Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Today I'm doing an AMA (Ask me Anything) on reddit's Fantasy Forum

I love AMA's, and I'm doing another one today!  If you aren't familiar with the concept, it stands for "Ask Me Anything" and while they occur all over reddit, the mods at /r/Fantasy do an amazing job organizing them.

This isn't the first time I've done one, not even the second, but a lot has changed since the last time. There's a lot to talk about:

  • The success of the Riyria Revelations books.
  • Why I did the prequel series, The Riyria Chronicles?
  • Why I'm writing science fiction, and what's different about Hollow World?
  • Why I signed my new series with Random House?
  • What is the new series about, and when will it come out?
  • How has publishing changed, and is continuing to change, and what does that mean for writers?

I do hope people will stop by and ask a question or just say hello.  Anyone who does post will be entered to win one of the limited edition early, early advanced copies of Rhune. Only a handful of people will have this opportunity (basically the beta readers and a few winners). Everyone else will have to wait until the summer of 2016. So that is reason enough to stop by.  Here's the link.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Author's Workspaces

Recently, someone asked me post a picture of my workspace -- the place where I write my novels. I've have seen other people asking this of authors in the past, and I must say it is interesting to see the diversity in various workspaces.  Awhile ago, I changed my picture on my author Facebook page to focus on that glorious place where the "magic happens. And here it is:

A few things about this picture:

  • Yes, it is always that clean. I abhor mess, especially where I work so if I bring out a book or something for reference, I use it and put it back (what this picture doesn't show is the bookcases on the wall behind me.
  • Yes, the clocks don't match. I love the look of the wall-clock (given to me as a gift) so I display it proudly on the wall...but it "ticks" loudly and when I write I want complete silence.
  • The dagger is my "Stabby" from reddit's Fantasy sub. It's an engraved award given out at the end of year. Mine was a community achievement award for best overall redditor.
  • The coffee mug is always by my side. I'm fueled by coffee, especially since I do most of my writing in the morning.
  • My computer is a Mac - which I love dearly. It's clean and beautifully designed. The fact I have no wires for my keyboard and touchpad  (preferred over mouse) is something I appreciate to no end.  Robin accuses me of loving my Mac more than her...that's not true, but I must confess I spend more time with the Mac then with her....hmmmm.
  • The microphone and earphones are used for podcasting. I also sometimes use earphones...for instance if Robin is on the phone, as any noise is distracting.
  • The lamp on the left is new -  a big splurge from a recent royalty check.
My feet are up on the bedpost - yes, my office is in my bedroom - REALLY short commute.  Robin is in the process of getting me a "writing cabana" - a separate building where I can isolate myself. The building is actually "done" and will be delivered to some land we bought in the mountains as soon as the ground has dried out and can accept a truck with a heavy payload.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Authors Helping Authors: Thierry Sagnier's Thirst

I have a local writing critique group that I don't go to very often. It occurs on the same night that I head out to the pub, and sometimes authors I'm friends with come meet me at the bar before or after. When someone I know has a piece up for critique, I do go and help them out with my feedback (most of which I share privately because I'm a very picky reader). My goal in critiquing is to help the author be better, not to stroke their ego and I'm a harsh critical reader.

At a few meetings I've come across some submissions by Thierry Sagnier.  I don't really know him, but his work was always well received by the group. One thing led to another and we (my wife and I) ended up meeting him for lunch to talk about various things.

Robin has a way of volunteering me for things, and I knew after a short while she was going to ask me to "whip up a cover." Luckily, I had already read the book and really enjoyed it, providing a bit of help on restructuring of the start.

For her part, Robin volunteered to do the book's layout and create a new ebook file (formatting in the old version was jacked up for reasons none of us understood).  She also was willing to help him get the book posted on various sites and making the paperback available for sale.

Thierry hired a copy editor to go through the book from top to bottom and it has now been released and is live on goodreads and Amazon.

As I said, I really enjoyed the book, and Thierry is an accomplished author. He was a Pushcart Prize Nominee and has been writing since the 1970's including works for The Washington Post. Thirst is a hard-boiled suspense thriller set in Washington DC.  Here's a bit about the book:

A fortune in drugs is missing. Finding them starts with finding her. 
Colin isn’t a cop. Joe is, but isn’t up for this. Mamadou was an excellent police officer back in Senegal, but in Washington DC he drives a limo. Josie’s just a girl—a recovering crack addict fed up with her parents and with Herbie, her boyfriend. She’s planning on giving him a piece of her mind. Trouble is, Herbie stole a shipment of drugs, and now he’s dead.  And let’s not forget Mollie Catfish…

Now the Zulu wants his drugs, Mamadou wants revenge, Joe just wants to do his job for once, and Colin wants to save his girlfriend’s daughter. All Josie wants is to remember what Herbie might have told her, what the Zulu insists she knows. If she doesn’t—she’s dead too.

Mollie? She wants it all.

Behind the polished marble of Washington DC, lies dark alleys where everyone thirsts for something.

I should note that I rarely give blurbs for books, although I'm asked to all the time. Remember how I started this post about being a "picky reader"? Well I have no reservation about providing one for Thierry's book so here goes:

"Sagnier builds characters as solid, gritty, and as broken as a DC street, with prose that
lights up like monuments on a starry night." — Michael J. Sullivan,
best-selling author of The Riyria Revelations

So if you happen to read suspense thrillers, please take a look at the sample of Thirst or check out Theirry's goodreads page and it to your "to be read pile."  If you do give the book a try, please let me know what you think.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Tools for Authors: Grammarly

Sorry, I missed this post last week. Things got pretty crazy here, and I couldn't get it written in time. I'm trying to use Saturdays for Tools for Authors.  And previously spoke about Natural Reader. Today I want to talk about Grammarly.

What is Grammarly?

According tot their site it is:
Grammarly is the world's leading writing enhancement app. It checks for more than 250 types of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, enhances vocabulary usage, and suggests citations. 
Widely used, they have more than 4 million registered users, including myself.

Here's an example of Grammarly in action.

One of the features I find particularly nice is that you can classify they "type" of the writing.  In other words, something more formal (like a research paper) will have slightly different analysis criteria than say a creative writing piece like a novel.

Now it should go without saying that Grammarly is not a replacement for a good editor, but it does do a good job pointing out some common problems and alerting you to something that might be an issue. The little "x" on the right can be used to ignore something that you know is correct. If you are not sure what it's trying to say, then the down arrow will give you more information.

How much does it cost?

Well like most programs it has a free trial.  It also offers several different payment plans:
  • $29.95 if you get a month-by-month subscription
  • $19.98 if you get it for a quarter (3 months) at a time
  • $11.66 if you commit to a full year (which is what I did)

Additional Resources

Grammarly also has a Handbook, which you can use to learn the rules of grammar with topics such as how to use commas or hyphens. 

I've found Grammarly to be well worth the money. Check it out, and maybe you'll agree.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Great Eight under a buck

The GrimDark Alliance posted a list of Eight Great Short Stories under $0.99.  And I thought I would share it. Here is a link.

Here's the full list and where to get them:

Thursday, March 19, 2015

In 2014 /r/fantasy had more than 50,000 members and p0x0rz created a poll resulting in "the big list" to find the top series recommended by members of the board.  When all the voting was in (511 votes) a list of 105 series were compiled.

Here's the complete list:

  1. A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin  
  2. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien  
  3. The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss 
  4. The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson  
  5. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan  
  6. The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson  
  7. The Gentleman Bastards by Scott Lynch  
  8. Discworld by Terry Pratchett  
  9. The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher  
  10. Harry Potter by JK Rowling  
  11. The First Law by Joe Abercrombie  
  12. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson  
  13. The Dark Tower by Stephen King  
  14. The Broken Empire by Mark Lawrence  
  15. The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb  
  16. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien  
  17. The Black Company by Glen Cook  
  18. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman  
  19. Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K Leguin  
  20. American Gods by Neil Gaiman  
  21. The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis  
  22. The Drenai Saga by David Gemmell  
  23. Watership Down by Richard Adams  
  24. The Riyria Revelations by Michael J Sullivan  
  25. Prince of Nothing by R Scott Bakker  
  26. The Belgariad by David Eddings  
  27. Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay  
  28. Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolf  
  29. The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny  
  30. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke  
  31. Raven's Shadow by Anthony Ryan  
  32. The Riftwar Saga by Raymond Feist  
  33. The Demon Cycle by Peter V Brett  
  34. The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle  
  35. Lightbringer by Brent Weeks  
  36. Codex Alera by Jim Butcher  
  37. The Coldfire Trilogy by CS Friedman 
  38. Dragonlance Novels by Various Authors (linked the first one listed on Goodreads)  
  39. The Sarantine Mosaic by Guy Gavriel Kay  
  40. The Liveship Traders by Robin Hobb  
  41. The Sandman by Neil Gaiman  
  42. The Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien  
  43. Lions of AlRassan by Guy Gavriel Kay  
  44. The Magicians by Lev Grossman  
  45. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman  
  46. The Princess Bride by William Goldman  
  47. The Tawny Man Trilogy by Robin Hobb  
  48. The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski  
  49. Acts of Caine by Matthew Woodring Stover  
  50. Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie  
  51. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephend R Donaldson  
  52. The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper  
  53. The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie  
  54. Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn by Tad Williams  
  55. Abhorsen by Garth Nix  
  56. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman  
  57. The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon  
  58. The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel kay  
  59. The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks  
  60. The Powder Mage by Brian McClellan 
  61. A Song for Arbonne by Guy Gavriel Kay
  62. Vlad Taltos by Steven Brust  
  63. The BasLag Cycle by China Mieville  
  64. The Black Jewels by Anne Bishop  
  65. Conan the Cimmerian by Robert E Howard  
  66. Dune Chronicles by Frank Herbert  
  67. The Dying Earth by Jack Vance  
  68. Elric by Michael Moorcock  
  69. The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson  
  70. The Empire Trilogy by Ramond Feist and Janny Wurts  
  71. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman  
  72. Kushiel's Legacy by Jacqueline Carey  
  73. The Long Price Quartet by Daniel Abraham  
  74. Night Watch and Day Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko  
  75. The Once and Future King by TH White  
  76. A Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde  
  77. Red Country by Joe Abercrombie  
  78. The Saga of Recluse by LE Modesitt Jr  
  79. Stardust by Neil Gaiman 
  80. The Sun Sword by Michelle West  
  81. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle 
  82. Alices Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll  
  83. Bartimaeus by Jonathon Stroud  
  84. Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold  
  85. The Dagger and the Coin by Daniel Abraham  
  86. Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey  
  87. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson  
  88. Exiles by Melanie Rawn  
  89. Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake  
  90. Guardian of the Flame by Joel Rosenberg  
  91. The Inheritence Cycle by Christopher Paolini  
  92. The Iron Dragon's Daughter by Michael Swanwick
  93. Last Call by Tim Powers 
  94. The Legend of Eli Monpress by Rachel Aaron  
  95. Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny  
  96. The Low Town Trilogy by Daniel Polanksy  
  97. Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock  
  98. The Old Kingdom Trilogy by Garth Nix  
  99. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster  
  100. The Redemption of Althalus by David and Leigh Eddings  
  101. RiddleMaster by Patricia A McKillip  
  102. River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay  
  103. Song for the Basilisk by Patricia A McKillip  
  104. The Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind  
  105. War for the Oaks by Emma Bull  
For 2015 there were more than 73,000 members and the "voting list" was determining authors rather than series. The results aren't yet in (the thread has more than 800 posts), but you can see the votes here.

There is another poll going on related to series. You can vote for it here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

It's St. Patty's day - which means Robin and I will dine alone

Every year is the same. St. Pattys means I'm going to whip up my FAMOUS mustard creme sauce and laddle it over a big plate of corned beef, cabbage, and boiled potatoes.

Robin and I look forward to this meal all year long, and even tried having it on non March 17th days as well. The problem is it's the sure-fired way for our kids to scatter.  How can the fruit of my loins turn their backs on a timed-honored Irish tradition?  Sacrilege!

Oh well, more for me and I'll lift a Guinness and sigh in ecstasy as I dig in.  Hope your day is as good as mine will be ;-)