Today I’m pleased to welcome Larry Ivkovich to Off the Page, chatting about his new book The Sixth Precept .
Larry Ivkovich is an IT professional and the author of several science fiction, fantasy and horror short stories and novellas, published online and in various print publications and anthologies including M-Brane SF, Afterburn SF, Penumbra, Twisted Cat Tales, Abaculus III, Raw Terror, Triangulations, Shelter of Daylight and SQ Magazine. He has also been a finalist in the L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future contest and was the 2010 recipient of the CZP/Rannu Fund Award for fiction. His debut urban fantasy novel, THE SIXTH PRECEPT, is now available from IFWG Publishing, Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. He is a member of two local writing/critique groups, the Pittsburgh Southwrites and the Pittsburgh Worldrights, and lives in Coraopolis, PA with his wife Martha and cats Trixie and Milo.
MY ROAD TO PUBLICATION
I started writing science fiction and fantasy over thirty years ago and haven’t stopped. It’s become just more than a creative outlet for me–it’s become my passion. It took a few years before I sold my first short story but that served as the impetus to keep writing and to try my hand at longer works.
The idea for THE SIXTH PRECEPT came about from a series of short stories I’d written featuring one of my protagonists, Kim Yoshima. Two of those stories (“Time Noir” and “A Concerned Citizen”) were eventually published by M-Brane SF and IFWG Publishing respectively. But I realized that, in having essentially started writing a short story series, I needed to expand the characters and universe I created and write a novel.
So I began writing THE SIXTH PATH which featured two of my short stories’ characters, Kim and Wayne Brewster. Wayne is my “super-hero” character, his name being a takeoff on Bruce Wayne and his hero persona, ArcNight, is Batman (the Dark Knight). Kim originated out of my interest in ancient Japanese history and mythology.
I finished a 130,000 word novel which incorporated all of the short stories in their entirety in the story. That turned out to be a mistake. Each story was different with really diverse ideas and elements (including an extra-terrestrial character) so that the finished book, with its current title, was too bloated and confusing despite my best efforts to tie everything together. At a writers’ conference where I pitched my novel to Ace editor, Ginger Buchanan, I was told by Ms. Buchanan to lose 30,000 words.
30,000 words! How could I do that? Well, it turned out to be quite easy. My writing/critique group, the Pittsburgh SouthWrites, had been telling me basically the same thing during our twice-monthly meetings, but I just wouldn’t listen. I was so sure I could make this work. Now, I could see where the cuts needed to be made and they went pretty smoothly.
I got THE SIXTH PRECEPT down to a more manageable 100,000 words, which made it a much better novel, and began researching publishing markets. Once I found some that accepted unsolicited manuscripts, I began sending the book out.
Much of trying to get published in any market is a waiting game. Sometimes it will take months for the publisher to get back to you. Sometimes you have to drop an email and request a status update. Sometimes, they never get back to you at all!
I sent the manuscript to some of the big guns–Tor, Baen, Ace. All rejected the book after keeping it for months. I started looking at the smaller, independent presses, most of which got back to me in matters of weeks, not months–Leucrota (since gone out of business–dodged a bullet there!), Gryphonwood Press, Aio Publishing, EDGE SF and Fantasy Publishing and others. Most of them rejected the book, Leucrota stating it reminded them too much of an anime or manga plot. I found that interesting since I’ve never read any manga and have only watched a handful of anime.
One publisher, however, did want to publish THE SIXTH PRECEPT but I was leery of the contract they sent me. My wife, who works in publishing (The Society of Automotive Engineers) advised me against it also so I, very reluctantly and painfully, declined the offer. Something I began to regret when, after another year or so of rejections, the book still hadn’t sold.
Until I sent it to IFWG Publishing in the fall of 2010. I found them on Ralan’s Webstravaganza, a great writers’ market web site. IFWG liked the book and offered me a contract. Both my wife and I agreed this was a better deal, plus I liked the fact the publishers and editors were also writers and knew how the game was played.
So I became a member of the IFWG family and was involved in the book’s editing and cover art processes, which began in early 2011. The book’s publication date was pushed back from July of that year until November (remember what I said about a waiting game?) and came out then in both print and ebook formats available at IFWG, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo.
I was (and am) ecstatic! It was a dream come true. But getting published is only the beginning. The really hard work starts afterwards where, in today’s world, the marketing and promotional aspect of a novel falls more and more on the author.
This is what a lot of my time has been taken up with the last year–giving readings, selling my book at book events and science fiction and fantasy conventions, approaching book stores and libraries to take my book, beefing up my online presence on Facebook, Goodreads, my website and on this really great Virtual Book Tour.
It takes up a lot of time, effort and money but it’s been worth it. The book’s only been selling modestly so far but the networking I’ve done, the connections with other authors, artists, book lovers and genre fans and the experience I’ve gained has been invaluable.
I have a second novel, MAGUS STAR RISING, scheduled to be published by IFWG Publishing next year and I’m currently working on the sequel to THE SIXTH PRECEPT.
The Sixth Precept In 16th century medieval Japan, Yoshima Mitsu, who is gifted with psychic powers, uses her prescient abilities to send her young attendant, Shioko, into the future. There, Mitsu believes Shioko will be safe from the purges of the maniacal warlord Omori Kadanamora, his warrior monks and his half-human, half-bestial Shadow-Trackers. In present-day Pittsburgh, police Lieutenant Kim Yoshima is attacked by a creature out of someone’s twisted nightmare. In the aftermath of that terrifying struggle, Kim finds a young Japanese girl named Shioko, lost, confused and calling Kim “Mitsu” and her monstrous attacker a “Shadow-Tracker.” Wayne Brewster dreams of the costumed hero, ArcNight. But more than that, he feels bizarrely connected to the fictional crime fighter as if ArcNight and his comic book world are real. And in all of his dreams, Brewster sees one constant, one face repeated over and over–the face of Kim Yoshima. Empowered by a mysterious book, The Five Precepts to Enlightenment, Kim realizes her destiny is in the past. Using her own burgeoning esper powers, Kim, accompanied by Shioko and Brewster, travel by means of a temporal rift to feudal Japan. There they must assume different personas to fight Omori and creatures of Japan’s mythological world to fulfill ancient prophesy and modern historical fact. If they fail, history will be altered and the world will change forever.