Thursday, September 24, 2009

Old dog learns new tricks

It's always so refreshing when a fresh eye points out gremlins in a manuscript. Without the wonders of internet and email, how the HELL did authors do this in the "old" days?

What did I learn?
I still have a bit of passive voice creeping through at times.
I sometimes muddle the order of events in a sentence which, although not wrong, can be reworded.
And, yes, I have a penchant for comma splices and too-long sentences.

Please bear in mind that Khepera Rising was completed late 2007. Since then I've written another two complete novels and I've had some absolutely brilliant feedback from writers' groups I belong to. Much has changed, especially in how I approach writing.

When I wrote KR, I'd had a list of events tacked onto the end of the MS which I referred to. This list was very organic and shifted much while I wrote.

With Camdeboo Nights I went into a little more detail because I was playing a balancing act with four viewpoint characters. But then I sort of discarded the list near the end and admit that the writing became very organic. Because this particular story will, ostensibly, wrap up in three novels, some of the characters who are primary didn't have very large roles in the actual ending. My MC was in some weird parallel magical realm meeting with some obscenely strange serpent-mentor, a very important plot development for later in the saga.

The Dead of Night happened VERY quickly. I was at loose ends after CN and had just recently sold KR, so I thought, what the hell, let's see what sort of misadventures Jamie can fall into. Things went very structured. I chatted to my buddy, HJ, and we threw around some concepts. Then I sat down and wrote a detailed synopsis with a breakdown of everything that took place. I kept lists of characters' names and traits and found that the writing went very quickly. The MS was complete within three months. I let my betas read, revised, then let it lie fallow for about four months or so. Then I revised again and sent it to my editor. A contract was offered within days.

As for Ironclad Dreams, which is a complete departure from urban fantasy into the realms of a pseudo colonial-era steampunkish milieu, I've written an exhaustive five-page epic of a synopsis that I had the folks at Extraordinary Visions and Adamastor go through. Some excellent points were brought up and worked in. Writing has become a lot easier because I know exactly where I'm going yet make allowances for any peculiar twists that make themselves known. I'm now in the last few chapters and my guesstimate is that ID will be around 80 000 to 90 000 words.

How has my approach changed?
I plan. I plot. I throw ideas around. I still hanker after writing a fantasy epic a la Jacqueline Carey but realise I've still got a while to go before I drop a 900-page epic on a publisher's doorstep without being laughed at. In order to avoid the "I don't buy that" response from readers, I make sure I've got my plot straight before I put pen to paper.

Giving away free stuff...

I'm finally ready to give away some nifty art. A few weeks back I art directed a photoshoot with the very talented photographer Neill le Roux, makeup artist extraordinaire, Gabbi Katz and the rather delightful Tim. I'm pleased to announce that I've printed a limited run (signed and numbered) of the shoot as 4x6-inch prints which I shall be giving away to the first five lucky folk who do me the favour to blog about my upcoming Lyrical Press, Inc. release, Khepera Rising.

Instructions: Paste this link: on your blog and say something nice about the upcoming release, then email the link to me at:

The first five peeps who do this will each receive a print, of which there are only 50 in the world, so it's a collectors' item that will potentially not be reprinted in this format ever again. And I don't mind mailing overseas. Postage from South Africa really isn't that expensive.