Read for Pixels

September 17th, 2014

Spiffy peeps, I’m participating in a campaign to end violence against women (VAW) and I hope you’ll join me. I agreed to join Read For Pixels (part of the Pixel Project) before the very high-profile case of Ray Rice became public, but that case certainly underscores the need to focus on this. Broadcaster James Brown said something about it during Thursday Night Football and it shouldn’t be missed:

I like what he said there about “healthy, respectful manhood.” If you get a Y chromosome at birth that’s your ticket to manhood, but what kind of manhood it turns out to be depends largely on the values one learns while growing up. And there are an awful lot of men out there who could stand to grow more respectful of women—and, by extension, of humanity. Because women’s rights are human rights. And being a feminist is not in any way emasculating—it means you support equal rights for women. Period.

It’s been said before: Just because you have a dick doesn’t mean you have to be a dick.

So I’m doing a Google Hangout (simultaneously broadcast on YouTube) on September 28, 8pm EST, during which I’ll be reading a Granuaile chapter and taking questions and so on. I’m not the only author doing this, either! Here’s the full schedule of hangouts, including mine. And lookit, a picture!

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We will, of course, ask you to support the Pixel Project, for which you can win goodies. I and some other authors wrote these 100-word stories called Drabbles, and mine is a scene between Leif and Atticus that will give you a sneak peek at book 8! The drabble pack is available if you contribute either through  IndieGogo or Razoo. Also through those same links, you can snag a 30-minute Skype chat with me, which can be either a one-on-one deal or a group like a book club, and a signed, personalized copy of SHATTERED. Please join me for the hangout! And please donate! If nothing else, talk with dudes, especially the young ones, and change this culture.

Where does your money go? To the Pixel Project and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The full breakdown is here.

Here’s how your support helps, from the Pixel Project:

Your support will help make an impact on 3 levels:

Level 1 – Helping efforts to shift the Global Perspective on Violence Against Women:

“Read For Pixels” is held in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign through which we are working to accelerate the end of Violence Against Women (VAW) by re-characterizing it from a “women’s issue” to the human rights issue that it really is. VAW impacts families and communities regardless of gender. Men may be responsible for most violent acts against women, but decent, non-violent men far outnumber them and have largely remained silent on the issue. For VAW to end, these men need to be involved in efforts to end the violence.

The Pixel Reveal campaign intends to do just that by triggering conversations about VAW worldwide and inspiring men and boys to take action to stop VAW in their communities.

Level 2 – Keeping anti-Violence Against Women work alive and kicking, grassroots style!

Anti-Violence Against Women is a cause that is chronically underfunded despite the global severity of the issue.

The $1 million we are aiming to raise via the Pixel Reveal campaign will be shared between The Pixel Project and the U.S.’s National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

It’ll help keep both organization’s respective anti-Violence Against Women campaigns, programs, and projects alive and thriving.

Level 3 – Helping Reach Your Communities To Get The Conversation Started

We’ve listened to many folks over the years who wish to help stop the violence but don’t know where to begin.

Therefore, as part of the outreach efforts of “Read For Pixels”, we’ll be providing all “Read For Pixels” donors with a special virtual toolkit – a set of links to resources for you to learn more about violence against women, how to start the conversation in your communities (and with the men and boys in your communities), and how to help victims and survivors of domestic violence and rape.

You can check out these links here to learn more:

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Old story is new again!

September 8th, 2014

demonbarkercoverSo this is a bit different.

Back in July of 2013, I had an Iron Druid short story appear in a nifty anthology called CARNIEPUNK.

It’s nifty still—it’s an anthology of dark urban fantasy written by awesome authors & available wherever you snag books. YAY!

However, you can now snag “The Demon Barker of Wheat Street” singly for nine-nine cents. Links below.

This story is set just a couple weeks after the events of the novella Two Ravens and One Crow—during Granuaile’s training period, in other words—and Granuaile alludes to it briefly in Shattered. As you might guess, it’s set at a carnival. Atticus, Granuaile, and Oberon visit Kansas, where they meet some ghouls that aren’t nearly as refined and polite as Antoine and his boys with the refrigerated truck. Lots of blood and guts and creepy stuff, a demon named Gobknob, and to make it extra tragic, absolutely no barbecue.

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The Chapel_cover art FINAL COVER DESIGNAnd in case you missed it, I’d like to throw in a plug for “The Chapel Perilous,” another Iron Druid short story that’s available for ninety-nine cents (except in the UK and affiliated territories, where it’s bundled with the anthology UNFETTERED).

Featuring beautiful, perfect cover art by Galen Dara, “The Chapel Perilous” tells the story of Atticus in Wales in the year 537. It’s the events of this story that inspire him to make his cold iron amulet and silver charms, and it’s full of juicy Grail legend geekery.

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A Make-Up Kiss for Atlanta

August 12th, 2014

Fear not: I’m speaking metaphorically about the kissing.

I have to miss Dragon*Con this year because that’s the weekend we are closing on our home and I have to move from Arizona to Colorado. But I feel badly about it because I’ve heard that Dragon*Con is a good time and I know there are some people who are going who would have liked to say howdy.

Well, I WOULD LIKE TO SAY HOWDY ALSO.

So I’ve arranged a little something to make it up to all you spiffy southern peeps. On Saturday, October 25, at 1 pm, I’m coming to the Atlanta area to say howdy and I hope if you can manage it you’ll come say howdy too! I will be at FoxTale Book Shoppe in Woodstock, GA. So it’s near Atlanta but without Atlanta traffic! Reachable in an hour or two from points in Tennessee and Alabama! And, uh, also points in Georgia!

But guess what! It won’t be just me! I’m also appearing with Super Duper Turbo Spiffy Authors Delilah S. Dawson and Cherie Priest! IT’S A TRIFECTA OF TERRIFIC! A TRIO OF BRIO! (How’s that for an obscure word?) LOOKIT I HAVE MADE A POSTER OF OUR LATEST COVERS FOR YOU TO PRINT OUT AND BRING FOR US TO SIGN IF YOU WANNA

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I will baldly admit (because I am pretty damn bald at this point) that I am so stoked about the chance to hang out with Cherie and Delilah. I’m a fanboy of both of them. They have written a couple of my favorite books this year and they just have these GIANT STORYTELLING BRAINS so I will be geeking out a bit. Cherie wrote MAPLECROFT and Delilah wrote SERVANTS OF THE STORM and they are awesome stories.

Both Cherie and Delilah have also written many other books. I have written a few myself. All will be available at FoxTale Book Shoppe. You are welcome, of course, to bring whatever you’d like for us to sign and to just say howdy. (We sign e-readers and e-reader covers too!) However, it’s polite to buy something from FoxTale since they are going to the trouble and expense of hosting us. I will just gently drop the words “Special Holiday Gifts!” here and hope that inspires you to get some signed copies for your friends & family.

We three amigos will burble happily for a wee while, answer questions, then sign goodies and chat with you and take selfies. I HAVE HEARD THERE WILL ALSO BE CAKE.

Sometimes when I say I’m going somewhere I get asked to go somewhere else, so let me be clear up front—I’m just going to this one store on this one day to make up for missing Dragon*Con. I cannot conveniently go to your hometown elsewhere in the south or make a little tour out of this; my daughter’s in high school now and I want to be around in case she wants to talk about the books she’s reading (We discussed Fahrenheit 451, her summer reading, and it was so much fun). If you’re an hour or three away, I hope you can make it to Woodstock on Saturday Oct 25 at 1 pm to say howdy to us. We’d love to see you! Much love!

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Stuff to read!

July 29th, 2014

Every so often readers ask me for suggestions about what to read next. I tend to squee about things quite a bit on Twitter but I thought I’d squee some more here because more folks might see it that way.

These are all upcoming titles in the next couple of months—I wind up reading stuff ahead of publication because, well, publishers send me things now. But I don’t squee about stuff I don’t genuinely love, y’all. I mean, I will point to things by authors every so often and say hey, you might want to check this out because this person has a good rep and I have heard good things, or perhaps I have read other books by that same person in the past and loved them. But when I read something and love it I will say so. I squee because I genuinely enjoyed that read and think you will too, though of course your mileage may vary.

I have read and squeed over all the books below (with one exception, but it’s a guaranteed squee anyway). I may have slobbered on a couple of them. Some of them are out NEXT WEEK—and if you can, pre-order ‘em. It’s the single most helpful thing you can do for an author besides spreading the word to your friends after you’re finished. I have pre-ordered all of these through indie stores even though I’ve already read early copies because I must hunt these authors down and get their autographs because I’m a fanboy.

In order of release:

BROKEN SOULS by Stephen Blackmoore, out August 5!

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So lemme tell you about Stephen Blackmoore: He writes this super-gritty, face-punching L.A. noir about a necromancer named Eric Carter. But Eric’s not a dark-lord-Sauron kind of necromancer. He can see dead people and it complicates the hell out of his life. Eric’s not a sweet guy by any means. He carries a straight razor because, well… reasons. These are fast, badass reads and I desperately want everyone to buy this series for very selfish reasons—I WANT MORE. And authors don’t get to write more unless people buy their books.

Pre-order the paperback or ebook wherever you wish, but here’s a link to Stephen’s local indie store Mysterious Galaxy, which will ship anywhere. And if you call ‘em and ask ‘em all nice, they’ll make Stephen sign it for you before it ships! (That’s what I did.) Their number is 858-268-4747.

SERVANTS OF THE STORM by Delilah S. Dawson, also out August 5!

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Delilah gave me this book at RT Booklovers Convention in New Orleans (because I begged for it). I was tired as hell after the con and wanted to nap on the plane home but I opened this book to read a little bit and DAMN, NO SLEEP FOR ME. I read most of it in the air and finished it when I got home before I hit the hay. Yeah. It grabbed me.

This is creeptastic Southern Gothic YA, definitely a juicy horror pie. I mean, LOOKIT THE COVER.

I like what Delilah did here. I mean she did a lot of stuff, but here’s one bit I especially appreciated: The heroine, Dovey, has to deal with some grief early on and she retreats from the world for a while, and when she comes back it’s a horror show out there. Kind of like life is sometimes. But the thing is, living in a haze isn’t life; ignoring or avoiding pain instead of dealing with it just keeps you saddled with baggage and you can’t grow that way. You have to fight through it and I admire Dovey for it.

Delilah’s book can also be pre-ordered wherever you like, but her local indie is FoxTale Book Shoppe in Georgia and they’re taking pre-orders for signed copies! (Scroll down to August 8 for the order link.) Delilah’s also really good to follow on Twitter if you’d like to be a writer yourself one day; she often delivers a series of tweets on different writing topics and I dig ‘em myself because it reminds me of stuff that you forget sometimes.

CURSED MOON by Jaye Wells, out August 12! 

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Every time I see someone bemoan the lack of “strong female characters” in SFF I’m like, FFS, have you heard of Jaye? Because she’s been writing them for years. So have many other writers. If you can’t find them, you’re not looking very hard.

Jaye finished her Sabina Kane series a couple years ago and now she has a new one called Prospero’s War that I really dig. ALCHEMY! POTION PEDDLERS! IS THAT A HOMUNCULUS GROWING OUT OF THAT PERSON’S CHEST OH MY GOD WAUUUGH!

Kate Prospero is a single mom with a bit of a sketchy past. She’s trying to play it straight now and be a good cop as well as a good mom. But you know, there’s these dudes out there cooking up addictive dirty potions that turn up aggression and strength while turning off most of the frontal lobe. HAVOC IS BEING WREAKED. And Kate’s constantly tempted to cook up her own dirty stuff—for the greater good, you know. Great tensions here, great characters, great writing.

And yo: Jaye is one of the authors being directly affected by the Hachette/Amazon dispute. Amazon’s refusal to display a pre-order button for CURSED MOON hurts Jaye, period. This is why I order from indies. Jaye’s indie store is Murder By the Book in Houston, an absolutely awesome store that I visited in June on my tour. While I was there, I pre-ordered a signed copy of CURSED MOON because I knew Jaye would be there. You can order using the link above, email using orders@murderbooks.com, or give them a call at 713-524-8597 to order a signed copy. I should note that I haven’t read CURSED MOON yet—I’ve only read DIRTY MAGIC (which I loved). So I cannot wait for this to arrive in my mailbox!

MAPLECROFT by Cherie Priest, out September 2!

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I have been a Cherie fanboy for a good while now. (By the way, she pronounces her first name like “Sherry,” not “Cher-REE”.) She is so masterful at creating a sense of place & time coupled with exquisite dread. I think this cover captures what I mean perfectly. You look at it and go OH HOW LOVELY AND NINETEENTH CENTURY but then OH GOD THAT AXE HAS BLOOD ON IT AND SHE’S GONNA USE IT AGAIN ISN’T SHE.

Listen: This book is delicious. I couldn’t contain myself while reading it. I tweeted that it was my book of the year before I finished the book (or the year).

Here is why: It’s written in epistolary style. Diary entries, in other words, like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, except with a much clearer style than Shelley ever managed. And the voices are so well done, some of them descending into madness with a very Lovecraftian kind of vibe to them. It just hit all my geek buttons and I relished every page.

Oh, and yeah: It’s Lizzie Borden, y’all. Cherie did this so cleverly. She’s working on the sequel now and I cannot wait.

I don’t know whether Cherie works with an indie bookstore to get you signed copies—if you’re interested in that, maybe reach out to her via Twitter (she’s @cmpriest) or the Interwebs somehow? But yeah, you should be able to pre-order this from a buttload of places.

THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER by Beth Cato, out September 19!

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Beth has been publishing short stories and poems for quite a while but this is her debut novel. If you squint at the bottom of the cover you’ll see my blurb there; I really enjoyed this. It’s not every day you see a healer as the protagonist. Usually the healer’s someone the badass protagonist calls in for a couple pages to fix him/her up before going out to stomp some more bad guys. So Beth is doing something different here and it works well. Octavia’s a great character and I’m looking forward to the next book! Want to give it a try and see what kind of conflicts a healer deals with? You can read the first chapter for free right here. I think you’ll dig it and want to read the rest.

You can of course pre-order wherever, but if you’d like to get a signed copy, you can order from venerable indie Changing Hands or call ‘em (like I did) at 480-730-0205 because Beth will be there.

And there you have it, friends! That should give you some good stuff to read!

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What I’m working on now

July 13th, 2014

Ye gods it’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Things have happened. Let’s catch up!

1. SHATTERED hit the NY Times bestseller list! Thank you all for your pre-orders and picking it up in stores and coming to see me on tour and the many nice things you have said to me in person and online. I’m so glad you enjoyed the story!

2. For various reasons I had to cancel appearances at San Diego Comic Con, Dragon*Con, and Salt Lake Comic Con. Apologies to all; I was looking forward to seeing you. Feeling especially guilty about missing Dragon*Con because I know lots of people wanted to say hi, so I am going to see if circumstances will allow me to visit Atlanta sometime in September or October. Check back on my Events & Appearances page every so often for updates and of course if something comes together I will announce it here and on Twitter & Facebook.

3. I started a Twitter account for Owen Kennedy under @ArchdruidOwen. Like @IrishOberon, he tweets in character. He’s a bit ornery about modern language and the way we live. :) Here’s a sample:

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And, of course, Oberon usually tweets about food and pop culture:

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So if you’re on Twitter and you’d like some occasional entertainment to fill the void between books, you might have fun following Oberon and Owen. You might find other IDC accounts out there but those aren’t run by me, just random peeps. I figure that since Atticus & Granuaile are trying to keep a low profile they wouldn’t spend much time on social media.

4. I’m getting lots of questions about when the next book is coming out. Well, my next book is STAR WARS: HEIR TO THE JEDI, coming out February 17, 2015. It’s a first-person Luke Skywalker novel set in between Episodes IV and V, and it’ll be available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. And it’ll be canon, if that matters. :)

5. I don’t have a publication date for the next Iron Druid book. I haven’t even started writing it yet because I’m working on another project. The next IDC thing is a short story called “A Prelude to War” that picks up right after the events of SHATTERED. I don’t have a publication date for that yet either, but rest assured I will let you know when I do! This will be a story integral to the series plot in the same way that TWO RAVENS AND ONE CROW was; you won’t want to miss it.

6. The project I’m working on now is an epic fantasy called A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Once I finish that I’ll get back to the Iron Druid stuff. Of course I hope you’ll give my epic a try and dig the hell out of it. SPOILER ALERT: It contains giants. And also people who are not giants, for otherwise how would the giants know how freakin’ giant they really are?

7. Book 8 of IDC, when I get to it, will be called STAKED. I’ve done some preliminary setting research already and have some more ahead of me.

8. If you haven’t checked out the Holy Taco Church yet, I promise it’s worth a look. Very good recipes in the Taco Files already and new content posted M-Th. And of course, if you decide to become a Tacolyte (or a Tacoist?) and sign up for the newsletter, you’ll get more foodie goodness along with a chance to win signed copies of books written by the church authors. (And by the way, if you’re looking for someone new to read, I highly recommend any of the church authors. They all know how to tell a damn fine story.)

I’ll be throwing myself into writing my epic for a while and might be a bit scarce on Facebook as a result, and though I won’t be completely absent from Twitter I might scale back quite a bit just because I need to immerse myself in the world.

Thank you always for reading and spreading the word. You’re the bestest!

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Atticus’s necklace

May 29th, 2014

This has been in the works for a while and I’m so happy to finally be able to share it with you! Badali Jewelry has been working with me to create an officially licensed version of Atticus’s necklace, and I love it!

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Bit of background on it: The necklace you see on the covers of my books was a complete (and pleasant!) surprise to me. It was commissioned from a jeweler by the cover artist for the photo shoot and I was blown away that he would go to the trouble. And it looks great! However, it was based on a sketch I’d made for charm placement and I wasn’t consulted on the design of the individual charms, and the jeweler also decided to connect everything with twine rather than use the silver chain that I specifically state Atticus uses in the book. These are quibbles, to be sure, but important ones if you’re making an official version. And Badali wanted to make an official version.

On our left side of Atticus’s cold iron amulet we have the shapeshifting charms and the bear charm that Atticus uses for energy storage. From l-r it goes bear, stag, hound, owl, and otter. Here’s a closer look at them:

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The stag charm was modeled after the design on the Gundestrup cauldron and the others are fairly straightforward. The charms on the other side might require some explanation.

Here’s a close-up shot of them. From l-r we have camouflage, night vision, magical sight, healing, and the soulcatcher.

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Camouflage blends him in with his surroundings but is not true invisibility, so Atticus represented it with a hammered silhouette. The night vision charm employs a Celtic sun. Magical sight is represented by the third eye—which Atticus uses for the name of his shop and says is a reference to Vedic beliefs. Several deities in the Hindu pantheon have a third eye. When Durga, for example, opens hers, it triggers a transformation into Kali the Destroyer. That’s not what happens for Atticus, obviously, but he does see the world from a different perspective when he casts that particular binding and it seemed to him an apt metaphor to use. The healing charm is a representation of the many healing wells throughout the UK. In legends of the Tuatha Dé Danann they would heal warriors or other wounded in such a well, the waters gifted with magical healing powers. Dian Cecht was said to have an especially powerful one. Atticus & Granuaile visit and use such wells in TRAPPED when they go to Mag Mell. Christian churches were often built near the sites of pagan holy wells and their nature assimilated into Christian tradition. Many of them were called St. Brighid’s well, which gave rise to names like Bridewell, and so on.  So to Atticus these wells would be more symbolic of healing in his mind that a Greek caduceus with a snake twined around it or whatever. Lastly is the soulcatcher, a nine-pointed star in a circle and also containing a circle with a shiny soul in there. When reading the stories of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the importance of nine becomes clear rather quickly—it comes up often. It’s one of the reasons I’m writing nine books instead of fewer or less: Atticus would associate anything important with the number nine.

Badali Jewelry does great work. They sell officially licensed jewelry for Patrick Rothfuss and Jim Butcher as well and some spiffy Lord of the Rings stuff too. They’re offering two different versions of this necklace regarding materials: Sterling silver and white bronze. The amulet is iron! They did their best to keep the price down but it’s a labor-intensive piece; it’s like doing 11 items instead of one. They will be on sale for the first time at Phoenix Comicon June 5-8, and online as well at that time. Regular retail for silver is $205 but will be on sale for $139 at shows and online; regular price for white bronze is $135 but will be on sale for $89 at shows and online. And, of course, they have Granuaile’s iron amulet for sale as well. (Or the Morrigan’s, if you prefer.)

If you’re headed to Phoenix Comicon, I hope to see you there (my schedule was in the previous blog post), and please stop by the Badali Jewelry booth to check out the Iron Druid stuff!

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Phoenix Comicon

May 22nd, 2014

The lineup of authors that will be at Phoenix Comicon this year is the best, period. Have you SEEN the full list? It’s insane. Plenty of chances to see your favorites and get them to SIGN ALL THE THINGS and TAKE ALL THE SELFIES. Can’t wait to see everyone!

Here’s where to find me:

Signing at my table thingie: Friday 10:30-11:30

I have a table in author’s alley that I’m sharing with Jaye Wells. If we’re all lucky Jaye will be there at the same time. I need her to sign my copy of DIRTY MAGIC. I won’t have any stuff with me, so please bring whatever you want to have signed, or just come by for a selfie and a chat, whatever. :)

Signing at the Del Rey Booth: Friday 1:30-2:30
My publisher is giving away free copies of HOUNDED and I’ll also sign whatever you bring! And yes, I’m doing this Saturday and Sunday too!

The Taco Council : Friday 3:00pm – 4:00pm
Half silly and half serious and a whole ‘nother half amazing, where you shall receive news from the Tacopope and be introduced to the Holy Taco Church (yes, this is a thing). With Delilah S. Dawson, Jason Hough, Sam Sykes, Chuck Wendig, Brian McClellan, and Leanna Renee Hieber! Maybe MOARRR authors in the audience!

Beyond Thor and His Hammer : Saturday 10:30am – 11:30am
This panel is mythology centered, focusing on the Norse but not so much on Thor. We’ll talk more about the lesser-known members of the pantheon. And by we I mean authors who have all used Norse myth in their books besides me: Greg van Eekhout, Janni Lee Simner, and Elizabeth Bear!

Signing at the Del Rey Booth: Saturday 1:30-2:30
My publisher is giving away free copies of HOUNDED and I’ll also sign whatever you bring! And yes, I’m doing this Friday and Sunday too!

Creating Your Fantasy World : Saturday 3:00pm – 4:00pm
Fantasy worldbuildin’! With Brian McClellan and Zachary Jernigan.

Drinks With Authors : Saturday 8:00pm – 11:00pm
Not really a panel. It’s just what it says. Informal. Boozy. Fun. Kind of a party. It’s in the Renaissance hotel Salon 5-8. Come on by and raise a glass with us. There are door prizes and things!

Supernatural Elements in Contemporary Fantasy : Sunday 10:30am – 11:30am
Kind of a magic-system/worldbuilding thingie devoted particularly to urban/contemporary fantasy. With OMG LOOKIT Charlaine Harris, Amber Benson, Chuck Wendig, Seanan McGuire, and Weston Ochse!

Keeping a Long Running Series Fresh : Sunday 12:00pm – 1:00pm
Gotta do more than save the world every book. There’s, uh, other stuff that we will totally talk about. With luminaries Jim Butcher, L.E. Modesitt Jr. and Gini Koch.

Signing at the Del Rey Booth: Sunday 1:30-2:30
My publisher is giving away free copies of HOUNDED and I’ll also sign whatever you bring! And yes, I’m doing this Friday and Sunday too!

Writing Rogues : Sunday 3:00pm – 4:00pm
I can’t believe who’s all on this panel. I will spend the entire time smiling, just happy to be there. With Patrick Rothfuss, Jim Butcher, Sam Sykes, Scott Lynch, and Pierce Brown.

And here’s where to find an OFFICIALLY LICENSED REPLICA of Atticus’s Iron Amulet & Necklace: The Badali Jewelry table! This has been in the works for a while and it looks spectacular! More on this in another post, but just wanted you to know that these are going to debut at Phoenix Comicon!

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Primary Colors

May 4th, 2014

I have just discovered that I am not too old to be motivated by primary colors.

Or maybe I’m already old enough to where I’m going through my second childhood. Either way: YAY COLORS.

What I’m talking about is this progress bar thingie I found in Scrivener for Mac. If you haven’t heard of it, Scrivener is a writing app that lots of folks use these days. It has a learning curve and I’m still trying to get ahead of it, but there are definitely benefits here. One is that it’s much more stable than Word is. Once you get into the 60K-range and up on a Word document, it starts having trouble with the word count and taking forever to paginate on opening and so on. Scrivener, though, is like BRING ME YON EPIC TOME AND I WILL CUDDLE WITH IT. Since I’m trying to write an epic now that’s precisely the attitude I want in a writing app. It also has lots of neato organizational tools that I’m finding helpful, but right now I want to focus on the primary colors.

In Scrivener for Mac, under the Project menu, there’s a Show Project Targets window. Looks like this:

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You get to set your goal word count for the entire manuscript and then you can also set a goal for your daily work, and it’ll give you handy-dandy progress bars and a running word count for both. It starts out in red and then it CHANGES TO GREEN AS YOU GO OMG.

(By the way, I just put in 150K for my manuscript target because it sounded cool. I actually have no idea how long this thing is gonna be.)

So I’ve tried some other stuff like WRITE OR DIE which some of my author friends swear by and I am super glad it works for them. It just doesn’t work for me. An app that screams at me if I don’t write fast enough will put me on the path to the Dark Side and forever will it dominate my destiny. But wow, this shiny silent bar that changes color as I make progress? THAT’S RAD. And honestly maybe a little embarrassing that I can be manipulated so easily. But I have words to write and I need help getting ‘em done sometimes, so I’m not going to overanalyze what works.

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I was gushing about it on Twitter and Harry Connolly told me that I could open up the options of that Project Target window, type in my deadline date, and then the app would just calculate how many words I have to write each day to make it. So I did  that and WHOA HOW COOL.

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It changed my goal of 2,000 to 1,567. Do that every day and blam, I’ll be finished in 87 days! I mean, I would be if I was going to write exactly 150K words. Well, I hit that target of 1,567 and kept on going. I really liked that green bar of progress there. It made me feel turbo productive. So if you blow past your target, that’s awesome, at midnight the app recalculates and the next day you have a few less words to write each day to finish your book on time.

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Don’t make your target? Same thing—it recalculates at midnight and gives you new numbers. I dig how it keeps you on track.

I know lots of you probably already knew about this and it’s old news; I’m just sharing for people who haven’t heard about it yet and might want to look into it. I hear tell (but have not personally checked) that Scrivener for Mac is currently 50% off. It honestly has more to it than spiffy progress bars. Worth investigating if Microsoft Word has ever curdled your guts with rage. :) Happy writing!

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Lots o’ News

April 30th, 2014

Well! It’s been quite the weekend & stuff. A project that I’ve been working on for a while finally got announced and it was awesome to see people as excited about it as I am. It’s this little thing from the Star Wars universe called HEIR TO THE JEDI.

HeirToTheJedi

It’ll be released in January of 2015. Set between Episodes IV and V, it’ll be the first time we have a Luke Skywalker novel told from a first-person POV. Sorry that I can’t share any more than that right now!

Other writing goodies:

1. Book 7 of the Iron Druid Chronicles, SHATTERED, is now available for pre-order on audio wherever you get your audiobooks, and yes, it’ll be narrated by Luke Daniels! (And it’s available for pre-order in print and ebook too!)

2. Booklist is giving SHATTERED a starred review in their May 15 issue, so that’s pretty spiffy!

3. Interesting development: One of my Iron Druid short stories, previously only available in the CARNIEPUNK anthology, will be for sale separately for .99 beginning October 27. It’s called “The Demon Barker of Wheat Street,” and it’s set just a few days after the events of TWO RAVENS AND ONE CROW, during Granuaile’s training period. From what I understand it’s already available for pre-order online wherever you get your ebooks.

4. What am I working on now? The first volume of an epic fantasy trilogy. It’s called A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. After I finish that I’ll start work on book 8 of the Iron Druid Chronicles.

5. I will be in New Orleans in a couple of weeks for the RT Booklovers Convention! I think the big open-to-the-public signing shindig is from 10-2 on Saturday, May 17! You can get autographs not only from me but from a ridiculous number of other authors—I think there will be hundreds of them, all wearing pants! Looking forward to this very much. Many of my writer friends will be there and they are such fabulous human beings.

6. WOO!

7. Sorry about number 6. That happens sometimes. Two things that I’m learning more about and enjoying are the online writing game called Storium and how to use the Scrivener writing app. Storium is currently a Kickstarter and if you get in on it for $20 you get access to the beta right now and then you get a full year’s access when they launch for reals in a few months. Check it out!

Hope you are well and happy and reading something awesome!

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How you help authors the most

April 21st, 2014

shatteredEvery so often a kind reader will ask what helps me the most—paper, ebook, or audio—because they want to make sure they’re helping me out to the max. They dig the stories, want to read more, and so they ask, which is super nice of them. And usually I say do as you please—and I still say that! Because 1) I am delighted whenever anyone chooses to read or listen my stories and 2) as long as you pay for it from a reputable retailer I am getting paid for it too. Seriously, friends: Whenever and wherever you buy, in whatever format, thank you so much, you’re the best. The difference in what I make in audio or paper or ebook is literally pennies, so no worries, you do your thing, enjoy the story, and I’ll be grateful.

But there is an answer to that question—”What helps the most?” Again, it all helps and it’s all good, but the thing that helps the most? Pre-ordering the hardcover edition. And it doesn’t matter where you pre-order it from—online or in a chain store or through your local indie.

Why does it help more? For a list o’ reasons, mostly having to do with writing the next book:

1. Pre-orders count toward the first week of sales, and it’s that first week that’s most likely to put an author on the NYT bestseller list. The list is important because it opens doors and gets your future proposals considered quickly; it’s proof that you have an audience. And if you hit it once, the publisher might put some extra marketing mojo behind the next release. It can help an author not only sustain a career but build it up.

2. Since I’m genre fiction and there are a ton of titles coming out every  month, bookstores with limited shelf space have to pick and choose what to order. Some might order only a single copy of my book, or (eek!) none at all. That makes it difficult for people to discover my work (or the work of any other author). Pre-orders therefore help tremendously in this area. Bookstores obviously want to order titles that will sell well, and if my publisher can point to my pre-orders and say LOOKIT THIS IS ALREADY SELLING they are more likely to order some copies. Having more copies on the shelf means it’s more likely someone will discover me by accident; if I’m not on the shelf they can’t discover me at all. So your pre-order helps me reach more readers, and more readers means I will probably get to write more books.

3. Good pre-order numbers can push small or moderate orders from bookstores into larger orders. And again, this is a discoverability thing. Say Bookstore X was planning on ordering two copies of SHATTERED and hiding them in the SF/F section. But then they get ten pre-orders and realize that this title might be worth stocking a bit more densely. So they put in an order for twenty—ten to cover their pre-orders and ten for the shelf. They display it face-out, maybe put a few copies on an end cap with high traffic, and now browsers are more likely to get caught up in Atticus and go HEY WHAT’S THAT and pick up my book. And then they’ll figure out that this is book seven of a series they’ve never heard of before and now they have a delightful binge-read of Atticus and Oberon ahead of them. And that all happened because of pre-orders.

Discoverability is kind of a big deal these days. Shelf space is shrinking—fewer total bookstores out there and some are selling lots of toys and stuff instead of books. Add to that the fact that online discoverability is, shall we say, less than optimal, and that means publishers are really jockeying for space now. Pre-orders are vital to making sure my book gets in front of potential readers.

I didn’t know any of this until I got published myself. Now that I do know it, I tend to pre-order books I want to read quite often, because I was going to buy it anyway, and pre-ordering is quite honestly the best thing I can do to make sure I get to read more books by my favorite writers. Books I’ve pre-ordered: CIBOLA BURN by James S.A. Corey, CURSED MOON by Jaye Wells, THE CRIMSON CAMPAIGN by Brian McClellan, THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER by Beth Cato, HELLSBLOOD BRIDE by Chuck Wendig, and, you know, anything Cherie Priest writes forever because CHERIE PRIEST. Her next one is called MAPLECROFT: THE BORDEN DISPATCHES and I have pre-ordered the hell out of it.

So yeah. Pre-ordering the paper copy helps the most. Telling your friends and family about the books you love is simply spectacular. But I’m grateful to quiet readers who keep their joys a secret too. All reading is good reading, whenever it happens and in whatever format you enjoy. Thanks for that.

Just FYI, Brian McClellan also wrote a post about this same topic, which you can find here, and Scott Sigler wrote about it as well.

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