Welcome to my worlds!

I'm James Maxey, author of fantasy and science fiction. My novels include the science fantasy Bitterwood Saga (4 books) the Dragon Apocalypse Saga (4 books), numerous superhero novels including Nobody Gets the Girl and the Lawless series, the steampunk Oz sequel Bad Wizard, and my short story collections, There is No Wheel and Jagged Gate. This website is focused exclusively on writing. At my second blog, Jawbone of an Ass, I ramble through any random topic that springs to mind, occasionally touching on religion and politics and other subjects polite people are sensible enough not to discuss in public. If you'd like to get monthly updates on new releases, as well as preview chapters and free short stories, join my newsletter!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Scenes from my time as Piedmont Laureate

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here's a 18,000 word post...

There's a Red Monkey Tavern in Raleigh, decorated with monkeys and dragons. It's like eating inside one of my novels.

I saw my name in the paper a lot this year.
I mean, I do most years, but this year no crimes were alleged.

Novel fuel.

James Maxey named Piedmont Laureate! Hell freezes over.

Ghost bunny.

Ghost house.

I really should write more stories about giant bees.

I am, in fact, writing a story about hummingbirds.

Dragons in Raleigh!

The Tin Woodsman endorses Bad Wizard.

Talking about superheroes.

The only decent photo I've ever managed to take of the moon.

From Mordecai House. "Thinking of Thee!"

I sometimes think they only reason they make dolls is to provide props for haunted houses.

I was tickled to spot "The Mysteries of Udolfo." Jane Austen fans will know why.

While teaching my ghost story workshop, I managed to photograph a ghost. More or less.

If you want to catch light in a jar, bring a jar.

Burwell School, "Silent as Dust."

What I was wearing under my clothes my whole time as Laureate.
You'll never guess where I hid the big pencil.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

I'm back!

This week, I turned in my final blog post as the 2015 Piedmont Laureate. Whew! It's been a blast, but there's no question it also ate into my writing time far more than I had anticipated. I did close to thirty events in 2015, counting readings, workshops, signings, panel discussions, dinners, and speaking to government boards. It turns out that constantly talking about writing satisfies a lot of the parts of the brain that ordinarily need actual writing for stimulation.

I'll still have a few events next year, including my normal science fiction convention circuit, but my real focus is going to be cranking out as many publishing worthy words as possible. I've kicked things off by spending the last few weeks heavily editing my short story "The Jagged Gate." This morning, I sent it out to spend a few weeks in a slush pile. Keeping my fingers crossed that I can see an acceptance letter sometime in January, but even if it doesn't sell, it felt good getting back into the grind of going through a story again and again to fine tune it.

The version I started working on was pretty good. It was definitely publishable, since I'd already sold it to an anthology. Unfortunately, that anthology got delayed and delayed, to the point that I finally asked for the rights to revert back to me, since I didn't want to leave the story stranded.

When I reread "The Jagged Gate" after close to two years of not thinking about it, I discovered once more that "publishable" isn't a synonym for "perfect." The previous draft now felt wordy, which often happens with my first person narrations. In letting the character have his own voice, I also have been known to allow my character to meander a bit. So, I decided to do an aggressive edit, reading the story out loud multiple times to remove any stray words or phrases I could. I also realized that my narrator was a bit too passive. He's telling us a story about someone he knows, and while he has a choice to make at the end, I didn't really do much to show how the events of the story were changing him. This time, I was able to establish a subtle conflict between who he thinks he is when the story starts and who he becomes thanks to the relationship he develops in the story. I'm hoping it's not too subtle a transition, but I also didn't want to hit the reader over the head with his "journey." As for the female lead, Nyx, she was quirky and interesting throughout, but there was a revelation in the last few pages showing a hidden side to her past that I didn't really do enough to foreshadow. I think I've fixed that in this draft, without waving a big red flag reading "tragic past!"

OK. Story in the mail. What next? Another story! Forward!