Category Archives: Spirit Knights

The End of Summer #amwriting

 

Summer is officially over as far as I’m concerned, because I have no more conventions until after Labor Day. My schedule through the end of the year:

Readerfest–Seattle, WA
Renton City Comic Con–Renton, WA
GeekGirlCon–Seattle, WA
Galaxaar–Issaquah, WA
Jet City Comic Show–Tacoma, WA
Orycon–Portland, OR

That’s it. No heavy travel, and all relatively small shows. I remain a Municipal Liaison for my NaNoWriMo region, and I already have a plan for my NaNo this year. It’s a book that I know in advance will require multiple revision passes for detail and layered meaning.

Other projects on the horizon:

Spirit Knights 5 should be out next March, hopefully with a concurrent audiobook. This will complete the series, but not end the adventures in that version of Earth, or with Claire and the gang. I’ll take a hiatus from urban fantasy to focus on other things next year, then come back to it with at least two books set in that world. More info about it as the book’s checklist earns checkmarks.

Darkside Seattle should have another installment by the end of the year. I’m not firm on that deadline. It may be January instead. Regardless, work continues on the novella collection. Looking forward to 1-3 more releases next year. The first novel should be out in late 2019 or early 2020.

The Greatest Sin earned a positive Kirkus review¬†(“luminous”, “daring”!), and there will be another announcement regarding it in a few days. Book 6 is in the works, and we’re hoping to return to May for our release month after some annoying setbacks this year.

The supers from Maze Beset are getting some fresh love in a project with no deadline at this time. This will be another case of me leaving the series title behind in favor of something else. I expect to have at least one book sometime next year for this world.

In Ilauris news, I’ve settled on the Elf book as my next project on that front, which I’m hoping to release in Fall 2018. Also, a story from the pirate faction will appear in an anthology titled Undercurrents: What Lies Beneath. The pirates feel like a short story subject instead of a novel subject, so there may be more to come from that.

My first turn as an anthology editor, Bridges, releases in November. I don’t have a story in it, but I’m exited about the project anyway. All the stories came from members of the Northwest Independent Writers Association, a group to which I belong. Without NIWA, I never would have met Jeffrey Cook, and we all know how that’s turned out (hint: well).

As part of Clockwork Dragon, I’ve got an anthology project in the works for Spring 2019, Spring 2020, and Spring 2021 releases. Yep, I’m that far ahead of this thing. It’s going to be awesome, and I look forward to sharing all the super-secret details with everyone after Norwescon 2018! If you’re looking for Dwago’s book, circumstances have delayed it again, and I have no new hopeful release date at this time.

For future planning, I can confirm I’ll definitely be at Emerald City Comic Con, Miscon, GEARCon, and GenCon again in 2018. I’ll be at other shows too, but they’re unconfirmed at this point.

Packing for #NASFiC #amwriting

If you’re in the US, I hope you’re enjoying your favorite form of patriotic whatnot. For me, today is the deep breath before the madness. Tomorrow, I’m leaving for Puerto Rico to participate in NASFiC, the North American Science Fiction Convention. This is the convention held in the US when WorldCon isn’t. This year, WorldCon is in Helsinki, so we get NASFiC.

I’ve never been to PR before, and I’m pretty sure I’m not going to know anyone there. This is both exciting and terrifying, as I’ve never gone to con where I knew no one. There will be one person with whom I have a passing acquaintance, but that’s it, so far as I’m aware. Everyone I know who would ordinarily go prefers to drive to big sales cons, not fly to small conference-y cons.

I’m hoping it’ll be fun. But also, I’m a cynic, so I know it’ll be awful. At least the weather is predicted to be pleasant, and the hotel is supposed to be nice. As a bonus, like Hawaii, it’s tropical and a chance of pace without requiring foreign currency, which means no currency exchange fees. Yay!

I’ll be participating on several panels about writing, alongside people with more experience than myself. Which doesn’t intimidate me in the slightest. Not a jot. Nope. Really. No vending for me at this show, as I have to fly there and am not hauling multiple copies of 16 titles on a plane. (16!)

And when I get back, I’ll have two days to finish Ragbrai training before shipping my bike to Iowa. Then I’ll have another few days to slave away in the word mines before leaving for that bike madness. From then, it’s an almost nonstop dash to the end of August.

In writing news, ICYMI, the second installment of Darkside Seattle is a thing. Street Doc was a story about an asshole. Fixer is a story about a woman who gets shit done. The Greatest Sin #5: A Curse of Memories releases next Tuesday, July 11. The ebook is currently in pre-order for 99 cents. It’ll go up to regular price of $4.99 on the 12th, so snap that up if you’re at all interested. The entire The Greatest Sin series is also available on iTunes, Kobo, and a smattering of other sites if you prefer those platforms.

I’ve started working on Spirit Knights 5 with a plan to have it ready next March. Darkside Seattle: Mechanic is tentatively scheduled for a December release. And finally, I have no less than 3 super-secret projects in the works. Three!

Happy 4th of July. ūüôā

Release Day! #ebook #books #NewRelease #YA

Portland has a mutant cockroach problem.

Book 4 of the Spirit Knights series is a real thing, not just a cover anymore. The pre-order has been 99 cents, and the actuality is now still 99 cents until I wake up tomorrow morning (3/22) and change it to regular price.

Ghost Is the New Normal picks up where Ethereal Entanglements left off, finishing up the Thanksgiving weekend. Now, even more to be thankful for! If you’re new to the series, the series kicks off with Girls Can’t Be Knights. This series is also available in audiobook. Book 4’s audio releases one week from today, on the 28th.

And remember, be kind to your indies: leave reviews! You don’t have to wax poetic or barf out paragraphs about it, just leave a sentence or two about the things you loved (or hated) the most.

Cheers!

Cover Reveal and Pre-Order: Ghost Is the New Normal

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Book 4 is a real thing with a real release date: March 21, 2017. It has a pre-order at only 99 cents (this price will only last until March 22!), and it’s all ready to go so I can have copies in hand for Norwescon (Seatac, April 13-16). The audiobook is scheduled for release one week later, on March 28. I’m excited about this one because it has giant mutant cockroaches. And also ghosts and dragons, of course.

Claire has a big problem, Drew has a smaller problem, and Justin gets to have some fun. Iulia causes trouble. Avery is sensible. Enion remains adorable and Tariel is still the only real grownup in the room.¬†If you’re new to this series, check out where it begins with Girls Can’t Be Knights, available in ebook, paperback, and audio!

With this book’s release on the horizon, I can now also officially state for the record that the Spirit Knights series will have a total of 5 books. That’s right, Number Five will be Number Last for the series.¬†But that’s not the last you’ll see of Claire, Drew, Justin, and the rest of the crew. Claire and Justin kind of already aren’t Spirit Knights anymore, you see. I freely admit that this series began with a book I wasn’t expecting to make into a series. It’s gone places I didn’t really foresee. As such, the series title doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense anymore.

Which is why, following book 5 of Spirit Knights, I’m shifting to a different line of attack with this stuff. There will be more stories, some about Claire and some not. They’ll all take place in the same world where Portland is extra-weird. But they won’t all take place in Portland, or even in the PNW. I’m looking forward to spending time with the kind of people affected by [spoiler] [spoiler], and [spoiler].

The Dreaded Blurb #amwriting #writingtips

Most indie authors hate writing the sales copy for their books. Alas, we have to do it anyway. Part of being an indie means taking a DIY approach to publishing. Traditional publishing houses have a staff of people who take a basic list of facts from the book and churn out sales copy. Indies do the same, only at lower speed.

There are authors¬†who like writing blurbs. I’ve met a few. Every bunch has its weirdoes, and all of us creative types are already weird to begin with. I’m not one of these individuals. I hate doing it.

What is a blurb? It’s a bit of text designed to make you want to buy a book. Authors spend hours poring over 3-10 sentences to tweak them for maximum impact without giving away the story while remaining true to said story. We take classes on this, float them with our fellow sufferers, and think hard about hitting things. Then we give up, barf the stuff out because we have to, and move on.

At this point, I’ve written or helped write blurbs for 20+¬†different books, stories, and anthologies. Some are great. Others are… I’m just not going back and fixing them, okay? I have other things to do and blurbs suck.

Why do we hate them?

  1. I’m a fiction writer, Jim. Not a copywriter.
  2. I just spent 3-9 months writing and revising this book, and now you want it condensed into a snappy few paragraphs? *rage-filled bellow*
  3. “Buy this book, it’s awesome.” doesn’t work. Damn you, reader. Damn you.

Some tips to help you get your blurb going:

  1. Make a list of all the words that might apply to your book’s theme, plot, and characters. Include nouns (proper or not), adjectives, and verbs.
  2. If your book has more than one main character, pick the most important one or two. If you pick two, be aware most readers will expect a romantic plot or subplot involving them, unless you make it clear that won’t happen. Mention they’re siblings, bitter enemies, or whatever.
  3. Avoid the verb “to be”. In fiction writing, you generally avoid this verb anyway, right? (Hint: you should. Only use it when there’s no better verb¬†to express something.) This verb is nothing more than an equal sign. Your blurb needs action words loaded with meaning.
  4. If you write for an age category that isn’t adults, the main character needs their age stated. Such as, “Sixteen-year-old Claire wants her father back.” If, instead, you write for adults, do not include¬†the age of your protagonist. Likewise, if you write about non-human beings, age is irrelevant.
  5. Go to Amazon and browse to the appropriate subcategory for your book. Read some blurbs. Get the feel for how they sound and look.
  6. Read this: http://graemeshimmin.com/writing-a-logline-for-a-novel/
  7. Use the logline from Step 6 and your word list as a starting point. Barf up a couple of paragraphs. Try to hit about 200 words. Anywhere between 100 and 400 is fine, but 200 is a good length.¬†Avoid giving away spoilers, twists, or the plot. Don’t¬†summarize. Instead, set the stage. Who is the protagonist? What are the stakes of their journey? What’s super-cool about that journey? What kind of book is it (mention the fantasy kingdom, the dragons, the space station, the backwoods resort, or whatever to give readers an extra clue about the genre)? Anything that happens in the first 3-4 chapters is fair game, but don’t bring up stuff from later in the book.
  8. As with all writing, let someone else read it. Preferably, ask veteran indie authors to read it and offer suggestions.
  9. Revise it 1-500000 times.
  10. Yay! You’re done!

Even though this is a short piece of work, I recommend setting aside an entire day to get to Step 8. Writing a blurb is like writing poetry, in that every word has to be deliberate and packed with meaning. It also needs to sell the book, which is hard work when you normally write fiction. Take your time and get feedback, even after you’ve been doing it for a while.

Let It Snow. Not.

Some readers may be aware I lived in Worcester, MA for several years before moving to Olympia, WA a little over two years ago. In Worcester, we routinely had snow by Christmas. Over the course of any given winter, we got between five to seven feet of the stuff, averaging around six feet.

One of the big draws of Olympia was the lack of snow. In an average winter, Olympia gets between one and two feet. These past two winters, the weather managed to produce a few mornings with a bit of ice on the road, and several with frost on the plants. About which I cheered, because I have had enough of snow shoveling to last me forever, thanks.

SNOW

The view out my front door in Worcester during a blizzard in 2014. This was daytime. We wound up with about 2 feet of snow from that event, if memory serves. It took most of a day to dig out that 40 feet of driveway.

I understand the lack of snow here has been abnormal, and that’s fine. I’ve enjoyed it, though. My son has¬†enjoyed it less, because he liked the days off school and sledding. My autistic daughter is perfectly fine with no snow. She hates wearing her coat and likes going to school. So, 2/3 of us win.

It snowed here in Olympia. In this case, I use the word “snowed” loosely.

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I had to search to find the newspaper because it wound up on the grass and got covered with snow. The horror!

I looked outside in the darkness of early morning and saw snow falling in the glow of a streetlamp. Great, fluffy, fat flakes hit the pavement and promptly melted. All the glory of snow, no shoveling and no snow days.

This is the best place ever.

By the way, the audiobook for Backyard Dragons releases today. Just mentioning it. And if you’re interested, I can confirm that at least two short stories from the Spirit Knights series will be published in anthologies this year. Another anthology will contain an Ilauris short!

#NaNoWinner2016 Finally

On the 23rd, I finally finished my ninth NaNo this year. That’s the longest it’s ever taken me, and more than twice as long as my previous longest (10 days). But I still finished.

And here’s why it took so long.¬†I’ve already discussed¬†the beginning of the month.¬†Now, the end.

On November 17th, at about 2am, my father passed away in our home from complications of prostate cancer. He spent about four weeks in hospice care. As you might imagine, this impacted my ability to write. I needed two days to recover from just the loss of sleep that night.

2016 NaNoWriMo Wordcount Stats. Conveniently with a minimal number of numbers.

Thank goodness I don’t make productivity bar graphs all the time.

To finish NaNo, I had to set aside Spirit Knights 4 in favor of some short stories I plan to submit to various places. For some reason, a series of books about death are hard to work on right now. Go figure. My wordcount also sputtered after I crossed the magical 50k line, as it often does.

If you’re still reaching for the finish line, keep on truckin’. You have two more days. If you’re nowhere near finishing, keep on truckin’. You have the¬†rest of your life. If you’re already finished, keep on truckin’. When one story ends, another begins.

For my Spirit Knights fans, I still anticipate releasing book 4 in time for Norwescon (mid-April). As far as I’m concerned, four months is plenty of¬†time to write and release¬†a book, and it’s half done already. And while you’re waiting, audiobooks for this series are a thing! Girls Can’t Be Knights released earlier this month, Backyard Dragons releases in early December, and Ethereal Entanglements is on schedule for an early January release. With luck, book 4 will release simultaneously with its audiobook.

For my The Greatest Sin fans, we’re expecting to get book 5 out by June. We’re also working on audiobooks for the first four, and hope to begin releasing those in 2017. We’ll probably catch up to release both print and audio at the same time with book 6. If you’ve read and loved them, please take a minute to leave a review.

For my Maze Beset fans, stay tuned for short story news! And if you want a fresh short story from me, regardless of the ‘verse it resides in, I’ve been published in a few anthologies this year: Into the Woods, Merely This and Nothing More,¬†Unnatural Dragons, and Artifact.