Of Success and Failure – Magical Words

Faith HunterFaith Hunter

Hi Y’all!

This month, next week in fact, I was supposed to have new book out. First book in a new series. Big dealio. Mucho excitement. I scheduled this date at several blogs to get the word out. I had PR ramping! Yes, as early as six months ago.

Annnnd it didn’t happen.

Why? Simply put, the book was not ready. BLOOD OF THE EARTH, the first in the Soulwood series, needed a serious—and I mean deeply serious—rewrite. It had bones. It had some good bones. But it wasn’t put together right.

I know, you are singing “The toe bone’s connected to the … ankle bone…” and you hate me right now. But bear with me.

I knew there were problems with the book but I could not see what was wrong. I was too close to it. This is why a writer, even an experienced writer, needs a […]

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Diamonds, Magic, and Mystery

Diana Pharaoh FrancisDiana Pharaoh Francis

Whenever I get sick–like the flu or something like it–I watch TV. And not just any TV; when I’m sick, I watch fairly specific kinds of shows. I look for documentaries first. Even though I normally like regular hour-long dramas and comedies and movies and HGTV, I always head for documentaries. If I can’t find anything I like there, I will go to the shopping networks. I know. The two together don’t make any sense, and I don’t go to the shopping networks at any other time. Ever.

The last time I was sick enough to do that was several years ago. In that session, I learned a number of things that have found their way into my writing. (I believe I also bought some blankets and sheets and called my husband at work about a vacuum cleaner, which I did not buy). In particular, I watched a documentary on […]

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D.B. Jackson: The Writing Life, part II — Living With Success and Failure


As I’ve mentioned before — and as Faith and others have mentioned as well — the release of a new book can be incredibly stressful. Of course there is satisfaction in seeing the finished product in print (or ebook format). Writing a book is a big deal. That completed volume represents a tremendous amount of work; it required a huge investment of time, and of emotional and intellectual energy. It represents as well, an admirable accomplishment, and there is nothing wrong with taking pride in that. The problem is, releases are fraught with additional significance. Right or wrong, the success of a new book is judged on a collection of external factors that have little or nothing to do with the work itself, and everything to do with how others receive that work.

Every writer, aspiring or established, knows what I’m talking about. How many of you have finished a […]

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Nuts & Bolts – Back Cover Copy and Why Yours Is Bad

John G. Hartness

There might be a little hyperbole in the title, but probably not much. A friend who self-publishes posted her new cover on Facebook this morning, and it was beautiful. A striking image on the front, very nice typography, it looked good in a thumbnail (which many, many major publishers are terrible about, especially in urban fantasy, BTW. Those incredible dark, moody, painted covers look like nothing but black and blue blobs when shrunk down to Amazon thumbnail sizing. That’s why the author names have to be so big, so the consumer has SOME way to figure out what the book is!), until I started reading the back cover matter.

Back cover copy is critically important for any book, but it’s only really relevant to a self-published or small press author. Most major publishers A) Do back cover copy pretty well most of the time and B) won’t give you […]

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Self-publishing and why I chose this path — Lillian Archer


Bonjour! I am Lillian Archer, and I am tres excited to be posting on Magical Words today. Merci beaucoup to the MW team, and go buy some of their books.

My book, Prodigal Spell, is a historical fantasy set in 1790s London and the Caribbean at the height of British colonial expansion. It is the story of Julia Richmond, a London society wife, who is hiding her witchcraft from her husband, her friends, and the church. She must choose between the man she loves or a heritage she detests before a demon kills her father. It is a story about severely fractured people and relationships hiding in a historical fantasy.


I began my publishing journey like many others- I procured an agent, and then waited for a contract from a publishing house. Not a single house wanted to purchase the book. Several houses expressed interest, and I offered […]

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Joshua Palmatier — Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens


This is the fourth and final post here on Magical Words related to the upcoming CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK vs. ALIENS anthology, being released by the new small press called Zombies Need Brains and edited by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier. This time we’re focusing exclusively on the anthology itself. That’s right, this is the promo post! All steampunk, all alien, all the time! *grin*


I’m happy to announce the back cover copy of the anthology, along with the table of contents. The anthology should be hitting the shelves in the next month or so, so add it to your wish list or preorder it at your favorite online bookstore! First off, the cover art and book description. We used the art “Steampunk Octopus” by Alex Broeckel for the cover (signed, limited edition prints available at the Zombies Need Brains online store), since it captured the concept of the […]

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Joshua Palmatier — Zombies Need Brains


Welcome to the first post here at Magical Words related to the upcoming anthology CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK vs ALIENS, the first release from the new small press I’ve founded called Zombies Need Brains. The intent behind this press is to produce quality SF&F-themed anthologies, hopefully a couple a year, with an escalating schedule after that. Since I’m writing these posts as the EDITOR of the first anthology, I figured I’d direct the topics more toward what the editor is looking for in terms of Character, Plot, etc. This first post is about Character, so let’s focus in on that.

What is the editor looking for when perusing submitted stories? Obviously, different editors look for different things, but I, personally, am mostly focused on character. If the story I’m reading doesn’t have an engaging character, then it’s extremely unlikely that I’m going to be interested in buying the story […]

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