myriad pieces of haphazard puzzles

I’m a relentless optimist. I’m also a no-bones-about-it realist. It’s a nice blend. Keeps me relatively stable and sane in what can be a career of dizzying highs (or so I’ve heard) and abysmal lows (first name basis frequent flier here).

And one of the things I’ve come to understand is you need both to effectively move through what can sometimes be the mystifying, frustrating process of being adapted from fiction to film (or TV).

And, believe me, I’m not slamming the process.

What most don’t realize is that moving a project forward in Hollywood, getting from A to B, is often dependent on a haphazard puzzle of myriad pieces somehow finding a way to snap together. It could take weeks. It could take months. It could take years. It could never happen. Some projects click quickly. Others less so. But the pieces need to come together, they need to fit and, as much as possible, they need to be perfect. And the one constant truth linking those two together, and everything in-between, is that you, as the writer, have zero say in how things inch forward. You just don’t.

Nor should you.

But this is the beauty of being a writer and one of the reasons I love what I do: when the no-bones-about-it realist starts to nag the relentless optimist, chipping away at his sunny disposition with perfectly reasonable doubts, the Writer gets to work.

Because not only am I a relentless optimist, a no-bones-about-it realist and a Writer (with that capital W), I’m also blessed with a creative mind that just…doesn’t…stop. The list of projects I have on my calendar currently stretch into 2020. And that’s not taking into account whatever projects land on my plate driven by other people, production companies, my publisher, anthologies, etc.

The Martuk Series. Eidolon Two. Eidolon Three. Eidolon Four. Eidolon Five. The third Martuk novel. A new project about magic and secret realms and dangerous monsters that lurk in plain sight, spanning different timeframes all at the same time. A potential three-book series centered around Mot from the Martuk books. Continued script adaptations for film, for TV.

So when I start to feel a bit grrrrrrrrrrrrr…I just flip it into work. And as I write, as words land on the page, hopefully stretching into paragraphs and then pages, chapter after chapter finally becoming a book or a short story or a screenplay or whatever, all those haphazard puzzles with their myriad pieces, something I can do nothing about, are putting themselves together. Bit by bit. Piece by piece. Phone call by phone call. Rescheduled meeting by rescheduled meeting. Email by email.

But, and this is important, when I get that email or that text or that phone call or whatever by whoever saying “Hey, let’s talk” it makes all the waiting – and furious writing – worth it. It really does.

Because another constant thread with this business is the courage to take a chance. Yes, get those pieces together and make ’em fit. Do what you can to guarantee as much as possible the largest audience possible. (Talk with me ’cause Lord knows I got ideas) But at the end of the day, you’re still rolling the dice and taking a risk.

It’s just what we do.

What’s my point with this? Maybe nothing. I’m not sure.

All I know is, as a writer, I’m lucky I drive the bus and can turn whatever impatience, curiosity or whatever I feel into work. Work that might, at some point, end up being part of yet another puzzle with pieces needing to be put together.

Which will lead me into writing more.

It really is a gloriously vicious cycle, ain’t it? 😊

Elder … Priest … King … FREE!

Official blog post announcement coming soon. But until then, a small excerpt from The Elder, the sequel to The Wounded King which is, like TWK, free right now over on Amazon.

EXCERPT:

The word came again, lost in the earth as she lay on the ground. Fistfuls of dirt clutched in her tiny fists, her neck rolled, tender bones popping while The Seer nodded its head and the mouth open and closed, open and closed.

The Child stopped and rose, crouched on hands and knees.

“Man … ” she said before she fell to the ground. Her back arched, then released only to snap back into another arch, the head once again low.

“From the …” the words came, her face hidden behind her golden hair.

She collapsed.

The Seer ducked its chin to its flat chest, its large, long hands dropping to its side.

The tears came then as she wept, The Child. Her body convulsed with sobs, with hiccups. She tried to crawl away, slipping on the urine soaked ground, trapped by the rope around her wrists.

I leaned forward and reached my hand out. But not close enough to touch, to intrude.

“Man from the …?” I asked. “From the mountains?”

Whispers.

No …

Speak …

Silence …

The Seer raised its head, the long fingers splayed wide as they stretched and reached and grabbed the air, pushing away the Voices.

The tears stopped as The Child moaned and then grew quiet.

She abruptly rose to her knees, her back straight, arms to her side and her chin to her chest, the mouth now open as drool leaked from her lips.

“From the mountains?” I insisted.

It gasped, The Seer, its head back, the fingers quiet and still, the ribs rising and falling as it fought for breath.

The Child lifted into the air.

Her knees left the ground, her shins dropping to hang as she rose. The tiny feet dangled as she lifted higher and higher, her chin in her chest, her face still buried under a sheath of shining hair.

She stopped, waiting, suspended.

I paused, waiting.

“Elder … Priest … King,” she said, the voice low as it echoed the Whispers.

“Yes,” I replied, my voice weak.

“Yes,” I said again, stronger.

The head rose and the hair fell away from the sweet face. Her mouth stretched wide as she tried to speak, the jaw again a series of pops and cracks as it opened and closed, opened and closed.

“Yes,” I repeated.

She stopped, trapped in midair, the jaw frozen in a silent scream as The Seer attempted to speak through her.

And then she began to bleed.

The Elder Final-cover

One Happy Hybrid

You know what a hybrid is, right? In publishing, it’s someone who both self-publishes (as I did with Martuk … the Holy and Martuk … the Holy: Proseuche as well as The Martuk Series) and is published traditionally.

Well, as of today, I am now officially a hybrid.

From Crystal Lake Publishing:

After five months of reading 144 pitches and various sample chapter submissions (with the help of various sub readers – especially Ben Eads), Crystal Lake Publishing is proud to announce six projects chosen by us (and one surprise addition). We actually accepted seven, but we’re still negotiating with the author his novel. That announcement will be made at a later date.

In alphabetical order:

Theresa Derwin – GOD’S VENGEANCE novella
Mark Allan Gunnells – short story collection presently named FLOWERS IN A DUMPSTER
Alessandro Manzetti – EDEN UNDERGROUND poetry collection
Patrick Rutigliano – WIND CHILL novella
Mark Sheldon – SARAH KILLIAN: SERIAL KILLER (FOR HIRE!) novella
Jonathan Winn – EIDOLON AVENUE, a collection of shorts stories and novellas

A sincere congrats to all these authors. The competition was extremely tough, and you truly deserve to be here. I hope everyone takes the time to congratulate these folks, as well as take the time to get to know the ones you’re not familiar with.
I’m also extremely happy to announce that we’ll be publishing the print edition of Taylor Grant’s DARK AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL later this year. The eBook edition has been picked up by another excellent publisher, so more on that at a later date.

Here is a rough draft of our publishing schedule till end of this year (subject to change, of course):

May: THE OUTSIDERS
June: Kevin Lucia’s THROUGH A MIRROR, DARKLY
July: Alessandro Manzetti’s EDEN UNDERGROUND
August: TALES FROM THE LAKE VOL.2
September: CHILDREN OF THE GRAVE
October: HORROR 201: THE SILVER SCREAM
November: Taylor Grant’s DARK AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL
December: Patrick Rutigliano’s WIND CHILL

Thank you to everyone who took part in our very first open submission window, and all the best with your books. I’m sure we’ll have another open submission in the next year or so.

All the best,
Joe Mynhardt
Crystal Lake Publishing

So, there you have it! Huge congratulations to everyone.

I couldn’t be more excited to be working with the award-winning CLP and the fantastic Joe Mynhardt, a man who’s deeply respected and has an eye for talent. To have someone like him believe in what I was doing enough to say Yes is very exciting.

And that’s how you become One Happy Hybrid, my friends.

the air thick with secrets

Doing a final polish on Red and Gold, the latest installment in The Martuk Series, and should have it Live on Amazon, etc. in a day or two.  🙂

Until then, here’s the cover.

Red & Gold Final-cover

 

Tip of a grateful cap to my cover artist, Timothy Burch.  He’s kinda awesome.  🙂

And, yeah, why the hell not?  Here’s a brief excerpt:

 

Listen well …

The voice, the whisper, came again.

I listened.

The Elder was passing me.  He moved by, calm and quick.  I did not exist to him.  I was no one.  A stranger to ignore.  An initiate who had yet to earn the priesthood, my thick hair damning me to ignominy on sight.

Ah, but this stranger, the one with the cloak ringed with the dull white of bone, he was not one to ignore.  I could sense fear in the old man, The Elder.  I could feel the air thick with secrets and shame and an utter sense of powerlessness.

The Elder stopped.

I glanced at his bare feet.

They were covered in blood.  And bits of flesh?   Yes, that’s what it looked like, his long toes smeared in discarded shards of torn flesh.  And the hem of his red and gold robe, it, too, was covered in blood.  It was dripping, small drops of blood staining the stone beneath his feet.

Dripping.

The blood was fresh.

And they, the two of them, The Elder and this stranger who could whisper to the darkest depths of my soul, both smelled of smoke and raging fire and torn flesh.

But The Elder had stopped.  Could he hear my thoughts?  Could he read my soul?  Did he know I had linked his name, his greatness, with words like shame and powerlessness?

If so, I would incur his wrath.

No …

The stranger grew close.  Looked at me.  He, too, was covered in blood.  His robe dripping fresh blood.  His feet stained red.  More so than The Elder’s.  As if this stranger, whose toes almost squished with fresh blood, had waded through an ocean of red to stand before me.

Yes …

I raised my eyes, slowly, so, so slowly.

His chest was bare.  It was covered in blood.

His head was shaved smooth.  It was covered in blood.

His eyes, peering from beneath a layer of red, were looking at mine.

A small smile grew on his thin lips.

Young priest …

came the whisper.

Listen well and I will give you the world.

 

 

new look for The Elder

In the run-up to the release of Red and Gold, the third installment in The Martuk Series, I’m sharing the NEW cover to The Elder.

The Elder Final-cover

 

Once again, cover artist Timothy Burch knocks it outta the park.  Don’t you agree?  🙂

 

a new Wounded King

Sorry, kids, but there ain’t nothing better than getting a brand spanking new cover for one of your books.

And that’s what’s happening with The Martuk Series, an ongoing collection of Short Fiction inspired by my award-winning full-length novel Martuk … the Holy.

First up for the face lift was The Wounded King, next will be The Elder, and then Red and Gold, the third in the series, will be making its debut.

But I don’t want to jump the gun and upload the new TWK cover until the one for The Elder is finished, so … here’s a teeny, tiny sneakity peek.

 

The-Wounded-King-Aug13-crop

 

And that’s just a glimpse of the awesomeness to come.  🙂

 

warriors and Queens

The great thing about writing sequels — my creative mind currently ensconced in Red and Gold — is revisiting earlier work and, pushing all that useless false modesty aside, remembering just how damn good you are.

Ergo, an excerpt from the most recent in The Martuk Series, The Elder:

 

The Child had stopped, her body still, her blood-drenched toes far from the ground, her face stained red as she watched me with bleeding eyes.

The Seer had stopped, the bent body now still, waiting.

The wolves were quiet, their bodies hidden in the dark, waiting.

She spoke, The Child, her words silently on The Seer’s lips.

“Made of ash, of stone, burning from the bones, warriors and Queens, a woman trapped in time, a rival drawing near, hatred, love, pain, hatred, love, pain, hatred … ”

The bones crunched and snapped as her head circled, the neck rolling chin to chest and then back, her jaw snapping open and shut.

Then she paused.

Breathed.

And spoke again.

“He will come, the one you seek, with the death, the life, stepping through the light, walking on the bones.”

She then closed her eyes as she bent back, back, back, her bones snapping with a crack as she broke her back, the golden locks of her silken hair touching the delicate heels of her tiny feet.

The body dropped to the ground.

From the shadows, the wolves pounced.

The Seer breathed deep, heavy, thick.

I stretched out and rested my head, the Whispers drowning me as the world spun and throbbed and tilted.

Fiend …

Evil …

She waits …

Who? I asked, my eyes closing.

She comes …

The wolves dragged the broken Child away, jaws around her skull, her arm, even the delicate heel, hungry to rip and shred the succulent flesh and gnaw the tender bones.

Who? I asked again, the cool soil against my face, my forehead.

I opened my eyes, the air too hot, the rank taste of bile on my tongue, and the thick scent of age and rancid sweat and death in my nostrils.  And from the shadows the wet sound of the girl being devoured as the wolves ripped and shredded and tore in my ears while the world heaved and lurched.

The sound of wings.  Great wings.  From behind me they came, the unexpected whoosh, whoosh, whoosh coming closer.

But I was too tired.  Too tired and too sick.  Too sick and too weak and too confused, the ground buckling and spinning too much for me to keep my eyes open, to turn, to see what had wings.  Wings too large and too great.

She comes …

From the mountains? I asked with a sigh as I exhaled and ended the fight, allowing darkness to take me.

From the ash …