Check your calendars, folks. See the date? Bet you think I’m going to write about superstitions surrounding Friday the 13th. Nope. Not going to take the easy way out. Instead, I’m going to take off my humble mien and keyboard-talk about myself.
I’m going to discuss my writings. Normally, I prefer to share my love of the past, particularly my love of family history. But I’ve news to report on a novel and short story anthology that are about to be published. Also, Christmastime lurks just a few weeks away, and I’m about to start writing my Christmastime short stories on my Facebook author’s page. Proverbs says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Oh well… this I’m going to dispense with humbleness and toot my horn. Hey, if I’m going to be full of pride, I should be able to fill this post with old, tired metaphors.
First, my third novel will be published by Wings ePress in January. Assassins’ Lair is the third novel in my fantasy trilogy, Larenia’s Sword. The first two books, The Emperor’s Mistress and Thief’s Coin, were published in 2010 and 2011 and the third one should have been finished in 2013 at the latest – but my weekly newspaper job and plans to move to Nevada got in the way. But once I made the move and settled in, I resolved to finish the third book – especially after I read an Amazon review of the first book that predicted the third book would never be written. I could not let that prediction come true.
Officially retired, I really had no excuse not to finish Assassins’ Lair. I will admit I put the WIP aside earlier this year after my dad passed away. Instead, I wrote a series of short stories that starred by father and posted them on my Facebook author’s page. They got some of the highest readership numbers for author-page posts. I had interviewed my dad’s cousin, just a year older than him, and wrote about their lives when they were kids. I would have loved to have said to dad, “Hey, look, people love reading about you and your antics. No doubt they’d like to pop you on the side of the head for the way you teased Gloria.” He would have laughed.
I know dad would have wanted me to resume writing Assassins’ Lair. So I revised the plot line, elaborated more on chapter outlines and got to work. I finished in early October – 33 chapters, 429 double-spaced pages, 117, 500 words.
In some ways, the hardest part of writing a novel is the editing process. I reduced the length of the novel from more than 140,000 words to the 117,500-word figure. That’s not easy. You just can’t slash and burn. My two main reviewers on the Online Writers Workshop of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror helped. Michael Keyton and Crash Froelich helped me improve the smoothness of my paragraphs. I love adjectives and adverbs; they don’t.
Wings ePress wanted to see the manuscript, asked me to put it in their format they used to turn it into an ebook. After I emailed it to the executive editor, I took a look, curious to see it in their preferred format. I’m rolling my eyes right now. I went through seven revisions. Yet I found a couple of places where I screwed up character names in dialogue. In my defense, I’ve written a fantasy epic full of characters, dozens and dozens, many having POV scenes. My two major characters are a prince, Derrius Hextor, and a thief, Stealth. Stealth has an uncle, the leader of a thieves’ guild, named Wu. Another character is Ping, a mage-assassin who plays a major role in books 2 and 3. Well, in some dialogue I accidentally referred to Ping as Wu. I promise you… if Wings ePress’ editors didn’t catch the name mix-up, I will correct it when I get the manuscript back from them. It’s easy to find verb tense problems and misspellings. Not so easy to find a misplaced character’s name.
I also chose POD (print on demand) format so I can also get Assassins’ Lair as a large paperback. I know some people prefer paperbacks to ebooks. I’m one of those people. I still make trips to Barnes & Noble here in Henderson and purchase novels. I pay a bit more, but I like the feel of turning a paper page.
I’ve had a few people inquire about buying the novel, one even wants autographed copies of all three novels. I told her I’d be happy to oblige. I’m a retired North Carolina newspaper reporter, and she’s one of my sources. It’s nice I wrote nothing so bad that she wants nothing to do with me.
I can’t wait to start working with my Wing ePress artist and see what ideas he or she has for a cover. Part of the publishing process includes a cover art form that I filled out with my ideas for a cover. I suggested several possible scenes that could be shown as cover art, all with my favorite character in it, the rambunctious thief Stealth. Notice the covers of my other two novels? That’s Stealth. It’s only fitting she should grace the third cover. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do an online launch party and convince a few of my Writing Wranglers & Warriors friends to let me guest blog. How about it? Pretty please.
Writing Wranglers & Warriors creator Cherley Grogg will soon indie-publish an anthology about mothers and daughters. I’m contributing seven short stories, four based on true events in my family’s history and three total fiction. Cherley’s calling the anthology It’s All About Girls. My niece Nicci Newton Morelli is even contributing a recipe thanks to some persuasive begging on my part.
I’m quite pleased with my contributions. Some of the stories appeared previously in Writing Wranglers & Warriors as well as my Facebook author’s page, including a semi-historical piece on the romance of my Great Aunt Ethel and Uncle Raymond. A few were created special just for this anthology, including stories about my mom and her struggle with the incurable disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS. I’m also included fiction pieces I did for Halloween and Christmas in 2014 – a romantic ghost story and a love story set in Rittman, Ohio circa early 20th century. And of course, Cherley wanted a couple of my fantasy genre short stories, and just couldn’t say no.
In a few days, I’ll be starting my second annual Christmastime short story marathon. Over the months since the first in December 2014, I’ve heard from folks who thoroughly enjoyed my short stories with a holiday theme. It’s twenty-six straight stories, one per day, ending on December 26, all appearing on my Facebook author’s page. I choose paintings or photographs that catch my fancy, and I write stories about what I imagine I see happening in the images. I’ve already perused Pinterest and chosen some paintings that tugged at my heart. I’m hoping some of will share the stories on your Facebook timelines so the stories can get greater exposure. I tried an experiment last year, and asked my nieces to share a couple of the later short stories, and the views quadrupled. I’m hoping the same thing happens this Christmas.
With the final book of my fantasy genre trilogy about to be published, I’ve decided to write a Civil War era novel about a Confederate regiment made up of boys from Southeast North Carolina including the coastal city of Wilmington. It’s based on a short story, Shadows in the Breastworks, I wrote back in 2008. I also want to use details from a feature story I wrote for the Duplin Times newspaper in 2013. That piece focused on a historic house in Kenansville, North Carolina, and the rich, planter-class family that lived in it – Liberty Hall. In 1863, Kenansville and Liberty Hall came under attack by Union cavalry on a raid to tear up railroad track… I’m going to somehow get that incident into my novel. But the thrust of the story will be the 18th North Carolina Regiment of Stonewall Jackson’s Corps, the unit that accidentally shot Jackson at the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863. It’ll have romance and, of course, the stink of black powder. I can’t wait to start outlining the story, and then focusing on the more detailed chapter by chapter summary.
Mike’s books can be purchased on the Wings ePress website as well as the websites of Amazon and Barnes & Noble. He’s also a featured author in Cherley Grogg’s anthology titled It’s All About The Girls.