I promised patrons the draft writing of The Machine God, and now it's up through chapter seven. Remember, this is beta writing; anything is liable to change, and it hasn't been edited for typos or story yet. The same goes for the preview of chapter one accessible to everyone. If you find something wrong or want to ask a question, please do. That's what comments are for.
If you're a patron, you now have access to the draft of The Machine God, my novel in the shared-universe series The Drifting Isle Chronicles. Mine is the last chronologically in the series; the other writers are Joseph Robert Lewis, Charlotte E. English, Katherine Tomlinson and Coral Moore.
Only the first chapter is up. I'll be putting the rest up as I have time and as they are finished, but the first eight should be up within a week. I'm on chapter ten now, closing in on the end of the second act. I'm on track to finish the whole thing in early September, in time to ship it off to Annette Ribken, the fabulous editor.
And I'll be starting a Kickstarter campaign to fund the cover and editing in the next two weeks so mark your calendars! Among the rewards will be half-pounds of coffee from Portland's own Cellar Door Coffee Roasters, so you'll want to watch for that. I'll be releasing the first chapter to everyone (possibly more) so they'll know whether they want to back the project or not. I'm debating a paperback, we'll see what the other four folks are doing.
The covers are gonna be super cool; put side by side, they'll form one long panorama from Charlotte's Autogyro through Joe's The Kaiser Affair, Coral's Songbird's Lament, Katherine's Starspeaker and my own The Machine God. This project has been a kick in the pants in more than one way. I'm writing stuff I would never have thought to do otherwise, and I look forward to collaborating with other writers. So. Freaking. Fun.
Oh, and a quick note about patronage: When you become a patron here you get access to the old drafts of the History, coupons for free copies of the Aria Afton Presents novellas, exclusive graphics and short stories, and other bits and bobs no one else gets to see. It's $5 a month. You can buy as many or as few months as you please at once.
I want to get words out faster. So I'm thinking about posting the alpha writing of book three as I go along, for patrons only. I may do it first with The Machine God and see how it goes.
What is alpha writing? It's the sausage-making that is writing.
--Would you patron types like it?
--Would the rest of you be more likely to buy a patronage? $5/month, gets you perks including access to the old drafts and every short story and novella I write, free, in ebook form.
So I actually put the first real strung-together words of book three together, as opposed to outlining. I count the book process as beginning with the outlining, and that started earlier this week, but here are the very first words I've written of what will eventually become book three. Edit: I realized too late there's a major spoiler for book 2 in this, so I'm spoilering it:
Temmin stripped off his gray half-mourning gloves and coat, piling them into Wallek's arms. Would that he could strip his grief away so easily, but if he gave himself time to think on it, he clung to it more than it clung to him. Consequently, he didn't give himself much time to think on it.
"Your Highness, is this necesssary?" murmured Wallek. "You're both drunk--"
"I am as sober as Pagg," said Temmin.
"I'm just sayin this whole thing seems pointless! He said…well, he said somethin I really don' wanna repeat."
So there's that.
Keep in mind that this is the draftiest of drafts. This scene mightn't even remain in the book. But those are the first official words I've written, and I wanted to share them with you.
I asked a bit ago for questions from y'all, and li'l chu just pinged me: when was I going to answer them? I'd said I was going to do it on video. So now the questions are for YOU:
1. Live streaming or static? If I do it live, I can take questions in one long chat. If I do it static, I could do it one question at a time and make them short clips on YouTube. If I do it live, I'd archive it so if you missed it you could still see it.
2. If live, what's your favorite way to do it--Google Hangout, Livestream, Ustream...?
Enquiring authors want to know.
I've been taking notes, doing research and pondering since book two launched, and a little before, really. But today I began actually assembling the story for book three. That, for me, constitutes the real beginning of the writing.
You're going to see duels, desperate escape attempts, heartbreak, a little hot sex, and the story of Ilhovin and Macca--which doesn't go quite the way it did in the first draft. Don't worry, the basics are there, but some elements will be radically different. Featured characters include Lord Litta, Rodder Pawl, Connin, Brinnid, and of course Temmin, his retainers and his family. We'll be in Inchar, the Northern Wastes and Sairland. And we'll discover the great secret Allis and Issak used to blackmail Litta in book one.
As soon as I have the first draft finished I'll be putting up the Kickstarter for editing and production. Don't look for it for a while, but look for it!
I'm currently working on the History book 3, the related story collection Whithorse and the collaboration The Machine God, part of a set of novels we're calling The Drifting Isle Chronicles. I'm going to share with you a bit of The Machine God. As things stand, this is the opening of the book. I'm really excited about it, and I hope you'll get a little idea of what the book's going to be like.
April 2nd, Before
Professor Oladel Adewole put his cup down on the coffeehouse table. Thin, insipid, badly roasted, outrageously expensive. This was what Eisenstadters called coffee? At least the day was reasonably warm, warm enough to sit outside; still, scudding clouds just touched the enormous island of Inselmond, floating in the east above the city. He drummed his long brown fingers on the table and resumed nibbling on the sugared biscuit he'd gotten to wash the coffee down. At least these people knew how to make decent pastry.
A tiny rustling brought his attention toward his feet; a flock of small birds were searching the cobblestones for crumbs. They were something like the tiny yellow sparrows back home in Jero, but dun-colored and drab--rather a good comparison between Jero and Eisenstadt. A little brown sparrow hopped out of the clump toward him. "Tsee! Tsee-tsee-tsee-tsee-Hi! You finishing that? Tsee? Tsee?"
The tiny yellow sparrows of Jero did not accost coffeehouse patrons. "Pardon?" said Adewole.
"Tsee-tsee-tseeee simple question!" said another sparrow.
"Tsee? Tsee? Share? Yes? Tsee?" chirped the little birds, hopping by cautious, hopeful degrees toward the astonished man. Adewole crumbled up a corner of the biscuit and scattered it onto the pavement; the birds settled down to business, hurrying from crumb to crumb until one of them let out a shriek. "Cat! Cat!" The sparrows united into a flock and streaked to an overhead wire, where they began abusing a disappointed orange tom standing where the birds had lately been. "Tsee-tsee-tsee Bad kitty! Bad kitty!"
Adewole wondered which would be harder for him to accept: Eisenstadt's aggressively sentient birds or the coffee. No, hardest to accept would be the loss that had led him to this backwater. Definitely that.
The sky began to darken, and the temperature dropped; Inselmond's shadow was approaching the coffeehouse as it did this time every morning. Time to go. He paid his bill, adjusted the bright purple-striped wool kikoi cloth draped across his suit-clad shoulders, and headed toward his lodgings. Perhaps his trunks had finally caught up with him.
When he'd first told his colleagues in Jero he was accepting a visiting professorship at Eisenstadt, they'd peppered him with advice:
"Wear the dark pants and jackets the locals do, but bring kikois to wear over them--wool or silk, not cotton. It's cold even in the summer!"
"You can find real adeesah in the city--when the other expatriates trust you, they'll point you to which Jerian restaurants have black market chicken suppliers. The others serve rabbit stew with red pepper and garlic waved over the top, slop it over the wrong kind of rice and call it adeesah. All the birds talk there, even the chickens, the stupid things! And bring plenty of dried red pepper. Those people do not believe in food with flavor."
"Also fill one of your trunks with green coffee beans and bring a stovetop roaster with you. Not that trunk. The big one. The locals don't believe in coffee, either, and those beans will be worth their weight in gold with the Jerians there--get you introduced into all kinds of society."
And the piece of advice he heard the most often: "Don't live near the Drift. It's cold and it's dangerous." Adewole glanced again at the approaching shadow of the island above the city, the shadow the locals called the Drift. The University had arranged his lodgings before his arrival. They'd given him a wide range of possibilities, but unlike some academics he was not a man of independent means and lived only on his salary; he'd had to settle for a neighborhood in the penumbra. The street lights didn't come on in the day as they did in the full Drift, but he would have preferred lodgings altogether outside the shadow's path.
As he walked, the streets darkened around him, and he realized he'd taken a wrong turn; he was walking straight into the Drift. He cast about for an idea of where the penumbra was, but the rows of houses made it difficult. Timers inside the street lamps ticked and tocked; the lamps flickered into life. Adewole paused, trying to regain his bearings.
"Hey, bean pole," said a nasal voice behind him. Something sharp poked him in the ribs. "Don't screw around. Put yer hands up and let Artur here in yer pockets." A short Eisenstadter who must have been Artur appeared; he couldn't have been more than sixteen. Adewole towered over him. A dirty bandana covered his round face so that only squinting eyes appeared beneath the brim of a ragged cloth cap.
"Are you mugging me?" said Adewole.
The something-sharp poked him again, harder. "Shaddup, hands up, let's get this over with, bird-eater!" Adewole shrugged and raised his hands above his head. He had almost nothing in his pockets, what did it matter if he lost a few coppers?
A whistle shrilled. "Hoi! Stop! Hoi!" a man shouted. The something-sharp retreated. Artur and his accomplice took off running, away from the street lamps and deeper into the dark of the Drift. "Hoi!" yelled the man again. "They went that way!" Three sturdy young men in policeman's uniforms ran after the muggers, arms and legs pumping. They were faster, but those boys were probably trickier, thought Adewole. The whistle-blower came to a stop beside him. "ARE…YOU…HURT……SIR?" he bellowed up at Adewole.
"No, nor I am not deaf, officer," winced the tall Jerian. "But I am new to your city and would appreciate directions back to my lodgings."
"Begging pardon, sir, not everyone who comes from elsewhere speaks the lingo," smiled the police officer.
As he followed the policeman's directions back to his flat, Adewole pondered the years he'd spent learning "the lingo." Whose lingo, he'd never been overly fussy about; he'd always been a natural polyglot. He spoke not only his mother tongue Jerian and the five major languages of the rest of his native Kishwahan continent to the south, but also the Rhendalian spoken here in Eisenstadt and the other two languages of Allendere, this small northern continent to which he'd exiled himself. He had a fair grasp of both dialects of Shuchunese and enough of the three other languages spoken in the Eastern Sea Islands to get along. And then there were the ancient variants of the languages--and the symbols. Pictographs, hieroglyphs, talismans, symbols of all kinds fascinated him, especially the many that appeared across cultures.
Adewole glanced at Inselmond, floating silently in the sky to the east. The island wasn't one of the world's marvels, it was the very marvel itself. Whatever event had thrown it into the air reverberated through every culture. Everywhere were stories about the island, even in far-away Shuchun. All speculated on how the island came to be and what was up there; most of the stories involved an angry god, a concept that agnostics like Adewole himself found hard to grasp but fascinating all the same. So many stories around the world--and not just those about the mysterious island in the sky--seemed woven of the same stuff, and Adewole had made it his life's work to trace the threads. He'd always intended to trace this thread to Eisenstadt, but on his own terms, not like this.
He came to the steps of his accommodations, a shabby-genteel three-story building of brick stucco'ed over with faded yellow plaster. Struggling coral-red geraniums drooped in the planter boxes below each window, the Drift's penumbra starving them of just enough light that they would never thrive but not so much that they would die. "Little flower," he murmured, gently flicking a petal, "I know just how you feel." He climbed the steps and went inside.
I love doing weird stuff, especially when it turns out delicious:
This is a bottle of "cherry drink." I don't know what else to call it. It is sweet, tart, slightly fizzy, and full of healthy probiotics. It's very slightly alcoholic, as in so slightly I don't worry about letting the kids have it. Also it's the prettiest shade of cerise!
I'm a fan of fermenting stuff--pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha--and my guiding light in these things is a gentleman named Sandor Ellix Katz. He's just put out a massive book on fermenting all kinds of foods, from fruit, vegetables and milk to meat. It's called "The Art of Fermentation," and it's genius.
I made the cherry drink following his instructions for "country wine": sugar water and cherries in a gallon sun tea jar. The cherries had been frozen, so they didn't have their natural yeast; I added a very little bit of champagne yeast after it became clear it wasn't going to start on its own. I let it sit for three days and then put it up in EZ Caps at the same time I put up a gallon or so of kombucha. Into the fridge.
It's best served very cold, mixed with the kombucha. Very refreshing, pretty in the glass, and good for you.
I'm sitting here working on a couple of books (Book 3 of the History and "The Machine God (The Drifting Isle Chronicles)") and a short story collection ("Whithorse"). You're doing whatever it is you're doing, waiting for them--and boy, I'm so glad you are. I can hear you out there breathing, and it inspires me to keep writing.
But it occurs to me that there's going to be a wait for you until those books get out to you. I can't write any faster than I am, and I can't take any more time for side projects other than what's already on my plate. That is, I can't do any Gulch right now.
So, keeping that in mind, what I want to know is: What can I do for you? How can I keep you guys happy in the interim?
I'm considering doing some Google+ Hangout readings of the History, just getting on there and sorta live podcasting "Lovers and Beloveds." I'm thinking it might be a good warm-up for the audiobook. Maybe answer questions.
Anything else you'd like to see? I'm trying to learn what it is I do for you to begin with--why you come to me when there are so many well-written books out there and interesting authors to choose from. Learning that will help me give you more of what you want from me--or perhaps need from me, since I don't always give you what you want.
I'm using up the last of my free Amazon promotion days today through the 13th. That means you can download my book "Lovers and Beloveds" free from the Kindle store, right this minute!
If you're non-US, just substitute your local Amazon for amazon.com and you'll find it. Viz:
The book is DRM-free--all my books are. You can convert it into any format you need via Calibre, and remember that just about every device now has a Kindle app if you don't want to convert the file.
The book currently bears a rating of 4.6 stars at Amazon over 28 reviews and something like 4.15 at Goodreads over 102 ratings. If you know people who like Victorianesque epic fantasy with a strong sexual aspect, pass them this link and thanks for your support.
Yes! BPAL reviews are back. For those of you new to the site, I collect this stuff; it's a small etailer perfumery run by the amazing "nose" Elizabeth Barrial that makes stuff like you've never smelled before. I promise. The scents are based on literature, mythology, films, comics, astronomical events, full moons--not the usual celebrity scents that all smell alike. It is phenomenal, heady stuff, and when I can afford it, I buy it.
The newest line in the HUGE BPAL catalog is based on the film Labyrinth, and today's scent from that collection is Goblin Cider:
I am a fool for apple scents, so a sample of this was a no-brainer even without the Labyrinth tie-in.
Wet: This reminds me a lot of another BPAL I have, Playing with a Loaded Gun, which is a ginger musk. This is a sweet ginger, a dried rather than fresh one. The apple is very sweet, not tart, and cooked rather than fresh. Not my favorite apple scent, but I still like it.
Dry-down: The two together remind me more of a gingery apple strudel or baked confection than cider. There's a definite sorta pastry or cake thing going on.
Impressions: This strikes me as a fall scent, in the same family as other apple BPALs like Lambswool and Fearful Pleasure. Because I have bottles of those, I don't think I need a full bottle of this. But as those other two were limited editions Never to Be Seen Again and this is in the general catalog, when I run out I'll know where to turn.
Like most readers, I am saddened to hear of the passing of Ray Bradbury. Not for him--he lived a good life, a great life, and leaves behind a body of work that will be read for decades to come. Maybe for always. It's so hard to know, sitting in this time, what people will read in others. I'm betting no one expected Wilkie Collins to be all but forgotten, for instance.
In my girlhood, I read nothing but science fiction. A little fantasy, but almost exclusively science fiction. Among the authors whose works I gorged myself upon was Bradbury, in fact, I think he was THE author whose books I never missed. I read everything of his I could get my hands on, everything on our library's shelves. It was something of an obsession.
I had another obsession: The Firesign Theatre. The FT was a beacon of my adolescence. I learned SO MUCH from them, and 40 years later I'm still discovering jokes among the deeply layered textures of their work. I had Nick Danger memorized to the point that I could act it out with other fans, radio play style, down to the sound effects. (I did this more than once. Oh, Mei, you're such a tool!)
When I was 17 or so, our local library was lucky enough to snag Mr Bradbury for a reading. I think he knew a guy who knew a guy at the library, who knows; I grew up in the LA area, anything's possible. It was quite a reading, and afterwards he gave autographs.
When it came my turn, for some reason--and I still don't know why--I blurted out, "Have you ever heard of the Firesign Theatre?"
Mr Bradbury looked at me in astonishment for a moment and answered, "Funny you should ask. David Ossman [one of the four members] is an old friend of mine. We go WAY back, like to the '50s way back." He signed my sketchbook and took up the entire page with a self-portrait, his signature, and the inscription in giant letters "DAVE OSSMAN'S FRIEND!!"
I wish I could say I knew where that sketchbook is. I really wish I could say that I have David Ossman's autograph with "RAY BRADBURY'S FRIEND!!" on it. But I can't.
FT's Peter Bergman died in April of this year, the first member of the group to leave us. Peter died of leukemia at age 72. Mr Bradbury died at age 91, after a full life. They both died too soon. I never thought Mr Bradbury would die, did you, really? I mean, deep down. He was like a literary constant, an axiom.
Both men deeply influenced my life, not just as a writer but as a person. For that, I thank them.
Apparently if you've "liked" a page, you don't always see its updates on your feed. Facebook is trying to make those of us with pages pay to make sure all of the fans--fans we already have--see our updates. Seriously.
This is true not only of my page but any page you "like." Here's how to make sure you see not just my page but the others you want to see in your feed, courtesy Always Upward blog:
How to keep receiving posts from FB pages you’ve “Liked”
2. Hover you mouse over the “Liked” button. Which may or may not work.
3. Try clicking the “Liked” button. That also may or may not work.
4. After clicking “Liked,” try hovering over it again. This may or may not work.
(Sensing a theme? Access isn’t consistent…nor intended to be easy, I have a feeling. Please keep trying.)
5. Once you (finally) get a drop down menu, confirm “Show in News Feed” is selected.
In theory, this should put all more posts from the page back in your newsfeed.
Hard to know, since the only way to test it is to keep visiting every page you’ve “liked” to compare their posts to your newsfeed.
(Which no one has time to do. We understand.)
Indeed. But if you wanna see what I'm up to via FB, this appears the only way for it to consistently happen.
Crappy cellphone picture, but you get the idea! Somehow, my 11-year-old lugged these three boxes (2 filled with Son in Sorrow, the other filled with Lovers and Beloveds for those who got the 2-book set) into the house.
So now I get to schedule the mailing party! yay!
I have been asked about the high-res graphics photos. I'm workin' on it, kids. I've had an enormous confluence of an election cycle in which I have a candidate client, ongoing sick kids (one after the other on a continuous loop) etc etc blah blah blah where's my frickin' stuff, I know. I hope to have it out soonest.
A reader of mine once told me why she had switched from reading erotica (which is mostly short stories) to romance novels. "I'm tired of the one-night stand," she said. "I want more of a relationship from my fiction." And it's true. While the erotic short story often delivers a panty-soaking fantasy--at least when I write them--the novel gives the reader a chance to get to know the characters and become emotionally engaged with them. More importantly, readers can become emotionally invested.
But a novel can still be over in a night, if you read fast. Where does a reader turn for a real "long-term relationship" in fiction? One choice is the multi-book series. Was it a blessing or a curse to get hooked on the Harry Potter series and wait between volumes to find out what would happen? Or what about George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire which has been going on since 1996 and has had gaps of three to six years between books? That might be a long-term relationship, but it's also like a long-distance relationship where you only see each other once in a blue moon.
This is one reason I think many readers have fallen in love with the web serial as a form. One gets to enjoy the long-term emotional engagement with the characters while at the same time receiving regular updates on the story.
The web serial that I am writing right now, Daron's Guitar Chronicles, is my longest term relationship yet. I started writing about Daron when I was a teenager in the 1980s. I wrote about him on and off all through college and started part of what became the serial while in grad school getting a masters in writing. But I didn't jump into serializing until 2010, when I had given up finding a traditional publisher for the ever-growing monstrosity that was the manuscript. It simply was not a novel, and still isn't. It was always a long story told in snippets rather than a traditional novel told in chapters. The serial form suits it very well.
So does the subject matter, if one considers the emotional life of the characters to be the main thing the readers of a long-term project care about. Daron's Guitar Chronicles is a love story, but it's not a simple one. It tells the story of a young guitar player in the 1980s who is in the closet about being gay. It's an era of upheaval both in music and in the sexual politics of the US, and our character's journey is nothing if not a search for happiness in a tumultuous world.
It has been amazing, gratifying, and fun, to see how readers have become friends with and fallen in love with Daron over the years I've been posting the serial. He answers comments directed at him on the site, giving web readers an experience that a reader of a novel wouldn't have.
(Um, not that we wouldn't love to have a printed edition of the book for those who enjoy paper. In fact, we're running a Kickstarter through noon Eastern on May 22 to raise the funds to do a paperback edition of the serial-to-date. Please check it out at : http://kck.st/IlE7Bi)
There is an end to Daron's story, or at least I do have a stopping point in mind, (but for now, we're not terribly close to it). Daron and the people around him have a lot to learn about love and happiness before they can reach a point of satisfaction. And you can bet I won't be stopping until we've reached such a point. After spending all this time with me and my characters, I am quite certain readers expect to be treated as well as any other long-term relationship partners would! And I have always done my best to meet my partners' needs.
My only worry about bringing a story that I've literally been writing for over 30 years to an end is that I will be leaving some Daron-addicts high and dry. Yes, reading a serial can be highly addictive, and no one likes to go cold turkey. But a serial shouldn't go on merely for the sake of perpetuating itself. How many multi-book series can you name where it feels like the writer ran out of ideas, but kept getting contracts for more books? (I think I made it to the 6th Xanth book by Piers Anthony...) That's the equivalent of the relationship where the love is gone, but you soldier on. I promise not to let it be like that.
Who knows? Maybe this really is my "forever" relationship. I've been writing about Daron since we were both teenagers. Maybe as time goes on I will continue to find ways to serve that muse, and serve the many fans that he has gained in various media. In addition to the serial, multiple volumes have been packaged as ebooks, we're running a Kickstarter to get a print book out, and an audiobook is forthcoming from Audible.com, too. Maybe in the future the relationship will just have new forms of love.
Cecilia Tan is "simply one of the most important writers, editors, and innovators in contemporary American erotic literature," according to Susie Bright. In 1992 Tan founded Circlet Press, a category-busting independent press that mixes science fiction/fantasy with erotica, and which added an erotic romance line, Clasp Editions, in 2011. Tan is the author of many books, including the romances Mind Games, The Hot Streak, and the Magic University series. Her short stories have appeared in Ms. Magazine, Nerve, Best American Erotica, Asimov's Science Fiction, and tons of other places. She was inducted into the Saints & Sinners Hall of Fame for GLBT writers in 2010 and won the inaugural Rose & Bay Awards for crowdfunded fiction in 2010 for Daron's Guitar Chronicles. She lives in the Boston area with her lifelong partner corwin and three cats.
Hey, pre-salers and Kickstarters! The "Son in Sorrow" paperbacks have been ordered! Which means I'll also be adding autographed paperbacks to the site. In other pre-sale/Kickstarter news, the poster mailers have finally been found at a price I can afford, and so I'll be whipping out the silver Sharpie and signing a bunch of those soon, too. I'll be letting everyone know as I send out books.
IF YOU HAVE CHANGED YOUR ADDRESS YOU NEED TO TELL ME NOW. Log into your account and update your address, PLEASE! Especially if you're international.
You want fluffy erotic romance? Of course you do! It's getting warm out, and everyone likes a quick summer read. So I've launched the "Aria Afton Presents" line for all the fluffy non-History/Gulch erotic romance I write. So far they're novella length, right around 20,000 words, and they're priced at $2.99.
Today's release is The Mage's Toy:
Even though Antony has vowed never to be vulnerable again, he can't bring himself to let Jennia be re-captured. He offers her a job demonstrating his sex charms, enchanted toys that can satisfy any desire. He tells himself it'll be just like all his other models--strictly business. Even though she's already fallen for Antony, Jennia is determined to find her childhood love and agrees.
But Antony's toys only ignite their desire for one another. Passion may prove more than the mage and the runaway can resist, but when Antony finds Jennia's sweetheart, he must make a choice that could lead to happiness for her--and catastrophe for himself.
If you're a patron, you get it free! Use coupon MAGEPATRON at checkout. That won't work if you're not a patron, friends.
I've written an absolutely ridiculous bit of froth, a traditionally structured erotic romance that is nothing like what I usually write. I got the plot idea, these things are quick to write, I'm always trying to get stuff out there making money for me, this is a business.
Thing is, it's totally different from my usual thing. You know, angst, awkward sex: that thing.
If I publish it as MeiLin, am I going to confuse people on both ends of the transaction--old readers thinking WTF? and new readers picking up, say, the History and thinking WTF? Or what?
My second pen name is Aria Afton, which I think is hilarious. I love it like I love the cover to "The Amber Cross" (which I wish I could have put out as an Aria Afton book but it was already out under MeiLin when I published it at Circlet Press).
What say you?
I'm still planning on reading the History myself (oy is that going to be a to-do), but several of my other pieces I can't do. I have read "Scryer's Gulch" at readings, but it really needs a Sam Elliot type to do it justice. A British accent is 100% necessary for "Dalston" and "The Amber Cross," and while I can do Received Pronunciation fairly well I'm not consistent enough for my own taste and I can't do Cockney and the other British accents worth a damn. (When I read from "Dalston" live I tell the audience, "Imagine Juliet Stevenson is reading this instead of me.")
So I'm taking Neil Gaiman's advice and trying out ACX, a service via Amazon and Audible (same diff) where authors can hook up with audiobook producers. I'm getting a sample from a voice actress/producer next week and I think we may have the audiobook up by the end of the month. If I like what we do and she'll read erotica (unsure about that), I may ask her to do "The Amber Cross" as well.
It's all very exciting, this modern age in which we live.
Nominations were released yesterday for the eFestival of Words awards. The eFestival is an indie/small press virtual book fair that'll be happening this August. I have to make this quick because I'm due somewhere, but this is all the stuff I've been nominated for somehow--I have NO idea who nominated me:
--Best Short Story: "The Gratification Engine" (SERIOUSLY? not my best work)
--Best Short Story Collection, single author: "Accounts"
--Best Novel: "Son in Sorrow"
--Best Cover: "Son in Sorrow"
--Harvey Award (book we'd like to see made into a movie): "Son in Sorrow"
I'll be surprised if I win in any of these categories looking at who else I'm up against, but as the cliché goes it's an honor just to be nominated--except I really mean it.
From now through the end of the month, you can enter to win one of three paperback copies of "Son in Sorrow" at Goodreads! And if you don't follow me there, feel free to add me. That way you can see all the stuff I'm reading. Usually it's 19th century classic literature, but one never knows when I might break out the wacky.
Anyway, you've got from now till the end of the month to enter. Good luck!
Bea Gonzalez's cover for "Son in Sorrow" has been nominated in the Best Cover category at the eFestival of Words. Here are all the nominees. I have ZERO idea what this will mean for Bea (and Alice Fox, whose original work on the "Lovers and Beloveds" cover carries forward into the rest of the History series), or who nominated the book cover, but it's always nice for someone to notice your work.
"Son in Sorrow" is now officially available at CreateSpace, $14.95 just like "Lovers and Beloveds." It'll be at Amazon.com in about five days, and available directly from me in about two weeks. I've got to get the first batch of books ordered and mailed out to the pre-salers and Kickstarters first.
International buyers will be happy to know that in a couple of months you'll be able to buy "Son in Sorrow" (and in a couple of months after that, "Lovers and Beloveds") at your local Amazon. And if you like supporting your local bookstore anywhere in the world, you'll be able to order both books via a real live brick-and-mortar store, too. Not yet, though.
Look what jut arrived! eeee! The cover this time looks good. I need to go through the interior, but so far it looks great. It's from CreateSpace. The books for direct sales, pre-sales and Amazon.com will be printed by CreateSpace, and international Amazon sales and brick-and-mortar sales will be printed by Lightning Source.
You can't tell from the photo how vivid the color is. It's gorgeous. And I compared the spines; book one looks very nice next to it on the shelf. So! I'll be ordering all the copies next week! yay!
You guys! I'm #5 on Amazon Kindle's Most Popular Fantasy Series books! Look quick, who knows how long it'll last!
This is the highest I've ever been ranked on any paid Amazon Kindle list. And yes, it's having an effect on sales. Since January my sales have doubled and my income has tripled. That's not counting the Kickstarter. I'm still not makin' the mortgage payment, but I'm makin' more than half of it.
Putting out new books helps, and I've put out two new ones in as many months. I have two more actively in development; one should be out in a month or so (quickie erotic romance novella called "The Mage's Toy") and another will be out by the end of the year ("The Machine God," about which more here). And that's not counting the "Scryer's Gulch" compilation, or the collection of prequel stories I promised Kickstarters.
Yikes! This is going to be a prolific year for me, and all of the above isn't even counting the work I'm doing on book three of the History.
Kate Danley interviewed me at her blog today--thanks, Kate! Why the interview:
A bunch of fantasy writers, self and Kate included, are doing a free ebook giveaway for Tax Day (the US tax day, anyway). Among the books will be Lovers and Beloveds. It'll be free April 17th only at Amazon. LaB, like all my books, is DRM-free, which means you can pop it into Calibre and convert it to whatever format you'd like. (It also means for the next 90 days LaB will only be available at Amazon--it's a marketing thing I couldn't afford to pass up, though I'm not keeping it in that program past the 90 days.)
Watch this space on the 17th for details and descriptions of the books. There are at least a dozen, and they include some real knock-out stories.
Updated to include the frickin' link to the interview. *headdesk*
Fantasy writers feel your pain. After all, we're self-employed; tax day is super painful for us! So we're helping take the edge off the day by giving you something: Free ebooks! All the books listed below are free 4/17 only at Amazon* (Lovers and Beloveds is also free 4/16, but I can't vouch for the rest) and many including mine are DRM-free so you can convert them to the format of your choice:
When eighteen-year-old Prince Temmin comes of age and joins his father's court, he's unprepared for its politics, assassins and sexual intrigues--and even more so, the King's immortal advisor Teacher, the holder of the royal family's hidden magic. Teacher becomes Temmin's tutor, his lessons contained in a magic book. Through it, Temmin experiences everything each story's characters do, and he's forced to confront serious mistakes in the kingdom's--and his own--past.
His present is no easier. He's falling for beautiful twins--brother and sister--who are the human hosts of the gods of love and desire called the Lovers. Being with them is more than sex; it's a religious calling. But an ancient prophecy says if Temmin heeds Their call it may spell the end of the monarchy, and the King fights him every step of the way.
Temmin must choose: Serve the Lovers and lose his father--and possibly the kingdom--or obey the King and risk the wrath of the Gods.
Tavera is a child passed from hand to hand as a source of cheap labor in the underworld of the Valley. When she finds herself at the mercy of the vicious sausage maker, the elderly Madame Greswin, she discovers secrets from the woman's past and the consequences leave Tavera fighting for her life.
"Little Girl Lost" is a short story and prequel to "Thieves at Heart", the first novel in the series "The Valley of Ten Crescents".
In a remote mountain valley, a scout is tortured and killed in a brutal rite of summoning. An army of demons will soon be on the move. Fellow scout Jessup Inntour wouldn't care very much if the empire he reluctantly serves is attacked, but the woman he loves is another matter.
Tamra Dervon, Captain of the Guard of Wayfare Keep, thinks her biggest problem is her love affair with Jessup. The scout is holding things back from her, and she doesn't know what. But when the seemingly unbeatable army of demons invades, Tamra's personal problems look very small. Tamra and Jessup find themselves leading a last-ditch defense. Their army is defeated. Jessup disappears in the retreat. As Tamra continues the struggle to defend her homeland, she discovers that another duty lies ahead -- to face a demon horde alone.
Patrik, a newly-married young man, turns down the safety of small town life to help his uncle manage a road-side inn many miles away. But before he can learn even the basics of running an inn, the uncle suddenly dies. If he had stayed where he was born, Patrik could have become a successful hunter, fur trapper, or even a successful artist. So why did he leave the comforts of home?
Not long after the death of his uncle, Patrik's wife dies, leaving him to mourn her death while struggling to be a good father to their two young daughters. Where can he find the inner peace he feverishly desires?
Tamara, boisterous, beautiful but often cantankerous, has turned down every man who has offered to rescue her from the pitiful routine of The Lonely Fox inn. Who, if anyone, could ever capture her love?
Kristof, The Lonely Fox Inn's stable hand, has attempted to earn Tamara's affection since he first set eyes upon her but has suffered a lifetime of rejection in the few months he has been employed there. What can he do to somehow make her love him?
Secrets don't like to stay hidden. In the kingdom of Mallon, all knowledge of the death god Arawn has been brutally quashed--but a teen named Dante has just found the dark god's holiest book.
Within days, Dante's attacked in the streets. Not by the city guard. By Arawn's own servants, long-hidden. Two things save his life: a big-mouthed bodyguard named Blays, and his own growing skill with the nether, the shadowy power that fuels the world.
But the attacks on Dante are just the first stirs of a larger threat. In the far north, Arawn's followers are rallied by a priestess named Samarand. Mallon is burning. To save their homeland, Dante and Blays will have to travel to a half-ruined city and assassinate the woman driving her people to war.
Jack is a guardian angel. A guardian angel who has failed every single assignment. For the past hundred years.
Now he has been given his final assignment, and he has one last chance - one chance to prove himself, one chance to change his fate.
But there is a catch: the assignment can't see him, unless he can find a way to break through, a way to touch her. Only then can he even begin to help her.
He has three days.
Ossard is falling...
Growing up in a city of Merchant Princes, Juvela discovers she can see what others can't. The very currents of the celestial are open to her, and that includes the truths they hide: An escalating series of unsolved kidnappings have been haunting the city-state, leaving its shadows pooled deep with innocent blood.
Has Juvela been cursed with the Witches' Kiss - or perhaps something worse?
Yet, more is to come, for not only has she witnessed an abduction, but she will have to endure a role in the victim's ritual death. For Juvela is about to become forsaken, and that's before she learns the real truth of not just the crimes plaguing Ossard's bloody streets, but the wider world: A world at war, and governed by gods whose highest pleasure is to sup on the taste of death.
An epoch has passed since the light of the divine last shone upon these harrowed lands. The gods that were have been cast out, and in their place has grown an edifice of depravity. A kingdom of corruption, abetted by an ancient order, balances precipitously above a clash of faiths. In the city of Borsad, a notorious gang of thieves known as the Jadeflies have carved a territory. They indoctrinate children of the street and orphans into ruthless thieves and killers to expand their reach. Miri is not ruthless, and is objectively less talented than her counterparts, but vies to prove her worth to the Jadeflies and earn her place. After a guaranteed simple job, from the hand of the boss, Taira, leaves her injured, Miri stands up against the punishment for failure she expects to receive. When Taira gets violent, Miri reacts, and the cold steel of her dagger finds itself in her mentors gut. As she flees the wrath of the Jadeflies she finds herself in the caring hands of a stranger, a priest of the ancient order who offers her safety and redemption if only she'll accept. Can the old gods truly shield her or is she just biding time?
Policing relations between Heaven, Hell, and Earth is messy and violent, but Elise Kavanagh and James Faulkner excelled at it--until coming across a job so brutal that even they couldn't stand to see one more dead body. Now they've been pretending to be normal for five years, leaving their horrific history a dark secret. Elise works in an office. James owns a business. None of their friends realize they used to be one of the world's best killing teams.
After years of hiding, something stirs. Bodies are vanishing. Demons scurry in the shadows of the night. A child has been possessed. Some enemies aren't willing to let the secrets of the past stay dead...
The immortal Knights of the Council of Twelve comprise the ruling body of the clandestine Order of the Red Cross of Gold, Poor Knights of Solomon's Temple. Some of them have been around since the Crusades in the Holy Lands, secretly directing, aiding and abetting world events that they believe will eventually culminate in the ultimate confrontation of Good and Evil at Armageddon. As Knights of Christ, they live, fight and die safely as God's executioners in the service of the Master of the Universe.
In an alternate universe where the twentieth century gave rise to individuals with psychic talents and World War II never happened, the Gulf Wars of the late twentieth and early twenty-first are fought with Great War tactics and equipment. The medics, a prime target for the enemy, are dying at a far greater rate than the other soldiers. War is in need a facelift. Meredith Clase, an electronics engineer, might have just the thing. But Sergeant Wens Lillenthal has been holding a grudge against Clase for almost eight years and he doesn't plan on dropping it soon. When Clase arrives and insists that he become the hero he plays to his men, Lillenthal is dragged along a path to fame he never wanted, and into a world he can't ever leave.
A Tale of Rubies, Shadows, and Romance
When the King's miners discover a strange ruby filled with fire, deep under the mountains, the King is overjoyed. There's one problem, of course. The gem belongs to the shadows who live in the mine. The King, however, will do anything to get his greedy hands on the ruby, even if that means disaster for the kingdom. The chief miner's son, Peter Snow, is forced to save the day.
Ice and Fire is a short story of about 5200 words, complete with a hotheaded princess, an exceedingly wise cook, and a handful of moat frogs.
Now an elf named Killian has shown up with a gig. Seems Maggie's uncle teamed up with the forces of dark to turn Earth into a vampire convenience store, serving bottomless refills on humans.
The only hope for survival lies in tracking down two magical objects and a secret that disappeared with Maggie's dad.
*TIP: If you're outside the US, once you get to the page of the book you want, substitute the TLD for your local Amazon.
I'm going on hiatus with the Gulch for a while; I need to work hard on the draft of "The Machine God" if I'm going to have it ready for release at the end of the year (and have time to work on book three of the History). I'm about 10,000 words in, and it'll weigh in around 60k when I'm done--almost half the size of my usual books, OMG!
The good news about the break is, I'll also be working on compiling the first 53 episodes of the Gulch into both a paperback and an ebook. That means the original ebooks and paperback will be going off sale. I'm getting rid of the remaining four Gulch paperbacks in stock for the measly price of $4.95. I'm not sure how many pages the new Gulch paperback will come in at, so I can't give you a price point yet; I'm thinking in the $11.95 range. Dunno yet. Ditto with the ebook, though I'm thinking around $3.95. You've already gotten a look at the new cover; it's to the right in the sidebar, and it's on the home page as well.
That'll make four book releases for me this year: "Son in Sorrow"; "Scryer's Gulch 1-53"; "The Amber Cross"; and "The Machine God!"
Speaking of "The Machine God," I may be posting a (drafty) sample of it tomorrow in lieu of a Gulch episode. I'm considering running a Kickstarter pre-sale for it; it needs editing, and while book sales are going really well they're not going well enough to afford Netta's hiring. My royalties are budgeted for living expenses--I know, right?--though they're trending well enough that some day I won't have to depend on pre-sales to hire my production squad.
I worry about two things:
Going back to the well too soon. I know other people who use Kickstarter as their regular pre-sale channel and make their goals every time. I'm still not 100% confident that this tactic will work for me. I know, I know, shut up already!
No one's invested in "The Machine God" as they are in the History or even the Gulch. To that, I can only say as much to myself as to you: Yet. I'm really digging the characters and story I'm working on, and there will be four other books by four other writers connected with it and all released at the same time--yes, five novels, all in the same universe written essentially about the same period in time, and all really different though related. A whole series at once! We may even write more books set in this universe. Once the set of five is done, it's up to us as individuals whether we want to continue.
So I'd appreciate your thoughts on that.
OTHER BITS OF NEWS IN CASE YOU MISSED THEM:
Shopworn sale: I've got six copies of "Lovers and Beloveds" that have seen slightly better days, now on sale for $10.95. That's $4 off the usual cover price! ONLY six copies. When they're gone, they're gone. (By the way, I'm strongly considering selling two--maybe three, can't remember--copies of the original draft book one, the only ones left. It's out of print and will never be going back into print.)
Ebook drawings: I'm holding free ebook drawings for both my Facebook fan page and my email newsletter when they reach certain mileposts. I was going to do the drawing at 300 fans on FB, but that's not gonna happen any time soon so how about 250? Thirty more to go before that drawing, and two random winners will be announced. But your chances are better/sooner for the mailing list drawing! It's one random winner at the 100 member mark, and there are 91 people on the list at present. Join them both and get a chance to win!
Do you have a favorite "indie" author? (Doesn't have to be me--I'll never know.) You'll want to nominate him or her for the Virtual Book Fair's Best of the Indie awards. I have no idea what the awards entail or anything, but I do know Bards and Sages are good folks. So there's that.