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All the gen on this award-winning Steampunk adventure
My latest novel, WAKING ANASTASIA, had a unique inception. First it was a dream, then a screenplay, and finally, the novel.
Trust me when I say that this isn’t the usual route to publication. 99% of writers skip at least the screenplay part of the process, and here’s why…
Think of a finished novel like Michelangelo’s David. Your first draft is akin to Mike going to the Carrara marble quarries and selecting the perfect block of marble, looking for density, purity, and colour. You, the writer, select your words with the same care, and when the first draft is done it’s a weighty, unwieldy thing, hardly art, more like a block of words full of potential.
But as you edit, tweak, and refine your story, it’s like chipping away at the block of marble, taking what’s not necessary to leave behind the perfectly paced, brilliantly envisioned story, polished to a sheen and ready for the world to see.
Now, imagine if you will, starting with a skeleton instead of a block. Compared to a novel, that’s what a screenplay is. The skeleton contains the dialogue, and the locations, but none of the details. What a screenplay describes as “EXT. DAY. SUNNY. URBAN PARK” could take two pages of a novel to describe the sounds and scents, and maybe the colour of the Frisbee that lands at the heroine’s feet. I found that to flesh out “EXT. DAY…” to become “scuffed neon orange disc” throughout the entire manuscript is as tedious as adding marble to the skeleton would be to create David by gluing on instead of chipping away. I’d love to say I’ll never do it again, but I still have five more terrific screenplays begging to become novels. Kill me now.
Publishing the Hard Way
As someone whose first three novels were traditionally published, I had a lot to learn when circumstances nudged co-author Chris Bullock and me into self-publishing TOUR DE MORT.
We are not technically adept enough to do everything for ourselves, so we chose a hybrid self-publishing service that conducts almost all transactions electronically. This system created poor communication with those involved in production, especially in design.
TOUR DE MORT is a fictional version of the first Cops for Cancer ride down Vancouver Island. So I searched stock images until I found a suitable cycling photo. Then came the five-month design process.
* I submit author photo and bios, blurb, reviewer comments and cover image electronically to our Account Manager, having noted on a form that the cover should seem ominous, foreboding.
* First proofs: Cyclist appears in full on the front; the cropped image on the back looks more menacing. Yes! I say in a sticky note on the PDF (my only means of communicating with the Designer). Put that on the front.
* Second proofs: Cropped image on the front, but still not menacing enough. Add red streaks leading towards a puddle of blood, I suggest.
* Third (and supposedly last) proofs: Red streaks have no relation to the bike’s path; a red blob looks like it’s been slapped against a wall. Our Account Manager at first ignores my complaint. We pay extra for a fourth round.
* Fourth proofs: The cover image as you see it. Hurray!
* Our softcover copies arrive. About the Authors (on the hardcover dust flap) has disappeared. Our new Account Manager investigates. The Designer’s email about possible ways of accommodating this material hadn’t been passed on to us.
Missing in this process is an experienced, knowledgeable publisher keeping an eye out. Long live traditional publishing!
|THE JOKER wasn't laughing during Axel Howerton's reading|
|Owls Nest Events Coordinator Sarah was busy as a bee all night.|
|Me practicing my ferocious glare|
|Voodoo priest guards Princess Leia from Han Solo, who is babysitting Chewie's youngest but on Endor. I'm not sure whose side the gypsy was on, or the witch.|
Genetic perfection has a price: a brutal Darwinian contest of strength and cunning to determine which bloodlines will continue, and dominate.
When Sarah Wheeler’s Spawning Contest is rigged, her breeding and training will be put to the ultimate test.
Research. The bane of a lot of authors, and the downfall of many others.I tend to do a lot of research, get lost in it even. But sometimes it pays off in ways you can't possibly expect. In starting my new book Furr, I read a lot of werewolf fiction, from Guy Endore's The Werewolf of Paris to short stories by George R.R. Martin and Neil Gaiman. I did research on the Rocky Mountains, the Kootenay Indians, ancient Irish mythology, Chinese symbolism, the American pioneer plains, voodoo, 14th century witchcraft, and the 2014 Dodge Challenger. Usually, I cram all of this stuff into my brain at the beginning of a project, let it stew and simmer for a while, then let it seep into the cracks and corners of the work. Sure, I have to refer back to things, double-check my facts, but once I'm rolling, I'm rolling.This time, having initially written the book in such a short time frame (the first draft was six or seven weeks in the fall of 2015) I had to kind of cram the research in as I went, and I discovered that it helped, rather than hindered, to be doing it while I was writing. Specifically, one little fact about wolves gave me a whole added layer of meaning. There's a repeated phrase: A strong wolf leads from behind.It's probably obvious what the meaning is, but the genesis of it was something I stumbled on in the 6th or 7th nature documentary I'd watched on wolves, not even really taking in information, so much as trying to saturate myself with the feeling of wolves, how they move, how they look... when something that had never been mentioned in my other research caught my attention.
When we think of the Alpha Wolf, we think of a tough, powerful and vicious animal, stronger than the rest, leading by example at the front of the pack.
What I learned, quite unexpectedly, was that the Alpha rings up the rear of the pack formation, in part to protect the stragglers - the weak and the young - and protect the pack from behind. He doesn't just lead the family into battle or on the hunt, he protects them from the darkness they might not see. That was a profound discovery for me, and fit so perfectly into my narrative that it became the shiny red cherry on top.
So keep researching, keep immersing yourself in your subject matter. You never know what might find you at just the right time.