Category: 13 Treasures Britain (page 1 of 4)

The Golden Age of Geekdom

thI decided to set my series, Merlin’s Last Magic, in the 1980s because, for me, the 1980s were the “golden age” of fantasy-related stuff: Conan. Red Sonja. Labyrinth. The Dark Crystal. The Last Unicorn. The Neverending Story. Ladyhawke. Dragonslayer. Legend. The Dragonlance Chronicles. HeroQuest.

I grew up in the 80s, and because fantasy seemed to be everywhere during that decade, my imagination was fertilized by all of these movies, books, and board games. In writing Merlin’s Last Magic, I wanted to give a little nod to the decade that nurtured me.

But as I was preparing to write this post, I realized that perhaps the 1980s weren’t really the golden age. Or, if they were the golden age, then perhaps they’ve given birth to an even more exciting and fertile age for fantasy genre stuff: Right now.

I contend that perhaps it wasn’t the 80s at all that were THE decade for fantasy lovers; perhaps that time is now. Perhaps we are living in the true golden age at this very moment (the Platinum Age, perhaps). Just look around: fantasy and science fiction have never been more mainstream or popular, from HBO’s Game of Thrones to the Marvel movies to fantastic writers like Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, and Neil Gaiman (all of whom are being courted by Hollywood for big-budget adaptations of their work).

Being “Geek” is cool. Nerds no longer hide their obsessions but display them proudly. San Diego Comic-Con (not to mention the dozens of other conventions that have gained prominence in the last decade) has become Mecca not just for comics nerds and sci-fi geeks but for big-name celebrities and the mass media at large. When I was twelve, I tried to hide my love for J.R.R. Tolkien and Middle-Earth; when I turned twenty, Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring was debuting in theaters, and suddenly, I didn’t have to hide anymore.

I think this new geek renaissance can be credited to both Jackson’s films and the Harry Potter phenomenon. Without either of these two creations, my fellows geeks and I would most likely still be part of a niche genre, something that the “wider world” looks down on with slight disdain. But because Jackson’s movies were incredible international hits, and because Harry Potter continues to be a straight-up juggernaut in the film and literature worlds, suddenly being “geeky” was cool. The media at large (and the people who consume it) are always gravitating towards what makes money, what sells. And starting with Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings movies, fantasy started to sell, and sell hard.

The success of the Game of Thrones TV show has cemented fantasy as a genre that adults can and should enjoy. Now we have TV shows like The Magicians, Vikings, and American Gods, (not to mention the Marvel and DC superhero shows), and no one is hiding their fandom for these SFF stories anymore. We are allowed to like (and even love) fantasy and science fiction in a way that was just not possible in the 1980s.

But we can’t dismiss the decade of my childhood. The golden age of geekdom that we are experiencing now is a direct result of the fantasy and sci-fi of the Reagan Decade. What do so many of today’s popular novelists, showrunners, and screenwriters have in common? We came of age in the 1980s (or at least, many of us did). We grew up soaking in the realms of Krynn and Fantasia and Thra. Our heroes were Conan and Molly Grue. We played endless hours of D&D and HeroQuest and Warhammer and turned all of those adventures into our first, fumbling stories and novels. Without the incubation of the 1980s, the golden age of today wouldn’t have happened.

For my own part, The Thirteen Treasures of Britain and the Merlin’s Last Magic series wouldn’t exist without the countless hours I spent reading Rosemary Suttcliffe’s Arthurian books, watching Excalibur when I was probably too young to be watching it, and playing Pendragon role-playing game (which, technically, I first discovered in 1990, but who’s counting). I learned to tell stories — and I learned to love telling stories — from playing MERP for summers on end. I fell in love with the realms of heroes by devouring books by Raymond E. Feist and Tracy Hickman & Margaret Weis. I became lost in the kingdoms of Faerie by watching Labyrinth, The Neverending Story, and¬† like they were on a never-ending loop.

The stories I write now are the children of the stories I wandered in during my childhood. We are in an incredibly fertile age for fantasy and science fiction. But we cannot discount the debt we owe to the 80s. The cheesy special effects, the cliche story lines, the underground and misfit-like nature of these movies and books are there for us to see, in the hindsight of 30+ years. But these things do not diminish the magic and sway these stories still hold over us. If the future looks bright for SFF, it’s only because our destinies were forged in the fires of the gloriously geeky 80s.

Paperback Writer

20170518_082308I am ridiculously excited about The Thirteen Treasures of Britain being available in paperback. Inordinately excited. Irrationally excited.

But holding it in my hands — feeling its heft and thumbing through its pages — makes being an author somehow more “real.”

Obviously, ebooks are real. I’ve read countless stories on my kindle, and they were all as absorbing and wonderfully mesmerizing as any physical book I’ve picked up.

But.

A real book. A tangible, physical, glossy-covered real book. It’s got me giddy.

I highly recommend you buy a copy (but then again, I am highly biased). I’ve set it at a reasonable price ($10.99). GO HERE if you’d like to pick it up.

Then when it comes, you can bask in its glossy glory.

The Thirteen Treasures of Britain Is Now Live!

BUY IT NOW ON AMAZON

BUY IT NOW ON APPLE, B&N, AND MORE

BUY IT OR READ IT NOW ON KOBO

THE THIRTEEN TREASURES OF BRITAIN_Kindle72dpi

New Cover for Thirteen Treasures Is Here!

THE THIRTEEN TREASURES OF BRITAIN_mckup11

I ran a contest through 99Designs.com and it was awesome. I would definitely recommend it for other authors. I love this new cover, and I am excited to be working with the designer for books 2 & 3.

The Editing Process, Or How I Read Chris Fox’s Book and Everything Changed

I just re-read my post about being pregnant and wow, does it sound whiny. I won’t lie: things were not good in the first trimester. Sickness, extreme exhaustion, lots to do at my teaching job.

But reading that post now. Eeeeesh. I sound like a whiny whiner who whines.

My work habits have improved since then. Part of that is due to being off for the summer (yay! teacher-life!), but a larger part of my improved work habit is an awesome little book called Life Long Writing Habit by Chris Fox.

Fox’s 5,000 Words Per Hour was a revelation for me when I read it in November 2015. My word counts jumped from 500 words per hour to closer to 1,500 within the span of just a few weeks. If I hadn’t gotten so down in the dumps during the first trimester, I would probably be closer to 2,000 words per hour by now. I cannot recommend Fox’s book enough. His book is the only one I’ve read that has real, actionable steps that can be taken to improve one’s writing speed. I’ve read other books about writing more words per hour, but most of them just offer advice like, “write using an outline” or “don’t worry about typos.” This kind of advice is not helpful for the more experienced writer.

Fox’s book, on the other hand, was immediately helpful, and it will continue to be helpful as I move through my writing career. I am not a novice writer; I didn’t decide to *just* start writing. I’ve studied screenwriting in college, lived in L.A. and tried to get a job in television, took screenwriting courses, wrote articles about classic movies for different online publications, and taught English classes (nothing will hone editing/revision skills like helping teenagers improve their writing). I’ve been writing for a long time. Fox’s book is one of the few that hasn’t repeated a bunch of stuff I already learned in college; it offered me something new, and as of right now, it’s working. It was the kick in the pants I needed to get my writing speed up to “Moderately Prolific Indie Writer” levels (now I just need to level-up to “Insanely Prolific Indie Writer”).

Just a few weeks ago, I decided I needed another kick in the pants. Being in the doldrums earlier this year — and finding my revision process on Thirteen Treasures utterly stalled — I decided to pick up another one of Fox’s books. Lifelong Writing Habit didn’t come as highly touted as 5,000 Words Per Hour; it seemed to be the forgotten middle child in Fox’s “Write Faster, Write Smarter” series. However, it also seemed to be a motivational book, and I needed motivation.

True to its title, in just a couple of weeks, I have developed a ridiculously better writing habit. Whereas (since summer started) I couldn’t drag myself out of bed until almost 7:30, I am now getting up regularly at 6:00 a.m. and starting my day with writing. I used to avoid working on Thirteen Treasure revisions (for fear of failure, of course), but now I know that unless I get to work, my goals for the future won’t be realized. I now have much more concrete (and written down) goals for where I want my life and career to be. And I’m excited about writing again.

This is all thanks to Fox’s book.

Regarding my current revision adventures, I am currently in the trenches. I’m in the middle of the book, revising chapters that are messy, sometimes corny, and utterly mediocre compared to the chapters I’ve already revised. Deep revision like this is comparable to one of those snowball-rolling-down-a-hill things you see in cartoons (or Willow). One small change to a character’s motivation in chapter 2 is now having huge ramifications in chapter 7, and the new character backstory I invented in chapter 4 must be incorporated into the character’s reactions in chapter 9. The chapters I thought wouldn’t take as much time to revise are proving to be just as time-consuming as the utterly horrific chapters I’ve spent weeks revising.

I’ll be honest: At times, this revision process has made me feel like a failure. I had a publication date goal of June 22nd, but that date has come and gone, and I’m still revising the manuscript (let’s not even talk about proofreading yet, please).

My new goal is November for publication. Even though I’m moving my date back, it should be more effective in the long run. This gives me time to do what I originally intended to do: write books 2 & 3 before book 1 comes out. Being able to release all three books within a 6-month span should help with visibility and marketing efforts.

Lifelong Writing Habit has definitely improved my outlook in this regard. No matter what my publication dates are, I know that each day I get my work done, I get one day closer to my goals. This cannot be stated enough, my fellow writers: Everyday you work, you get one step closer. Days spent writing are never wasted days, even if it’s taking you longer than you hoped.

I have to keep reminding myself of this. If I keep working, the book will get finished. And it will get finished when it gets finished; looking back at past deadlines and sighing is not a productive habit. If I want to achieve my goals, I must look forward. I must keep doing the work that needs to be done, even if it’s not perfect.

I think perfectionism can hinder us not only in the actual words we write, but also in the habits we try to form: i.e., “If I’m not writing my 2,000 words an hour, then I am a failure.” This is false; it is a failure mindset. Better to say, “I wrote 700 words today. I want to get to 2,000, but 700 words today is more than I had yesterday.” Let’s call it the “Keep on keepin’ on” mindset. If we, as creative artists, can just keep on keepin’ on, we will achieve our goals.

Work Is Hard When You’re in the First Trimester

Good news: I’m pregnant. Due in October.

Bad news: I feel nauseated ALL THE TIME. The term “morning sickness” is very misleading. Very misleading indeed. I feel the worst in the evenings, actually. But mornings, afternoons, evenings — they all suck. Just constant stomach churning. It’s like being seasick 24/7, but without a way to get off the boat.

This has slowed my editing of Thirteen Treasures down considerably. It’s also completely stalled my attempts to write the rough draft of book 2 in the series, Ysbaddaden and the Game of Chess.

I’m still working towards my deadlines, but they loom over me like horrible specters now, instead of like the bright beacons they were before. ¬†Before, my deadlines were finish lines I couldn’t wait to cross. I was sprinting and feeling the rush of oncoming victory. But now, I feel mostly dread. If I’m not feeling sick with nausea, I’m falling asleep because being pregnant makes one INCREDIBLY, INSANELY TIRED. And then on top of the physical issues, I’m sick with worry that I won’t finish the books on time.

If this post sounds like I’m whining, I am. I’m whining. A lot.

I listen to self-publishing podcasts, read blogs by indie writers, keep up on the latest strategies for marketing. But nowhere in the vast self-pub world do I see much information about how to get the job done when one is pregnant and also has a toddler at home. I’m beginning to suspect there’s not much out there for pregnant, self-publishing moms because pregnant, self-publishing moms are rarer than yetis.

And yes, my hormones are out-of-whack. Explains my dour mood, doesn’t it?

Anyway, I’ll do my best to keep chugging along.

Onward to Midsummer!

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