The last few months have met with a flurry of releases. We have books from Tanith Lee, Storm Constantine and Neil Robinson. All titles are now available in print on Amazon and other book retailers. Pick up your copies today!
Killing Violets: Gods’ Dogs by Tanith Lee
£10.99, $19.99, E12.85, $17.40Aus, $17.15Can
Editor/Interior Layout: Storm Constantine
Cover Artist: John Kaiine
Cover Blurb: 1934…Starving to death somewhere in Europe, Anna meets Raoul. She is ready to sell herself for a meal, but he has other plans. He takes her to England, to a summer of torrential rain, and the dubious mansion of his arrogant and unsavoury relatives, the Basultes. It seems Anna is also to ‘enjoy’ the godly Basulte life. But the mounds of stodgy food, the genuflecting servants, the mindless cruelty of class, (the endless rain), affront her. Besides, she is becoming aware of the family, Raoul included, is playing with her a macabre and silly game. Anna is a survivor – she has had to be – practiced at acting out the impossible. Both the aristocratic malignities, and the Hogarthian orgies of the servants, can be accommodated, if they must. For did they but know, Anna has a past as savage and explicit as anything seen in the Basulte house. The past, that was Preguna, where Anna loved Árpád, during a European summer of soft heat. Until love ended in the darkness that now hangs on every moment of her life, reducing all other things, however murderous, to nothing.
Aleph by Storm Constantine
Cover Art: Ruby
Genre: Science Fiction
£12.99 $21.99, $20.55 Aus; $20.30 Can; E15.20
Artemis, a world named for a huntress goddess, colonised by a group of political idealists who over the centuries saw their dreams of equality shatter into a brutal matriarchy.
After the events of The Monstrous Regiment, Corinna Trotgarden, her family and friends, and other refugees, have fled the feared city of Silven Crescent and travelled north to an unhabited area, which they have named Freespace. To Corinna’s intense irritation, she is regarded by the community as one of its leaders.
The Freespacers are unaware that for the first time in many years the government of Artemis has been in contact with the outside world, and an interstellar tour company has sent a representative, Zy Larrigan, to check the planet out for possible commercial exploitation. Larrigan’s flyer begins to behave strangely as he moves further away from Silven Crescent, and bizarre events occur in Freespace, which lead Corinna and others to recall tales of the mysterious Greylids – Artemis’ indigenous population, reduced almost to the status of myth. Something terrible and inexplicable is happening, which the Freespacers fear puts their fragile community into peril.
When Zy Larrigan is propelled uncompromisingly into their midst, the Freespacers know for sure they are not alone, but is the mysterious presence that haunts the ancient caves and mountains above their home benign or dangerous? Perhaps it is both. It is up to Corinna to overcome the mental scars of all that happened to her in Silven Crescent and, along with the bemused off-worlder, do what must be done to solve the mystery, whatever the outcome. Originally published in 1991, this new edition of Storm Constantine’s sf novel has been re-edited for its Immanion Press release.
Monday Luck by Neil Robinson
Catalogue number: IP0101
Price: £13.99; $22.99; E16.40; $22.15 (Aus); $21.85 (Can)
Cover Artist: Peter Hollinghurst
Editor: Sharon Sant
Layout: Storm Constantine
Cover Blurb: Lenny, an inept children’s entertainer, is convinced his life is blighted by Monday Luck. Si has an astonishingly boring job. Greg is an American banker obsessed with proving that the south of England is the Centre of the World’s Weirdness. Amanda might not be entirely human…Together they form a team of self-styled Fortean investigators. They spend a lot of their spare time tracking down unexplained phenomena…and a lot more time just talking about it. From big cats in Epping Forest to crocs in a Limehouse sewer to el chupacabras in Surrey – they reckon they’ve seen it all. Then they encounter Marian Harper and her family, Lenny’s luck begins to change, and Marian teaches the Fortean investigators that the strange and the mundane are masks of the same face.
With her years as a writer, Storm Constantine knows her trade. In this series of never before seen articles, Storm gives us authors the tools and tricks of writing and publishing. Look for more articles appearing in our blog throughout this year!
I’m sure that every published writer would say that they are asked this question more often than any other. There are plenty of books available that give advice on the subject, including such worthy tomes as The Writers’ Handbook and The Writers and Artists’ Year Book, as well as a multitude of self-help titles. There are also many web sites that will offer you information. But do these guarantee you the ability to write a best-seller?
It has to be said that a lot of it is down to luck. You might have the most saleable idea in the world, but unless it falls on the right desk at the right time, it might as well not exist. Occasionally, the publishing industry tends to get all hysterical about a new manuscript, and whoever ends up buying it will publicise it to the hilt. This is generally necessary, for any auction situation means they probably had to pay big money for it, in which case the only way to recoup is to actually market the product. It’s a well known fact, especially in genre fiction, that the advance directly affects the publicity budget. If you sell your first book for a pittance, you shouldn’t expect to have adverts on the Tube for it. In fact, your publicity budget will be minuscule, if it exists at all. Unfortunately, unless it’s crazy season, you’ll probably get an advance that seems risible in comparison to the amount of work hours that went into the book. It’s tough and demoralising, but you have to remember that publishing is a business and works like any other. The norm is that new writers get small advances, and build up slowly, as they build up their readership. And the majority of promotion will be down to you. Just because you’re a writer, you’re no more privileged or entitled to special treatment than any other person who has a product to sell. That’s point number one. But some authors are still selling their first books for big money, so maybe we have to analyse what gets the industry hot.
(One thing worth mentioning here is that J K Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was turned down by two publishers before being taken on by Bloomsbury. Imagine how she felt when those rejections came in and how she must feel now. Take heart. You can get lucky.)
Agents and editors will tell you that publishers are always looking for new angles on fantasy. It may come as surprise news to most people who browse bookshops, where there is little evidence of originality, but this is what I’m told. And happily there will always be exceptional new books coming out, even if the majority of new titles in shops seem fairly run of the mill. If you’re working on your own first novel, it’s a good idea to read the best of new titles, not just to size up the competition but to analyse what makes the books different from the rest. Point number two. An author should read as a writer not as a reader. There is a difference.
A way to strive for originality is to avoid traditional fantasy tropes. I’ve seen too many manuscripts telling stories about elves and orcs or vampires, which have all been done to death – or undeath as the case may be. What you should seek is a new vein to tap. Every country in the world has a rich, ancient mythology, some of which has barely been acknowledged in fantasy fiction. Celtic and Norse mythology are common, as is Native American, and books influenced by Japanese and Chinese cultures have appeared, but what about the rest of the world? If this approach attracts you, get a good encyclopaedia of mythology and start looking. The myths themselves can generate ideas for novels and stories. If you really must have characters as elves and orcs, at least try to come up with new terms for them, and do something different with them.
The best novels come from intertwining plot strands, so it’s a good idea to jot down several myths, then combine and change them to come up with something unique. For many writers, the first novel derives from a compulsion, so you generally know what you’re going to write from the start, but if you can stand back and regard your idea critically and think it might be a tad derivative, keep the plot and characters, but tinker with the ‘dressing’. Guard against mixing cultures though. I once read a novel that featured deities and beliefs from both Celtic and Egyptian traditions, all mixed up together, and it wasn’t very convincing.
It’s unlikely that a publisher would commission a novel from synopsis by a first time author, so the next thing you need to do is write the bulk of the book. It’s feasible you could sell it with 200 strong pages or so, but I’d recommend getting it all down, at least in first draft.
Despite what I said above about the compulsive nature of writers, some people have asked me: what should I write for my first novel? How can I come up with an idea? If you want to write, but haven’t been ‘possessed’ (and that is what it can feel like) by an idea, the answer is simple. Your first novel should be the book you’ve always wanted to read but have never found. Writing can be an academic exercise, but novels that truly touch the heart of a reader are those with spirit and feeling. That has to come from a kind of love. Your first novel is a love affair with your creativity. Although subsequent books can be equally fulfilling, nothing compares with the first one, the first love. So when the bulk of your book is written, what comes next? The answer is something that many people find difficult to tackle: the synopsis.
The synopsis is effectively the advert for your book. It’s what potential publishers look at first and they have to be intrigued enough by it to want to read some of the actual manuscript. The problem is that all the complexities of plot and characterisation are very difficult to capture in a short précis. When the story is set down in its bare bones, so to speak, it can appear flat and uninspiring compared with the real thing. So you have to go for a punchy approach, writing the synopsis as if it was the one thing that will attract people to buy and read your book. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it should be like an extended cover blurb, but it should have the same direct and immediate feel. There should be no flab or extended rambling, just get to the point. It’s not an exercise to prove to publishers that you can write beautifully. It’s a sales device. Really, it requires a distinctly separate skill to that of writing fiction, so if you know anyone in the advertising industry, who can give you a hand, ask them for help. Remember that editors receive hundreds of submissions a week, so what’s important is that you convince them your book is much better and more original than anything else coming their way.
Another problem with this is that many writers are naturally self-effacing and it really makes them squirm to promote themselves in a self-aggrandising manner. That’s why it often helps to get someone else to assist you, who you can trust. They won’t be as sensitive about it as you are.
Once you have a synopsis that you think does the business, start sending it out to publishers with a covering letter, about a page of biographical material (again, punchy and interesting), and a chunk of manuscript. It hardly needs to be said, but it does help if your work is nicely presented. The manuscript should always be double line spaced, with 1” margins all round, and the pages should be numbered.
There are arguments for and against trying to secure an agent before you send work to publishers. Obviously, an agent will represent you better than you can represent yourself, and they lend the work an air of respectability, in that it has already passed some kind of test for them to want to represent it. However, one editor of mine said she thought that if authors are sending work to agents they might as well be sending it to editors. The main concern with this is the aforementioned glut of unsolicited (i.e. unrepresented) manuscripts with which editors are deluged continually. Perhaps it is better to give your book the best possible chance and try to get an agent first. It is really up to you.
It can help if you’ve already made forays into the genre by selling short stories to magazines or having them accepted for fantasy web zines. This gives you a kind of writing CV.
So, if you’re lucky enough to find a home for your masterwork, what can you expect? At first, it’s a dizzying experience. Suddenly, you’re a kind of celebrity and that can feel extremely strange. However, once the champagne’s finished and you’ve fluttered back down to earth, you have to carry on working. It’s unlikely (unless you’re a literary genius) that you won’t have to make amendments to your novel once it’s been accepted. If you get a good editor – and thankfully there are still many good editors out there – they’ll help you craft your work to make it better and stronger. One thing I can’t stress too strongly: don’t be precious about what you write. If you’re prepared to accept constructive criticism, your life will be a lot easier. Just remember that editors aren’t trying to attack you personally: they simply want the best for your book. So it’s pointless getting upset and annoyed when they suggest changes, even if those changes seem radical. You have to trust that they know what they’re talking about. It would only reflect badly on them if a book they’ve promoted as the next big thing is savaged by critics. I know the arguments. As an editor myself, I’ve heard them a hundred times. ‘This is my work, my lifeblood, the outpourings of my soul! How can you want to change it? This is what I’ve written. This is how it is!’
Well, all right, but do you actually want to sell the book? If you feel a word of it can’t be touched, perhaps it belongs in your diary rather than a bookshop. As I said before, writing is an industry and temperament can’t come into it.
Hard as it sounds, you should look upon your novel as a product. To be a professional writer, your product has to sell. Aside, perhaps, from independent publishers like Immanion Press and our kind, the people who run publishing (as opposed to editors) aren’t in it solely for love of books. In the case of big publishers especially, they’re in it to make profits. If they didn’t make profits, they couldn’t publish books. When you’ve got the writing bug, and stories seem to flow through your very veins, so that your only purpose in life is to express them, this hard, unpalatable truth can come like a punch to the gut. But you can’t ignore it. Once you’ve accepted it and thought, ‘Oh well, that’s just the way it is’, you can shrug it off and get on with being creative. In real terms, the only time you have to deal with it is when you’re actually selling new work or when your book comes out. The rest of the time you can forget about it, write and be happy.
The marvellous thing at the end of all this is that your book will eventually reach readers, and they care about books very much. Their support restores your faith in what you’re doing. It’s really sad that publishing has had to change from the gentle, scholarly profession it used to be, but we should look on the bright side and at least be grateful that it’s still thriving.
Tanith Lee stops in for a chat with Storm Constantine. Her new book Killing Violets is now available at Immanion Press
Storm: The Colouring Book series comprises new, unpublished titles, except for L’Amber, which appeared through Egerton House a few years ago. How did the ‘colour’ theme come about?
Tanith: It just happened – if anything just ever does that…In a way, the colour theme started a while before, in the late ‘90s, when I wrote 2 short stories – The Sky-Green Blues and Scarlet and Gold. These tales were utterly unrelated to the novels, as to each other, the first an SF Futurist Kafkaesque – er -thing, on another (green-skied) planet, the second a sort of werewolf story in a parallel 18th Century Eastern Europe. However, I realised I had green/blue and red (scarlet)/yellow( gold) , and something formed for me a third title, a take on the other obvious colour combine, purple/orange – which became lilac/amber. Lilac then abbreviated itself to L’ : L’Amber. No story properly evolved, but the title lingered on. And in a while (about a year?) characters began to encircle my campfire, their eyes glowing.
What the title meant came clear for me, as for the main protagonist, with the novel’s progression.
Then, about a year and a half after that another contemporary-ish (as L’Amber had been) novel made its presence felt: Greyglass. Aside from the fact that they were both (sort of) about the so-called ‘here and now’, I made no connections, colour-wise. But by the time the third one laid its paws on me, I’d begun to see these really were Colouring Books. For there was to be a colour, (and always a mixed colour, not a primary (Red, Yellow, Blue)) in the title of each. The titles, without exception, are completely relevant to the plots.
Only the book which now appears fourth in publication – Killing Violets – was not originally part of this series. I wrote it some while even before L’Amber, and it went by the tag Gods’ Dogs, which remains its secondary title. However, its inner preoccupations, for me, undeniably fit the series, and the Colouring title that now flies top of its mast is entirely compatible with its theme, and its sad, sad heart.
Ivoria, which comes next in publication order, is also true to its name. As is, in the oddest ways, the fifth novel, Cruel Pink.
I realise belatedly that I do have a few unrelated other books with colours in their titles – e.g.: Red as Blood, The White Serpent, Black Unicorn. These things happen, and I can’t restrict the rest of the pack. (There is another Garber book too, that sometime I hope to get written, called Cleopatra At the Blue Hotel – and it is nothing to do with the Colouring Books.) I’d suggest, whether primary colours or not, red, white, black and blue are definitives in their way. NOT mixed. To get a really hard black you need black. And though all the colours together make white, outside a controlled experiment one doesn’t often witness that.
Nevertheless, I can’t one day exclude writing some volume called, say, The Mauve Mountain. Or (doubtless under the influence of strong coffee and alcohol) Tawny Rose and Smoky Jade. (Or perhaps not.) Continue reading
Liber Ursi: Caballistic Planetary Rituals From Temple of the Eternal Light
Author(s): Karen DePolito and Jerome Birnbaum
184 pages, #MB0154, 1st edition
£10.99, $19.99, E12.85, $17.40Aus, $17.15Can
Editor/Interior Layout: Taylor Ellwood
Cover Artist: Danielle Lainton
Genre: Magic Studies
Cover Blurb: Liber Ursi presents a series of ceremonial magick rituals, created by Karen DePolito and her late partner, Jerome Birnbaum (a/k/a Tau Ursa), when they ran Temple of the Eternal Light in New York City. They are based on Jerome’s work with the Necronomicon, which he helped his own teacher, Simon, put together in the 1970’s. The work progresses up the planetary spheres (Sephiras) of the Caballistic Tree of Life, with commentaries on each planet along the way. You will also learn about preparing for ritual, magickal clothing and tools, meditation, visualization, and establishing ritual space. Liber Ursi is for students with a beginning knowledge of magick, who are interested in higher forms of ceremonialism – a simpler, user-friendly alternative for those discouraged by the complexities of similar books. Regardless of the reader’s own spiritual tradition, Liber Ursi provides a well-rounded introduction to Caballistic Ceremonial magick, and a springboard for a dedicated practitioner’s own evolution.
A Circle of Stones: Journeys and Meditations for Modern Celts
Author: Erynn Rowan Laurie
124 pages, #MB0156, ISBN: 978-1-905713-77-6
£10.99, $19.99, E12.85, $17.40 (Aus), $17.15 (Can)
Editor: Taylor Ellwood
Layout: Taylor Ellwood/Storm Constantine
Cover Artist: Wyldraven
Genre: Occult Thought and Practice
” Circle of Stones, originally published in 1995, offers a unique approach to meditation and Otherworld journeying in a Celtic Pagan context through the use of prayer beads as a focus for understanding early Gaelic cosmology and ways to journey through its three realms of land, sea, and sky. With chapters on ritual, altars, journeying, and communicating with deities, this short book has provided seekers with tools for their spiritual work for nearly twenty years. This new edition offers a much improved pronunciation guide for the Irish and Scots Gaelic in the text, and a new foreword that offers context for the book’s historical place in the emergence of Celtic Reconstructionist Pagan spirituality. One of the classic foundational works of the Celtic Reconstructionist movement, A Circle of Stones presents a beautiful meditation discipline centered around a reconstructed cosmology of the pagan Irish Celts. Drawing upon traditional Gaelic prayers, poetry, and mythological symbolism for use in concert with a mindfully crafted Celtic mala or set of prayer beads, Erynn Laurie has created an accessible gateway through which the dedicated seeker may explore the realms of the Irish Otherworld and activate its various strands of wisdom in their lives.”Jhenah Telyndru, Avalon Within: A Sacred Journey of Myth, Mystery, and Inner Wisdom, Founder, Sisterhood of Avalon
Circle of Stones was not only the first book introducing us to Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism, but was also the most sublime. A simple collection of meditations and instructions that simultaneously introduces the reader to the language, gods, and poetry of the ancient elts. This is a workbook that rewards repeated returns to its pages, allowing novices and experienced Pagans alike to drink from Manannan mac Lir’s well of wisdom. The return of Laurie’s book to print is a boon, a gift to the wider Pagan community that should not be overlooked. Jason Pitzl-Waters, The Wild Hunt @ Patheos.com
This long-anticipated and much-demanded reprint of A Circle of Stones will continue to stand, as has the first edition, as an important monument in the growing modern tradition of Celtic Reconstructionist polytheist practice, particularly in the medieval- and folk-derived Irish traditions of that movement. The historical significance of this book alone makes it a necessary item in the library of anyone interested in these subjects. Dr. Phillip A. Bernhardt-House, Werewolves, Magical Hounds, and Dog-Headed Men in Celtic Literature
Both Titles can be purchased directly from our Amazon Shop
Mail Chimp must have shared our enthusiasm as it release the fan newsletter a day earlier!! I will be unlocking all the posts that were mentioned in it this morning. We hope you enjoy the fan newsletter. Feedback and Comments are welcome! To leave feedback place your comments below or email publicity @ immanion-press.com (without the space)
An event of interest for those in the Seattle, Washington Area! The Esoteric Book Conference. Just glancing at the website, it looks to be an amazing conference supporting esoteric books and publishers.
The conference takes place: September 15th and 16th, 2012 and although full details of the schedule have not been provided Erynn Rowan Laurie author of Circle of Stones will be making a presentation (for details see her website here)
To get full details about the conference click here