Monthly Archives: August 2012

Help Scott Lynch Help Steven Brust and Emma Bull

I just learned today that two industry treasures are involved in alarming medical procedures. Fortunately, another industry treasure is lending a hand.

The talented Scott Lynch is running a fund raiser right now for two industry veterans. Steven Brust is about to undergo surgery to implant a heart difibrilator on August 22nd, and Emma Bull underwent a thyroidectomy on August 8th.

I’d like to perpetuate the myth that all of us writers get a gold plated limo and a pirate chest of gold when we get our book deals, but the truth is that it’s not exactly an industry where most practitioners are rolling in cash. Scott is raising funds through a kickstarter project that features some pretty nifty prizes. I hope you’ll drop by his site and think seriously about lending a hand.




Bones of the Old Ones ARCs Are In!

The advanced reader copies of The Bones of the Old Ones are here!

And there was much rejoicing. My great feeling of satisfaction and contentment upon holding the actual ARC is here portrayed by this Captain Kirk Mego action figure.

Soon, very soon, the contest winner will be announced, and copies of the book will be heading out for review…

Meanwhile, I am still working the bugs out of this new web site setup. It’s getting better, but my posts are apt to be a little shorter for the next few days. Right now the thing that’s driving me nuts is that NONE of my italics seem to be working, so all book titles now appear as regular text. I’d also like all the font sizes in body text to be a little smaller. I have asked for help, so I hope to be able to make corrections soon.

Under Construction

This week I’m going to be experimenting with a new blog look, so some of my sidebars and links may or may not be working for a while. Hopefully I’ll have everything working properly over the course of the week. It’s high time I updated my links and blog roll in any case!

I hope you’ll be patient…

My Query Letter

So here’s the point where I’m supposed to sit back and provide great advice about how to write a query letter to get your book into the hands of an editor or agent so that you can fulfill your lifelong dream.

Unfortunately for you, I skipped that step. I can’t tell you how to draft a query letter. I can tell you how to best craft an elevator pitch, and I’m getting a fair idea about how to sell a synopsis, but query letters — it just didn’t work out that way for me.

It was my friend Scott Oden, already a writer with St. Martin’s Thomas Dunne Books imprint, who introduced me directly to his editor, and then the manuscript got sent in. So my contract wasn’t the result of query letter at all.

Writing Business AND GenCon Schedule

This morning I sent off my list of possible titles for my next Pathfinder novel to James Sutter at Paizo. I have a favorite from the bunch, but it’s possible that they’ll cook up a better one. It’s James who named Plague of Shadows, a title I not only like, but one that I think sounds like something I would have come up with myself.

The rest of this week I’ll be working on the business end of my writing career. I’ve heard from my editor Pete Wolverton that the bound copies of The Bones of the Old Ones are in, which means it’s time to start work on the marketing campaign. I’m hardly an old hand at this publishing thing yet, but I’m no longer wet behind the ears, and I now have a much better idea about things I can do to help get the word out.

Pete and my agent Bob Mecoy and I have settled on a series title, which means there’s a contest winner, but we’re still playing with the wording of it a bit (whether or not we should slap the word “chronicles” on the end, for instance). And that means that a contest winner HAS been chosen. I’ll be notifying him or her after we experiment just a little bit longer.

Reaching the Summit

Every once in a while I realize that my writing instincts ARE getting better, or, at least, I’m getting better at listening to them. I may have a really solid outline in hand for the third Dabir and Asim novel, but as I came closer and closer to the two-third’s mark I resisted the temptation to drive forward to finish the section. Now I realize it would have been an exercise in finishing rather than writing, and that the outline may look solid for the next two chapters, but that it’s not satisfying. By not pushing forward I saved myself at least a week writing prose that would simply have been cut in the end.

Truly, every book is a mountain, and while you have to get to the summit, and use the same kinds of climbing gear, every approach is different. Unless you’re simply writing the same book over and over, you have to change up your tactics.

I’m going to allow myself a slight smile of satisfaction, then stop and start revising the earlier bits to get into better position or the final third.

The Best of Jungle Stories

Over at Black Gate today I waxed on about the peculiar glories of the adventures of Ki-Gor in old Jungle Stories magazine. My friend Charles Rutledge was posting about them a few months ago over at his web site, Singular Points. My main article on Ki-Gor and why he’s worth reading can be found at Black Gate. Here, though, is my list of the best of the run, in no particular order. See for yourself just how many lost civilization, priestesses, and beasts make an appearance!

In the Black Gate article I neglected to mention just how much fun even a list of Ki-Gor titles was, but then there’s also the delicious purple of the blurbs that introduce each story. Here are a couple of samples. First, from “The Monkey Men of Loba-Gola:”

Ki-Gor, White Lord of the Jungle, tracked a treachery spoor to the Forest of Treasure, challenging lovely, mad Zoanna and her evil Master. But a devil’s trap was waiting. Ki-Gor faced a battle no man might win… against Nihilla Ati, the Invisible Vampire of Death!

On Historical Research

I received a note from a German writer/reader the other week asking me about how I research my historical fiction.

These days I’m pretty methodical about it, but then, at this point, I’ve got a handle on where to look and what my important historical sources are. Originally it was hit or miss because I was reading out of curiosity rather than because I planned to write a series of historical fantasy novels. As a result, I stumbled around a lot.

One of the earliest movies I remember seeing in the theater (I was 6) was The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, but I’d no more count that as research than a viewing of Aladdin, although the former is an occasional guilty pleasure. I certainly wouldn’t count the Sinbad movie as the thing that launched my interest in Arabian fantasy, though it surely ignited an interest in adventure movies, heroic swordplay, and the thwarting of evil villains.

August Update and New Review

I was delighted to stumble across a glowing new review of The Desert of Souls earlier this week. You can find it here, over on a great looking site titled Podwits. The Desert of Souls got singled out as the starting entry in a new column about “great escapist literature.” I would pull out a few of the quotes talking about how awesome the book is, but, you know, I’m humble and all.

I’m super pleased that The Desert of Souls is still getting nice write-ups almost a year and a half after its initial printing. Here’s hoping the next one does as well!

In other news, I’m nearly at the two-thirds mark on the rough draft of the third Dabir and Asim novel, The Maiden’s Eye. It feels odd to be so far along with number three when number two is still five months from release, but it also feels pretty good. I don’t think there will be nearly as long a delay between the second and third book as there has been between the first and second.

Each book is a little different. Book three is a little longer and more intricate. I’ve often told writing students that there are many ways up the mountain, and that each project may require a slightly different route to the summit. And so I’m going to try something different this time because my gut tells me I should.

Celebrating the Work of Ben Haas

John C. Hocking introduces me to some of the best fiction I read, although in the case of Ben Haas westerns, it was via sword-and-sorcery scholar Morgan Holmes. I don’t believe anyone is more knowledgeable about sword-and-sorcery than Morgan Holmes. But not just sword-and-sorcery, heroic fiction in general. Hocking’s no slouch himself, though, and some years back when I was hanging out with those two at Pulpcon I had the chance to discover adventure westerns years before I got interested. I remember leaving the convention with Hocking and Holmes and Stephen Haffner (all these h’s in the last name of friends is coincidence, I swear) and dropping by a few great used bookstores. Holmes and Hocking eventually wandered over to the western section. Me, that stuff wasn’t of interest. Westerns?

I suppose I should be generous to myself. With so much sword-and-sorcery fiction still unread by me at that time I know I was trying to stay focused in my interest and research. But I also know that I had some prejudice against reading a western, even though I used to watch and enjoy westerns with my dad. I had about as much interest in reading cowboy stories as I had setting down with a stack of Harlequin romances. Anyway, during that trip I snagged a fine hardback copy of Earth Giant, one of my favorite historical adventure novels, and Hocking pointed me toward some paperbacks by some guy named Richard Meade and another one by Quinn Reade, ’70s sword-and-sorcery novels I’d never heard of. “They’re both by the same guy, Ben Haas,” Hocking informed me. He also explained that many westerns played with the same kind of themes I liked in sword-and-sorcery, although, as with any genre, the good authors are far outnumbered by the mediocre and bad.

It turns out that one of the very best of these western writers was Ben Haas, although good luck finding much written under his real name. The man drafted under a storm of pseudonyms: Ben Elliot, Richard Meade, John Benteen, Thorne Douglas, and maybe a few others. His prose is clean and sharp. He wastes no time on needless exposition, and his pace thunders forward. You never have to wade through the dull stuff, or sigh a little as you skim the sections where the author expounds his pet philosophy. No, Haas got right to the character and the story.