74,197 words, and that’s a complete first draft of THE YOUNGER GODS #1. BOOM!
*Collapses into a puddle of DONE*
This novel is going to take more revision than any novel I’ve written since SHIELD AND CROCUS, but for now, it’s done.
Dear all, I’m incredibly thrilled to finally be able to share the news that I’ve inked a new book deal for what will be my print debut(!).
From the Publishers Marketplace announcement:
FICTION: SCIENCE FICTION/ FANTASY
Author of GEEKOMANCY, Michael R. Underwood’s SHIELD AND CROCUS about an aging revolutionary and a haunted city, to David Pomerico at 47North, in a nice deal, for publication in 2014 in print and graphic novel by Sara Megibow at Nelson Literary Agency. (World)
My Hollywood-style pitch for SHIELD is “Mistborn meets China Mieville,” since it combines high action with a New Weird-style setting.
SHIELD AND CROCUS is a novel that began its life as a short story critiqued at the Clarion West Writers Workshop in 2007, with Graham Joyce as the instructor for the week. I was inspired by a story written by Jon Christian Allison, one of my classmates, and wrote a tale that combined a setting drawing upon the New Weird with the action of heroic fantasy that I’ve loved all my life.
Graham and my classmates encouraged me to take the story and expand it into a novel, and years later, after several revisions and a lot of growth on my part as a writer, I’m over the moon that David Pomerico has acquired it for 47North. David has a laser-focused plan for positioning and supporting the novel, including providing the truly exciting opportunity of having the story adapted as a graphic novel. More on that later.
I’ve had an impressive amount of feedback and support along the way, so the acknowledgements for this novel are going to be substantial. I cannot promise that I will not cry when I finally get around to writing them, since this novel has been a big part of my life for several years (from mid-2007 through 2010, most specifically), and represents the work that put me over the top from being an apprentice writer to a new professional. Without the skills at character voice and revision I developed working on SHIELD, I would not have been able to write GEEKOMANCY at the level that allowed it to be sold to Pocket Star.
I also want to take the time to give a huge shout-out to Sara Megibow, my agent, who has now helped me sign three book deals for a total of five novels and a novella, within the first two years of working together. Thanks to her support and cunning skills, I am going to have an amazingly busy 2014, and I couldn’t be more excited.
“The Folly of the Journeyman”
So, here’s something I’ve noticed this the last few times I’ve been in a classroom atmosphere *not* as a teacher – I’m becoming something of a bad student.
I’m moving into the stage of my life where the times I’m a teacher are equalling or sometimes outnumbering the times I’m the student. And being a good student requires beginning from the premise of “I don’t know better, I should listen,” which is hard when the rest of the time you’re teaching from the premise of “I know something worth sharing, I should speak.”
This whole post was inspired by a student moment I just had last week, but I’ll go back to an older one, first.
When I lived in Queens, the only renaissance martial arts group I could find was the Martinez Academy of Arms, which has a *very* different learning culture than the one I was used to in the SCA. At the Martinez Academy, you do what the Maestro says, when he says it, and nothing else.
Problem is, I knew enough about fencing already to want to move past the basic stuff and get on to the other, cooler bits. The Maesto had me start with several weeks of stance, walking, and completely constrained plays, despite the fact that I’d been a competitive renaissance fencer for five years. I got no special treatment due to having a background. Yes, I’d already studied historical martial arts. Yes, I’d had success as a competitive fencer. None of that changes the fact that properly lead drilling where the objective and process is well-explained is an important way to develop skills in isolation to later integrate into your overall approach. The Maestro’s way was not my way, and I was paying for the Maestro to teach the Maestro’s way.
The lesson I had to learn there was to stop trying to jump ahead, and to let my focus dwell on the constraints and the focus, not on what might come next. There is value in going over the basics, and I struggled against those constraints, depriving myself of the best learning experience.
And just last week, I was doing a writing exercise in a group class and wrote past the constraint, instead of keeping the constraint in the forefront of my mind. In this case, it was a small violation (we were told to show emotion from a character POV and only use three sentences. I used four), but it was still a failure to embrace the constraint, to let that one variable dominate.
Isolating variables and focusing on constraints is, I think, a great way to develop a specific part of a skill set, whether it’s in writing, martial arts, or whatever. If you can make time to do those admittedly artificial exercises, where you know that it’s not how thing usually work, but you’re doing the drill because it lets you form good habits, I think it can have a great effect. It’s not something I’ve ever been too good at as a student, even though I teach it as an instructor. My brain wants to roll everything together, to always be integrating everything at once.
I need to be better about embracing constraints so I can up my game, both in writing, martial arts, and in training myself into better professional behaviors, interpersonal behaviors, everything.
What constraints to you struggle against that you could be embracing? How do you check yourself when that happens?
Huzzah! w00t! At long last!
Narrated by Julia Farhat, you can now beam all the jokes, all the genre emulation, and all the action straight into your ear-holes.
This is a particular pleasure for me, since I spent three years with audiobooks as my primary form of reading, since I spent most of my time as a book rep driving around the Midwest, and reading while operating a motor vehicle is both illegal and difficult.
The Celebromancy audiobook will likely come out very close to the ebook release in July, but that will ultimately be up to Audible, who are producing the audio editions.
If you aren’t already an Audible member, you can get a free audiobook by signing up for a trial membership.
Week three yielded 5361 words, even with a totally lazy 4th of July. The big pushes on Saturday are working really well, as I’m training my discipline and doubling down several times to hit those higher word-counts per session. I used to be able to hit 1K regularly, but seldom more than that. If I can get 2K word days consistently during the Write-a-Thon, that lets me set precedent and expect more of myself when I’m writing.
Up to 32K words, though I’m pretty sure about 4K of that is getting cut instantly due to changing my mind about the opening of the novel. I was able to cannibalize some of the good stuff out of the first beginning, but the rest will live off separately just in case I need to use more.
I’ll get another long session today, but the rest of the week could be pretty sparse, due to Self-Promonado. We shall see.
Julia at All Things Urban Fantasy has posted the first professional review of Geekomancy (as in not from a blurbing author, family, etc.)
Thanks to a strong start last Saturday, my wordcount for week one of the 2012 Clarion West Write-a-Thon is 5217, more than half of my overall 10,000 word pledge.
I’m hoping to continue this success and keep up the momentum for another five weeks. 5K a week for these six weeks would be phenomenal, since I’m at just over 20K words in the sequel to Geekomancy. Keeping this level up would get me to 45K by the end of July, way ahead of schedule.
I’ll be putting in another afternoon of writing today, so I’m crossing my fingers for another 2K+ Saturday. The fingers will of course have to be uncrossed to type, otherwise I’d have to type quite slowly.
Almost halfway through Week One of the Clarion West Write-a-Thon, I have gotten off to a great start with 3893 words, mostly from a great session of writing on Saturday (technically before the Write-a-Thon, but I’m counting it since I wrote on Saturday that weekend and not Sunday.
Here’s my participant page (where you can sponsor me — hint, hint) http://www.clarionwest.org/writeathon/michaelrunderwood
The Write-a-Thon is taking sponsorships/donations through the end of the workshop, so you have a bit over five weeks to sponsor me. I initially pledged 10,000 words in these six weeks, but I hope that my strong performance so far will let me annihilate that goal and keep going. Word count will likely slow down when travel gets more intense for my day job and when Geekomancy comes out, but I need to keep making words so that there can be another geek-tastic adventure with Ree next year.
Check in soon for a big announcement about Geekomancy‘s release! Excitement! Adventure!