How Not to Launch a Book (or in this case a 19,000 word short story)
There are dozens of things a writer should do when releasing a new book or novella. I know this because, like many modern day authors, I have read all the books on how to self-publish and promote. I know that releasing a new title should be a huge deal with lots of bells and whistles, ARCs flung to all corners of the globe, and swag piled high. There should be pre-scheduled reviews and paid marketing on all the reputable sites for the genre.
Should be, but isn’t. Not this time.
I love the Grendel Uprising universe. Creating it has sparked some of the most fun I’ve had in years. I just can’t wait to share the story, so as soon as I satisfied my editor and did a final proofread, I started the upload process. Blood Royal, Episode 2 in the Grendel Uprising series, is now winging its way through cyberspace toward an Amazon outlet near you.
So let’s review. Proof Death is the first installment. Blood Royal is the second. The third, Heavy Weapons is a work-in-progress. The entire series has been outlined and is under constant development.
So without further adieu, please welcome Blood Royal to publication.
Grendel Uprising: Episode 2: Blood Royal
Loyal servants of the Earth System Commonwealth must pick a side. The assassination of Emperor Dan Uburt-Wesson has thrown civilization into chaos and no interim government will have the strength to hold the galactic empire together. Rumors of betrayal and rebellion spread from star system to star system as the real battle begins in the most unlikely place. Official news sources have (wrongly) confirmed that every member of the Imperial family is dead. The formation of a new galactic order is imminent. The Earth System Commonwealth has outlived its usefulness.
Only a handful of powerful people know that Aefel 70391, a decorated veteran of the First Armored-infantry Lightning Division, has located four juveniles that will change history. Can Aefel and his unlikely allies protect the Blood Royal? Has he chosen the wrong side?
Grendel Uprising: Blood Royal sets the stage for a war of rebellion, domination, and what it means to be human in the age of the Earth System Commonwealth.
The Grendel Uprising series combines science fiction and historical fiction. The setting is at once a world similar to England and Scandinavia during the time of the Danelaw and a pan galactic empire of advanced technology and deadly political upheaval. During a more prosperous time, entrepreneurs developed entire worlds as historical reenactment societies and allowed nature to take its course. Financial disaster took the planet of Grendel completely offline. There are precious few men or women who remember how they came to the alien world. Now they will face the godlike destruction of modern warfare.
During the incredibly rainy month of May, I worked on the first of several serial short stories that have been dying to get out. This has been a lot of fun to write, but has been the genesis of serious distraction. First off, I started to develop a pen name for the project, mostly because I have always wanted to have a pen name. The reasons vary, and are the subject of another blog. Let's just say I doubled my work for the same results.
Like many writers, I have a regular job and a family--lots of important life choices to make. Play with the kids, yes. Pay the bills, yes. Maintain twice as many social media sites, no. Why start over when promoting and marketing is already hard enough? Why not take advantage of the modest success I have experienced thus far as a writer. When I began working with a pen name I realized the colossal amount of work I have already put into this web page and publishing project.
So I decided to publish my short stories under my name, without partitioning each genre to a separate name. The genre of my Grendel Uprising series is science fiction, with a twist. One of my universe building projects has focused on a society where there are planets dedicated to various forms of recreation, like a golf planet or a NASCAR racing planet. The most common theme in this Commonwealth, are various historical reenactment societies. Grendel Uprising focuses on a planet dedicated to an imitation of 9th Century Earth, specifically, the rise of Vikings.
This allows for adventures that feel a lot like time travel without the paradox issues common to time travel stories. It also creates interesting worlds where the historical reenactments have gone off course. Hello creativity, hello fun.
The first story in the Grendel Uprising series (of rather long short stories) is schedule to be released in June. The advantage of shorter works of fiction, is that the editorial expenses are more manageable, since most price schedules are based on length of the work. This should allow me to put out the series monthly while still working on my novel length projects.
I am really excited about this new era in story telling. Please take a moment to visit Grendel Uprising and my bibliography page for my current novels.
The Pale Horseman (book two in the Saxon series by Bernard Cornwell) continues the bloody life chronicles of Uhtred of Bebbanburg. Why does this matter? Is this just another book review?
Let me address the second question first. This is the start of a book review; I will be sharing my thoughts as I venture through Cornwell's books. He is one of my favorite writers of historical fiction. Today, while listening to the audiobook on my way to a second job, several things struck me about The Pale Horseman.
This matters because Uhtred is a complex protagonist. He has many traits that are common to heroes in other books: strength, bravery, a vicious brand of loyalty, and a sense of justice that should make him easy to appreciate. Yet he is not always likeable. In fact, I would say I dislike him more often than not--and yet I continue to listen to the story.
The Pale Horsemen starts with Uhtred foolishly drawing his sword on his rival, Ealdorman Odda the Younger, during a religious ceremony, thus offending King Alfred and violating the king's laws. Uhtred is not dumb. He should know better, but his "monstrous pride," as Cornwell describes it, constantly gets Uhtred in trouble. By the end of chapter one, he has committed an unjustifiable murder (both by modern standards and the laws of the time) and put himself and his household in danger of retribution. Why did he commit such a crime? Because he was pissed of and full of, you guessed it, pride.
This is good for moving the plot and keeping "tension on every page," as Donald Maass, author of Writing the Breakout Novel, advocates. It is not good for my feelings about the protagonist. I'd like for someone to take Uhtred in hand and teach him some humanity. Yes, he is essentially a Viking and their moral code at the time of the story is different than mine. Yes, he is true to his character and possesses many positive traits.
I still struggle with the heartless brutality of Uhtred. It is kind of a love-hate relationship with this character that drives me to read on. So in the grand scheme of things, Bernard Cornwell has again proved himself a master writer.
Please check back for future articles on The Pale Horseman as I strive to improve my writing, and possibly share some useful information on anyone thinking of reading the Saxon series.
My science fiction and urban fantasy novels are current available here.
Life is an adventure. I read to expand my horizons and write because I must.
- The Craft of Writing: 7 Magnificent Books
- Use of Force Myths
- A Really Useful Tool
- Project Rotation