David B. Coe: Point of View, Voice, and the Choices We Make

DavidBCoeDavidBCoe

200CoeJacksonI’m sure that some of you saw the title of this post and groaned. I have written about point of view on this site quite a bit. I talk about point of view on panels and in writing workshops all the time. I have said again and again that, to my mind, point of view is the single most important narrative tool we have at our disposal, because it brings together character development AND plot AND setting. How does it do this? By coloring all that our readers experience with the emotions, thoughts, perceptions, and knowledge of our point of view characters. You’ve heard all of this before, and many of you are probably sick to death of it. Sorry. But it really is important . . .

I’m not going to give you the whole “Here’s why I care so much about point of view” thing today. I’m sure that if you do a site search using “Coe Point of View” you’ll get enough hits to keep you reading MW posts for the rest of the day. (Actually, I just did this to see, and there really are a ton of hits. It’s almost embarrassing. Almost.) You don’t need another of those. But I would like to discuss how I chose the particular point of view and voice that I use for projects I’m working on now. I believe that part of my creative process might be illustrative of some of the things I think about as I’m preparing to write a book or story.

My new series, the Case Files of Justis Fearsson (the first book, Spell Blind, will be out on January 6 and a new Justis Fearsson short story, “Long Nights Moon,” has just gone up on the Baen.com website), is written almost entirely from the point of view of my lead character, Jay Fearsson. These are detective novels, and so my purpose in choosing a single point of view character is to make my readers’ experience with my plot and setting mirror as closely as possible my narrator’s experience. Let me put that a different way. When I write big fat epic fantasies, I tend to use several point of view characters. Those books have complex, multistrand plots and they sprawl across a vast fictional landscape. Using several POV characters allows me to give my readers lots of information. I can show them the story from different perspectives, and give them a sense of the broad boundaries of the world I’ve created. At any given time, my readers will have MORE information than any single character, allowing them to keep up with all those plots and subplots.

SpellBlind250But mystery-based urban fantasies like the Justis Fearsson books, and also like the Thieftaker novels I write as D.B. Jackson (another example would be Faith’s Jane Yellowrock books), have different characteristics and thus different needs. Their plots are more streamlined and less complex. More, because they follow the path of an investigation and depend upon the interplay of clues and discovery for their suspense and tension, I don’t want my readers to have more information than my investigating protagonist. Rather, I want my readers to discover just as Jay and Ethan (Kaille, of Thieftaker fame) do. And so these books have one point of view character and his perceptions and actions are central to my readers’ experience.

While the Fearsson and Thieftaker books share this characteristic, the voices of the two series are actually quite different. The most dramatic expression of this difference is obvious from the very first page of each book: The Fearsson books are written in first person, while the Thieftaker books are written in third person. Why? First person point of view is the most intimate voice for a novel, and it works very well with such investigation-based plots. Jay’s voice is snarky and personal and, I think, quite compelling. My readers are firmly in Jay’s head. In fact, a friend of mine, also a writer, read the first book a couple of years back (in an incarnation that was pretty close to the finished product). She later told me that she found herself thinking “Does David really think these things?” only to realize, “No, he doesn’t, his character does.” It was as gratifying a comment as I’ve ever gotten on a book. I want my voice for the Fearsson books to be that personal.

When I first started the Thieftaker novels, I was tempted to write them in first person, too. But I didn’t and the reason is, with such an intimate voice, explanatory passages tend to sound a bit awkward. First person point of view is almost like a conversation, albeit a one-sided one, and those discursive paragraphs that we sometimes need in stories don’t work as well in a conversation. That’s fine in the Fearsson books because they are set in our modern world, and there isn’t a whole lot Jay has to explain. But Ethan’s stories, include a good deal of historical context that my readers need to understand. Explaining the history in first person wouldn’t have worked, and so I wrote the Thieftaker books in third person. The voice isn’t quite as intimate, and in this case that slight distance between reader and point of view character helps me, by allowing me to digress and explain when necessary.

The other major difference between the voices of the two series revolves around tone. The Thieftaker and Fearsson books are all fairly dark. Both series have flashes of humor. But as tough as Jay’s life has been, Ethan’s has been much, much harder. Jay is younger, more resilient. And he is firmly anchored in modern popular culture. So with the Fearsson books I have lots of that snark I mentioned earlier, as well as movie, sports, and music references. The books are chatty, and the vernacular will feel comfortable and familiar to my readers, because the setting and the character are products of the world we live in right now. The Thieftaker novels, of course, are historical, and so Ethan’s narrative voice is more formal, more alien in that he speaks and thinks in a 18th century vernacular. My readers have farther to travel in order to relate to him and his story. On the one hand, this makes the Thieftaker books feel more exotic. Readers have the sense that they have traveled to a different time and place, which is cool. On the other hand, the Fearsson books feel more immediate, and the boundaries between Jay’s world and ours feel much more porous. The things that happen to him could very well happen to us, which makes the threats more visceral, the characters more accessible. Neither approach is “better,” but they are different.

All of these factors go into my thinking about point of view and voice. Every project has unique demands and presents unique challenges. And for all of these, point of view provides us with a powerful tool to make the narrative voice fit the story we wish to tell.

So, what point of view choices have you made for your current work? And more importantly, why did you make those choices? What were your goals for the voice you chose?

*****

David B. Coe is the award-winning author of more than fifteen fantasy novels. His newest series, a contemporary urban fantasy called The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, debuts with the January 2015 release from Baen Books of Spell Blind. The second book, His Father’s Eyes, will be out in the summer of 2015. Writing as D.B. Jackson, he is the author of the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy from Tor Books that includes Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, A Plunder of Souls, and Dead Man’s Reach (also coming in the summer of 2015). He lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two teenaged daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.

http://www.DavidBCoe.com
http://www.davidbcoe.com/index.php/blog/
http://www.dbjackson-author.com
http://www.facebook.com/david.b.coe
http://twitter.com/DavidBCoe
https://www.amazon.com/author/davidbcoe

Things You Didn’t Know About The Wild West

Misty MasseyMisty Massey

One week in, and the Weird Wild West Kickstarter is not only 22% funded, but was named a Staff Pick on the very first day!  It’s going to be a great book – we have amazing writers lined up to craft stories for you – and if we can manage to fund for the second volume, we’ll have more stories by even more great writers!

Today I thought I’d entertain you with some interesting bits of information about the Wild West.  This might be your chance to win at Jeopardy!  Or even more likely, one of the following wacky facts might spark your ideas enough to get a story started.  Did I mention that there’ll be open submission slots in The Weird Wild West if we fund successfully?  There will be, so share the link with your friends!

 

Whiskey had a number of names during the days of the Old Wes: bottled courage, bug juice, coffin varnish, dynamite, fire water, gut warmer, joy juice, neck oil, nose paint, redeye, scamper juice, snake pizen, tarantula juice, tonsil varnish, tornado juice, wild mare’s milk.

Phantly Roy Bean, Jr., also known as Judge Roy Bean, the Law West of the Pecos, was a saloon keeper and justice of the peace in frontier Texas.  His juries, chosen from his best bar customers, were expected to buy a drink during every court recess.  In 1890, Bean received word that railroad developer Jay Gould was planning to pass through town on a special train. Bean flagged down the train with the danger signal, leading the train engineer to think the bridge was out.  While the train was stopped, Bean invited Gould and his daughter to visit the saloon as his guests. The Goulds visited for two hours, causing a brief panic on the NYSE when it was reported that Gould had been killed in a train crash

Outlaws were strangely superstitious about dying with their boots on. Many pleaded with authorities not to forward the news to their mothers that they had died with their boots on.

The term “red light district” came from the Red Light Bordello in Dodge City, Kansas. The front door of the building was paned with red glass, which produced a red glow to the outside world when lit at night. The name carried over to refer to the town’s brothel district.

The famous bandit Black Bart robbed alone and wore socks over his boots so he could not be tracked. His real name was Charles E. Boles and was known as a gentleman outlaw.  He enjoyed writing bits of poetry which he left in empty strongboxes to confuse pursuing lawmen.

On September 8, 1883, Sitting Bull, the main chief of the Lakota tribes, delivered a speech at the celebration of the driving of the last spike in the Northern Pacific railroad joining with the transcontinental system. He delivered the speech in his Sioux language, but instead of reciting the speech originally prepared by an army translator, he denounced the U.S. government, settlers, and army.  The listeners thought he was welcoming and praising them. Sitting Bull would pause for applause periodically, bow, smile, and continue insulting his audience as the translator delivered the original address.

webbanner copyhttps://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dackley-mcphail/tales-of-the-weird-wild-west?ref=category

 

 

Lisa Mantchev: On Plotting

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MANTCHEV author photo smThe eternal plotting question:

ARE YOU A PLANNER OR A PANTSER?

In case you are unfamiliar with the latter phrase, “pantsers” (which isn’t a real word, I want everyone to know) are those who write “by the seats of their pants.”

I would say that I’ve got a foot in each camp and thumbs in both pies, because I use a weird combination of scripted improvisation. Usually, I start out with a massive outline, and but at some point—usually at the 20K mark or so—the entire train derails and just keeps chugging across the fields, leaving me to run after it, yelling “hey, wait for me!”

I think there’s something to be said for deviating from the path and taking joy in the journey, though. I have come to terms with the fact that I am now and probably always will be utterly unable to produce a stellar first draft. Sure, there are sparkly bits in there with all that coal, but by and large, I don’t shine until revisions. That comes with a willingness to listen to input from my agent and editors and first readers, take a critical look at what’s working and chuck what’s not. It’s a humbling experience down in the revisions trenches, churning up quite a lot of mud and murdering darlings left and right.

Quite a lot of the time, I find that my plotting goes catawampus when I don’t know exactly what the Ticker Cover Finalcharacters want. Motivation is a tricky thing, though, especially when our own wants and needs are oftentimes fluid and prone to turning on a dime. We want what we want until we wants it no more (or until we get it and realize we never really wanted it… or we never actually get it and give up wanting it…) Unless you’re writing multivolume doorstop fantasy, though, it’s best to try and keep character motivations clear and fairly steadfast. While it might not drive the plot, those motivations will dictate a character’s reaction in any given situation.

Given that I like making lists as much as I do, I wish my method of plotting was cleaner. Neater. More precise. I wish I used Scrivener or Post-It Notes or giant spreadsheets, plotting out a novel like a general might plan a military maneuver. But when I had kids, I had to stop making lists. I had to let things happen as they would. And as it turns out, books are also babies of a sort, adorable all dressed up in white for a family picture and then they crawl under the desk and eat a clump of dog hair. I’d like to think that someday I will rein in the chaos enough to produce a first draft clean enough that it’s ready to go with some light editing and a proofreading pass. But until that day comes, I will be over here, disemboweling my Word docs and using their guts for divination projects.

 

Lisa Mantchev is a temporally-displaced Capricorn who casts her spells from an ancient tree in the Pacific Northwest. When not scribbling, she is by turns an earth elemental, English professor, actress, artist, and domestic goddess. She shares her abode with her husband, two children, and three hairy miscreant dogs.She is best known as the author of the young adult fantasy trilogy, The Théâtre Illuminata. Published by Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan,) the series includes the Andre Norton and Mythopoeic awards-nominated EYES LIKE STARS (2009), PERCHANCE TO DREAM (2010), and SO SILVER BRIGHT (2011.) Her young adult steampunk novel TICKER is now available from Skyscape/Amazon. Her picture books, STRICTLY NO ELEPHANTS and SISTER DAY!, are forthcoming from Paula Wiseman/S&S.

Stay updated with all the fun and glitter at her author website: www.lisamantchev.com

David B. Coe: Openings, Hooks, and Breaking Rules

DavidBCoeDavidBCoe

200CoeJacksonLast week I re-introduced you to my upcoming novel, Spell Blind, which is the reincarnation of a book I wrote a long time ago, and the culmination of years of writing, reinvention, and revision. I have always loved the characters, but it wasn’t until I came up with a new plot and, more importantly, a new magic system that the novel and its sequels became all that I wanted them to be.

What I love most about all the books in the Case Files of Justis Fearsson are the characters and their interactions. And I intend to write a couple of posts about them (Spell Blind comes out January 6, so I’m going to be showing up here at Magical Words throughout December and January; we have plenty of time to cover a bunch of topics) and about other elements of the story as well. But today I want to focus on the opening lines of Book 1.

To my mind, the series has two hooks, two qualities that are likely to grab my readers’ attention from the very beginning. The first is the voice for the series. Justis (Jay) Fearsson is my narrator, and he provides, I think, as compelling a voice for the books as any point of view character I’ve written. The second hook is the magic system.

So, in crafting my opening paragraphs, I wanted to introduce both the voice and magic system as dramatically and effectively as possible. And in order to do that, I had to break a couple of my own rules. For those of you who have read other posts we’ve written about opening passages, and especially for those of you who have attended or taken part in the live-action slush sessions Faith, Misty, and I have run at ConCarolinas and ConGregate, you know that there are certain things we like to see in opening paragraphs, and certain things we don’t like at all. We often suggest that openings should present conflict and action from the beginning, that something should be happening right off. And we don’t necessarily take well to being “told” stuff rather than “shown.”

And yet, I felt that the best way to open Spell Blind was to introduce the magic system right off the bat. Now I suppose there is something to be said for the idea that we don’t get to break the rules until we’ve first mastered them. I’ve been doing this for a long time; I’ve opened a lot of novels with lines that follow the advice I give to others. And with this, my sixteenth published novel, some might say I’ve earned the right to break those rules. But for the record, I did struggle with this opening just a bit, precisely because I was doing things I don’t normally sanction in the work of others.

Here is the opening:

Ask most people to point at the moon, and they’ll lift their gaze skyward, trying to locate it. Ask the same of a weremyste like me, and we don’t have to search for it. We know where it is. Always, and precisely. As it waxes full, we can feel it robbing us of our sanity and enhancing the strength of our magic. Like ocean tides, our minds and our runecraft are subject to its pull.

I was on the interstate cutting across the outskirts of Phoenix, and already I could feel the moon tugging at my thoughts, subtle and light, but as insistent as a curious child. Three hours before today’s moonrise, nearly a week before it would wax full, and its touch was as real to me as the leather steering wheel against my palms, the rush of the morning desert air on my face and neck.

I sensed the reservoir of power within me responding to its caress, like water to gravity. And I felt as well the madman lurking inside my head, coaxing the moon toward full, desperate to be free again.

I had five days.

And in the meantime, I had work to do.

SpellBlind250Let’s break that down. As I mentioned, my hooks are Jay’s voice and the magic system, and we have both here in spades. The voice is noirish, direct, no-nonsense, which is very much who Jay is as a character. There is a darkness to him, but also an honesty, a deep dedication to his work, and, dare I hope it, an eloquence that I think readers will respond to. (He can also be funny, but you don’t really see that here.)

And he is a weremyste, a conjurer whose magic and sanity are subject to the pull of the full moon. Think Jekyll and Hyde meet the Wolfman, with some old-fashioned spellmaking thrown in and you’ve pretty much got it. Jay speaks of his power, of the influence of the moon, of the madman lurking within him, waiting to awaken again. There is a lot more to the magic, and readers are introduced to these other magical rules and abilities as the story progresses, but these are the basics and they’re all right here in the opening two hundred words.

But the opening also establishes some other things. We know where and when this takes place: we’re in modern-day Phoenix. We also see immediately one of the main motifs of the book and series: water and heat. Water imagery recurs throughout the book; it is an indicator of magic and healing, as opposed to heat and fire, which tend to be destructive forces. It’s been a fun theme with which to play, and as I say, you can see it here right from the start.

And finally, while I break a rule here, by opening with what is essentially background information, I also “explain” that choice at the end of the excerpt. I do so by introducing a key narrative element — the “ticking clock” of the coming full moon: “I had five days.” That ticking clock will drive the action of the entire novel. And then I assure my readers that the stuff they’re expecting in an opening — the action, the conflict, etc. — is coming right up. “And in the meantime, I had work to do.”

It is an unconventional way to open a novel, but in this case I believe it works for the reasons I’ve already mentioned. It brings in my hooks right away. It sets out a crucial component of my conflict: Jay’s looming descent into insanity. It initiates a key device in my plotting and pacing: that ticking clock. And — forgive me for saying so — it represents some of the best prose I’ve written. (Next summer, as I prepare for the release of the second Jay Fearsson book, His Father’s Eyes, I’ll do another post on opening passages. The opening of that book is REALLY unconventional, and the best writing I’ve ever done.)

But for now, let’s talk about openings. Do you have an opening of which you’re particularly proud? Want to share a few lines of it here? Are you having issues with an opening that you want to discuss?

*****

David B. Coe is the award-winning author of more than fifteen fantasy novels. His newest series, a contemporary urban fantasy called The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, debuts with the January 2015 release from Baen Books of Spell Blind. The second book, His Father’s Eyes, will be out in the summer of 2015. Writing as D.B. Jackson, he is the author of the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy from Tor Books that includes Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, A Plunder of Souls, and Dead Man’s Reach (also coming in the summer of 2015). He lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two teenaged daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.

http://www.DavidBCoe.com
http://www.davidbcoe.com/index.php/blog/
http://www.dbjackson-author.com
http://www.facebook.com/david.b.coe
http://twitter.com/DavidBCoe
https://www.amazon.com/author/davidbcoe

The Weird Wild West

Misty MasseyMisty Massey

Back in the summer, while standing in the hallway after a raucous session of Live Action Slush (it’s a panel we do – loads of fun and definitely something you should check out if you come to ConCarolinas next year) Emily Leverett, Margaret McGraw and I were talking about weird westerns.  Ideas were flying fast and furious, and all of a sudden, before we really had a chance to think about it, the three of us were agreeing to edit an anthology of western fantasy stories.  Over the next few months, we approached publishers and writers until we found one we were happy with – Danielle Ackley-McPhail, of eSpec Books.  The quickest way to get the ball rolling seemed to be trying a Kickstarter to fund the project, so we had photos made, arranged pledge rewards and stretch goals from our committed authors, created a video and built the site.   And now we’re on the threshold of launching the Kickstarter.  It goes live tomorrow.

And I’m trapped somewhere between excited and terrified.

The book depends on our fans and readers being as excited as we are.  We’ve got some amazing authors lined up to write stories.  We’re offering readers the chance to have characters named for them (and John Hartness intends to kill one of you off in his pages, so that’s fun!)  One of our stretch goals is a chance to add some slush spots in the book, meaning one of you wonderful Magical Words readers might be joining all of us in the pages of the book.  Besides, who doesn’t love a little weirdness with their cowboys and stagecoaches?  But the book only comes to life if we manage to achieve our funding goals.  Want to know what you can do to help this project come to life?

– Choose a pledge level and pledge to the project.
– Click on the “Notify me on launch” button.  This tells Kickstarter that people are interested in the project, and might result in us getting a higher KS ranking.- Share the link with people who might also want to throw money at it.

If you have any questions about the anthology, feel free to ask me in the comments. And keep checking back here for updates on The Weird Wild West!

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Lisa Mantchev: On Character

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MANTCHEV author photo smMy background is in theater, so when I start a new writing project, it’s like casting a play. I settle down in an auditorium chair, clipboard in hand. Characters turn up for the audition, read a few lines, and get assigned roles and relationships. Divas and ingénues and leading men and stagehands and technicians mill around my mental space which, at the beginning, looks like that empty stage with a ladder and a bare light bulb on a stand.

The tricky bit is the fact that I don’t have a script for them. Not just yet anyway. So I follow them to the Green Room, eavesdropping on their conversations and thoughts. Of course all of them want to be the star. They all want their name in lights. They want… oh, they want. And they must want whatever it so much that they might just push the leading lady down the proverbial staircase for the chance to go on. And yes, this is the theater version of “everyone is the hero of their own story,” because sooner or later, one of them is going to stamp their foot and ask, “What’s my motivation?!”

… and I better darn well have a solid answer, because no good character should do something “because I said so.”

But back to the group now sitting in the dressing room, putting on lip rouge and fitting wigs and getting in costume. I will admit that I prefer writing for the teen version of myself. I always had my nose in a book, so the characters I cast are my Alice, my Peter Pan, my Goblin King. They are Ticker Cover Finaldressed within an inch of their lives (usually in something I would also want to wear) and they most certainly know how to have fun. That’s not to say they don’t have their serious moments or their hardships, but… at the end of the day… I want to write characters who know how to draw tears and laughter from the audience. I want them to romp and play and coax the audience from their seat, transforming spectators into participants. As in theater improvisation, interaction will always be encouraged. A setting might appeal, but none of us would have found our way to Neverland or Wonderland or Narnia if our guides hadn’t led us there

 

Lisa Mantchev is a temporally-displaced Capricorn who casts her spells from an ancient tree in the Pacific Northwest. When not scribbling, she is by turns an earth elemental, English professor, actress, artist, and domestic goddess. She shares her abode with her husband, two children, and three hairy miscreant dogs.

She is best known as the author of the young adult fantasy trilogy, The Théâtre Illuminata. Published by Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan,) the series includes the Andre Norton and Mythopoeic awards-nominated EYES LIKE STARS (2009), PERCHANCE TO DREAM (2010), and SO SILVER BRIGHT (2011.) Her young adult steampunk novel TICKER is now available from Skyscape/Amazon. Her picture books, STRICTLY NO ELEPHANTS and SISTER DAY!, are forthcoming from Paula Wiseman/S&S.

Stay updated with all the fun and glitter at her author website: www.lisamantchev.com

David B. Coe: My New Old Book

DavidBCoeDavidBCoe

200CoeJacksonHello again, Magical Words! Great to be back here as I begin the publicity ramp-up to another book release.

The new book is called Spell Blind, and it’s the first book in a new contemporary urban fantasy series, the Case Files of Justis Fearsson, that I’m writing for Baen Books. The hardcover of Spell Blind drops on January 6, 2015. The second book in the series, His Father’s Eyes, will be out this summer.

This is actually a series that I’ve discussed here on MW in the past. The first book, in a substantially different form, sold initially to Meisha Merlin back in 2005. Not long after, Meisha Merlin went out of business, and I was fortunate enough to get back the rights to the books before they became entangled in the company’s Chapter Eleven negotiations. But when Lucienne and I put the books back on the market we couldn’t find a buyer for them.

Eventually, I realized that the books weren’t selling again because, quite frankly, they weren’t good enough. They really shouldn’t have sold in the first place, and perhaps it’s indicative of the problems Meisha Merlin was having that they offered me a contract on the series in its initial form.

In 2007, I had Lucienne (my wonderful agent, Lucienne Diver) pull the books back and I began the process of not just rewriting the first book, but of re-imagining the entire project. I tore that first book apart and rebuilt it, and when that didn’t yield the results I wanted, I tore it apart a second time, and then a third. In time, over the course of about six years, I changed just about everything except the core cast of characters. It was kind of like tearing down a car, rebuilding the engine, and then replacing everything else: the tires and wheels, the transmission and brakes, the exhaust system and electronics, the interior and exterior. It’s a brand new project — new plot, new magic system, new structure, several new characters, new dynamics among the old characters — but at its core it retains the elements that drove the original idea.

SpellBlind250Was it worth all the work? Absolutely, because I love the characters, and have since they first presented themselves to me all those years ago. I have believed in them all along, and that belief sustained me through a lot of rejections and months upon months of rewrites. More than that, the process of creating and recreating the book, it seems to me, has been the embodiment of what it means to be a writer. Many of you have heard my rant on writer’s block: (Summarizing) The very notion of writer’s block assumes that writing is supposed to be easy, that the words are always supposed to flow in an uninterrupted stream of inspiration. We all know that’s bunk. Writing is hard. It’s filled with starts and stops, with dead ends and backtracking, and with times when we just have to stare at an empty screen and think our way past a narrative issue or three. What some people call writer’s block, I call writing.

Spell Blind was a struggle. It didn’t come out right the first time (when it even had a different title) or the second or third. But I kept at it. I trusted in the creative vision that first brought the characters to me, and I worked and worked until my skill as a storyteller finally caught up with my ambitions for the story and its narrative elements.

And in many ways, that might be the most rewarding aspect of finally seeing the book in print. I understand now that I have grown into this book. I couldn’t have written this incarnation of the book in 2005. I didn’t have the chops. I had the vision. I had the wherewithal to create the characters and to write a few passages that have survived all the revisions to appear in the book much as I wrote them nine years ago. But I was incapable of creating this finished product back then. More, part of what contributed to my growth as a writer, part of what made it possible for me to write now what I couldn’t then, was that process of tearing the book apart and putting it back together, of blending new concepts with old elements.

All this by way of saying that as painful as it was to have my publisher go out of business, as bruised and battered as I was by all the rejections we received for older incarnations of the book, as much as I despaired at times thinking that I would never see the series published, the long saga of this series is one of the best things that has happened to me. I’m a better writer because of it.

Last week, the first review of Spell Blind was printed in Publisher’s Weekly. “Coe brings deep knowledge of both fantasy and mystery to his well-structured first urban fantasy novel . . . he tells an entertaining story with a good mystery at its core.” That’s a very nice review; perhaps not the best I’ve ever gotten, but really good. And I have to tell you that no review I’ve gotten has ever been more gratifying.

All of us have books or stories we’ve written that haven’t sold or have stalled before the end or that just didn’t come out the way we had hoped. Some of those stories might not be salvageable. But some of them are. Some of them are simply waiting for us to become the writers we have to be to write them successfully. For all of you who are working, as I still am, to match your writing skill to your creative ambitions, Spell Blind is for you.

*****

David B. Coe is the award-winning author of more than fifteen fantasy novels. His newest series, a contemporary urban fantasy called The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, debuts with the January 2015 release from Baen Books of Spell Blind. The second book, His Father’s Eyes, will be out in the summer of 2015. Writing as D.B. Jackson, he is the author of the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy from Tor Books that includes Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, A Plunder of Souls, and Dead Man’s Reach (also coming in the summer of 2015). He lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two teenaged daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.

http://www.DavidBCoe.com
http://www.davidbcoe.com/index.php/blog/
http://www.dbjackson-author.com
http://www.facebook.com/david.b.coe
http://twitter.com/DavidBCoe
https://www.amazon.com/author/davidbcoe