Blog Tour: David B. Coe, The Outlanders

The Enchanted Alley would like to welcome David B. Coe!

David is here today as a stop on his blog tour for the newly re-released edition of The Outlanders! He’ll be talking to us about the things he’s learned since The Outlanders was originally released — things about writing, about publishing, and about the facing the challenge of returning to your earlier works once you’ve learned a few things. 

About THE OUTLANDERS!

Four years after the insidious, devastating invasion by agents of Lon-Ser, Tobyn-Ser’s Order of Mages and Masters is riven by conflict and paralyzed by inaction. From the outlander, Baram, they have learned much about their neighbor to the west: Unlike Tobyn-Ser, which is served by the Mage-Craft of the Children of Amarid, Lon-Ser is devoid of magic. Instead it possesses a dazzling and deadly technology that shapes every aspect of its people’s daily life.
Frustrated by the Order’s inability to act, Orris, a young, rebellious mage, takes it upon himself to prevent further attacks on his homeland. Taking Baram from his prison, he embarks upon a perilous journey to Bragor-Nal, an enormous, violent city in Lon-Ser, ruled by a brutal, feudal-like system of Break-Laws, Nal-Lords, and Overlords. As Orris soon learns, however, Baram has been driven insane by his captivity. Upon reaching his strange and fractured homeland, the man abandons Orris.
Armed only with his magic, Orris is thrust into a world whose language he does not comprehend and whose technology he can barely fathom. Together with Gwilym, a man with strange powers, whose vision of Orris has lured him out of the mountains and into the chaos of the Nals, and Melyor, a beautiful Nal-Lord who harbors a secret that could cost her life, Orris must end the threat to Tobyn-Ser without getting himself and his companions killed.
THE OUTLANDERS is the second volume of the LonTobyn Chronicle, David B. Coe’s Crawford Award-winning debut series. This is the Author’s Edit of the original book.

And without further ado, here’s David! 

“Lessons Learned in the Writing Trade”

by David B. Coe

I have recently released the Author’s Edit of The Outlanders, the second novel in my very first series, the LonTobyn Chronicle. This follows the re-release of Children of Amarid, book I in the series. Book III, Eagle-Sage, should be re-released in December. These books are incredibly special to me. They launched my career, won me the Crawford Fantasy Award as best new author (this was back when novels were still published on granite tablets), and established my career critically and commercially.

But I also recognized from the time I wrote the books originally that they suffered from many of the flaws that afflict first novels. They were earnest, ambitious, and in many ways quite good, but they were also wordy, overwritten, and longer than they needed to be. Hence the Author’s Edit of the new versions. The Author’s Edit is kind of like the Director’s Cut of a movie — I have revised the books to make them more readable without, I hope, compromising them in any way when it comes to essential story elements like plot, setting, character, pacing, etc. I was able to do this now because at this stage in my career, after writing nineteen novels over as many years, I’ve learned a thing or two about writing and storytelling.

So, I thought it might be helpful to look at some of what I’ve learned and at a few of the lessons I was able to apply when I edited these beloved but imperfect early novels.

  1. Less is more — One of the things I did in editing these books was remove exposition, adverbs, and unnecessary dialog tags including gestures and facial expressions. Not all of them, but enough that the new version of The Outlanders is some 14,000 words shorter than the original. Children of Amarid I cut by 20,000 words. Why? Because readers don’t need to be told every little thing. For instance, sometimes — most times if we’re doing it correctly — dialog conveys meaning through wording and context. We can usually tell from what a character says whether she is angry or sad or joyful. In the original versions I put in so many expressions and gestures that my characters read as caricatures, their facial expressions changing with every word until they seemed like something out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon. “Less is more” means what it sounds like. I could get away with describing fewer of those expressions and gestures without losing meaning. The result is a cleaner, leaner manuscript.
  1. Trust your reader — This is something my editor told me a lot while working on those early books. Readers don’t need to have every little storytelling nuance explained to them. In fact, as with “Less is more,” if we do our jobs as authors we shouldn’t have to explain much at all. Readers can figure out from dialog, from action, from the little details we show, from limited internal monologue, all that they need to follow our stories. We need to trust their ability to intuit what they need to know. Overtelling, pointing out the already obvious, undermines our writing. In a sense, “Trust your reader” is another way of saying “Trust yourself.” Err on the side of telling too little. Let your story speak for itself. And if your Beta readers or your editors don’t understand something, they’ll let you know and you can bolster the narrative with a bit more exposition.
  1. Don’t overuse adverbs — Some people will say that we should NEVER use adverbs. That’s ridiculous. Sometimes adverbs add to our readers’ understanding of context, scene, and emotion. The danger lies in overuse of adverbs. The problem with adverbs is that when used too often they become of symptom of showing rather telling. I used way too many in the original versions of these books and I removed a lot of them in the edits. Some remain, and they add to the narrative. You don’t need to ban them from your writing entirely (see what I did there?); just beware of them.
  1. Reach high, push yourself — This is actually a lesson I was reminded of in reading through these old books, a lesson from my younger self to my older self. They were ambitious novels that demanded a lot of me when I wrote them. I sometimes wonder if my more recent books have been too “safe” in a way, and I am currently writing a new epic fantasy that is as sprawling and far-reaching as these early efforts. And I’m having a blast. So if you sense something lacking in your current work-in-progress, maybe you need to push yourself a bit harder. You might be surprised by how much fun you’ll have if you do.

Lessons learned. Every writing project teaches me something new, whether I’m editing or writing. I love that about this craft. It keeps my work fresh, and it keeps me feeling challenged. As long as that continues to be the case, I’ll keep writing.

Thank you, David!

Everyone here at the Enchanted Alley hopes you will be writing for a very long time. 


About the Author

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David B. Coe/D.B. Jackson is the award-winning author of nineteen fantasy novels. As David B. Coe, he writes The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, a contemporary urban fantasy from Baen Books. The first two books, Spell Blind and His Father’s Eyes came out in 2015. The third volume, Shadow’s Blade, has recently been released. Under the name D.B. Jackson, he writes the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy from Tor Books that includes Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, A Plunder of Souls, and Dead Man’s Reach.

David is also the author of the Crawford Award-winning LonTobyn Chronicle, which he is in the process of reissuing, as well was the critically acclaimed Winds of the Forelands quintet and Blood of the Southlands trilogy. He wrote the novelization of Ridley Scott’s movie, Robin Hood. David’s books have been translated into a dozen languages.

He lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.


Where to find David online


Essential Information

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Title: THE OUTLANDERS (The LonTobyn Chronicle, Book 2)

Author: David B. Coe

Publisher: Lore Seekers Press

Price: $4.99 eBook/ $18.95 Paperback

Length: 561  pages

ReleaseDate: October 2, 2016

ASIN: B01M0ZQPZ9

Goodreads link

Purchase links
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Books-A-Million


Let’s Talk Promotions is also sponsoring a tour-wide giveaway. Click below for more information and to enter. 

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Blog Tour: David B. Coe, Children of Amarid

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About the Book

CHILDREN OF AMARID is the first volume of the LonTobyn Chronicle, David B. Coe’s Crawford Award-winning debut series. This is the Author’s Edit of the original book.

For a millennium  the Children of Amarid have served the people of Tobyn-Ser. Drawing upon the Mage-Craft, which flows from the psychic bond they forge with their avian familiars, the Mages of the Order have fulfilled their oaths by healing the injured and ill, repelling invasions by the land’s enemies, and caring for the people in times of crisis. They are governed by laws handed down by Amarid, the first of their kind, who committed the Mage-Craft to the people’s protection. Only once in a thousand years has a mage defied those laws. Theron, a contemporary of Amarid, sought to use his powers to gain wealth and glory. For that he was punished, though not before he brought down a terrible curse on his fellow mages and all who would come after them.


Essential Information

image003Title: CHILDREN OF AMARID (The LonTobyn Chronicle, Book 1)

Author: David B. Coe

Publisher: Lore Seekers Press

Price: $4.99 eBook/ $18.95 Paperback

Length: 384 pages

Release Date: June 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-1622680498

Goodreads linkhttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/355078.Children_of_Amarid?from_search=true 


Purchase links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Children-Amarid-David-B-Coe/dp/1622680499

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/children-of-amarid-david-b-coe/1100357918?ean=9781622680498

Books-A-Million: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Children-Amarid/David-B-Coe/9781622680498?id=6681036309630


About the Author

image002David B. Coe, who also writes as D.B. Jackson, is the award-winning author of nineteen novels and more than a dozen short stories.

Writing under his own name (http://www.DavidBCoe.com) he has most recently completed a contemporary urban fantasy called the Case Files of Justis Fearsson, published by Baen Books. The first two books,SPELL BLIND and HIS FATHER’S EYES came out in 2015. The third volume, SHADOW’S BLADE, has recently been released.

Writing under the D.B. Jackson pen name (http://www.DBJackson-Author.com), he writes the Thieftaker Chronicles, a series set in pre-Revolutionary Boston that combines elements of urban fantasy, mystery, and historical fiction. All four books in the series, THIEFTAKER, THIEVES’ QUARRYA PLUNDER OF SOULS, and DEAD MAN’S REACH, are available from Tor Books.

David is the author of the LonTobyn Chronicle, his debut trilogy, which received the Crawford Fantasy Award as the best work by a new author in fantasy. He has also written the critically acclaimed Winds of the Forelands quintet and Blood of the Southlands trilogy, and the novelization of director Ridley Scott’s movie, ROBIN HOOD, starring Russell Crowe. David’s books have been translated into a dozen languages.

He received his undergraduate degree from Brown University and his Master’s and Ph.D. in U.S. history from Stanford University.  He co-founded and regularly contributes to the Magical Words group blog (http://magicalwords.net), a site devoted to discussions of the craft and business of writing fantasy, and is co-author of How To Write Magical Words:  A Writer’s Companion.

Find David online at his website http://www.davidbcoe.com, on Twitter, on Facebook or sign up for his newsletter.


Giveaway!

David is giving away a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card (winner’s choice), or one of two copies of CHILDREN OF THE AMARID. Open to US residents only.

Click below to enter!

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Book Review: A Plunder of Souls by DB Jackson

About the book, from DB Jackson’s website:

Boston, Province of Massachusetts Bay, July 13, 1769

New England is in the throes of a sweltering summer. The distant rumble of thunder offers the promise of rain, but the air remains still, oppressive, rank. And an outbreak of small pox has thrown the town of Boston into panic. The distemper is spreading through the streets; people are dying.

Ethan Kaille, thieftaker and conjurer, does his best to keep himself and those he loves safe from the disease while scratching out a living. But with British soldiers still occupying the city, and his beautiful and dangerous rival in thieftaking, Sephira Pryce, dogging his every move, a bit of coin comes hard. Still, when Ethan is asked by the congregation of King’s Chapel to investigate a series of grave desecrations, he refuses payment. The souls of the dead are being disturbed for ill purpose, and Ethan will not profit from it.

Before long, Ethan realizes that the grave robberies have not been committed by ghoulish thieves. Rather, they are the work of a powerful conjurer, one who is mutilating corpses, gathering an army of wraiths, and, through his foul trespass, directing his spells and his scheming at Ethan himself.

Worse, this conjurer is known to Ethan: a vengeful, twisted enemy from his past, who has found a way to enhance his own conjuring abilities while denying other conjurers access to their spellmaking powers. More in need of his conjuring talents than ever before, Ethan finds himself unable to cast, unable to fight, unable to defend himself.

The Enchanted Alley’s Review

Since reading Thieftaker, I have developed extremely high expectations of DB Jackson’s work. I expect a compelling story, character development and depth, magic with consequences, and puzzle to solve. So far, I have never been disappointed.

A Plunder of Souls is the third novel in the series, and I highly recommend reading them in order to fully understand the impact of the events of the novel and the relationships between the characters, particularly as those relationships shift and evolve..Throughout the story, readers get to know some characters much better than they had before, and the characters also come to understand one another in a different way as well.

A Plunder of Souls is the darkest, most violent, and most treacherous novel in the series yet. Ethan Kaille faces an opponent that readers have met before, but the opponent now may be unstoppable. He has done the unimaginable, and Ethan has to try to fix it.

This is a book that you do not want to miss.

The next book, titled Dead Man’s Reach, comes out Summer 2015. I can’t wait.

18490652ESSENTIAL INFO:

Title:  A Plunder of Souls

Author: DB Jackson

Publisher: Tor

Length: 336 pages

Release Date: July 8, 2014

Amazon Link: Buy it HERE

Review: Thieves’ Quarry by DB Jackson

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Travel back in time with Thieves’ Quarry by DB Jackson


The Enchanted Alley’s Review

When Thieves’ Quarry released, I was one of the first in line. I couldn’t wait to find out what Ethan, Diver, Sephira, and Kannice had been up to while I had been gone.

As it turns out, a lot has happened.  There are new conjurers in town, Sephira has acquired a new weapon to use against Ethan, and the British are coming!  (Corny, I know…)  The story really begins when Ethan is woken by a strong conjuring, but he’s not entirely sure if he dreamed it or if it really happened.  From there, he begins to investigate, making some unlikely alliances along the way.  Big changes are on the horizon, not only for Ethan Kaille but for Boston as well.

This book, the second in the series, has a much more oppressive and, frankly, creepy tone than the first book.  Readers could easily pick up this book and enjoy it without having read Thieftakerbut those readers wouldn’t understand the weight of some of the decisions that Kaille has had to make, decisions that haunt him perhaps even more than the mysterious deaths aboard the Graystone.

Thieves’ Quarry is one of those books that I read again and again, not only for the excellent writing and world building, but for the complexity of the story as well.  Even when I know the “aha” of the book, I re-read and still find new clues buried in the prose that I didn’t see before.

Well done, sir.  Well done.


From DB Jackson’s website:

Autumn has come to New England, and with it a new threat to the city of Boston. British naval ships have sailed into Boston Harbor bearing over a thousand of His Majesty King George III’s soldiers. After a summer of rioting and political unrest, the city is to be occupied.

Ethan Kaille, thieftaker and conjurer, is awakened early in the morning by a staggeringly powerful spell, a dark conjuring of unknown origin. Before long, he is approached by representatives of the Crown. It seems that every man aboard the HMS Graystone has died, though no one knows how or why. They know only that there is no sign of violence or illness. Ethan soon discovers that one soldier — a man who is known to have worked with Ethan’s beautiful and dangerous rival, Sephira Pryce — has escaped the fate of his comrades and is not among the Graystone’s dead. Is he the killer, or is there another conjurer loose in the city, possessed of power sufficient to kill so many with a single dark casting?

Ethan, the missing soldier, and Sephira Pryce and her henchmen all scour the city in search of a stolen treasure which seems to lie at the root of all that is happening. At the same time, though, Boston’s conjurers are under assault from the royal government as well as from the mysterious conjurer. Men are dying. Ethan is beaten, imprisoned, and attacked with dark spells.

And if he fails to unravel the mystery of what befell the Graystone, every conjurer in Boston will be hanged as a witch. Including him.


Quarry300Essential Info

Title:  Thieves’ Quarry

Author: DB Jackson

Publisher: Tor Books

Length: 320 pages

Price: $7.69 Kindle $19.29 Hardcover

Release Date: July 2, 2013

Amazon Link: Buy it HERE

ConCarolinas 2014: Killing Characters

Panelists: David Weber, Tamsin Silver, David B. Coe, A.J. Hartley, John Hartness

Moderator: Allen Wold

Question 1

At some point in your story, someone will die.  How do you know who will die and how they will die?

David Weber:

When you’re writing military/combat, people will die or it is too sanitized.

There are two extremes to writing a death.

  1. There and gone.  There’s no reason.  It’s unexpected.  The plot strings are not tied off.  It hits the reader unexpectedly.
  2. The death of a character that the readers are connected to.  Must have a good death.  They have to go out doing something significant.  It concludes their story arc.

David B. Coe:

In a mystery, murder starts the story.  It is like a time clock (plot device) for the protagonist.

A writer shouldn’t just kill another character because the clock is ticking.  Try to get closer to the protagonist with each death.

Tamsin Silver: 

There are casualties of war.  People die serving what they believe in.

The death of others moves the characters, whether for good or bad.

John Hartness:

In Sci-fi and Urban Fantasy, the writer lives and dies by the series.  Characters grow and develop.

Learn, live, lose = how a protagonist evolves.  (Harry Dresden is the example)

Torture the characters to torture the readers.

We’ve all lost people. 

You have to be able to show your character is as real as the real world.

The death of characters moves the main characters along.

Question 2

What genre do you write? And how does death factor in?

A.J. Hartley:

Comedy is not just about being funny.  It’s about how the story ends.

If you want the emotional weight of death, there are ways to do it without killing.

The idea of a sacrifice is the core of a good character dying well.

Question 3

How do you feel about the enemy characters that you have to kill?

A.J. Hartley:

Someone will cry.  Someone will care about the person.

The villains should be real people too.

John Hartness:

In my books the villains are monsters.  Monsters bad.  Shoot it.

Killing a named villain is just as hard or you cheat everyone.

“We’re all servants of the stories…and the royalties.”

Actions have consequences.  The person who cries at the crime scene may become the next villain.

Death creates in its own way.  It can create a new hero or a new villain.

David Weber: 

Most bad guys don’t wake up evil.

Have to have good on one side and evil on the other; dehumanize the other side so they’re easier to kill.

David B. Coe: 

Death for Ethan (in Thieftaker) also affects readers.  Death is binary; people are not.

All the characters have dark sides and flaws.

Everyone he is forced to deal with as an antagonist is the hero of his/her own story.

David Weber: 

In monsters, the sense of empathy has been destroyed.  They’re a destroyed human being.  We rejoice when they go.

David B. Coe: 

Example: the horcrux in Harry Potter.  It gives immortality but is a broken soul.

The big killing in Thieftaker is done with blood magic.  If you take a life with a spell, it’s stronger.

(SPOILER ALERT!)

Ethan is forced to kill a neighborhood dog.

He essentially casts a spell that makes him brother to the man he’s fighting.  He broke his own cardinal rule.  It still affects him three books later.

John Hartness: 

This is done really well because it is not done as a throwaway character.

A.J. Hartley: 

In the Will Hawthorne series, he is an 18-year-old actor. To protect himself and his people, he kills someone in a fight.

It must be an immense event for the character.

He’s not a sociopath…yet.

John Hartness: 

Characters do stuff they don’t want to do.

Example: Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.  Some people just needed killing.

Also, sometimes the killing action is a non-action.  Don’t throw the life-preserver.  Character is passively killed off.

Question 4

Can you kill a main character?

John Hartness: 

Screw you, Jim Butcher.

David Weber: 

If there’s a character you’ve groomed to step into place, maybe.

It’s very risky.

David B. Coe:

If you’re working with a multi-POV book, each character should have his/her own arc.

The arc may end but not be finished.

Example: Macbeth.  Lady Macbeth’s death happens off stage.  The payoff isn’t the death but the character’s reaction.

Serve the story!

Question 5

When does death cheat the audience?

John Hartness: 

When the buildup or consequences are not done well.

David Weber: 

All readers read uniquely.  They may not see it as we wrote it.   We need to write it well so that different readers’ needs are met.

 

 

 

ConCarolinas 2014: Live Action Slush, Round 2

If you haven’t read about the first round of live action slush, you can read about it here.  This round continued where the first round left off.  It seemed a couple of the pieces didn’t have their human present though.  But the info was still great!

In this round, the reader was A.J. Hartley.  Hearing some of the southern style writing read in a British accent was pretty hilarious too.  I wish I could have recorded some of it! (But that wasn’t allowed so everyone would feel safe having their work read aloud.)

The critics were the same three from round one: Faith Hunter, Misty Massey, and David B. Coe.

Here we go!

 

Slush #1

  • In a battle, sentences should be short and fast.
  • When you’re in combat, the only thing you’re thinking about is living to the next heartbeat.

Slush #2

  • Don’t single space.
  • Too much world building and description at the beginning will not sell.
  • Wordiness is bad.
  • Don’t end a sentence with about. (like I just did?)
  • First sentence shouldn’t be long.
  • There’s too much description and no action.

Slush #3

  • Wow. Ravens. Wow.

Slush #4

  • Wow again.
  • Comment from writer of the piece – you know how Stephen King said you have to write a million shitty words to get to the good stuff?  This is about a million five.

Slush #5

  • The big moment got lost.
  • Too much wordiness.
  • Poor organization of necessary info.
  • Watch word repetition and boring description.
  • Needs to be more sparse.
  • Know your weapons.

Slush #6

  • Sparse room doesn’t exists – sparsely furnished room does.
  • Watch out for inconsistent descriptors because they will kick the reader out of the story.
  • First page must be absolutely perfect.

Slush #7

  • At times you want to withhold from the reader, not on the 1st page though.
  • Watch for mood shifts.
  • Remember bait and hook.

Slush #8

  • Need to be clear who the main character is.
  • Find your point of view character.
  • Watch out for the comma splice.  Major error.

Slush #9

  • What’s the point of view?
  • Nothing’s happening.
  • Editors won’t be patient waiting for something to happen.
  • First person, present tense not in style.  (past is preferred)
  • Don’t put self description on the first page.
  • Beautiful women who don’t know they’re hot?  Please.  (That was A.J.’s comment)
  • The panelists (maybe A.J.?) also pointed out that female characters get described by how they look.  Men don’t.

Slush #10

  • Needs intimacy, not distance.
  • Show rather than tell.
  • Description sets the stage for the whole book.

Slush #11 (they were starting to rush at this point because we were out of time)

  • Don’t trivialize the description.

Slush #12

  • This one was hilarious.
  • Humor is good when done right.
  • People wanted more. (I wanted to read more too!)

Thanks for reading!  The Magical Words group said that they plan to do more of these in July at ConGregate, so I will be sure to take notes then too!  They said they might even take a video to share if it’s all right with the writer.

ConCarolinas: Magical Words Beginnings

The Magical Words Beginnings panel was held by Faith Hunter, Misty Massey, and David B. Coe.  Along with C.E. Murphy, those three established the Magical Words site in 2008.  (I hear there is an Android app for it too!)   If you’re an aspiring writer, Magical Words is definitely a place you’d want to visit.

On with the panel notes…

To begin, the first 1-2 paragraphs of the book are some of the most important.  The panelists said that the first paragraph should establish five things.

  1. conflict
  2. character
  3. pacing
  4. setting
  5. point of view

If it doesn’t, revise.

The first page should do what is called “bait and hook.”  This means that you engage the reader (bait) and pull him/her into the story (hook).

Avoid using the beginning of a book for an “info dump” – you can establish character in the beginning, but save back story for later.   You have to be careful not to describe too much.  Choose what’s important.

  • Notice what the character would notice.
  • If the character is in an unfamiliar place, the character will take it all in.
  • If the character is in a dangerous or tense setting, the character will have a more focused and limited view.

Faith read the first two paragraphs of Skinwalker.  Those paragraphs didn’t just set up the first novel; they set up the entire series.   How’s that for impressive?

The panel then shifted a little to what was once in style but has gone out of favor, like cinematic openings.   David and Faith said that while cinematic openings are good for movies, they’ve not been used much in writing for about 20 years, so avoid them.  With a cinematic opening, a couple of things happen.  You have an omniscient narrator (which means you don’t get to the P.O.V character until later) and the camera zooms into the action from far away (which can decrease immediacy and intimacy).

The discussion of openings, narrators, and point of view naturally led to a brief discussion of person.  Should you write in first person, second person, or third person?

  • First person: that’s what is hot right now.
  • Second person: avoid it.
  • Third person: that’s the old standby (Thieftaker and Mad Kestrel are written in third person)

However, with that being said, you should write to the market.  Don’t write to the trends, but do keep the market in mind.

David said, “If you’re going to reject my story, you’re going to do it on my terms.”

Faith said, “Write the book you love, not the book you’ll sell.”  Overall, if you don’t love your book, and you’re not passionate about it, no one else will be either.