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July 11 is the DAY Blood & Soul will Publish

Join the growing tribe at the Official Website of Author Allen G. Bagby (signing up here on my blog won’t work. You must go to my website) and you’ll be rewarded with an awesome audiovisual delight – the book trailer to Blood & Soul. It’s a collaborative creation between me, my graphics designer and award-winning composer Patrick Rundblad. I’m ready to unleash the book on July 11, 2014. It’s the first book in the Creed of Kings Saga.  As a bonus you’ll also get a download of the epic map. There are more goodies to come. Don’t miss out.

Blood & Soul on Audio

Blood & Soul – Will it be on audio? A couple of people have asked about this. The short answer is YES! I will make it available on audio…eventually. I’m not sure of the cost yet. Since my book is 430 pages it might be cost prohibitive for a while due to the hourly rate for voice talent. The “VOICE” is extremely important. When I listen to audio books I prefer a male voice with a British accent. And I hear Blood & Soul in that accent, although I consider my book a very American novel.

 

 

Chart the Course to the End

I will never write another book…that I don’t thoroughly outline first! The yet-to-be-fully-edited book I “finished” two years ago was my first venture into epic fantasy. I did everything wrong. I started out trying to write pretty sentences on the first page and had no idea where I was going.

With Blood & Soul (the first in what will be a series of standalone books called The Creed of Kings Saga) I settled down a lot and worked on the story first by outlining, but things still got way way too complicated as my imagination chased rabbits way off the trail. I did an outline. I kind of knew where I was going but not completely. Things cannot be fuzzy when I start off. As Stephen Covey says, “Begin with the end in mind[!]” Have a vision and gather all your strengths and resources around a mission to get there–that goes for business and books.

Thus, I will never write another book…without doing an outline and knowing the ending. I nailed the ending on the 5th Revision. If I had it sooner, I might be done now! As it stands now I have a lot of false trails to sever as I approach the end of Blood & Soul.

Trim cheesy fat. Build emotional muscle.

The Big Picture

It’s cliché but it fits. It’s a forest shrouded in mist when you set out to discover the story hidden in the fog. A year later you find your forehead buried in your palms as you hack at vines of story line tangled up in your imagination. “How’s the book going?” they ask. You dread telling them the truth, that you can’t see the forest for the trees and then you cringe at the overused phrase the masters warn you about. But, then, months later, you crawl out in the daylight and look back. You’ve produced a manuscript. You followed the outline, the North Star. It’s still full of worries and wonders. But, it’s there in all its glorious embarrassing contradictions and silly dialog. You want to lock it up and never show a soul.

I read somewhere in one of my many books about writing that I should wait a month before revising. I don’t have that much time. I have a real job. Two weeks later I had walked around the forest and found the trail into the manuscript I had taken before. I was worried the frist plot point was coming too late, that the reader would get frustrated. I knew it had to come quicker. I scanned for a groove, a thread, a snag, anything to bring it closer. I found it! When I did it shifted the whole story into better balance, which felt like catching my breath.

I’ve still got a long way to go, but, because I had made it through the forest already I had the power of perspective, the big picture. I could not obtain that until I had traveled the distance. I improved the story because I knew the ending. In my limited experience and study of the art of story telling, I cannot stress this enough. Finish! Get to the end. Even if you are exhausted and your writing suffers. This is a fundamental truth in creating a story worth sharing and the biggest dragon I had to slay. Stephen R. Covey‘s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People says habit two is begin with the end in mind. Have a goal in life as well as in the book you’re writing. Find the bullseye and aim and pull the trigger.

Towering Genius

June 23, 2012 2 comments

I was listening to the Bill Bennett show driving into work one day a while back. As usual, I was enlightened in that brief 45 minute traffic jam.

A woman called in and offered a wonderful insight. When she was in college a teacher she admired told her this:
(I’m paraphrasing)

Quote:


What are the odds you’ll ever meet someone with a truly great mind, a genius of geniuses of humanity, a supernova in the sky of humanity, a bright shinning sun?


…minds like C. S. Lewis, John Adams, Shakespeare, Leonardo de Vinci, Aristotle, Dostoevsky, or King Solomon. Think of these huge towering figures, these undeniable greats of history. A mind that can play all the mentally creative notes like Itzhak Perlman plays violin. The sheer greatness of their talent makes us cry tears of joy at the beauty. And in a way induces more reverence for God’s creation: mankind. Your brothers and sister of humanity.
I wish we could hear more about these than those of infamous types, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong, or Hitler.
(She went on. Again, I’m paraphrasing.)

Quote:


The odds are very very slim you’ll ever meet such a mind in person or even know of one in this life. Just look at how incredibly rare the four leave clover is. But, you can know them. That is why the great books by the great people should be read and taught. You can get a glimpse of those lucid, agile, brilliant minds in their writing. And by some miracle you get the privilege to spoon a little of their prodigious disciplined thoughts into your mind. Nector of the gods so to speak.


I’ve read a lot of dwarfs. While there are books that come from the Hall of Famers I’ve never touched. But I stand like a dwarf  the shoulders of giants and like the giants see, I see, because they have left their words behind. Many of us don’t even know where our feet are. As I age my eyes drift over my library and ever more they are drawn to the wholesale philosophers, the lovers of wisdom, the greatest of minds. 99.99% of everything else – while amusing us for bit – is retailed for the masses. I may never be considered among the very wise, but from these minds I’ve learned it is better to be worthy of being known than to be known.

Are You Published?

April 25, 2012 5 comments

The simple answer is no. When I’m asked this question I wonder what the person knows about the art and process of storytelling. As with any type of excellence in art, overnight success is not the norm. Could I be published? I’m 100% certain. It’s easy nowadays via Vanity press or ePublishing. Nothing stands in the way. So being published is not necessarily a sign of success or quality. It’s basically like a General Admission ticket. Anyone can get in. Almost like buying a degree. There’s a universe of white noise out there now.

I began writing the saga Creed of Kings, which has sprawled into a 300,000 word epic, right before the eBook revolution started to crank up. I made a decision to never publish through Vanity press. Why? Because if I ended up self-publishing it meant—not in all cases of course—that I sucked. Sorry for the technical language.  Vanity means what it means. Gratifying myself is not my aim, which is to rock the reader’s world. Vanity costs dearly and you end up with a bunch of books in your garage. My goal is for Creed of Kings to be published traditionally, in hardcover, on the shelf at Barnes & Noble and others. on black Friday. Even though I’ve tweaked it a bit due to the eBook revolution, the spirit of the goal has not changed, but that does not matter either.

What matters most is quality. One has to spin a yarn better than the people in one’s creative writing class do. College football is planet away from high school football, and pro football is a galaxy from college. You must never rest when it comes to creating the best characters, plot points, dialogue, set up, mood, structure etc. I must see myself joining the league of David Gemmell , George R. R. Martin, Terry Goodkind , Steven Pressfield  now, not someday. What I create must stand the light of day with no prequalification. I have to write at that level of quality. I have to stretch myself, sacrifice.

I’m not new to writing. I’ve always had the bug. I had an active blog life that started in 2004 on Xanga . Before that, I was a regular contributor to a message board started by the rock band Creed—where I relearned the importance of spelling! I’ve written a oodles of terrible poems and kept angst ridden journals. Before that, I wrote a short story in college for a humanities project. The professor thought I should try to publish it. I did not think it was good enough. It was not about self-image, it was about objectivity.

People have told me all my life that I have the gift. It’s rarely flying in formation though. Life’s storms and obligations must be handled and I have discovered it takes a lot of effort for me to keep that flame lit. Furthermore, I am human and I suffer those outrageous idiocies of us artsy fartsy types, such as bored easily, moodiness, brooding, attention whore, borderline ADD, impatience, and perfectionism.

I feel strongly that my day is coming. The agonizing work has come up front. At the start it would have been arrogant to just whip out a manuscript, send it in, and wait for the book tour to begin. I never believed that. Therefore, I’ve clawed through 2 million raw words to eke out a few gold moments.

Nope, not published, yet. But, I have loved every second of this challenge. I will deliver a gift from my soul to many strangers in name but kindred in soul. If you don’t love the process, the nail biting, the blood sweating, fuggedaboutit. You’ll end up admiring your words in the vanity mirror.

WHAMMO Moments

September 18, 2011 4 comments

I suspect no one who is reading my blog thinks writing a book is easy, much less an epic heroic fantasy. I remember thinking I would write Creed of Kings in 6 months while having a full-time job! Can you believe that? I assumed it would be difficult, like running a marathon. Confident in my creativity and inspiration I fiddled around with an idea and started.  Some 300,000 words later…well, you get the idea.

If I wasn’t such a perfectionist, I’d have a pile of rejection letters. I fear failure so much that I never surrendered to the common naiveté of so many wannabe writers. Learning the art is a continuing process. I didn’t slap things together and mail it off to an agent/publisher and cross my fingers. My tombstone will say, “Here lies a writer, whose manuscript just kept getting better, and better, and better…”

I’ve had many breakthroughs. I’ve shed a lot of skin, dropped many illusions, lost and gained confidence. I’ve charged the hill more times than I care to remember. One truly has to love this to bloody ones head tirelessly against the wall. I don’t want to settle out of court. I want to win under the harsh blazing sun. I want what I write to stand in that glare and not only survive but thrive in your heart!

I have 9 followers on this blog now and many who travel in from twitter, Facebook, and various other avenues. I owe to you and all the potential readers to deliver the absolute best that I can. But, before you, there is me. It has to rock my own world. If it’s not obvious, I am a harsh critic of my own work. There are many moments that make me smile in the saga I’m writing. I imagine those moments like Christmas gifts under your tree waiting and waiting for the opening. Until I see you smiling in my dream I will keep up the mission.

I know that I have lots of good parts, but I had not made the plot points and paradigms shifts as stark as they needed to bewhen I got to the end of the Creed of Kings in May of this year. I started revising. I thought I was on the final lap, but in an epic this huge there is necessary back story. One character had an odyssey in his past. As I revised, his back story grew and got better. It was too big and weighing down the story much like the student pictured.

The story has to be told. I’m the only one who can tell it. Given the nature of today’s e-publishing revolution it is highly advantages to have multiple (well done!) books available online.  That was the WHAMMO moment.

WHAMMO moments happen in books, movies, life, and the evolution of a striving writer. I realized I had two books on the verge of completion. I unraveled the back story from the main character in Creed and brought it out as its own unique stand alone story. Now, I basically have one book done that needs revisions and I have another book nearing first draft status. Furthermore, looking at things this way, I see a potential for one or two other books (these books are in my head now) prior to the trilogy Creed of Kings, which is already highly realized.

However, I still need to finish…something! I’ve put so much on the line. Walking away from a successful sales career, and I have a lot less than I’m used to now, for about 4 years now, all so I can pursue this life long dream. But, it’s now or never. Come hell or high water I will have a first draft complete within the next 100 days of my current unnamed project. 2012 will be the year! I’m aiming to release two major works within 6 months.

 

So you wanna write a novel?

August 3, 2011 2 comments

A co-worker wants to write a book. This is the advice I gave her.

Remember the feelings and thoughts that you had when you read a good book or saw a good movie? Those are the feelings and thoughts you want to give your readers. Learning the skills to give that to readers is not a small matter. It is the most important thing you must do in the beginning that eventually achieves excellence in your presentation of the story. Keep in mind that people are going to pay for your book with their hard-earned money. Eventually, if you succeed, an agent or a publisher is going to pay you money for the product (your manuscript) and they don’t want to waste their money nor do they want to waste their time with amateur writing/storytelling. They’re busy critiquing a mountain of manuscripts already and if yours slips up in the first five pages, they chunk it. It’s a business decision. So, excellence and professionalism from you must be at the forefront of your efforts. If you are not prepared for great sacrifice and tremendous effort, then walk away now. The Karate Kid was told, “The man who can catch a fly with chopsticks can do anything.” Well, writing a good book is like catching a gnat with pool cues. It is extremely difficult and requires talent, skill, and a burning desire to shoulder through many challenges you can’t even imagine yet. And, If you are not going through tough challenges, you’re book will probably be awful not matter how great you think the story is.

Don’t even think about publishing at first. It is naïve. Thinking about publishing is like saying you are going to try out for the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and expect to be accepted by simply showing up. Put it out of your mind! Focus on the fundamentals of storytelling and writing. That’s it!

When you look at a house or a car, you can’t see all the hard work that went into it, you just see the finished product. It’s the same when you hold a book in your hand. You don’t see all the years of effort the author put into it. What you hold in your hand is concept, character, theme, and story structure (plot points, milestones etc.) Years have gone into the author finding his or her writing voice and learning how to write a scene properly using dialog and narrative. You can’t slack off in any of these areas. If you do, you will flounder and/or give up like a two-wheel drive car when you needed a four-wheel drive monster truck.

Books I highly recommend to start you off are “The First Five Pages” by Noah Lukeman and “How to Write the Breakout Novel” by Donald Maass. Google the titles if I’ve got a word or two off. If you read these books, I have more to recommend.

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