30 Days of Balance #23: Bridge From Dard

Instead of posting about Short Stories today as per the schedule, I’M GOING TO GIVE YOU A NEW ONE! See what I did there?

First I must mention this post was originally going to be about an Imbalance short story called Residue which tells the tale of a master practitioner and his accomplice traveling from Aneoma to the Stillborn Basin in the name of science. However, having penned up a new sort of short story this morning…

I entered the WHEEL OF OSHEIM writing competition, hosted by Agnes Meszaros, which is totally going on over here!

ThornsWC

I am fairly proud of my entry, although there is one word I might change. Hopefully that is not enough to mar the piece in the eyes of the judges. There’s certainly lots going on if you hop back to the start once you reach the end.

RULES:

300 words or less. Must use the word ‘life’ and the word ‘death.’

I give you Bridge From Dard – and you could probably figure out where in the world of Imbalance the story takes place by looking at the map.

ENTRY:

Bridge From Dard

“I’ll be fine, Norae. You’ll see.”

We will see.

She would not get too close. She had her pole if need be.

The Bridge to Furl stretched out before Thanol Baeddicus, four lines of ropes coiled upon ropes framing an ingenious succession of interlocking planks. Each was long as a man and rooted by sturdy metal pins thick as mauls. It obscured not far from where Thanol was making his way out, lost to the blanched air of a soothing snow storm.

Morning had done little to alleviate the night’s chill, and the bridge itself was thick with snow heaped tall as her hand. It sloughed from Thanol’s boots to drop a thousand leaps to the chop below.

“See? Immaculate! A work of virtuoso engineering!”

So you said in crossing.

“Immaculate!” he repeated.

The man was a gifted talent. Her span in Furl as his apprentice had braved his thinly-veiled pomposity to find the skill underneath relished the exposure. In her naivety, Norae had assumed such capability beckoned an honest man. When the bridge had been proposed, such naivety withered. Life was, after all, the vandal of innocence. The greater fault lay at its feet.

Not my own.

“She withstood a blizzard, Pupil Norae. A blizzard! Warleader will march by nightfall.”

Two pins were shoved deep in her rucksack.

“If—”

Thanol reached the plank that felt their absence. Easy to see in daylight. Impossible under snowfall. He gave a weak squeal and slipped through. Norae had her pole ready, but it would not be necessary. The magnate was already fallen to his death.

Chilled, she rubbed her hands together. Just the night’s work catching up to me.

Norae of the Dard drew her knife and began at the ropes fixing the bridge to her cliff.

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30 Days of Balance #20: The Roddening

Last we checked the 6-year challenge was a success…

So I finished my novel. I set out to do it in six years and I did it in six years, more or less. It’s done. Finito. Ready for the presses.

Well, besides the editing. Then the further editing. Then waiting a month and then editing again. I edited the book through myself about seven times over the few years following completion. Each time I was astounded at the stuff I would find. Sentences that fit before, unglued. Story lines unvarnished. Parts I loved in the end barely hammered together. Any author knows writing is re-writing. It just is. My three confidants also read it and fed me on a diet of compliment sandwiches.

When happy with the edits (about halfway through those seven edits), I tried to hook 17 agents on Purge of Ashes. One day I sent out a flurry of query letters tailored to suit the submissions process etched out by their 17 separate companies. Over the next few months I got about 8 rejections and 9 non-replies. There were more names on my list, but some daunting aspects of the process were grating on me and I was more life-busy. Somewhere in there I got married and bought a house and had a real job teaching middle school English for a private school. I left off my attempts and instead tried to hook notably excellent editor Barbara Berson who had been recommended to me by Jane Bow, author of Cally’s Way. Barbara was interested and busy, giving me the first positive feedback I ever heard for Purge: “It’s ambitious and ably-written.” Unfortunately, right when I was planning to hire Barbara my contract was not renewed and I was let go from my teaching position, possibly for inspiring the students too well. Only explanation that made any sense to me.

So the novel sat while life took over.

One day I was in the Facebook group for the Malazan Empire discussing quality fantasy releases when it was mentioned that this fellow member Sean Roddenhad published an epic fantasy novel. Reviews (and I count reviews from Malazan fans as worth double that of a normal human) were very positive. I asked him a bunch of self-publishing questions and he answered. Turned out he lived just down the street in Hamilton, Ontario. Realizing I had read a slew of famous fantasy series with only rare forays into lesser known works – and that this would be exactly what I was expecting from the fans I hoped to garner for Imbalance – I decided to buy and read his novel Whispers of War.

It was potent. I wrote a lengthy review of the book for Amazon and I recommend it to everyone, especially if you like your fantasy old school – Tolkien style – or find other books don’t stretch your vocabulary enough. The day I wrote to point him towards my review, he told me of his three-book deal with Realmwalker Publishing Group.

He told me I should submit to them once I finished my book.

I said my book had been done for over a year.

He said to submit then, and I did.

I then praised the ground he walked upon and made the horrid mistake of promising to buy him a beer when next we met. A beer I still owe. A beer I shirk away from as if intrusive morning daylight.

One night I turned my laptop off at 12:30am and was stumble-walking towards the stairs to head up to bed. My phone was flashing. I absently checked my gmail to see what was the matter. It was James Drake, president of Realmwalker Publishing Group, informing me he had selected my novel for publication. I was damned speechless. I made my way to bed and lay next to my already-sleeping wife debating waking her to tell her. Then I just lay there and grinned at the black ceiling, thinking less of the seven plus years of work it took to reach the moment and more about the years ahead – of what it could mean for the series. When we awoke the next morning I looked at my wife and babbled “It’s funny, you know? It’s funny. It feels like just any other morning, doesn’t it? It feels like just any other morning.” She did not know what to make of this, so I showed her the email.

It has been a long journey from being in university dreaming up characters from the steerage of a dragon boat to waking up next to my wife with a publishing deal. I am super excited to share it with the world on April 5th. I suppose Sean’s really earned that beer.

JM

30 Days of Balance #11: Progress to Publication II – Six-Year Challenge

At the end of “Progress to Publication I” I was done with television production but held a great movie script in my hands sure to see no light of day. It became increasingly ignored on the backburner as only the dearest friends would read a movie script. There were no visuals. With only a few words to describe the action, could they ever see what I saw when put together?

I started on a comic with an illustrator while I waited for things to figure themselves out, and when they didn’t took another look at things. The comic was done, but in the end it had taken a long time without any hope of profit looming. Looking at the situation, I realized the proper answer was to work in a medium that was, by definition, a solo act. A way of producing the content I loved without relying on the approval of others or technology I did not know how to use.The answer was writing the movie script back into a novel – one using the script as a skeleton and my further five years of experience reading and writing as the motivation to finish.

What’s more, I had my original version of the book as a template for my first five chapters.

Now, I’ve mentioned my history of not quitting, but this was going to be the biggest challenge yet. Writing a full novelization was going to take a very long time and I was no longer a teen – I had bills and a job and responsibilities. I needed a way to gauge if I was capable of putting in the time to properly execute a full book. I also wanted to use the fact that being young had no bearing on being an author. In television and comics, being young and in the clique was essential to progression, but writing was deemed an older person’s game. It was and is a medium where your product speaks for you in full.

I settled on a 6-year plan to finish the book when I was 33. I figured that at 33 I would still be fairly young, I would be just as happy to have a written novel, and I would have a cut-off age to ensure the project never went into development hell forever. Over the next bunch of years I wrote, and I felt the cap of 6 years was very helpful in keeping me on track. I wrote when I could – sometimes in huge blocks of 8-hour days in a library, other times never for multiple months – but I always felt calm knowing it did not have to be done immediately. I had lots of time. There was no reason to ever feel like a failure if it ground to a halt once in a while. At some point I was going to haul out the gas tank and get moving again.

I finished my first draft of Purge of Ashes when I was 32 – and after numerous edits over the intervening years, found publication at 33, right near the end of my timeline. I will turn 34 eight days before the release date and what an amazing past six years it has been.

And don’t worry – with ‘publication’ replacing the ‘6-year plan’ as my principal motivator, you can rest easy Grip of Dust will not take nearly so long. At the time of this post it is 68,000 words deep.

JM

30 Days of Balance #9: Never Quiting + Warcraft III

People often ask authors how they finish a book, the drudgery of day to day life serving as a constant reminder to them that they have no extra time for anything. Maybe they have started a book and not finished it. Maybe they just quit, or maybe they did not like the product. Maybe they spelled Yale with a 6. Regardless, they want to know. It is a challenge, isn’t it? How do people find the time and the words? What made you think your story was important? (That’s your cynical friend who creates nothing but critiques everything.)

I don’t know about most of it, but the one aspect of writing I feel like I have an exceptional grasp on is never quitting. It’s the element I am certain separates me from these inquiring minds at parties. It’s the single factor I could fall back on when hit with doubt. If you build a history of never quitting on projects – never getting bored and losing what made the idea great to you in the first place – then you will always continue, and thus can count on the fact something will be produced. When you know something will come, then there is no course but to put in the effort to impress. Otherwise there’s no surer path to a premature end. Alas, I have a secret:

I draw strength from Warcraft III.

Probably not what anyone was expecting – yet true. Warcraft III. Yes, a cartoony video game of my youth that I loved to bits, but also something more. It was the title of my first real story.

See, back in Grade 9 and 10 Warcraft III, as producers Blizzard would have it, did not exist. Warcraft II existed and love it to bits. So much so that I set out to write a sequel. Every day after school I would come home and head upstairs to write two pages single-spaced before dinner. I did this for most of Grade 9 and then through the summer and into Grade 10. When I finished, I wrote another one, and when I finished that one I wrote a third one. The combined result was an 111,000 word text document on an old Mac of which I was resolutely proud.

Now, here’s the thing. It may have been woven together with some creativity, but I borrowed half my characters from the video game. I used their map. I used their world. I made spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors galore. I wrote sentences that a grown reader would be incapable of digesting. The end product was rubbish in the real world, and in retrospect, even as far back as university, it was not a story worthy of attention.

Except mine. It inspired me because I finished it.

All 111,000 words. Now, years later, I can barely tell you any details of all this work (I remember a demon arriving mid-air in the middle of a four-nation boat battle, and Deathwing providing a final surprise attack before the final curtain – that’s it), but I can tell you the word count because the knowledge that I finished what I set out to do a year ago – which was like five years adult time – was all that mattered.

If I could finish a quasi-readable story that overtly stole half of its ideas when I was a pubescent teenager with plenty of understandable diversions, what excuse could I have as an aspiring author seven years ago? What, was the fantasy world I constructed from the favourite elements of my reading list not good enough for Azeroth? Were my Imbalance characters of less dimension than computer game NPCs and their cousins from the era of ‘I-can’t-use-commas-properly’? Finishing something of notable size through beginning, journey, and climax was no longer a hurdle. Starting such a project again was a decision made with the confidence that one day I would finish again, and unwavering knowledge that you can is the greatest of motivators.

JM

Welcome

A welcome to everyone who is viewing this site for the first time thanks to the new ‘Joel Minty – Author’ page on Facebook! You can also link there from here in the ‘Contact’. This site will be the source for most of the publishing and book news in the future, all broadcasted to Twitter and Facebook both. Click HERE to read the blurb for Purge of Ashes.

Today’s major announcement is still yet to come!

JM.

Sprucing

The sprucing up of the map has occurred. I searched through Purge of Ashes noting all instances where characters refer to distance traveled or distance yet to travel down The Longest Road, and then compared my findings to the Scale (in Runs) in the bottom right of the mega map. It fit as it should: each offhand comment on distance mathematically matched the actual distance according to the mega map – which speaks less to luck, I think, than of an unconscious understanding of the real-world conversion of my fictitious distance unit. Suffice to say, appeasement.

My front matter has been submitted. My manuscript has been submitted. What next but to produce a scintillating synopsis?

And a comparison, of course:

This…

Sventium

 

…trimmed to this:

Sventium

Details matter. Earn your place.

JM

The Birth of Imbalance

As of today http://www.joelminty.com is up and running, but it will be a month yet before I clean everything up the way I would like. Even so, there will be plenty of time to prepare for the upcoming release of the first book of my epic fantasy series Imbalance entitled “Purge of Ashes.” As of this moment, there is a general release date of ‘mid-April’ and until then it is my job to get everyone on the internet as excited for it as I am.

JM