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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Chicago, Baby!

April 19th, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 10.18.39 AMI drove through Chicago once in 1996 but never got to see much of the city. I’ve also enjoyed several flight delays at O’Hare which is a fine American tradition at this point. But I’ve never visited as an author or had any real opportunity to enjoy the city. Now I finally get my chance.

I’m going to be at C2E2 at McCormick Place this coming weekend, with opportunities to say hi on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. My complete schedule is below. Sorry I won’t have the new book with me, but lookit, I will happily sign everything you bring. Whole series, one book, your forehead, whatever. Looking forward to seeing you if you can make it there!

FRIDAY, APRIL 25

4-5 pm: Del Rey Books Spotlight on SF/Fantasy, S402

Basically this is a panel with me and my über-editor, Tricia Narwani, talkin’ about stuff that’s releasing soon. So you’ll hear about SHATTERED, of course, but also all the other goodies under the Ballantine/Del Rey/Spectra umbrella (like this guy you might have heard of named George R.R. Martin and this wee franchise called Star Wars). And I’m sure you’ll have a chance to ask questions if you wanna.

5:30-6:30 pm: Signing at the Del Rey booth

I don’t know precisely where the booth is. I assume they will give you a map thingie when you go. I’m counting on my editor to know where it is so I don’t get lost. :)

SATURDAY, APRIL 26

1:30-2:30 pm: Geek Geek Revolution, S403

GEEK GEEK REVOLUTION is a no-holds-barred geek culture game show featuring five science fiction/fantasy authors competing for the chance to be TOP GEEK. In addition the audience member will be asked to write in questions in hopes of stumping the authors and winning a prize pack of books. Hold onto your hats, nerfherders, this might get ugly! Featuring authors Patrick Rothfuss, Kevin Hearne, Seth Fishman and Lydia Kang, moderated by John Scalzi.

3-4 pm: Supernatural City, S402

Join authors Jacqueline Carey, Kevin Hearne, Chloe Neill, Lauren Roy, and Kerrelyn Sparks on a guided tour of cityscapes populated by supernatural creatures, both friend and foe.

4:30-5:30 pm: Signing at the Del Rey booth

SUNDAY, APRIL 27

11 am-12 pm: Signing at the Del Rey booth

And there you have it! Looking forward to seeing you, Chicago!

 

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The Taco Guild

April 15th, 2014

Tacos have recently become very important in my life. Through a bizarre chain of events that could only happen on Twitter, for example, I was elected Tacopope in less than 140 characters. Somebody on the Internet(s) made me a Tacopope hat in Photoshop after that so I guess it’s ironclad now and there’s no escape.

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I have a taco-related thing I’m planning with some other authors happening soon, and there will be a panel called the Taco Council at Phoenix Comic Con. So you can imagine my joy when I learned of a place in Phoenix nearish the convention center called the Taco Guild, and that this particular gastropub resides in the bones of an old church, giving their tacos a somewhat holy sheen. A chorus of angels—faint but discernible—holds a beautiful major fifth for ten seconds when your order arrives. Everything about the place is turbo spiffy, so I’m going to geek out on it now.

First: The building. I wasn’t kidding—it’s really an old church. Behold:

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And yeah, inside? Gorgeous vaulted ceiling, a fresco, a chandelier in an iron sphere, and the original stained glass is still there from the church.

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Go into the dude’s restroom and you get painted portraits of hounds in uniform, which I thought Oberon may or may not have appreciated but which I certainly did:

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They have all local brews on tap. Stuff from Four Peaks (a brewery which is mentioned in HAMMERED), some brews from SanTan, and even three beers crafted by Cartel Coffee Lab, which is now the real-life location of Third Eye Books & Herbs (see this post for details on that).

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Oh, you know what else is cool? The people who work there. I am pretty tired of safe corporate restaurants where employees aren’t allowed to have anything pierced or dyed or tattooed. At the Taco Guild they love all that beautiful shit. Our server, Julia, was proof. She had awesome ink on her arms and neck, loud pink hair—all the cool things, basically. Other servers were a bit more conservative in their dress or hair or whatever, but I appreciated that it wasn’t all uniform and they were allowed to be themselves. One dude was super clean-cut and next to him was a guy who must sing I AM BEARD, HEAR ME ROAR every morning. All of it good. The Taco Guild is sticking it to the Man and his rigid code of conformity. Hallelujah.

Maybe I should start talking about the tacos. No, wait! First, the holy guacamole. THE JALAPEÑO BACON GUACAMOLE.

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Okay, now let’s talk tacos. It’s all a la carte but if you order three you get a free side. The tacos are street-sized…you know, the small ones. But the fillings, my friends! The fillings! Take a gander at this menu. DUCK. LAMB. ALL THE MEATSES, PRECIOUS, MARINATED IN LOVE.

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Here’s the three I got: from left-right, you have the cherry chipotle steak, the urban bean coffee braised beef, and the al pastor. So freakin’ nom nom. I was told the duck was good enough to inspire glossolalia and the lamb was ermahgherd-good. Oh, and that side dish is the Borracho Red Beans. :)

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They have an extensive tequila menu as well, of course, and colorful drinks that aren’t the usual thing. My wife and I were there with Hillary Jacques and her family (Hillary wrote a story in the CARNIEPUNK anthology and she’s five kinds of rad), and Hillary enjoyed a drink called a Salty Chihuahua:

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One thing they didn’t have that I wish they did? Churros. Glorious gourmet churros like they have at Barrio Cafe in Phoenix. They did have an interesting dessert called the Tres Leches Cake—three different milks in the batter, I guess, basically a super-moist spice cake. But it wasn’t churros with strawberries and cream or churros drizzled with chocolate and caramel or dang it churros with ANYTHING.

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Even without churros, the Taco Guild is one of the coolest restaurants I’ve ever enjoyed. If you find yourself hankering for a lovely night out, I highly recommend it. Almost a religious experience. So sayeth the Tacopope.

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Something extra

April 2nd, 2014

Though it’s not perfect, an undeniable feature of the modern market is that you now have so many convenient ways to snag the books you want to read. You can even do it without pants (which to my mind is the true test of whether something is convenient or not) by ordering online from one of the big retailers. Usually they offer a discount too, so you’re getting a cool book, saving money and not wearing pants—is this not the best of all possible worlds? And if you want to save even more money—maybe some trees—and increase the convenience, then it’s hard to beat an ebook that downloads to your electric doodad right away. And heck, say you want a signed paper copy—you can do that from home too now! Both Barnes & Noble in the US and indie store The Poisoned Pen (which ships internationally) are offering signed editions of SHATTERED. Mouse click, boom. And to be super—thorough, my publisher has this giant list of vendors for ebooks and audio on their site. Convenience abounds!

Given all that, going to see an author on tour is probably the opposite of convenient. For one thing, both you and, thank goodness, the author, are required to wear pants. The event might be held at an inconvenient time or place for you. Such events are often (but not always) held at indie book stores, and since indies are small businesses they can’t afford the discount-till-you-drop thing. That means anyone who comes to see me on tour has gone out of their way quite a bit; they are spending far more time than they need and a few bucks more to get a book that they could easily get by other means. It’s the highest compliment that anybody would bother at all and I’m so grateful to everyone who shows up to say howdy.

Every so often I will meet somebody who drove a very long way to see me. This cool family from Kansas City drove to see me in Dallas one time. A  dude in Tennessee drove out to see me in Charlotte. A spiffy police officer drove from Houston once to catch me in Phoenix, and so on. I’m always humbled by that and wish I could do more than sign their book for them—like maybe if I had some sausage or a six-pack on hand for just such an occasion I would totally hand it over and say “YOU WIN!” Because they went to an awful lot of trouble to say hi in person and I don’t feel like a bookmark evens the scales. They deserve something special.

It’s tough to tour with sausage and beer, though. The TSA looks at you funny, and then you’re like “Hey, it’s not for me,” and they go, “Yeah, right.”

So I came up with something extra to give to everyone taking extra trouble and expense to see me—something that I can haul around with me pretty easily and yet is better than a bookmark.

I commissioned Galen Dara, the artist who painted the cover for “The Chapel Perilous,” to paint Oberon. And next to Oberon will be a quote of his from SHATTERED—don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil that for anyone now! Let’s just say it’s one of my favorite things. If you come to see me at one of my nine tour stops and buy a book, you will get an 8×10 signed print of that painting for free. Here’s a peekie:

Oberon by Galen Dara

Oberon by Galen Dara

Didn’t Galen do an amazing job? I love that doggie smile! Anyway, I’ll give away one print per book and I won’t be able to sell extra copies, sorry; I need to make sure I will have enough for everyone at the next stop. Here’s where and when I’m touring, in case you missed it:

June 17, 6:30: The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, AZ
June 18, 7:00: Murder By the Book in Houston, TX.
June 19, 7:00: Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington, KY.
June 20, 7:00: Barnes & Noble at HarMar Mall, Roseville (near Minneapolis) MN.
June 21, 6:00: University Bookstore in Seattle, WA.
June 22, 4:00: Powell’s Books in Beaverton (near Portland), OR.
June 23, 7:00: Pandemonium Books & Games in Cambridge (near Boston), MA.
June 24, 6:30 or 7: Bakka Phoenix in Toronto, Ontario, Canada!
I’m spending a few days in Toronto and then squeezing in one last stop…in Colorado!
June 29, 3:00: Tattered Cover in Highlands Ranch (a bit south of Denver), CO.

Huge apologies if I’m not coming to your town or even your state. It’s not because I don’t love you; it’s because travel is expensive, my budget is limited, and I start missing my family and doggies too much if I’m on the road for long.

I’ll be at San Diego Comic Con in July and there’s this cool bookstore/café called Upstart Crow where I’ll organize an informal coffee hootenanny on either Friday or Saturday morning (July 25 or 26). That way if you’re not going to the con you can still come on down and hang out. If I have any prints left over from tour I’ll give ‘em away there. Updates on that once I get the details figured out.

If you really want an Oberon print but can’t see me on tour and get a free one (and that’s fine, I totally understand!), the artist, Galen Dara, will be selling them online beginning July 1. However you read the Iron Druid Chronicles—or if you listen the audiobooks—thank you so much! I hope you dig SHATTERED! It has more Druids! More gods! And more doggies!

Peace, love, and sausage, friends.

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Fiction worth supporting

March 30th, 2014
fireside

“Brighid” by Galen Dara for Fireside Fiction © 2014

Hey Spiffy Peeps,

There’s a world I wanna live in. Usually it’s the world I’m currently reading about created by the brilliant mind of another human being. I lose myself in fictional worlds sometimes, and when the story ends I come back to this one, a bit sad the trip is over but enriched and better off for the journey.

Short fiction is perfect for wee trips when you don’t have a weekend for a novel. But short fiction markets are often, uh…what’s the word? PROBLEMATIC.

With most genre magazines you get an overdose of the same kind of world. Like ALL THE MYSTERY or ALL THE SCIENCE FICTION or ALL THE HOT WOMBAT SHOWER SCENES. Awesome places to visit, completely delicious, but not poster children for Moderation in All Things. There are only so many hot wombat shower scenes you can handle at a time.

Last year I heard about and backed a Kickstarter called Fireside Fiction, Year Two. I got 12 issues of awesome trips, friends. They offer a little bit of everything from varying genres in each issue: a short story, serial fiction, flash fiction, poetry, and an illustration by one of my favorite creative humans, Galen Dara.

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Galen paints such varied and lush works of art. So evocative and gorgeous and WAUUGH! I love everything she does. It’s because of Fireside that I hired Galen to paint the cover for “The Chapel Perilous” and why I hired her to paint Oberon (revealing that soon) and why I will hire her again. [/END GEEKOUT]

So lookit, here’s the first issue of Fireside Fiction, Year Two, which I backed. Check it out. Click on “Love Song of the Lizard Boy” by Delilah S. Dawson. See Galen’s art. Read Delilah’s story. And then realize that both Galen and Delilah, along with everyone else in that issue, were paid fairly by Fireside, thanks to their subscribers who funded it through Kickstarter.

Most professional magazines pay 5-10 cents per word, skewing heavily toward the 5-cent range, which is the rate it’s been since Jimmy Carter. Fireside pays 12.5 cents per word. That’s $500 for a 4K-word story. Fair.

Fireside asks you for $24 for 12 issues. High quality writing and illustration for $2 an issue. I’m mightily entertained and the artists aren’t exploited. YES PLEASE.

Fireside Fiction Year 3 is trying to get funded right now; it’s in the final hours. They could really use your help. I backed it hard because it’s a beautiful collaboration of people and gives me so many worlds I want to live in.

And, by the way—these aren’t all worlds created by straight white dudes. I’m already a straight white dude and I want to see the world through different lenses because that helps me grow as a person. Fireside offers me (and you) a diverse platter of experiences, for which I’m grateful. Quite honestly it’s the kind of literary magazine I’d like to run myself if I had the time for that sort of thing.

It’s the best Kickstarter I’ve backed. Most Kickstarters I’ve backed have turned out to be disappointing, but this one exceeded expectations. If you have a hankerin’ for beautiful work and the means, please back it!

 

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Tea at Third Eye Books & Herbs

March 23rd, 2014

This post is actually about coffee for the most part. But I promise the tea will be there at the end. Regardless, it is a post about pouring hot water over stuff that grew in the ground and enjoying the result, and there will also be some bits about Druids and comic books and the real-life location of Third Eye Books & Herbs.

MAGIC BEANS ARE WORTH IT

Well, I don’t know if I would give my cows away for a few magic beans like that kid Jack did. I’d need cows first and I’d probably grow too attached to them. But good coffee beans are now something for which I might fork over a few extra green pieces of paper.

What qualifies as “good”? AN EXCELLENT QUESTION, which you probably didn’t ask but I’ll attempt to answer with the caveat that your mileage may vary and that’s cool. I’m just sharing my geekout here and not saying it’s better than yours.

1. I dig single origin beans over blends. With single origin you’re getting what the earth’s offering up at a particular place; the flavors and aromas and so forth are specific to the soil, elevation, and climate. And, provided you’re snagging stuff through a distribution model focused on reducing or eliminating middlemen, you’re supporting the farmer(s) a bit more directly. More on that next.
2. If it’s available where I’m buying beans, I like to grab the ones that are Fair Trade Certified at a minimum but Direct-to-Farmer if possible. The way that coffee gets to most Americans is that they’re bought in huge lots by middlemen who blend and dilute try to squeeze every penny they can out of the transaction so that the farmers get paid the least and you get the lowest quality coffee for the maximum price. Fair Trade Certified helps a bit with that but it’s still not the best deal; the farmers sell their crop pretty much all at once for pennies per pound and have to live on that for the whole year. There’s a new model, however, called THRIVE, where the farmers are not paid up front but rather as the beans are sold to the consumer. The farmer gets paid more per pound that way and also gets paid throughout the year—part of the money I pay goes directly to him. I like it because there’s a picture of the farmer who grew the coffee right on the package. See?
IMG_1707I bought those beans from a roaster in Colorado called Brewing Market, which is based in Boulder. They order the beans from Franklin Garbanzo in Costa Rica (the guy on the left) or whoever, roast ‘em, and then they pay him when I buy ‘em. The middlemen can suck it.
3. Roasting is important, and I have discovered that for my particular palate (everyone’s is different) I gotta have a light roast. Not medium, and definitely not dark. You get burned beans in medium and dark roasts and that jacks up your cup real quick. Plus there’s more caffeine in light roasts. It has taken me a while for my brain to overcome the relentless marketing power of the mermaid, but I can’t escape the conclusion anymore that Starbucks coffee is burnt shit. That’s not a criticism of the beans themselves—it’s a criticism of how they roast it (too much), grind it (so fine and fast that the heat generated by the electric grinder burns the beans more), and brew it (very quickly with water that’s too hot). The only way I can handle any of their stuff—and I’m talking what they call a “light” roast, which is really medium—is by pouring cream and a blizzard of Splenda into it. Completely undrinkable otherwise. But if I get a light roast and make the coffee myself, taking my time with the pour and using a coarse hand-grind, I can (and do) enjoy it black. IT’S SCIENCE. Chemistry, rather, in a Chemex.

CHEMEX IS MY JAM

It takes me about twenty minutes to make about 3 cups of coffee now and I’m so glad I learned how to slow down and enjoy the process. The craft of making it is as enjoyable as the delightful finished product. I have Chuck Wendig to thank for introducing me to the procedure. He wrote this blog post and so I figured, heck, let’s give it a try, and wow. Coffee became this whole new world for me. And for my wife.

My wife ingested her caffeine through other delivery systems than coffee prior to the Chemex. Nineteen years o’ marriage and she never drank the coffee I brewed except to try it and declare it awful. Now she steals my coffee in the morning. I think it’s awesome. I asked her how it was different and she replied, “It doesn’t taste like ass now.” Or something like that. I might be paraphrasing.

Why is Chemex so spiffy? The filters do a damn good job of filtering. You get a smooth cup without mud in it (as you do with a French press, for example), and as long as you’re not using a dark roast, the bitterness is simply gone. But making it is as fun as drinking it. First, there’s the bloom—you wet the grounds and let ‘em bubble up and start releasing all these fabulous aromas that get lost when you just drown them in boiling water from the get-go. It looks like this:

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And then you do the first big pour and that releases bonus smells too. You have to do several pours before you get it filled up to the bottom of the wooden handle thingie. It’s about 20 ounces altogether. In between pours you can be making a cheese-and-chive omelet for yourself and some sausage for Oberon, or whatever.

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You know what else I love about this process? The glass beaker and everything kind of reminds me of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman at the very beginning of their illicit activities in Breaking Bad.
JESSE: Yo, Mr. Hearne, why don’t we just throw some Folgers crystals up in this bitch and get it done, right?
KEVIN: No, Jesse, we will use science to craft a product that’s superior in every way.
JESSE: There ain’t no science to it, Mr. Hearne! You just pour hot water on the shit and make fat stacks. Bitches want their caffeine.
KEVIN: They’ll like it more—and pay more—if you take the time to do it properly. Try it my way, okay?
JESSE: drinks coffee made in a Chemex, eyes grow three times normal size. HOLY SHIT, MR. HEARNE!
KEVIN: Fat stacks, Jesse. Fat stacks. 

Aw, yeah. Finished product of Buesaco beans from Nariño, Colombia, roasted by TONX (more on that below), brewed in a Chemex and poured into my SAXON CODPIECE mug:

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ROASTERS ON THE INTERNETS

You might have an awesome local roaster in your area. I recently found one that I’ll share in a minute and couldn’t be happier. But if you don’t have a great roaster in your neighborhood, the glory of internet commerce can still get you awesome beans.

There’s a subscription service called TONX. They get their beans from all over the world, single origin stuff, then they roast it and ship it to you every two weeks or once a month, depending on how much you want. Included with each bag is a little card explaining where the coffee came from, what the growing conditions were, and maybe a bit about the farmers and so on. Different origins every time. The world in my mailbox, twice a month. I love it. If you’d like to try out the service for free, here’s a link. If you wind up subscribing through it, I think they give you $5 off your first order and give me some free beans too.

THE COFFEE (AND TEA) IN THIRD EYE BOOKS & HERBS

Some of you may already know that I do my best to anchor my books in the real world as much as possible. Rúla Búla, for example, is a real Irish pub on Mill Avenue and it truly does have the best fish and chips. Atticus’s bookstore, however, Third Eye Books & Herbs, was necessarily a fictional establishment for which I needed a real-world location. I used my cousin’s comic shop, Ash Avenue Comics, as that location. It’s just south of University Drive on Ash, one block away from all the glory of Mill Avenue and a tad northeast of the neighborhood where Atticus and the widow MacDonagh live.

Something interesting happened last year.

Behind my cousin’s shop was a place called Cartel Coffee Lab. It was in the same building, just a different suite. Turned out they were doing very well because they knew their business and wanted to expand into his space, and my cousin Drew wasn’t opposed to the idea since he could move to another location about 500 feet north, pay a bit less in his rent, and still be on Ash Avenue. So he did, and everybody won. Cartel Coffee Lab smashed through a wall, made a much cooler space for themselves, and now their real-life front door is the fictional front door for Atticus’s shop. Cartel also made the nifty instructional video on how to use a Chemex at the bottom of Chuck Wendig’s blog post.

So after I read Chuck’s post and saw that video, it kind of clicked for me. THREE KINDS OF CAT SHIT! PEOPLE ARE BREWING THINGS IN ATTICUS’S SHOP! GOOD THINGS, TOO! I had to go, so I did, and took some pictures. Ready?

First up: This is the exterior of Atticus’s shop (now Cartel Coffee Lab, the one on the left). It’s changed since 2008 when I first wrote HOUNDED. A bit more paved than it used to be, and that palm tree, wtf, I don’t remember that being there! Anyway, big glass window and glass door, like in the novel. Atticus’s tea station/counter would be right there at the window and the books would be deeper in the space, sheltered from the sunlight. You can see the flat roof there, which Atticus uses to escape in book 3, I believe…?

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Turn the camera a bit to the right and you’ll see my cousin’s new place, still Ash Avenue Comics, and still the best selection of trades you’ll find in AZ. :) His name is Drew; stop in and say hi and tell him I sent you.

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OK, so, inside Cartel Coffee Lab, you get this nifty menu. Basically you pick the beans you want, then you pick the brewing method. If you don’t want a Chemex, that’s cool, they’ll do an Aeropress for you or a V60 or whatever. What they won’t do is burn the shit out of your coffee like Starbucks. You will notice (on the right) that you can also get tea there, so yeah! I have fulfilled the promise of the blog title: You can actually buy tea now in the real-life location of Third Eye Books & Herbs. Life imitates art; so very trippy. :)

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Check it out. When you order a Chemex they serve it up in beakers (yay lab equipment!) and you can then pour it into your cup. Good times!

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Here’s a picture of their roaster. They roast on-site throughout the week and don’t do much on the weekends. All their beans have the date o’ roasting on them.

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I really love their Yirg Z. I’ve been buying bags and sending ‘em to my homies as gifts, and that’s what I drink when my TONX beans run out. (I always run out about 3-4 days before the next bag arrives and need something to fill the void, and now I’ve found it—beans from a local roaster occupying my fictional Druid’s business space!)

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So there you go. Extended geekout complete. Whatever you drink or how you drink it, I hope it’s nom! The earth gives us some pretty awesome stuff, huh? Cheers!

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TFOB

March 14th, 2014

Hey everybody,

I’ll be at the Tucson Festival of Books this weekend. It’s a free event full of authors from many genres, plus there are vendors selling sausages and other things that aren’t sausages but we won’t talk about those.

What’s cool about the festival is that they try to make it easy for you to meet the authors you’d like to see. After every panel there’s a signing in an autograph area nearby and you can snag a book there if you want or bring your own. I’ll also have a separate signing from 4-5 on Saturday at the Poisoned Pen booth, and they will have all my stuff there if you’d like to pick some up, or again, bring the books you already have. I’m happy to see you either way—just come see me! Here’s my schedule:

Saturday, 1-2 PM: Author Banter with Elizabeth Bear, Jonathan Maberry, Weston Ochse, Sam Sykes. Integrated Learning Center room 150. Autograph thingie right afterward.
Saturday, 4 PM: Signing and assorted shenanigans at The Poisoned Pen booth #270. Come say hi!
Sunday, 11:30-12:30 AM: Living a Double Life: Making Time to Write with some other spiffy authors.  Integrated Learning Center room 140. Autograph thingie right afterward.

If you’d like to catch me elsewhere this year, I have all the events listed on my Events and Appearances page. It’s always spiffy to meet my readers. Hope you can swing by one of them!

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Tour dates for Shattered

February 11th, 2014

Shattered-180wWoohoo! It’s all solid now so I’m sharing!

Before I list the dates, please understand that I have limited time and resources and cannot fly everywhere. I can just sorta-kinda get to your region and hope like heck you can maybe arrange to visit since I’m giving you plenty of notice. (Maybe draw a sausage or a poodle on your calendar?) Sorry that I can’t add any more stops—travel is turbo expensive and this is all the budget can handle.

If you can’t possibly make any of these dates or catch me at any of my other appearances this year (I’ll be in Chicago, New Orleans, San Diego, and Atlanta, for example) you can still get a signed copy of SHATTERED two different ways: You can order one from The Poisoned Pen or you can order a signed copy through Barnes & Noble while supplies last. Either place will happily ship it to you.

Of note (to me, anyway): This will be my first time visiting Minneapolis, Boston, and Toronto as an author! I’ve been meaning to visit the midwest for some time now and I am glad that I’ll be able to swing by Chicago and Minneapolis this year to say howdy. Haven’t been to Boston since the mid-nineties, and Toronto will be an entirely new thing. (I am so going to catch a Blue Jays game. Maybe Geddy Lee will be there and I can die from the reflected awesome.)

June 17-29: SHATTERED tour!
June 17, 6:30:
 The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, AZ
June 18, 7:00: Murder By the Book in Houston, TX.
June 19, 7:00: Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington, KY.
June 20, 7:00: Barnes & Noble at HarMar Mall, Roseville (near Minneapolis) MN.
June 21, 6:00: University Bookstore in Seattle, WA.
June 22, 4:00: Powell’s Books in Beaverton (near Portland), OR.
June 23, 7:00: Pandemonium Books & Games in Cambridge (near Boston), MA.
June 24, 6:30 or 7, will finalize soon: Bakka Phoenix in Toronto, Ontario, Canada!
I’m spending a few days in Toronto and then squeezing in one last stop…in Colorado!
June 29, 3:00: Tattered Cover in Highlands Ranch (a bit south of Denver), CO.

Very much looking forward to seeing you all and taking silly selfies. Please bring plenty o’ friends!

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The Chapel Perilous

January 26th, 2014

I have something beautiful to show you that is seriously a geekout of the highest order.

Background first: I’ve been a fanboy of T.S. Eliot’s for many years—you may have caught some of my allusions to his works in the series—and I used to teach “The Wasteland” to juniors and break down all the hidden stuff in there for them. The kids were always blown away; they never realized that poetry could do that, that you could pack so much meaning into a single work, especially since they were accustomed to lyrics with such depth as “It’s getting hot in here/so take off all your clothes”. While preparing myself to teach that poem, I read a lot of the source material Eliot used, including From Ritual to Romance by Jessie Weston and other works that spoke of the quest for the Holy Grail. The old stories about the Grail quest are full of seriously crazy shit, ranging from a mild WTF to Dear Gods Below I’m Afraid To Go To Sleep Now. The bit that always made me shiver and scream a little inside was whenever the grail knight got to the Chapel Perilous.

Monty Python made fun of it a bit in their movie—remember Lancelot saving Galahad from the Castle Anthrax?

Lancelot: We were in the nick of time. You were in great peril.
Galahad: I don’t think I was.
Lancelot: Yes you were. You were in terrible peril.
Galahad: Look, let me go back in there and face the peril.
Lancelot: No. It’s too perilous.

There are many versions of the old Grail legends, but the oldest we have—the closest to the “original” tales,  though even they were written down hundreds of years after the actual events—feature Gawain. Lancelot, Galahad, and all those other dudes showed up in later iterations of the tale, and those later tales got steadily more Christianized. The earliest Grail knights were Gawain and Percival.

When Shawn Speakman invited me to contribute to the Unfettered anthology, I saw my chance to tell a story of Atticus’s past rooted in Grail legend and marry it to my series mythology. The story is basically one big geekout for me and, as it happens, something of an origin story for Atticus. We learned in Hounded how he came to possess Fragarach, and we learned in Two Ravens and One Crow how he learned the recipe for Immortali-Tea, but what makes him the Iron Druid is his cold iron amulet and the silver charms on his necklace. The ideas for those come to him in “The Chapel Perilous,” as well as his inspiration to teach language to animals (such as Oberon). Now that Shawn has returned US rights to the story to me, I can let y’all snag it separately for cheap.

“The Chapel Perilous” is now available semi-worldwide through Amazon and B&N, and will be available through iBooks and Kobo as I can manage. I say semi-worldwide because it is not available separately in the UK & Commonwealth countries, nor Australia & New Zealand. That is because Unfettered, which contains “The Chapel Perilous” among many other spiffy stories, will be published by Orbit UK in those countries in February, and Orbit understandably would rather not have the competition. I only have the rights to publish on my own in the US and markets where English is not the primary language. Fret not, UK and Australian peeps: Unfettered is one hell of an anthology and well worth it.

To sell it online I needed a “cover” for it, so I approached Galen Dara, Hugo-award winning artist, to see if she’d like to take a shot at bringing the story alive. And oh my, did she come through! I described Atticus and Apple Jack coming upon the Chapel Perilous in the rain and she painted something haunting and beautiful and perfect. I love it so much. Here it is:

The Chapel_cover art FINAL ART

The Chapel Perilous © 2014 by Galen Dara

Galen will sell you a print of that if you like—just contact her online. I have a print and it is My Precious. And I stress that it’s not just because that’s Atticus in sixth-century armor; this painting represents anybody’s quest, because a quest can often be a lonely thing in the rain, you know, and I love that we have both death and salvation waiting for the questing knight, a gloomy and forbidding forest but with paths through it that lead to the light. I see doom and hope and perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds.

Anyway. My geekout is that I’ve contributed in a wee way to the Grail legends that I love so very much and that Galen has so perfectly given a visual representation to a vital part of those legends. Hope you enjoy the words and Galen’s painting. Here’s the final cover, and again, the story’s available for ninety-nine cents or its equivalent in those places that aren’t being served by Orbit UK:

The Chapel_cover art FINAL COVER DESIGN

 

HANDY LINKY-POOS:
The Chapel Perilous for Kindle
The Chapel Perilous for Nook 

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Mugshot Contest Winners

January 20th, 2014

Holy cow. 268 entries and arguably the best mugshots ever taken! I want to thank you all for your creativity and time. I hope you had fun, which was honestly the point! The full gallery is quite a hoot, and here’s a link if you haven’t seen it. It was so difficult to pick only five winners—so difficult that I couldn’t actually do it; I picked six, and we’ll still have five random winners on top of that!

IF YOU ARE A WINNER BELOW, PLEASE EMAIL ME ONCE MORE WITH YOUR NAME AND MAILING ADDRESS SO I CAN SEND YOU YOUR GOODIES.

My picked winners, in no particular order:

Mugshot50Jennifer

This one’s by Jennifer. Love the Tullamore Dew and drinking horn and a lovely axe and what looks like TREASURE PILLAGED FROM THE ROMANS and a nice furry hat.

Next up:

Mugshot73Terry

Congrats to Terry! Dude. I want action figures to perform this action for me every morning. Robot minions who make me my coffee. YEAH.

Mugshot114Cori

From Cori, who lives somewhere cold: This is beautiful AND random. WIN.

Mugshot165Kathleen

Kathleen knows how to vacation. She went to Mexico on a tequila tour in search of small craft-brewed tequilas. Kathleen also knows how to set up a photo. Holy crap. Hot chocolate with marshmallows and a shot of tequila? NOM NOM NOM

Mugshot229Diana

Diana gave us this beautiful Irish Wolfhound shot. This is Liam, a rescue hound like Oberon and Orlaith. What a sweetie!

Mugshot260Julie

Another doggie pic that I couldn’t resist from Julie. Look at that expression! I’m told the patient pup got some bacon. :)

Okay, random winners! What I did was type in 268 to Random.org and let it randomize the numbers. When you send me your photos I organize them according to number in order received, and then I just use the first five numbers that Random.org gives me. If it gives me the number of a photo that already won, I move down to the next one. First five numbers were 121, 189, 45, 230, and 207, which correspond to the pics below. So if you see your pic here, you’re a random winner and please email me your shipping info!

SAMSUNG

By Quintin, photo 121

 

By Janine, photo 189

By Janine, photo 189

By Jen, photo 45

By Sylvia, photo 230

By Sylvia, photo 230

 

By Jessica, photo 207

By Jessica, photo 207

 

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