"Vigorously told deceptions and battle scenes." ~Publishers Weekly review of Eolyn

"The characters are at their best when the events engulfing them are at their worst." ~Publishers Weekly review of High Maga

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Artists and Endings (and also, Beginnings)

The cover art for King's Gambit, a novel by
Mark Nelson that will soon by released by
Hadley Rille Books.  The artist, Tom Vandenberg,
will also do the cover art for my new novel, High Maga.
Hadley Rille Books released this wonderful image this week, and I had to share it with all of you.  This is a preview of the cover art for King's Gambit, a new novel by Mark Nelson that will be released this May.  The artist who elaborated this battle scene -- stunning in its detail -- is Tom Vandenberg. 

And now for the really wonderful news:  Tom Vandenberg has agreed to do the cover art for High Maga! 

Next week, HRB editor Eric T. Reynolds and I will meet with Tom via conference call to begin our exchange of ideas.  Eric has sent him the manuscript, which I imagine he is enthusiastically devouring word-by-word even as we speak.  I am so excited to be working with Tom on this project, and especially to begin designing the cover for my next novel.  This is the moment when everything begins to feel "real" in a way that no other aspect of the road to publication quite achieves.  I cannot wait to see the essence of High Maga expressed in images. 

Meanwhile, work continues on Daughter of Aithne.  Yes, I've settled on the title now, having decided that it is not only a good title, it is a brilliant title in ways that I didn't perceive when it first took shape in my mind. 

One of the questions I most often get about crafting a novel is whether I work with an outline.  The answer is yes and no.  I do not write down outlines, but I do spend a good deal of time "mulling" over a novel, and each of its scenes, before sitting down in front of the computer. So by the time I sit down to write, I have a pretty solid idea of the motivations of the characters and the layout of the scene.

I've also found that I have to have an image in mind of how a novel will end before I can begin writing.  And, I need a sense of key events in the novel that will lead to that ending, although I may not have it clear in my head the myriad of individual choices that will connect those key events. 

In the case of both Eolyn and High Maga, the ending that I originally envisioned was very different from the denoument of the final manuscript.  I may be speaking too soon -- indeed, I am almost certainly speaking to soon -- but I suspect this will not be the case with Daughter of Aithne

Where it all began: artist Jesse Smolover
created this lush and wonderful image for
the cover of Eolyn, iconic in its portrayal
of a maga's journey
In the past couple of days, the ending of Daughter of Aithne  has come to me in vivid detail: the layout of the final scene, the impact of the ultimate revelation.  It is clear in my head in a way that the endings for Eolyn and High Maga were not.

What makes me think this denoument might be the 'real' one is that it surprised me; it is an ending I would not have expected even a week or two weeks ago.  Not only does it surprise me, it makes perfect sense, bringing the journey of all the characters full circle in a way I did not really foresee until now. 

I'm beginning to suspect that Daughter of Aithne is the book I have most wanted to write in this series, that everything I've done before was simply preparing me for this moment, when I find myself standing at the gate of Eolyn's final and greatest journey. 

This is indeed an exciting moment.

Word count as of today:  12,197 (about 10% of the way into the novel, assuming it's more-or-less the length of the previous two)

Five chapters are done.  I'll start on number six tomorrow. . .