Self-Publisher’s Showcase: Today we are joined by award-winning speculative fiction author Michael G. Munz.Welcome to the Showcase Lounge, Michael. Do make yourself at home.
Michael G. Munz: Thanks! (Though do you really want me to leave unfolded laundry on the chairs and writing notes scattered about the lounge?)
I’ve been interviewed by Richie Earl at his book blog, One Thousand Worlds in One Thousand Words:
What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?
Wait, what? Remaining sane? I think I have to be just a little insane to spend my free time toiling away at fictional worlds, so I think actual sanity would only be a hindrance. Besides, insanity is far more inspiring and fun!
[Read the full interview here.]
So I’m continuing to chip away at the pre-writing phase of book 3 of the New Aeneid Cycle (working title, A Dragon at the Gate). At this point, I’ve managed to lay down the skeleton of the book in the sense that I now have a rough outline of how I expect things to go. (Granted, once I actually start writing, this is likely to change, but it’s a good road map to start with.) It’s a good feeling; the difference between trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle with or without the box top to tell you what it’s going to look like, really.
Some things I’m still not sure of. There are characters who don’t really have much to do yet. One I’ve already decided to kill off for that reason. Other characters I know exactly what I want to do with, but not quite how to plug them in. I suppose one solution is going to be simply tossing them into the mix and seeing what they do. I bet at least one of them is going to mess up my whole plan… [Read more…]
It feels strange to be picking up with a series I’d more or less stopped writing years ago. I’m officially working on book 3 of the New Aeneid Cycle. There, I said it.
I hadn’t expected to be doing so, quite honestly. As you can see from the left column over there (to the left, as you can probably imagine), the series consists thus far of A Shadow in the Flames and A Memory in the Black. I first published ASITF in late 2007 in paperback, mostly just to be able to get it out of my mind so I could move on to writing other books. Yet in the time since, people would often ask, upon hearing I’d published a novel, “Can I get it on Kindle?” I’d gotten tired of telling them no, so last June saw the release of the revised version for Kindle.
It’s a different publishing world than it was in 2007. (Strange how only half a decade can bring so much change!) My experience with getting ASITF to Kindle went so smoothly that I decided to finally release A Memory in the Black. After all, it was mostly finished already. I’d simply not bothered to release it for logistical reasons which, these days, are moot. With a bit of final polishing and a cover design by Amalia Chitulescu, it came to Kindle on August 20th. To date, there have been over 2,000 downloads and the average Amazon review is 4.5 stars!
And so, with what appears to be a growing audience for the series (and some plans of mine to further widen that audience) coupled with some troubles at getting a different manuscript project past the outlining stage, I decided that, hey, I should write book #3! So far, it’s a bit of a challenge picking up where I left off. The act of getting AMITB ready for publication did help me re-acquaint myself with the characters, and I do know where I want things to end up by the end of book 3 (this is a trilogy, by the way), but I don’t yet know quite how to get there, each character’s part, or how to put it all together. I’m having to re-evaluate some long-held ideas for book 3, but I’m also finding new and more interesting options.
But it’s still in the early stages. For those of you who’ve finished book 2, however, I can tell you: I DO know what’s going to happen with the, um… Well, you’ve read it. You can probably guess to what I’m referring. The working title for book 3? Here Be Dragons.
So why do I call it book 5 in the title? After writing AMITB, I wrote two other manuscripts: a comedic contemporary fantasy titled Murdering Zeus for Fun and Prophet and a more serious contemporary fantasy titled A Memory of Dragons. (Okay, so I have a thing for memory and dragons.) I’ve not forgotten about these! But that’s all I’ll say about them in this entry…
Incidentally, watch this blog and my Twitter feed for more news about A Shadow in the Flames in a little while…
I saw this while walking down the street today:
So, like, maybe one and a half tacos? Or perhaps, I dunno, five? As my sister pointed out, at least the quotes aren’t around the word “fish.”
I’ve submitted it to the “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks.
It’s official. The revised edition of A Shadow in the Flames will be available for download for free starting Monday, June 10th. The promotion is in effect until midnight on Thursday, June 13th. After that, it will return to the regular price of $2.99.
This is my first experience with publishing on Kindle, but if things go well, I’ll soon publish the (completed) sequel to A Shadow in the Flames, A Memory in the Black.
Don’t have a Kindle? You can still read Kindle books on a computer or mobile device with their free reading app.
I leave you with a review of the original edition, from an Amazon reader review by Wanda Phillips:
“I don’t know what I expected when I started this book. I think I was leery of a first novel, but within a few pages Munz had me hooked. The story is remarkably philosophical without being pedantic or rhetorical. The blending of perspective, a sort of speaking stick between characters gave you a chance to see each event, character, and situation from several sides. It was seamless.
The character at the true focus of the novel matures and grows over the course of the story (one of my favourite things, I love adventure and so on but I lose interest in characters that are so wooden they are left unaffected by the most mind-numbing events). The maturation of the primary character, starting from his sense of confusion and hope, to one where he stands not just on his own (another fantasy, the solo superhero), but as a member of a society that shares his values, his ideals, and gives shape to his imagination.
The characters least explored are the violent ones. In truth, no amount of justification in a character study allows me to see the value of violence. Munz treats his characters with a generous heart and even those characters from whom the human heart has been eviscerated, Munz treats with a strong, delicate touch. I felt for everyone in the novel (except, of course, the true evil master mind whose presence was rare and yet pervasive).
There was pretty much a bit of everything in this book, action, adventure, intelligence, thrills, chills, and romance. No book is complete without characters that don’t develop feelings for each other. It just wouldn’t ring true.
Munz hints at events more complex than those witnessed in the novel. He does this with the deft touch of a story teller, what is needed in the scene is seeded in the scenes before. He gives you enough to be pleasing, not so much that you need a score card in the book to track what is going on. Besides, who said we had to understand mad men and their ways?
Munz ties things up with an opening. Brilliant.”
In unrelated geek-news, last night I won a tribble by knowing the rest of the phrase, “Greetings, Starfighter. You have been chosen by the Star League to defend the Frontier against…” (It was “Xur and the Ko-Dan armada.” Yes, I know. There’s something terribly wrong with me that I remember that even after having not actually seen The Last Starfighter for over a decade…)
And so, like the butterfly, I emerge from my cocoon after a long period of absence with new wings, and yadda-yadda-yadda, whatever else metaphor you wanna stick in there…
I’ve let this place lapse for quite a while, though in truth I honestly hadn’t realized just how long it had been. While I’ve certainly had things to say, my writing efforts have been focused elsewhere. But I’ll get to that in a moment.
Firstly, I’ll mention a little bit about what’s happened with the manuscript I’d been pitching when last blogged here, Murdering Zeus for Fun and Profit. I had some decent nibbles from agents and publishers (queries have resulted in requests for longer samples on numerous occasions, and one publisher requested the entire manuscript), but no good, hard bites yet. The main problem seems to be the book’s length, which is about 50K words longer than most publishers like to see from a new author. (Longer books cost more to print, and while there are plenty of books out there by established authors at 150K words or longer, publishers don’t like to spend the money printing such books if the writer doesn’t have an established base.) I haven’t given up completely–I’m still pitching it occasionally–but for now I’m focused on pitching the (shorter) book I’ve written in the meantime, which I’ll mention in a moment. I still love Murdering Zeus, though. I’m continually tempted to self-publish it and try to make it go viral in geek circles, but I can’t quite bring myself to let go of having it published in more traditional fashion just yet.
But yes, I’ve written a new book! It’s tentatively titled A Memory of Dragons, and the pitching process is (knock on wood) going well–or, at least, encouragingly. In December, an agent responded to a query letter with a request for a sample, and two weeks later asked for the full manuscript. I’m sorry to say the agent ultimately passed, but she did have a few constructive comments which I used to do a few revisions before I started pitching again. Just this past week, I had another agent ask to see my full manuscript! So I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
But hey, I should mention just what it’s about, huh? Put simply, it’s a contemporary fantasy about a man who takes a pilgrimage to Britain to honor his dead girlfriend and encounters a pickpocket who claims to possess her stolen memories. There is, of course, more to it, but that’s all I’ll say about it for now. Unlike Murdering Zeus, it’s not a comedy, though it’s not without humor. Characters in the book visit a number of places across Britain that I’ve been lucky enough to visit myself (Worm’s Head, London, Cardiff, Conwy, and others), and it was fun to revisit those places in my mind as I wrote.
Lastly, there’s also a little bit of news regarding my self-published novel, A Shadow in the Flames, but I’ll get to that in the next entry…