Archive for July, 2011

Whew! I finally finished my stint in query and synopsis purgatory. Well, mostly. Experience tells me that these things are never really done. I’ll still be tweaking them as I go along. But I now have two queries I like.


Rell doesn’t want magic. He doesn’t dream of being a hero out of old legends or a mage. Certainly not a mage, after they all incinerated each other at the end of the Great Mage War. He’d just like not to be in his big brother’s shadow for a change. Someone should have reminded him to be careful what he wished for.

All he knows of magic are the violent, frighteningly aware mage storms formed of the ashes of those dead wizards. Caught in a mage storm, Rell is struck by a strange blue cinder that infects him with magic that protects him from the fury of the storm and allows him to shield his family. Rell starts to think that maybe magic’s not so bad after all, but he finds it only complicates his life. His father expects him to bring back the benefits of magic from before the war, but Rell doesn’t know how. Meanwhile, others who only remember the terrors of the war fear Rell and his new abilities. Frustration and anger only bring out one of the most dangerous aspects of his magic: fire.

Rell soon learns that whether he intends it or not, his magic will leak out, uncontrolled, whenever his emotions are strong enough. Now, he has to find some way to learn to use this “gift” before he ends up adding his ashes to the mage storms.

BLOOD WILL TELL (still working a bit on the last line of this one):

Being a half-blood is inconvenient on a good day, especially when the half you got from your mother is werewolf.  Valeriah can’t take wolf form, but the full moon still fills her with manic energy.  Running helps; a tired werewolf is a good werewolf.

Living perennially caught between two worlds–human and werewolf, magic and non-magic–doesn’t leave much room for love. That suits Valeriah just fine. She’s never had any luck with that anyway.

Until her cousin’s life is threatened, that is, and out of necessity she accepts the help of a mysterious young man to protect Cristel. Rolf is everything that makes Valeriah’s pulse speed up in spite of herself. Now, with Cristel’s life in the balance, is the worst possible time for that kind of complication.

But Rolf’s secrets could be fatal, both for their budding relationship and for Valeriah.

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Something Disturbing

I was going to blog about something else today, but then I read this on Writer Beware. By the way, if you’re a writer and you’re not following this blog, you should be. 

I can barely imagine how hurtful this kind of prank would be.

Writers beware of pranks like this.


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I believe I’ve mentioned that this isn’t my favorite kind of writing. In fact, I don’t think I know anybody who’d say it was. But it is necessary. So, I’m back at it–doubled this time because I’m doing new queries and revised synopses for two books–MAGE STORM and BLOOD WILL TELL–at the same time.

I think I’ve just about completed the MAGE STORM (MG Fantasy) set and will be ready to start sending that back out into the world of agents next week. Now I’ve got to work on the query and synopsis for BLOOD WILL TELL (paranormal romance). This time around with BWT, I’m emphasizing the paranormal romance aspect, rather than the urban fantasy. It’s a somewhat different set of agents. Maybe it’ll play better, since the story really doesn’t have the hard edges often associated with urban fantasy.

Queries are bad enough. At least they’re only about 250 words. Of course, I agonize over every one of those words. The hardest part for me is to get some semblance of the story voice into the query. Too many years of practice writing bland business letters, I guess.

Synopses: that’s a whole new level of torture. I didn’t have to do too much to the MAGE STORM synopsis. Just reflect the changes in the latest revisions. Not that I’m thrilled with it. There’s no way I’ll ever be thrilled with trying to tell a 50,000 word story in 1,000 words. Just not going to happen.

I’ll probably have to do more to the BLOOD WILL TELL synopsis, since I’ve changed the focus of the query.

After this, I need to do a serious round of revision on my Writers of the Future entry for this quarter. Then it’s back to MAGIC’S FOOL. I’ll be really glad to get back to original writing by then, I’m sure.

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This subject comes up as I struggle to get a foothold in my new WIP. MAGIC’S FOOL (working title) is a rewrite/re-imagining of my very first novel. It starts considerably earlier. Also, since this time around it’s Middle Grade, the original plot has to be broken down into discreet segments, each with its own goal and completed conflict. I think I can do that, but I confess that I’m a little nervous about it.

However, there’s another point. My first novel, TSC (let’s just stick to the initials), was originally intended to be the first of a trilogy, later expanded to possibly four books. Now, some of what was in those stories, particularly the middle two books, will simply be deleted. But still, if I break the remaining story down, that could easily come to six or eight books in the series.

Other successful series (Flanagan’s THE RANGER’S APPRENTICE comes to mind) suggest that that’s not too many.

The other thing that brings this topic to mind is that a favorite author of mine is about to wind up a series of five books. But then she’s going to start two more series in the same world, following different characters. That worries me.

The thing is, I can think of several series or conglomerations of series using the same world that lost me part way through. I can name at least three series in which I devoured the first three or four books and was hungry for more. I kept reading, but perhaps a little less avidly after that. My interest usually puttered out somewhere between books six and nine.

One of these series continued to use the same world, but followed a different cast of characters for three or four books and then switched again to another set of characters. That one kept my interest the longest–to about fourteen books.

But in every case, eventually, I just got tired of visiting that world and those characters. It wasn’t fresh anymore. I wanted something new.

Of course with some of them there were other reasons that they lost my interest. Some went on too long without any resolution. (I don’t think I need to name that series to any student of the fantasy genre.) Some just seemed to me to be the same story told over and over again. But sometimes it just was that I was tired of visiting that particular world. It had become so familiar that it almost didn’t feel fantastic anymore.

So, maybe it’s not a good thing to write too many stories in the same world.

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It’s something I forget when I’m in the middle of a first draft or while I’m doing revisions. Starting a story is just hard.

Even with one like this, where I know the characters, the plot, the milieu, it’s still hard to find a way to just get into the story in the first place. Once you get passed that, there’s still the problem of building up momentum.

I started MAGIC’S FOOL (Working Title) on Wednesday. I’ve got all of about 2500 words written.

Part of it is probably getting my head into the right place. Turning off the infernal internal editor that’s been allowed to run rampant during the last couple of months is undoubtedly a factor. Another part is getting into the voice and mood for this story.

Well, at least it’s only likely to get better from here.

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Subject to change. Let’s face it, if anyone offers to buy either MAGE STORM or BLOOD WILL TELL, I’ll switch these priorities to basically whatever they want, probably the continuation of either of those series.

I’ve finished the revisions to BLOOD WILL TELL. Now I need to rework the query and probably the synopsis and start sending it out again.

I’ve also finished the revisions to MAGE STORM, so I need to check the query and synopsis and start sending it back out, too.

Conventional wisdom says not to try to query two books at the same time, but this is one convention I’m willing to buck. I’ve got two ready for market. They’re very different stories for different markets. I see no reason not to query both of them.

Of the next books I’m ready to start on, the first book of the series tentatively titled THE HARBINGER (although I’m actually not sure whether that will be the title of the series or of one of the later books in the series) is calling to me. That is probably the very best way to choose what to work on next. The working title is MAGIC’S FOOL. If the story is ready, I can generally write a first draft in about four to six weeks.

Well before that, the first readers’ critiques of SEVEN STARS will be back. (I’ve got one already.) So I’ll take care of those revisions, essentially the third draft, and then set it aside to rest for at least six months.

Then, I’ll start on BLOOD IS THICKER, the sequel to BLOOD WILL TELL. If I don’t get any bites on BWT, this is the series I’m thinking of taking to e-publishing next year.

By then I’ll be ready for the second draft of MAGIC’S FOOL, followed by the second draft of BLOOD IS THICKER.

That ought to keep me busy for the next few months, anyway.

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I’ve got two projects that I may decide to take to e-publishing within the next few months to a year.

The first is BLOOD WILL TELL and its sequels. In order to do this right, though, I need to have the sequels written, critiqued, revised and polished. Therefore, this likely won’t happen for at least a year. In the meantime, I will start querying BWT again. Might as well.

The other would be a collection of short stories. I have three right now that are nearing the last of the markets I would be willing to sell them to. It’s not that they’re not good enough. Some of them have come close. Most of them have been vastly improved from their original versions, too. That’s a problem because most publications don’t want to see revised stories unless they request the revision. So, a story I sent out to one market and then later revised and improved, can’t go back to that market again. Two of those stories are actually novelettes (in the 10,000-word range), so there aren’t that many markets available for them in the first place.

At least not markets I’m interested in. There are a couple of places I could send them that just don’t pay much. In fact, they pay so little that I’m willing to take my chances on doing it myself. So those short stories are very likely to end up in an e-published collection by the end of the year or so.

It used to be, not so very long ago (perhaps as recently as this time last year) that there was a real stigma against self-publishing, including e-publishing. That’s been changing rapidly and it’s no so true anymore.

What is still a concern is that I’ll have to come up with (or pay to have someone better at it than me come up with) cover art. That’s doable.

And the real issue is marketing. Not in the traditional sense, of course. But I will have to find some way to make my stories stand out so interested people can even find them among the literally thousands of e-published story collections and novels out there now.

That’s going to require some thought.

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Well, I’ve finished the revision to BLOOD WILL TELL. Now I need to write a new query letter, research some agents, and start sending it out again. Meanwhile, I’ve started the revision to MAGE STORM.

As I said in my last post, the next thing I need to do is to decide what I’m going to work on next. The candidates are:

  1. THE BARD’S GIFT. Young Adult. The story of a girl who has the gift of story telling. Despite the fact that she’s a believer in the new god, the old gods literally put stories into her head that she’s compelled to tell. Her internal conflict and the trials of getting her elders to listen to and accept her stories would be set against the greater difficulties of carving a new settlement out of the wilderness. This one is an alternate history in which the norse actually did create a permanent settlement in the New World some two or three hundred years after Lief Erickson. Frankly, I don’t think this one is quite fully cooked yet. I don’t have enough plot points mapped out. And I need to do some research before I can tackle the alternate history part, anyway.
  2. Book One of the series tentatively titled THE HARBINGER. Middle Grade, although the series might migrate into Young Adult in later books. This would be a completely new look at the story told in my first two novels, so the plot is pretty much complete (at least that far). I know the characters and the milieu very well, too. No additional world building required. The interesting task in this one, beyond trying to forget (and not peek at) what I did before, is to chop it into smaller but still complete parts. The story formerly told in TSC (I’m still just sticking to the initials) would make up probably three books of this series–and each one has to have its own central conflict which is completed withing that single book. That’s really the only thing I would need to work out to be ready to start writing tomorrow.
  3. BLOOD IS THICKER. Adult, first sequel to BLOOD WILL TELL The continuing story of the main characters from the previous book. They have a clutch of three eggs, but there’s something wrong at the hatching grounds. The geothermal heat that keeps the grounds at a constant temperature is failing, due to some earlier activities of the antagonist from BWT. To save their unborn children, Rolf and Valeriah have to find out what’s gone wrong and find a way to fix it. I know the bones of this story well enough to start writing any time. I even have a couple of scenes already written.
  4. WILD MAGE. Middle Grade, first sequel to MAGE STORM. On a trip home, Rell and his friends discover that isolated settlements are being attacked. They set out to find out who’s behind it and end up having to battle with the wild mage and her coterie of loyal creatures–gryphons and a young dragon. Again, I know the major plot points and could start writing this one at any time.

So. I’m not really ready to start THE BARD’S GIFT, but I could start any of the others. For MAGE STORM, I’m committed to continuing to try to get that published by the traditional route for a good while yet, so I probably won’t start the sequel to that, yet. That leaves either Book One of THE HARBINGER or BLOOD IS THICKER. And the answer to that depends on whether and how soon I seriously consider e-publishing BLOOD WILL TELL.

Decisions, decisions.



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Well, I’ve come down to the last 20% or so of the revisions to BLOOD WILL TELL. The time to make some hard choices is coming right up.

I’ve already made the decision to give this one another try by the traditional route. I’ll redo the query letter, research some new agents, and start sending it out there again, this time as paranormal romance. That’s not the hard choice.

The decision is this: Do I want to be prepared, in case this one still doesn’t get anywhere through traditional channels, to put it out there myself.

If so, then I have more work to do. Not just learning more about e-publishing. If I want to make it a success, then I really need to be able to put the sequels out at or close to the same time. Sequels that aren’t written yet.

You see, up ’til now I’ve pretty much concentrated on the traditional route. And the conventional wisdom in that arena is that it’s better not to start the sequel until you’ve sold the first book. The reason is that if the first book doesn’t sell, the rest of the series has about the same chance as a snowball in . . . well, you know the rest of that saying. It’s better, in that venue, to write something new that may have a better chance.

But, for e-publishing, that turns around completely. Those who’ve done best with e-publishing have been able to follow up with more books in the same series to really build readership.

So now, as I complete the revisions to BLOOD WILL TELL and then a revision to the beginning of MAGE STORM and send both of them back out there into the world, and wait for first reader responses to SEVEN STARS, I have to choose what to work on next.

New stories, like THE BARD’S GIFT (alternate history) and THE HARBINGER (a total re-imagining of my earliest novels).


Happy Independence Day

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