I edited TO JOURNEY IN THE YEAR OF THE TIGER.
My very first novel.
My daughter would say WTF? To me that says With the Fantastical! so it's a rather different meaning. You see, I've been getting active on Goodreads and have discovered reviews for my books that I never knew I had before! Great reviews, honest reviews… brutally honest reviews in fact, and I cringe with every truth that is written. That truth boils down to the fact that, while I read and re-read, wrote and rewrote those first books, I never really, truly edited them. I didn't know how.
It was an interesting journey (pun intended) for that one. Originally planned as a Graphic Novel when I was pencilling for DC Comics back in the day, it quickly became too big, too sprawling for my artist's brain to contain. I needed to write it down so I would know what to pencil later on. But the story took off and began a journey of it's own, quickly becoming a novel very much like what you read today. Until, of course, I read "Lions of al-Rassan' by Guy Gavriel Kay and stopped all my attempts at the literary craft in shame. (But that's another story for another blog.) I filled my time with life, kids, work, painting, anything but writing. Years later, I picked it up, almost exactly where Journey/Tiger ends and finished it within four months. It was big. It was epic. It was 250,000 words. Equivalent to a 1,000 page novel. Yikes.
I didn't know. Hey, I thought, "Epic fantasy is really big!" In my sweet innocence, I googled publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts and sent it out into the slush pile wilderness. I even printed it in its entirety for TOR as they were only accepting paper manuscripts. It cost me almost $100 to mail it. The rejection I got back cost them 25 cents. I could have been crushed if it hadn't been for a man named Daniel Lazar at a place called Writer's House.
Now, to attest to my newbieness, I honestly thought Writer's House was a publisher. I don't know why. This was a different world. Agents, publishers, they all ran together in my zoologist brain like deer and moose or wolf and coyote. In case you don't know, Daniel Lazar is a brilliant agent and I sent him my query, unknowing. He read it and within 24 hours, requested the entire MS. I sent it. He read it, he loved it, he said it wasn't his thing (he reps a very different genre) but he said there was something in the writing that just gave him hope. He knew I was onto something with this story of lions and tigers and bears, oh my, and to keep trying and never give up. He was so gracious, so encouraging that I began to believe that I might just have something to offer. He did have one piece of advice.
And not 'edit it.' Cut it. In half. Too big, too long, no one would publish it that way. Make it Part 1 and Part 2, or in the case of Epic Fantasy (a world of it's own) Book 1 and Book 2. And so, without really considering the ramifications, I did. I cut this huge monster of a book which was always called TO JOURNEY IN THE YEAR OF THE TIGER even in it's photographic novel phase, in half.
And, TO WALK IN THE WAY OF LIONS was born.
So this answers all the questions and comments re: the ending of Journey/Tiger. It does seem arbitrary because it WAS arbitrary. It was a natural break and I took it, all on the advice of a man I thought was a publisher! So I began to send it/them out as a duology, a tag-team of Book 1 and Book 2, Siamese/conjoined twins two but one, telling one very big story. I got several rejections from publishers but for the most part, all my beta readers loved it, so I continued, undaunted until I heard that the internet megagiant/superstar sales powerhouse called Amazon was publishing books.
I've never really embraced vanity press, but with Amazon, I didn't need to print 2000 books and try to flog them. If I sold, I sold. If I floundered, I floundered. There was little risk and for a science geek like me, this world of rejection and applause was so very daunting. This road seemed like a good way to find out if anyone other than my DC comics crew wanted to read anything I might say. So, again, with bright shiny newness, I uploaded first Tiger, then Lion, sat back and crossed my fingers to wait.
End of Part 1
('cause I'm mean that way.)