Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Breaking the Membrane

I got to peek under the industry curtain a bit this week. More on that in a moment. First, updates.

“Rise of the Paramancers” is about half-way edited. Once I’ve ironed out some consistency issues I’ll be posting it on a new resource I found out about: This site allows authors of genre fiction (no literary fiction yet) to post drafts and get free feedback from readers of that genre. By the end of summer, “Rise” should be polished enough for me to post.

I heard about this resource from Michael Underwood, the U.S. sales and marketing manager for Angry Robot books. (They’re the U.K. company responsible for publishing Chuck Wendig, author of “Double Dead” and “The Blue Blazes”. I’ve trumpeted his genius in prior posts.)

Michael was able to get his big break by using Bookcountry, which is sometimes cruised by editors and publishers. He shared his career breakthrough story at a local event, and it was wonderful to hear about how someone else struggled, and eventually jabbed through, the evil, only-publish-what’s-already-sold membrane that coats large sectors of the publishing industry.   

His story validated a suspicion of mine: “Jesse Rules” might not be the book that breaks the membrane for me. The premise is a hard sell. “Wanna buy my book about a homicidal closeted catholic school student?” “Ma’am?” “Why are you backing away slowly while maintaining eye contact?”
Of course, I love my book. I think its all the desperate ambition and frustrated libido of teenagerdom, rolled up in one awesomeballs manuscript.  So of course, I’m still going to try to sell it. But maybe it has to be another title that earns me some advocates, and then I pull the old Reading Rainbow – “If you liked my elemental coming-of-age fantasy, you’ll lo-ove my homicidal closeted catholic school literary fiction!”

Michael broke through with his third book (“Geekomancy”, check it out). I’m still finishing my second, so I may not be as far along this journey as I’d hoped to be by now. So it's time to slide into Zen mode and enjoy each step for what it is. Next week is Saints and Sinners in New Orleans, where I’ll be signing copies of my fifth published story, “Mountainview”, in the 2013 Saints and SInners New Fiction from the Festival collection. Below are the links to my free published pieces, as well as the 2012 Saints and Sinners collection, which features my fourth published story, “Divine Hand”.
"The Camp Seminole Weiner Wall", 2012 Best of the Net nominee, free to read
"Friends and Pyromaniacs", if the link works it ought to be free to read
"The Gay Bomb", my first publication ever and it's free to read
The Amazon link to buy "Saints and Sinners New Fiction from the Festival 2012" featuring "Divine Hand"

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Paramancer Pitch

I feel like I know how to pitch a book at this point. Then again, I have yet to sell one, so I could be very wrong.

I've slowed the agent hunt, purposefully. Chasing too many at once was making me come across a little too "eager puppy". Plus, if someone at the bar is hitting on everyone, and then they hit on you, how insulting is that? I don't want to seem too desperate. I totally am desperate, since this is an honest place, but I just don't want to come across that way anymore.

The new thing is find one agent who seems perfect, then write a much more personalized query to them. It may seem like common sense, but I had to come to it in my own good time. My new approach is, if I have to think more than ten minutes about why an agent could be a good representative for "Jesse Rules", they probably fucking aren't.

Some other things:

I'm in the 2013 Saints and Sinners anthology again this year, and I'll be signing copies in New Orleans on May 23rd.

I'm working on a pitch for my fantasy novel, "Rise of the Paramancers". It may be a better debut novel than Jesse. I'll change it based on who I'm pitching to, but the heart of the pitch is below, and comments are welcome, as always.

It begins with the War of the Twin Gods. Zura, the Vandal and Devil Goddess, is bent on returning all of creation to the void it once was. Dioro, the Artist and Blessed Brother, battles his dark twin, to protect his beloved work. He creates a shield of magical energy called the Veil, and wraps it around his prized creation – Axis – the land of four elemental kingdoms, Dioro’s gift to the beings he crafted in his image.
Outside the Veil, the Gods go to war, in forms too great and terrible to imagine. Some say they destroyed each other in their wrath. Some say they survive, diminished and healing, age after age.
Inside the Veil, life evolves in relative peace, for thousands of years. The people of the four elemental kingdoms live by the principles of Dioro’s Wheel – the idea that each element is weak against one of the others. Storms break upon the mountains. Fire can melt even stone. Water extinguishes fire. Storm is the master of sea. Balance is the gift of Dioro’s Wheel.
In Gorge, the Kingdom of Earth, Karth studies to become a Geomancer. He learns from Master Damon, the most powerful Geomancer of their age, who can flip the earth beneath his foes, impale them on earth spikes, or pin them screaming to the ground with earth hooks. Karth trains to do battle with the Necromancers, Geomancers who have fallen to Zura, acolytes of the Devil Goddess who believe she survived the War of the Twin Gods. They wait for the day she can penetrate the Veil and bring them out of hiding, into power.
But Axis is not the only creation of the Artist. Across the wasteland known as Beyond, there is another realm where more of the Blessed Brother’s creations live. These are the Paramancers, sorcerers who can master all elements. One of them crosses Beyond, with the help of a parasitic creature who amplifies his powers. She claims to be what’s left of Zura, the Devil Goddess in the flesh, and when they tear the Veil and enter Axis, balance becomes chaos. Her first target is Gorge, and the Earth Kingdom will need both master and apprentice Geomancers to become champions, if the kingdom is to survive.
Rise of the Paramancers is an 84,000-word high fantasy novel, the first in a planned series of five. It has been called an adult Last Airbender by sample audiences. My reader is the same adult who read George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. The moment is right for a philosophically complex adult fantasy.

Share your thoughts below.
-James Russell