Thursday, February 16, 2012

Nothing remains the same - thank goodness!

Several years ago I sat across a table from a New York agent pitching my fantasy.  She read a sample of 'BEYOND THE LAST TREE' and told me that I had a wonderful lyrical style, great writing, etc., but...and there it was, that HUGE unwelcome word all writers and artists dread, 'BUT...(and this is a paraphrase) I can't pigeon hole your writing, so I don't feel I can represent it.'  You see, in the wonderful world of publishing as it was, agents and the houses they worked for needed to be able to put your book on the shelf - literally - so it had to fit into a known genre.  An author was represented for 'fantasy' or 'science fiction' or 'romance' or 'mystery'.  No one knew what to do with a piece like BLT that is fantasy with a science fiction angle, plus a healthy dash of romance and a LOT of mystery.  Fortunately, due to the New Jacksonian era (as I think of it), that is the 21st century 'empowerment of the people' happening now due to the internet and social media, none of those rules apply anymore.


I am an artist.  As an artist I create a piece, put it out there and let the public decide whether they like it or not. No one would think of telling me my subject's eyes should have been blue, or I should have put them to the right of the frame instead of the left, or that I made their dress the wrong color.  People look at art and it is what it is.  End of story.  To me, a book is the same.  My novels and short stories are my written 'pieces of art' and I don't need an agent or an editor or anyone else to pick, prod, cut, change, and rearrange my tales before the public sees them.  Ten years ago the words 'independently published' were a death knell for a writer.  It meant to the casual observer (for some odd reason, since 'indie' movies win the Academy Award at times) that you must not be able to write or one of the big houses would have published you.  That doesn't hold water anymore.  The age of POD and internet publishing for Nook, Kindle, etc. has made it possible for stubborn, independent artists like me to have you read what I wrote, as I wrote it, and as I wanted it to be read.

It's simple.  I write.  I publish.  You read if you want.  And if you don't, you ignore it.

How democratic is that?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

OW: the agony and the ecstasy of Organic Writing

Map of Naladia

As a writer I often get asked about 'how' I write.  Well, first of all I am an organic writer.
For those of you who do not know what that is, my friend Beth Daniels ( calls those of us who indulge in it 'pantsers' - as in 'fly by the seat of.  Organic writing begins and flows without an outline, and allows the characters to dictate where the tale is going as it unfolds.  I also happen to write in continuity, though I know many other OWs (Gotta love that.  'O'rganic 'W'riters have many moments when we go 'Ow!' - especially about two-thirds of the way through when all of the plot threads collide, or should I say, 'crash'?)  I have done this since I started writing twenty-seven years ago.  The first thing I wrote (outside of high school and college) was Beyond the Last Tree.  Really.  I think I have Tolkien beat on how long it took to produce a book and get it in the hands of readers.  The story of BLT (my friends call it that with a smug look and a few rude remarks about tomatoes - which I dislike, by the way - tomatoes, not my friends) and how it has become what it is today is a long and winding one that started with this woman very pregnant and sitting in front of a typewriter.  You read that right, a TYPEWRITER, and not even an electric one.  For those of you under thirty-five, this was a device akin to using stone knives and bearskins to write and you got to waste lots and lots of paper and ink.  Look it up.

I can't remember the genesis of BLT, as in 'the first spark'.  It was started as - get this - a fantasy for kids aged 12 - 16.  (Of course, you haven't read it yet so you don't get the 'get this', but you will!)  The novel opened with a lovely, long-winded description of the fictional reality of the world of Naladia and continued on in Tolkien-esque prose for quite a few pages.  Which was great for 1984.  Fast forward to 2012.  No more typewriters, remember?  (Did you look it up?)  After 25 plus years of TV, cable, video games, PCs and now I-pads, pods, poms and pekes as well as Kindle, Nook, Twitter, Facebook, instantaneous communication, and movies that play like Role Playing Games on speed, well, the pace of the novel was a wee bit slow.  (Or so my writer friend, Beth, told me.  I didn't hit her, I just nicknamed her 'Beth the Brutal'.)

Anyhow, I digress - which is what an OW is good at.  So expect it. <G>  All of this is to say that BLT has been tweaked into what it now is over a long period of time.  So it's GOT to be great, eh?  The really aggravating thing about it is that I already had the next 5 or so books written and I had to get this DANG one out first and I had to like it before I put it out, and you know what - NOW I DO!  I am really excited to be on the threshold of showing the 'baby' off.  I hope you like it as well.  There are some fantasy elements that are common to all fantasies in it, and a few twists (something else I am known for) to the old patterns that are not.  Some day I will blog about why I made those choices.  Let me just say that Robert Howard had a lot to do with them.  (I didn't like Conan.  I liked Fafhrd and Mouser.)

BLT went from a kids book to an epic series for adults because my characters demanded it.  They took me by the hand and introduced me to the Ascendants, to the First and SecondBorn, to Solid Souls, and the lands of the Greater and Lesser Forest, and they taught me that the gods are always watching.

And most of the time, looking out for themselves.

Keep checking back and I PROMISE I will continue to ramble on.  BLT is on the way!  Watch for a date soon when it will be available in print, and on Kindle and Nook.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Let's get the advertising out of the way up front!

The Chronicles of the Chosen is an epic fantasy series by M. Cummins Fair that spans two worlds, three generations, and ushers in a new age. The first novel Beyond the Last Tree will be debuting on Kindle and Nook, as well as be available in print soon. Book Two: While the Cat's Away, and Book Three: The Black Hand will follow every few months. The Chronicles of the Chosen will continue with more books as the months progress, with such titles as The Woman of Stone and the Watcher in the Wood.

Beyond the Last Tree is the first in a series of novels set in a post-apocalyptic thirteenth century on a verdant world where gods walk the Lesser Forest and the mortals who worship them serve as their pupils, their puppets – and their prize. The heroine, Morgan has lost her faith. Born to the ancient line of the Keepers of the GodsFire who worshipped the One Who Was Made Two, the death of her brother, Alian, has embittered her and turned her away from her heritage toward the those who embrace the dark arts and their Master, Maaz, the Black Hand. Her disbelief is challenged when her cat, Coven, leads her to a pale youth named Mai who claims to be the agent of the gods of her fore-fathers. At the Guardian’s Hill he explains that she has been recalled to her birthright and asks her to undertake a quest. Not caring who Mai is or what he wants, but only that his offer promises escape from the forested world she feels imprisoned by, Morgan accepts and agrees to journey to the southernmost region of her world to offer Maaz a final chance at redemption.
Only then does she learn that the Black Hand is not only the author of her world’s woes–
But her own.

Here's hoping that sounds intriguing enough to touch the screen of your Kindle or Nook and spend $2.99 to find out! Beyond the Last Tree has been with me as long as my baby - literally - and my baby is 27 years old now. As any mother or father knows, a child that old has done a lot of growing. I was a little younger than my child when the concept for this novel and the others that follow came to me and I started writing. I too have 'grown up' and in the intervening years have written and published a half dozen other novels - always putting BLT (as I call it) aside to finish 'later'. Well, that 'later' has finally come and like any proud parent I am excited to show my 'baby' off to the world - or I will be soon. As you know (if you have kids) when you take a baby anywhere there is a LOT of prep. Let's see, for this one that includes a blog (gee, you're reading it!", a twitter account, a revamp of the website (my other pen name), a Facebook page, creating various .jpgs and background for the above and .... 

hat's not the baby you hear screaming - it's ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But I digress.

Anyhow, the baby is almost done being powdered and pampered and dressed up in its finest and should be presentable very soon. Keep an eye out here for the invitation to the shower - I'll be holding it on Kindle and Nook (and in print form, gotta have it for that night time story). Hey, I'm easy. How many showers can you get by spending only $2.99 for a present?

In the weeks and months to follow, I will share a bit about Morgans' world, the characters in the book, and about how The Chronicles of the Chosen have developed and changed over the years. If you write, you may find the journey interesting. If you don't, well, you already know we writers are crazy. This will just give you more fuel!