V is for Valiant …

V is for Valiant …


adjective \ˈval-yənt\

Definition of VALIANT

1: possessing or acting with bravery or boldness : courageous <valiant soldiers>

2: marked by, exhibiting, or carried out with courage or determination : heroic <valiant feats>




As I read this definition, I could see Ethan stand a little straighter in my mind’s eye, only to have Brett look up from his book, smile wryly, and say, “No.” And not just “no,” but “hell no.” (welcome to the writing process that is continuous in my brain … ready?)

I’m going to talk a little about The Fishing Widow today because it’s free on Amazon (quick! Click it! Right there!), but not for much longer. This isn’t the first book I’ve ever written, nor is it the first thing I ever had published. It WAS, however, the first book I ever obsessed over to the point of channeling H.P. Lovecraft. It went through no fewer than seventeen (that’s 17) revisions. Why? Because with any story, what you leave out is just as important as what you leave in. And, it helps to have a reliable narrator. I’d kill for one of those….

Everyone wants to be a hero, I reckon. Well, the world of The Fishing Widow is no different. But WHO the heroes want to be and who they think they are is slightly (okay, severely) skewed. Evil plays the hero because in evil’s mind, saving someone from a WORSE evil is heroic. WORSE evil is a matter of opinion, and since evil has self-recognition problems, it thinks it’s valiant because it’s saving someone from evil of a different kind which must be more evil than that evil which, by all stretches of the imagination, then becomes good by default, or at least … better. Good can be valiant, but sometimes “good” is just hapless (*cough* Ethan *cough*), and while it’s said there’s safety in numbers, there’s also valiantness in numbers. Being brave and bold alone against the darkness….well, that’s a rare breed that can pull that off. Never were the boys more valiant than when they were together and backing each other up. Alone and heroic? I suppose that works, but for whom is one heroic? Is saving your own skin heroic? I mean, it’s pretty brave to stand up against evil mano y mano, but heroic, at least for me, also tends to include an element of self-sacrifice for the good of others.  The characters who exhibit that in the book tend, for me, to be the most courageous. They are the ones who are also at peace with the idea that just because you’ve sacrificed your future, you’ve not lost yourself. There are more things horrific than physical death.

Trust me on that one.

Poetry Form: Welsh Awdl (odes)

Byr a thoddaid: (bir a thod-deyed):

This form consists of any number of quatrain stanzas. Each stanza combines one couplet of eight syllable lines a. a. and one couplet where the first line has ten syllables and the second line has six syllables, This couplet is called a toddaid byr.

There is no set order for the couplets.

In the ten syllable line the main rhyme b. b. is found before the end of the line and the last syllable of that line links the six syllable line by alliteration, assonance or secondary rhyme. Here is the form layout for either variation.

x x x x x x x a
x x x x x x x
x x x x x
x b x x c.
x c x x x b


O, valiant men who seem most brave

Whose courage other men may crave

To set aright the wrongs of man’ ya plot,

Whilst caught and wronged by untrue love.

The Fishing Widow eBook Release on 6 January 2013!


Three years in the making, and it’s nearly here! I’d like to take this opportunity to invite EVERYONE to the eBook Release of The Fishing Widow on Sunday, January 6, 2013. How will this work? Well, there’s a Fishing Widow eBook Release Facebook Event and then there’s also going to be a Google+ Hangout at 1:00pm Alaska Time (that’s 5pm on the East Coast of the US, and 10pm in Ireland and the U.K.). The address to join me, A.K. Marshall, is that there embedded in my user name. I will admit, the whole Google+ Hangout thing is new for me, and we’ll see how the bandwidth at the coffee shop in Craig, Alaska supports it!

If you happen to find yourself in Craig, Alaska on that date, head over to The Waterstreet Café (801 Water Street) for a cup of the good stuff and cake! You’ll also be able to use the WiFi to download the ebook for free. Actually, the codes will all be posted on the Facebook event page and here that day. Download it from Amazon, Smashwords, iTunes, or Barnes & Noble.

And, whether you’re here, on Facebook, or in Craig, let me know you’re out there somewhere and interested. Join the Facebook event, hashtag a post on Twitter #thefishingwidow, or leave a comment here. Folks who join the Facebook event and/or post a comment here on January 6th (or are at Waterstreet Café) have a chance to win PRIZES! Alaskan-themed prizes; kinda like The Gift of the Magi, but with a twist. I have Raven’s Brew coffee, Moka (chocolate) Bars, Deadman’s Reach gear (including hoodies), and quintessentially Alaskan things that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. Yes, if you’re overseas, you can still win (as long as it’s legal to ship coffee and chocolate and hoodies).

What’s it all about? Check out The Fishing Widow eBook Release Trailer


Want more? Check out the NEW The Fishing Widow Book Trailer

Many thanks to Stuart Spencer for his more-than-awesome-and-I’m-not-worthy cover art for both the eBook and the pending hard cover release (Coming March 2013).

Days left …. Let’s get this party started!


♫ The Cover Is The Hardest Part ♫

As it turns out, that’s completely and totally true. I should start out by apologizing for any and all redundancies and bursts of enthusiasm in this post. I’m fresh from a NaNoWriMo win, made sweeter by the fact that I didn’t actually start writing until November 15th. Also made sweeter by the fact that I started the process of finding a cover for The Fishing Widow. So, here’s my story, and I’m sticking with it ….

It took three years to write The Fishing Widow. I’m counting from the moment Colin Claybaugh snuck up behind me while I was doing dishes (and I turned and took a swing with a frying pan at this unknown, disembodied voice…it’s a good thing he ducked) saying, “I hear you’re good at writing down stories.” through to the final edit. I’m pretty sure there were no fewer than fifteen edits of the book; along with endings, and alternate endings, and fist-fights about the ending, and, at last, THE ENDing. If you write, you’re nodding sagely at that last statement. Yes. It’s a struggle. It’s a struggle even when you’re dealing with forthcoming characters who want to tell you everything. Not that that’s any good, either, because then you’re staring at a reams-long tome wondering what in the world to cut out. No one needs that much detail….

See? I’ll blame NaNoWriMo because I’m slightly rambling, but only to make a point. Three years of my life and more than two-thirds of my sanity have gone into The Fishing Widow. I’m ready to put it out there. And then, there’s the whole putting it out there. As writers, let’s face it–it doesn’t matter how long we’ve delved into something, it doesn’t matter if we have cracklingly real characters, believable dialog, compelling stories, horror, triumph, a catastrophic bettering of the human condition, and that attainment of catharsis that our high school English teachers told us we had to attain in our writing or Dante would be waiting for us in the bowels of somewhere down there in the hot spot, without a decent, eye-catching, soul-gripping, I-need-to-read-this-lest-I-die cover, your book is not going to stand out on the shelf amid the others vying for attention. To that end, I’ll add this: I know graphic design and I am no graphic designer. So, while trolling Facebook, I came across a publisher (Permuted Press) who was looking for feedback for a book cover design contest at this website called 99 Designs. Really? Book cover contest? I just had to look….

Then, I was hooked. While this isn’t an advertising blitz for 99 Designs, I’ll just say that I put up a contest, 55 designers submitted 180 possible covers based on a detailed design brief that I submitted and I worked with a number of them through a feedback process to whittle it down to 6 designers. Now, there are eight possible designs on the block–each one a bit different, each one with a different feel, but all of them by designers who are wildly talented and even better, responsive to feedback. Huh. I guess this is a bit of an advert for 99 Designs ….

But, back to the contest. There’s this poll. It lives here: https://99designs.com/book-cover-design/vote-h7sika And, I’m using this as a forum to solicit feedback from YOU. When I wrote the original design brief, I asked for a cover that would make people yank the book from the shelf and open it. So, I now ask you, looking at these designs, if you were standing in a bookstore surrounded by more compelling graphic design than one person could bear, which one would stand out? If you were strolling the Lido Deck (they all have “Lido Decks,” right?) of a cruise ship and noticed a book in someone’s hand, what cover would catch your eye and make you think, “Wow, I should so totally read that.” ?? I know, asking a lot, but if it’s not compelling enough to pick up, if it doesn’t draw your eye, you’ll never open it to read the flap (which reminds me, I’ve got to write that bit, too), or thumb through the pages.

And then you’d never meet Ethan.

Or Colin.

Or Brett.

Or St. John.

Or Elizabeth.

And that would make me sad, ’cause trust me. You’d love ’em…..