Let’s Catch Up

So obviously it’s been quite some time since my last update; unfortunately, this may be the new normal for awhile. Biggest problem is that I realized how many cycles ended up spent on blog posts rather than actual fiction. One or the other had to give, and the fiction won out. I’d love to be able to give you weekly updates on status, though, and will try to do better on that front.

This is the opposite of bleak news, however; it means that not only have I been deep in the grind on my next few novels, but that the overall quality of the series will be higher. So what have I been up to? Quick update:

  • After my first revision (incorporating notes from my critique group along with some of my own changes), the first three chapters and prologue of Pathways of the Dead were handed over to my front-line editor, who will be examining structure, internal consistency, and plotting. Once she’s done, it’s updates again then off to the beta readers.
  • I am roughly 30% into my first revision now, which translates to wrapping up Chapter 6 yesterday. Some threads have been removed for future novels, while others are being pumped up. The work is always slower at this point, but the future for the novel is very exciting and I really believe in this one.
  • I have been reviewing Corridors of the Dead not only to ensure consistency between the series but also for an upcoming revised edition. Mea culpa, the book is not exactly what I would have wanted. The story is not changing, but some of the words most certainly are, as it’s not up to my current standards. For those folks who have already read the book or have a copy, you’re not missing out on anything new. Promise.
  • City of the Dead is well under way. A good portion of the plot is set in stone and I’m already deep into Chapter Two on the first draft.
  • Notes have begun for Portal of the Dead. I can’t say too much more about that one since it’s still very fluid at this stage, but the key elements remain what they always have been.
  • The cover for City of the Dead eBook is ready; the artist is working on the Pathways cover for both eBook and print, along with print versions of Corridors and City. Once the Pathways cover is ready, we’ll be setting up a tour for the cover reveal, which sort of kicks off this phase of pre-release marketing.
  • Speaking of pre-release marketing, expect to see a WHOLE lot more about Pathways on this blog in the ramp-up to release. Previews, snippets, cut scenes, character profiles, and more. As with last time, this world is a joy to play in and I’ve grown to like it more and more throughout the drafting process. So much to share with you.

I’m still a little hazy on release date for Pathways, but if I had to pin it down, I would say early-to-mid October at this point. Just about a year after Room 3′s release. If nothing else, my release dates seem to consistently hit in the Autumn. Wish I could get you guys more than one book a year, but for at least the next three books this seems to be my lot in life. I guess I can either do quality or quantity, not both, as some writers manage. I’ll take quality.

Catch you soon.

My Next Novel? Yeah, That’s Finished.

Note: I used Grammarly to grammar check this post because let me tell you, it’s tough to mash these keys with Wookie paws.

Had a long weekend out of town so this is my first chance to share with you, the reader, but Thursday evening I nailed down the first draft of the second book in the Among the Dead series, Pathways of the Dead. Even now I can scarcely believe that it’s happened; I began what would become known as Pathways last summer and pushed through it even during the Room 3 publication process. I had anticipated the finished first draft in March or April. May is acceptable enough, but it had begun to feel like it just wasn’t going to happen.

Of course, this is far from the finish line. The book is still working its way through the various layers of critiques and editors (TWO editors on this one in addition to the critique group and beta readers). The next stage of the voyage begins on the 24th, when I send a first draft that’s been altered with critique comments to my content editor. She’ll sanity-check the thing and make sure that I haven’t somehow put a character’s pants on his head, that sort of thing. Common errors. From there I incorporate her changes and get it out to my lovely, dedicated beta readers. All of this goes on while the critique group continues to read through the evolving drafts until they reach the end. Once ALL of that’s done, it goes to my final editor for final say.

This is a change. While the editing process on the last two books have not been solely on my shoulders, there have been phases that were nothing but my own changes. If all goes well, this book will see nothing like that. I’ll make my own changes in tandem with suggestions from other authors, readers, and editors, making for a far more polished reading experience.

In the meantime, you can expect to see a new cover for Corridors to accompany a revised edition (no major cheats, just some cleaning-up of the text) that feeds right into Pathways. Pathways cover reveal will be done about a month prior to release, so watch this space for more information.

In the meantime, a quick FAQ for folks who read the first book. This will evolve over time and sit on the Among the Dead page.

1. What is this Pathways nonsense? I thought the sequel was called City of the Dead. I wanted that to be so, but the version of City that I had crafted would have been north of 200K+ words. A thematic split also became apparent during the drafting process, and so it only felt natural to split the two books. City of the Dead is still coming, it’s just book 3.

2. What do you mean by a thematic split? Among the Dead is a series that incorporates elements of many different genres. Book 1, Corridors of the Dead, was an urban fantasy-cum-coming-of-age tale. Pathways is more of an action film with some mystery elements. Book 3, City of the Dead, is a cross between a fantasy and a mystery with some elements of a metaphysical journey. Book 4, Portal of the Dead, is a fantasy thriller. Now imagine trying to maintain some thematic consistency between an action film and a slower mystery novel and you see why City had to be split.

3. Is it still a trilogy? No. Among the Dead is now four books.

4. Are you going to be one of those authors who just keeps going and going with the series? Given the ultimate ending of this series, it would be pretty difficult to keep going. I do have a few ideas for prequels under my vest, but those would be far, far off and only for a good reason. I do think that some of the characters introduced over the course of the series would constitute that good reason, such as Omarosa and Anushka.

5. Omarosa? Isn’t she that woman from the Apprentice? The name Omarosa is actually Babylonian; it referred to a mistress of the universe, probably meaning “the sea.” The name is highly appropriate for the character devoid of any popular connections. Besides, I like the name. We’re taking it back.

6. Who are some of the new characters? Well, you know about Omarosa. I don’t want to give too much away, but you’ll meet the creator of the robot, Jazshael, from Corridors of the Dead (and oh boy will you meet him). He’s a very interesting, complex character who will pop up again and again through the rest of the series. The original founder of the Acolytes, Alma, will appear. Two characters from Room 3 make appearances as well – see if you can spot them. Both have prominent roles, though one is a younger version of himself.

7. How many characters die this time? Will your blood lust ever be satisfied? ALL OF THE CHARACTERS. ALL OF THEM. AND NEVER.

8. Where does Room 3 fit into all of this? Room 3 is a side-story to the series. You wouldn’t need to read it to understand what happens in Among the Dead, but some of the issues that pop up make a whole lot more sense when you understand just what the Watchers were up to in London in the late aughts. In time, I’ll fill in the gaps for folks who might have missed these connections.

9. Are you going to write about magick and fantasy all your life? No, sheesh, MOM. I actually have three literary books in the pipeline and am toying with the idea of using the whole Labor Day Rush method to write one of them. Crazy? Oh, probably, but it’s the best way I can think of to give myself the breathing room necessary to get one of those books out.

10. Okay, I’m interested. When can I buy it? Patience. Good work takes time…I’ll let you know as soon as I can.

Bottom line? STAY TUNED….

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Marketing, Marketing, Marketing…

The subject can make you tear your hair out, especially when you’re already in a somewhat tough spot with your writing. I mean, let’s face it, it’s not especially easy to market what I’m writing, at least, not yet. I do feel that it will eventually become easier, but for now I’m kind of taking my lumps as part of paying my dues. That’s how it goes, you know. Anyway, I say all this because after last week’s announcement, I’m in the process of commissioning a few covers, each for different purposes, at least for now. Here is the final outcome of my work with Silyvia Yordanova:

Real Full SizThe idea, of course, being to represent a more “realistic” approach to the work and give readers a face to associate with Matty. I think the cover fits in with a lot of what I’ve seen out there and will be easier to sell in personal appearances, so this may be the final print cover; not certain just yet because I’ve also hired an illustrator to create a fully illustrated cover that will better bring the vision of the original cover to fruition. I mean this one:

The Corridors of the DeadThe current concept is to take this one and more fully realize it, with a cross between the art of movies like Metropolis and Alien. With both in hand, it should be easier to decide which path is the more viable one moving forward with the series.

Let me just say that City of the Dead has been on an arduous path from the outset; it’s easily rivaled Room 3 in complexity, even with a pre-planned plot set out before it. The concept is just as tricky and there are far more characters and moving parts within the story. That said, I’m confident that it will be finished and work as intended – I just don’t plan to fail, period.

It’s probably natural that the cover art for City has followed the same tortured path as its creation. There have already been two abortive attempts at covers, which is why I want to take the time to get this right by first perfecting the cover to Corridors and having the theme to carry through the series. This is already a very difficult series to sell, and it’s important to get the tone and approach just right.

Let’s just hope that Portal of the Dead is much easier. This trilogy may well kill me.

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Room 3 Week: Day 4 – The Factions

Welcome back once again, folks. Glad to have you here, and if you’ve read all of these so far, then I’m appreciative. Tomorrow I’m going to be outlining next week’s promotions, which include a giveaway and a two-for-one deal. For now, though, let’s look at the last major post for this week…

Those who have read The Corridors of the Dead (first in the Among the Dead trilogy) know that the Among the Dead mythos is populated by a number of factions, some of which “control” the Multiverse, and some of which are vying to seize that control. The factions are somewhat deliberately obscured in both Corridors and Room 3, as we are dealing with protagonists who come at this whole new world from a total outsider’s perspective; I want the reader to experience the same sort of confusion going into this that the characters will experience, and live through the same epiphanies that the characters experience.

That said, some of this lays the groundwork for stuff that will only really come to fruition in book 3, Portal of the Dead, and I figured it might be good to come clean and better explain these factions.

1. The Watchtowers. The Watchtowers are owned and run by the Aetelia, which we humans call angels. Within the structure of the books’ Multiverse, the Aetelia occupy a level of understanding roughly equal to our own understanding of the universe. By that, I mean that they have unraveled a number of major metaphysical mysteries beyond human comprehension – so, in a manner of speaking they’re a rung or two above us on an evolutionary scale and have a far greater view of the stuff that makes up the cosmos, but their knowledge is nowhere near all-encompassing. They don’t understand the nature of God or whether one even exists. They posit a Prime Mover who set everything in motion, but have very little evidence of that. When Matty learns the truth about our reality (that we are all constructs in a giant computer simulation), the Watchtowers are unaware of this truth. They only learn it through Matty’s confession to them. Matty is not, however, the first to know this truth. That brings us to… Continue reading

Getting The Funk Back and Lots of News

I’m talking dirty, five-year-old shoe funk, too. Real funk, not the light suburban stuff. Anyway, thanks to all readers for indulging me in my screeds and existential angst (read: kicking and screaming) of the last few weeks. I’m still not sure exactly what that was all about, though I suspect it was some battle for autonomy inside myself that had little to do with the outside world yet manifested itself all over this blog.

Messy.

Anyway, the effect has already been a net positive:  I’m having more fun with my writing, and discovering a new process for writing and editing that will, cross your fingers, prevent one or the other getting out of balance. I just don’t think I’m built for editing a whole novel in one go; I get so caught up in these grand ideas of literary theory, craft, and ideas of what does and doesn’t work that I tie myself in knots. I mean, that’s okay! We all have our weaknesses, but you see the results. Something had to give. So I think the answer is writing a few chapters and then going back and editing those so I have a “sense of accomplishment”. Continue reading

Some News and Crafting an Ancient World, Part 2

Apologies for putting a promo up front here, but this one is kind of a big deal, and I want to make sure you don’t miss out. Basically, you can buy my book and get 25 entries to win a new Kindle Fire. Pretty cool stuff. If you want to skip the promo, you can click here and get straight to the ancient goodness. Now, however…

Win a Kindle Fire and Amazon Gift Card

How? Easy peasy. Head on over to winwithebooks.com or the Facebook fanpageand follow the directions on the Rafflecopter. Check back daily for 50 extra chances to win.

Please note: *no purchase necessary*. That’s right, we’re legal.

Here’s how you can enter, and the number of entries for each action:

+1 Tweet about the giveaway
+1 Like winwithebooks on FB
+25 for each $.99 book (listed on the site) that a person buys
+1 sign up for the winwithebooks newsletter
+10 email your post about the event to winwithebooks@yahoo.com
+5 email a direct link to your review anywhere to winwithebooks@yhaoo.com

All right, that said, let’s talk some more about inspiration, the past, and what makes my imagination tick. Last time I said I wanted to talk about my theories on the antediluvian world – or at least the theories that relate to the stories I’m telling. I think first we need to talk a little about the flood myth in general. Continue reading