A little more backstory

I’m writing a fantasy series entitled The Iron Elves.  The first book, due out July 2008 in hard cover from the nice folks at Pocket Books (Simon & Schuster) is titled A Darkness Forged in Fire.  At the moment, it’s a bit of a beastie at 160,000 words so some judicious editing is in order.  My editor at Pocket is currently reading through the ms and will be sending me his revisions shortly.  Concurrent with that, my agent, Don Maass of the famed (dare I say world renowned) and eponymous literary agency, is finalizing the details of the contract with my editor.  If you’re at all interested in being a writer then you’ve probably contemplated the choice of finding an agent versus finding a publisher.  It might seem like a Catch-22, and in some ways it is, but I firmly believe that if you are pursuing a career in the field then you will want an agent.  More on this later.

Meanwhile back at the day job, my book (and when I say my book it’s with my editor’s hat on) Band of Sisters: American Women at War in Iraq by Kirsten Holmstedt, is going on sale July 4th.  I’m damn proud of this book, this author and these amazing women.  I had a chance to meet several of the women soldiers in the book at the recent Book Expo America (BEA) held in NYC at the beginning of June.  We held a book signing on Sunday morning and after going through nearly 300 copies we had to turn people away.  I hadn’t been sure what to expect, so seeing such a huge and positive response was very gratifying and seems to bode well for the success of the book.  We’re beginning to get reviews and full articles in newspapers around the country and radio and television appearances are stacking up.  It should be a very good summer.

  1. ccfinlay

    Hey, congrats on getting Don Maass — that’s great!

    So is the deal all official and public now? And is this an offshoot of the same alternate WWI you were working on a few years back?

    Reply
    • admin

      The latest

      Hi, Charlie:

      Thanks! I was going to email you today with the news . I met Don for lunch and we hit it off and the rest is, or will be, history. The final points of the deal are being worked out, but it’s pretty much official now. I don’t know if you ever saw any of this one, but it’s set in a Napoleonic-like (Napoleonicesque?) time period that’s sort of Brooks’ Shannara meets Cornwell’s Sharpe’s Rifles. So it’s less an alt hist than an evolution of fantasy to a more modern time frame.

      I was reading your posts about Blue Heaven and enjoying them.

      Cheers,

      Chris

      Reply
      • ccfinlay

        Re: The latest

        I don’t think I saw that, but I’m looking forward to it now.

        I outed you on my blog, so maybe some folks who remember you from the old Del Rey workshop or Clarion will come by and say hi now too.

        Reply
      • puzzlehouse

        Re: The latest

        Hi — I’m Jena, here via Charlie’s blog too. You really hooked me with the descrip of your book — the Sharpe series is one of my favorites. Best of luck with it!

        Reply
        • admin

          Re: The latest

          It’s a bit like creating a hit song, isn’t it? You find the hook which draws people in until you have them in your clutches and they can never esca- er, sorry, that was the maniacal side coming out. I’m a big fan of the Sharpe series as well so I really hope Bernard Cornwell is flattered and not furious…or litigious!

          Thanks for dropping by,

          Chris

          Reply
          • puzzlehouse

            Re: The latest

            Okay, now I’m really intrigued — are the Chosen Men in your book?

            Oh, and don’t worry about that maniacal side — I write some twisted cross between noir and urban fantasy with a heavy dose of forensics and police procedure. All my characters (even the good guys) are a little bent and twisted, so maniacal is a familiar state of mind.

          • admin

            Re: The latest

            Sort of. Sharpe and the lads definitely inspired me, but I was also inspired (sounds so much better than ripped off) by Kipling, Pratchett and George McDonald Fraser, who, in my humble opinion, is brilliant.

            I read your description of your books! You weren’t kidding, you know twisted.

          • admin

            Re: The latest

            Ack! It’s MacDonald, not McDonald! Flashman would have me strung up for camels to nibble on for getting that wrong.

          • puzzlehouse

            Re: The latest

            I *loved* the Flashman series! I think he was the first anti-hero I’d ever run into, and it was like being hit with a splash of cold water in the face on a hot summer day. Protagonists can be lazy? And untruthful? And – gasp! – really really bad sometimes?

            I’d never thought about it till now, but I’ll bet Flashman was a big influence on my character development.

            The other big influence was a friend of mine who said he liked the bad guys in movies because they always looked like they were having such a great time, laughing and rubbing their hands together in glee — they just had to be more interesting than the good guys.

          • pjthompson

            Re: The latest

            I was also inspired to write something based on his books, but it didn’t work out (a little too much like fanfic, if you know what I mean), so I actually went to the previous century, Clive of India-era, and wound up using it as background for one of my characters, not actually writing in India. I can’t imagine Mr. Cornwell would be anything less than flattered.

  2. sallytuppence

    Hi, Charlie (also known as Social Glue) sent me over!

    Good luck with the revisions, once they come in. Ditto on agent first, publisher later.

    Reply
    • admin

      He is sort of sticky which must explain the huge number of people he dragged over here to welcome me to the wide world of blogging. I see you have your own series coming out next summer…maybe the exact same time as mine in fact…so, should we pretend to be bitter enemies now to create a publicist’s dream? You can call me an insider-hack and I’ll tell everyone your books are printed on recycled paper…made from extra cute puppies.

      Cheers,

      Chris

      Reply
      • sallytuppence

        Do you have a specific publication date yet? I don’t–just “summer 2008,” though I expect they’ll name the actual date soon. We could be mortal enemies if you want, but it might not be worth the effort. My publisher’s HarperCollins Children’s–we’re probably aiming at totally different audiences!

        Reply
        • admin

          I think July, but I know pub dates move around like flies on road kill so that could definitely change. Ahh, a crafty move, writing for children to poison them against me! But no matter, what I lack in youth I make up for in immaturity. I’ll show up at your signings with free liver and brussel sprouts to give away.

          Reply
  3. charmingbillie

    Meanwhile back at the day job, my book (and when I say my book it’s with my editor’s hat on) Band of Sisters: American Women at War in Iraq by Kirsten Holmstedt, is going on sale July 4th.

    My god, I want this book (really I want one about women at war in Afghanistan, but this one will do very nicely). Although I am not buying any more books.

    Ever.

    Really.

    Also here from Charlie’s blog. Congrats on the book sale. And welcome to the world of blogs.

    Reply
    • admin

      This author’s next book

      Hi:

      It’s still early, but the author is looking at a follow-up book that will include stories by women fighting in Afghanistan. Just like Band of Sisters, it will be available in your local library for free πŸ™‚

      Cheers, and thanks for stopping by!

      Chris

      Reply
  4. karenmiller

    Hey there! I too am kicked over from Charlie’s blog.

    Congrats on all your terrific achievements so far, and best of luck with the fantasy series. I too am a product of the OWW, and I tried to graduate from the first Australian Clarion but had to go home half way through due to a pesky domestic crisis I couldn’t solve. Have to say, though, it was the OWW that made the biggest difference. I posted 2 fantasy novel chapters there, back in the day, and both series they belong to ended up being published. Well, one’s done (completely here in Oz, half-way in the UK and debuts Sep. in the US) and the other has just launched in Oz and will come out UK/US next year. I had many many many confidence issues for a long time when I was starting out — I doubt very much if I’d be where I am now without the fabulous support I got from the OWW. I think anyone who wants to be serious about their sff writing needs to get involved there.

    I too have an agent now (though not the one I started with) — but I did the contract first, find an agent second thing. Mainly because I had access to a great editor, due to a prior business relationship with HarperCollins (I had my own bookshop for a while) and my ms landed on her desk after I made an enquiry with the sales team. Still took a long while to get from interest to contract … but it just goes to show, there are many ways to break into this business!

    I love the sound of your series. I’m not so much a fan of the Sharpe books as I am the films with Sean Bean, but the era is fascinating, and the characters are great. As for blogging? Who knows? I struggle with not being very comfortable spilling my guts in public … but you have such a fascinating background I’m sure you’ll have lots to talk about.

    I’ll be looking out for a copy of your women in the military book too!

    Reply
    • admin

      Much obliged! Clarion, OWW and plain old hard knocks have all helped me get to this point. That and a lot of learning on the job as an editor. I’ve read hundreds, probably thousands of manuscripts now and you quickly learn to pick out what works and what doesn’t. The truly difficult task is to apply that objective eye to your own work…and finding some other eyes to help you out through groups like OWW.

      Congratulations to you too and best of luck with your US debut!

      Cheers,

      Chris

      Reply
      • karenmiller

        Thank you. To you too, of course!!!!

        That’s a great point you make about the usefulness of reading mss. I had a similar experience when I had my own bookshop. I read so many many many many books. It was incredibly helpful in refining my eye. And you’re right about objectivity too — I think it’s the single most important tool a writer can develop. The ability to step outside your work and view it as work and not an extension of yourself — priceless. Until you can let it go, you can’t make it better. That’s where the OWW is so fantastic. You can really get those skills sharpened up.

        Reply
  5. karenmiller

    As for your bk 1 being a bit of a beastie at 160k, I should warn you — fantasy has a strong desire to break free!!! *g* My first series, which started off as a standalone of 140k, morphed into a duology. Bk 1 was 165, bk 2 was 180. The 3 books of my new trilogy are clocking in at 195k a piece, and that’s only because I’ve been threatened on pain of death to keep them there. Fantasy stories are like the Tardis: there’s a whole lot more in them than would appear on the outside!

    BTW, I think your titles are magnificent.

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi, PJ:

      Thanks for the kind words. I chose a Napoleonic-like time frame because I realized so many had already done medieval northwest Europe, and done it very well. The first book is actually in a land based in part on India.

      Cheers,

      Chris

      Reply
    • admin

      Thank you! Brilliant photo-thingy you have, by the way. Once, when I really wanted to do things stupid in a hurry I poured Red Bull instead of coffee in my machine. We’re talking quantum leaps in idiocy, and all before breakfast.

      Cheers,

      Chris

      Reply
    • ccfinlay

      Hey, both of you are Canuckistanian expats — maybe you can compare stories about the ease of US immigration rules!

      *hums the first few bars of “Rule Canuckistania”*

      Reply
    • admin

      I spoke with my editor this morning on a secure line and he/she has requested anonymity for the time being in case I manage to get myself on the news in an unflattering way.

      Thanks for dropping by!

      Chris

      Reply
    • admin

      Waves back sheepishly, which doesn’t necessarily mean I was chewing grass and baaaing. Thanks for coming by to check me out!

      Cheers,

      Chris

      Reply

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