As I said during SK Anthony's cover reveal, this month is about promoting other writers. Today I’d like to introduce to you someone I met from LinkedIn.
As you know, the writing community can be filled with supportive people who want nothing less than all committed writers to succeed. I really learned this when Graeme Brown volunteered to help me develop – and I mean it needed a lot of work – my pitch for Anticipation of the Penitent. And now he's my critique partner.
Here is published writer, editor, artist, classical pianist, and budding mathematician, Graeme Brown:
Graeme Brown is an epic fantasy writer with two complete novel-length manuscripts. In July 2012, he sold The Pact, his first novella, to Champagne Books (released May 2013). He is currently working on its sequel (A Thousand Roads). In March 2013, he was promoted from line editor to junior editor, training to become a full editor for Champagne Books. He is an artist in various mediums, including vector graphics, painting, and music (classical piano). He also loves math, and plans on doing graduate research in the field of number theory and geometry.
Graeme's very insightful Author Interview:
What are your goals with writing, to publish novels, in journals or magazines, etc.?
I’d like to publish novels. I have many of them planned out and, based on that plan, expect to be writing one every one to three years for the rest of my life.
Part of that plan also includes taking November off to write a short book for NaNoWriMo each year (under a pseudonym, with genre and topic to be determined by whatever whim takes me at midnight on October 31st)
Are you currently published at all? What?
I have just published my first title, a short story called The Pact, through Burst Books (division of Champagne Books). Prior to this, I published a book of poetry, called Becoming, with a vanity press (no longer in print).
What is the most difficult thing for you with regard to writing?
Believing in what I am doing. I must often wade through doubts and despairs, thoughts like, “This is a waste of time. I can be doing something better with my life.” It’s a bit like the protest one might sometimes face before jumping on the treadmill and going for a run. Once I get going, with creativity rushing through me, I wonder how I could have forgotten, but then it’s time to pack up for the day and that means having to fight again to get started.
The good thing about writing a novel is it all adds up. I come back time and time and time again. Each time I look at my manuscript I feel like it’s a failure, but I don’t let that stop me. I jump in, get moving in the prose again – the same way I get on the running machine because I know it’s good for me.
I find that having beta readers helps, because they are the ones who convince me my writing is worth keeping. If not for one of my beta readers, The Pact would have gone in a drawer, and if not for some of the beta readers for my current WIP, I just might have convinced myself that I’d bit into a lemon.
What is the easiest?
Getting creative. I find once I sit down and write, with all my papers and careful notes to keep track of what I do, I’m like a kid with paints. I might outline that my protagonist is going to meet a widowed innkeeper in a village called Fishsprings, but once I get there and start writing, there’s a three-legged stool in front of the fireplace, a gold-bound Book of Prayer on the mantle, and a tough named Ande with large forearms who sits in a chair and reads romance books while he waits for the next drunk to pummel. I just let go with the creativity and it flows out – most of it stays, but sometimes I take it away because it doesn’t fit. There’s so much of it that when I sit down to write I just have to be patient and sit at the computer long enough to grow my manuscript a little more each day.
What would your dream life as a writer look like?
Oh, I’ve thought long and hard about this one. I’m still not finished thinking about it, though. See, my love for writing is shared with a love for mathematics. So, if I had the finances to write full time, I would no doubt continue to research. However, I would not be obligated to teach classes or tutor or meet certain deadlines in order to make a living. I would likely continue to research in collaboration and take part time courses to continue lateralizing.
In such a position, I would be able to set writing goals as my benchmark for the day. At present, I only write once – usually about 400-1000 words, sometimes more. I would want to quadruple that. I might write three times a day, or continue to write once but for longer; there’s that whole thing about getting started I mentioned above. I’d experiment, and probably change it up a lot.
Maybe I might move to Chile for a few months and stay in a guest room in the observatory there and work from midnight til 7am, just like the astronomers. Who knows? Wherever I go, whatever I do, I have a very large writing plan to develop, so if anything, my dream writing lifestyle would be one where I can put the writing first and be able to live with the spontaneity that allows the writing to be better.
I’m not one of those writers who thinks about the money and the wealth, unless that money and wealth means I can put that much more into going as deep as I can go into my writing.
Do you feel you’re on track as to where you want to be as a writer?
I would say so. As much as I often wish I could write more, I remind myself that I am a full time student working several on the side jobs to make a living, including editing, and so the fact that I take time, every day, to write a little, and that I am making progress – that counts for a lot. It gives me confidence. If I can accomplish this while juggling four other balls, how much could I accomplish if those other four balls became different aspects of this same writing project?
Where are you now in relation to your plans?
I’m right on track. I intended to be finished with A Thousand Roads, my current novel, by January, but my failure to meet that plan is more a reflection of misjudging than procrastination (I thought, when I started, that it was going to be a novella).
There’s one important thing I’ve learned with writing, and that’s this: though it is good to plan and set goals, you need a trump card. What is that? First and foremost: quality comes first. If you’re one of those writers who has to meet deadlines and you find yourself rushing off crap just so you can meet them, then, in my opinion, you’ve missed the whole point.
Be a rebel. Let your publisher fire you (or threaten to). Get a few readers angry. In the big picture, you will have happier readers in the long term, and greater satisfaction, if you put quality first. In fact, if you do this, your publisher might promote you when your book sells ten times as much.
One caveat: just make sure “putting quality first” doesn’t involve playing computer games during fits of writer’s block…
What options do you have?
When I am done with A Thousand Roads, before turning to the next book (White Star Fallen), I plan to write something quirky and fun for NaNoWriMo. I think this will be a good contrast to the long, epic arc I will be invested in for the next several decades.
What’s your WIP about? And is it typical of what you usually write?
My WIP is an adult novel about a young man caught up in a sorcerer’s intrigues. It follows one of the characters from The Pact, Jak Fuller, three years after the fall of Fort Lesterall, and is full of all the things typical of epic fantasy: adventure, haunted castles, Dwarf Men that hide in the shadows, quaint villages and nighttime pints by a cozy hearth. But it’s also got its share of darkness, violence, sex and raw inner monologue that takes you right into the heart of a young man wrestling with his identity in a world that seems to forge it for him. It’s rich and complex, and it turning out to be the hardest thing I’ve ever written.
Do you find your WIP to be taking as long as you thought? If it’s taking longer, why do you think that is?
As discussed above, I thought A Thousand Roads was going to be a novella. I’d estimated 50,000 words. Now, that estimate is 130,000 words, and I expect that might be a bit short. No, I don’t keep adding things in. In fact, A Thousand Roads was carefully outlined, and, up to the scene I am on (17 of 26), I have deviated little from that outline.
What I failed to recognize was the complexity of the tale. When I outlined it, what I thought of as little scenes that would knit together into chapters ended up having all sorts of things buried in them. It’s the forest for the trees analogy coming to head. At least, in planning out the story, I made sure I wouldn’t get lost in the woods – I know where I’m going – but I could never anticipate all the little foot traps, goblin-filled glades and enchanted trees that would await me.
Do you have critique partners or beta readers?
I have several beta readers. And I’m happy to say I will have one critique partner – none other than the other author who is kindly hosting this interview for me (thanks, Nancy!).
Have you considered marketing strategies? If so what?
My style is similar to George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, so when I look for places to advertise my writing, it is usually places where I expect to find readers of the series. However, I also look in the epic fantasy fan bases. Marketing is slow and steady, and I admit I’m learning as I go. One thing I’d love to do, should I earn enough money, is hire a marketing publicist to help me expand my campaign to reach more readers.
What advice can you give people who are where you’re at or have not gotten as far in their writing?
Keep writing, keep building. If you’ve published something but have realized the (hard) reality that, no matter how esteemed your publisher is, selling isn’t easy, don’t give up. If you focus on having breakout writing with everything you put forward, then trust your book and trust the process of word-of-mouth.
A big thing, though: don’t reinvent any wheels. Hire a web designer to do a nice website for you. If you can afford it, hire a publicist or a marketing consultant or an assistant. As an author, it’s your responsibility to promote yourself, but as an author your number one promotional tool is good writing, and if all your energy is gone because you can’t keep that part up, then the whole ship will sink.
Keep the balance. That is key.
Please tell me whatever else you’d like about yourself.
Well, I’ve said quite a lot! Thanks so much, Nancy, for having me here. It’s been a pleasure to take this time to reflect on writing.
Enter the world of Will Lesterall, a boy who's grown up in the safety of his father's castle. Tales of the outside world ruled by warring kings and creatures of nightmare have never seemed a threat, yet on the night celebrating the two hundredth year of the sacred Pact that has kept Fort Lesterall safe, a secret intrigue ripens, and in the course of a few hours Will is confronted with a choice greater than he can comprehend. Join an unlikely hero as destiny pulls him into the middle of an ancient conflict between fallen gods and ambitious women, one that demands blood, both holy and wicked, and the power of an ancient fire bound in steel. As swords clash below a watching wood, hope and betrayal war as fiercely as fear and valour. Whether he lives or dies, Will Lesterall will never be the same.
Other formats: Burst Books