blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)

If there's one thing feeling sorry for myself is good for, it's for spurring me into action.  I hate feeling down (which I'm sure Pastor Bob would relate back to the fact I "don't do process" well).  So I dove into the final edits, checking of references and source materials, and basic formatting of my first wellness book.

It still needs so fixing and some polish, but it's close enough now I feel confident putting the final pieces in motion.



I'm going to do this one in ebook and print, and use the print version as my learning experience through CreateSpace. If I find the process workable, then I'll have gained a new skill. If I find it unworkable, I'll have gained the knowledge that I'd better pay someone else to do that task.

Here's the first draft of the blurb/back cover copy:

You decided to take a multivitamin. Your physician told you to take fish oil. You heard about an herbal combination that sounds like a good match for your wellness challenges.

But how do you know which multivitamin contains nutrients at the right proportions? What does the label reveal about the quality of your fish oil capsules? Which company can be trusted to provide pure and effective herbs?

The FDA reports that 70% of supplement manufacturers failed to meet basic manufacturing standards in 2010 and 2011. Independent testing found the ingredients in 40% of multivitamins, 30% of vitamin B supplements, and a whopping 63% of milk thistle supplements failed to match the label claims.

Quality matters.

Don't trust your wellness to advertising campaigns, product placements, and unreliable advice. Don't let chance make your decisions.

Learn to evaluate labels, investigate the company, and take charge of your wellness. You owe it to yourself to Choose Well.

For the cover and the preview, go here.

I am so relieved to finally reach this stage.

The past few months have been a repeat lesson in "Sometimes life goes sideways." You'd think I'd be adept at the dance by now. Someday, I swear, I'll be really good at the Cha-Cha Slide of life.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)

Last weekend was spent in Asheville, North Carolina with That Wonderful Man.  Fabulous food, great conversation, and cool outings.  He and I both have exciting things in the works.  I so enjoy hearing him talk about things he's passionate about. I came home feeling all warm and glowing and other cheesy things. I am already looking forward to seeing him again.

The dojo is growing so quickly I decided I needed help sooner rather than later, so I began training a woman who can help with some of the administration and sales. We're fortunate to have found someone who has not only the job skills, but the understanding of and passion for our program. In addition to the new help, we're reconsidering our spring and summer schedule because of the high number of new students coming through our doors. This is a good problem to have, as long as we continue to manage it properly.

The Storybundle launch has been pretty awesome. The rising sales numbers has put me in a marvelous mood. More on that experience as it unfolds.

Revisions for SAND are back on track, and I'm so very happy with the results. The changes are moving the plot and character arcs away from their formal residence, Rim of Melodrama. I am so much happier with the results, though still resigning myself to the fact I'll not be finishing these revisions until late March. I simply don't have the hours.

Dev achieved a solid, productive school day without me needing to prod and nag. That was, in truth, the biggest anti-stress event of the day.

blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Fellow Viable Paradise alum Stephanie Charette has posted her answers for the Next Big Thing: The Blood of Wolves

Her answer to the question of what would pique a reader's interest has certainly piqued mine.  I would very much like her to finish it by Spring. :)
blairmacg: (Chant)

This is fun: writers answer ten questions about a new or upcoming project, then tag other writers to do the same.    [livejournal.com profile] sartorias was kind enough to tag me, and the writers I'm tagging will be listed at the bottom of the post.  I'll link to their answers next week.

Here we go:

What is the working title of your current book?

Sword and Chant

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Different parts came from different places.  The central characters and their relationships came from a horrid, derivative, pseudo-Celtic fantasy novel I'd written years and years and years ago.  It was my first attempt at a novel.  The characters and their relationships were interesting but everything else was...  Ugh. 

Worst of all, I actually sent it to a couple publishers.  Once I'd learned enough to know how terrible it was, I lived in fear I'd someday hear it read aloud at one of those "It Came From the Slush Pile" convention panels.

Many years later, while writing four other novels that shall one day be revised, I became interested in the social and political dynamics of the Kashmir region, Afghanistan in the 1990s and the events surrounding Six Day War.  Those ideas freed the characters of my first attempted novel from the prison of derivative plot, and I combined them with different elements of setting and culture.  Some beta readers have said the setting feels like Turkey, and some say it feels like northern Africa.

The primary antagonist—the Chant—evolved from musings about the nature of sacrifice: the cost to the one making the sacrifice, the one causing the sacrifice to be made, the one accepting the sacrifice, and the willingness of all parties to participate in the sacrifice. (Those ideas will get more stage time in the sequel.)


What genre does your book fall under?

Fantasy, most certainly.  Epic fantasy, I suppose.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

First of all—movie!  Woohoo!  Unless, of course, it's one of those horrid adaptations.  Then it would be awful, and the actors actually playing the roles wouldn't want to admit their involvement.

Anyway.

In my mind, the characters look and sound like themselves, not actors, but I can come up with a couple ideas for the secondary characters.  I could age Grace Park many, many years so she could play Nikala, one of the warlord-chieftains.  Andre Braugher could to play Yasid Sword, and Joy Bryant could play his daughter.  But for the main characters...  I'm clueless. 

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Seriously, it took me months to write a blurb that was under 200 words, and even then someone else had to fix it.  One sentence?  Gah. 

It could be: Jaynes will do anything to avenge his father's murder, but his triumphs as a warlord didn't prepare him to face the threat of civil unrest, foreign invasion, and the seductive promises of the exiled god of sacrifice.

Or it could be: Shala Sword emerges from hiding to prevent the god of sacrifice from conquering the tribes, but finds the most brutal battles are against mortals intent on exacting revenge for sins committed a generation ago.

Or it could be...  Well, you get the idea.

 

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I chose to self-publish, for reasons outlined here.  It's currently available as an ebook through online retailers and in multiple formats.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Once I decided what I wanted to do with the old manuscript, I futzed with the opening chapters for about three months.  Then 9/11 happened, and the last thing I wanted to do was write about asymmetrical warfare, insurgencies, and guerrilla tactics.  When I was finally ready to face it again, I tore into it with a fury.  It was the first novel I'd written from a detailed outline. I finished within three months, and came in at nearly 160K words.  I later cut out enough words to make another short novel, had those chopped words not been so worthy of chopping.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Yeesh, I hate doing that.  It's epic fantasy with a large cast of characters, gods who speak with mortals, battles and arguments, love and loyalty and loss, and a subtle form of earth magic.  It's like other books with those things in it.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My own internal debates.  What happens when lifelong enemies decide they're tired of fighting, or when the leaders want to end the fight but those they lead don't want to?  What are the personal costs of fighting a weaker opponent who refuses to give up?  What are the moral implications of fighting an enemy who is weaker but more ruthless than you are?  What are the moral implications of not fighting, if that choice enables the enemy to hurt someone else?  When is it ethical to sacrifice your life—whether through action or death—and when is it ethical to use the willing sacrifices others make?  When does the act of defending one's self cross the line to excessive aggression?  Why do people insist on saying, "It's really that simple" when it obviously isn't?

Odd as it sounds, I think about these things a great deal.  However, I very rarely discuss them because folks usually want to deal with real-world examples, and as soon as real-world examples are used, the discussion becomes one of politics.  And once politics enter the picture, Someone Must Be Right.

Sword and Chant lets me explore what happens to a culture, and to individuals, when they can't find solutions that are good and right, and find themselves instead trapped doing what is ugly and necessary.

What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

It's filled with women and men who have families and friends, who argue and fight, who fall in love and defend one another, who are sometimes proud and sometimes ashamed, who have to lead with confidence even when they know they haven't a clue what to do next.

And there is the Chant—god of sacrifice and patron of unfulfilled dreams.  He controls a skilled assassin who has an attitude, who'd be a pretty cool guy if he weren't a god-enthralled killer who's quite good at his job.

Who did you tag?
I tagged two of my VPXV classmates--LaShawn Wanak and Stephanie Charette--and my longest-running critique partner and VPXVI grad Sandy Skalski.  There are a couple others I'll be adding to the list, too.

blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
I would have sworn I put this post up, but the evidence demonstrates I would have been quite wrong to do so.

So:

Over at Book View Cafe's blog, [livejournal.com profile] sartorias has this neat post discussing story elements that pull her into a story.  She also says some really nice things about Sword and Chant.

I got all weepy-eyed.

Then I jumped up and down and squealed and hugged myself and read it over and over and over and got all weepy-eyed again.

So...um.  Yeah.  I'm still smiling. :)
blairmacg: (Default)

Despite yesterday's spectacular computer crash (repair still in progress)...

Sword and Chant is now available!



Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Smashwords


Back-of-the-Book Blurb:
Three decades ago, the ruling Iyah of Calligar brutally conquered the neighboring land of Kennem.

Five days ago, a Kennem rebel murdered him.

Jaynes, the Iyah's rightful son, spent years battling those rebels along the border. Bryas, the Iyah's half-Kennem bastard, advocated for a truce. Now, despite rumors that Bryas is to blame for their father's death, the brothers must keep Calligar's tribes united against both civil war and invasion.

But the greater danger is yet to be discovered.

The Chant is the exiled god of sacrifice—sensual, seductive, exacting. He will no longer be denied worship. The Chant reveled in Calligar's conquest of Kennem, enticed Kennem to commit bloody retaliation, provoked the Iyah's murder—all so he could feed on blood spilled in pursuit of ambition.

The Swords stand against him—mortals bearing god-graced blades that prevent the Chant's return. But only three survive, and their power is weakening. Now the Chant possesses an assassin ready to sacrifice those Swords in his name, spilling enough blood to break the Chant's exile and prepare the land for his homecoming.

Then the Chant will dominate Calligar again, and blood will flow at his command.


Chant Facts:
Three central characters appeared, about twenty-five years ago, in one of my first attempts to write a novel.  One of them has the same name.  Though nearly everything else about them has changed, the dynamics of their relationship triangle have remained the same.

(Many of the gods' names are the result of me chopping up and smooshing together names of friends and family members.  You'll find [livejournal.com profile] sartoris in there, btw.)

There will be a sequel.  There may be a sequel to the sequel.  There will not likely be a sequel to the sequel's sequel, but there will be novels set in neighboring lands.


blairmacg: (Default)
Between fretting over various things I can do nothing about, I fretted over things I could indeed control.

I played with cover design for a variety of projects.  The more I do it, the more I enjoy it.  Learning some of the basics about fonts and visual elements helped.

I've begun the process of uploading and tweaking Chant.  The process made me grateful I'd uploaded, in sekrit, smaller pieces as practice, and thus I expect the tech to hiccup somewhere. 

Blair MacGregor Books has been updated.

Sudden Moxie Press  now has the beginnings of a website.  I'm not exceedingly concerned about this right now, but did feel the need to have, at least, something quite basic.  My project over this week will be building it up properly.

Both sites have a link to Sword and Chant's opening chapter. 

Revising Sand has been both fun and frustrating. Every time I think I have the plot issues solved, a worldbuilding issue rises.  Once I wrestle the worldbuilding back into place, a character issue pops up.  I will have something for beta readers tomorrow, though.

Hmm.  I think that's it.  For now.



blairmacg: (Default)
Sword and Chant, my epic fantasy novel, is slated to be available November 16.  I'm very, very glad I chose to delay.  The novel is better for it.

I've been asked often why I've chosen to self-publish.  The reasons are many, will likely be misunderstood by some, and be of interest to very few.  The decision wasn't made lightly, quickly, or all in one swell foop.  I thought about it.  I talked with folks about it.  I even charted options.  In the end, self-publishing was right for me.

Reasons and such... )
blairmacg: (Default)

One of my fellow Viable Paradise graduates, L. Blankenship, is gearing up for the release of her first novel!

From the back cover:

The saints favor her, else-wise a peasant girl like Kate Carpenter would never be apprenticed to the kingdom’s master healer. But her patron saint also marks her ready for the duty of tending to a mission that must cross the ice-bound mountains. Their little kingdom faces invasion by a vast empire and desperately needs allies; across the snow-filled pass, through the deathly thin air, is a country that’s held off the empire and may be willing to lend an army.

Kate knows about frostbite and the everyday injuries of wilderness travel. She can heal those.

She’s not ready for the attentions of a ne’er-do-well knight and the kingdom’s only prince, though.

And she isn’t ready for the monsters that harry them night and day, picking off their archers first, wearing the party to exhaustion, pushing Kate beyond the limits her healing abilities.

She must keep them alive, or her blood will be on the snow too.

And she's running a giveaway for an advance copy of the ebook! All you have to do is go here to enter. You'll also be able to scope out a sample of the novel and find out about the author. If you're looking for interesting chat about her writing process, check out Notes from the Jovian Frontier.

Enjoy!

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