Sunday, April 29, 2012

Feasting with Panthers and its author, Lyle Blake Smythrs

Feasting With Panthers
by Lyle Blake Smythrs

We found the first one-eyed man at dawn...

So begins the highly original fantasy tale of warrior poet Catalan, when he and his band stumble upon a handsome acolyte near death in a mountain pass. But when the acolyte reveals his mystical vision, the poet finds himself at the center of a War Game between two mysterious
sorcerers. To unravel the mystery, Catalan and the agents of the War Game must seek the missing pieces of an enchanted chess set in a quest complicated by deceit and treachery, in which nothing is what it seems.

Ingeniously weaving together citations throughout the text from a variety of sources ? including Yeats, Milton, Joyce, Poe, Baudelaire, the King James Bible and many more ? author Lyle Blake Smythers serves up a truly literary feast.


Book Genre - Literary Fantasy
Publisher - Pink Narcissus Press
Release Date - May 2012


When I started writing my heroic fantasy/swords-and-sorcery novel FEASTING WITH PANTHERS, I knew that I wanted to work within the framework of traditional fantasy while somehow twisting it just enough to make it different, fresh, exciting.  I had four narrators taking turns telling their stories, and I was attempting to give each of them a reasonably distinctive voice. This decision allowed me to play with language and writing style and let myself go (more about that in a minute).
I also read widely and pick up a lot of odd words and unusual facts as I go.  I ended up throwing a lot of disparate elements into the soup that was cooking on my writer’s stove.  In the end I had a book that was probably not quite like anything anyone had ever seen before.  There are good things and bad things about that.
When I started to submit the manuscript, I began with traditional mainstream publishers and sent FEASTING to most of the ones who accept unagented submissions.  All of them said no.  At the same time I was sending out queries to agents.  I must have hit up fifty or sixty, all of whom said no.
My breakthrough, if I may call it that, was moving on to the small presses, independent publishers who as a group are more likely to take a chance on offbeat, strange material.  For a while, they were all saying no as well. Then one Monday morning last June I sat down at my computer to check my email and found that my inbox held a message with the subject: “Re: submission:FEASTING WITH PANTHERS.”
Ho hum, I thought. Here’s another rejection.  It turned out to be an offer of a contract for publication by the marvelous Rose Mambert at the great and wonderful Pink Narcissus Press.  They are releasing my book over Memorial Day weekend, and the whole world will look at it and be stunned.
What’s the moral of this stirring tale?  Well, there are several.
First and foremost, don’t take rejection personally.  Your book is being rejected, but you are not. Keep going.  Try the next person on your list.  (You do have a list, don’t you?)  Keep knocking on doors until one opens.
As Joe Konrath says, “ Hard work trumps talent.  Persistence trumps inspiration. Humility trumps ego.
The experts don't know everything, and they might not know what's right for you.”
I wish I had a proper citation for the next comment, but I can’t remember who said it, only that he was talking specifically about bad reviews but it can also be applied to not getting published right away:
“The 2 best pieces of advice I heard for dealing with negative reviews:
No book can please everybody — it’s statistically impossible.
Those aren’t the readers you’re looking for. (In Obi Wan's voice, of course…)”
Finally, I give you this gem, which I cut and pasted from somebody somewhere who was handing out free advice to aspiring writers (again,apologies for lack of citation):
“Do not listen to what people tell you.”
Does this mean we should reject help, guidance, editorial comments, the editing process? Absolutely  not.  Everyone needs an editor, and I have had the incomparable pleasure of seeing my book grow and morph and improve under the skillful hand of my editor, the aforementioned Rose Mambert, who helped me make it better than it was when I submitted it to her.  No, what this statement means to me is that we must find and develop our own way and have faith in our instincts.
Write the kind of book you like to read.  Write the book you wish someone else had written so you could read it.  Work on your strengths.  Develop your own style.
Raymond Chandler (at last I’m giving a citation for a quotation) said, “Style is the most valuable investment a writer can make with his time.”
If someone says to you, “No one will ever want to publish this” or “No one will like this, it’s too weird”?  Have faith in what you’re doing, do what you love, and keep going.  One Monday morning you will check your mail and find a nice surprise.
Thanks for listening.
Lyle Blake Smythers
Right now Feasting can be pre-ordered from Barnes & Noble at B&N. It will shortly be available on Amazon and from my publisher at Pink Narcissus Press which is also how people can connect with me if they have comments or questions. I am also on Facebook.

We are going to be giving away a free copy of the novel, either a print edition or an e-book, to one of the readers of this blog. Interested readers should leave a comment here that includes their email address. I will select the most intriguing poster to be the winner. Readers who follow me during this entire virtual book tour and post at each blog stop will be entered for a drawing to win a print of the outstanding cover art by Duncan Eagleson. 

Lyle Blake Smythers is an actor, writer and librarian in the Washington, D.C., area. Since 1976 he has performed in over 100 stage productions, including three appearances at the National Theatre. He has published fiction, poetry, satire and literary criticism in Manscape, FirstHand, Playguy, The William and Mary Review, Insights, School Library Journal and Children?s Literature Review. He is a
former children?s librarian and is currently providing cataloging support for an ongoing project at the Library of Congress.

Website – 

Purchase Link:

Link to Tour on Main Site -


Lord Jiggy said...

As a fellow ink-stained wretch, Mr. Symther's success gives me hope. I appreciate his thoughts on perseverance and will certainly apply them when querying my own novel. The opening line of his novel is incredibly intriguing, and I look forward to reading it soon. Good luck!

Lyle Blake Smythers said...

I appreciate your comment, Lord Jiggy. We are never alone when we talk with other writers about our hopes, dreams, and struggles. Keep on truckin' and never give up.

Stay tuned for an announcement regarding the winner of the free book. I am on tour until May 18.