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Month: December 2012

Lessons learned in 2012 / Goals for 2013

Posted in Goals

As 2012 rolls on down to a close, I'm moved to reflect on what this year has been like.

I began writing fiction in April and have just published the second book in the Hounds of Annwn series. I can hardly believe it myself. I only wish I had taken the plunge sooner.

I resurrected an old business (Perkunas Press), built it a website, did a crash tour of thought leaders in the new world of independent publishing, and took the first steps toward professional writing.

270,000 words later, I feel like I'm just getting started. I've gotten my books listed in a few dozen online channels, but I've barely scratched the surface of distribution in libraries and independent bookstores. I've started a newsletter, but it's a long way to the famous “1000 fans” that make the foundation of a career — and I must earn them one at a time with the best writing I can produce, the best stories, the highest quality, and constant improvement. It's a challenge.

The feedback I've been getting from individuals and editorial reviews has been very encouraging, but I have almost no reader reviews in online retailers, and I need to concentrate on coaxing that from my readers.

I intend to put up two more books in 2013, more if I can. The next will be the third book in my first series. There's likely to be a fourth, maybe more, and I have a second fantasy series in mind, too. Since I like to end each book with the a sample of the first chapter from the next one, I've already had to start book three in order to complete book two. Soon I'll be able to stop shepherding the new release through the publication and review channels and return to the fun stuff: making up worlds and telling stories about the people in them.

My medium-range plan is to have ten full-length books out by the end of 2016, or more, in three series. Should be possible!

The Ways of Winter (excerpt) – Chapter 1

Posted in The Hounds of Annwn, The Ways of Winter, and Works

TheWaysOfWinter - Full Front Cover - Widget

CHAPTER 1

Prologue
*I’m sorry I ran away, Mother. I want to come home now.*

Seething Magma raised her mantle in the dark underground cavity and interrupted her meal of crushed rock. At last, she thought, relief flooding her limbs. It had been almost a thousand years since she’d heard from her youngest child.

*Where have you been?* she scolded, then emended, *Never mind, just come home.*

*I can’t! He won’t let me go.* Granite Cloud’s wail roused her mother’s alarm. Nothing could hold an elemental.

Finished – The Ways of Winter

Posted in Characters, The Hounds of Annwn, and The Ways of Winter

Hurray! It went like a bottle rocket, two months from start to finish. It's not that I wrote it any faster than To Carry the Horn, it's just that I poured more hours into it in a shorter period of time. Book 3 will take a good deal longer, I expect.

I still need to do a few rounds of polish and proofread, but The Ways of Winter will definitely be out in January. If you're subscribed to my newsletter, you'll be the first to know.

While one of my trusty beta readers finishes his reading assignment (“How many inches of snow?” “Give them something stronger than tea to drink, for god's sake” “Not more Welsh names with double L's”), I thought I might spend a few minutes talking about the new work.

Cutting a Christmas Tree (among the fae)

Posted in The Hounds of Annwn, and The Ways of Winter

Just in time for the holidays, here's an excerpt from The Ways of Winter (due for release in January).

For those of you who haven't read the first adventure in the Hounds of Annwn series (To Carry the Horn), our hero George has moved to the fae otherworld overlaid on his human home in the Virginia Piedmont. Newly married, he wants to start a Xmas tree tradition for his new family. There's just one problem: the fae aren't Christians and they have no idea what he's doing. Nor do the smaller folk, the lutins and korrigans.

No matter. It's a nice snowy day and everyone's delighted to go have a good time.


George mounted the sledge behind the manor and picked up the long reins looped around the pole on the front boards, waist high, standing with his legs braced. There were three or four inches of snow under the runners even here in front of the stables, and he gave an experimental cluck to the two heavy draft horses to see what they made of the weight and the whole contraption. They leaned forward into the harness and easily moved it a few feet before George stopped them again.

The head groom who’d found the old stone boat for him nodded with satisfaction. “I think this’ll do fine, sir. With the snow under it, they should have no difficulty bringing that a couple of miles, even if you carry a person or two. Folk don’t weigh like stones, after all.”

He’d spent much of the morning after the hound walking trying to arrange a means of transport for getting to the nearby woods for his tree. This sledge, a bit larger than a single bed, would carry his tools and the small barrel end he would use for the tree itself, with the tree in it on the way back. In the deep snow, the runners reduced the friction and made it easier to draw.

The word had spread at lunch, and he’d found a couple dozen people mounted and loitering when he’d emerged, asking to come along for a break from staying indoors. It wasn’t a complete surprise since he’d invited several of them himself, but at the sight of so many, he ducked back into the manor and begged a large sack of apples from one of the cooks. He’d carry that out in the barrel end.

After his experiment with the full harness, he looped the reins around the pole and stepped down to face the gathering.

“Glad to see you all. I’m just headed to the woods to bring back a tree for the winter solstice, but I thought we could make a party of it since the snow has eased off again. We’ll be going down to the manor gates, then up the nearby slope to the edge of the woods, maybe a total of a mile and a half each way.

“The snow’s too deep for walking, but the distance is short enough that you could ride double with some of the kids, maybe. I can take a couple of the small folk, but it could be dangerous without side rails. I don’t want to try it with children. And coming back, with a tree, it’ll get crowded.

“So, sort yourselves out. Who wants to come with me?”

The local folk, all mounted, stood off to the side. Eurig and Brynach were joking with each other, their cheeks already red in the cold, and Rhian joined them. Ceridwen had introduced him to her colleague Eluned at lunch, and the two women were sitting together astride their horses, well-wrapped against the chill.

Benitoe had persuaded Maëlys to come, mounted. George overheard him explaining that her pony could hardly run away in such deep snow. Kennel-man Tanguy had fetched Armelle, his betrothed, and now the two lutins came forward to join George on the sledge, neither one having learned to ride.

Only Broch and Tiernoc among the korrigans came along, on their ponies, but Cydifor and many of the other traveling fae had decided that this promised some fun, especially for the kids. The older children were mounted, and a few younger ones sat in front of a parent, wide-eyed.

George looked over the group and nodded. Before he turned to step up to the stone boat again, he caught sight of Cadugan walking by with Ifor, headed to a meeting with Gwyn. Cadugan was shaking his head at the spectacle, but smiling, too.

Nearing the end of The Ways of Winter

Posted in Plot, Production, and The Ways of Winter

I can hardly believe it but I'm almost there.

The first book in the series took from mid-April to early-September to complete, and then I spent a good bit of time on the learning curve of how to publish to 9 primary channels, which distribute to 36 retail channels, in 3 formats of ebook, and of course the trade paperback edition. I've only just started the process of contacting 700 independent bookstores, to add a few dozen (hopefully) to my list of local bookstores who've been kind enough to carry it.

I started the new book in early October, just as I officially released the first one. I was looking forward, in a somewhat leisurely fashion, to being much more efficient this time around in producing the versions for distribution, but I'm going to find out in a hurry, because this puppy is likely to be released in the first week or two of January.

First draft: Will complete this week. Total: 2 months. I'm stunned. (Keep in mind, I have a day job.) Heck, the editorial reviews for the first book are still drifting in, and will be for a month or more. My first drafts are near-final, so I expect to wrap this up with lots of polishing and proofreading roundabout Xmas. Give myself a week or two to format it into the editions, and off it will go.

I blame the 10-hour drive (each way) I did as I started the plot work, giving me uninterrupted time to really chew over the basic plot. Hurricane Sandy helped, too — a day without power let me concentrate on finishing the more detailed plot outline for the middle just when I needed to.

Won't be like this for the next book, though. That one will be longer and more complicated. I'm just chewing over the plot ideas now, but I can tell you one thing: much of it will take place in Gwyn ap Nudd's father's court, in the old world.

If you haven't finished reading your copy of To Carry the Horn yet, better hurry up! You wouldn't want me to write them faster than you can read them, would you?

Stay Tuned — There's a scene in The Ways of Winter that I'll post as a Xmas story. Our hero wants to cut himself a Christmas Tree, but no one in the fae otherworld has any idea what he's talking about.