad memories, so I loaded up my wagon and hitched the donkey and set off. Thought I might take the old river bridge, but I changed my mind. Turned into the field, and that dumb jenny, she stumbled in the ditch here. When the wagon turned over, it broke the straps on her harness, and she ran away with the bit still in her mouth. I caught up to her, but when I tried to bring her back, she kicked me. Half mad, that animal. But here I am.” He spread his hands out toward the scattered crates. “All my worldly possessions cast about like garbage.”

And there you go, folks. That's all my completed novels, published and unpublished, from the last few years. I'll hold off on Mary of Starlight and Thorn and Shadow for now, since they are works in progress. Which paragraphs intrigues you the most?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Spewing Words Daily

Okay, so I've been working on Thorn and Shadow for ten days now, and I've managed just over 20,000 words, which means I've averaged 2,000 words a day. Now, that is way behind Michael Moorcock, but at least I've doubled my old average. Not too shabby. At this rate, Thorn and Shadow will be finished in about 50 days.

When I say "finished," I mean "first draft complete." Of course, many more days of rewrites would follow. Nevertheless, I will have completed a novel in record time, if I can pull it off. The story has a nice thrust to it. It starts off with tension, and that tension just builds and builds and fairly quickly crazy, wild things begin to happen. This makes the story easy to write. I know where it's headed, and there's not a lot of drag along the way.

So there you go. The daily minutiae of a writer. Aren't you thrilled?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Surviving Round Two

I survived the second book signing. The first hour was pretty slow and uneventful, to the extent that I began to believe the whole event would be a bust. Nothing is more "fun" than sitting at a table, staring at people and waiting for someone to notice you. But things finally picked up in the second hour, and I sold a good number of book. Actually, I sold all of the copies that Hastings had on hand, so they put a few more books in the system.

And there I am, surviving round two with a smile on my face. Actually, it's not so bad. I build up how awkward it is before the event, but I had an okay time. It's always good to see people, sign things for them and shake some hands.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Another Book Signing

It's good to know people. You know what I mean? Because when you know people, and you are having a book signing, people who know you are likely to show up. That makes the book signing slightly less awkward, because the people who already know you also know what to expect. Here's the thing, I'm just not a salesman. Sitting in the front end of a bookstore at a little table while customers roam around me is a strange experience. I have never worked retail for a reason, folks. I don't know whether to greet people, make eye contact, wave at them or what.

All of that is to say, if you come out to my book signing tomorrow (Saturday, Sept 22), don't be put off if I appear a bit socially awkward. I really am glad you're there! I might make eye contact, I might say strange things, but I will be excited, I will sign your book, I will even shake your hand, if that's what you want. So come on down. You might even get a free bookmark and magnet, because...heck, why not?

The specifics: Hastings in Fort Smith, Arkansas on Rogers Avenue from 2pm to 4pm (6800 Rogers Avenue, behind Chick-Fil-A and across the street from the hospital).

Some pictures of me being socially awkward will make an appearance on this very blog after the event. I know you can't wait...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Where Things Stand

Okay, I thought it might be a good idea to recap where things stand with my various novels. So here is a brief rundown.

Mary of the Aether - my first published novel, YA Urban Fantasy, came out in July, currently available as an e-book and trade paperback through Amazon, Nook, Fictionwise, Whiskey Creek and a few other sites, as well as some local bookstores.

Mary of Shadows - the sequel to Mary of the Aether. I have already signed the contract with Whiskey Creek Press. It comes out next year.

The Klown Kroo - A post-apocalyptic science fiction novel about a ragtag troupe of clowns trying to survive in a world being driven mad by a parasitic brain worm. Yep, that's the story, folks! And my proofreaders said this was their favorite of everything I've written. I sent forth some queries a couple months ago and have yet to hear back.

Bloodstone - The first volume of a two volume fantasy series about a boy and girl who set out to save the island nation of Tesaria which is being ravaged by dream sickness. This is, without a doubt, the novel that I have the most emotional investment in. The first volume is Bloodstone, the second is A Whisper in the Void. I wrote it as one book, but it came out at over 200,000 words, and a kindly literary agent suggested I might have a hard time getting such a large novel published as an unknown author. So it became two, and there was kind of a natural breaking point in the story to make it happen. I queried some publishers, and one responded with an enthusiastic request to read the manuscript. They have received the manuscript and should get back with me in a couple of months.

Mary of Starlight - Third volume in the Mary/Aether series. I've written 47,000 words, twelve chapters, but I'm taking a break to work on something else for a while.

Thorn and Shadow - And this is the thing I'm currently working on! A fantasy novel about a sacred garden in the midst of a vast desert, and the people who watch over it. Magical and troubling things are bound to happen.

So there you go. That's where my writing adventures currently stand.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Word Counts

15,000 words a day, ladies and gentlemen, is more than I can manage. That is what I learned over the last few days. I was on a retreat in Florida, so I had plenty of downtime. Sunday and Monday, I worked almost non-stop on Thorn and Shadow, and I only managed a little over 10,000 words total. Oh well. 5,000 words a day is not bad, and if I ever do this writing thing full time, I'm sure I could push past that. We shall see.

In the meantime, please enjoy the very first rough appearance of the opening sentences of Thorn and Shadow:

The shapes of men materialized out of the dust clouds, bodies wreathed in loose cloth of black and gray. Hoods and masks hid their faces, but they moved with purpose, marching in ranks. Though the distance was great, Adhi saw the glint of polished blades, of long silver spears and curved scimitars, catching the heavy rays of the lowering sun as it sank beneath the dunes.
“Have they come to behold the garden or to murder us?” Kathiri asked, poised on the edge of the low wall. “What do you think, little sister?"


Sunday, September 16, 2012

New Novel

I couldn't do it. I just couldn't do it! I had an idea for a new short story, and I worked on it a little bit on the laptop during a plane flight to Florida. But the constraints of the short story format were too much, and the idea was too rich and interesting to me. I have to explore it more fully.

What I'm trying to say is that I have started work on a new novel. The working title is Thorn and Shadow. I'll get back to Mary Lanham and her adventures afterward, but for now it's time for Haven Ridge and the Garden of the Old Planter. I've managed to write 3,400 words in the last couple of days.

Now, here's the thing. Up until now, my daily writing goal has been 1,000 words, but the other day I read that Michael Moorcock often wrote 15,000 words a day. I feel challenged by that. I doubt I can manage 15,000 words, what with another career and all, but I'm sure I can aim much higher. What about 5,000 words a day? Can I ramp up to that? We shall see.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Break Time

So I've been working dutifully on Mary of Starlight, writing about 1,000 words a day. The story stands at just over 47,000 words, but I'm thinking of taking a little break from it. It's not as if I need to hurry and finish it, after all., since the previous book, Mary of Shadows, doesn't even come out until next summer. Yep, that's right. Next summer. Oh well.

I will either work on some short stories or another novel. I think the break will give me a fresh approach to Mary's continuing saga. I know generally where the story is headed and how things will turn out, but getting there is becoming a bit of a slog. If I purge Chesset from my system for a while, I might come back with renewed energy.

A whole mess of strange short stories sounds like the way to go. Brace yourselves.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Mary of Starlight

Yes, Mary of Starlight, that is the name of book number three in the series. Why is it called Mary of Starlight, you might ask? Well, you'll just have to wait and see. I am 39,750 words into the story, and things are already heating up. Terrible things are happening, tension is building and pretty soon spectacular events will unfold. Is that vague enough?

In other news, I wrote a really long fantasy novel earlier this year called Deep Water. It was over 200,000 words, which is a pretty hefty paperback. On the advice of an agent, who suggested a publisher might be hesitant to purchase such a large novel from an unknown author, I split it into two volumes. The first volume, Bloodstone, is currently under consideration at a small publishing house. They expressed excitement about the sample chapters and synopsis. I should have a response one way or the other in a couple of months. The second volume, A Whisper in the Void, is also ready to go, should the first volume sell.

Now, I haven't even talked about my post-apocalyptic science fiction novel, The Klown Kroo. I wrote that one back in 2011. It is also under consideration at a publishing house. It may sell first. You never know. Of all the things I've written, my wife (who is my chief reader of first drafts) declared The Klown Kroo her favorite. It's about a ragtag clown troupe trying to eke out a living in various decaying Arkansas towns whilst being occasionally attacked by hordes of brain-sick rubes. What's not to love?

If all goes well, I could be a four-time published author by the end of the year. We shall see.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


I survived the first book signing! Honestly, it was an awkward experience. You're sitting there at a little table right in the middle of Hasting's, staring at the entry door while people wander past you. My wife's advice was "don't look bored or angry," so I opted for grinning like a fool.

It went well. The book manager told me I sold more copies than usual for this sort of thing, so I can't complain. Plus, I met some interesting people and saw some old friends.

The next book signing will be at Hasting's in Fort Smith on Saturday, September 22, from 2pm to 4pm, so if you're in the area (or willing to drive to the area), stop on by. I would like to meet you and grin like a fool in your general direction!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Mary of Shadows

Well, it's official. I signed a contract for the sequel, Mary of Shadows. Now, mind you, things work slowly in the publishing world, so it will be quite a while before this book is actually on the shelf. There is editing to do and cover art and all of the other fun things that have to happen. But at least the formal paperwork is done.

What can I tell you about the sequel? Not much. First of all, many of you still need to read Mary of the Aether. I don't want to spoil anything there. However, I will give you the very first sentence of Mary of Shadows. Here it goes:

It was the screaming that brought the party to an end, the screaming and the blood. 

That's the opening line. Nice, eh? Stayed tuned for more info as more info becomes available.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Book Signings!

So here's something I've never done before, a book signing. I'll be honest, what I have witnessed of these things gives me a degree of trepidation. How many times have I walked into a bookstore only to see some indie writer sitting all alone at a table with one million copies of his or her book piled on a table, while they smile and try not to look disappointed?

Well, buck up there, pardner, because soon that will be you!

That was just me talking to myself there. Anyway, the first book signing is coming up on August 18. I'll get more specific info today when I talk to the book manager of this particular store. The only vow I can make is that any books purchased at this book signing will be signed with an extra fancy signature! Now, if that doesn't draw in the crowds, I don't know what will.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


Mary of the Aether is out, people are reading it, and I'm starting to get feedback. The question I'm getting more than any other is whether or not there will be a sequel and when it will come out. For the record, the sequel is already written, and I have already sent it to the publisher for consideration. I am waiting to hear back from the editor to see if they offer me a contract.

The sequel is called Mary of Shadows. Without giving anything away, I can say that ultimately it is a lot more intense than Mary of the Aether. Turmoil, danger and crazy things happen. I think it is a much better book than Mary of the Aether, but maybe I'm not a good judge of my own writing. We'll see what the publisher says.

I am currently working on the next sequel, book number three in what should turn out to be a four book series. The working title is Mary of Starlight, but that is subject to change (or not). I have the series mapped out in my head already. We'll see how it works out. It is headed in an epic direction, that's all I can say. Just you wait and see, people.

And with that, let me get back to working on chapter five.