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.