Cover for Greencloak

Every year for NaNoWriMo I commission a piece of art. I really like seeing artwork for my books and characters, it helps to motivate me and keep me on-track. This year I decided that since Greencloak is so well-polished, I’d commission a proper cover for it.

Behold… the beauty. Greencloak-smallThis piece was commissioned from J. Caleb Design, and I couldn’t be happier with it. Not only was he a pleasure to work with, he really got my vision for the cover and followed through splendidly. If I do wind up self-publishing this novel someday, this will be my cover for it, without a doubt.

Wow… it’s, um. Been a long time.

Right, let’s see. Quick catch-up on the past two years.

Got married. Bought a house. Still not published, but have had several agents nibble at my query letter for Greencloak (4 requests for partials, 1 request for a full).  Got a new puppy! (He is a rescue dog and the most adorable little bundle of energy in the world.) Traveled to Japan, London, and Scotland, and drove across the USA three times (once for work to CA and I flew back, once to CA with my best friend on a ghost-hunting road trip, and once back). Went to WorldCon 2014 and 2015. Beta’d and gamma’d a bunch of Sanderson’s books. Made a bunch of cosplays, wrote another book, and worked as a seasonal set construction worker for two years. Currently I am making fire performance props, which is just about the coolest job title ever (but really only means I sit at home and tie a lot of knots with kevlar rope).

I think that about sums it up. I’m trying to really make it a point to update this thing more than once a year. (And I promise I’m not updating now to procrastinate because I really should be working on my revisions on Crimson Intent, but I have no idea what to do with it at the moment. OK… maybe I am. Feel free to shame me.)

Currently Greencloak is out on submission to one agent (she requested a partial) and to Angry Robot and Gollancz for their open submissions. Crimson Intent is being shoved kicking and screaming through writing group, Forgotten Soldier is slooooowly being edited and sent to beta readers, and Working Title (I was calling it Words & Consequences for NaNoWriMo) is… a giant mess that I will assess at a later date.

This has been your semi-annual update. I promise I will update again soon. REALLY. I swear.

NaNoWriMo 2013

As usual, it’s been awhile since I posted, this time because I was a little busy getting married. 🙂 I was also lucky enough to be asked to beta read a book by another author, and that took a good deal of time. But now all of that is over and National Novel Writing Month is in full swing! Awwwww yeah. You can follow my progress here if you’re so inclined. Last year I finished Prayers to the Wind a week early at 68,000 words, so this year I set my own personal goal to 100,000 words in order to challenge myself. Also because I am apparently incapable of keeping a book under 90,000 words at the absolute least. It seems to be working out rather well so far, as Legend of the Wind (sequel to Prayers) is currently about 40% done according to my outline, and I am sitting pretty at 40k words on Day 11. Providing I don’t have any major setbacks, this book should be done by November 30th.

I love NaNoWriMo. I don’t really have any issues with word-count… once I sit down to write, the words flow very easily for me. But I do enjoy having friends who are writing at the same time to chat with and share snippets of story with. So if you happen to be following this blog and are participating in NaNo as well, feel free to friend me, I’d love to follow your progress and share your joys/sorrows as we embark on this journey together!

In closing, check out this hilarious Periodic Table of Storytelling if you’d like a few laughs.

On the joys of convention staffing…

So it’s been a long time since I updated. The reason for this is two-fold… Firstly, I am on staff for two large conventions in the New England area (Anime Boston and ConnectiCon), and this year they fell within two months of one another. This meant that I was working my tail off trying to ensure that my duties for both conventions were fulfilled while also working a 40-hour job. Fun! (But definitely worth it in the end.)

Secondly, I am getting married on September 21st, so I have a lot of wedding planning to do! We’re having a relatively small wedding (100 people), but even so, there’s a lot to plan.

Both of these things have sadly eaten into my writing time considerably. Which brings me to my next bit of news…

I did hear back from the agent who requested to read PRAYERS TO THE WIND. She enjoyed the book, but had a couple issues with it, which in retrospect I agree with. I am making some massive revisions in order to fix these problems (this entails adding in about 6-7 chapters and approximately 25k words worth of content). I am pretty certain that the reason for the biggest of these problems was that I was trying so hard to keep the book under 100k words. I skimped on many things that I normally would not have, and it made the book weaker overall. But after speaking with several people in the industry about it, I’m no longer afraid of having a book that is over 100k words. In the words of one agent, “It’s not the number of words on the page, it’s how good those words are.” So in this draft, I am ignoring word-count entirely and focusing on making the story as good as it can be. I think that this will remedy the issues the agent had, and then I will be resubmitting.

In the meantime, I have had another agent request to take a look at some sample chapters. I sent the first three (revised), and am waiting to hear what he thinks of them. More there as events progress.

In other news, some friends of mine are putting together a horror anthology (art and literature) and have invited me to submit. All proceeds will be going to charity. I am very excited to take a stab at writing some horror short stories (ha, stab… horror… get it?), especially since Stephen King has had such a huge influence on my reading and writing style over the years. Maybe I’ll post some short blurbs from works in progress as I write them.

Lastly… In the past month, I have sat in on a lecture by Stephen King, met Terry Brooks at a meet-and-greet luncheon, and spent a fair amount of time at ConnectiCon chatting about writing with Brandon Sanderson, Margaret Killjoy, Michael J. Sullivan and Bryce Moore. I have also joined a new writing group of 12 people. I am inspired and reinvigorated by all of these experiences, and happy to be back to work on the PRAYERS TO THE WIND revisions – two chapters done so far and going strong! I aim to have the sixth draft done by the wedding.

And I promise to start updating more often, too. 🙂

Prayers to the Wind Submitted; Short Story on Amazon

So two big bits of news today. The first is that I finished up the last (hopefully, though I doubt it) round of edits on Prayers to the Wind and sent it out to the agent who requested the entire book after having read the first three chapters. As soon as I hear anything back I’ll be sure to post an update. In the meantime I’ll continue obsessively checking my email every half an hour.

In other news, in light of the Writers of the Future semi-finalist thing (and because the damn story is too long to submit anywhere else), I’ve put “One Last Moment of Silence” up on Amazon. LINK. I wanted to make it free, but Amazon apparently has a 0.99$ limit, so a dollar it is. I am, however, ready and willing to email copies of the story completely free to anyone who might want it. In PDF, sadly, not eBook (I’m not quite certain how to format it for ePub). But that option’s there, if you want a super cool short story for free. Contact the author link’s on your left.

Last but not least, I’ll be doing a Q&A/self-promotional thing on the Fantasy subreddit this Wednesday. I put the prologue to The Dark Captain up there in the past and got a very positive reaction, so it’ll be interesting to see if that holds true when posting under my real name instead of Kaladin’s…

Oh, I lied. One more thing. I read “The Lies of Locke Lamora” and “Red Seas Under Red Skies” by Scott Lynch this past week. Well… more like devoured them, really. If you haven’t read them, do yourself a favor and do so. It’s “White Collar” meets “Assassin’s Creed.” With sharks. And swearing. And if that doesn’t sell you on it nothing will.

Writers of the Future Contest – Semi-Finalist

I think I might be in shock. I sent “One Last Moment of Silence” to the Writers of the Future Contest in December, hoping that I might make it to the honorable mentions list. Just checked my email, and… I’m a semi-finalist. One of only eleven semi-finalists. I’m so excited. I’ll be getting a personal critique from David Farland/Wolverton sometime in the near future, and look forward to seeing his thoughts on things so I know what I’m doing right/wrong for the next time I submit!

Fourth draft of Prayers to the Wind Complete

Finished up the 4th draft of Prayers to the Wind and sent it out to a round of beta readers with a deadline of March 30th, as I’d like to be able to send this out to the agent I spoke to at the Unicorn Writing Conference shortly. Now that I’m done with that, I think I’ll begin working on the second book again…

Unicorn Writer’s Conference

I attended a writing conference this past weekend. It wasn’t specifically fantasy-centric, but it was definitely a great place to network and talk to agents and editors. One of the coolest things they did was offer in-person one-on-one sessions (for an extra $40) with an agent or editor of your choice, to look over the first 40 pages of your manuscript and offer advice on what you needed to do to get an agent’s attention and get published. I chose an agent who stated that she was interested in fantasy, formatted my first three chapters according to their requirements, and sat back to wait.

This is the first time a professional has looked at my writing (I haven’t tried sending query letters since my first stab at this 8 years ago). I was extremely nervous. Apparently I didn’t need to be. She absolutely loved my first three chapters, the first thing she said was “OK… I have to know what happens next!” She also enjoyed my prose and said that she adored the idea of a “procedural ‘cop’ mystery in a fantasy setting.”She did give me some critiques, mostly concerning character voice, pacing (a very easy fix there) and world-building. Then she said that once I had fixed those, she wanted me to send her the whole novel. And she made me promise not to query anyone else.

This… is unbelievable. It feels like a dream. I realize that it’s only the very first step (it’s entirely possible that when she reads the whole thing she’ll decide it’s not for her), but it’s honestly everything I could have hoped for at this point. I’m sort of in shock. I spent the day today making notes on the world-building aspects which I hadn’t spelled out clearly enough in the text (didn’t exposition my magic system, conflicting cultural aspects, etc), and am hoping to have all that ironed out in the next few weeks so I can send her the complete manuscript and get her thoughts on it.

Originally I had planned this to be a five-book series in which each book could feasibly stand alone (sort of like Dresden Files), but she talked me down to a trilogy. Selling a five-book series would be next to impossible, she said, but a trilogy was definitely do-able. Thankfully this is easily remedied as I didn’t have much in the way of outlines for books 3-5, so I can cut #4 and roll 3 and 5 into one. So if you’re a debut author and thinking about querying, that’s something to keep in mind.

I also asked her whether we might face marketing issues given that my protagonists are bi and gay. She said that it was possible that some publishers might worry that they wouldn’t be able to market it and might ask me to change one of the main characters into a woman instead, but that she personally felt that there weren’t enough gay characters in fantasy and she had no issues with it. That’s a decision I might have to make down the line if anyone is actually interested, but I hope it never comes up. I don’t think I would be willing to make that change, even if it meant losing out on a potential book deal.

But that, of course, is counting dragons before they’re hatched. For now, I’m ecstatic that someone “in the industry” (who has sold books to TOR… TOR!) liked my writing enough to request the whole book. It gives me hope for my writing. Hope that I might actually make this dream into a reality.

Short stories and other news…

I’ve been attempting to write at least one short story a month lately, and have been relatively successful. This is a big step for me, as I’ve never felt that I was much good at short stories. Whenever I tried to write one, it wound up ballooning out into a massive epic or I couldn’t figure out how to end it, grew frustrated, and set it aside. Forcing myself to sit and write (and, most importantly, FINISH) one a month has been very challenging, but ultimately rewarding. I finally have some writing I can send out to various publications and hopefully get my name out there. As of now I’ve submitted two stories to paying publication companies, and am awaiting replies as I work on another short story along with revisions to Dark Captain and Prayers to the Wind. I’ll also be attending the Unicorn Writing Conference in March, which I am very excited about. I’ll have the chance to sit down with an agent and go over the first 40 pages of one of my manuscripts with her, so this will be an invaluable learning experience for me.

If none of these short stories sell, I believe I will begin putting them up on amazon for a dollar apiece while I continue working on other stories and revisions. But hopefully I’ll get an answer in the affirmative (or at least a personalized rejection) sometime in the near future.

Tragedy in my home state today…

As a fantasy author, I often have to think about horrible things. War, death, torture. I have to try to put myself into the position of the people affected by these tragedies; to empathize, to convey how they react in a believable way.

It is rare that I find myself in such a position. I live a relatively charmed life, in that regard. But today I, and the rest of the world, have been reminded of just how shockingly evil and cruel the real world can sometimes be. 20 children, just… gone. I used to substitute teach for children in this age group. I keep remembering little moments… them reaching up for hugs as they left the classroom, giving me drawings, sitting and listening in rapt attention as I read stories to them. I can’t even begin to imagine how someone could destroy so much innocence, so much potential. It’s horrifying. It sounds like something that should be in a horror or fantasy novel, because honestly, how could a REAL person do something so unbelievably evil?

But it is real. It happened. There are no words to convey how heartbroken I am for the families experiencing loss and horror in Newtown, CT today. My heart goes out to them, and to anyone else who has been affected in any way by this. Please stay strong, and know that the thoughts of people across the world are with you today.