Griffin’s Feather Update

My debut novel, Griffin’s Feather, is now in production with WordFire Press. The cover art is done. The cover layout is in process. The interior layout is in process. These are all great things.

I know I’m sounding a bit analytical about it all, but that’s because it’s all so surreal to me. I’m trying to wrap my head around the concept that I’ll soon have a published novel that people can buy, read, review, love, hate, do cosplay as one of the characters (that just blew my mind as I typed it), lose sleep over, or simply enjoy and escape reality with.

You figure that if I’m writing stories about an immortal Roman Centurion who works as a bounty hunter for the gods of the ancient world in modern-day San Antonio, I’d be able to wrap my head around getting a book published. Well…. I can imagine all sorts of crazy things, but nailing down the reality that I’ll soon have my name on the cover of a book is…. I don’t know. No words. Strange for a writer, right?

Let me talk a bit about the cover. I’m sure you can see it here in the post. Isn’t it beautiful?!!? I love what Jeff Herndon did for my novel. This captures a scene somewhere around the 2/3 mark of the book. Yeah. Okay. That’s a bit spoilery. Sorry. I won’t give anything else away. I love what he did with the colors and splashes of light and capturing the raw power of the griffin. The fine details are what make it for me. Check out the wing tips on the pixie (click the image for a larger version). Yeah. Aren’t those wonderful? Thank you so much, Jeff, for bringing my words to life with your painting.

I’d also like to thank Manny Frishberg for editing the novel. We went through a couple of rounds of edits, and Manny was fantastic, supportive, encouraging, and pressing through out. When I say “pressing,” I mean he pressed me forward to greatness. He really challenged me in the right spots and congratulated me where I did well. There were a few times where he put in a comment along the lines of, “I can tell you got lazy here. You’re better than this. Rewrite with X as your target.” Yeah. He used the word “lazy,” but he also told me I was better than how that scene was written. He knew I could do better. Deep down, I knew I could do better. He pressed me forward with that nudge to do better and I did. Griffin’s Feather is orders of magnitude better now than it ever was before thanks to Manny giving me the guidance I needed.

A shout out goes to Dave Butler, WordFire’s acquisition editor, for taking on the project, speaking so highly of it to Kevin J. Anderson and others, and telling me that my original title (Freyja’s Daughter) was not quite up to snuff. We brainstormed a handful of titles and finally settled on Griffin’s Feather. This title has provided me with a pattern to the novels for the rest of the series (that’s right, I said, “Series!“). Book two is tentatively titled “Viper’s Bane.” Don’t get all excited for me yet. Book two isn’t under contract. We have to see how the sales for Griffin’s Feather goes. (This means you, my wonderful readers, need to spread word and boost the signal about the book if you love Marcus Barber and his adventures. The only way Viper’s Bane hits the shelves is if Griffin’s Feather does well.)

Lastly, thanks to WordFire Press for giving me the opportunity to get my words out into the world. I’m eternally grateful for this chance, and I hope the end result doesn’t disappoint everyone working in that fine organization. Even beyond having my mind shattered by getting a novel published, joining the esteemed ranks of authors WordFire has published is boggling. I hesitate to use “peer” or “equal” or anything like that when comparing myself to these luminaries, but I’m at least standing in the same room as them. This is an incredibly warming feeling.

How did all of this come about? Wow. Long story. A Inigo Montoya once said, “Let me explain. [pause] No, there is too much. Let me sum up.”

In July of 2006 (yeah, 11 years ago), I found a flier for a local critique group. I immediately started attending and joined the membership of The Colorado Springs Fiction Writers Group in November of 2006. I wrote tons of short stories to get the basics of storytelling, writing, and craft down. My intent all along was to write novels, but I didn’t want to screw up a novel (and I knew I would) since that takes a year (more or less) to execute upon.

Late in 2009, I started my first novel (now trunked, sorry) and finished it about a year later. I also wrote the second book in the trilogy, and started the third book. I never finished the third book because I realized it was more an exercise in futility since book one never sold.

Sometime in 2014 (see how much time had passed?!?!) and with a new critique group, I started telling Marcus’s story and all that it entails. Less than a year later, the novel was done, critiqued, edited, and ready to hit the streets. I started querying in the summer of 2015. Lots of the usual. Requests for partials. Requests for a few full manuscripts. All ending in rejections. While at WorldCon in Spokane, I was hanging out outside a bar waiting for others to show up. Peter Wacks (acquisition editor for WordFire at the time) and I were chatting. He asked what I was writing on. I told him about my querying travails with Griffin’s Feather and about the novel. He was very interested and wanted me to send it to you. That was August of 2015.

After some staff changes, shuffling of paperwork, lots of emails, and loads of being patient (more on that in a bit), Kevin J. Anderson approached me in the bar at WorldCon in Kansas City (sense a theme with bars and WorldCon?) with an offer to purchase my novel. It was all I could do to stop myself from grabbing the nearest woman, planting a kiss on her, and celebrating. Of course, that would have probably gotten me slapped and/or beaten up, kicked out the bar, kicked out of WorldCon, and smeared my public reputation for life. Me, being aware of all of this, thanked Kevin profusely and shook his hand with a goofy grin on my face.

So… WorldCon 2017 in Helsinki just wrapped up (I was not there, so no bar stories for this year), and my novel is coming out soon. Most likely in September from what I’ve been told.

I said I’d talk about patience a bit. Here it is. Get some. Get lots of it, to be honest. The publishing industry is slow. I’m not complaining about it. It’s just the nature of the beast. There’s a bit of “hurry up and wait” going on, but mostly it’s just “wait.” As you can see, my deal took a full year to develop and then another year for the deal to turn into a novel. That’s really not abnormal from what I’ve heard from others. Yeah, there are the lightning strikes that break the mold and someone gets published six months after the ink dries on their contract. These are the exceptions, not the rule.

So… What’s next?

We wait for the book to be launched. I do plan on having a few signings in the Colorado Springs, Monument, and Denver areas. I also hope to make a few more conventions as part of the booth that sells WordFire titles. Stay tuned here for announcements on that. I’ll probably be adding an “appearances” page to the site. Also keep an eye on my social media (look in the upper right corner of any of the pages here on my site for links). Lastly, I’m hoping to land on some podcasts that’ll have me on to chat and talk about the book and just have a good conversation.

BTW: If you haven’t clicked on the image yet to see the larger version… WHAT ARE YOU WAITNG FOR? Go click. NOW! It’s gorgeous!