Ten years in the making! A virtual cast of thousands! Peter Jackson, Ridley Scott in deathmatch for rights!
At long last, The Bow of Heaven trilogy will be off the bucket list with the release of Blood of Eagles. I admit, it took a bit out of me. Here is a picture of what I looked like when I began writing this 1,400 page saga in 2004:
And this is what I look like now:
Sometimes, I even look like this, especially in the morning (ask Steph):
Pre-orders are now being accepted here for a December 6 release.
More good news. The first book in the trilogy, The Other Alexander, will be available for free beginning November 26 until Blood of Eagles goes on sale.
So, you're probably thinking, that's it for Alexandros and company. Andy's had it up to here with togas and swords and bows and arrows. No duh. Having said that, a prequel entitled Melyaket, a Tale of Ancient Parthia, is planned for release either in 2016 or 2017, depending on how quickly I record the audiobook for A Mixture of Madness.
Wait, what? It's true, I'm going to give it a shot. The first audiobook is doing quite well, so I thought I'd try my hand at this voice acting thingy. It could be fun, although the only place that is even remotely soundproof in our house is our clothes closet. Claustrophobia, here I come.
Sometimes not winning feels just like winning. And remember folks, book three of the The Bow of Heaven trilogy will be out by the end of the year. The working title is Blood of Eagles. Thank you all for your patience.
HNS Indie Award Shortlisted Author : Andrew Levkoff
Reading (pardon the pun) between the lines, Patterson also fears for the future of those monolithic publishers who are getting elbowed out of the selection process of what the public should be reading. Who are these nefarious nudgers? Why, it is the great unwashed public itself. Heaven forbid they be allowed to decide what they want to read!
The heart of the target of Patterson's campaign is Amazon, also a bookstore, but one that happens to champion ebooks and new, even self-published authors. It is no longer necessary to beg for an agent or sift through a pile of publishers' rejection letters while waiting and hoping to get published. Anyone can upload their oeuvre and if people like you and me like it, it may just become a best-seller.
Rather than go through Patterson's argument point by point, I'd like to introduce you to J. A. Konrath, another best-selling author who also happens to be a champion of self-publishing and has been almost since its inception. Here's a link to his post regarding Patterson; if you listened to the NPR interview and felt that James was sprouting a halo and wings, I urge you to consider the flip side of this discussion. Here it is: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2014/02/konrath-on-patterson-deux.html
Mom had me bundled up so thoroughly I could barely move to adjust the instrument, let alone climb the backyard stairs that led to the roof—I looked like a golem with a baseball bat. I remember, too, that my coat had these flat, metal snaps that locked together in what I imagined might be similar technology to that used by Dr. Frankenstein to secure his creation to the laboratory table. My cap had those ears that pulled down from the inside in what was the height of young men's haberdashery chic for 1961. I was enough of a nerd to incorporate the coat into my daily flights of science fiction fantasy as space cadet uniform, radiation shield or upper body strength super-enhancer, but even I knew that hat had "dork" written all over it.
I don't remember how she found it, but one day when I got home from school and tossed my dinosaur repulsion barrier (coat) on my bed, its large, circular communicator (yellow bus pass) glowing brightly, I realized I had thrown it on top of something she had left on the bedspread for me.
It was a book, but unlike previous works that opened the world of science and discovery to me, like Paul de Kruif's Microbe Hunters and All About Dinosaurs by Roy Chapman Andrews, this one looked like an airplane
This cinder block, written in 1939 by Hungarian Zsolt de Harsanyi, translated into English by Paul Tabor, was a biography of Galileo Galilei called The Star-Gazer, and although it was twice as thick as any book I had read up until then, I consumed its pages as if they were made of Hershey bars.
Now, fast forward 50-odd years or so to a strange package arriving in the mail last week. Another book, the one pictured to the right, in fact. One of the two authors was Dr. Zsolt Harsanyi, the grandson of the man who penned The Star-Gazer. Dr. Harsanyi directed the first assessment of biotechnology for the U.S. Congress' Office of Technology Assessment and served as a consultant to the President's Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and Biomedical and Behavioral Research.
And here he was, having found me through the miracle of the interweb, mailing me his own 1981 work on the ethics of bioengineering. Did I say 1981? I did. Dr. Harsanyi was one of the first to wrestle with the "can we/should we" questions of genetic engineering. I had posted a comment about his grandfather's work someplace like Goodreads, and Dr. Harsanyi had used (I imagine) his NSA contacts to find out where I lived. His kind note to me was written from the Budapest Marriott!
I hate to get sappy (no I don't, not really), but I imagine Galileo would find it as astonishing and wondrous as I that two strangers could reach across the planet and find each other in this marvelous way. I wish my mother was still around so I could tell her this story. She'd flip.
Since you have naturally bought it already, please tell your friends so they can get it (ridiculously) cheap starting this Sunday. www.amazon.com/dp/B00AI4GX90
Since the publication of A Mixture of Madness last December, I have had a little difficulty striking the flint under the tinder of book three in The Bow of Heaven trilogy. Not only have the vicissitudes of life intruded…. What kind of a word is that, anyway? Vicissitudes. For one thing, it's a word whose final "s" is almost always inextricably wrapped about the "o" in the phrase "of life." For another, it's a word whose meaning has eluded me for the past, oh, 40 years. I thought it meant a necessary intrusion, but it doesn't. It means ups and downs, an alteration or variation in the state of things. It's one of those words that shouldn't have a negative connotation, but does, like "frisbee" or "sherbet."
As I was saying, the imposition of life, planning a trip to Italy, buying a house, preparing to leave my day job to write full-time, these stressors, while they have not quite given me a case of writer's "b-word," have stolen hours and attention from the keyboard. Once you stop writing on a daily basis, once in fact, that you've left your virtual pen and ink drying in the sun for weeks at a time, is it hard to get started again? A bit, yeah. Especially when you're trying to pull together characters and chronology from two previous novels and 900 pages of narrative.
"Oh stop your bellyaching and get on with it!" That was the imagined voice of George R. R. Martin, who has a tad more to remember than I as he soldiers on trying to stay ahead of HBO.
A nice review came in last week. I mention it because of the odd sensation of vertigo I experienced just before I clicked on the link sending me to the site where I could read it. I wish I was the kind of person to whom reviews were like rain on a duck's beak, or better still, that stalwart sort who, with backbone stiff and chin held high, shuns them altogether. I'm not. I read them and try to learn from them. I will even accept your castigation and admit that when a particularly inspiring review flies across the threshold, the bellows of encouragement begin pumping harder. (Aren't true artists supposed to be consumed by their calling, eating to write, not the reverse? Okay, that's not me either. Guess I'm an untrue artist.)
Last year I was honored with the silver award in historical fiction by Readers' Favorite for The Other Alexander. A prerequisite for winning an award this year for A Mixture of Madness is a good review from the nice folks at RF. So when the email came in announcing the review's arrival, I found my toes curled over the edge of an egotistical precipice: I realized that anything short of a 5-star review would be bitterly disappointing. Yes, they did like it, it did capture five of the fiery buggers and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. But this mixture of madness (!) must stop. Should I now be crushed if AMOM doesn't do as well as TOA when the awards are handed out? For crying out loud, who gives a flying Fig Newton, as long as a few folks out there are buying the books and enjoying them?
Ahhhh. There's the rub. Awards help sell books. They get you noticed, and help do for self-published authors what the traditional publishing houses used to do for their stable of authors under contract. In the end, however, it is just too crazy-making to worry one way or the other. So my advice to aspiring authors which I must work to heed myself is this: submit your work for the reputable awards, hope your work is regarded with kindness, and keep your head down and your fingers limber. Kurt Vonnegut said it best: "Write to please just one person."
Possibly due to a stint in an English grammar school in the '60's, or to a mother who feigned an English accent whenever she was nervous, I was taught to omit it. I didn't even know until recently there was any debate about it; anyone who tossed the extraneous mark into a sentence was not only wasting a keystroke but possibly inciting to riot in as many as three or four post-graduate composition aeries around the globe. Read on and you will see, as I did, that there are occasions where the little curly devil's presence is appropriate and appreciated.
(Apologies to Billy Tucker for the black eye I gave him in 5th grade. Billy, please pass along a current address and I will remit the $2.00, with interest.)
So here goes. February 1, the exclusive, prestigious guardians of all fictional writings historical, responsible for ruining innumerable toes of otherwise impeccable Sloane Street brogues as they are slammed unceremoniously out into a cold London drizzle, the Historical Novel Society has seen sit fit to bestow (for the second time running) an Editors' Choice accolade on the second book in The Bow of Heaven series, A Mixture of Madness.
Last year, the Society was kind enough to single out the first book in the series, The Other Alexander, with the same honor. Here is what they had to say:
“I am ancient now far beyond my fair share of years,” Alexandros, the slave Alexander, tells us at one point in Levkoff’s lavishly detailed and exuberantly intelligent second volume in his “Bow of Heaven” series about the smart, opinionated philosophy student who becomes the slave to the wealthiest man in Rome, Marcus Crassus. Readers need not read the first volume in order to enjoy this current one, and Roman history buffs will be able to guess the shape of the new book’s plot: Crassus, financier, doting father and husband, disgruntled triumvir, and would-be conqueror of the East. Levkoff has Alexander the slave at his master’s side through almost everything, without ever sentimentalizing his slave status (Crassus may like Alexander, but he’s also quick to threaten floggings when he’s in a bad mood) or filling the character with improbable braveries.
The book is filled with intrigue and action, especially in its final act when Crassus is bent on marching to the hostile kingdom of Parthia and almost certain doom. Along the way, Alexander himself grows and changes (“I love and am loved,” he tells us at one point, “I have friends, and a life that may justly be called my own"), and readers are drawn along by the author’s sharp ear for dialogue and his impeccable dramatic timing.
Amazon.com's KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Select program has been batted back and forth from every independent author and publisher from here to Singapore and back. Is it a sellout or a way for struggling artists to be seen and sold by the Jupiter of our solar system's publishing planets? If you sign one of your books up for KDP Select, you must agree not to publish that ebook with any other company: not Apple, Kobo, Smashwords or the six-year-old kids selling paperbacks with lemonade on the corner.
If you join, your books can be loaned out in the Kindle Lending Library, and each time that happens, you get about two bucks. You can also select five days during each 90-day sign-up with KDP to list your book for free, which will hopefully skyrocket your ratings and subsequently increase your at-money sales. Finally, you will be eligible for 70%, not 35% royalties for books sold in India.
Every struggling author already knows all this. I was spurred to write this entry when I read an article in this month's Association of Independent Authors, "7 Things Joining KDP Select Can and Can't Do for You," posted by M. Louisa Locke, a quite successful author of San Francisco historical mysteries. Here's a plug and a link:
Ms. Locke argues that if your book is on one of Amazon's bestseller lists or high up in one of the popular browsing categories, then members of Amazon Prime can borrow your book for free and you can cash in. In 2012, she earned over $8,000 in this way with her two books, Maids of Misfortune and Uneasy Spirits. Imagine how well she did with regular sales! Congratulations, Ms. Locke! The author also says that offering certain books for free (which Amazon will only let you do if you sign up for KDP Select) has brought her increased revenue through additional visibility.
œ If you are just getting started, as I am, KDP Select is a way of admitting that you need a leg up, and Amazon's program is a generous lift in the right direction. No one, by a factor of about 10, can come close to matching the marketing power of Amazon.com, so while I am building a following, I don't believe I am hurting the self-publishing industry as a whole by cutting my books off from Smashwords (whom I deeply respect) or from any other venue. I don't sell that many books to begin with (between 100 - 200 a month), so giving Amazon the "monopoly" of my books means losing only a couple of sales at most at those other virtual stores.
However, in my opinion, an author that has achieved a certain level of success, and each knows what that must mean monetarily, ought to leave KDP Select. In the long run, books should be available everywhere in every format. If the reader is the true leader of this new revolution in publishing, then she and he ought to be able to find any book they want wherever they want in any format. If and when my writing feathers become stable enough to fly on my own (they won't, if I keep writing pathetic metaphors like this), I'll tumble from the warm, nurturing nest of Amazon's KDP Select program and find my way back into iPads, Nooks and Sonys. Splat.
After almost a month of waiting, the audiobook for TOA (The Other Alexander) is finally available here. Audible.com has set the retail price at $19.95. Am I bovvered? That's less than 4 cents a minute. If you listen to it more than four times, it's practically free, innit? I don't know why I'm suddenly doing Catherine Tate. It must be her red hair. Anyway, I've placed a link to the Prolog at the end of this sentence so you can hear some of Andrew Randall's fine work. Podcast
So it's January, and that means New Year's resolutions, right? Nope. Sorry. Haven't got any. Wouldn't live up to them if I had. Although I have promised to complete the final book of the The Bow of Heaven trilogy by the end of 2014. Yes, well, good luck with that. I rested about three days after completing AMOM (A Mixture of Madness) before striking out boldly, or should I say stumbling feebly into book three, whose title I have tentatively changed to The Archer and the Arrow.
I am having a rather difficult time of it, for two reasons. First off, I realized that AMOM was a better book than TOA, so now I have performance anxiety. How do I know it's better? A few reasons. I'm reading more widely, thanks to Stephany and her highbrow book club, and this of course means that I am hating more authors, whose talent, wisdom and brilliance with the mother tongue really frosts my cookies. Some of it must be rubbing off, which is not quite plagiarism; more like dusting the dandruff from the shoulders of those who came before me. People I trust are also telling me it's
Secondly, I left so many plot strings dangling at the end of book two it looks like I'm wearing a tallis. So now I not only have to write well, I have to be clever. I am not known for being clever. I am known for having a bad memory. I don't see how that is going to help. Pray for me. (Tallis optional.)
I received an entreaty from ACX, Amazon's Audiobook Creation Exchange, to have The Other Alexander produced as an audiobook. Amazon has this rather nifty gizmo called Whispersync. Here's what it does:
"…the new Whispersync for Voice functionality allows customers to switch seamlessly between reading a Kindle book and listening to the corresponding, professionally narrated audiobook across devices without losing their place. Audiobooks will also be eligible for the new Immersion Reading feature, which allows customers with the new Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD devices to listen to a professionally narrated audiobook from Audible as the text of the corresponding Kindle book is highlighted on the screen."
Audible.com (another subsidiary of gorilla Amazon), in order to promote this growing segment of the market, is paying actors a stipend to get more audiobooks out there. Bless their little hearts. And bless Mr. Randall. So keep your ears peeled—in a week or two, book one will be through the approval process. When you have a chance, go to Amazon or iTunes and give a listen!