Yearning for Wonderland
We have come to publish Daniel Swensen, not to praise him –
Oh, who are we kidding? Let’s do both!
Today marks the release day of Orison, the debut novel of Daniel Swensen.
This is the second novel published by Nine Muse Press (the first being “Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire” by Paul Ramey, available here)
I know you have all enjoyed reading the release week posts (viewable here). Thanks to our amazing Nine Muse Press affiliate bloggers: Ruth, Angela, Lisa, Tracy and Emmie! Your creative reflections on Daniel’s characters have been a joy to read.
Thanks to my tireless partners at Nine Muse Press, Paul Ramey and Tina Ramey. Without you, I assure you none of this could have happened. Look at us manifest!
And, finally, thanks to Daniel for creating a world that I could not rest until I shared with our world.
I’d like to present the world premiere of the book trailer for Orison.
And once you’ve watched it, you can buy it…
HERE! (Amazon link)
And, last of all, be sure to enter in our fantabulous Rafflecopter and share and share and share till you cannot share anymore!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
As Nine Muse Press kicks off our Orison release week extravaganza, I thought I’d take a look back at the journey with this book.
The job of an editor is a strange one. After all, any decent word-processor can catch spelling or grammar errors. My job is to cut away the excess verbiage, the clumsy sentences, the lazy cliche, drag away all that obfuscates the luminescence of the author’s vision. If a scene is in the wrong place, if the pacing is off, if a character is redundant, if the ending is weak, if the opening is slow…these are the places where I come forward with ideas to improve. They are only ever ideas; the author has the last word. But I see the potential in a manuscript. Once I get it, the work has just begun.
I do not sell my services. That is to say, I don’t work as an editor for an hourly rate (though it would doubtless be more lucrative). I only edit books that Nine Muse Press accepts for publication. If I’m doing my job right, the author may struggle with whether to strangle or hug me at any given moment.
Perhaps I should take a step back and relate why fantasy matters to me. When I started reading as a child, the fantasy genre was my first love: a common story with gawky, socially-awkward and shy girl. It swept me away to misty mountains, to faery bowers, to the Mines of Moria and the snowy woods of Narnia. I will read fantasy till I die.
It wasn’t until I got older that I realized that the protagonists were almost never like me: that is, a girl who was neither beautiful nor magical. Though there were a few notable exceptions, they were usually male: callow youths or hardened swordsmen.
When I first read Orison, I was intrigued. Calushain felt real to me, those who peopled it felt real too. There was one secondary character named Story that I fell hopelessly, irrevocably in love. Story was not beautiful nor magical. She was an ordinary girl who had been dealt a rough hand, then been given an extraordinary chance to change her life forever.
We decided Orison would be the second novel that Nine Muse Press released. And then Daniel and I started scrubbing away at the book to make it gleam. If we were content with just releasing a pretty good book, we could have published it three or four months ago. That is, a book with no errors or typos. But it would not be the book it is today.
Today, I am privileged to announce that on the last day of February in the year two thousand and fourteen, Daniel Swensen’s Orison will be a reality and you will be able to download it to your very own e-reader. Paperbacks are next, fear not, ye fellow Luddites of mine. We have so many wonderful things in store for you this week.
Every day, there will be a brand new post from a Nine Muse Press Affiliate blogger that celebrates a different character in the book. Be sure to check them all out this week, as they will have a ton of exclusive, never-before-released content. I have them listed below for your reading pleasure this week.
Sunday, Feb. 23: Ruth Long and Wrynn at 6 pm EST
Monday, Feb. 24: Angela Goff and Dunnac at 2 pm EST
Tuesday, Feb. 25: Lisa V. Tomecek-Bias and Ashen at 2 pm EST
Wednesday, Feb. 26: Tracy McCusker and Camana at 2 pm EST
Thursday, Feb. 27: Emmie Mears and Story at 2 pm EST
Friday, Feb. 28: HAPPY RELEASE DAY!
This book represents a tremendous amount of work and love and I am terrifically proud to be a part of its inception. My most sincere gratitude to my NMP partners, Paul and Tina Ramey. And, to Daniel, for sharing your world with us.
For the holidays, I ran a contest for the Dark Fairy Queen writing group minions. I called it Minionmas and the way to enter was by sharing the work of others. People gathered chances to win by sharing (and purchasing!) books and content of their fellow minions and by tagging it with #Minionmas. We had over a hundred entries, which made the #DFQ very happy.
I did this because I believe that for indie authors to ever succeed, they must band together to support each other, generously. Helping others makes them want to help you.
The winner (chosen randomly from the entries) won a guest post on Yearning for Wonderland.
The winner was J. Whitworth Hazzard and his very insightful post on the perils and pleasures of being an indie author is below. Please read it and leave some #minionluv in the comments.
And, for what it’s worth, he actually has 16 fans.
By J. Whitworth Hazzard
As of today, I have exactly fifteen fans. Trust me, I counted them carefully.
For someone who’s put out three serials on Amazon, been in four anthologies, and won a score of flash fiction contests, that doesn’t seem like a lot, does it? It’s not a mistake.
Mistakes were big for me in 2013. I learned some big lessons this past year, in what I consider my journey from novice to almost-but-not-quite-published writer.
My biggest lesson was that now is my time to fail. In all sorts of wonderful, spectacular ways. It’s not a bad thing to fail, either. It’s a very, very good thing. Off the top of my head, I can rattle off failures in grammar, plotting, editing, formatting, cover art, hiring contractors, critiquing, marketing, and networking. Hell, I even pissed off one of my beta readers so bad, they don’t talk to me anymore. I screwed up. And I’m glad I’m doing it now.
The small scale failures have helped me to balance my enthusiasms. There’s less pressure to be perfect and more incentive to take risks. When you allow yourself to take risks, you’ll wind up with stories that don’t fit into a marketing category, but damn if those aren’t the stories that are fun to tell. Dead Sea Games, a plucky little tale about a teenage survivor of the zombie apocalypse in New York City isn’t the kind of work that attracts the six-figure, debut novel deal. Those aren’t going to land on my desk. Realistically, (and this is a hard truth to swallow) my craft just isn’t there yet.
If some dark fairy queen did drop off a contract with lots of zeroes attached, I’d likely start having anxiety attacks. My work is fair on most days, good on some, and great rarely, and though I wish that readers would give authors second and third chances, I don’t think that’s realistic. With the world filling up with authors of the published and self-published kind, and entertainment of all other stripes filling the small voids, a reader’s time to invest is shrinking rapidly.
Fifteen fans are enough for me. I love them. I know them. And they’ll get me through this awkward phase. This horrible, ego-crushing stage where you have good ideas and good intentions, but can’t seem to translate them to success, either on the page or on the bottom line of sales. I hope I eventually grow out of this stage, but it takes a kind of fearlessness/obstinacy to keep making these mistakes.
Fifteen million fans would crush me under the weight of each tiny error and my journey would be over. But my fifteen fans forgive me my blatant overuse of commas, my melodramatic cheese, and the giant plot holes regarding zombies on the streets of New York. These fans are the basis of my motivation. They sustain me.
I think of myself as a storyteller. Happiness, to me, is sitting around a campfire telling ghost stories. I’ve watched eyes light up as you unfold mysteries and hit those punch lines with perfect timing. That is what I’m hooked on, and if I only ever get to tell stories to a room of fifteen people…well, that’s good enough for me.
Get J. Whitworth Hazzard’s first book, Dead Sea Games: Adrift, for only 99 cents on Amazon – you’re sure to be hooked!
One and half million people used to live on the island of Manhattan. Used to. Now—after the Emergency—all but a tiny fraction of those wander the streets as the living dead, searching for human flesh to devour. Jeremy Walters is one of the few survivors, living on the rooftops, making every day count adrift in a sea of zombies.
The adults may be content just to be alive, but Jeremy knows that the Colony is a cruel joke. To a teenager, just existing isn’t enough. Without hope, without a future, without any chance of escape, they might as well all be dead.
When two of their own go missing, this fifteen-year-old boy with a bad attitude and reckless streak a mile wide is determined to go after the lost survivors and bring them home. He’ll teach them all what it means to be a true hero. Zombies, gangs, and treacherous NYC landscape are the least of Jeremy’s worries. He’s got to come back alive—or his mother will kill him.
About the Author
J. Whitworth Hazzard lives in the vast cornfields of Illinois with his wife, and four nearly perfect children. A Geek-for-Hire by day, J. Whitworth has worked for over a decade fixing minor computer problems, some of which he did not even cause. He prepares technical documents for a living and tries not to include any zombies in reports on server upgrades and network outages (although not always successfully).
Dr. Hazzard has a PhD in molecular biophysics that he now uses to figure out how to scientifically justify the existence of mythical creatures. Trained in science and critical thinking, J. Whitworth spends his leisure time writing fiction that would make his former professors cringe. He has been a life-long writer and has spent more than his fair share of time writing about all kinds of ridiculous things. His dream of writing for a living started in the 5th grade when his five page story “The Blood and Guts 500” entranced and thrilled his classmates. His passionate prosody received a standing ovation and from that day forward he was hooked on the art of story telling.
Follow Dr. Hazzard’s adventures in fiction on:
Twitter: @Zombiemechanics (https://twitter.com/zombiemechanics)
Facebook: J. Whitworth Hazzard (http://www.facebook.com/jwhitworthhazzard)
Web: Zombiemechanics Blog (http://zombiemechanics.com)
Actually, the title is quite tongue-in-cheek. It’s true I have been off Facebook, Twitter and Instagram since January 2nd, but I really sort of like it.
Sometimes habits creep up on you on little cat feet. You don’t realize you’re snacking on potato chips every day or that you click ballpoint pens compulsively or that you tailgate or that you spend all your free time on social media. That’s pretty much where I was. Because I had cultivated such a close-knit group of writer friends, I justified this overindulgence by rationalizing that I was spending time with educated, talented people and that it was inspirational.
This is true. It, however, does not negate the fact that because I was so engrossed in social media I was losing any writing time I might have. I also was opting for quantity time over quality time with my husband, as if being in the same room and staring at separate screens counted as being together. My to-do list was getting longer and I just couldn’t figure out why I didn’t have the time to complete anything.
So I went cold turkey, kaput, in an effort to get my habit under control. I knew if I just tried to cut down, I would eventually just slowly slide back into my old habit. So I took a break. It’s not forever, just a realigning of priorities.
I wish I could say I missed it. I miss my friends, my nerdy fellow writers who understand what it’s like to obsess at 1 a.m. about a sticky plot point. But instead of just checking in, I spent a great deal of time scrolling through my feed, looking for new articles or statuses or thoughts. The act of scrolling is very compulsive and you can just go on and on and on. You may say to yourself: I should turn off my screen and go do something important, but you’re like as not to end up there an hour later. It’s just like casual television watching: all calories, no nutrition.
So here’s just a few of the things I’ve been doing, as I pass through the Wilderness of No Social Media:
Writing: I have taken a very sharp red pencil and stabbed the heck out of my manuscript. I’ve plotted and planned and researched and head-scratched. What started out as a crazy jumble of 27k words in NaNoWriMo 2011 has evolved into a fairly lean and well-plotted historical murder mystery novel of right at 50k. I believe I am less than a dozen scenes away from completion and that is VERY exciting. Once complete, then it’s back to the drawing board to confirm that all the plot lines are threaded and the writing is taut and the herrings are red. And then…and then, my friends, to the editor! *gasp* Yes, even I, Editatrix, know that I cannot edit my own work beyond making it a highly buffed and solid first draft.
Nesting: I have been busy making my house pretty. We have hanged all the artwork and put up some curtains and generally prettified and sorted and tossed. While I would need a serious influx of money to get the house where I would like it to be, we certainly have done a lot with a little. We now have wedding pictures up and my library is starting to come together. Pictures to come.
Kissing: my sweet hubby. Nuff said.
Dreaming: This is something that falls by the wayside when I get busy. Lots of staring off into the middle distance and letting tendrils of my imagination trail off into the vast reaches of improbability.
Healing: Many of you are aware I was in a car accident in December and getting better is a full-time job, between physical therapy, doctor’s visits and other treatments.
Watching: This was actually a secret fear of mine, that I would break one habit only to succumb to another. I’ve been pretty good overall, though I confess to glutting myself on Sherlock and VEEP (my favorite sardonic political comedy). A few days ago, I re-watched my beloved Anne of Green Gables miniseries, which has only burnished beautifully with age. Even after all these years, its gentle loveliness still has the power to bring me to tears.
Plotting: Surely ye did not think I would rest on my laurels. You’ll just have to wait and find out what the DFQ has up her voluminous sleeves.
I expect Minions to weigh in below – it has been too long!
With all faery affection,
The lead-up to the wedding this year was a whirlwind, sparkling little moments whirling by and popping like bubbles in champagne. It was a series of fortuitous events, parties and showers and faces I hadn’t seen in years. My parents threw us a big engagement party, where Michael regaled them of the tale of how he met me eating ice cream. There was a lovely shower hosted by my godmother Julie, where I was introduced to the joys of Prosecco + Limoncello and lively conversation. There was a gorgeous bridesmaid tea with a half dozen flavors of homemade muffins hosted at my mother’s house with the help of her lifelong friend, Nancy.
Then there was the wedding shower hosted by my cousin Kay and Aunt Sharon. No one would tell me anything about this shower’s theme, but at this point I was just along for the ride. My mother did ask me what I was going to wear (answer: my polka-dotted tea dress and red heels and a vintage hat with veil courtesy of my bestie and matron of honor, Catherine). We rode up to my aunt’s house and there was an air of barely suppressed excitement in the car.
Imagine my shock when we arrive and the first thing I see is this:
Yes, that’s a reference to Flamingo croquet.
Yes, that’s a marshmallow bunny Peeps glued to the sign, in front of an actual rabbit hole.
You see, one of the strange parts of writing a blog is that you usually do it in a bit of a vacuum. You throw your songs, your stories, your words out there into the universe. It’s a bit like blowing bubbles into the wind: they are beautiful, but they float away to who knows where?
I knew vaguely that a few family members read my blog, but I had no idea that they knew how much it mattered to me, how the whole theme encompassed so much of who I was. So this was my reaction.
Especially once I saw the extent to which my cousin Kay had immersed herself in the theme.
So I got inside the door and the whole house was decorated like Wonderland. The first thing they did was place a pinafore (apron) and a proper bow on their Alice.
The decorations were imaginative and exquisite, a collaboration with all three ladies, though my mother’s creative hand was clearly seen.
There were caterpillars and mushrooms and playing cards and all the ladies wore hats, even my littlest cousin. There were beautiful tea treats, not the least of which was the Eat Me Cookies made by my Aunt Sharon.
Oh, and there was tea. Pots and pots of tea, in all the flavours you could want for a proper Mad Tea Party.
Alice had her special garden chair, where she opened her gifts and was quizzed on Alice in Wonderland trivia.
The whole day was magical. I felt so loved, so flattered, so understood. And it reminded me that sometimes Wonderland is closer than we think; we only need look.
Infinite gratitude to my whole family who helped create this special day and all the days surrounding the wedding, with special thanks to my cousin Kay (the Hatter), my Aunt Sharon and, always, my dearest mother.