Writing: marathons vs. sprints

Writing a novel is a marathon. It takes months, if not years. You have to be in it for the long haul.

You have to train for a marathon. If you want to run a marathon you have to gradually build up to it with shorter runs at first. Gradually, inexorably, you find the skill and endurance to persevere. To keep going.

You have to train for a novel. You have to write, and write, and edit, and rewrite. The long form of storytelling will ruin and exhaust a novice. You’ve got to build up to it.

Too many marathons will ruin you. Your body will fall apart. Joints and bones will give up after repetitive pounding against concrete. You can’t run a marathon all the time. But you don’t have to stop running.

You can sprint.

There is freedom in the sprint – the freedom of laying it all on the line in short bursts. No time for boredom. No time to think of giving up. Just go.

Novelists need to sprint sometimes too. Write a short story. Write a screenplay (which, in comparison to a novel, is a pretty short endeavor). Give yourself time to recover and do something that is joyously brief.

Clockworkers book cover

Clockworkers 99 cent sale

I wrote a novel about elves living in modern day Detroit, and working in a luxury watch factory. Sound interesting? Well you can grab the book on Kindle for just under a dollar right now. Get Clockworkers from Amazon for 99 cents

The plot:

Samantha Chablon is a self-proclaimed “gadget girl”. She runs the family watch repair shop while her eccentric old father spends his days researching fantastical stories of elves. Sam loves her father, but his odd habits have always been a mystery and a burden on the family. But that all changes after her father dies, and she discovers what he left for her.

Sam has inherited a real elf.

Piv is his name, and he is far older than his boyish face and personality would imply. But he’s also wise, and as an elf he is gifted with a preternatural proclivity for making things. Sam’s father taught Piv everything he knows about making watches, and he works faster than human hands could ever move. Sam, being much more enterprising than her father, sees opportunity in Piv’s talents. Soon Piv is not the only elf working for Sam as she goes about building a luxury watch empire powered by secret elf labor.

But the elves have remained hidden from humans for good reason, and it’s not easy to keep a factory full of territorial elves secret in the middle of a metropolis. One night when someone attempts to break into the factory, the elves take matters into their own hands. The incident gives Sam a glimpse of a dark and twisted side of elves that no fairy tales ever mentioned. Samantha will soon discover that great ambition often comes with great risk, and although her elf partners have agreed to work without pay, there are other costly consequences involved in striking a deal with elves.

Clockworkers: Excerpt 1

My new novel Clockworkers is coming out soon!

Here’s the plot in a nutshell: an entrepreneurial young woman inherits a special gift from her father – an elf. She puts him to work building products for her luxury watch company, but she soon discovers that there are certain dangers involved with employing elves.

Here’s a sample:

Sam Chablon, a prudent but insatiably curious man, walked gingerly across the frozen glade. It was just before sunrise, the blue hour, and the only sounds in the forest were the whispers of the wind.

Sam was stalking his latest prey. He had waited for three nights to catch even a glimpse of it, but this morning his patience had paid off. He saw the little fellow dance into a cave on the north shore of the lake.

He continued his approach at a painfully slow pace. Each step took an eternity. He was careful not to let even a single blade of grass betray his presence. He barely breathed, and he willed his excited body to stay cool, lest his quarry catch a whiff of his sweat.

He finally reached the entrance to the cave and a sweet, warm wind caressed his face, melting the ice crystals on the scraggly beard that had grown during his stay in these woods. There was a faint light in there — a white-green glow that made the rocky walls of the cave shine. With the care of a barefooted man walking on eggshells, he went inside.

The cave was deep, and its ceiling was low for a man of Sam’s height. His middle-aged knees protested when he was forced to stoop down as he tiptoed further into the cavern. But the pain was worth it. This kind of opportunity rarely happens twice.

Sam went deeper still, until the odor of the outside world was erased by a bittersweet perfume of jasmine and thyme and other fragrances he wished he knew the names of. The ghostly greenish light that he had seen earlier was now much brighter. The source was just around the bend. Sam paused. He held his breath, and carefully peered past the corner.

His eyes fell on the one thing he had searched for since his childhood: the final proof that validated years of foraging, travel, and the eccentric research that had left him ostracized and ridiculed. There, in that cave, was his dream.

An elf.

Book Review: Redshirts by John Scalzi

Star Trek fans will immediately recognize the tropes this hilarious book lampoons. But Scalzi, who worked as a consultant on another sci-fi show, performs the clever trick of combining parody with homage to the genre that has inspired so many authors and readers even through plot holes, questionable scientific basis, and cliché.

It was a treat to uncover the very “meta” nature of this sci-fi universe that borrows heavily from a few space-faring military TV shows. It all starts out as standard spaceship fare, but around the middle of the book the plot takes a very odd turn and we learn that this universe isn’t as real as the characters thought it was. The characters are likable and they regularly provide the kind of punchy dialogue Scalzi is known for, and they go on a weird adventure that eventually leads them to confront their “creator” and take control of their own fates.

Just when I was thinking that humorous parody was all this book had to offer, the final chapters surprised me with a stark change in tone. The book shifts to examine how the events of the main plot affected some seemingly insignificant characters and the results are poignant, dramatic, and even a little somber. The book’s final chapters solidify the book’s central theme: the “throwaway” characters can have rich and touching stories of their own in the hands of a resourceful writer.

Buy Redshirts on Amazon at:

The Remortal: Now on Amazon Kindle

I wrote a novel! Well, I’ve written a few novels, but this is the first one I’ve decided to release into the wild. The Remortal is a labor of love, and I’m hoping you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

The book is available on all Kindle platforms — so that means if you have an iPhone, iPad, Android device, PC, Mac, or Kindle you can hit the Amazon store and check out the most amazing story you’ll read this year!!! (okay, maybe I’m hyping that a bit too much). The Remortal ebook is available for only $2.99 on Amazon. You can also check out a free sample.

Cover and plot synopsis below:

Telly is a homeless teenager struggling to survive on the streets of
Los Angeles, but he has just met a man that can make all of his dreams
come true. His rich new benefactor only asks for one thing in
return—something no one else has been able to do for two and a half

He wants Telly to kill him.

The man with the death wish is named Van, and he offers Telly an
escape from the constant fear, hunger, and shame that have haunted him
during his homelessness. Telly thought he had Van all figured out,
until a chance encounter with a gun-wielding thug shows that bullets
don’t do Van the slightest bit of harm.

Van is much more than he seems; he’s an immortal seeking escape from a
world he now despises. He desires a higher plane of existence, but in
order to get there he must train someone to complete the grim ritual
that will free him from the confines of his immortal body. If Telly
can fulfill Van’s request, he will inherit Van’s wealth, strength, and
eternal youth. But he soon discovers that Van is a harsh teacher with
a questionable sense of morality, and there are other immortals who
believe Van’s plans for ascension could lead to something they’ve been
dreading for centuries: the birth of a wrathful god.

The Remortal: by Ramsey Isler