The project is under the working title of The Mirrored City. I'm 50,938 words into the first draft with a target to be done by June. Here's a taste of the prologue...

 

Isik

 

The necromancer Isik followed behind the Patrean guard. The streets and narrow alleys of Dessim were still a mystery to him. The walls were riddled with tiny alcoves, shrines to any of the thousands of gods the people of the city worshipped as part of the Host. There was actually a god of tax evasion who was currently quite popular.

 

“What is your name?” Isik had a thick Volkovian accent.

 

“Fox,” The Patrean soldier replied. They all looked alike so it was impossible to tell if he should have known the guard or not. Fox was not a familiar name.

 

Isik nodded. “In Volkov, it was easy, the Patreans wear their names on their uniforms so we can tell them apart.”

 

“It’s not often people here even bother to ask,” Fox commented.

 

“Then what do they call you?” Isik inquired.

 

Fox shrugged, “Well… ‘Hey you’ and ‘excuse me’ are pretty common. But it gets more colorful when I make arrests.”

 

Isik sighed. “It is a shame. I think that if everyone looked alike the world would have far less problems.”

 

“If the world had less violence, I’d be out of a contract,” Fox quipped.

 

“And if fewer people were murdered I may have to take up a craft,” Isik admitted. “Still I think it’s a better world where you do not constantly have to interrupt the coroner’s dinner to drag him to the scene of a murder, yes? Perhaps we could make paintings.”

 

Here's my dream casting for The Queen of Lies. If this ever got optioned as a movie the budget would be explosive... and I'd much prefer a TV series anyway... which would probably cost even more over several seasons.

Still, as a writer I take a lot of my inspiration from popular entertainment and build physical descriptions around characters. I don't generally give a lot of details about my characters' appearance (I think people imagine them better than I describe them)  so this Pinterest board is more of a fun exercise than any official cannon. Some of these actors were inspiration, others I had to think about who I would like to cast. This represents one way I see the characters in my mind, more or less, but you're free to imagine them differently.

Follow Mike's board Casting for The Queen of Lies on Pinterest.

Picture 26You've been asking for it for weeks.... well it's finally here. The Queen of Lies is available in trade paperback!

That's right... you can buy a hard copy today and she looks beautiful. At 318 pages and 7 x 10 inch trim, this is a good, long read that won't leave you squinting. The drop caps, fleurons and Baskerville font are a sheer delight for the eye, especially for those who hate e-readers.

The CreatSpace store is taking orders this very moment. Amazon will have it in the next business day or so.

What about signed copies?

If you buy one and you live in Atlanta you can hit me up in person. I will also have signing events here.

If you don't then.... You can head over to My Signed Copy store. Delivery might take longer depending on availability (i.e. if I have to have new books printed and the time it takes to haul my ass to the post office etc.)  It also costs more since I have to ship it to myself, then ship it out but all that cost is included in the $20 tag... for now. 😉

If you're like me... you're a digital reader and probably don't think about print that much. The bottom line is that the only dimensions that matter in terms of pricing is the thickness. A book can be too big because it's conversely too small in terms of measurement. Don't go with the smallest size.

Createspace doesn't exactly tell you everything when you're choosing the physical dimensions of your book. It's a bit counter intuitive.

This is a good online tool for estimating page count: http://wordstopages.com/

Also.... follow me on Youtube. Because I may do more of these posts.

"An alcoholic wizard, a priest turned assassin, a lovable soul-stealing sword; and a rebellious daughter with the power to control the elements. Survival depends on their ability to work together— it's the only way to win out against the manipulative scheming of the Queen of Lies."

551ebc425d6baIt's finally here!!! The Queen of Lies is available now on Kindle... and Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read it for free.  Click the image to buy the Kindle version in my Amazon store (and hell buy whatever else you want while you're there)

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The print version will be available in May. I need to work out some logistics on signed copies but it will likely be a pre-order process with a limited number. Barnes and Noble and iBooks versions are coming in June.

When I left Indiana in 1998 I did not look back. It's an easy state to forget about, honestly. From the perspective of the national narrative we're not a swing state, there are no major cities and the last major political embarrassment was Dan Quayle. It's the South Dakota of the great lakes region.

When Indiana enacted RFRA my reaction was not shock or outrage. Georgia, my current home and equally red state, was considering something similar. It's something you learn to accept in a red state, like when Georgia amended its constitution to legally refuse to recognize gay marriage sometime in 2005. You can get angry, and you should voice your opinion, however the general feeling is that these ideologically driven laws eventually make their way to the supreme court and are thrown out by Justice Kennedy and the liberal judges. The south is ten years behind the rest of America. Barring anything game changing that sways public opinion against gays, the future of the gay rights movement is relatively secure even if it doesn't move at the same pace in all parts of the country.

What blows my mind is that people are talking about Indiana. I have family there and until these last few weeks I had no idea who the governor was. I'm sure national attention is a new experience for many Hoosiers. In all fairness no one likely imagined the national outrage over this kind of legislation. Indiana was just unlucky in that they were the first to pass it. But it's been amazing to see corporations from Salesforce to Apple to step up for social activism.

There has been a real and sudden shift in the conversation around gay rights which is great. I'm a cynical person and this sort of thing gives me hope.

That said, gay rights has become an easy cause to support. Businesses have discovered that they profit more from taking PR-friendly progressive stances than they lose by angering evangelical conservatives. While wage discrimination persists against trans and gay people of color, as of data from 2013 the average household income of gays and lesbians has actually risen slightly  against that of different sex couples (*I don't 100% buy this but there is the perception). Pair that with the discretionary income from not having children and it's a no brainer. Supporting gay rights earns the fierce loyalty of gay professionals, who up until recently felt marginalized, while projecting socially progressive attitudes.

It is much harder to translate that synergy of feel good progressiveness and bottom line finance to more difficult issues of social inequality, where the people hurt by public policy do not carry the perception of affluence. Or perhaps have been categorically denied the opportunity to succeed in life because of race or gender identity.

My prediction is Indiana will water down RFRA, even though the law was symbolic legislation that would never have held up to legal challenge. Meanwhile 'Stand your ground' laws in Florida are still on the books, even in the wake of their scandal. (Indiana also has a 'stand your ground' law btw... and you can't buy alcohol on Sunday.)

We should most certainly celebrate each victory for the equal recognition of everyone under the law. But, we shouldn't forget that America has fatal inconsistencies with how we treat some of our citizens. My hope is that legislatures could come to these realizations without the Supreme Court or strongly worded letters from the one percent. A more realistic hope is that corporations feel good enough about the positive vibes from the recently low-risk support of gay rights to start branching out into more dangerous territory.

Just testing my Amazon store links. Though if you are looking for easy to clean professional quality kitchenware then Calphalon is the shit. It takes like zero seconds to clean . I don't care what celebrity chefs trash talk nonstick pans. Life is too short to wash dishes. You can rub this shit down in a few seconds and be good to go.

 

Feedback so far has been great on the Queen of Lies. Mad props to my beta reader and editor. Now I am going with a paid editing service so my editor has every incentive to be encouraging however some of the feedback went well and above what needed to be said to

When I got my editorial letter from createspace I was too afraid to open it. I'd just completed an eight hour examination for MicroStrategy certification and my nerves were fried. I called my friend to come over, expecting the worst and what happened next... absolutely blew me away.

As I've discussed before, it's very hard to know if the product of your labor is good or not and if it will connect with readers the same way it does with you. Reading this made my day:

"The Queen of Lies is a fantastically written fantasy novel with an intriguing and original cast of characters; a complex, multilayered plot; and a great deal of wry, witty humor. I can’t tell you how many times I howled with gleeful laughter while reading and editing this book."

"I want to add that for many years I was an editor at a gay and lesbian publishing house and that I consider your book to be among the best commercial gay novels I’ve worked on in my seventeen years of editing books."

"I also would like to add that it’s rare to come across writers who have such tremendous skill for storytelling, action, suspense, and character development. You didn’t just write a novel—you’re a high-caliber novelist."

Incidentally I passed the Microstrategy exam and am putting the final touches on my work. Part of the difficulty is remembering that nothing will ever be perfect, but that I told a good story.

It is one thing to spend a year laboring in secret over a manuscript. I've very diligently followed the advice of Dean Wesley Smith and not talked much about my work in progress, especially with other writers. I think that's sound advice for my process, since it tends to be a very internal experience. At times I've really wanted to share my story and I've made coy allusions to it in conversation: It's fantasy. It follows the separate stories of three characters that intersect. I share my word count when people ask how it's going.

The benefit of this is that I reveal nothing of my project to the outside world and I limit my exposure to unhelpful or speculative advice from well-meaning but under-qualified sources. ("You should write a book about...")

The dynamic changes when the manuscript is finished. Suddenly the lonely process of writing becomes an event. People are congratulating me on finishing, asking when they can read it.  People want to know what it's about and I find myself wishing I'd given myself more practice summarizing the material. "It's um... a fantasy book about three people that do a lot of stuff?"

People are clamoring for a look at the first draft. (I tell people reading a first draft is like finding out how hot dogs are made. You never want to eat one again.)

So my book is currently being looked at by my b-readers and will shortly go through line editing with my publisher. I am absolutely terrified. I have been on the reading end of a terrible debut novel and it is awkward. I do not envy the friends who've volunteered to b-read.

As the author I love my ideas, my characters, and the world I created. I know what good writing is, and I know what bad writing is-- it's derivative, the characters are flat, the premise is acrobatically contrived, and the prose has the cadence of tennis shoes in a washing machine. I am however, never sure where my writing measures up. I probably take my strengths for granted, and exaggerate my weaknesses. But I may also exaggerate my strengths while ignoring my weaknesses. It is nearly impossible to tell with something you work that closely with, especially if you're debuting. I've heard some writers put their manuscripts in a drawer before revisiting them. I also know this is a common feeling even among successful writers (in fact it might be more common for them than the bad ones).

I fear both honest and dishonest feedback. No one wants to say your baby is ugly even when it is. Even when it's clear that the child is so hideous and unholy that you should abandon any hopes of ever procreating. And some people are just not cut out to be parents. A lot of people write for the wrong reasons-- I certainly know that I did when I was a dewey eyed college freshman intent on commercial success, because it seemed like getting rich writing books was more fun than having a 9-5. It shows in the work who wants to write vs. who wants to be a writer. (Plus this shit's just hard and it takes a lot of talent and practice to do it well.)

That didn't happen this time, thank god. I did not try to please anybody with this work, aside from maybe the people I asked to b-read. Self publishing is a godsend in that arena. Whereas I would have struggled with making two out of four main characters gay back in 1994, I didn't give it a second thought in 2014.

I make good money, better than I likely ever will from writing... so it was a labor of love. I never needed it to be a success. I wrote mostly for myself, with the initial intention of publishing my book for free. I just wanted to share a story with people.

Until I finished. They say becoming a parent changes you. So does finishing a book.

I am going to take my feedback like a man, but I am not giving up this baby. I will make sure it's ready for market and it will be awesome.