Sunday, November 9, 2014

It's Been Awhile...



It’s been awhile since I posted anything, so I decided to stop by and tell everyone what’s been going on.

November 2013 to November 2014 has been a black year for me. As many people have experienced firsthand, sometimes when things begin to go right, Fate hauls out a battle axe and starts swinging.

Last year about this time, my sales had picked up, and I was excited to start cranking out more books. I had ideas for another fantasy series and a couple stand-alones, and the Scorpion was, as usual, getting entangled in deeper troubles.

Everything soured when my wife and I learned that a relative had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. That was Fate choking up on the axe handle, stepping close, and cutting off our legs off at the knees. One after the other. Chop, chop.

My wife and I headed back east to give aid and comfort, and while there we saw a level of human suffering that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I can’t explain how seeing that changed us, and I have no intention of trying. The end came is it always does in such cases, we grieved, then headed home in late March.

Now, let me back up a bit, because, as I’ve learned, Fate is also a sneaky bastard who likes to distract you with one trouble, while holding back another to spring on you when you least expect it.

My faithful bodyguard of ten years, a Mini-Schnauzer named Jonesy, a dog who had risen from being a mere pet to an essential friend, had begun limping before we headed back east. Our vet diagnosed him with a strained tendon, and prescribed him doggy Advil and bed rest. No problem. Jonesy’s all about slugging around.

He got better on the trip east, and soon after we arrived, he only limped after he took a running fit.

Just before we headed back home, though, the limping suddenly got much worse, and one of his eyes developed a marked squint.

We took him to two different vets, and they both agreed that he had a just suffered a flare-up from a previous injury. And the eye? Well, allergies explained that away.

So, Jonesy got more bed rest and Benadryl. Suffice to say, our little guy was feeling no pain.

On the trip home, his spine rapidly developed a weird, snaky crookedness, and his limping deteriorated to the point where he had to drag himself along to do his business. When I rigged a sling to help him get around, he’d look up at me with his trademark “What the hell are you doing?” expression, but gamely tolerated my help.

It took us four days to get home. By then, Jonesy couldn’t get up on his own, couldn’t eat or drink without help, and going potty had become a quivering, staggering trial of thankless half measures.

Back to the vet.

New diagnosis: slipped disk, a common ailment with small dogs who like to leap off human-sized furnishings. He needed an operation. We found out who was best equipped to handle that kind of surgery, and headed off to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Washington State University.

When we arrived, the staff was friendly, commiserate, and professional. They performed an MRI, but didn’t find a slipped disk. They found an aggressive spinal tumor.

Inoperable.

On April 8, 2014, Fate ended my little hero’s journey, and buried its axe in my heart.

But you have to go on, right?

My wife and I did our best, which amounted to a lot of wondering what the hell had happened. The short answer, which is wholly inadequate for anyone who has experienced hardship and grief, is that suffering and death are part of life.

I get that. Now, more than ever, I get that. But I don’t have to like it. I don’t expect that I ever will.

Now, I didn’t tell you all this to drum up sympathy or to make excuses, but to explain why I haven’t been around much this year, and why my writing schedule has been so off target.

The truth is, I’ve written more than I ever have this year. I have the first draft of the fourth Scorpion adventure mostly done. The first draft of book two of my Beasts of the Field series is mostly done. I have completed the first draft of a young adult sci-fi series, which I will release under a penname, and the second book is nearing completion. I started a dark, gritty sci-fi series, and there are two other books that are in their skeletal stages.

So, a lot of writing, but the problem is, nothing is finished. I just couldn’t seem to care that much about finishing anything, which is weird, because I actually get off on getting things done. Now, after some reflection, I think I know what my problem is.

I’m not by nature overly emotional—I have my passions, to be sure—and over the years, I’ve built around myself high, strong walls to keep the sting of troubles at bay. But when the axe-murdering Fate came at me earlier this year, I found out that my walls were not nearly so strong as I had believed, and they were easily smashed to ruin.

As a result, for the last seven months I’ve been in a tailspin that I didn’t recognize until I started looking at finished projects, and found far too few. I realized that all the writing I had done this year wasn’t to get things done, but to fill an unfillable void.

So, after a season of absolute refusal to consider the possibility, another season of numb acceptance that things would never be the same, and a season of saying Maybe one day, my wife and I decided to take the plunge and adopt another dog.


 Here's Max:



 

Little Max won’t replace Jonesy, but we think he can help us move ahead by bridging the gap between yesterday and tomorrow.

Going forward, I’ve got a lot of work to do, and I’m asking those who enjoy the crap that comes out of my head to grant me a little more time to get things in order. Until next time, I offer my sincerest thanks for your support and patience.  

 Jonesy - rest in peace little guy. We miss you.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Scorpion Is Back!

http://www.amazon.com/Queen-North-Book-Songs-Scorpion-ebook/dp/B00KKXVTDE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401338968&sr=8-1&keywords=queen+of+the+north+james+a+west


The Scorpion is back! Queen of the North, book three in my Songs of the Scorpion series, is now available at Amazon. I plan on having the paperback version available in June (check my Facebook page for updates).

I really hope you enjoy it, and I've already started on book four.

As always, thank you so much for reading and I will keep you posted about book four!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Spotlight on Art: Darko Tomic

http://www.darkotomic.daportfolio.com/

Anyone that reads my blog, or looks at my Facebook page, knows I am a fan of Darko Tomic. He is an amazing artist. I first met Darko on a graphic design web site, and since then he has done several of my book covers. The newest one was for my novel, Wrath of the Fallen.

http://www.amazon.com/Wrath-Fallen-Heirs-Book-ebook/dp/B00GKA1Q8O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1394244055&sr=8-1&keywords=wrath+of+the+fallen

Recently, Darko was kind enough to agree to an interview with me. I am excited to share that with you today, so you can get to know this talented artist better. Enjoy!


1) Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in Belgrade, Serbia.
I grew up in the capital’s suburb surrounded by nature and had a happy and active childhood.
I think of myself as a simple man with simple ambitions. I do not like a lot of the urban lifestyle.
I love nature, animals, music and art.
I live with my wife (a magnificent artist, wife and mother), our two wonderful and unusual kids and our two dogs.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Thanks!

IT'S ALIVE!!!!


http://www.amazon.com/Wrath-Fallen-Heirs-Book-ebook/dp/B00GKA1Q8O/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1384103650&sr=8-5&keywords=wrath+of+the+fallen


>>Update<<
I got the Wrath paperback version uploaded on January 4th, so it should be available for purchase in 3 to 5 days on Amazon! Thank you for your patience while I got it finished :)


Hey everyone, Wrath of the Fallen actually published a day early, but DON'T BUY IT YET!

Okay, I'm doing a soft launch so I can give it away to fans for 2 days starting tomorrow and ending Monday night on Amazon. So that is November 10th and 11th.

Hope you enjoy the read, and thanks for coming on the adventure with me!

Until next time, may your life be full of fantasy and unlimited bowls of chips and salsa :)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Thrill-Fest Book Sale!


Halloween marks the winding down of the year’s clockwork, a slowing of the blood through veins. Leaves turn and begin to fall, the sunlight struggles to warm the day, and cold north winds hoot and howl around the eaves. Disembodied things start going bump-bumpity-bump in the night, and voices rise up from the other side of the veil to whisper freaky stuff in your ear when no else one is around—don’t lie, I know you’ve heard them, and that’s okay … except when it’s not … and then you’d better run....

This is also the season when I go into full-on reading mode, and what better way to pay homage to the Great Reading Spirits than by putting all my novels on sale for .99 cents?

Okay, I know I’m a fantasy writer, but in my fantasies demons wear the skins of men, sorcerers weave the blackest spells when the light of day perishes, and monsters and other assorted creepy-crawlies stalk shadows that never die. Did I mention insane cannibals and soul-hungry wights? You’ll find a few of those in my tales, as well. 

But it’s all in good fun. 

Seriously. 

And the good guys win. 

Usually.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Who Am I?

Disclaimer: Recently I have been doing a blog series about myself. I realize that may seem a bit narcissistic, but I promise my only intention was to help new readers get to know my writing style a bit better! This is the last post in that series, and if you are interested in the other ones you can read them here, here, and here. One is about my dog, and honestly out of the two of us he is the cooler one :)

So who is James A. West?

In short, I’m a relatively new fantasy author, but lately I’ve started branching out. In fantasy, I prefer to write plots heavy with emotional and physical conflict, rather than endless recitations of food, clothing, and court intrigue. Those things have their place in any good tale, and I’m not saying I’ll never go there, but bottom-line, I like a story to move forward. I enjoy writing grittier characters who get tangled in dire situations. Some folks call that Grimdark. Until recently, I’d never heard the term, but once I found out what it meant, I realized that best describes my writing style.  

Now, a brief overview of my work.

My epic fantasy series Heirs of the Fallen is complete at four novels (the last book is still with my editor, and my cover artist is also hard at work). Songs of the Scorpion, on the other hand, is not a fantasy series in the regular sense, but rather a continuing sequence of adventures with recurring characters—more on that in a minute.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Honesty in Writing



Honesty played a big part in writing Wrath of the Fallen, the fourth and last installment of my epic fantasy series Heirs of the Fallen. Not that I tried to inject any super-secret wisdom or life affirming lessons into the novel, but the end result had to stay true to the storyline, and yet still allow me to more fully embrace my natural writing style. All this without upsetting the three or four fans of the series by not going full-bore Grimdark, as is my wont.

So … honesty in writing.

In my last post I talked about settling for what feels safe and comfortable in writing, and why that is hazardous for me. The problem is that cozy gets boring. When I’m bored, I often find myself doing anything I can to avoid the task of creating stories. Dusting the ceiling fans in my house (even my neighbor’s, if they’d let me) becomes a quest for the Holy Grail and El Dorado, all in one. Scrubbing the toilet bowl is like grabbing a trident and standing tall next to Poseidon. Picking up dog poo? Well, now, that is akin to curing every disease known to humankind—you didn’t really expect me to make a landmine joke, did you?