Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Emerald City Comic Con!

I'll be at Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle this weekend! I'm on one panel:

Thursday 2 March at 4:00 PM: "Inconceivable! A Game of Nerdery and Nonsense" (WSCC 617)

Inconceivable! is a game that tests panelists’ knowledge of the nerdy, the useless, and the obscure. Two teams face off to answer diabolical questions about TV shows, comics, movies, books, games, and more. Watch our players bluff, pun, and rack their brains for the ultimate prize: bragging rights.

Other than that, I'll be spending most of my time at Bard's Tower selling DUSKFALL and other awesome books (as well as signing, doing photo ops, etc.). It'll be awesome. If you're in the area, come check it out!

Monday, February 27, 2017

GraphicAudio Version of DUSKFALL!

Hey everyone! For those of you who aren't aware, the audiobook version of Duskfall has been available since the book's release date last year (on Amazon/Audible, iTunes, and pretty much anywhere audiobooks are sold). The audio version of Duskfall is fantastic--Adam Verner does a wonderful job with the narration (and says some nice things about the book on his blog)--and if you're into audiobooks at all, you should definitely check it out!

Great news, though--another audio adaptation of Duskfall was released TODAY, and this time it's from GraphicAudio! GraphicAudio does some pretty cool stuff--their tagline is "A movie in your mind," and they basically produce dramatic adaptations of books, a la the radio dramas of the early 20th century, with soundtracks, a full cast, and sound effects. I've already listened to the first bit of GraphicAudio's Duskfall adaptation, and it is awesome. If you like audiobooks, if you like Duskfall, or if you're just looking for something different, you should definitely check out this version. You can purchase the digital version of Duskfall from GraphicAudio for $13.00, or the CD version for $19.99. If you want a sample, here's a 5-minute sequence from the middle of the book (slight spoilers, of course, but nothing huge). It's pretty intense, and very cool. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

#AuthorLifeMonth Day 25: Pimp a Pub-Sib

I haven't forgotten about #AuthorLifeMonth, I swear! I've just been busy, you know, writing Book 3 and all. I'll likely come back to some of the posts I missed in the near future, while some of them I'll probably ignore. Today is a cool one though, and I want to make sure I got to it, even if it's almost the 26th.

"Pimp a Pub-Sib" day is when I get to talk about another awesome author, either represented by my same agency or published by the same house. I'm in the pretty awesome situation of having dozens of folks whose work I could rave about, but because I have a special place in my heart for steampunk, I have to go with the inimitable Megan O'Keefe. She makes soap for a living, ya'll, and she's a fantastic writer. She also happens to be up for the David Gemmell Morningstar Award, along with yours truly. I'll talk more about that in a later post, but you can vote for either of us (but, unfortunately, not both) here. Go do it now!

Megan's current series, the steampunk Scorched Continent trilogy, is freaking awesome. And, for those of you who don't like to buy books until the entire series is out, I have good news for you: the first two books in the series, Steal the Sky and Break the Chains, are already out, and the third book, Inherit the Flame, comes out in April! So get your hands on these books, because they're awesome. Here's the blurb for Steal the Sky:
Detan Honding, a wanted conman of noble birth and ignoble tongue, has found himself in the oasis city of Aransa. He and his trusted companion Tibs may have pulled off one too many cons against the city’s elite and need to make a quick escape. They set their sights on their biggest heist yet - the gorgeous airship of the exiled commodore Thratia. 

But in the middle of his scheme, a face changer known as a doppel starts murdering key members of Aransa’s government. The sudden paranoia makes Detan’s plans of stealing Thratia’s ship that much harder. And with this sudden power vacuum, Thratia can solidify her power and wreak havoc against the Empire. But the doppel isn’t working for Thratia and has her own intentions. Did Detan accidentally walk into a revolution and a crusade? He has to be careful - there’s a reason most people think he’s dead. And if his dangerous secret gets revealed, he has a lot more to worry about than a stolen airship.

Monday, February 20, 2017

#AuthorLifeMonth Day 20: Favorite Chapter Ending

I had a few favorite chapter endings from Duskfall that I thought I'd choose from, but I skimmed through the chapter endings in Dark Immolation and just can't resist positing my favorite from that novel. I won't say much about it, other than that it's from Chapter 29, because I don't want to spoil anything (and I don't think the chapter ending itself will spoil anything, it's just too far out of context), but it's a pretty awesome chapter, and a pretty awesome ending too imho.
Astrid limped away, felt the burning heat and crushing pain of her charred left hand, the raw soreness in her throat. She fled Cabral's great hall, already feeling her body heal, already wondering whether her soul ever would. When she reached the entrance of Cabral's tower-house, she ran. She ran and ran, until she left Turandel, until she left everything and all of it far, far behind.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

#AuthorLifeMonth Day 18: Research

Right now I'm researching two subjects in particular. On the left you see ancient warfare, particularly the Punic Wars (Blood Requiem is going to be a war novel, folks!), and on the right you have Quantum Electrodynamics (for the Chaos Queen Quintet in general). Exciting stuff ahead!

Friday, February 17, 2017

#AuthorLifeMonth Day 17: Where I Relax

Two places. Our living room, because that's where I watch tv and movies with Rachel and play PS4:

And, once again, the desk in my office, because that's where I play Dota 2:

Thursday, February 16, 2017

#AuthorLifeMonth Day 16: Where I Write

Our apartment has three bedrooms. One, of course, belongs to Rachel and I, and another to Buffy. The third, I'm happy to say, contains my office and where I do about 95% of my writing. I think it's a pretty awesome space. On occasion I'll get outside of the house and go write somewhere public (usually a coffee shop), but most of my writing is spent either at my desk:

Or the nice little chair in the corner of my office:

It's a pretty awesome setup. I seriously love my office, ya'll.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

#AuthorLifeMonth Day 15: SWAG

Who doesn't like swag??? I've got a bit of it, myself. Most of it's Duskfall related, but I just got some new promo postcards for Dark Immolation, and as the release date for DI approaches (June 20th, y'all!) I'm sure I'll expand my collection. I've got wristbands and other stuff not pictured, too. I love doling this stuff out at events, so if you ever see me at a con, signing, or whatever, ask for some and I'll hook you up!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

#AuthorLifeMonth Day 14: Favorite of Your Covers

Well, considering I only have two covers to choose from, this choice was surprisingly difficult. But I have to go with the Duskfall cover.

I love this cover. I love the look of the trinacrya. I love the ice/crystal theme. I love the subtlety and abstractness of it all. I love the color scheme.

I'm not the only one, either. As I've toured a few locations and sold a few books, I've gotten a lot of compliments on this cover. Most of the time, if someone approaches with genuine interest, it's because they're intrigued by the cover. That's pretty cool.

So, yeah. My book covers are amazing. I really like the Dark Immolation cover as well, and I can't wait to see what we'll come up with for the rest of the covers in the series!

Monday, February 13, 2017

#AuthorLifeMonth Day 13: A Favorite Book in Genre

I've gone into detail here about why I love Alden Bell's The Reapers are the Angels so much. So, I won't bore you again with the details. But I love to spread the word about this book every chance I get, because I think it's brilliant and incredibly under appreciated. If you haven't read it, you absolutely need to do so.


Friday, February 10, 2017

#AuthorLifeMonth Day 11: A Favorite Review

I've been really happy to see that most of the reviews of Duskfall have been overwhelmingly positive, and that I actually have a whole bunch of awesome reviews to choose from. This seems like an opportune time, in fact, to thank everyone for reading the book and, if you're able to write a review (whether an official review or one on Amazon or Goodreads--they are all incredibly helpful)! So, everyone, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You folks make the whole process worth it!

All that said, I think I do have a favorite. Part of the reason I love it so much is that there's a pretty funny story behind it. I also enjoy it because it's simply fun to read. Oh, and, yeah, it has some pretty awesome things to say about my book, so that doesn't hurt either :-). Nicole Evans wrote the review on her blog, ErlebnisseCool side note, she recently wrote a "Waiting on Wednesday" post on my forthcoming novel, Dark Immolation. But anyway, without further ado, here's the review:

Check it out!

#AuthorLifeMonth Day 10: Non-author Photo

Because I like hiking. And just. Look. At. My. Baby. So freaking cute. Also my wife is in the background, which I don't think reflects the actual role she plays in my life. She's the best and I love her a lot.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

#AuthorLifeMonth Day 9: Challenge Overcome

Yeah, I missed Day 8 (Awesome Moment). I've actually drafted a post for that but didn't get around to revising or publishing it, so if I find time to do that, I'd be happy to do it retroactively :-). But, for today, I'm going to talk about a "challenge overcome." And this one's easy so easy I can say it in two words:

Dark Immolation.

But what kind of blog post would be only two words?

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: this book was rough on me. Let's look at the timeline first.

I began writing DI in the fall of 2014. I finished a very rough first draft a little less than a year later, I think sometime in the summer of 2015. I took a couple months off from the book (to hang out with my brand new daughter and do some work on a YA novel I've had swimming around in my head for a few years now), and then started revising it in December of 2015. Revisions spanned from December 2015 until August 2016. Then, after a long talk with my agent, more revisions happened between August and October. After getting some feedback from my editor, my writing group,  and some beta readers, the final round of major revisions took place in January of this year.

So, yeah. DI took me almost 2.5 years to write. (In case you're wondering, that is a long time to spend on a book--even in epic fantasy.)

What made it so difficult, you ask? Well, let me count the ways:

  1. I've never written a sequel before. That may not sound like a big deal--and I did not think it would be--but I was absolutely not prepared for what writing a sequel would be like. I typically think of myself as a discovery writer, and that's how I approached DI, but I didn't take into consideration the events I'd already set in motion and the promises I'd made to the reader in Duskfall, and how much they would dictate what I needed to do in later books. This was one major reason writing the book took me so long; I used my regular discovery writing approach, letting the characters sort of do as they wished, but as I wrote I saw myself moving farther and farther away from some of the promises I'd made to readers in DF. That frustrated me, made the writing process more than a bit confusing and daunting, until finally I finished a very weak first draft. Revisions, in turn, took me so long in part because I had to spend a lot of time cleaning up and fixing and rewriting all of the crap I produced in the first draft. Let's talk about word count for a moment: DI, at it's largest, was over 260K words long. The ARC draft that's being produced right now is barely 150K. That means I cut at least 43% of the book (and that doesn't even count all of the stuff I cut and then rewrote in revisions). That is insane.
  2. A lot of crazy life events happened in the span of DI, and I hadn't prepared myself enough to juggle them efficiently. My beautiful daughter was born, we moved, my wife started working longer hours at her job for a while, among a few other things. Most of those things were actually incredibly positive, but did not make it easy to write a book that was already giving me a hard time in the first place.
  3. Some other personal issues that I don't feel inclined to expound on at the moment took a lot of my mental energy in 2016. Suffice it to say that, while on paper, 2016 should have been one of the best years ever, it was, in fact, hands down, the absolute worst. Like, there isn't even another contender for the bottom slot. 2016 was, far and away, unquestionably awful. (And, for the record, I'm not talking about celebrity deaths or anything on that level. While I'm certainly saddened by talented people passing on, it doesn't shake me up that much unless it seems significantly premature.)
Those three aggregates developed into a perfect storm of execrableness and writing hell. Each compounded the other until I was so depressed and discouraged that it was almost impossible for me to get any work done at all, some days.

To be clear, I'm not looking for sympathy. Things are actually exponentially better in my life right now, on all fronts--my life seems to have stabilized once more, I'm learning to either let go of or face and resolve the personal issues that came up last year, and, most visibly (and getting back to the subject of this post), Dark Immolation is FINISHED! The relief I felt at turning in that final draft was immeasurable. Ineffable. All of that means I'm feeling quite good right now, thank you very much.

To get back to the book, my relief (and sense of accomplishment, I might add) doesn't only come from the fact that DI is finished, but also from the fact that I think it's a pretty freaking awesome book. I'm very happy with the character work and events that occur in book two of the Chaos Queen Quintet, and I love some specific scenes in particular. (And I can't wait for you to find out what those things are!)

One more thing. As terrible a process as writing Dark Immolation was, there are some really great things that've come from it (in addition, of course, to a freaking awesome book). Namely, it's been a huge learning experience for me. I've approached the first draft of Blood Requiem much differently than I usually approach writing first drafts, and it's going quite well so far. I absolutely attribute that to everything I learned in writing book 2.

So, yeah. As a professional writer, the work isn't always cool fight scenes and character epiphanies. It's rarely that stuff, actually. But the cool thing? The end results are always worth the effort.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

#AuthorLifeMonth Day 7: Writing Music

Ahhhh, writing music.

Some writers cannot write while music is playing, but I, fortunately, am not of that breed. I usually avoid music with lyrics while I'm writing, but that is certainly not always the case. So, without further ado, let me share with you some of my absolute favorites when it comes to writing music.


From their website, Audiomachine is "a boutique, motion picture advertising music collective, specializing in original epic music and bone crunching sound design for theatrical trailers, television commercials and video game advertising campaigns." Audiomachine is my go-to writing music. I own every single one of their albums, and I think each track of theirs has 50+ plays in iTunes (with the exception of their newest albums).

I love their music first and foremost because it is awesome—"epic" to say the least. It's powerful, atmospheric, and conveys a number of different tones that are all perfect for writing dark epic fantasy. But I also love their music because I don't really associate it with anything--while I'll occasionally recognize a track of theirs on a movie or video game trailer, most of their music is not on official soundtracks, but on their own albums. This means that, for all intents and purposes, their music is the soundtrack to my writing. That's how I think of it, anyway, and it's pretty cool to (pretend to) have your own soundtrack, I must say.

Their most popular album is Chronicles, and that is a great one, but my current favorites are actually Phenomena, Decimus, and Magnus: B-Sides. If you are a writer of fantasy of any kind, and you remotely like music at all, you NEED to check them out.

Max Richter

Did you see Arrival? Did you wonder what that gorgeous composition was that opened and closed the film? I did, and that's how I came across Max Richter. (That track from Arrival is called "On the Nature of Daylight," by the way, by Max Richter of course. You're welcome.) Richter's music is subdued and subtle, but impeccably composed and capable of moments of great power. When I want music that isn't quite as bold as Audiomachine, I go straight to Max Richter. I've particularly fallen in love with his magnum opus, Sleep--an eight-hour tour de force that I've now listened to many times over.

Soundtracks (particularly from Game of Thrones)

While I enjoy soundtracks to a lesser extent, they do provide some variety to my typical Audiomachine- and Max Richter-induced music euphorias. My favorites include just about any season's soundtrack to the television show Game of Thrones (Ramin Djawadi is incredible) and the Skyrim video game soundtrack (which is surprisingly atmospheric). Both are worth a listen.

Sigur Rós

I've talked about Sigur Rós before, and they are easily one of my all-time favorite bands. The only problem with listening to Sigur Rós while writing, however, is that sometimes I get too into the music. SR creates the type of music in which you need to fully immerse yourself to fully appreciate. I like listening to them when I'm brainstorming and world building, and sometimes when I'm outlining, but I rarely listen to them when I'm full-on composing (unless a song of theirs fits perfectly the scene I'm writing, which has actually happened on a few occasions).

So, if you haven't listened to Sigur Rós, they are an absolute must. They are one of the true sources of beauty in this world. Buy an album of theirs, turn up the highest-quality stereo or headphones you own, turn all the lights off, find a comfy chair, and let their music take you.

Monday, February 06, 2017

#AuthorLifeMonth Day 6: Fan Art!

Well, I've yet to encounter any fan art for Duskfall or the Chaos Queen Quintet (yet 🤞--consider this an official invitation, folks!). While of course I'd love to see fan art of any kind, I'm totally cool with the fact that I haven't come across any so far. tMy first book only came out, like, seven months ago! And it's the first of five, so...I think I've got time. :-)

That said, there is something I've been meaning to share with everyone. It's not even close to fan art, but more like a form of wishful thinking on my part. Many people who've messaged me, emailed me, found me on social media or in person and spoken with me about Duskfall have told me that Astrid is their favorite character, and I totally understand why. She's easily the most fun character to write in the book, and she has a special place in my heart. For that reason, I get pretty excited whenever I see similar characters on the big screen. Athena from the Tomorrowland film came pretty close, but there's one that I think comes even closer, and that's (who I assume to be) X-23 from the new Wolverine film Logan. Just check this out:

If you've ever wondered how I visualize Astrid fight scenes, this trailer will tell you a lot. Goes without saying that I'll definitely be seeing this film when it's released, and I'll let you know at that point whether the projected fight scenes (and the character of X-23 in general) lives up to my expectations.

She's no Astrid, obviously, but she's pretty damn close.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

#AuthorLifeMonth Day 5: Comp Covers

Honestly, I had no idea what a comp cover was until I did this challenge, but as far as I can tell it's a cover design or draft that didn't make the final cut. Interestingly enough, I actually have one of those! Check out the first cover design for Duskfall:

I quite liked it, initially. That's a depiction of Knot and Winter on the cover, of course, and what I imagine to be the Sorensan Mountains in the background. It's more or less a classical fantasy novel cover. To be fair, it was the first time I'd seen my name on anything resembling an official book cover, and I think I would've been over the moon about it no matter what it looked like. After a discussion with my agent, however, we came to the conclusion that this didn't really represent the tone and brand of what we wanted the series to be, and my publisher was gracious enough to go back to the drawing board, where they came up with the official cover that we all (or at least I) know and love:


And, seriously, I love that cover. But that'll actually be the subject of another ALM post, so stay tuned :-).

Saturday, February 04, 2017

#AuthorLifeMonth Day 4: My WIP

I mentioned a few days ago that my current WIP is actually book 3 of the Chaos Queen Quintet, Blood Requiem. I technically started the novel late last year, then decided I needed to go back to prewriting to really nail down what I wanted to happen with each of the characters in the book.

My experience writing Dark Immolation (book 2) was a rough one, and while I think I'll talk a bit more about that later this month, a lot of it had to do with how I approached the first draft of the novel. To make a long story short, I've done a lot more outlining for Blood Requiem than I ever have for a novel before, and I think it's going to help my process a lot.

My goal is to finish Blood Requiem by the end of April. That's a pretty intense timeline, but I'm feeling pretty confident, especially with all the prewriting I've done.

All that being said, I'm pretty excited about book 3. There are some cool things in the pipeline for Winter, Knot, Astrid, Cinzia, and co., and I can't wait to get them out there! :-D

Friday, February 03, 2017

#AuthorLifeMonth Day 3: Last 5-Star Read

A couple months ago I had the pleasure of reading Witchy Eye by D.J. Butler, and I was blown away. To be fair, Dave is a good friend, and he's already written some good books, but this one was truly impressive, and a 5-star read any way you look at it. Here's the blurb:
Sarah Calhoun is the fifteen-year-old daughter of the Elector Andrew Calhoun, one of Appalachee’s military heroes and one of the electors who gets to decide who will next ascend as the Emperor of the New World. None of that matters to Sarah. She has a natural talent for hexing and one bad eye, and all she wants is to be left alone—especially by outsiders.

But Sarah’s world gets turned on its head at the Nashville Tobacco Fair when a Yankee wizard-priest tries to kidnap her. Sarah fights back with the aid of a mysterious monk named Thalanes, who is one of the not-quite-human Firstborn, the Moundbuilders of the Ohio. It is Thalanes who reveals to Sarah a secret heritage she never dreamed could be hers.

Now on a desperate quest with Thalanes to claim this heritage, she is hunted by the Emperor’s bodyguard of elite dragoons, as well as by darker things—shapeshifting Mockers and undead Lazars, and behind them a power more sinister still. If Sarah cannot claim her heritage, it may mean the end to her, her family—and to the world where she is just beginning to find her place.
Sounds amazing, right? Also, I have the pleasure of being one of the cover quotes for the book:
"Captivating characters. Superb world-building. Awesome magic. Butler fuses fantasy and history effortlessly, creating a fascinating new American epic. Not to be missed!"
And I mean every word of it. I was particularly impressed with Dave's world building: he transforms historical America into an epic fantasy world where the mythology runs deep and magic runs deeper. I was delighted with the world, the mythos, and the ease with which Dave presents both (not to mention some really phenomenal character work).

There's only one problem (more for you than for me): I read an advanced copy of this book, and it still technically doesn't come out for about another month. But, seriously, mark March 7th on your calendars, and prepare for the release of Witchy Eye. It's an incredible read. Five stars, hands down. Go pre-order it now on Amazon!

Thursday, February 02, 2017

#AuthorLifeMonth Day 2: Author Photo

My official author photo! Or one of the many I use in rotation, at least, all of them taken by my fantastic cousin, Cheryl Babb. This one is almost two years old, and I'm surprised to say I actually look quite different. No beard. Much longer hair.

Might be time for an update!

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

#AuthorLifeMonth Day 1

Hello alls!

So in an effort to rekindle my blogging prowess, I'm participating in #AuthorLifeMonth (the hashtag is superfluous, I know, but hey it's fun). Author Life Month, as far as I can tell, is mostly an Instagram thing where authors post one picture each day in the month of February going through a list of 28 items:

I've been incredibly busy lately and have not had much time to get on the old blog, but I'm hoping that participating in this will get me going again.

So, without further ado, let's get to...

Day 1: Your Books

My books! That's easy enough, I only have one on the market so far :-). Duskfall is a dark epic fantasy novel that follows the intertwining fates of three characters: Winter, Knot, and Cinzia. Here's the back cover blurb:
Pulled from a frozen sea, pierced by arrows and close to death, Knot has no memory of who he was. But his dreams are dark, filled with violence and unknown faces. Winter, a tiellan woman whose people have long been oppresses by humans, is married to and abandoned by Knot on the same day. In her search for him, she will discover her control of magic, but risk losing herself utterly. And Cinzia, priestess and true believer, returns home to discover her family at the heart of a heretical rebellion. A rebellion that only the Inquisition can crush.... Their fates and those of others will intertwine, in a land where magic and daemons are believed dead, but dark forces still vie for power.
Duskfall is available for purchase in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats. Check out Amazon, Powell's, and Barnes & Noble. Oh, and Duskfall is available in German, too!

Duskfall is the first book of the Chaos Queen Quintet, and this June (on the 20th, to be exact), book 2--Dark Immolation--hits the market! Here's the blurb:
A new religion is rising, gathering followers drawn by rumors of prophetess Jane Oden. her sister Cinzia--one-time Cantic priestess--is by her side, but fears that Jane will lead them to ruin. For both the Cantic Denomination and the Nazaniin assassins are still on their trail, and much worse may come. Knot, his true nature now revealed if not truly understood, is haunted by the memories of others, and is not the ally he once was. Astrid travels to Tinska to find answers for her friend, but the child-like vampire has old enemies who have been waiting for her return. And beyond the Blood Gate in the northern empire of Roden, a tiellan woman finds herself with a new protector. One who wants to use her extraordinary abilities for his own ends...
I know, it sounds amazing! You can pre-order it on Amazon right now, and here's the amazing cover:

As for book 3 of the series--now officially titles Blood Requiem--well, I'm hard at work writing it as we speak. It's going pretty well so far, and I can't wait to get it out there!