Category Archives: Spirit Knights

Change Is In the Air

It’s December, which means it’s time to chill, prop up my feet, and relax.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Okay, for real, it means that I have a lot of work to do. Knights 5 is in revisions. Darkside Seattle: Mechanic is also in revisions. Once those are taken care of, it’s time to apply grinding things to various body parts for The Greatest Sin 6. And things just kinda keep going from there. My 2017 publication schedule was sparse, and there are good, honest reasons for that, but it’s not going to happen again in 2018.

This post, though, is about change.

For the next year, and longer if I can maintain it, I have set myself a goal to release one new short story every single month, whether I have a book release or not. Even during NaNoWriMo, even in the summer when I’m on the road every day.

It’ll be awesome, and you can watch my descent into madness in real time.

But wait! There’s a twist.

Every short story in this barrage will go on my website, this very page, for free. For one week. On the second Tuesday of every month, starting next week, December 12th, you can read it here. The story will run anywhere from 1k to 10k words, and it will fit into one of my four main world categories: Spirit Knights, Maze Beset, The Greatest Sin, or Ilauris.

(Given the nature of Darkside Seattle and the breadth of my audience, it won’t be included. Sorry.)

On the third Tuesday of every month, that story will disappear from my website forever, replaced by a link to buy it for 99 cents USD on Amazon or Kobo.

Do you want an email nudge from me when the story is free? Plus reminders about events I’m working and books I’m releasing? Look! I have a newsletter! There’s a link in the menu bar and everything! It’s amazing how this digital age stuff works. Almost like magic.

I hope you enjoy the stories and I look forward to writing them.

Sprinting To The End #NaNoWriMo

At this point, my final NaNo wordcount is looking to be around 90k. Some of those words were easy, and others were hard. I contended with two conventions and one conference, and also the first anniversary of my father’s passing. For an extra challenge, a friend with terminal cancer passed last week when I thought she still had a few more months, and I’ve had some in-house medical drama here.

If you’re a Greatest Sin fan, the medical drama was not about my health. I promise that, though I have a cold right now, I’m fine. Erik is fine too. Yes, I’m drinking plenty of fluids and taking care of myself.

Anyway, I’ll finish the current book later today, most likely, and then see if I can bang out a short story or two between then and Thursday.

If you’ve won or are about to, congrats! I hope you enjoy/ed the congratulatory video.

If you didn’t win and don’t think you will, I feel your pain. Those who’ve been following along already know my basic advice. To sum up: don’t be hard on yourself.

For those who didn’t finish the story, regardless of your wordcount, I recommend keeping on with the keeping on until you finish the story. After November, don’t neglect the rest of your life, but carve out a little time for you and your new writing habit. If 500 words per day fits into your life, then write 500 words per day.

For myself, I have to get back to a bunch of things I let fall by the wayside. On Friday, I have a mountain of tasks to tend, including some long-ignored gaming. Then I have a bunch of planning to work on for 2018.

Whatever you like from my catalog, there will be something for you in 2018. Darkside Seattle: Mechanic will be out soon. Knights 5 has a firm release date of March 27, with a cover reveal coming soon. The Greatest Sin #6 is slated for a soft release date (meaning it might slip) in late May. If all goes well, the next Ilauris book will release in October 2018, and another Darkside Seattle will follow shortly after. For all the supers fans, my next supers book has a soft release date in early July (though it doesn’t involve Bobby and the gang). I have other projects, but can’t commit to any release dates (not even soft ones) for any of them yet.

I’ll also have a bunch of short stories for ya’ll, and I’ve got some stuff in upcoming anthologies. Watch for announcements about Undercurrents, Hideous Progeny, and more! If we’re lucky, we’ll also have Clockwork Conjurations next fall.

What else is on the horizon? Clockwork Dragon, the author’s co-op I co-founded, will open up a Patreon in January. The goal of our Patreon will be to help us pay for our event tables, which will give us breathing room to cut back a little bit on the events and write even more. And that’s really what we all want–more stories. Link coming soon! I hope you’ll consider spending a few bucks to support a group of four indie authors that happens to include me.

Which is to say that November’s fun is about to give way to real life. I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving!

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

sk4ecover

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.