At conventions, I’ll often discount prints for younger fans, or for fans who are on tight budgets, but would love to have some of my art on their walls. Today, we’re going to pretend I’m at a convention. I’ve lowered the price on all seven prints from my novels (select pieces from HERE, THERE BE DRAGONS and THE SEARCH FOR THE RED DRAGON) by fifty percent for today only. Have a happy Sunday, everyone.
I’m writing this piece to inform everyone who bought MythWorld Book One: The Festival Of Bones in the last twenty-four hours that you are now the owners of a collector’s item – because the vesion that was first released is not the current, permanent version that’s for sale now.
I made an editorial judgment call, one which I’d already been debating, and talked myself out of making until we’d actually published the book. Then, I realized I was still debating it internally – which, to me, is significant. My subconscious doesn’t mess around. If I’ve made a choice that isn’t resonating with my core beliefs, then it lets me know by basically itching at my brain until I give it my conscious attention
I didn’t write the MythWorld novels for kids – but then again, I didn’t write the Imaginarium Geographica novels for kids, either; it was a YA editor who liked them the most, and the rest of that tale changed the course of my career. Still, the MythWorld books were definitely written for a more mature audience – mostly, I thought, due to the complexity of the stories I was telling
However, the Imaginarium Geographica books were also very, very complex – and being read by kids as young as ten, with no comprehension problem. So what was the difference
Simply put, sex, and language. And far more language than sex – mostly in the form of casual swearing – although the sexy scenes, while still relatively tame by most standards, are more sensual than sexual, and extremely effective. (See Chapter Three, for my favorite example.
And herein lay my problem: my readership consists of a very large percentage of teens (no problems with sex and language) and an equally large percentage of pre-teens (which also includes their parents, teachers, and librarians – which is where there may be a problem with sex and language in the books.
That wasn’t my biggest concern, though. The casual swearing was – because, you see, I don’t swear. Hardly ever.
Oh, don’t get me wrong – I believe in it, as a use of language; it’s a form of exclamation, and often extremely appropriate. There’s a recurring swear word in MythWorld Book Two that absolutely MAKES the book… but I digress. Swearing is useful, and fairly common – I just simply don’t engage in it much. And neither do the characters in my books – the books I write now, that is.
But then, a decade ago, I was still finding my way around creating characters in prose – and in MythWorld, this resulted in a lot more casual swearing than I’d recalled. And the concern I had over most of those uses – most, but not all – also brought me back to three scenes where a few lines alone might have made the book less appropriate for a younger reader. Let me be clear: I’m not worried at ALL about a thirteen year old reading these books. It’s the bright ten year old I’m concerned about. And if I wouldn’t want my own almost nine year old reading those few scenes as they were (or worse, asking for specific lines to be explained) then I didn’t want to put my readers, or their parents, or their librarians in that position, either.
And if you think one word won’t make that big a difference, try a little experiment next time you’re in a crowded grocery store: yell “Flurkle!” at the top of your lungs, and see who gets offended. Then try it using a different word that begins with “F”. See what I mean?
I’m not a prude, and as I said, swearing and profanity has uses in the right places – and most of my uses weren’t the right places, so I changed many of them, often with one word switched, or deleted, or with a diplomatic rewrite of a sentence. And I went back to those other scenes, the sexy ones, and took out a couple of lines and changed a few words so that while the scenes were still sensual, they weren’t going to make the book something inaccessible to my younger readers.
As I said, I never wrote any of my books for kids – they were simply marketed that way, and so kids make up a huge part of my readership. A readership I plan to keep reading everything I write. And if I can continue to create compelling enough stories to keep my older readers too, then it’s a win all around.
So, that’s it in a nutshell – there were no major changes of content, just a few alterations. Because I want ALL of my readers to be able to continue following down the roads I’m creating, and being able to make changes like that without lessening the story is what writers do.
Man alive… sometimes this job is harder than it looks. I swear.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
HERE, THERE BE DRAGONS author James A. Owen launches a new Urban Fantasy series – as ebooks
June 23, 2011 – Silvertown, Arizona – The shifting landscape of publishing is something that should be embraced, not feared, according to popular YA author James A. Owen, who is leading by example by releasing his next series, MythWorld, as ebooks.
“My friend Will Eisner often remarked how the comic book market always went in cycles,” Owen says, “and I think the same is true of publishing in general. There are always going to be ups and downs, but what’s most important is to keep creating good work, and then finding the best way to make that work available to your readers. And right now, ebook devices and apps are creating opportunities to reach new readers that we’ve never had before.”
Owen had a long history of publishing his work through his own imprint, Coppervale Press, particularly in the comics field with his graphic novel series StarChild, before signing with publisher Simon & Schuster to release the seven book series The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica.
The series includes The Search for the Red Dragon, The Indigo King, The Shadow Dragons, The Dragon’s Apprentice, and the book that started it all, Here, There Be Dragons, which has gone through multiple printings and is published in more than twenty countries. A long bout with pneumonia last Fall threatened the series’ annual release schedule, and has potentially delayed the last two volumes, The Dragons of Winter, and The First Dragon. As Owen recovered from the illness and worked to catch up on the schedule, he realized that while those specific books might have to wait for publication – there was no reason for the readers to wait so long to read new stories.
MythWorld , which Owen says is “…an Urban Fantasy Pulp Adventure epic about ancient manuscripts, zen illusionists, opera, murder, magic, and the alternate History of the World” was Owen’s second large project after StarChild, and began as a series of traditionally published novels in Germany, but of seven planned books only five were written, and four published – the result, Owen says, of market conditions at the time. “Sales were pretty good, and Book One won the AI Award for Best International Novel, but it wasn’t enough to make a living on, not at the time. But times change.”
Two volumes were published in France by Studio Malens, but Owen never sold the rights anywhere else, something he now says is due to providence and synchronicity. “The right offer never materialized, and I was busy working on the Dragons books. Then, when I was in the middle of the pneumonia, the epublishing revolution started, and I realized that there were some opportunities to be had – especially for an author with an established readership.”
In April 2011, Owen revived his Coppervale Press imprint with the motivational/inspirational ebook, Drawing out the Dragons, which has received rave reviews and is selling in ever-increasing numbers. Next came the short story collection The Unusual Motion of Strange Beasts, published in May, and which also included a special preview chapter of MythWorld. And now, Owen and Coppervale have published MythWorld Book One: The Festival of Bones. It’s available as a pdf via the Coppervale International website, and will shortly join Owen’s other books on Amazon and BN.com. But that’s not all.
“When this started with those first plans in Germany,” Owen says with a Cheshire grin, “it wasn’t going to be just seven books, but two series of seven books each, followed by one more concluding novel, for fifteen MythWorld books in all.” Owen plans to release all fifteen at roughly monthly intervals over the next year and a half. “I have the first series almost completed, and we’ll be releasing Books Two and Three over the next couple of weeks. But Book Four I expect to create a lot of noise,” Owen adds, “because it has a very direct tie to my Imaginarium Geographica novels. A conversation that began in The Dragon’s Apprentice is concluded in MythWorld Book Four. So there are definitely connections that the readers are going to love!”
The fact that the books can be released immediately after completion and editing is part of the attraction, said Owen, who also designs and illustrates the covers of his books, but he has no plans to step away from traditional print publishing. “I’m the nephew of printers,” he said, “and I love a gorgeous book in and of itself. Simon & Schuster has done such a wonderful job with the Imaginarium Geographica books, and my working relationship with the editors, art director, publishers, and all of our bookseller partners is definitely something I want to continue.”
Owen said he and S&S Books For Young Readers President Jon Anderson have discussed his followup to the current series. “It would probably be a quartet of books in a new series, but before that can be planned, I have to finish up the art on The Dragons of Winter, and then wrap things up with The First Dragon, both of which are keeping me very busy,” Owen said in conclusion, “but busy is good. I’ve been busy, and not busy – and I definitely prefer busy!”
MythWorld Book One: The Festival of Bones, is available now at www.coppervaleinternational.com and this weekend at amazon.com and bn.com.
For more information contact:
James A. Owen
The Coppervale Studio, being an old renovated church, is a very large creative space. Part of my overall goal was to have a place to work where you could, if stuck, pick up your project, move twenty feet in any direction, and end up in a completely new creative environment.
At night, I like to write in the big lecture hall, while a U2 concert is projected in front of me on a ten-foot screen; during monsoon season, I like to work on the second-story performance stage, because I can watch the storms roll in from a hundred miles away.
Still, the majority of my work is done in my private office, which was a library when I was a kid, and earlier than that, was the upper half of the original chapel.
It’s a nice space. It suits me. And as it has been recently cleaned in preparation for some new Necessary Mischief, I wanted to share it with all of you.
This is the view as you enter from the hallway:
And my art area:
My writing area, and project reference shelves:
The reading area:
And the new projects/design area.
You don’t HAVE to work in a creative space to do creative work… but it certainly HELPS.
(Publisher’s Note: we recognize the fact that we have previously leaked the Secret Origins of Meyer Rowling, most notably in 1986, during the ‘Crisis on Infinite Meyer Rowlings”, and again every three or four years or so, but this time it’s totally not fake. We swear.* )
*(Actually, it’s a little bit fake. Until July of last year it was 35% fake, but then we revised it so that it’s now 70% fake. The 30% that’s real we’re going to repackage as an entire comics line ghostwritten by the best writers in Continental North America plus the two women we’re contractually obligated to include.)
Meyer Rowling had everything a successful author could want: a butler; a private island (which he shared with Stephen King, Award-Winning Neil Gaiman, Tom Clancy, and Amanda Hocking); an agent who didn’t understand the term ‘involuntary servitude’; a functional thyroid; and an optional caffeine addiction – everything, that is, except the most important thing – validation.
In desperation, Meyer Rowling went on a pilgramage to the sacred place where all of the great decisions in publishing are made: the bar behind Jeff Bezos’ house.
“I need validation,” Meyer Rowling said to the bartender.
“So do I,” said the bearded man on the next barstool. “I could have been worth a hundred billion dollars by now.”
“I think you’ve had enough, Paul,” the bartender said, taking his glass. “Why don’t you go play with your Jimi Hendrix dolls? That always cheers you up.”
“I told you, it isn’t a doll,” Paul said.
“Lalalalalalalalala,” said the bartender. “I can’t hear you.” He turned to Meyer Rowling. “Why do you need validation?”
“I’m a world-famous author that no one knows about,” said Meyer Rowling.
“What have you written?” asked the bartender.
“Nothing yet,” said Meyer Rowling, “but when I do, it’ll be $23.99 in hardcover.”
“Mmmm,” said the bartender. “I think you’re supposed to write a book, first. Then you get rich, and famous, and get discounts from loyal fans who work the drive-thru window at Taco Bell.”
“But how?” Meyer Rowling wailed. “With a name as forgettable as ‘Meyer Rowling’, I’m bound to be a failure. I need a real author’s name… Something like ‘Snooki’ or ‘James Frey’ or ‘Dude, You Bought A Dell!’.”
“You don’t need a special name,” the bartender said. “You just need to find that one great story that you can totally exploit for fame and fortune. You know, like I did.”
“You’re an author?” Meyer Rowling asked. “What did you write?”
“Lots of stuff!” he exclaimed. “Great Expectations and a Bartender, and The Odyssey and a Bartender, and How To Win Friends And Influence People And a Bartender. They’re all available for the nook and the kindle, and you can find the links to the books on my facebook and twitter, although social media ought to be used as a method to share one’s philosophies and make new friends, and not to merely sell books. I’ll review yours if you’ll review mine. You go first so I can tell whether or not I like your book.”
“Urrrp!” Meyer Rowling belched. “What?”
“I think that counts as a ‘like’,” the bartender said. “You ought to work for Kirkus.”
“Well, thanks anyway,” Meyer Rowling said, stepping away from the bar. “What did you say your name was, again?”
“Steve Case,” the bartender said. “And feel free to take a handful of coasters with you. They’re all version 9.0 you know.”
“Thanks,” said Meyer Rowling, who opened the door, despairing of ever finding that one, special story that would make the name Meyer Rowling famous and special and something people name their babies because it’s cool and would get him invited on the MTV Movie Awards to re-enact a ‘Best Kiss’ with Kristen Stewart, Emma Watson, or Taylor Lautner, whichever is sitting closest to the stage, when out of nowhere a huge, haggard man dropped out of the sky on a flying vacuum cleaner, landing directly on top of the werewolf who had been waiting in the shadows to pounce on the unsuspecting Meyer Rowling.
“Thanks for saving me from the werewolf,” Meyer Rowling said to the huge, haggard man. “What’s your name?”
“Haggard,” said the man. “Usually, I spend my time riding around with the Heck’s Angels, when I’m not tending my garden. But tonight, I had to come here to find him.” He was pointing at the werewolf who was gasping for breath underneath the vacuum, which was the old heavy canister kind, and not a Dyson, although if Dyson wanted to make a flying vacuum, they totally could do that.
“Me?” the werewolf, whose name was Ralph, panted. “Why? I’m nothing special – I’m just a werewolf who likes to wait in the shadows to jump out and scare authors – you know, like royalty statements. And besides, when you landed on me, you hit my head with the Hoover sucker attachment thingie. I’ll have a scar.”
“You’re needed,” said Haggard, “to fulfill your destiny by rescuing a girl named Beauty from a vampire who sparkles because he likes to sit on car batteries.”
“I always knew I was special,” said Ralph, “like authors are. That’s probably why you came looking for me, right?”
“No,” said Haggard. “It’s because you’re a Hairy Wizard.”
“Mmmm,” Meyer Rowling mused as Ralph and Haggard flew away on the non-Dyson vacuum. “’Hairy Wizard with a scar’. I could do something with that.”
The rest is history. Except for the part about kissing Kristen Stewart, although Meyer Rowling would totally be up for planting one on Emma Watson, and even Taylor Lautner would be a coin toss.
Below is a candid portrait of the author in residence at the castle on RollingInIt Island.
The rest of the works of Meyer Rowling can be found here:
There are two items for sale at the Coppervale Marketplace which are often overlooked, but which are among the best bargains we offer (and ordering either qualifies you for the drawing to win one of the three pieces of original art – see earlier posts – from Catherynne M. Valente’s book, UNDER IN THE MERE!)
The first is the trade paperback of THE SEARCH FOR THE RED DRAGON. The hardcovers are lovely, but I have a soft spot for this particular edition of the paperback – which is NOT part of the current matching set of the paperbacks that have the double covers. This was the earlier edition, released before the hardcover of THE INDIGO KING – and what makes it special (to me) is on the back. It features the ORIGINAL cover art for TIK… which is NOT the art we ended up using. Instead, it depicts the Cartographer being exiled to the Keep of Time. It’s a beautiful, subtle piece… and that small image is the only place it can be seen in print.
When you add in the Dragon sketch I’ll draw inside (something I’m starting to limit to one per overall order, due to workload and time constraints), ten bucks is a pretty good price.
The second item is the largest color piece we offer in the art prints category – and the least expensive! It’s the full-color, heavy-stock promotional poster for the continuation of the STARCHILD: MYTHOPOLIS storyline I was doing in my graphic novel series, which was intended to start again in 2003, but actually took a few more years to do (with the first installment, from Desperado Publishing). It’s one of my favorite color pieces, and is going to resonate very strongly with the announcement I’m making in a day or two. Signed, it’s a bargain at ten bucks, and looks great on a kid’s bedroom wall.
As I mentioned, ordering either (or both!) of these qualifies you for the drawing for the art. More good fun coming – watch this space!
I’ve had the great pleasure of working with Catherynne M. Valente (who is currently taking over the publishing world via a Ship of her own making) twice: first, illustrating her story “The Ballad of the Sinister Mr. Mouth” for the book RAVENS IN THE LIBRARY; and again, illustrating the interiors and cover for her brilliant novella, UNDER IN THE MERE.
I love Catherynne, and so do a lot of other people. So I don’t think she’ll mind my invoking her name in the process of broadening readers’ exposure to our work. I wanted to do something special to help jumpstart the awareness of the new Coppervale website, and the work Catherynne and I did together is just what I need to do that: because I still have three pieces of the original art from UNDER IN THE MERE… and I’m going to be giving it away.
All you have to do is place an order from the New Coppervale Marketplace during the month of June, and your name will (literally) be put into a hat, whence I shall draw three names out, and award the original art to the winners. That’s IT.
We’re in the middle of June, and already started – if you ordered anything in the last few weeks, you’re already entered; but every order is a separate entry – so if you’ve had your eye on that PROMETHEA print, or the International Studio set, now’s the time!
The pieces (which were designed as a contemporary Tarot, featuring Arthurian characters) are: Lancelot, The Hanged Man…
Morgan le Fay, as Judgement…
And Galahad as The Hermit (a personal favorite).
And, as a bonus prize, I’ll also be offering a signed, sketched-in copy of UNDER IN THE MERE, featuring a drawing of the character (from the book) of your choice. I bet we can even talk Cat into signing it, too.
I rarely sell original art, so this is an excellent chance to get a piece at an excellent price – free – just by purchasing something else cool that you already wanted. Is this a wonderful world or what?
Mythologies are huge, sweeping things. And the grandest stories are those with the widest arcs of triumph and despair. As much as we may want to, we may not be able to avoid the despair – but triumph is a matter of will.
The best thing about mythologies though, is that they’re always being rewritten. There are always opportunities to change, to make choices. And if sometimes it seems as if your story has been written in stone – well, that’s what hammers are for. Shatter the stone and write a new story in the sand that will be too wondrous to forget, no matter how many tides may try to sweep it away.
The Coppervale website has been reworked; the Coppervale Studio is bursting at the seams with new projects; and I am ready with hammer in hand to shape the stories.
We’ve been reworking the website for several weeks now, and while there is still a lot of work to be done, we have enough ready that it was time to pull back the curtain and open the gates.
Herein, we are offering all the work which has come before, and all the works I am currently creating. We are selling books, and art, and comics, and ebooks, and all manner of wonderful things. And the lists will be updated often; new material will be added to each category, including descriptions, secret histories, and original content.
Special offers will abound – the first of which I’ll announce later tonight – and will be frequent, and worth looking for.
My online sketchbook and jounal, The Wonder Cabinet: Words From the Romantic Underground, until now based at livejournal, will now be here, and mirrored to the old location.
Bookmark the address; bookmark the blog; and keep your focus on what’s going to be happening – I promise, t will be extraordinary.
Welcome to the new Coppervale. Welcome to the New Mythology.