The Armored Saint (The Sacred Throne Book 1) is a short novel, maybe novella (not sure how many words exactly are in it, but let’s just say it’s at most like 1/10 of a Sanderson). I read it last night in basically one sitting (I ate dinner in the middle). I’ve never read anything by Myke Cole before, and more or less only know him from his author bio (paladins, really?… I kid… I kid.) and from him popping up from on my twitter feed. I didn’t know what to expect from the author or the book, save that there was a young woman in a huge suit of armor on the cover. It pleasantly surprised me in a few ways, and I’m happy to recommend it.It leans into its length. It has a quick pace that pulled me through the narrative quickly. In very few words, Cole built a world that feels wider than what the narrative presents. The world feels lived in, deep, and believable (perhaps too believably evocative of our own past… or, terrifyingly, present).
The prose is wonderful and varied. When there’s violence, the violence is visceral, unvarnished, and powerful. The narrative voices of the characters are distinctive. Even the cursing believable within the worldbuilding (a pet interest of mine).
The action was wonderful, and superficially this is a story about someone standing up to a corrupt authority and the violence that is at times necessary to do so. But at its core it’s about much, much more. Since I’m not spoiling anything here, let’s just say that there’s a scene that demonstrated such empathy, vulnerability, and believable fear/excitement/shame that it has lingered with me since putting the book down. That scene is paired with a sequel (scene-sequel meaning) that reminded me of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Love is Love” poem from the 2016 Tonys. It’s strange to get to the end of a review of a book that has a fight scene involving power armor and to recommend it for its introspection on love, but here we are.
My story “The Final Sundering of Hellas” is coming out in the anthology Tales of Ruma: Stories Inspiried by Greek & Roman Mythology in a couple months. The anthology is in the midst of a kickstarter with a fairly modest goal: $2,500.00. Get to $2,500.00, and the publisher will print a limited edition print run of 100 hardcover copies. It’s most of the way there, but we should do what we can to nudge it over the top, yes?
The inspiration for my story was the real history of an assassination that changed the world (but that many people remain unaware of). Naturally, after actually writing the story, almost nothing of the real historical event remains, and all we have left is a story of a desperate man, in a desperate situation, taking a desperate action, and hoping to defy the odds to come out alive. It’s got it all: intrigue! A tense banquet! Poison! An amorous prince! Assassinations! Betrayals!
That description not your thing? Well, check out the table of contents. I’m sandwiched in along side bestselling authors, so if Jody Lynn Nye, David Farland, D.J. Butler, Julie Frost, are more your speed, this anthology has them. Don’t sleep on “and more,” either.
For a lot of people submitting to WotF, it’s the first exposure to “professional” publishing. It was my second “pro” sale ($.06/word or more). I had sold a story to Tales of Ruma, but the editor had simply accepted it. There were no edits.
I know that people can be apprehensive about sharing their writing. That’s one of the best parts about WotF: It’s an anonymous place to submit your work and break into a habit of being okay with sharing that work and accepting the feedback of rejection. I know I was unsure what the edits I’d get back would be. Would they be bad? Would this thing I had created get changed at the hands of an unfeeling editor?
Not for me.
My edits were pretty minor. Dave Farland is the editor, and his notes were productive, warranted, and made the story better. Apparently I have to work on dialogue tags and attributions. He also asked that I elaborate with more detail in one section.
From other people I’ve heard that the edits have ranged from, none to add a big section here. I don’t have data or any specifics to share. Sorry.
For what it’s worth, I think the editing process was a valuable experience and it made my writing better. It’s just one more lesson that going through this has taught me.
The contract was pretty simple. Near as I could tell there weren’t any weird clauses. Maybe contracts generally need their own post for more depth of discussion, but for now I’ll say that nothing stood out to my (untrained) eye. All that needed fixing was updating my address. Otherwise it was print two copies, sign both, and mail ’em off to the address they specified.
The bio was a little harder. It’s not like I’d practiced this kind of thing. So, in any case, I gave it a shot. After a quick back and forth with the contest rep, that was finalized.
The picture was harder because I don’t have a lot of pictures of myself. I have even fewer that are the quality they wanted. Basically, it would have been wedding pictures or bust. So, I contacted our wedding photographer (if you’re in/around southeastern Wisconsin, I cannot recommend them enough), and snap-snap, click-click, that problem was solved.
I can only speak for myself, but the edits were an interesting experience. I’d never had a trained professional look at my prose and say: “Do this. Do that. It will be better if you do.” And every suggestion that David Farland made was a great one. Turns out I don’t do dialogue tags super great. He didn’t cut big chunks, or ask me to add much more than a little detail in one place.
I know some people are apprehensive about editor input. Speaking only from this one experience, it was a positive for both my craft and the story.
Having survived a week waiting to hear if I won, I relaxed my guard. Surely I wouldn’t find out on a weekend.
Well there I was, on a Sunday afternoon, watching the Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers beating the Bears, wife seated on the couch by my side, when my phone rings.
Caller ID Blocked.
It was Joni, her voice somewhat subdued as she introduced herself. “You took Third Place,” she said, letting the excitement back into her voice. “Did I do a good job of not letting my tone of voice let you know whether you won?”
“Maybe too good a job,” I managed.
We talked a few details, keep the first week of April open for a trip to LA. People are going to start emailing you about edits, bio, etc., and because we need to get the book to the printer this will start happening quickly. That sort of thing.
She wasn’t kidding when she said things would start happening quickly.
You know what else is super cool? The person from the Forum bunker? She won the quarter.