Meet Winston Worsley…

One of everybody’s favorite new characters in Alexandria Reborn is Winston, the ‘old cowboy’ as he calls himself who hails from west Texas. This is one of my favorite scenes when he first meets Rand and Rand discovers the other side of those who work with The Slendoc Meridian. (And, yes, a spin off book on his adventures is in the works)

“All right now, son,” Winston said. “You’ve heard enough of my story. Tell me yours. I have a feeling I might need this,” he lifted his glass in a silent toast.
“I don’t drink liquor.”
“No problem, chief ” he said as he grabbed Rand’s glass, tilted it and consumed it in a single swallow. “Ah, just the stuff. Now, get started.”
“Here’s the Cliff Notes version. My grandfather left me a map to destroy. I got chased. I got kidnapped. I was taken to The Castle. They found some of the Meridian through the map, then –”
“Slow down. Slow down. Slow down. Damn son.” Winston lifted a hand to his temple, closed his eyes. “Okay, start over. Your grandfather? What was his name?”
Rand hesitated.
“Come on. I’m all you got to trust right now. Are you just going to sit there like a stubborn mule all night? Shit, I’ve got a couple of guns down here. You want them as insurance? Would that make you feel better talking to me?” The man gave a chuckle. “I’m too old for this. Kidnapped? Chased? Austria? Just start over. Slowly. Who was your grandfather?”
“Henry O’Neal.”
The man sat there staring at Rand. His eyes slowly moving over his face. Studying him. Trying to peer into him, Rand thought, wanting to see if he was true. If his words were real.
“I’ll be damned,” a low whisper escaped from the man’s throat. “What? Did you know him?” Rand asked.
The man dropped his head, stared at the table. Twisted his lips
in a look of resolve. Locked his eyes on Rand. “So you’d be Andrew and Madeline’s boy?”
“Yeah, that’s right.”
“Son of a bitch. Small world.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Looks like we have a lot of talking to do.”

1 year anniversary thoughts: Donning the PR hat, publishing econo and lots of thank yous!

one year finalbig ups to these businesses and outlets that supported the book this year!
One of the most challenging parts of running an indie press is you have to assume all the roles. You are not only the author, but also the graphic designer, layout chief, executive editor, marketing manager and, the hardest of all, the public relations team.
I say that, because working PR as in asking people to buy your book is very tough. That sounds odd, because if you thought your book wasn’t worth buying, you wouldn’t sell it to begin with, right? Of course. But, then the other side of the coin is you don’t want to say or post, “Hey, buy my book. It’s great!”
But you have to. Because if you don’t have a dedicated PR team or relentless agent, no one else will. And what I wouldn’t give for a good agent like B.B. Glazier from Frasier, right?
Bebe

FRASIER — “The Devil & Dr. Phil” Episode 21 — Pictured: Harriet Sansom Harris as Bebe Glazer — (Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)

But the bottom line is: You create something. It takes time and energy. Creativity. Years to hone your craft. And production. And therefore you want to be compensated for it. Even if it is only a couple of bucks. There is nothing wrong with that. You don’t go to a furniture store or a restaurant and ask the craftsman or chef, ‘Hey, can I get this for free?’ or ‘Why are you advertising?’ or ‘Why are you running a special?’
For some reason though, it is tough to put it out there when you are an individual artist. I won’t go into the psychological and social details here, but most writers I know are way too shy about doing this.
And as much as I dislike putting on my bowler hat, barking sales orders and putting out a virtual dancing balloon, you have to do it. I’ve been luckier than most in this regard and that I’ve had prior experience with this. I spent over a decade off and on writing and performing music. Back in the early 90s, I was in a band based out of Brevard, N.C. and being that we were all influenced by the punk rockers before us, we believed in touting our group with flyers announcing gigs, asked people to buy our demo tapes while on stage, performed free acoustic gigs to work off community service hours and, overall, in the immortal words of bass guru Mike Watt, “we jam econo.”
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The phrase was Watt’s slogan for his band The Minutemen in their early days when they built a following on low-cost record production, inexpensive touring and a real DIY attitude.
We jam econo.
We do it ourselves.
Don’t want to sign us to a major deal, okay we’ll do it on our own.
We’ll sell merchandise out of our van.
We still hold down day jobs and book the most inexpensive studio time.
All just to make it happen.
We jam econo.
That phrase has re-entered my vocabulary and consciousness the last year since Alexandria Rising was published in October 2016. After a serious bicycle accident which has still left chronic pain in one hand, I decided to quit waiting on the replies from ivory towered agents. So I founded my own press and published independently. Oh yes, I’ve spent money on advertising and promotions. But, as I’ve said above, I’ve also done every other job in relation to book publishing. I published econo.
And, it’s been a good year. The average book sells less than 250 copies a year and roughly 1 million books were published last year..  Alexandria Rising is on trend to cross the 1,000 mark by the end of October. Alexandria Rising has also been bought in seven countries, three continents and over 30 states. (I am trying to get an e-book to Antarctica by the end of the year by the way as I pen this.) The sequel dropped in August and the third and perhaps final book is slated to drop in less than six months. And I’ve been featured on several blogs, newspapers, podcasts and reviews. I’ve had book signings hosted by super local businesses that believe in supporting local art and culture. I’ve given readings at businesses that feel the same way.
And most of all, I’ve had wonderful friends and readers who’ve spread the word. And I am very, very grateful to everyone. Having the encouragement from real people means the world to me.
And your enthusiasm gave me the fuel to keep going even after dealing with degrading comments from snobby critics, pretentious academics and many farcical “arts organizations” who refuse to even glance at indie authors books.
So, I’ve relearned it’s okay to be your own PR man.
You got to do, what you got to do.
Why wait?
We jam econo.
I publish econo.
And it works. If the product is good, the people will come.
Thanks so much for coming.
Best, Mark Wallace Maguire

Farewell J.P. Donleavy: God have mercy on the wild Ginger Man

The great J.P. Donleavy has died at the ripe old age of 91. I’ve been a Donleavy fan since my senior year in college when I discovered his work while studying in Ireland. Donleavy is the King of The Tragicomedy. “The Ginger Man,” in particular, his first novel exemplifies that concept and the main character, Sebastian Dangerfield, weaves his way through life in a forays of mischief, alcohol, mastery of a silver tongue and general shenanigans. Though Dangerfield is not a gent to be sure – an understatement many would say –  his wit and charm win over the reader.

Dangerfield defines many of Donleavy’s characters who are far from moral heroes, but likeable and enjoyable to read because of Donleavy’s grand writing style.

In, “The Ginger Man,” Donleavy weaves together a stream-of-conciousness narrative that alternates between first and third person – somewhat Joycean –  but with stronger word choice. He also ends every chapter with a poem, generally three of four lines and rarely rhyming, but a gorgeous literary device that works to sum up the state of mind in the character’s life quite well at the point. Here is an example:

All I want
Is one break
Which is not
My neck.

God knows, I’ve uttered that phrase many times on this orb.

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To say I’ve been influenced by Donleavy would be an understatement. I haven’t totally immersed myself in his writing style, but do use his techniques of shifting between third and first person, though on a much smaller and tamed basis. I also find his use of humor and wit unrivalled in many aspects.

While I find certain parts of “The Ginger Man” a bit uncomfortable reading it many years after I first read it, I still do praise Donleavy’s style of writing. Perhaps, most of all,  I believe that perhaps alongside Pat Conroy, he is the greatest describer of nature I have read, particularly in “The Destinies of Darcy Dancer, Gentleman.” And I believe that gift of his is greatly overlooked. For example, take this passage from one of his books.

“The sun of Sunday morning up out of the sleepless sea from black Liverpool. Sitting on the rocks over the water with a jug of coffee. Down there along the harbor pier, trippers in bright colors. Sails moving out to sea. Young couples climbing the Balscaddoon Road to the top of Kilrock to search out grass and lie between the furze. A cold green sea breaking whitely along the granite coast. A day on which all things are born, like uncovered stars.”

And this:

“Come here till I tell you. Where is the sea high and the winds soft and moist and warm, sometimes stained with sun, with peace so wild for wishing where all is told and telling.”

Simply gorgeous.

Godspeed to Donleavy. I end this with the great last line from ‘The Ginger Man” which serves as a fitting eulogy.

“On a winter night I heard horses on a country road, beating sparks out of the stones. I knew they were running away and would be crossing the fields where the pounding would come up into my ears. And I said they are running out to death which is with some soul and their eyes are mad and teeth out.

God’s mercy
On the wild
Ginger Man.”

A wee bit of Hobbit, a dash of Elf and now a smidgen of Fairy…

Today, I became an official Book Fairy.  I don’t think the honor will land on my resume – then again who knows – but, the work these fellow fairies do hiding books for readers to find across the globe is commendable. Also, for someone who loves a good riddle, symbol and clue, it is right up my alley. I’ve always considered myself an oversized Hobbit – likes nature, good food, laughter and beer, hates machinery – but also with a dash of Elf. However, now in my genetic disposition, I will need to add Fairy. Here is the link to check out what they do if you want to get involved.

You ain’t Spota be doin’ that! What’s in a character’s name?

Spota.

This is a picture of the man who inspired the character in Alexandria Reborn.

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What an interesting name? How did he get this name? Who is this guy and why is he in your novel? Who is the real Spota then?

No spoilers here, but in the scene where he introduces himself to Rand, it reads as such:

“By the way, my name is Rand,” a handshake extended and met.

“Nice to meet you, Rand. You can just call me Spota.”

“Spota?”

“Yeah, as in you ain’t spota be doin’ that. You ain’t spota say that. You ain’t spota blow that shit up like that. You know? I have many other names. Some good, some bad. Some people call me the man because I am basically the best at what I do. Some call me Clooney because I am so handsome, but most people here just call me Spota.”

Rand laughed. Needed it. Spota’s levity was instantly contagious.

“Spota it is then.”

“Good, now let’s get out of this heat.”

Spota is one of the new characters in the Alexandria Rising Chronicles and is inspired by a longtime friend Adam Kijanksi who – when I met him at Berry College 25 years ago or so – was nicknamed Spota because he wasn’t spota be doin’ that or spota be sayin’ that. The demolition stuff? No, entirely made up for the book. Adam is actually an outstanding citizen, husband and father whose work with veterans and mental health is commendable (and no, he is called Adam these days, though I am sure he wouldn’t mind a Spota reference now and then).

So how did I come about to use Spota in Alexandria Reborn? What about the other names? Are some of them real people?

Well, one of the best aspects about writing fiction is creating new characters. You can take a piece from one person you know, a little from yourself, a bit from someone else and then blend it up, toss in some imagination, a random trait, symbolism and see where it leads you. Some – like the villain of the first book Kent St. James – are just bloody fun to write because he is so evil and condescending. Others – like Michael Casey the cabdriver – are just an impression of, yes, a cab driver I met while traveling in Ireland 20 or so years ago. By myself. Like Rand. Riding in the front seat. Like Rand. And the man did have a bushel of nose hair.

One of the things I wanted to do in the sequel was to further world creation. Rand is somewhat limited in his scope of The Organization’s reach in the first novel. In Alexandria Reborn, I wanted to show the other sides and, along the way, introduce new characters. While Rand is a smart aleck at times, I wanted some true levity and mano y mano bonding and brotherhood. No yuk-yuk banal humor, but true wit, word play, authenticity of character and scenes of brotherhood and bonding.

Adam was kind enough to let me use the Spota name in this book. I think you’ll enjoy getting to know this new character as you read the book. He does add some levity, is great with wordplay and dialogue, and, much like the man who inspired the character – is authentic, true and a brother in arms along the journey.

 

Flet, Levitious, Coolth. Coin a word? Puncture punctuation? Don’t mind if I do

joyce

Flet? Levitious? Coolth? Descension?

Sound familiar? No, probably not.

These are just a few of the words I coined in my new novel, “Alexandria Reborn.” (Definitions of each word is at the bottom)

Sometimes, coining a word just makes sense. I honesty did not – Seamus Heaney, Tolkien or Shakespeare like – sit down and invent words or extract ancient words from the past. Many of them just came to me. They made more sense than having to spell it out and, as with punctuation, when one is writing a novel, one can do what one wishes to fit the flow of the chapter or the pacing – aren’t commas great for pacing? – or just how the author wants it. Thankfully, authors are not bound by the general rules of MLA, AP or Chicago style. Nor, are we bound by other rules of narration, punctuation or mixing first and third persons (see Faulkner). And I am far from the first to break these rules. Shakespeare coined a ton of words, many of which we still use today. Roddy Doyle uses dashes instead of quotation marks.  James Joyce wrote Finnegan’s Wake, which includes such sentences as:

“We pass through grass behush the bush to. Whish! A gull. Gulls. Far calls. Coming, far! End here. Us then. Finn, again! Take. Bussoftlhee, mememormee! Till thousendsthee. Lps. “

Then you have chaps like Cormac McCarthy who refuse to use semi-colons (I might agree with him there).

Of course, let’s not even delve into poetry where William Carlos Williams wielded puncutaiton and captilization to his own means and created an entire glorious non sensical, yet sensical, universe or the esteemed T.S. Eliot who wrote some of the most significant passages of Western Civilization and still dropped lines like this:

Le Prince d’Aquitaine à la tour abolie

These fragments I have shored against my ruins

Why then Ile fit you. Hieronymo’s mad againe.

Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.

Shantih     shantih     shantih

Yes, there is a method to each of these writer’s madness (and I know that Eliot was using symbolism), but the point I am making is how fun it is – dare I use that word again? Fun? –  to write and read freely and creatively. To engage without bounds. Perhaps an action-adventure novel was not the place for me to introduce a few new words to the English lexicon. Then again, why not? It is my book after all. I am finally free of two decades of editors and 20 years before that of the brutal black and white world of English teachers.

The good news is if new words and odd punctuation and spellings (yes, I still prefer grey) bother you, they are used enough in context so you can catch the drift. If these literary devices do not bother you and you like them, rejoice! My next novel is filled with many. And after that, I might go full Joyce-ian and dance wylde-like undereth the blueth sky with full experiment house like sodium drenched φ exhaltation.

Per prior above see:

Flet: A combination of Fled and Flit. Generally used in an internal form such as, ‘thoughts flet through his mind’ I can provide more details as to philology and etymology if you wish, but this is the basic idea.

Levitious: Having or, and, or pertaining to levity.

Coolth: Use this one whenever possible. Borrowed it from said Heaney.

Descension: The act to descend – actually a Middle English term that went out of vogue.

Book signing with ‘Rand O’Neal approved coffee!’

gremlin growlers flyer

 

Well, the tour for Alexandria Reborn and the Alexandria Chronicles kicks off with a book signing at Gremlin Growlers Saturday, August 19 from 1 to 4 p.m. in Fayetteville, Georgia. I’m delighted to participate with the folks at Gremlin Growlers for many reasons including they have the best coffee and craft beer selection in Fayette, they love the book and on the Facebook invite they posted:

“Enjoy a Rand O’Neal approved amount of caffeine or indulge in a frothy pint of the dark stuff to help you settle in and begin an adventure you’ll not soon forget! Gremlin Growlers is beyond excited to host this amazing author in an environment practically torn from the pages of his mind making the characters feel right at home.”

Reading a good review is always a boost, (and yes, kind readers, please do not shy away from posting reviews in this new market where reader reviews influence more than critics’ words), but this description in relation to the book, characters and, of course, the caffeine and the frothy stuff really made my day as it captured some strong descriptions in the book.

As authors, we generally work alone and in our heads. It is a solitary art in many aspects so when someone mentions a character, enjoys a scene or even appreciates how much of the black elixir a character enjoys, it is a joy to hear. And, as I’ve said many a time, never ask an author too much about their book, especially if they have had the frothy stuff, you might be in for a long night.

PS: If you can’t make it to the event with Gremlin Growlers, I am lining up several more events throughout metro Atlanta for the fall and the books are on a digital blog tour as well. And you can always ping me at markwallacemaguire@gmail.com

 

Alexandria Reborn: Your prep kit.

Alexandria Reborn, the sequel to Alexandria Rising and Book 2 in The Alexandria Rising Chronicles, is now available in paperback and kindle. So, what do you need to know? I mean, a sequel is a sequel, right?

Yes.

Yet….

A couple of items worth noting.

The book picks up immediately after the last chapter in Alexandria Rising. There is no preamble, recap, Star Wars like crawl or ‘six months later.’ I mention that because some of the early readers of the sequel have mentioned that they had to re-read the last few chapters of first book to remember where things left off. The first chapter of the sequel is essentially Chapter 74 of The Alexandria Rising Chronicles. I intentionally wanted to keep the pacing steady with the series.

It might also be worth to skim The Appendices of Alexandria Rising. And, if you haven’t watched any of Thomas J. Callahan’s videos or read his research, it might be insightful i.e. it is not necessary, but I do enjoy adding clues, easter eggs, allusions and such in various forms of multi-media.

Finally, get prepared. Get relaxed. Turn off your phone and grab a drink, whether that is a cup of tea, coffee or, something stronger from the bar of, say, Kent St. James. As one of my favorite reviewers on Goodreads wrote after reading Alexandria Rising, “it was so good you had to grab hold of your own bottom to hang in there. I loved not being able to figure out what was going to happen next!”

I hope I achieve that level of excitement with this tome.

Many people lent their time, insight and help with the sequel and while they are thanked in the author’s note in the book, I want to give them a shout out here: Adam Miller, Bob Wallace, Bruce Wallace, Beth Poirier, Whitney Betts and, last but not least, my wife, Jami.

Thank you all for being part of the journey. Hope you enjoy the adventure.