Monday, August 29, 2016

Keeping My Head In Many Places

So, here's the really strange thing about doing this work: where I am is several steps ahead of what's out in the world.  This, of course, only makes sense.  For An Import of Intrigue to be hitting shelves in a few weeks*, I had to finish writing it months ago, and it had to go through copyedits and proofs and such before it makes it to your hands.  Similarly, The Holver Alley Crew is locked down, with only final proofs left to do.  So while I'm talking about those two the most right now-- where my head is at is with the books down the road: finalizing The Imposters of Aventil and drafting Lady Henterman's Wardrobe, as well as fixing the outline for A Parliament of Bodies, outlining some novellas and...
Well, more stuff for the future. 
Needless to say, sometimes I get very confused.
I've joked that I need a good Wall-of-Crazy program to hash out ideas and such, as actually taking over a wall with maps and post-it notes would probably make my wife cross. I prefer to not make my wife cross, so I don't do that.  
And then I discovered that the folks who made Scrivener-- which I deeply love as a program to write novels on-- made a thing called Scapple which is essentially a Wall Of Crazy program.  So far, I'm really liking it.  Still just using the trial version, but I'll be springing for it shortly.  It's been a good way to get my head clear, and open up all the plans I have.
And, reader, there are so many plans.  Can't wait to share them with you.  

*- And currently available on NetGalley for reviewers!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Covers of Maradaine

I feel like I've been very fortunate with the covers of my books.  Paul Young has been the cover artist for all four books so far, and I'm given to understand that Sheila's intentions are to keep using him for my books, which suits me just fine.  Because Paul gets the look and feel of Maradaine, and what I want the covers to evoke.  He gives a cover that clearly says, "Hey, this is what kind of book you're getting." And it's spot on.  And he's also receptive to my thoughts and concerns.
Collage 2Case in point: the Import of Intrigue cover, which is probably my favorite to date.  There were plenty of tweaks from the initial image I was shown to the final version.  We went through, for example, variants of Satrine's handstick until we had one that I was happy with.  Paul also integrated the Tsouljan text I created into the signage. I love the look and feel of the whole thing.
I've seen an initial concept for the Holver Alley Crew cover, and I'm already very happy.  I can't wait to see the final version, and be able to share that as well.  Since that book will be coming out in March 2017, that won't be the far away.  But for now, we'll just enjoy the Import cover.  
Maresca - An Import of Intrique
An Import of Intrigue releases on November 1st.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Where Did August Go?-- Hugos, Reviews and Imposters

Happy Monday!  It's already the 22nd.  I feel like I turned around, and the month is nearly over.  And there's still so much I need to do, in the rest of the month and the rest of the year.   I'm not worried-- I can do the work.  It just seems the whole summer was a blur.  
But in other news: Sheila Gilbert won the Hugo for Best Editor Long Form!  This thrills me to no end.  Needless to say I think it's well deserved, especially considering that the award represents her work for books released in 2015, which includes The Thorn of Dentonhill and A Murder of Mages.  So, of course I'm proud just at the idea that my work helped contributed to her win.

In other news, I found this lovely video review of several SFF books, but her highlight is A Murder of Mages.  Which is pretty cool.  
Finally, Powder & Page gives The Alchemy of Chaos a four-star review.  "Mr. Maresca has provided his readers with another dashing adventure in Maradaine and it was GREAT."  This sort of thing always makes me happy.  It's been a good weekend.
Also from the Powder & Page review: "I’m waiting for the characters to overlap, even if it’s just a tiny, insignificant interaction. I’m going to shriek and wave the book about in a dangerous looking manner and find someone to fangirl about it to if that moment ever comes."
That reminds me: I need to finish the final draft of The Imposters of Aventil.  I do have a Hugo-winning editor to answer to, after all.  
Back to the word mines.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Who Else Would I Write?

You know, I love writing the Maradaine books, and I have a bunch of other stuff in the back of my mind beyond those books.  I've got plenty to keep me busy for years to come.
That said, if I got the call from DC to, say, take over Green Arrow, I'd be all over that.  I mean, if you've read The Thorn of Dentonhill, the idea that I'd be into writing a bow-wielding vigilante isn't too surprising.
Yeah, that'd be pretty awesome.
That said, I've got plenty on my plate, including finalizing The Imposters of Aventil, and a few more things in the hopper that I'll be telling you about soon.
Until then, into the word mines.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Perils of the Writer: The Terminal Cases

The other day I was asked (via email) about dead projects, and how one, as a writer, knows not to keep working on something and put it in the drawer.  So I decided to look over my "Terminal Cases".
The Terminal Cases are projects that aren't technically "dead", and... as you never know when lightning might strike and there's call to go back to them.  But it's more likely than not that I won't go back to them and finish them. There are some good ideas in there that it's worth looking them over, and possibly mining them for things I can use later.  And it's always good to remember the dead ends on the path to publication.  Now, some of these aren't genre, and you never know-- at some point I might want to write something that's non-genre lit.
  • The Fifty Year War: This was my first attempt to write a novel in the Maradaine setting, this detailing the war between Druthal and Poasia that's been referenced in the Maradaine novels.  This one I had a complete manuscript, but it's not a proper narrative.  It's more like a loosely connected series of shorts and novellas.  Maybe some day I'll pull elements of it out, rewrite it extensively and put it out as a series of novellas.  Maybe.
  • The Crown of Druthal: This was, at the time, my intention for the Grand Fantasy Series.  It's, of course, in the same setting as the Maradaine books, but this series was to travel the whole world.  Which was the point and the problem: all I had was, "I've made this world, now let's show it all."  Plot was essentially smacked-in with a hammer to justify the path of the journey.  So it wasn't much of a narrative.  I had one manuscript written, and an outline planned out for several more, but in the end, it really wasn't a story.  But it was a useful exercise to learn how to write a novel.
  • The Lowered Bar: The idea behind this was to follow four mediocre students as they muddled through a mid-grade college, eventually to get degrees but not really getting educations. I never really came up with a full outline, just various scenes. It never really came together into a unified whole.
  • Long Night of the Pieman: This one was based on my experiences pizza delivery, boiled down to a driver's adventure in one night. Here I had a full outline, and wrote a fair amount. But as my days as a driver got further and further behind me, the less relevant the piece felt to me.
  • The Xanadu Job: This one was a sci-fi Ocean's Eleven, quite literally. The team was even eleven people, with roughly the same jobs in the movie, and the underlying plan was similar, with some sci-fi twists. A few bit and pieces of this did find its way into Holver Alley Crew.
  • Arthur Wood's Metatextual Life: My concept here was Arthur was a young man, just moved to a new city, starting up a life there. But at the same time, Arthur is the main character of a TV show, with a rabid on-line fandom. So I had ideas for how these different facets affected each other. Like, from Arthur's point of view, he had a friend that he saw all the time, but doesn't see anymore; but from where it's a TV show, the actor playing that friend left and is now on another show. Stuff like that. I had an sketch of how Arthur's life would go over five years (in the form of a five-season episode guide), but there was something structural about the whole concept that eluded me. I never quite sussed it out. So here in Terminal Cases it'll sit.
  • Convergence of Angels on the I-35: This one is well over a decade old in the Terminal Cases pile, really. I had written many chapters longhand, long ago, and then typed it up on the computer. Due to various mishaps and errors in judgment, any electronic version is lost. I still have the longhand, but I have yet to type it up and do anything with it. And I may not, because it is very much a "young man's" book-- I'm no longer 23 years old, spending long nights in diners. But I do love the title.
  • Nightingale: This was my "flawed superheroine" project, about a wife & mother who survives when her family is killed, and gets her vengeance on. I had imagined it as a short TV series, or later as a web series.
  • Dr. Hiro Hirose vs. Professor Badass: This originated from that Internet Meme of Prof. Badass, which you've probably seen. I imagined him as the head of a whole evil team. Then I came up with matching heroes to oppose him, lead by Dr. Hiro Hirose.  The whole thing started as an exercise in googling interesting hero-like pictures, really. But when I tried to actually write, at least so far, I realized I had characters, but no story. Yet. Maybe it'll percolate back up later on. You never know.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Monday, August 8, 2016


Folks, so much is going on.  I thought I'd have a respite in August, but that is not in the cards.  It's good stuff for me, but it's keeping me busy.  Especially with AN IMPORT OF INTRIGUE now just three months away.  And HOLVER ALLEY CREW comes out in March, only four months after that.FB Banner Import
So, in the mean time, here is a bit of bonus material: the "close-up" maps for both books.  Import focuses on the Little East, the collection of enclaves where most of the story takes place.
MCI02 Map for Pub Color
The next map, for Holver Alley Crew , centers on North Seleth, in the west part of Maradaine.
HAC01 Map For Pub 
Hopefully both of these will tease and whet your appetite for both books.  I'll have more IMPORT OF INTRIGUE announcements in the near future as well.  And hopefully a few more things to share as well....
Until then, into the word mines.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Perils of the Writer: The Length that Fits Your Story

So, I'm primarily a novelist.  That's the length of stories I write on the whole, that's the length that feels right in what I conceive a story to be.  I'm not a big fan of writing short stories, in that I rarely have a short story idea, and I do have so many long-form ideas, so I feel like trying to conceive short stories for the sake of "short story" in and of itself is wasting my time.
Note: I'm not saying short stories are a waste of time.  I'm saying me trying to force myself into a short story box out of the idea it's something I "should" do is a waste of time.  Everyone's mileage varies.  I have plenty of friends who are short story masters, and novels make them want to tear their hair out.
That said, having just come off the ArmadilloCon workshop, I feel like the teaching-writing environment, from the large workshops to smaller ones to critique groups-- tends to be shorter-work focused.  This makes sense-- a teacher will have an easier time reading and critiquing something that's 5000 words as opposed to 100,000 words.
The challenge then is this: there are very few resources out there, especially for the genre writer, to learn how to novel.  At best, people are taught how to short story, and then told, "You know, do that, but longer" and thrown out into the woods. I know in the workshop this year, most of the students described "novel writing" as an intended goal, but most of them came in with a short story (as opposed to chapter one of a novel, which was allowed but somewhat discouraged).  If we ("we" as a genre-writing community as a whole) are going to engage in teaching writing, we need to create more resources for the novel-writing student. 
I have some ideas of how to do this, but they need time to ferment.  That, and I have plenty of other work to do right now as well.

Monday, August 1, 2016

ArmadilloCon Post-Mortem

I'm a little late here on Monday because, well, this weekend was ArmadilloCon, which-- excellent.  But that does put me in 'recovery' mode right now.  Not only recovering in terms of physical and mental energy, but also the household- and work-type things that get neglected because I spent the whole weekend at the con.  
So, we kicked off with the Writers' Workshop, which went very well.  All our teachers did a great job, and they deserve plenty of praise: Stina Leicht, Joe Monti, Joe McKinney, K.G. Jewel, Eugene Fischer, Amanda Downum, Patrice Sarath, Urania Fung, Mark Finn and Tex Thompson.  Everyone did great work contributing to our discussion panels and in their individual critique groups.  Wesley Chu joined us for our final Q&A with the students, and many of the students seemed to leave feeling engaged and energized.  Which is good, because sometimes the tone can veer into "You want to be a writer?  Why, dear lord, why?" 
Friday night I only had the one panel, on Harry Potter, which was well attended and went swimmingly.  We were largely supposed to be talking about the new book, but since none of us knew anything but the basics, (It's a stage play, with Harry & friends as adults and their children at Hogwarts), there was only so much we could say about that.  But we easily talked about all things Potter and a lovely time was had by all.
Saturday was packed with panels, which is how Saturday should be at any con.  I got to talk about A Murder of Mages in the Law Enforcement in SFF panel (where I was glad to get insight from actual Law Enforcement practitioners like Myke Cole and Joe McKinney).  I got to argue the differences between different kinds of sequels with Rick Klaw and others in the Attack of the Sequels panel.  
The "big panel" was the Writing What You Don't Know with Stina Leicht, Wesley Chu, Tex Thompson, Nicky Drayden and Kirk Lynn.  It was, essentially, the diversity panel with a better title ("Writing the Other", to me, sounds too intentionally divisive.)  It went very well, because everyone on that panel is very smart.  I lean in the direction that as a writer, it's better to try to walk through the minefield of "doing something wrong" and learning from it, rather than not trying.  But it's also important to keep your ears open, so when someone is shouting, "Hey, that's a mine you're about to step on!" you not only avoid it, but learn to recognize them.  
In the evening I had a fun panel on Time Travel with Kevin Jewell and Rebecca Schwarz, which was surprisingly heavily attended.  Like, room packed to the gills.  Then we had a late night panel that was a Horror Movie game show, hosted by the delightful Professor Griffin, where I was joined by fellow contestants Amanda Downum, Tex Thompson and Dawn Humphrey (of Women in Caskets), and we all learned that there are depths of horror movie obscuria we were not aware of.  
And I should add that I not only got to attend the Women In Caskets live podcast recording, but Dawn and Jen Brown of said podcast were an absolute delight for the whole con.  I've known them both for years, back in my theatre days when they were running a company called The Vestige Group, so it was great to have them around.
Everyone was a delight, and as per usual, there was never enough time to talk to everyone for as long as one wants to.  I could have spent another three days and still not had enough.  (Though it probably would have involved even more time comparing scotches with Amanda and her husband.)
But now: there is work to do.  Books won't write themselves, and if they did, I'd be out of a job.