Sunday, 21 August 2016

Quest of the Messenger now in paperback!

I'm happy to announce that Paths of the Shadow and Warriors of the Realm are now available in paperback. Although I went for the lowest price allowed in the listing, the paperback is of course more expensive than Kindle. However, personally I always prefer old-fashioned paper books.

Paperbacks available for order:

Paths of the Shadow
Warriors of the Realm

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

On dealing with criticism

Yesterday I participated in an interesting discussion on Wattpad, started by an aspiring writer reluctant to show his work to agents and publishers out of fear of harsh criticism. I thought I'd write a bit more about this here. 
First off, if you garner any personal response at all from agents and publishers, you can congratulate yourself on at least grabbing someone's attention. From my experience, most commonly you'll receive lots and lots of silence and some impersonal rejection notes. 
If someone does take the trouble to point out flaws in your work, even if you disagree with their opinion, reply in a polite, courteous manner and thank them for their time and attention (unless, of course, we're dealing with " constructive criticism" along the lines of, "this is complete rubbish. You should give up writing altogether"). Also, even if your critic is rude, sit down and think if maybe, just maybe, there's a grain of truth in what they are saying. For example, if someone says, "I couldn't get past the first pages. They are filled with excruciatingly boring, meaningless detail", of course it will make you bristle. But is it actually true? Be honest. Maybe your opening chapter can, in fact, benefit from some trimming down of details. 
Finally, if you want to put yourself out there, either via traditional publishing or self-publishing, you absolutely must NOT let criticism get to you. There will always be people who dislike your writing and even you, personally (yes, even though they don't know you, personally). I can testify to having actually received death threats (yep) in response to several items I posted online. You must develop a thick skin, if you want to go public and live to tell the tale. 
That is not to say you ought to ignore feedback altogether and say that your work is perfect and the product of a genius, etc. But you just cannot afford to topple over every rejection letter or scathing review, taking them personally and letting them get you down.
Look at the big picture. View your work with a critical eye, with honesty and good sense. And just always keep writing, reading and improving; always strive to make the most of your abilities.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Doom... er - Querying Day

For the past several months, I have followed an established system. The first of each month is Querying Day. This means I log into my email, dig up my long list of literary agents and publishers, and send a batch of 7-8 queries (complying, of course, with everybody's various requirements). An hour or so later, I commend myself for a job well done, and forget about querying until the beginning of the next month. Sometime in between, I might look up a few more agents or publishers to add to my list.

That's it. No fretting, no obsessive email checking, no wondering about when, or if, I'm going to receive any replies.  I block anything query-related from my mind unless I actually get a response (usually it's a generic rejection note), which frees me to concentrate on my newer projects. Good system to preserve one's sanity while looking for ways to publish one's novel.


And here is another excerpt from Tales of Silverbell Wood:

“Another dwarf!” exclaimed Adros, none too happily.

The stranger gave a crooked half-smile. “Yes,” he said, “a dwarf – but none like your companions,” he gestured at Thwayne, Freyder and Vynn. “I was born at the village, to a mother and father as tall as any of the local peasants… but a quirk of nature made me the way I am,” he waved in the direction of his abnormally short legs.

“So you are a local?” Prince Darin said. “Freyder, lower that bow.”

Freyder obeyed, but reluctantly. “You sure?” he said. “This one has seen us. One arrow will silence him for good.”

“We will hear what he has to say. What is your name, stranger?”

“I’m Oster Marshfield, more commonly known as,” the young man scowled, “Short Osty in these parts.”

“Alright, then, Oster,” Adros said, “Why did you follow us?”

“I overheard you at the inn,” Oster said. “You talked about dragons. You wanted to find them, but you didn’t want any guide. At first I thought that’s because you don’t want to share any of the treasure. I know better now, though,” he eyed the group with sincere fascination. “I have never seen anything like you before,” he added, not taking his eyes off the unicorns.

Buttercup neighed in dismay. “Anyone like us, if you please!” she snapped.

“And what did you mean to gain by creeping after us in this manner?” Prince Darin demanded, crossing his arms on his chest and frowning.

“Well,” Oster said, “I thought I might convince you to use a guide after all. Nobody knows these mountains better than me. My legs might be short, but I walk well and climb like a monkey.”

The companions exchanged glances. “What do you think?” Prince Darin addressed everybody. “Can we trust him?”

“As he’s here, we might as well make use of him,” Thwayne said. “We can always push him off a cliff once we don’t need him anymore.”

“Is that what passes for gratitude at Underwood?” Adros said with disgust. “Will you swear you won’t tell anybody about us?” he demanded from Oster.

“If I told, who would believe me?” Oster said reasonably. “Now, my old Ma always says curiosity will be the death of me, especially my mixin’ up with complete strangers. But I’d sure love to go with you. Nobody is the village is brave enough to go looking for dragons.”

“Don’t expect mounds of gold,” Tolimar said warningly.

“Oh, I’m not,” Oster assured him. “I know nobody can promise that. But if there is treasure… I’ve heard about dragons’ hoards. One is enough to make a hundred people rich for a lifetime.”

Loriel quelled him with a look. “Not all dragons hoard gold and gems,” she said, “Did you know that? Some actually prefer different things – like unusual rocks and shells, for example. Or pinecones.”

Oster’s face fell slightly. It was plain he didn’t think much of facing a dragon only to discover a lair full of pinecones. “Well, that would be disappointing,” he said. “But we won’t know until we try, will we?”