Song of Falling Leaves Published

I’m happy to announce the publication of a New Young Adult fantasy, Song of Falling Leaves (Book 1 of the Wanderer Series). It is available on Kindle and in paperback (publication date September 27, 2014). You can read a sample chapter by clicking here.

Note: The Kindle edition is free to read if you have Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited. It is also free if you buy the paperback edition. Otherwise, I’m holding the Kindle price to $0.99 until October 31, 2014.

The earliest scene for this book first came to me in April 2008. Here’s the storyline:

When a pair of falcons, sent from thousand miles away by a Shoshone medicine man, come calling for fourteen-year-old Andi McCall, her world is suddenly turned upside down. A death threat sends her to her grandfather’s ranch in northern Nevada. There she meets her match, an unbreakable stallion named King’s Jubilation. Together with Jubi she discovers that she is more gifted than she ever dreamed, with a secret past beyond her imagination.

I deeply appreciate the young readers who reviewed early versions of the manuscript. Their enthusiasm encouraged for me to finish the book. Thank you Kaela Stevens, Victoria Rimington, Callan Franklin, Savannah Clyde, and Kate Baron. I am also very grateful for several others who gave me invaluable feedback and advice as I developed the story, including Mary Stevens, Dawn Norton, Heather Bullough, Celesta Rimington, and Linda Clyde. Thanks are also owed to my darling wife Cristi, and our children and their spouses: Melissa and Joey, Amy and Caleb, and Aubrey. Thank you for your love and support during a project that took a lot longer than I every thought it would.

The New Young Adult genre is targeted for ages 10–14, but older readers will enjoy it as well. Published by Overdue Books. Questions? Contact me here. Thank you for your support.

Three Reasons Why I’m Going Indie

I have been working on a novel for several years and, in the process, I’ve learned a lot about writing and myself. Strange, isn’t it? The more you pay attention to a story, the more it pays attention to you and shows up for you.

That kind of learning has a lot to do with hanging in and hanging on. For any big undertaking, you have to believe in yourself, believe in the outcome, and persevere.

I really like something the novelist James Lee Burke once said:

I’ve never seen anyone who has—once he’s determined to become a writer—not achieved his goal. I’ve never seen anyone fail who’s actually persevered and never given up.

What he’s telling me, I think, is that if I persevere, I won’t ultimately fail, and if I don’t give up, I’ll eventually succeed.

I’ll publish my novel independently next month, as I have several other books. I know I’m taking a risk, but it’s calculated. By going indie I’ll miss out on 1-2-3—

  1. A publisher’s marketing reach
  2. Their high production values
  3. Prestige and royalties

Ten of my books, nearly half, have been published by traditional publishers. John Wiley & Sons published my first two, and O’Reilly the rest. I’ve been with O’Reilly since 2002 and have had a very positive experience with them, largely due to my bright, patient, and kind editor, Simon St.Laurent.

But alas, O’Reilly doesn’t publish pre-apocalyptic, YA fantasies set in the contemporary West, nor fiction of any kind.

So how will I deal with 1-2-3?

  1. I’ll have to rely on the reach of folks in my social media circles—3,016 as of today—to share my story. Emphasis on share. I won’t get overtly salesy there. I’ll just share it and ask others to do so.
  2. I had the cover designed by a professional, as well as the book interior. I’ve also hired an editor to review the book one last time. These kinds of investments are the kinds of investments a traditional publisher makes in a book anyway so why shouldn’t I? You can’t judge a book by its cover but you can sell one by it. And if I discover an error or flaw along the way, I can correct the trouble quickly and upload my changes.
  3. I’ll have to depend on acceptance by readers for any prestige. I’m just not worried about that. If the book is any good, and I sincerely believe it is, readers will lend the book all the prestige it needs.

Stay tuned. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Author Interview: Eric Bishop

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Eric Bishop, a novelist and author of the modern Western The Samaritan’s Pistol. It’s the story of a Desert Storm veteran whose life is turned upside down when he kills three Mafia henchman in self-defense. Eric was kind enough to answer a few interview questions. You’ll enjoy his story and wonder why you’re not writing a modern Western yourself.

1. When did you first become aware of your desire to be a writer?

In third grade, I hoarded paper from school to take home. I crafted stories built around my favorite television shows. There was always some alternate storyline I wanted to explore or a character I wanted to add. Sometimes things weren’t believable, or I craved more heroism and action. I think that’s true for most authors—we write the story we want to find in a bookstore.

2. When did you start writing The Samaritan’s Pistol and why?

I started about six years ago. The why is a bit tougher. Daily ideas for novels float through my head. A few mornings ago, I noticed a crew of a construction guys at a convenience store parking lot getting into a rusted out Lincoln Continental. The car was as big as a boat. It had long hood and trunk with huge swinging doors. Rust speckled the body and there was an assortment of dents. For these burly guys, it was perfect transportation. The two largest workers got in the back where they stretched out to suck on their fountain drinks. The scene made me wonder about where that car had been. I could write novels about that car and the people who had driven her. The Samaritan’s Pistol was an idea similar that just wouldn’t leave me. It percolated until I sat down to write. I think it was inevitable. I don’t want to get all mystic, or act like I had some lofty calling to write something, but in many ways it was the right story for me to author at the perfect time in my life.

3. What are some elements that set apart the modern Western from the traditional Western?

There is far more that the two time periods share—horses, guns, a love for mountains and scenery, and resilient characters. I love traditional Westerns, but I think there’s a disconnect between the genre and today’s readers. Weaving technology into the narrative is huge. Teenagers still wear cowboy hats and boots. They attend rodeos. They train horses and work the land. Having characters doing all of that, but who take a cell phone call in the barn makes the entire setting more appealing to a younger audience. One of my favorite scenes in The Samaritan’s Pistol is when a teenager has a texting conversation with an elderly ranch hand. At the time I wrote it, the two characters were simply communicating, but now I see it as a bridge between eras of the same genre. Hopefully it’s a link of accessibility, a way to make the story relatable and draw a younger audience.

4. Tell us how you landed your first book deal.

From the moment I sat down with Christopher Loke of Jolly Fish Press, I knew he understood everything I tried to do in writing The Samaritan’s Pistol, from the cross-genre appeal to writing characters from the six major demographic groups. I’d worked hard to make the writing good. I knew that if he read the book, I had a chance.

5. What are your writing habits? What keeps you going?

Depending on the noise level in the house, I bounce between my home office and a woodstove heated man cave where I read, write, or critique something daily. Each of these things is essential to the process. If my prose starts to slip, I’ll read or critique another writer to examine how they crafted their story. Critiquing helps me find my mistakes in others’ work. I’m better at finding their mistakes than my own, but when I wield the red pen to mark up another writer’s words, the hypocrisy genie screams in my ear, “Eric, you made the same mistake on a specific page of their manuscript!”

6. What advice would you give a new writer just getting started in the trade?

Be like Winston Churchill or your own noble protagonist and never give up. Don’t try to make something square roll smoothly when the wheel of writing has been studied since the dawn of civilization. Find writers who are better than you. Help them craft their stories. What you give comes back to you in the writer’s game. Imagination is infinite. Help others and you’ll find your own story.

7. What is on the horizon for you book-wise?

I am currently working on a novel titled Twelve Steps from Winslow. I hope to have it to my publisher before year’s end. They’ve agreed to publish it, and then I’ve agreed to do a sequel to The Samaritan’s Pistol.

You can purchase Eric’s book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Watch the YouTube book trailer here.