Journalist Philip K. Jason reporting to Florida Weekly on Fantasy Author Sandy Lender's new novel Choices Meant for Kings
The sequel to Napes resident Sandy Lender's 2007 fantasy novel "Choices Meant for Gods" was a long time coming. Now, to the great satisfaction of her fans, the long-awaited "Choices Meant for Kings" is available. Like the first title, it is with ArcheBooks Publishing.
Why the wait? Well, not because of any writer's block on Sandy Lender's part. Writer's block is something this committed author has never experienced and doesn't understand.
Most of "Choices Meant for Kings" was already completed when "Choices Meant for Gods" appeared. However, she says, ArcheBooks "had hiccups with the production schedule," and many other titles were slated for production ahead of hers.
Ms. Lender originally conceived of a two-part series, but when she presented ArcheBooks with a 270,000-word manuscript, some rethinking was necessary. The cutting process required to make "Gods" an affordable project left material reliable to be relocated in "Kings." What was intended as a two-part series has now become a trilogy in order to distribute effectively all the material Ms. Lender created to explore the doings in the land of Onweald.
Fortunately, "Kings" is written so that no one will be lost without first reading "Gods." Characters are reintroduced and the essential story line is reinforced.
The challenges confronting Amanda Chariss, Protector of the Master, are continued and complicated in riveting ways. "Chariss's power," says Ms. Lender, "is a gift from the gods presented to those who will use it properly--not a power to use to rule over others." However, the author insists that Chariss is not a sorceress. As in the Old Testament, the sorcerers are bad guys.
The characters in this saga are lodged in imagined time, space, and history--a history of power, intrigue, romance, and cross-purposes that spans centuries, though the preset action is far more restricted. This author is confident about the inner logic of what she dramatizes, and her art generates suspense at every step.
Ms. Lender has met the essential challenge of fantasy fiction activating the reader's willing suspension of disbelief. We go to a place that doesn't and didn't exist, we meet characters whose power defy our habits of logic, and we swallow it whole.
What is the author's magic?
Total loyalty to her vision. Total immersion in the sensory and psychological aspects of setting and character.
She has thought so long and hard about Onweald and its principle players that she writes with utmost sure-handedness. Because of her skill, we believe in the characters. And once we believe in them, we believe in their experiences: their world and its supernatural possibilities. Just as Jonathan Swift, through his totally believable Lemual Gulliver, made all of Gulliver's travels real, so, through her characters, does Sandy Lender.
Readers can, and perhaps should, preview Ms. Lender's world and characters at www.authorsandylender.com. What she has done is a great model for other writers discovering how to use the Internet as a marketing tool.
Another entry into Ms. Lender's world is the chapbook "What Choices We Made" (2008), which offers stories that are part of the author's background preparation for writing the novels themselves.
Sandy Lender on Marketing
"I don't really consider it work when I jump into that (writing) world," Ms. Lender says. "The promotion and marketing that comes after the writing is work. The writing is a joy." But she also insists that, "You can ejoy the hard work of promotion and marketing." The real task is choosing, and then getting invited to, the best venues to promote your work--to be efficient in picking opportunities that will have an impact on sales.
Along with carefully selecting presentation and networking opportunities--live appearances--Ms. Lender makes extensive uses of Internet marketing. This means "virtual book tours" that allow her guest appearances on other writers' blogs. Because she must promote and market on a limited budget, she has found ways of exchanging services with other creative people, exploiting the barter system. Also, she says, "I have learned that there are some wonderful and kind people who are willing to help you." Such a person offered her a cut-rate price on a trailer for her new book.
Recently, Ms. Lender say an announcement on Facebook for a three-day novel-writing contest. Writing for 72 hours non-stop, she managed to complete a manuscript of more than 50,000 words. She discovered that her subconscious does not tolerate alarm clocks and that it is easy to make mistakes when fatigued. Ms. Lender is pleased that she succeeded in completing the task. Results in January.
Her day job? Editor at AsphaltPro Magazine.
Published in Florida Weekly, Oct. 29, 2009