Novel Lessons 4.5: Between the Novels Part 1

After I took my last post about novel writing live I realized that I’d left a few things out.

I’ve written before on the importance of reading outside the genre. I’d been doing so, narrowly, for years, because I had never been a solely “sword-and-sorcery” or even “fantasy” reader. After all, I started with science fiction, and pretty soon I was readily interested in reading historical fiction, at least of the swashbuckling sort. But these genres, or at least the flavors I usually prefer, are closely related.

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Things Just Got Real

My publisher just sent me a big stack of bound manuscripts of my upcoming novel. Here they are. These aren’t advanced reader copies, or ARCs, as they’re known in the industry, which are intended for reviewers so they can (hopefully) say wonderful things about your work to anyone who will listen. Bound manuscripts precede even that, and are to be used to obtain (again, hopefully) blurbs from well-known authors extolling the work.

Promotion is my least favorite part of this whole business because it’s hard to know if your hard work is paying off… but I’m a little more experienced now with this kind of thing, and I have a great deal of faith in this book. My God, but I’ve been working on it for a long time. The question is, how long? It’s hard to be sure. What stage do I count? Three of the principal characters have been trying to get me to tell stories about them for at least a quarter century, but those early efforts never reached the finish line. Fifteen years ago I completed multiple drafts of a first book, and even most of the draft of a second, that contained those characters, secondary characters that carried forward, and included many concepts I decided to keep.

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Writing Epiphanies

I had a great writing epiphany yesterday morning, and I’ll be darned if I can find a way to apply it globally. I tried explaining it to Hocking earlier today as I was running some errands and yammered at him on the phone. Often talking story over with him brings clarity, but the more I talked, the more I realized how much I didn’t really know why the idea made so much difference to the work in progress.

I’ll try, though, on the off-hand chance it will help you other writers.


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Editorial Choices

Back in May, my friend Keith asked for a few more details about what goes on behind the scenes at a magazine. Specifically, he wrote: “I’d love to read about what it’s like to edit a magazine, not just about submissions and what you look for in a story (although that is of much interest), but what all is involved in putting a publication together. In other words, I’m interested in the nuts and bolts of what goes on behind the scenes.”

I can’t speak from a position of great authority, as I’ve only worked on two magazines, but I can speak with familiarity about Tales From the Magician’s Skull, the caveat being that each issue has been a little different. With the third issue underway, though, it feels as if routines are getting into place. Read More




Guilds & Glaives Released

Right here in my own tower by the sea I have contributor’s copies of the mighty Guilds & Glaives anthology. Along with numerous talented folks, my sword-and-sorcery colleagues and fellow Tales From the Magician’s Skull authors Violette Malan (writing of Dhulyn and Parno) and James Enge (writing of Morlock) can be found within its pages.

My story, “The Sword and the Djinn,” is an excerpt from the third, unpublished, Dabir and Asim novel. It doesn’t actually feature either character, but is one of several short stories composed for inclusion in the manuscript. The Maiden’s Eye, when finally complete, is going to feel even more closely tied to the Arabian Nights tradition than the previous works, because it will feature numerous stories within stories. At least, that’s my conception of it. My ambitions were one of the problems with the composition of that book, because how does one maintain pace when stopping to tell additional stories? Lately I think I may have figured it all out, but I’ve been too busy with other deadlines to sit down and do it. Read More


Novel Writing and Pulp

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Hocking sent me a link to a site the other day that might be of interest to a lot of my regular visitors — although as I live…

Pacing and Drafting

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Following up on my post about the strengths of hardboiled fiction I come to the strengths of some of these old historicals. I’m about halfway through Gardner Fox’s…

Pulp and Sundry

Monday, May 8, 2017

I do like to write quickly and to be able to report vast thousands of words written, but as I think I mentioned, for me at least that…

Word Count Musings & Hardboiled Thoughts

Friday, May 5, 2017

As I’ve only just now finished the final story in The Mammoth Book of Private Eye Stories, I’m moving the official discussion of it out another week so…


Friday, April 14, 2017

A few weeks ago I sat down and resolved to examine my life a little. This may sound a bit grimmer than I’ve been feeling, but here it…