Day 10 of 10: Summer Writing Afternoons

Well, my summer math program has come to an end and that means that so has my afternoons of writing time away from disruption. Now back to the full time kid time. I wrote very little today, just cleaning up the last two sections I wrote so they accurately finish Chapter 16. Alas, I spent the rest of the day negotiating a way that Grip of Dust actively becomes two novels instead of one. My word count suggests it is wise, as did the many plot lines and locations. Narrowing the focus book by book works as long as, well, it does. I have hammered out a way for Grip of Dust to exist in mirror fashion to Purge of Ashes, as in, prologue, 25 chapters, epilogue – and divided into three sections based off geography, but the question becomes what is left for this new third book? First, I need a new name. Silence of Deluge will yet remain the final book.  Second, eek. A diligent eye is required to assure I don’t screw myself over in some way. I had the whole of the book planned out before it ‘got big.’ It better stay tight and action-packed or what’s the point? I have three chief story lines to draw from for this new book, ones left out, now, of Grip. The first two happen in the city Palprazen, so they go together well, but the last one is giving me fits as to what to do: either my lead leaves Grip 75% of the way through the book to be central in book 3, or I augment who goes where to keep him and certain elements in a more… streamlined fashion. Ah, well. Time and tears will tell.

All told I got 10,000 words done, roughly, and cleaned and re-inspired some more.

My final writing grab of the summer: “The womensworn stormed around in a huff, collecting their belongings and uprooting their children. Blooded Face Eaters mounted up with all their gear in case they needed to ride. Dancetrap begged his spirits for this and that, assuming far greater importance to the events of the day than he ever deserved.”

Day 9 of 10: Summer Writing Afternoons

1,300 words again today, getting back into it. Got started late due to school duties, and will again on Wednesday as I retrieve the rest of my old classroom to move to my new classroom.

I once again hit this point of: “Must this be split in two?” I’m up to 93k words and have basically only fleshed out 60-80% of 2 of 7 story lines. I just can’t see it editing down or not feeling a tad foolish with a book so thick. Maybe that can be the gimmick that draws readers to the series? Stupidly large? Sometimes being unique is worth value all its own. Still, almost done Chapter 16. I can certainly do it by Wednesday, that is, unless it all unfolds into two. Not long now for the scene I’ve been excited for for years.

Today’s choice line: “Sometimes a moment of kinship linked two people more surely than a whole life of proximity.”

Day 7&8 of 10: Summer Writing Afternoons

1,200 yesterday and 1,300 today – and today was cut off by 1.5 hours. It does take a while to get going, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, if you only have the cracks of the day to write in, you never really get going. I’m excited to see what is produced over the final two days next week, although one of those I have to prep my classroom instead of just using it as a writing hidey-hole.

These sessions have really fattened an area otherwise non-consequential, but I am hoping it keeps as it helps the city of Csarvent feel alive. It also prepares the reader well for a character who is notable in the third book.

On that note, though, as usual, I am again beset by worries over whether I need to split this book in half. I am halfway through Chapter 16 (I skip all over the place, nowhere near that far actually) and it is 29.5 pages. I am yet to get to the second half of the chapter. If I split the book into two, this could easily be its own chapter – even ends on a DUN DUN DUN. That creates its own problems, though. Keeping it, however, the book and these chapters are getting kind of nuts. I want to maintain the same depth of scope and character as I had in Purge of Ashes, but with so many more story lines it is fast becoming insane. Insanely great? Maybe just insane.

Either way, there it is. Also cool to note, today I finally got to write about a character who I created entirely because the name I made up for my almanac of characters so long ago was so cool. Now she’s an important part of the story, having once just been a nifty combination of letters. “Kryloak.”

My favourite pull away today:

“The black ink of the round was half faded into her very skin, a mess of a pattern across her clavicle and breasts. Bruises ran the length of her right side, dark, blotchy and uniform. Kryloak’s eyes widened and stared at her slim finger as it ran a line along one of Daia’s ribs. Leaning forward a little revealed a purple welt twisted up like a whirlpool that covered near half of her skin-pressed rib cage. Its unhealthy hues rolled in and out of the depressions between bones, obscuring the smear of burst blood vessels and making a mess of a mess. The heiress’s gentle touch did not make her jump, but still sent a squeal of tenderness up her nerves. By Kryloak’s stares and Saishan’s idle hands, Daia judged that the Codine Aggregate was far more familiar with disease and malnourishment than the battle scars of fools prone to risk.”

Day 6/10: Summer Writing Afternoons

Six already? But all I’ve done is… blarg!

I actually feel like I have done quite a lot, considering, but nothing’s ever really enough. Today I finished off the two scenes from Monday and had to read (read: edit) my way through a few Daia parts to get me up to speed on her story line as it now meshes with the others. How many times have I had to do that. I like reading the older parts, though. I write so slowly and carefully, constantly editing as I go, that it feels good to read over the product I came away with and find that it mostly correlates, sounds well enough. I am hoping that by the end of these sessions I am near to completing Chapter 16. I have done about 16 pages so far in 4 points of view.

Also noticed that half my quotes were Smart and half Straight? What the dilly? A F/R figured that one out pretty quick. Leftover translation issue from OpenOffice to Word, I imagine.

Favourite lines of the day: “For the weight of a conscience rests on its fear of guilt, and once irredeemable, a penitent’s only absolution lies in damning themselves regardless.”

Queries

So back in 2013-2014 I sent out a bunch of queries to about 20 different agents, then got started writing Grip of Dust. So much has happened since then, and yet here I am two years later back at the drawing board doing the same: querying for agents! What a time to be alive.

Nowadays, agents can quickly access prospective clients’ social media platforms to get a quick gist as to who we are, what we do, and how impressive our friends lists are. Having this website in tip top shape should – nae must – be my top priority outside of production. So I thought to myself, “What would I want to present for an agent coming to scope me out?” Having less handsomeness than approximately 5 years ago, the answer did not come immediately.

Perhaps a simple WELCOME is in order. I don’t quit on things and I’m working on Book Two. I hope my query has piqued your interest. I love epic fantasy, role-playing video games, character design, cartography, rock music, hockey, armadillos, and TV shows that end in AME OF THRONES.

I seem friendly enough on social media. All the best in your search for the proper gem.

JM

My TOR.com Think-piece on Malazan Book of the Fallen

gardens-of-the-moon-cover

So if you would please take a gander at this article I was asked to write for TOR.com (you know, the biggest fantasy publisher in the world) I would be thrilled. It’s meant for people who are interested in Malazan Book of the Fallen but keep hearing a lot of chat about it ahead of time. Those already disinclined will find nothing to like about the article, while those who already love the series will hopefully feel similar. It really is a unique piece of art when your plumb its depths, and definitely worth the investment.

I have Imbalance news, but will wait a bit to share. Until then: babies, babies everywhere!

JM

Coup de Grace

So I have had some pretty bad news lately, as documented and documented, but ‘everything comes in threes’ as people like to say. Fortunately, as far as news goes, I was saving the best for last.

I am glad to announce I have been offered a guest opportunity to write about fantasy for TOR.com regarding the magnificent opus The Malazan Book of the Fallen. I am really looking forward to praising the virtues of what I believe is the greatest fantasy books of all time, and determined to convince those on the fence of why they need to tackle the monster series. At least one other friend is also gearing up, so it is going to be great fun. Even more importantly to me personally, this chance has come right when my prospective publishing future seemed most daunting (hehe, naw, Imbalance will be one way or another, no worries) and I see it as surefire proof my prose is not so deplorable.

More on the matter to come, and I’ll be sure to direct you to the essay when it is published in September!

JM

The Sixth Reason: SPFBO 2016

I mentioned a sixth reason for taking Purge of Ashes off the market yesterday, and that would be its elimination from Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off competition for 2016.

It is not official yet, as The Qwillery is yet to post their results, but it’s true. Unfortunately, I found out in a rather nasty way: by Goodreads rating. Surprised at a low score, I looked up the reviewer only to find her profile mentioned she blogged for the Qwillery. It was not hard to make the leap in logic. Later, I found entries on the site which gave me further insight into her reasoning. The good news is that she only read 20 pages and therefore has virtually no impression of what the series is all about.

Ironically, back in May all I hoped from SPFBO 2016 over on Twitter was my allotted blog read Purge of Ashes all the way through to attain a fair review.

The bad news is that it only took 20 pages to turn off a reader, and not just any reader, but an enthusiastic one who reads multiple books a week. That won’t do, but that’s why I hired Tim Marquitz (see ‘Downtime’) – to smooth out the ruffles in the opening and generally ensure my structure alienates as few people as possible. I had been waiting in vain curiosity to gauge Purge of Ashes‘s potential before closing a potential inroad for new readers, but freed of this deadline I can get on with refurbishing my debut.

Like the debut itself, it appears the book was not fighting fit for competition yet. What say you, Mark, can a newly-edited version enter the competition next year? Only 3% read…

Best of luck to everyone still in the contest. I’m currently really enjoying What Remains of Heroes by last year’s runner up David Benem and it’s a blast.

JM

Grimdark

Just a quick post to note that the Grimdark Fiction Readers and Writers group is doing a wicked online AMA session today featuring some of the best current fantasy authors – and even giving away signed copies of some of their excellent books!

I already missed Michael R. Fletcher, but I’m excited to pop in for Marc Turner and Jeff Salyards.

In the meantime, I have been working on Grip of Dust as well as a few other things, but with my wife due in under a week things will be pretty quiet on the site. I will, however, post a link to my final Dork Shelf Fan v. Fan videos at some point.

JM

30 Days of Balance #27: The Wait

So I fell a bit short of my 30 Days challenge. I had the capability to go the distance, but with the publication of my book in jeopardy my priorities switched. I imagine I touched on most important subjects in the last two months. I will finish the 30 Days tomorrow in a big lump so as to be true to my word in the end: 30 posts in 30 days.

Tonight, I wait.

I chose writing as my ideal medium because it was a solo pursuit where you did not need anyone to create something exactly how you like it. But that’s not entirely true. By the end of the process you need a whole bunch of other people involved – good friends as mentioned before, but also editors, publishers, eyes in the sky. Things got messy and went down to the wire like an alighting bird. They still are even as I write this. My book comes out tomorrow yet work remains to be done. It helps having people in your corner who are nearly as dedicated to the proliferation of your book as you yourself.

The delays have cost me in promotion time. There are numerous places where I cannot promote because of missing art and a lack of an Amazon pre-order page. Unfortunate, but not soul crushing. Soul crushing is not doing the book properly and having to live with it for all your years, wondering how and why you could not have spent more time cultivating.

Tomorrow I will release the cover art AND the book itself all at once. For tonight I am dozy from a combination of explaining my unique circumstances and going to bed at 4am yesterday in an effort to hasten production.

JM