Monday, April 30, 2007

The Golden Cord

The Golden Cord

I woke up at 1:30 A.M. and started working on the The Golden Cord, Book One of the Iron Dragon Series. Many hours later I finished going through the corrections from my editor. The final 100 pages weren’t too bad, but these things take time. I was giddy going through the book for the last time. These great moments were tempered with pain and drudgery as I suffered through what has to be the fiftieth time I’ve read this damn book—all 326 pages (105,000 words for you writer types).

I love the book, but it’s a pain in the ass to edit the thing so many times. But this is my first novel and it needed a lot of work. It’s been a journey that started at least six years ago. Since then, I’ve become a better writer and the book has improved a lot—thank God! I’ve already written the other four books in the series, but they need to be rewritten with my new level of skill. Looking over those manuscripts is going to be so much fun. [grin]

I couldn’t have done this without help from my writer friends, Patrick Tracy and Brad Beaulieu. They made the manuscript so much better—as have some other people over the years, namely the SLAG Writers group here in Salt Lake City. Now my editor, John Helfers, has done a great job and helped sharpen it up to the finest point it’s going to have. He came up with some great ideas and I’m eternally grateful to him. A fabulous editor is a wonderful thing and I feel so blessed to have found John. He’s a good writer to boot, so find a copy of Siege of Night and Fire, a cool fantasy that I would describe as Helm’s Deep with a kick ass love story.

So, now comes the final tasks before I send off the manuscript to the publisher. I need to finish the author checksheet which includes a lot of stuff. I’ve already done the front cover flap copy, the author bio, and selected an excerpt for the back of the book. I just need to write catalog copy, the dedication page, and the acknowledgement page. No problem. My author photo is going to be taken next Friday.

Here’s some cool news: the publisher agreed to use the painting by Ciruelo Cabral called Moon Dragon, featured in his 2007 Dragon’s calendar. It’s going to be awesome.

I still have a little more work to do on the manuscript, but the big task is over. For all of you who want to get a novel published I say go for it. Just keep in mind that it’s more work than you can imagine. Would I still do it if I knew then what I know now? Yes. But I would’ve been more hesitant.

My wife and I don’t have kids, by choice, and this book—and all of my writing—has ended up being like my kids. My first baby will be born in April of 2008. That’s seven damn years of being pregnant! And yes, we’re going to have a birthday party. You’re all invited!!!

Have fun writing!

Paul Genesse

Author of
The Golden Cord
Book One of the Iron Dragon Series
Releasing April, 2008


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Shadows, Pirates, and Pages


It's been a little while since I posted and I have no good excuses. However, I've been busy with writing stuff this week. Three big things happened:

1. Brad Beaulieu sent me his short story, Shadows In Mirrors, which will be in the Dimension Next Door anthology from DAW Books. I'll be in that one also.

2.The galley pages from Pirates of the Blue Kingdom came--my story, The Pirate Witch is in it.

3. The big news: My editor sent me the edited manuscript for my novel, The Golden Cord. He's had it for almost four months, but once he started reading it took him less than two weeks to finish.

Wow, what a week. I read Brad's story, which was amazing, and gave him a critique. Not much to fix there. Brad is such an amazing writer. I've also been invited into the same anthology and I have an idea for it--supplied by my buddy Glenn. I'm not spilling the details yet . . . The deadline is months away, luckily.

I managed to read over the galley pages for my pirate story, The Pirate Witch, and found no errors. The bio was fine too. I'm really excited about it coming out and it could go to press around May 15. Life is good. This summer is going be great.

So, the big job, working on my manuscript. I had one night of fear when I saw my editor wanted a new first line/opening paragraph. This news kicked me in the nuts. Hard. The first line had been green-lighted before, but it could always be better--I knew it then and I know it now. I couldn't face rewriting it that first night (Wednesday) when the MS came, but managed to rewrite it Thursday. It turned out well, but the opening will have to be read over by Brad and Pat before I call it done and send it to John.

Now I'm up to page 87 of 323. The comments from my editor, John, are fine, but I have to read through the whole MS and work on a few things. No major changes, thank the Gods!

This whole process is very time consuming, but I'm not too stressed about it. So far, reading over the MS hasn't been that painful. Perhaps I'm excited because this might be the last time that I have to read this entire manuscript. I still like it, but after you've read something so many times it becomes a little tiresome. I'm being generous, it's a big pain in the ass. But, the book is getting better and I think I'm improving the work. John's comments were excellent and now I just have to get it to him by May 18. No problem there.

Once this task is done, I'm back to Medusa's Daughter. I want to finish it by November 1, plus two short stories this year. One short story is due in August, the next in November. I have all the time in the world . . . I just have to believe the affirmation posted next to my computer. It reads: I release all that is unlike love. I have time and space for everything I want to do.

I repeat it in my mind, but now I should really start believing it.

Monday, April 9, 2007


I saw an alien creature in Bryce Canyon.

It was on top of a spire of rock, called a hoodoo. The picture above is not the alien I saw as my camera malfunctioned when I tried to snap the photos. However, the picture shows a few of the hoodoos—somewhat similar to the alien shaped one. There two reminded us of the Olympic flame logo.

Glenn thought the alien we saw looked like E.T. I agree. The hoodoo definitely had the strange fist shaped head and face of the little alien who wanted to “phone home.” Later that afternoon, a fellow hiker claimed he saw Steven Spielberg. I don’t think it was Spielberg, but you never know. Was the director visiting the rock that inspired him to make the famous movie, E.T.? The world may never know.

Anyway, there’s something special about getting up close and personal with rock formations. You can see shapes and images that you can’t see from far away. In Bryce Canyon and Zion you can get so close to the rocks that their mysteries are revealed. You can see the contours, the watermarks, the little plants growing out of the cracks. There’s something so special about being able to really see things up close. More personal books that are not quite so epic usually do the same thing, they get up close and personal, whereas the epic books sometimes get lost because of too many characters and not enough enticing details.

At the Grand Canyon I got the epic view and many of the details could not be seen. The canyon is so vast that it seems unattainable, distant, incomprehensible. I felt like I knew Zion and Bryce. I’d seen the color of their eyes, the wrinkles on their faces. I could put them into a box and file them away so my brain could comprehend them.

The Grand Canyon is still a mystery to me and to most of the people who have visited there. How do you fathom something over five thousand feet deep and at least ten miles wide? The whole thing is considered over to be like 277 miles long. From what I’ve learned, people have spent lifetimes trying to explore the canyon and still they haven’t seen it all or unlocked its many secrets. “The Canyon” is bigger than the human mind and reminds us of how small we really are.

My trip made me think a lot about life and writing. Bryce and Zion provide closure, as books should. I saw them, loved them, and felt good about the journey. I saw the hoodoos, got close enough to touch them. Zion and Bryce ended and could be conceptualized by my feeble intellect. Those two canyons were personal friends and I feel like I’ve gotten to know them pretty well—though another few trips are essential as there is still much to see.

The Grand Canyon is different. I spent a week there in the past and a few days as a child. This trip I spent three days and "The Canyon" is still a mystery so big and vast that it leaves me feeling unfulfilled—like a book over 1,300 pages long that is book one of a thirteen book series that may never actually end.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the journey, especially going into the canyon. Hiking back out wasn’t that bad either. But I like visiting places that are small enough that you can actually get a feel for them. The commercialization of the Grand Canyon doesn’t help either—and the big crowds. Bryce and Zion were so peaceful and relaxed, while Grand Canyon was frenetic and well, epic.

Huge epic books can be so magnificent to read, but the time it takes to read them is sometimes a negative—and the time it would take to really see the Grand Canyon is a negative for me as well. Grand Canyon is one of those places we should probably all see before we die, but next time I’m going to the North Rim where few people actually go. It’s smaller, more personal, and less crowded. I’ve never been there either and that makes the adventure so appealing.

Now if only my favorite epic fantasy writer, George R.R. Martin, would come out with the next Song of Ice and Fire book. I’m guessing it’ll be like the last book and be way over 1,200 pages. Still the series won’t be over.

There are some worlds you just want to dive into and others that intimidate you because of their sheer size. Martin’s books, like the Grand Canyon, might scare some people away, but both are worth exploring.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Angels Landing

I looked off the precipice and saw nothing but sky and distant cliffs. The bridge of rock I perched upon was three feet wide and would take a dozen agonizing steps to cross. On both sides there was a 1000 foot drop. I gripped the steel chain affixed to metal rods so hard I could feel the metal digging into the bones of my hands.

I kept my own eyes on the rock, on the chain, anything but on the nothingness below me. I took a side step, my eyes locked on the narrow rock. The wind hit me and I swayed a little, felt the chain dig into my palms. The metal links could have been sharpened like razor blades and I still wouldn’t have let go because I didn’t want my name added to the list of people who had died there already.

Fiction? No. The trail is called Angels Landing in Zion National Park. Hiking it was for fun, but the writer in me says it was good research. Either way, we did it and now as a few hours have passed I’m putting into perspective what we actually did. None of it was that physically demanding, but the entire time the mental challenge was extreme.

I told my friends, Lily, Cary, and Glenn—pictured above—“Just look at the rock and your feet. Keep hold of the chain with two hands and keep moving.” As we crossed the fin of red rock, holding in the fear that wanted to paralyze us I wanted to say, “Don’t look over the edge.” But I resisted. I wanted to say not to look down many times as we ascended and descended the trail, but when you say it, people naturally want to do it. So, I kept saying “look at the rock, see the footholds, keep two hands on the chain, lean against the rock” and all manner of other instructions that helped all of us keep going to the top and then back down. I was their guide and functioning as a guide helped keep me calm. As I worried about them, I didn’t worry that much about myself.

We made it and the view was spectacular, but what we all loved was that we did it. We conquered our fears and pushed on. When Glenn got a leg cramp three fourths to the top we hung together and supported him. Lily rubbed out his cramp, I helped him stretch and we all patiently waited for our moment when our strength and courage returned. Ahead of us was a daunting climb that looked nearly vertical. Would we turn back? We were over three quarters there and I saw it in Glenn’s eyes—he wasn’t turning back. None of us were. We were going to the to top together. The four of us were a unit. A team. This was a mountain we were going to summit.

We made it—that’s the photo of the view at the beginning of this blog. I met Cary, Glenn, and Lily on my trip to Greece six months ago. Now we’re traveling buddies and good friends. There’s so much more to tell, but the only way to really get it, is to hike it yourself. Go to the place where angels are supposed to land and pretend you have no fear of heights. “Just look at the rock, see the footholds, keep two hands on the chain, lean against the rock.”


Sunday, April 1, 2007

Red sandstone cliffs . . .


Red sandstone cliffs tower seven hundred feet above me. The sky is so blue it doesn’t seem real. Pictures cannot portray the beauty all around me.

Where am I? Not at my computer desk in my basement. I’m on vacation in Zion National Park in southern Utah. It’s an amazing place and I love it. I’ve been here before, but this trip I’m taking my three friends from San Francisco, Cary, Glenn and Lily. I met them while on tour in Greece a few months ago. We’re heading to Bryce National Park tomorrow and then to the Grand Canyon. We’ll be on the road for eight days total traveling across Utah and Arizona.

Zion is great. The red canyon walls inspired me in my first novel. The characters go to a place called Red Canyon, and it is of course based on Zion. Being here brings up memories of the book and I think about what I could add to the text to make it more vibrant. Then I think—no—just leave it alone.

The book is pretty much done and I’m waiting for my editor to get it back to me, which should be any time now. The publisher’s deadline is June 1, 2007. My deadline to get the book to the editor was January 1, 2007. So I’ve been waiting for over three months—which is normal.

Publishing moves slow, so you have time to do your research and get things done the way you want them. Search for your inspiration wherever you can. One of the places I find mine is in nature. Places I visit get my creative energies flowing. Seeing pictures in National Geographic Magazine or in other places is also a great source of inspiration—but pictures just don’t do most things justice. Research is important for fiction. Do yours however you can, but putting your feet on the ground in a scenic place is a great way to breathe life into your settings.

Now go hiking somewhere cool—and then write about it.

Author of The Golden Cord
Book One of the Iron Dragon Series