Thursday, January 24, 2019

Favorite characters to write

So, about two-and-a-half years ago, the question came up of "Who is your favorite character to write?" And, at the time, with An Import of Intrigue on the horizon, I answered Corrie Welling, because Corrie is so much fun to write.

And she still is.

Of course, so many characters are fun to write, and over the course of writing The Way of the Shield and now Shield of the People, I've really come to enjoy writing Jerinne Fendall, the young Initiate that Dayne takes under his wing. If things had taken a different path with my writing, I could see a YA-series centered around Jerinne. As is, she gets a lot of plot focus in both the Maradaine Elite books so far.

Which is why I had so much fun writing A Parliament of Bodies, because, as it is a Maradaine Constabulary novel, it features the fabulously foul-mouthed Corrie Welling, but since it crosses with the Maradaine Elite cast, it also has Jerinne Fendall.

Including a bit where Corrie and Jerinne work together.
If you've been following either series, I think you're going to love this book. Until it breaks your heart, which I'm told it might. Fair warning.

The city of Maradaine is vexed by the Gearbox Murders: a series of gruesome deaths orchestrated by a twisted mechanical genius. With no motive and no pattern, Inspectors Satrine Rainey and Minox Welling—the retired spy and untrained mage—are at a loss to find a meaningful lead in the case. At least, until the killer makes his most audacious exhibit yet: over a dozen victims in a clockwork deathtrap on the floor of the Druth Parliament.
The crime scene is a madhouse, and political forces conspire to grind their investigation to a halt. The King’s Marshals claim jurisdiction of the case, corruption in the Constabulary thwarts their efforts, and a special Inquest threatens to end Minox’s career completely. Their only ally is Dayne Heldrin, a provisional member of the Tarian Order, elite warriors trained in the art of protection. But Dayne’s connection to the Gearbox Murders casts suspicion on his motives, as he might be obsessed with a phantom figure he believes is responsible.
While Satrine and Minox struggle to stop the Gearbox from claiming even more victims, the grinding gears of injustice might keep them from ever solving these murders, and threaten to dismantle their partnership forever.

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound and more!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Worldbuilding vs. Timewasting

Here's my eternal struggle: finding that balance between the worldbuilding that is necessary for me to understand the world as a whole, and thus tell the story well, and the worldbuilding that is just me wasting time or procrastinating.

Part of that ties to the fact that I ended up doing a lot of worldbuilding well before I really got started with proper writing. My worldbuilding process for Maradaine was tied to the process of Learning How To Novel. And I definitely enjoy an in-depth worldbuild process. I'm fascinated by the idea of doing a deep, wide and thorough worldbuild without, necessarily, knowing what the novel is or is supposed to be. I like using that as a process of discovery.

Now, is that necessarily useful? Is it good for me to spend too much time worldbuilding. What does "too much" mean? I'm the wrong guy to answer that question, as I do adore going deep into the "too much".

Part of that is because, when I get stuck with the writing, I like to fiddle with maps. Thats a process that I find relaxing and engaging and creative, and let's me restore my juices and get back to the real writing work.

So, for some non-Maradaine projects, I'm trying to restrain myself to the worldbuilding I need for the story. We'll see if that works. It's a different kind of process, and I'm a little nervous about it, to be honest. So, we'll see.

But that does remind me, I've got some new maps to draw...

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Trying to play Moneyball with Book Promotion

The publishing business is pretty strange. There's plenty of money being made, tons of books being sold, and if you scratch the surface, you'll see that no one really understands what works and what doesn't.

For real, if you go to a bunch of writers-- successful ones!-- and ask, "How does one sell more books?" you tend to get a bunch of shrugs. You will get that occasional person who talks like a marketing guru, but more often than not, their advice is not particularly useful.

This is, in part, because the ground is always shifting, tragedy-of-the-commons style. If someone comes up with a Great New Way to promote books, soon TONS OF PEOPLE are all doing that same Great New Way, and it's just so much screaming into the hurricane.

There's also the factor that book promotion just feels like ugly business. None of us know what's right, but we do know when someone's doing it wrong, and it stands out. Badly. For example: book trailers. There was a period when everyone was trying them, and most of them were terrible. Mostly because they were made by people who didn't know the language of film or the language of commercials. Too long and used that time badly.

Is there some Great New Secret, some perfect formula to get readers interested, to get books in their hands? I don't think there is, but maybe-- as how the Moneyball idea changed baseball-- there's something out there that requires a line of thinking from a different industry completely. Maybe there is, and I don't have the mindset to see it.

I've got a friend who talks about books having "stickiness", that when someone reads it, they "stay" in the book. They want to live in there, think about it all the time, tell others about it. And, he thinks, if you get enough people to "stick" into a book, they create that natural marketing machine for you.
And maybe he's right? It's an interesting idea, but right now I don't know how one might implement it. So, for now, like everyone else in this business, we're throwing things against the wall and seeing what sticks.

(Which, for the record, is a stupid way to check if your pasta is done. Just eat it, that'll tell you. No need to throw it against the wall.)
(And maybe that's a metaphor for this whole endeavor.)

All right, back to work. Do good things, people.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

2019: Planning for the future

Man, this is an auspicious start to the new year, hmm? Late for the first blog post.

In my defense, the Christmas "break" screwed up my sense of what day it was. Part of the challenge of working from home, and essentially working every day, is "day of the week" tends to be less meaningful.

But this year I feel a need to up my game, in terms of organization, planning, and even taking down time. I certainly feel I could be more productive, use my time more efficiently, and I'm going to need that in the years to come.

Some goals for this year:
-Of things you'll be seeing, I've got A PARLIAMENT OF BODIES coming out on March 26th, and SHIELD OF THE PEOPLE in October. Both were quite challenging books to write, and I'm pretty pleased with what they do and how they move the Maradaine saga forward.
-In things I'm doing, there's the final edits on SHIELD, which should be done and turned in this month.
-On the drafting front, I'll be finishing THE FENMERE JOB (about halfway through the rough draft now) and THE PEOPLE OF THE CITY, which will close out Phase I of the Maradaine Saga.
-Along the lines of "closing out Phase I", a big part of the next year is organizing my plans for things I'll be writing once I finish PEOPLE, as well as some smaller projects, some non-Maradaine things, and more or less continuing to lay out impossible goals for myself because that's how I roll.

So that's what I've got on my plate. We'll see how I do.