Friday, July 7, 2017

Guest Post with Stephen Leigh

Photo Credit: Kyle Cassidy

Stephen Leigh has been writing science fiction since he was in grade school. His first professional sale was in 1975 (to Ben Bova, then the editor of Analog Science Fiction Magazine) and has been publishing regularly ever since then, both with short fiction and novels. His first novel, SLOW FALL TO DAWN, was published in 1981.

He has been nominated for and won several awards for his fiction over the years. He's written several stories for the WIILD CARDS shared world universe (edited by George RR Martin). He has written and published the occasional poems and non-fiction pieces, as well.

Early on in my career, I was like a lot of newbie writers I’ve come across. I believed that the writing process consisted of waiting for The Muse to descend in a blaze of raw inspiration and deliver a story to you whole and complete—at which point all the author needed to do was write down what The Muse had given you. Literature was Capital-A Art, after all, and that’s how Art worked. At least that’s what my teachers at school told me.

Wrong. When I waited for The Muse to appear, I would write maybe one or two short stories a year, and somehow (despite the artsy delivery system) they were, with a few exceptions, fatally flawed in the eyes of the editors to whom I sent them. I acquired dozens of rejection slips from every market.

Luckily, at one of the sf conventions, I managed to sit down with a writer who was much further along the path of a writing career, and far more successful at it than I’d been thus far. I told him my process; to his credit, he didn’t laugh, only shook his head. “Look,” he said, “your problem is that you’re waiting for the Muse before you start writing. What you need to do is just start writing. Make writing a filthy habit that you do each and every day. You don’t even need to write all that much or for very long every day. If you can put down a single page or two a day, only 250 - 500 words or so, well, by the end of a year, you’ll have drafted a novel. Afterward, you’ll have to do the real heavy lifting: you’ll need to revise that draft, tear it apart and put it together again, revise it over and over and over until everything fits together. That’s because writing is also work. It also has to be work that you’re passionate about, that you enjoy and are compelled to do, or you’ll never finish anything. And it starts like any other job: you have to do sit down and do it every day.”

Mind you, I’m paraphrasing, and our conversation was longer and more convoluted than that, but that’s the gist of the advice I was given. I took it.

I started writing every day. Seven days a week. At least a page a day. Sure, there were days when what I wrote was abysmal and ended up being tossed -- there are still (alas!) days like that. But that’s fine, because nobody ever has to see those words but me. After all, everything in the draft is going to be revised and polished, changed and deleted, moved around and rewritten. 

And on the other side of the coin, there will also be those days where everything flows easily and well, and you’ll write a few thousand words or more. There’s always balance in the world.

So if you’re an aspiring writer, I’d give you the same advice: don’t wait for the Muse. Write every day. Keep the story and your characters moving forward, and understand that you can (and will, and must) go back later to revise and polish your prose. Make writing your habit, and I wish you the best of luck with your own work!

In this new paranormal fantasy series, a powerful woman who can see the dead must choose whether to forge a new path for herself and her family….

“The problem with ghosts is that they don’t quite realize that they’re dead.”

Voada Paorach can see the dead. It is a family trait, but one that has had to remain hidden since the Mundoan Empire conquered her people’s land three generations ago. But this ghost isn’t the same as the others she has glimpsed, the lost souls she has helped to find their way to the land beyond life. This ghost demands that Voada follow a new path, one that will mean leaving behind everything and everyone she has known and loved.

Voada will come to understand the power that her people possess, but she will also learn the steep price that must be paid for such a gift.

Fast-moving and intense, A Fading Sun explores grief, sacrifice, ambition, and the forging of personality in the crucible of war.

Praise for A FADING SUN

"Leigh’s complex and substantial fantasy series opener adds elaborate spellcasting and powerful sorcerers to the legend of Celtic warrior queen Boudica repelling the Romans.... Leigh skillfully weaves together a comprehensive and rich mythology, intricate fight sequences, and a mother’s all-consuming revenge." —Publishers Weekly

"Readers, who will detect a resemblance to Ireland, Scotland, and England during the Roman era, will eagerly anticipate the sequel." —Booklist

"Leigh builds a vivid, thrilling and exciting new world that will captivate and hold the imagination in A Fading Sun." —RT Reviews

"Stephen Leigh’s A Fading Sun is another powerful entry in the category of stories about the change wrought by empires—for better or worse." —Barnes & Noble Sci-fi & Fantasy Blog

You can purchase A Fading Sun at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you STEPHEN LEIGH for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of A Fading Sun (The Sunpath Cycle #1) by Stephen Leigh.