Published: The Tiny Giant

full cover final

Look at that, I wrote a book. The Tiny Giant is published, available on Amazon and from my online store, and it’s really, really better than I could have hoped. I’ve been so busy with the last iteration, then the nuts and bolts of publishing, everything else got shoved to the side. A few things to know, for the writers interested in these things…

I wrote this book five times.

The first draft was about 83,000 words. The published edition is around 45,000 words.

The final draft has a completely different ending, four new characters, and holds the third “aging” of the main character—from 8 to 12 to 11.

The first draft had 18 long chapters. The final has 35 short ones.

A whole plot line moved to the next book, and a bunch of fancy fantasy world-building crap just disappeared.

The entire process took me four years.

I used an editor and a professional artist/designer at the end. (DO THIS if you possibly can.)

Also, I cried, I was on fire, I was depressed, and I laughed out loud. This is not a process for the faint of heart or those lacking perseverance. There are two things that I think got me through it.

  1. Be Too Dumb to Quit: A lot of what I’ve accomplished in life, well, I got to it this way. My first professional job had a glitch in the hiring process, and I had to temp for a while until a position opened up. I called the partner every week until he finally said he had something. I ran a half-marathon. I wrote a novel. I could have quit at any point, but I didn’t want to tell people I quit. I did all sort of drastic rewriting and revising and improving—because I’m too dumb to quit. It may not be an easy way to live your life, but I’ve been pretty happy with the results to date.
  2. They Can’t All Be Winners: Sometimes, stuff just doesn’t work. Characters, ideas, story lines, words. If you had a dozen children, odds are at least one wouldn’t work out like you’d imagined. I had to make painful, heart-wrenching decisions to get to the end with this. I had to cut things I really liked, true, but I also had to admit that some of it WASN’T GOOD. As much as I wanted the construct of magic I’d made to work, it wasn’t a winner. It was dragging everything down into the Pit of Incomprehensibility. When I took it out, everything was better. (I realize I may be opening the kimono a little much here, but I’m nothing if not OPEN.) On the good side of this, it shows that you’re taking risks when you have things that don’t work. I have a couple of short stories in my drawer that won’t ever get developed because THEY ARE NOT WINNERS. S’alright. I learned.

There will be a sequel, and I’ll be shopping it to traditional publishers as a series when I’m a few chapters in. I didn’t do much of that with The Tiny Giant. I felt like I wanted to learn what I was doing without the distraction–maybe that was dumb, but I still have a book and the publishers are still there. In the meantime, I’ve been doing school visits and that is terrific fun. Kids have the best questions–I might do a whole post about that experience.

If you want a fun, easy summer read, The Tiny Giant is for you. If you have kids in the 9/10+ age group around, this is great summer reading for them. There’s adventure, a dragon, and the unexpected. There are hard decisions. There are some very funny bits. Get it signed at my online store at Little Voices Publishing, or head over the Amazon and use that Prime shipping.

Now I’m working on Bitches and Dead People–all the stories are written and I’m working with a different editor on those, one with specific expertise in short fiction and some familiarity with the horror genre. It’s some fantastic writing, and I can’t wait to share it later this year.  Until then, I’ll be around a little more. Thanks for being here.


PS. Isn’t that cover the most gorgeous thing ever? Steve Ogden at Steve Ogden Art did the cover, book design, and little illustrations for each chapter head. Check him out on your fave media platform for his comics and the behind the scenes on The Tiny Giant. Here’s one of my favorite chapter illustrations. Bahahaha….IMG_7279

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Multitoydinous

IMG_2520many pieced trip hazard
very educational
I’ve learned I hate you

Note: A lot of people badmouth LEGO. I don’t mind LEGO, because I have special sandals I wear in the house that give me +20 to impervious feet. These things, however, are a huge pain in ass.

It’s Bad Poem-a-Day August! I bet you thought I’d forgotten all about it, and you’d be right! At 11PM last night, I remembered that I had a solemn commitment to provide bad poetry for 31 days, so I wrote one right quick. This approach works well for me, we’ll see how it works for you.

Shaming Our Mothers

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When my son plays by himself, I shamelessly eavesdrop on the running commentary.  It’s often funny and charming, and it gives me a window into what the quirky little guy is thinking or feeling that day.  Once, with his little plastic animals, I overheard one animal tell another this:

“Now you have to go home and see what your parents think of your bad choices.”

This was said with more than a hint of satisfaction.  Naughty Critter was definitely in for it, and Sensible Critter was enjoying it.

No matter how old we get, that still resonates.  If you have (or had) any kind of relationship with your parents, you care what they think about your choices.  You want them to be proud of the work that you’re doing.  You want to take your mom to the Oscars and watch her enjoy How You Turned Out.  It’s normal and loving to want your parents marveling at your good choices.  (For ease, I’m going to shorten “parents” to “mom” here, but it could be either or both.)

But…. what if your art pulls you in a direction that you think your mom isn’t going to like?  Writing books for children is in this way an easier choice—nothing controversial, few opportunities to use f#%*, nothing to ruin Thanksgiving.1  I have several books for children in the works, and it’s nice to know that my mom will be able to read these without feeling like she needs to have a “talk” with me.  Writing for adults, about adults, gets a lot trickier.

When I’m not writing for children, I’m writing psychological horror stories.  If I’m being honest, they are better work.  The dark humor and complexity of these stories is something I’ve worked hard at, and it shows off the best of what I can presently do as a writer.  And…that’s the problem.  Aside from issues of readership, where people have trouble separating different types of work, how do I tell my mom I’m going to publish a story collection called “Bitches and Dead People”?2  Will she get the vapors or will it be Tuesday?  It’s probably somewhere in the middle, but here’s some things to think about.

Your mom is not actually a satellite of you.  We spend our whole lives thinking of our mothers in terms of how they relate to us.  The child’s narcissism in relation to his parents never really goes away.  Because of that, we forget that our moms had (and still have) lives that do not revolve around us.  She was probably reading The Clan of the Cave Bear series and enjoying those sexy, sexy Ayla/Jondalar scenes while you were at elementary school.  She might have even snuck a peek into that “50 Shades” book.  She probably enjoys other things we are completely unaware of, like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain.  Let your mom be a fully formed, three-dimensional person in your mind for a few minutes and see that you don’t necessarily know much about her.  There are big chunks that aren’t filled in.  Don’t presume that there aren’t.

Moms have a past and they have made their own bad choices that they don’t share with us.  Let’s be really clear, we do not want them to share this unless it is an extremely important teachable moment.  That is all I’m going to say about that.  Just no.

You can’t parent your characters into behaving as your parents would expect them to.  My mom has opined that curse words are the refuge of the lazy.  When I am writing humor, or an opinion piece like this, I think that’s probably mostly correct.  If I work a little harder, I can come up with something just as funny or precise or better.  When I’m writing fictional dialogue or inner monologue, though…well.  My characters did not have the benefit of this wisdom.  They are Flawed, and it shows.  If I sat with my Flawed people and fretted, “Oh, my, what will people think of the naughty language, oh dear,” my Flawed people would also be Unbelievable.  I can’t parent my characters and chronicle their true selves at the same time.  They are gloriously broken and that’s what makes them interesting.

Censoring yourself because of what you think someone might think is proactively timid.  I don’t know what my mom and dad are going to say to me when and if they read my work for adults.  They don’t have to read it—my mom doesn’t like horror stories anyway, so maybe she won’t read any of it, or I’ll just print out the ones that aren’t especially scary for her.  That’s her choice, though.  Maybe she’ll tell me that she thinks they’re terrible and belong in the trash can.  That wouldn’t be nice, but it would also be disrespectful for me to presume that I know what’s good for her.  This is where we have to be adults, two of them, and say, “You might not like this, but I hope you can appreciate it.”

As a last thought, I called this little thing “Shaming Our Mothers” for a reason.  Most of us would rather not, and we spend energy trying not to be an embarrassment to the people who love us.  Maybe, though, we don’t know what that means in the one place where it’s meaningful.  Let your mom be a real person for a minute, and then give her the chance to decide whether she’s shocked and disappointed in your bad choices for herself.  It might be surprising for you both.


1 Hey, I’m not saying it’s impossible.  Maybe your character has three heads and Aunt Linda is part of that “One Head” movement, and she decides to create a fuss over the turkey and the stabbings commence.  It’s just a lot less likely.

2 Hi, Mom!  Guess what?