Sunday, January 31, 2010

Poetry and Songs in the Works of Stephen R. Donaldson

Stephen R. Donaldson is a best-selling author. Among his most recognized works would be the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever novels.

At some time in the future, I will write a reviews of the first two trilogies in the series. Mr. Donaldson is currently completing The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, but I won’t start reading them until he has completed The Last Chronicles—I don’t like waiting once I start a good series.

One of the many things I find interesting in Donaldson’s writing are some of the songs and poems that appear in his works. The two listed below appear in the first Thomas Covenant novel, Lord Foul’s Bane:

These are the pale deaths
which men miscall their lives:
for all the scents of green things growing,
each breath is but an exhalation of the grave.
bodies jerk like puppet corpses,
and hell walks laughing.

Something there is in beauty
which grows in the soul of the beholder
like a flower:
for many are the blights
which may waste
the beauty
or the beholder—
and imperishable—
for the beauty may die,
or the beholder may die,
or the world may die,
but the soul in which the follower grows

Both appear early in the Lord Foul’s Bane and set the tone for the first trilogy, if not the entire series. The first poem included in this post is one thought of and pondered by Thomas Covenant, a leper and main character. The second example is a song sung by Lena, a young girl of the Land who first finds and befriends Thomas Covenant.

Both are grim, yet the second offers hope. They reflect Covenant’s mind-set as opposed to that of the defenders of the Land fending off despair as the conflict with Lord Foul the Despiser grows, foreshadowing the utter destruction faced by all that is beautiful, healthy and free. The complicating factor is that Thomas Covenant is the one tasked to defend the Land and its people against their ancient foe, something Covenant has no desire to do.

As a writer, I admire Donaldson’s ability to craft poems and songs that blend so well with the history, characters, and conflicts in his works, adding to their depth and quality. For me, writing poetry is a difficult thing, and those who know me know my knowledge of music and ability carry a tune, let alone write one—it’s nil.

Note: The cover I posted is my favorite of the many editions of Lord Foul’s Bane that have been published over the years.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Article: Uploading Submission Etiquette

Murder by 4 published my article: Uploading Submission Etiquette.

It discusses some of the dos and don'ts of online submissions. Click on over and give it a read.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Interview at Footsteps of a Writer

Click on over and check out my interview at Footsteps of a Writer: Interview with Terry W. Ervin II

Some interesting questions about Flank Hawk, writing and inspiration, and hopefully good answers.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Interviewed by The Piqua Daily Call

The Piqua Daily Call (a local newspaper) printed an interview with me about Flank Hawk and my writing.

It's interesting to see what makes it to print after being interviewed for 45 minutes. It was a great experience and I think the reporter (Jennifer Runyon) did an excellent job.

Here's the link: UVJVS teacher writes novel (for as long as it remains active)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Preditors & Editors Readers Poll Closed. Thank You for voting!

Readers and Supporters,

Thank you for taking the time to vote in the Preditors & Editors 2009 Readers Poll, whether you voted for Flank Hawk, another author/title, or in another category (editor, magazine, etc.).

The preliminary results with respect to my work:

Best SF/Fantasy Novel: 6th (out of 110 nominated)
Best Author: 7th (out of 219 nominated)
Best Cover Art: 6th (out of 127 nominated)

The final results will be announced probably late in February, once the anti-ballot stuffing software has been run.

Here is the link if you want to see the results for all of the categories: Preliminary Final Tally.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Preditors & Editors Readers Poll: Flank Hawk in the Running

The Preditors & Editors Readers Poll is up and running (until January 14th midnight)

Flank Hawk
has been nominated in the Best Fantasy/SF Novel for 2009 category!

My publisher nominated me as Best Author for 2009.

A crit partner entered the cover art for Flank Hawk in the Best Cover category.

I'd appreciate your vote for Flank Hawk (by Terry W. Ervin II, published by Gryphonwood Press). If there is another fantasy/sf novel published in 2009 you feel merits your vote, I am confident the author would appreciate your vote. If the novel is not there, you can write in and enter it.

I am not sure I fit the 'Best Author 2009' category, but if you read and enjoyed Flank Hawk, and my short stories and articles, and there isn't someone else you'd like to vote for, vote for me. It'd be nice to finish at least in the middle of the pack. :)

Of course, I think the Cover Art is awesome and worthy of your vote.

In addition, my publisher Gryphonwood Press is also running in the Best Print/Electronic Publisher category, and two fellow Gryphonwood authors (John Bailor and Jim Bernheimer) are entered in the Best Thriller Novel category.

The process is pretty easy. You click on your selection (work you're voting for), enter your name and email address and the verification--anti spam words. Then they send you an email to your account that you simply click on a verification line to verify your vote (and for them to help avoid repetitive voting and other such efforts). As in years past, Preditors & Editors dumps the email address etc. at the conclusion of the poll.

I know it'll take a few minutes, but I'd appreciate your support (in whichever categories you feel comfortable). While I may not win, I'd like to finish a respectable distance from the bottom.

Note: You can go back and vote for other categories as you see fit. You don't have to vote in every category at once (there are a lot of them-from those I listed to magazines, editors, forums and more) and certainly you don't have to vote in every category for your votes to count. Voting is open until/through January 14, 2010.

Spread the word if you see fit. Don't hesitate to email me if you have any questions or concerns, and thanks!

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Writer Needs to be an Optimist

I thought this quote and topic would be an appropriate way to start off 2010!

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” –-Winston Churchill

Considering this quote, a writer, I think, must lean more towards being an optimist as opposed to a pessimist.

Why? Consider the time and effort it takes to research, outline, write, revise, edit and submit a novel, realizing that the odds are very much against successfully getting one’s work in print, discounting self-publication—especially for first-time authors. And listing the terms “research, outline, write, revise, edit and submit” really glosses over what goes into the process.

Research: Online, in libraries, viewing relevant documentaries and programs, and talking with experts, all the time taking notes and seeking accuracy. Sometimes hours can be spent looking into one small aspect or event that takes up no more than a paragraph or two in the context of an entire novel. Will it matter? To most readers, probably not, but to some it will. Consider the fact that minor gaffs and inaccuracies add up, potentially affecting more and more readers. And before the novel has a chance to reach the first potential reader, its contents must be deemed accurate and reliable with agents and editors who often specialize and are well-read in the areas/genres they represent or edit.

Outline: Writers often debate whether an outline is necessary. I believe having one is important when planning and writing a novel, but that is a topic for a different post. Still, consider that despite all the work put into an outline, it will be altered—possibly beyond recognition from the original product.

Write: Say an average novelist can fit in enough time to write 1000 words a day. In my experience that is a high estimate considering many writers have day jobs, families and other responsibilities. Even so, 1000 words a day on average translates to 2-3 hours of writing. Getting 1000 words in five days a week comes to about five months and over 250 hours invested in just the first draft.

Revise: That entails re-reading the novel, in sections or as a whole, while taking notes. Then going back and fixing plot holes, eliminating dead end plot lines, fixing and refining dialogue, working on characterization, description, pacing and many other aspects that make a novel worth reading. Consider the ripple effect where making one change, such as moving a scene where the protagonist meets with an informant and learns a vital clue earlier in the novel, can affect some of the motivations, actions, and dialogue as previously written. The revision process is not a onetime event. A novel will go through multiple revisions, each one smoothing out the identified flaws.

Edit: Sometimes catching typos and grammar gaffs occurs during the writing and revision process. That said, every time a revision pass is made, typos and other minor issues can creep into the prose. Beyond that, catching tense errors, maintaining consistency in names, places and events, rewording passive sentence structures, ensuring clarity in pronoun use (antecedents) and attribution of dialogue, and of course punctuation, subject-verb agreement, and many other concerns are part of the process. While the number of editing passes can be tied to the number of major revisions, figure on at least three or four time-consuming, detail-oriented passes.

Submit: This aspect of the writing process requires far more than printing out and mailing a novel to the first editor or agent one stumbles across online. Researching agents and markets takes time and consideration. Sending a query or submission package to a poorly matched or inappropriate market, results in a waste of time and resources. Writing targeted query and cover letters takes time. Creating a synopsis? Many writers believe it is easier to write an entire novel than to write a brief synopsis. And then there is the waiting once a query (or queries), a partial and/or the full manuscript has been submitted.

The entire process can take several years, or more, and in the end there is no guarantee for success. Odds are very high against success. Some sources estimate as few as ½ of one percent of novels written and submitted ever reach publication. That includes novels written and submitted by established authors as well as those trying to break in with their debut novel.

What to do during the wait? Be optimistic considering the difficulty the opportunity writing a novel presents and start the process all over again with another novel.