I remember writing it, then being so ecstatic that I’d finally finished something after my hiatus of almost five years to take care of my family. My friends at Romance Divas challenged us to write short stories for a charity anthology, and I thought, “I can do that!” When I couldn’t even think about a novel, or even a novella, I knew I could write a short.
So I did! Just writing the words “The End” on something flipped a switch for me, and I started looking around for other projects.
Little did I know…
One of the friends who’d been in the anthology with me emailed to ask if I’d think of writing something else for a Viking anthology. And, by the way, it would be great if it was part of a series.
I think I typed Yes before I finished reading the email.
Sure! I had a series! (Not.) But then I thought about Hakon sidUlfr and how the world I built for him was based on Norse traditions and mythology, and it turned out I did have a story for his friend, Ule: A Most Wanted Wolf.
Then a different friend said she wanted to put out a group release of “seasoned romances,” which are romances with older characters, rather than the typical, nubile 20-somethings that populate the genre. And I thought, “Hey, Ule’s mother from Book 2 could use her own story.” The project didn’t work out quite the way we’d planned, but I still had this wonderful romance with amazing characters, so there was the third book: Silver Wolf Rising.
The folks who’d wanted the second book were going to put out a final Viking anthology, and by then, I knew it was time to wrap up my storyline with the hero I’d been waiting for. Where all the other stories stand pretty much entirely on their own, this one had to pull together all the threads I’d laid out before. And by now, I was feeling a lot more like a “real” writer again, with deadlines to meet and a sense that people were waiting. They wanted this story. It’s a thrill I’ll never get used to.
Writing Hakon’s brother in The Wolf Who Came In From the Cold was almost as freeing an experience as writing that first short. And I always think that the people who read the whole series are fellow travelers on my journey.
Come along for the ride!
Sela Carsen is an award-winning author of paranormal and sci-fi romance — with or without sex and dead bodies. Your pick. She maintains a permanent nerd-on for fairytales and mythology, and openly hoards reference books about obscure folklore. Born a wanderer, she and her family have finally settled in the Midwest. Until they move again, at least. Website.
Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart will launch worldwide on July 28 through Seventh Star Press’s YouTube channel! Underlord Stephen Zimmer and the crew at Seventh Star Studios have been working for a long time on Rayden, which had its world premiere in September.
Please subscribe to the Seventh Star Press YouTube channel in advance of the July 28 streaming premiere! You’ll also catch a lot of the great content Seventh Star offers, including the Creative Cauldron vidcast, book trailers, interviews and more.
The Literary Underworld has just launched a brand new site! We figured the dark, cobwebby dungeon of our old site was getting a little stale.
Never fear: all the awesome work by the Underlords is still available on our webstore, and we’ll be adding in the interviews, essays, roundtables and other great content from our old site bit by bit. Just stick with us, and watch this shiny new site as it evolves!
And of course, Yorick the Skull stays. We couldn’t do without him!
In the meantime: Take 10 percent off your purchase this week with the code you received in our direct email. What, you didn’t get it? Sign up here!
A mythological creature helps a young boy come to terms with his mother’s death in an unexpected way.
Justin looked out across the water watching the sun rays dance across the tops of the waves. To him the ocean appeared both mysterious and frightening. The mystery came from the intrigue of not knowing what lies beneath. There were thousands of miles of uncharted lands beneath the oceans of the world and unimaginable depths of endless dark waters containing countless life forms. Yet the Ocean frightened Justin, for he knew it could be unforgiving and unkind…
A California native born in Hollywood, California, J.L. MULVIHILL wanted to be a rock star. After several years of modeling, acting, and singing, she decided to marry, have a family, and moved to a quieter life in Mississippi where she has lived for the past twenty years. Finding she has a gift for story telling she began to write young adult books, including the Steel Roots series and The Lost Daughter of Easa. She is very active in the writing community, a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Gulf Coast Writers Association, Imagicopter, the Mississippi Writers Guild and Clinton Ink-slingers Writing Group. She continues to write fantasy, steampunk, poetry and essays inspired by her life in the South.
Want a twice-a-week trip into a dark future? Join Anthony Hatcher, the titular Anthony Reprobate as he is taken from a re-education hospital near St. Louis, trained by the ruler of North America and sent to keep a second civil war from breaking out between the countries of the DisUnited States.
Anthony Reprobate is a serialized novel published at Nick Rowan’s Patreon. $5 patrons get the serial and an ebook copy. $10 patrons get the paperback and ebook. Other rewards for other tiers are available. (At $50, Nick starts writing you in and sending you yarn goodies every month)
Come save the DisUnited States from itself, with the help of a young man so corrupt they just call him Reprobate.
There is this weird kind of myth that getting an agent is some kind of finish line. But I had read that once you clear that agent-getting hurtle all you do is trade in your old anxieties for new ones.
And it’s pretty true.
Authors spend months struggling with their manuscripts, finishing, polishing, perfecting, all the while worried if it I going to get finished? Is it going to be good? Seems like it takes forever to get from “Once upon a time” to “The End”.
And then, querying. Ugh. A fraught process that can take months or even years. I queried by latest book for two years (although there was a baby in the middle of it) and queried over 100 agents. Querying takes a LOT out of you. You have to write a summary of your WHOLE BOOK (YIKES!) and also a super compelling, charming-but-not-too-cute query letter. And once you have all of that, you send the query. And. You. Wait.
Depending on the agent and their workload and policies, you might have sent sample pages, the synopsis, or just the query letter, or some combination of all three. It can take a few days, a few weeks, or even a few months to hear a yes or no. And that waiting is HARD.
BUT! Let me tell you, that is NOTHING compared to the next step.
You get an agent and that’s so great and you and they made some revisions on your book and talked through the list of editors and publishers best suited to your book and the agent made some calls and sent some emails and sent your book to the people who said YES, LEMME READ THAT!
And. You. Wait.
Like your agent, these editors have a workload and house policies that will dictate their timing of turnaround on manuscripts.
The editors might give you feedback on why they said no, just like some agents might let you know why they passed on representation, but they don’t always. Sometimes that feedback is useful and sometimes, not so much….
I’m in the not-so-much useful spot right now. A handful of editors have said no to me (and my agent) but their feedback was the usual “This didn’t work for me.” Which is a legit, if frustrating, response. And honestly, if you are a halfway decent writer, that is going to be the thing you hear the most. And it SUCKS because you don’t know what didn’t grab their attention. But it’s mostly because it’s a well-written piece that is not connecting with them, not for any real reasons you can actually do anything about. In fact, one agent or editor might love a thing that another one really disliked. Just like readers! (Compare some one- and five-star reviews some time! It’s enlightening! [so long as it’s not someone complaining that your book is not a 36-pack of Jimmy Dean sausages])
So, while waiting, you are SUPPOSED to be working on another book, and not your theoretical next book in the proposed series…because your editor might not want to take your series in that direction, or might have some substantive changes to your first novel and then you have to rewrite TWO books instead of one. But damn, it’s hard to change lanes in your head to another storyline and characters, especially while waiting to hear back from this first one OCCUPIES YOUR ENTIRE BEING.
So, here’s where I am. My agent isn’t due to nudge our remaining editors for another week. Usual policy is to give editors three months to make their decisions. THREE. MONTHS.
Not a long time in the long run, but when each day you are obsessively checking your email, just like in your agent querying days, it can feel like forever!
But once an editor says yes, there’s going to be a whole SERIES of structural edits, plus copy edits, plus page proofs, and and and and and…. So a book sold today to a Big Six (Five? Four?) Publisher won’t be on the shelf for a YEAR OR MORE.
I knew there would be a lot of waiting, but you really cannot understand the anxiety and tedium until you have been there. And waiting. With new and exciting anxieties.
SARA M. HARVEY lives and writes fantasy and horror in (and sometimes about) Nashville, Tenn. She is also a costume historian, theatrical costume designer, and art history teacher. She has three spoiled rotten dogs and one awesome daughter; her husband falls somewhere in between. She tweets @saraphina_marie, wastes too much time on facebook.com/saramharvey, and needs to update her website at saramharvey.com. Check out her Patreon!
SS: I’ve been telling stories since I was about 3. I listened to what they called Talking Tapes in the early 70s due to my eye troubles. My mother got me the Bible and Tarzan which probably explains my storytelling stance a lot. I started writing and telling tales as I grew older because I felt a need to tell stories not told by my fave authors or stuff history left out. I guess I was compelled.
Q: What was your first paid published work?
SS: Wow, in a poetry rag when I was 19. It was a five-dollar check, in Poetry Motel, I think. I recall cracking up and showing that to my dad.
Q: What inspired the idea for your current project?
SS: The one with (Brian) Keene was inspired by his trip to the boyhood home of Hunter S. Thompson and some punk in the street not giving a dang or caring who that was…l eading Keene to wonder how folks will recall him. I placed this emotion and experience in the Rogan Bastard realm and…well. Things happen. However, my current work is as close to a barbarian romance as I’ll ever get. That was inspired by a great many things and a lot of heartache.
Q: What’s your daily writing ritual?
SS: I work a great deal. I rise early, shower, lots of coffee and let it roll. At times, I write in strange places.
Q: Do you do research for your books? If so, what’s your favorite resource besides Google?
SS: I actually look stuff up in real books and go to the library. The ladies there assisted me greatly in the creation of Philistine, because books on those folks are rare. I also draw on a lifetime of reading bios and others works that usually accumulate into a work.
Q: Who are your favorite writers?
SS: Robert E. Howard, Karl Edward Wagner, H.P. Lovecraft, Harlan Ellison, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Manly Wade Wellman…oh, some live folks? Joe Abecrombie.
Q: Do you listen to music when you write? What kind?
SS: Sometimes. Johnny Cash, Black Sabbath, Motorhead, Queen, Hank Williams Sr, Jr and III, old Metallica, Alice Cooper, AC/DC, Waylon Jennings, Rob Zombie, Creedance Clearwater Revival
Q: How do you balance being a writer with your day job/family/secret identity as a superhero?
SS: It can be a real female dog of a time. At times, there ain’t much left of me at the end of the day. Still, one strives on. Just gotta pick yer spots.
Q: What was the most useful advice you got as a beginning writer? And the most useless?
SS: Karl Edward Wagner encouraged me to read other genres to expand my mind. Good advice. More good advice from Harlan Ellison was to not be a phony bastard like many are… that all being PC is just lying. Bad advice? A schmuck in NYC told me never to try and get paid to write as it was a danger to the purity of “the craft.” Meh.
Q: What’s the weirdest/funniest/coolest letter or comment you ever got from a reader?
SS: I was offered oral sex from a guy in exchange for a book. Not my thing. Another thought my name was a pen name and demanded I reveal myself. Another had all of my books and just wanted to say thanks. That was cool.
Q: How do you handle a bad review?
SS: Water on a duck’s ass; but see if it is really valid or if they really as just jealous I cockblocked them at a Con somewhere. There is a pub that will not even look at me because of that, but I digress. Gotta take the rough with the smooth.
Q: Do you write happy endings? Why or why not?
SS: I’m always happy when it ends, ha ha … but the story tells itself. I suppose a few of mine have a grim or TWILIGHT ZONE ending, but there’s usually hope. I like to think folks are left entertained.
Q: You’ve finished your book! What do you do after writing “The End”?
SS: I used to have a drink and smoke a cigar, but life moves too fast for me now to have such a perfect ritual. But having a beer & cigar isn’t so rare so I have to find a new ritual. I’d say I run through the yard naked, but I live way out in the country and no one would see anyhow.
Q: If you won the lottery, would you keep on writing?
SS: Of course. I write because I HAVE to, not WANT to. It has to come out.
Q: If you could advise a beginning writer, what would you suggest?
SS: DON’T. Naw, just kidding. Read. Read everything, all genres and keep trying. It is gonna suck at first. Keep trying and find your voice. Last summer, my eldest son was talking comic books with Brian Keene at SCARES THAT CARE. John then talked of fan fiction he wrote for Marvel, DC and Star Wars. Keene was surprised at a few characters John knew and as I laughed, Brian reminded me, “That’s how we both started, doing that, but it wasn’t called fanfic then.” True. I used to write mean Battlestar Galactica and Avengers fics in junior high.
Q: What are you doing next?
SS: Writer wise? Trying to rework that fantasy novel, next draft of a suspense thriller, and overdraft of another fantasy work… and possible submit another Joel Stuart novel where he is 94 years old. Then, I might write some new stuff.
Steven L. Shrewsbury lives, works, and writes in rural Illinois. More than 360 of his short stories have appeared in print or electronic media, along with more than 100 poems. His novels run from sword & sorcery (Overkill, Thrall, Bedlam Unleashed) to historical fantasy (Godforsaken) to extreme horror (Hawg, Tormentor, Stronger Than Death) to horror-westerns (Hell Billy, Bad Magick, Last Man Screaming). He loves books, British TV, guns, movies, politics, sports and hanging out with his sons. He’s frequently outdoors, looking for brightness wherever it may hide.