Thursday, June 30, 2016

What My Editor Has Done For Me

There is a big question out there of what, exactly, and editor does, and what makes a good one.  This is especially true when people are, say, considering who to vote for in the Best Editor, Long Form category in the Hugos-- a category that my editor, Sheila Gilbert, is nominated for.
So, just this week I had a long conversation with Sheila, mostly about my draft for The Imposters of Aventil.  This book is the third Thorn book, and it's also the midpoint in what I'll call "Phase I" of my over all Maradaine plan.  It's the first book where the integrated elements of the various Maradaine series show come into play.
So Sheila has to walk something of a balance act in helping me with the development.  She has to be able to fundamentally get what I'm doing and what I want to accomplish, while at the same time maintain enough outsider perspective to see if the pieces I'm placing make sense and I'm not just in my head.  She pulls at the loose threads and asks me what I'm going to do with those.  She keeps me on the big picture and on the details.
Which, for a book like Imposters, which is the biggest thing I've done so far, in many ways, is so crucial.
(Don't worry-- it's longer than the other books, but it's FAR from a doorstopper.)
Without that kind of editing, I wouldn't be able to do everything I want to do.
So now, I have to get back to doing it.  These books don't write themselves.  (Or re-write. Or edit. Or proof.)

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Maradaine Novels - A Quick Guide

This weekend I was at the Writers' League of Texas conference, and it's become clear to me that I almost need a flowchart to explain the details about my books.  This is the burden of having three series working at once.  There are worse fates.
Collage 2So: The Maradaine novels are all set in the same city. Maradaine - the grand port city, the capitol of Druthal.  A city of power, of magic, of crime and intrigue, from the highest levels of authority in the palace and Parliament, to the lowest dregs in Quarrygate prison.  It is a city where old ways of mysticism and tradition are giving way to modern culture, methods and technology.  
The Thorn Series
The Thorn books follow Veranix: magic student at the University of Maradaine by day, street vigilante by night.  He fights his personal vendetta against the drug trade in the working-class neighborhoods of Aventil and Dentonhill.  Between the Aventil street gangs, the university prefects and the drug lord's assassins, Veranix struggles to keep himself in school and alive.
The Constabulary Series
The Constabulary books follow Inspectors Satrine Rainey and Minox Welling, inspectors in the city constabulary in the central neighborhood of Inemar, both outcasts in their own way.  With their troubled pasts and uncertain futures, these two unorthodox inspectors have to solve the most volatile murder cases in the city.
A Murder of Mages - July 2015
An Import of Intrigue - November 2016
A Parliament of Bodies - Fall 2018
The Hovler Alley Series
On the poor west side of Maradaine, in the run-down-but-proud neighborhood of North Seleth, we find the Rynax Brothers: a broken spy and a reformed thief. Their attempt to live clean, honest lives is thwarted by a fire that destroys their home and shop. Their future ruined, they have only their skills from their pasts to fall back on.
The Holver Alley Crew - March 2017
Lady Henterman's Wardrobe - Spring 2018
Further Maradaine Series?
I have a fourth Maradaine series planned, the first book is tentatively titled The Way of the Shield.  That's still in the works, so I can't talk about it as something that is definitively coming out.  And I also have a few novellas planned, and a plan for all three series beyond what's announced.
Maradaine Books In Release Order

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Perils of the Writer: Being all 'hip' and 'with it'

I'm rather fortunate-- in a strange sense of the word-- that I right secondary-world fantasy, and thus I get to use my own phrasing and slang that is world-specific.  There's no need to be current or modern in a way that might date my work faster than I would hope.
I have friends who've written things set in "now", and because of the time it takes to get something sold or publish, the "now" has drifted away from them to a point where their story feels like a relic.  Or-- a real danger when writing near-future SF-- when I read Snow Crash, it was already the same year of the "future" of the book.  
I have been accused of using language that feels too "modern" for a fantasy novel-- though I think that comes from the strange expectation that fantasy needs to use some sort of faux-archaic tone, which I do not agree with.  Now, this might cause my books to get dated sooner than I would hope.  We'll have to see.
But the question at hand is also: can you write in a way that speaks to younger audiences without making your work seem dated-- or worse, like your some out-of-touch fogey trying to hard to "relate" with these kids today?  I think you can if it's authentic.  If it comes off as pandering-- like you're putting on a voice to target the youth market-- then they'll know.  And they won't like it.
Now, I've got plenty of work to do today in the word mines (and up here in the real world), so I'm off to it.  And if you're attending the Writers' League of Texas conference this weekend, look me up.  I'll be the one in the vest.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Coming March 2017: THE HOLVER ALLEY CREW

The Holver Alley Crew is now showing up for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  And with that, it's now got a release date: March 7th, 2017.
Holver Scratch
So, what's The Holver Alley Crew all about?
The Rynax brothers had gone legit. Service in Druth Intelligence had shattered Asti Rynax’s nerves.  Marriage and fatherhood convinced Verci Rynax to leave his life of thievery.  They settled back in their old neighborhood in West Maradaine and bought themselves a shop, eager for a simple, honest life. Then the Holver Alley Fire incinerated their plans. No home, no shop, no honest income, and saddled with a looming debt, they fall back on their old skills and old friends.
With a crew of other fire victims, Asti and Verci plan a simple carriage heist, but the job spirals out of control as they learn that the fire was no accident. Lives in Holver Alley were destroyed out of a sadistic scheme to buy the land.  Smoldering for revenge, burdened with Asti’s crumbling sanity, the brothers lead their crew of amateurs and washouts to take down those responsible for the fire, no matter the cost.
I've included some scratch art I did as part of my process.  Do not think this represents the actual cover art in any way.  This is just me playing with Photoshop.  Hopefully, in a few months, we'll be seeing another Paul Young cover that will do fantastic justice to this book.
So, mark your calendars: March 7th, 2017.  Holver Alley Crew.

Also mark your calendar: This weekend I'll be at the Writers' League of Texas Agents and Editors conference.  Of course, I'm neither agent nor editor, nor am I in search of one, but I'll be offering my sage advice (such as it is) for hopeful writers who are.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Worldbuilding Article

I'm under the hammer today (that Workshop deadline just passed), so here's an interview with me, Stina Leicht, Katherine Catmull and Donna Birdwell about Worldbuilding.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Worldbuilding: The 4-D Worldbuild Process

I love coming up with maps, I love figuring out the history of a world.  Regardless of if you do your worldbuild from a top-down, bottom-up or concept-out process, to some degree you have to figure out A. the physical space and B. the backstory that leads up to the "now" of the story.
Now, I'm someone who goes into the iceberg principle-- know all that stuff that's under the surface, most of which you never see.
Part of how I do that is starting with a Big Picture.  First off is the map.  I've been fine-tuning and updating the map. This below is still a work in progress-- the pure size of the work file means now I can only do a little bit at a time before things come to a grinding halt.  I'm still in the process of adding names of cities and smaller bodies of water.  But this gives you a sense of the larger world around the city of Maradaine.
Now, I'll fully acknowledge that this world started out top-down.  However, my process of research and thinking about bottom-up has allowed me to enrich where I was deficient.
Also, I wanted to get a solid grasp of the journey of the whole world.  I've talked before about how in worldbuilding, history needs to be a process of change.  Your world isn't going to be the same place a thousand years ago that it is now.  There isn't necessarily going to be the One Big Event that makes everything how it is now.  The things on one side of the world may or may not touch events on the others.
So, I wanted to create another "big picture".  A snapshot of the whole history of the world, to know the path so I can work the larger details.
4-D Worldbuilding
If you're worried about spoilers for the Maradaine novels, don't worry.  This is all deep background stuff.  There's nothing here that will immediately ruin or spoil future plot twists.  But it will give you a sense how deep the iceberg goes....

One final reminder-- the registration deadline for the ArmadilloCon Writers' Workshop is JUNE 15th!  If you are in Austin (or can get there easily), it's very worth your while.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Perils of the Writer: Deep in the Genre

Not to get all Goodfellas on you, but for as long as I can remember, I always wanted to be a genre writer.
It's funny, because the idea of writing sci-fi or fantasy has always been in me, long before I was really reading it.  I have a hard time pointing to influences, because by the time I was seriously reading in the genre, I had a picture in my head of what I wanted it to be.
Of course, writing genre comes with a huge set of baggage.  
I still remember in my college Creative Writing class the comments that started, "Well, this is fantasy, and fantasy is junk, but given that..."    Even with Fantasy  being more mainstream, it's still got a ways to go, at least in perception.  Not too long ago, I read an article* which declared the genre "stale", though it was clear that the author only had the most cursory familiarity with the genre.  
Fortunately, the baggage is not as heavy as it used to be.  Sure, there will be a crowd that thinks it's not "real" writing, or "real" literature, or something, but I think the uphill battle for legitimacy has largely been won.  The general public might not know the deep cuts in the SFF literature, but they they know that it's out there, and it's no longer in the darkened corner of shame of the Waldenbooks.
That is, if there were still a Waldenbooks, but that's a different story.  
But it's not entirely gone.  Just the other day I was introduced to a writer, and when I said I had three novels out and fourth coming soon, I got nods of approval... but once I described my books, I got that look.
I can take that look, though.  Because I'm doing what I love.  I'm doing what I've always wanted to do.
Only one week remaining to sign up for the ArmadilloCon Writers' Workshop!  If you're in the Austin area-- or can get there with minimal trouble-- it's very worth your while.  
*- I'm not going to link it, it does not deserve the traffic.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Novels of the Maradaine Constabulary

AMurderofMagesWe're now five months away from the release of An Import of Intrigue, the second book of the Maradaine Constabulary books.  Which means this is the perfect time for you to add the first book, A Murder of Mages to your To Be Read list, yes?  You want to be caught up so you will be ready to pick up An Import of Intrigue in November.
Some of of the reviews for A Murder of Mages:
Chris from SFandF Reviews:
“The presence of the city, a dark, grimy, lively place, invades the reader by degrees. It’s not a place that leaps off of every page – but rather, one that seeps into your fingers as you turn those pages.”
From Bibliotropic:
“Maresca’s novels are certainly getting attention from fantasy readers, and I’d say it’s well-deserved. Quick reads, good action, and just generally very fun books to have around. I’m already a fan of both branches of Maradaine novels, and I’m looking forward to what new fun stories he’ll tell in that world in the future.”
"Fast-moving and addictive."
“Without hesitations, I would say that A Murder of Mages deserves 5 out of 5 stars!”
From Bookaneer:
“Interesting characters, intricate worldbuilding, and a mystery that kept me hooked? Count me in for the sequel. It can’t come soon enough.”
I really enjoyed writing Satrine and Minox in A Murder of Mages, so I was thrilled to have the chance to continue their story with An Import of Intrigue.
So, what happens in An Import of Intrigue?
The neighborhood of the Little East is a collision of cultures, languages, and traditions, hidden away in the city of Maradaine. A set of streets to be avoided or ignored. When a foreign dignitary is murdered, solving the crime falls to the most unpopular inspectors in the Maradaine Constabulary: exposed fraud Satrine Rainey, and uncircled mage Minox Welling. With a murder scene deliberately constructed to point blame toward the Little East, Rainey is forced to confront her former life, while Welling’s ignorance of his own power threatens to consume him. And these few city blocks threaten to erupt into citywide war unless the constabulary solves the case.
Also, while I can't share the cover for An Import of Intrigue yet, I have seen it, and: Paul Young has done right by me again.
I'm really thrilled with both books in this series, and I'm equally excited with how the third Constabulary novel, A Parliament of Bodies is coming along.  I am so happy that I get to share with my readers the different facets of the city of Maradaine.
A MURDER OF MAGESGoodreads, AmazonBarnes & Noble
AN IMPORT OF INTRIGUE: GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & Noble

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Getting the Words Down while the Hurricanes Blow

I'm in an incredibly privileged situation.  Not only to I have a fair amount of financial freedom to devote time to my writing, but I'm unburdened by physical or mental ailments.  In the parlance of of the popular metaphor: I've got plenty of spoons.
Collage 2EVEN STILL I have days where I feel like OH LORD I CANNOT with the writing.  Which is terrible, because I have no excuses.  Well, that's not true: despite my situation, I do have requirements and responsibilities and two to three other people to share a house with*, and am the one handling the various domestic tasks like errands, cooking, laundry, dishes, etc, in addition to elements of our home business.  Some days have special projects, and at the end of those days, the idea of putting my ass in the chair and cranking out some words just makes be want to fall down.
Nonetheless: the writing needs to be done, even on the bad days.  I'm not going to preach some sort of writing perfectionism.  There are days when it doesn't happen.  Usually because I'm just exhausted or have too many other things to get done that day.  And while I do say that if you want to write you have to make it a priority, that's about the long term, not necessarily the day-to-day.
Some days it just doesn't happen, and you shouldn't kick yourself for that. Allow yourself the luxury of a bad day, or a sick day, because it's a long haul.  You can get back on the horse the next day.
But you DO have to get back on the horse the next day.  Do not wallow in your failure. Just accept that you had a bad day and move on.  Because things will go bad in this business.  Things will go bad with you and your day-to-day.  You could slip and break a foot.  You could wake up with a killer case of vertigo.  Your car could be rear-ended by some kids who were skipping school.**  Any of those happen, and your productivity will drop.  But you can't let that stop you.
And speaking of: plenty of work to do.  Quite the long term to-do list on my part.
Also: Only two weeks left until the submission deadline for the ArmadilloCon Writers' Workshop!  Get in there while you still can.
*- Depending on if my mother-in-law is in town or not.
**-No, those are just random examples, really.