Thursday, October 18, 2018

Portrait of the Writer as an Odd Kid

So, let's talk a bit about Marshall Was A Weird Kid. 

(I know, you're probably shocked.)

Now, despite the fact that I spent a good chunk of time watching and rewatching a bunch of bad movies, I did, in fact, have other activities, including going to summer camps.  One of the day camps I went to regularly was structured thusly: it had two-week sessions, in which you would register for a single course, be it theatre or computers or filmmaking or auto mechanics or what have you.  Whatever you signed up for? That was your morning for the two weeks.  The afternoon, though, was a little more loosely structured, in that there were a handful of varied activities, and you chose, daily, which ones you were signing up for.  One of the most popular afternoon ones was the limited-capacity trip to the local state park for swimming, which my sister made a point of signing up for Every. Single. Day.

That?  Was not me.

In fact, my first year there, I was seven, which was itself a bit odd because the camp was for 8-14 year-olds, and I think my mother got an exception made for me because my sister was there as well.  So there I was, the only seven-year-old among older kids, looking at choices for afternoon activities, most of which were outdoorsy and/or athletic, to which I was nope.  But then one caught my eye.

Typing.

Seven-year-old me signed up for a goddamn typing class that was mostly populated by teenagers who were there for summer school (the camp was held on the campus of a private school), and I'm pretty sure I was the only one from the camp who signed up for it.  But I signed up for it EVERY SINGLE DAY of my first session there.

Every day. Typing. At the age of seven.  And this was 1980, so it was on a typewriter.  That's how and when I learned, and obviously it was a valuable skill that stuck with me.

BUT, since that's how and when I learned, you're just going to have to accept that a double-space after a period is simply embedded in my muscle memory.  It's there, and there's no dislodging it.  So there we are.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

You Can Write The Book

So, here's the question put forth this week:  What do you want to tell someone who says 'I always wanted to write a book'?

My answer is always, YES DO IT.  DOOOOOOO ITTTTT.

DO IT.

Yeah, I'm not subtle about it.

And this is because I'm well aware that the world at large, not to mention those ugly voices that whisper in the night, is constantly sending a message that it can't be done.  That YOU cannot do it.  DON'T EVEN TRY.

I'm not about that.  I want you to do it.  I want you to try.  I want you to point to the damn bleachers and then swing as hard as you can so you'll crack that baby out of the park.

I've got an old friend from High School who recently got back in touch, and that's largely because he saw that I have a whole mess of books out there and he was all, "Well, damn, Marshall actually did it.  I always wanted to do it."  AND NOW HE IS.  He's pretty much got a completed draft and he's doing the research in the business end and asking the right questions and I COULD NOT BE PROUDER.

That's a big reason why I've made a point of working things like the ArmadilloCon Writers Workshop and the Writers League of Texas Conference.  Because I know that this "writing a book" thing is a brutal goddamn marathon and the least I can do is be there with water every few miles.

So you think you wanna do it?

DO IT.

Monday, October 1, 2018

THE WAY OF THE SHIELD releases TOMORROW

Happy October!  I'm happy to announce that THE WAY OF THE SHIELD is here!  I'm very excited, and I hope you are as well.  And if you haven't pre-ordered it yet, here's your last chance.  With the launch of this book and this series, we're starting the fourth (and final?) facet of the Maradaine sequence.   I'm hoping you'll love Dayne, Jerinne and the rest of the Maradaine Elite cast as much as you do Veranix, Kaiana, Satrine, Minox, Asti & Verci and Mila and the rest of the characters that populate Maradaine.

And if you are in the Austin area, I will be at the Barnes & Noble in Sunset Valley (5601 Brodie Ln #300, Austin, TX 78745) tomorrow, October 2nd at 7pm.  Come out, I've love to see all of you.
If you still need convincing, there's an excerpt below, and links to buy The Way of Shield at all your favorite online vendors.

READ AN EXCERPT
---
Dayne Heldrin always dreamed of being a member of the Tarian Order. In centuries past, the Elite Orders of Druthal were warriors that stood for order, justice, and the common people. But now, with constables, King's Marshals, and a standing army, there is little need for such organizations, and the Tarian Order is one of the last remnants of this ancient legacy. Nevertheless, Dayne trained his body and mind, learned the arts of defense and fighting, to become a candidate for the Tarian Order.

When a failed rescue puts Dayne at fault for injuring the child of a powerful family, his future with the Tarians is in jeopardy. The Parliament controls the purse strings for the Order, and Dayne has angered the wrong members of Parliament. He returns to the capital city of Maradaine in shame, ready to be cast out of the Order when the period of his candidacy ends.

Dayne finds Maradaine in turmoil, as revolutions and dark conspiracies brew around him, threatening members of Parliament and common people alike. Dayne is drawn into the uproar, desperate not to have one more death or injury on his conscience, but the Order wants him to stay out of the situation. The city threatens to tear itself apart, and Dayne must decide between his own future and his vow to always stand between the helpless and harm.
Goodreads Page for THE WAY OF THE SHIELDAvailable at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound and more!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

THE WAY OF THE SHIELD Is Coming

We're now less than two weeks away from the release of THE WAY OF THE SHIELD, the first book of The Maradaine Elite.  I'm excited to be introducing these characters and this new facet of the Maradaine saga to readers.
Dayne Heldrin always dreamed of being a member of the Tarian Order. In centuries past, the Elite Orders of Druthal were warriors that stood for order, justice, and the common people. But now, with constables, King's Marshals, and a standing army, there is little need for such organizations, and the Tarian Order is one of the last remnants of this ancient legacy. Nevertheless, Dayne trained his body and mind, learned the arts of defense and fighting, to become a candidate for the Tarian Order.
When a failed rescue puts Dayne at fault for injuring the child of a powerful family, his future with the Tarians is in jeopardy. The Parliament controls the purse strings for the Order, and Dayne has angered the wrong members of Parliament. He returns to the capital city of Maradaine in shame, ready to be cast out of the Order when the period of his candidacy ends.
Dayne finds Maradaine in turmoil, as revolutions and dark conspiracies brew around him, threatening members of Parliament and common people alike. Dayne is drawn into the uproar, desperate not to have one more death or injury on his conscience, but the Order wants him to stay out of the situation. The city threatens to tear itself apart, and Dayne must decide between his own future and his vow to always stand between the helpless and harm.
Of course, launching a new series means there will be more books, and as this book is coming out, I'm finalizing the draft of the next one, THE SHIELD OF THE PEOPLE.  What's that going to be about?  Here's my first pass at a blurb, though it will probably need some refinement:
It’s a grand holiday week in the city of Maradaine, celebrating over two centuries of freedom and the foundation of the reunified modern nation, and with that comes parades, revelry… and protests and demonstrations. As Druthal is electing their new Parliament, a dissident group called The Open Hand seeks to disrupt elections and spread their message of dissolving Druthal into independent kingdoms. Leading the Open Hand is a mysterious and charismatic man, Bishop Ret Issendel.
Dayne Heldrin and Jerinne Fendall find themselves on the margins of the Tarian Order, lauded as heroes in public but scorned and ignored in private, and their future in the Order is hazy. Drawn into the intrigue of the Open Hand and kept apart by dark powerful conspiracies that brew around them, Dayne and Jerinne must both fight for their own principles, and protect the will of the people as the election is thrown into chaos.
I've really been loving playing with these characters in this series. Less than two weeks, so pre-order THE WAY OF THE SHIELD now!
Goodreads Page for THE WAY OF THE SHIELDAvailable at AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieBound and more!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Long Term Planning, Fall 2018 Edition

I take the long term plan pretty seriously.   This is probably apparent.  To give you an idea, here's what my big productivity spreadsheet looks like right now. (With elements redacted)

To be clear: that has 59 projects on it, ranging in completeness from "Published" to "Vague Idea".  I have nine different levels of priority (ten if you count "complete", and thus not a priority at all).  I have color coding and project codes. 

I am not lacking for things to do, certainly.

Here's a closer look, still with redactions, so you can get a sense of how I use this to plan for the short term (what needs to be done NOW), medium term (looking ahead about next steps in each thing) and LONG term, because: there's 59 things on there.  Because I need to know, what's the next month look like?  What's the next year look like?  The next five years?  And the answers to these questions constantly evolve.  Part of my system means being prepared for that. 

And the next month, as you can see, has a few things on it, so time to get to it.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Cover Artist Love: Paul Young


I've said many a time how happy I am that my covers have all been done by Paul Young.  He's created a look and feel for Maradaine, while giving each series its own flavor, and he's done that by being very aware of the nature of the work, and being receptive and giving with his talent.

Now, I could go into further raving about his work on my covers-- like ALL DAY-- but I've done that before, and I want to do something a bit different.  I want to highlight some of his other works.  Pieces of his for other covers for other writers that really worked for me.  Evocative images that draw my curiosity about the stories hiding behind them.  That's a big part of what Paul does, and I'm glad a piece of that work goes to my books.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Best Editor Sheila Gilbert

People, I'm so proud that the SFF Community has confirmed the thing that I've known for some time: that Sheila Gilbert at DAW is the BEST Editor.  She's now won the Hugo twice (and has been nominated six times), and she is hands-down amazing. 

Plus: CHECK OUT HER ACCEPTANCE SPEECH.

For real.  THE BEST.