20 December, 2012

The Rainbow of Doom Release Delayed

Even though The Rainbow of Doom is fully edited, I want to give it a clean read to make sure I think it's ready. Due to everything that's happening in the next while that's not going to happen.

New release date is mid-January and I should definitely be able to meet that one. Stay tuned for another announcement in the meantime.

13 December, 2012

Cover Reveal: The Rainbow of Doom

I have the cover for the next book in the Sorcery and Scholarships series:

It wasn't quite what I was thinking, but I'm actually fairly pleased with the stark contrast between the background and the eponymous rainbow. It fits the book in a lot of ways.

There are still a number of minor issues I need to clear out before publishing the third book, but to be honest the biggest issue is the editing. Unlike the previous books, I'm not sure this one is as polished as it needs to be. Publishing it too near Christmas and New Years also strikes me as a bad idea, given how big a deal those holidays are for most of the world. We'll have to see how this goes.

07 December, 2012

The December Deal

I still hope to release The Rainbow of Doom in December, I'm just not sure exactly when. Editing is near complete, but I haven't seen the final draft of the cover yet.

The middle of the month will take me to Kenya for a week-long meeting where I may not have consistent internet. Hopefully that won't interfere too much.

Before it's released, I'm trying to get everything in order. One part of that is making sure Sorcery and Scholarships has a closer to respectable number of reviews so as not to scare off any potential new readers. If anyone reading this is so inclined, drop a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or Smashwords. Pretty much in that order of importance, actually.

24 November, 2012

Fantasy Overview: Tolkien-esque Fantasy

Part seven of my fantasy overview.

This might seem an odd category, but I think it is a definite subgenre. Some people didn't get enough of Lord of the Rings, so there's more work with a similar feel. I don't necessarily mean the placement here to be derogatory. These stories are recognizable by their use of tropes like Tolkien's elves, Destined Orphans, and quest structures.

Terry Brooks
Author of the Sword of Shannara series, one of the first popular modern fantasies. Though it borrows heavily from Tolkien it is more of an adventure fantasy, with faster pacing and less worldbuilding.

David Eddings
If you like Eddings you're in luck, since he wrote plenty of books. They include The Belgariad, The Mallorean, The Elenium, The Tamuli, and The Dreamers. You may see a pattern. Many of his fans say his characters are what keep them reading.

RA Salvatore
He originally wrote fiction in D&D-related universes. Now he has his own universe, which is D&D-related but not in a legal sense. Creator of the popular character Drizzt Do'Urden, the Drow many roleplayers are pretending they're not playing.

Christopher Paolini
Eragon and the following books feature a farmboy getting a dragon and being called to save a kingdom from an evil emperor. I assume your opinion has been formed by now.

There's also fiction that is explicitly in the same world as another property, like Dragonlance or Pathfinder, but I won't get into those here. I figure you wouldn't be interested in those novels unless you were already interested in the property. If you like World of Warcraft or Dragon Age, there are multiple books out there set in the same world.

07 November, 2012

The Next Big Thing (Week 23)

I was asked by Aaron BradfordStarr to participate in the Next Big Thing chain of author interviews. Let's dive right in:

1- What is the working title of your book?

The Rainbow of Doom. My beta readers were pretty enthusiastic about this title, so it isn't likely to change before it's released in December.

2- Where did the idea come from for the book?

I wanted to do a mystery where the main characters aren't the ones investigating but I also wanted to give them a chance to be the driving force in another plot. It's about loyalties driving people in multiple directions. About the difference between who you are and what you do.

Mix those and you get this book. Well, if you mixed those ideas you'd probably get a different book. Unless you are a filthy plagiarist.

3- What genre does your book fall under?

It is a precious, utterly unique snowflake that throws the very concept of genre on its head. By which I mean urban fantasy.

4- Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I don't know actors, but I can use Google. Ryoko Hirosue could play Aki, visually. Viola Davis is in an older age bracket, but I'm sure she'd do Keisha justice. Blake is trickier, maybe Walter Perez or Jessie Garcia?

5- What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

It's easier to study magic when you don't have a war splitting the campus, a professor replaced by an imposter, and your friends drifting further away.

6- Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?


7- How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I spend most of my time on the outlining phase, so the actual writing process is a fairly intense push. The developing period was a few months, less than normal since I was writing with characters I'd already established for myself. Actual writing time was 17 days.

8- What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

The urban fantasy elements are similar to Jim Butcher's Dresden Files (thoroughly urbanized). The plot structure has similarities to Brandon Sanderson (steady buildup through peaks, lots of twists at the end).

9- Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I wanted to write urban fantasy with a stronger sense of self-awareness. All too often characters are genre-blind and that just doesn't feel true to the modern world to me. If some people showed up at your door and started talking about destiny, you wouldn't take them seriously. Even if you ended up believing them, you'd have a hard time taking it seriously, and that's what makes this project fun.

10- What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

The title is literal, figurative, and metaphorical. Completely unrelated to said rainbows, the book features a werebear, an asexual incubus, and magic that is more lethal than whimsical.

I'll be passing this along to some other authors when I get their permission, and they'll theoretically post their interviews on the 14th. Given how scattered I am by the combination of NaNoWriMo and work, we'll see how well that goes.

30 October, 2012

Guest Post for Angie Sandro

Click over to Oh, The Things I've Learned to see the guest post I wrote for Angie Sandro. It features random philosophizing over curious things like snow. The experiment has gotten decent results, at least in terms of the responses. When to schedule free days seems more random than anything else - everyone has different experiences. I suspect scheduling matters less than promotion, and both matter less than luck. I'll likely be doing NaNoWriMo, if work allows. Entirely new project. I'll try to get up another fantasy overview post sometime during the month.

05 September, 2012

KDP Select Experiment: The Bloody Veil

Since I got the rights back to one more short story, I figured I'd experiment with putting it up via the KDP Select program. Most readers here have probably already read about it extensively, but here's the deal: your book has to be exclusive to Amazon/Kindle, and available in the Kindle loaning library, and in return you get paid for every time your book is loaned.

The total money is divided between all loans, but Amazon has consistently reported around $2 per loan. Since that's better than most prices for short stories and you're only locked into the program for 90 day periods, I figured it wouldn't hurt to give it a shot. I'll report more if anything interesting comes of it.

As for the story itself, it's "The Bloody Veil": "In three hours, Hecate will be forced to marry a man she'd rather kill. They both know she'll sacrifice herself to save her fellow witches. But as Hecate considers the bloody path that led her to the altar, she realizes that there is one last chance to escape. A love story with more killing than your average romance."

You can get more information at Amazon or Goodreads.

24 August, 2012

Fantasy Overview: Historical and Steampunk

Part six of my fantasy overview.

Some authors write works set in our world's past, with varying levels of fantasy elements. For the authors I've listed, these are enjoyable on a direct level but even more so if you're interested in the history involved. Steampunk is included in the same category because it is based on a Victorian sensibility, making it at times difficult to separate from alternate history titles.

Phil and Kaja Foglio
Best known for their Girl Genius series of graphic novels, they're a good example of why steampunk often falls into the fantasy genre. They actually call their work (a pseudo-Europe ruled by mad geniuses capable of turning a toaster into a ray gun and also a better toaster) "gaslamp fantasy" because it uses the Victorian aesthetic with relatively little connection to actual science.

Felix Gilman
Arguably steampunk, in The Half-Made World Gilman presents a world with a broad and unformed frontier. Civilization presses into wild territory as a war continues between sentient engines and agents of ancient spirits. This book is refreshingly different and the series promises to go interesting places.

Guy Gavriel Kay
He generally takes historical events and reshapes them into a fantasy story. Things do not progress according to history, but they do shed new light on the actual events. His books also tend to stand alone, and there is significant focus on craft at a prose level.
Naomi Novik
Direct historical fantasy: her major series is an alternate history of the Napoleonic wars, shaped by the inclusion of dragons as air support. There is no other magic and as you'd expect the series has a military tone and focuses on human/dragon interactions.

Tim Powers
Though his work isn't always shelved as fantasy, it has appeal for any speculative genre reader. His books are alternate histories, weaving magic and invented characters around established facts. Even if you don't want to read about a brainwashed clone of Lord Byron (why not?), there are insane clowns and magic pirates and elementals.

Harry Turtledove
Imagine WWII, dragons replacing aircraft, leviathans replacing submarines, and magic replacing bombs. Turtledove has written broadly, including straight alternate history, but his "Darkness" series of fantasy WWII books is a good example of fantasy with heavy historical elements. It draws strength and interests from historical analogues while presenting a fresh take on the events.

Scott Westerfeld
Another author sold as YA but enjoyed by many. His Leviathan series is an alternate World War I, Darwinist countries using genetic manipulation to create animals for war and Clanker countries creating mechs and other steampunk technology. Sharp and fun, and involved in many interesting historical details.

13 August, 2012

Back, Also In Business

Well, I've been through all of East Africa and done a bunch of projects, but I'm back at home in Tanzania now. New city, new assignment, all that. Here's the current situation in nice bullet points:
 - A new ebook should be released in a month or so. It's a love story, with killing.
 - My internet quality is much better here, so I can't use that as an excuse anymore.
 - If you like quiet, thoughtful fantasy, check out BP Barwick. He's putting up stories online for free.
 - Still on track for releasing the third novel, The Rainbow of Doom, in December of 2012.

That is all for now, but this blog will be more active than in the past two months. I've already kept that promise with my first post.

27 May, 2012

The Lonely May Post

This has been my worst month for internet access in a while, so there hasn't been much activity.

I re-published "How the Apocalypse Can Make You Lose Your Job" online, available at Amazon or Smashwords. The story's page is also updated, including some author notes of potential interest.

No fantasy overview this month, sorry. I'm over half done with the "Historical and Steampunk" category, so you can expect that next.

Things are likely to remain quiet for a while. Due to unexpected progress (and organizational reprioritizing) my job is kicking into high gear. My project is going to complete in two years instead of three and then I'll be moving to a different city, thankfully one with better internet. I have a potential contract to do some programming for a hospital there, but we still need to discuss the exact nature of the work. All of this is going to use up time.

Hopefully once the move is complete, I'll be able to actually give this experiment the time it deserves.

23 April, 2012

Fantasy Overview: Urban Fantasy

Part five of my fantasy overview.

Urban fantasy is set in cities, like you'd expect. More importantly, it generally has a more modern perspective on the fantasy tropes involved.  The genre has been exploding lately and I'm afraid this list lacks many authors. Still, I think for now it will serve to outline the shape of the subgenre and it can always be improved later.

Jim Butcher
His Dresden Files set one of the modern tones for urban fantasy: a wizard in hardboiled detective novels. These are fun books you definitely need to try if any of those elements appeal to you. They tend to read easily on their own but develop a larger plot as the series continues. Some have recommended beginning with the fourth book (Summer Knight) as it is the one where the story elements come together strongly. Butcher also wrote an epic fantasy series.

Patricia Briggs
Her Mercedes Thompson series falls outside the tropes of hardboiled detectives as well as sparkly vampires. Nice variety of characters and plot types, just be aware there are a lot of werewolves. There are also hints of wilder varieties of Fey, but the focus is on the common creatures.

Nnedi Okorafor
Her Akata Witch has been described as a Nigerian Harry Potter and that is a fairly accurate summary. I'm afraid for many readers her appeal will be the "exotic" nature of her Africa-focused books, but I was pleased how it took a different context for granted instead of exploiting this. Getting beyond those surface issues, her work focuses on cultures, ethnic identity, and societal norms.

Eoin Colfer
Though marketed as children's books, the Artemis Fowl series has been enjoyed by many different readers. The protagonist is a young criminal genius encountering a variety of problems in the world of fairies and other fantastic creatures.

Cassandra Clare
The Mortal Instruments series is in the vein of Twilight-themed books but with more worldbuilding, a broader variety of non-humans, and more plot. For anyone who wants a distinctly modern feel or more romance, it should be considered.

While I'm always open to recommendations, I won't be putting paranormal romance titles on this list since I consider that to be a subgenre of romance. Plus, there are already plenty of listings for those books.

14 April, 2012

Wizardry on Caffeine Launched

Even if you're studying magic, sometimes you have to make a pot of coffee and pull an all-nighter. Unfortunately, with magic you can't just turn in your paper and sleep for a week. Classes, romances, and even vacations have consequences that keep coming back to haunt you. It doesn't matter if you'll pass your classes if you don't live to the end of the semester.

Author Notes 
The first book in the series tried to set the stage without throwing the reader into too many things. This one shows a bit more of what's at stake and lets things move beyond just the university. The plot ended up a little more relaxed than I'd intended, since I was trying to avoid a thriller-style rush to solve a big mystery. Hopefully this one lets the characters breathe a little more.

28 March, 2012

Wizardry on Caffeine Coming Next Month

I can't say exactly when since we still need another draft of the cover, but by this point I can be reasonably certain the book will be available in April. Beta reader feedback has been constructive, so my final edit should go smoothly.

Wizardry on Caffeine was finished before the first book was put up, since a series with a single book looks odd. The rough draft of the third book is finished as well, but I'm going to wait much longer to release it - right now I'm thinking November. A few months was too short and made some things hectic.

Of course, it would help if my internet was semi-functional more of the time. Lack of connectivity makes it hard to keep up with work and email, much less promotion or releases.

There's also something I forgot to mention before, Sorcery and Scholarships is now also available via Createspace. Some people seemed to want a physical copy, and that's a pretty reasonable request.

05 March, 2012

Fantasy Overview: New Weird

Part four of my fantasy overview, delayed for no good reason.

If you want fantasy that gets away from medieval settings and quest plots, this is your subgenre. What these authors have in common is attempting to write fantasy that gets out of the rut worn by Tolkien and imitators. Often they try to take less well-traveled paths, making books that feel fresh and different... and of course weird.

China MiƩville
The big name in New Weird, and not without reason. His Bas-Lag novels are set in a world filled with scarab-headed races and living robots and god whales. His books stand alone, sometimes referencing events of other novels, but always exploring new aspects of the world. It's a setting that feels enjoyably populated and far from Generic Fantasy Land.

Jeff VanderMeer
The same kind of unusual setting as MiƩville, but focusing on one idea in depth instead of a wide variety. For example, Finch features a fantasy world with industrial-level technology comes face to face with radically different fungus people. They use living fungal technology to monitor everyone, take memories from the dead, and create changing houses.

Michael Swanwick
Tolkien, the cynical and industrial remix. Dragons exist, but they are robotic creations that function as fighter-planes. There might be a prophecy or quest, but you can assume it will be undermined by the end of the story. Very likely to be polarizing, but you should give him a try in case you're one of the readers to appreciate him.

This is a broader genre than the authors I've listed, but I wanted to single it out because it's an important force in the fantasy genre overall.

15 February, 2012

Goodreads, Authors, and FAQs, Oh My

Various updates, some interesting and some not. I have a Goodreads account where I am still pleasantly surprised by books I'd forgotten I read. It will transition to an author page at some point over the next few days.

I've updated various static pages on the site. The Currently Writing page got its first update. James Enge has been added to General Fantasy; Katherine Kurtz and Kristen Britain are now listed in Epic Fantasy. The next entry (New Weird) will be up sometime this month.

But by far the most thrilling update is that I finally have some FAQs. Two of them. I'm so emotional I can't type properly. Anyone familiar with Smashwords won't care about the first, but the second is a quick reference for the magic in my series - it's not necessarily to understand the story, but I'm glad some readers are interested in the details.