Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Want a recap of the prior 2 books before diving into Labyrinth of Flame? You're in luck...

So I had this grand plan before The Labyrinth of Flame came out that I was going to put up synopses of The Whitefire Crossing and The Tainted City on my web page, for readers that wanted a recap to refresh their memory before diving into book 3. I see people requesting these types of summaries for series books all the time on various fantasy forums, and I sympathize; when there's a long wait between books, details fade, and if you're not a fast reader, the thought of re-reading can be daunting. 

No problem, I thought. I've got synopses already! One for Whitefire Crossing that I used back when I was first querying the book, and one for Tainted City that I wrote for the cover artist. 

Yeah. Thing is, I forgot just how much the books had changed since I wrote those synopses. (For example, in the version of Whitefire that I first queried, Pello the spy didn't even exist. And in Tainted City's case, I wrote that original synopsis when I was only 1/3 of the way through a serious draft of the book. It's actually quite amusing to look at what I wrote then and compare it to the final product. Broad strokes of the plot are the same, but wow are the details different, including pretty much everything about the ending.)

Anyway, when I realized how much work was needed to update the synopses, right when I was in the throes of book production--I admit it, I chickened out. After all, I reasoned, I'd already done my best to write Labyrinth of Flame such that the reader is reminded of important events/characters when they become relevant (mostly through Dev or Kiran's personal take on the situation). That'd be good enough, right?

For most readers, it has been, or so people have told me. But when I saw someone post on r/Fantasy asking for a summary of Whitefire Crossing and Tainted City, well, I figured it was time to stop cringing from the task. (I find synopsis writing really hard. So hard that back when I'd finished my big revision of Whitefire Crossing and one agent asked for an exclusive, yet I had another agent interested, the tipping point in my decision to grant the exclusive was that agent #2 wanted a revised synopsis. I reasoned that if agent #1 read the revised manuscript & rejected it, THEN I'd go through all the pain of revising the synopsis. But then agent #1 loved it & offered representation, so I was spared! Until now.) 

But synopsis writing is an important skill for an author, and I do feel a tad more comfortable with it now than I did back then. So, behold:
Hope this helps out anyone who needs a refresher! At the very least, it was good practice for me. These are a bit longer than I would do if I was writing for an editor/agent and not readers (Tainted City's in particular covers more details than would be necessary in that case), which made the writing a bit easier. (Condensing is the hard part of synopsis writing.) But I admit I am awfully glad to return to plain old story writing--after a synopsis, even first-drafting seems easy and fun!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Arrival of the Stabby Award

Look what came in the mail today! 

The Labyrinth of Flame's lovely, pointy "Stabby" award for winning r/Fantasy's Best Independent/Self-Published Novel of 2015
Seriously, how awesome does that engraved dagger look? God knows my 7yo can't keep his hands off it. I have to be very stern that this is MY dagger to play with, not his. In any case, both he and I agree that r/Fantasy has the best awards.

You know, sometimes the whole publishing process (whether trad or indie) can make an author feel like you’re slogging up a sledding hill through thigh-deep snow in a blizzard…

My intrepid kiddo on his way up our local sledding hill during our recent massive snowstorm
Then you reach the top at last (finish the book, get the deal, whatever), and you’re anticipating this thrilling ride, but then you find your sled won’t even move because the snow is too thick and wet and deep…

"Arrrrrggghh!!! Mommy, my sled WON'T GO!"
And you just want to collapse in the snow and give up the whole idea.

Maybe you think about taking a different publishing path, but that can feel as intimidating and difficult as considering a drop into Corbet’s Couloir on a day when the snow is hardpacked ice…

"So...who wants to drop in first?"
But if you take that risk, if you keep pushing onward, the reward is moments like this—whether an award, or a lovely detailed thoughtful review, or a reader email saying how much your book means to them—that are proof you’re not just shouting into the void. That you’ve attained your goal of giving people joy through your writing.  And all at once, you’re no longer stuck in the snow, but blazing down the slope, yelling “WOO HOO!”   
Having the best day ever! 
So thanks again, to r/Fantasy and all the readers out there who’ve enjoyed the Shattered Sigil trilogy. When times are hard, it’s your encouragement that gives me the strength to keep writing, and I’m forever grateful for it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Podcast fun: discussing worldbuilding, characters and craft with Kate Elliott, Helen Lowe, and Paul Weimer

So you might remember me mentioning a while back that I'd recorded a podcast with fellow fantasy authors Kate Elliott and Helen Lowe, hosted by the always-awesome Paul Weimer for the Skiffy and Fanty show. The podcast is now live, and you can listen to the four of us discuss all manner of things relating to our books and the craft of fantasy writing, from characters to magic systems to geography to plot. (Kate, a veteran of the genre, has many fascinating things to say--as does Helen, who has the added bonus of a lovely New Zealand accent!)

This was the most fun I've ever had with a podcast, I think because of the group discussion setting. As with panels and signings, I find sharing the limelight (so to speak) always significantly lessens my nerves and helps me relax and enjoy myself. Recording this felt to me more like sharing in the sort of interesting dinner conversation you might have with friends at a convention (my favorite part of cons!), as opposed to a live interview where I'm always worried I'm about to say something stupid (I tend to babble when I'm nervous).

In other news, in case you missed it, I put up my February reading round-up over on tumblr...though arrgh, I got the name of Catherine Fisher's book wrong (it was The Speed of Darkness, not Obsidian Mirror--the latter is the 1st in the series instead of the last). If it's possible to edit tumblr posts, I haven't yet figured out how. Maybe next time I'll just post the roundup here and link to it there, instead of the other way around. (The one thing I do like about Tumblr is it feels more casual, somehow...I don't feel pressure to make a post all beautiful with pics of the books I'm talking about. Instead I can just whip out a quick "here are my reactions" post, which takes far less time and therefore is more likely to happen.)

And because this blog has been sadly lacking in wilderness pictures lately--my main computer with all my photos on it died, and we're still working to recover them off the hard drive--I'll end with a couple pics I found on my laptop of our last trip to Utah. Because Utah pictures make every Monday better.

Klondike Bluffs in Arches National Park
Slickrock bowl and Delicate Arch

Classic Utah: red rock, blue sky

Goblin Valley
Utah has the best sunsets