Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Age of Myth Audio Giveaway

Do you love Tim Gerard Reynolds as much as I do?  Probably not, my love of his talent has no bounds. How about this question? Are you looking forward to hearing him read Age of Myth? I've been privileged enough to hear it already. Okay, on last you want to get an audio copy for free?  Well, here's your chance.

My audio publisher, Recorded Books, is currently running a giveaway on Goodreads. Fifteen lucky people will win copies of the CD's. Since this giveaway is only open to people from the US, and I want everyone to have a chance at winning, I'm also running a "parallel" giveaway for 2 copies which  is open to all countries.  So, take a chance, enter the drawing, and if you've already pre-ordered then give the one you win away to a friend. Thanks all, for the amazing support!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

I Saw That Coming

I'm always fascinated by how people proclaim a story to be predictable. Most often this is classified as an objective shortcoming. This conclusion is understandable, but also reveals a certain degree of myopia as it never occurs to the individual that they are not the only audience.

This isn’t a rant. I’ve declared movies and books to be too predictable, too. Everyone does it, but it wasn’t until I wrote novels and received reviews that I noticed the unexpected phenomenon that objectivity can’t be applied to artistic ventures. In retrospect this seems like a no brainer, but when you’re trying to learn how to do something, it’s easy to believe there is a right way. Fact is, the Halls of Success are filled with people doing things the wrong way.

When watching a movie or reading a book and you figure out the plot early, it’s easy to make the assumption that the creator did a poor job of hiding their intentions. This ignores two huge possibilities: a) the author wanted you to know. b) most people don’t figure it out.

When I started writing novels I knew I wanted to surprise my readers. The problem with this is that if I went too far in hiding the clues or made my points too subtle, readers were left confused or oblivious. Too obvious and the reader thought the story too predictable.

My solution was to include everyone. I made puzzles in my stories of different levels of difficulty. Some plot twists were put up on story-highway billboards with flashing neon lights and giant arrows. Others were more middle of the road, where I guessed most readers would travel with the intent that these folks would figure out the puzzle just before it was revealed. Still other puzzles are deviously hidden with hints so subtle that you really need to study the books to even notice they exist. Most of these I never explain nor draw notice to. You either get them, or you don’t.

The trick to this approach is that I never put anything truly important in the last category. That stuff is extra credit. As for the middle of the road puzzles, I do a lead up. I drop subtle hints, then more, then less subtle hints, and finally come right out and tell you the answer to ensure everyone is still with me.

What I found is that some will write me to say a story was way too predictable, and that they knew what was going to happen from the start (this is always a hyperbolic statement that upon closer scrutiny always proves untrue. Readers often figure out some things, never all things, and never are they convinced all the way through the story.) Others will write to say how they failed to anticipate anything, how every twist was a shock and a surprise. Then there are some who remain so oblivious they write to ask “I don’t understand. What happened?” These folks don’t even figure out the big neon sign freebies. I could write inscrutable stories for those who are skilled at connecting the dots, or I could aim for appealing to the vast majority of my hoped for audience. As I make my living doing this now, I hope you understand that I might target the later.

So the next time you assume a story is predictable, remember, it was predictable to you, but maybe not so much to another person, or even the majority of persons. And that this isn’t necessarily a failing of the story, but a compliment to your intelligence, and or experience. And if you think about it, this same principle can be applied beyond the scope of entertainment. If you realize that not everyone reacts or perceives the same things the same way, it explains a lot and might help you to extend an extra bit of patience for those who aren’t as adept at connecting the dots.

 So now this post about predictable stories has become a philosophical metaphor for society—but I bet you saw that coming, too.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Barnes & Noble Bookseller’s Picks for June

So much is going on right now that I didn't get a chance to post then when the news came in during Phoenix Comic Con. But Age of Myth was selected by Barnes and Noble as one of the Top Picks in Fantasy and Science Fiction releasing in June.  But, of course, it wasn't the only one (and I'm honored with the company I'm keeping), so let's take a minute to shed some light on all the wonderful books that Jim Killen has selected:

Here's the full list in text form:

 Release Date
A Study in Sable
Elemental Masters #12
Mercedes Lackey
Age of Myth
Legends of the First Empire #1
Michael J. Sullivan
 Random House
An Affinity for Steel
The Aeon Gate #1 - #3
Sam Sykes
Autumn Princess, Dragon Child
Tale of Shikanoko #2
Lian Hearn
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Blood in the Water
Destroyermen #11
Taylor Anderson
Death’s Bright Day
RCN #11
David Drake
Nikki Glass #1 - #4
Jenna Black
Hope and Red
Empire Sof Storms #1
Jon Skovron
Persona #2
Genevieve Valentine
Saga Press
Malka Older
League of Dragons
Temeraire #9
Naomi Novik
 Random House
Newsflash #3.5 & #3.6
Mira Grant
The Best Science Fiction of the Year
Neil Clarke
Night Shade Books
The Invisible Library
Invisible Library #1
Genevieve Cogman
The Medusa Chronicles
Stephen Baxter and Alastair Reynolds
Saga Press
The Perdition Score
Sandman Slim #8
Richard Kadrey
Harper Collins
The Shadowed Path
Chronicles of the Necromancer Collection
Gail Z. Martin
Vicky Peterwald #3
Mike Shepherd
Wasteland King
Gallow and Ragged #3
Lilith Saintcrow

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Phoenix ComicCon Round-up

When I first started going to conventions, I went there to sell books. I sat behind a table for eight hours in the giant vendor hall trying to get people to come over so I could sell them The Crown Conspiracy. I did it because I was trying any venue possible to get people to read my books. Bookstore signings, conventions, appearances at private homes where a tiny reading group was discussing my book—I did everything I could. Turned out there was something called the Internet and it worked a whole lot better. 

As a result I stopped doing bookstore gigs and book-hocking in giant convention halls. Given that the return on investment for attending conventions is abysmal (meaning negative numbers) even my publicist-wife, Robin, didn’t try and force me. I had every intention of never going to another con. A few things changed that. 

I went to ConFusion because it was in my hometown and was known to be an “authors con” and I didn’t actually attend the con; I only went to the hotel and hung in the lobby and bar and chatted with other authors. So no hocking books. No panels. 

Then I was invited to ConnectiCon. In the past, I always had to beg and pay. No one ever invited me. They also said they wanted me to be their guest of honor. Turns out there were two guests of honor. The other one was Brandon Sanderson. So I went to that one. 

I went to GenCon because my wife ambushed me via a “vacation” that turned into—“Hey! We’re in Indiana, and look, GenCon is right over there, and oh yeah, I said you were going.” 

Now if you go back and read my post-con-report on GenCon entitled Mile Marker Nine,  you might know why when DelRey asked me if I’d go to three cons this year I didn’t say no. To be precise, there were nine reasons—the nine people who identified themselves as my fans. 

I can’t speak for other authors but talking with people who have read and enjoyed my work, hearing them describe their favorite characters or scenes, or that reading them managed to impact their lives in a positive and concrete way, is like God’s way of telling me I didn’t waste my life. 

So I don’t go to cons to sell books, which is why the people at DelRey have to keep telling me to bring one to signings and panels. I go to meet the people who went on adventures with Royce and Hadrian to share stories about common friends.

It didn't hurt that DelRey paid. They did even more than that. The first con DelRey sent me to was Chicago’s Comic Con. They covered my travel and lodging expenses, which I thought was really nice. But when I was concerned that the flight arrival was too close to my first con appearance and that I might not have enough time to figure out the train/bus system to get me from the airport to the con, they replied: “Well, we’re going to send a car for you.” As if—don’t be ridiculous Mr. Sullivan, we also aren’t going to make you travel as carry-on luggage, or HALO parachute from your American Airliner as it does a Chicago flyby. I was still bragging to friends and family how cool it was that the local Barnes and Nobles had once put out a sign in front of their store reading: PARKING RESERVED FOR AUTHOR, when I did a signing there. DelRey sent a luxurious black Lincoln Town car complete with bottled water and the morning paper to my house. The chauffeur opened the doors for me and my wife, and insisted on handling the luggage as if the tiny ten pound overnight night bags were too much for us. I felt a bit like Thomas Crown on his way to work, and had fantasies of stealing impressionist art for the thrill. 

They did the same thing for this last weekend’s Phoenix Comic Con.

The “weekend” which lasted six days, started with a cozy dinner hosted by Kevin Hearnes (author of the Iron Druid series) at the Herb Box restaurant, and followed immediately by a book signing extravaganza at a local bookstore called the Poison Pen. The event was dubbed Elevengeddon and included:  Kevin Hearne, Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, Pierce Brown, Beth Cato, Adam Christopher, Ryan Dalton, Leanna Renee Hieber, Jason Hough, Mary Robinette Kowal, Tom Leeveen, Michael Martinez, Brian McClellan, Joseph Nassie, Sarah Remy, VE Schwab, Scott Sigler, Sam Sykes, and Django Wexler. I was there as well, between Dan Wells and Scott Sigler. The place was packed with a line that extended down the street well into the night, which in Phoenix, I discovered, is hot.

The temperature hit a weekend high of 118 degrees. That kind of desert heat is interesting because you can jog outside in direct sun and never sweat. At least you don’t think you are. People suffer dehydration effect without realizing it. And because it’s so dry, it doesn’t feel all that hot, but it is like trying to breath with a hair dryer blowing in your face. 

DelRey was giving away free copies of Age of Myth’s Advance Reading Edition, that I signed in their booth. I think they do this to build author’s confidence. People will stand in long lines for anything free. And they did. The line wrapped the sizable booth. Most never heard of me before, but that was good. The whole point was to capture new readers.  

Then there were panels, mostly with other DelRey authors, so I got to know Kevin Hearne, Pierce Brown, Scott Sigler, Jason Hough, and Ali Oliva, all of whom are really nice people. Kevin, who used to be local, played the part of the perfect host. Pierce, who, the night I met him, was described as “Objectively, incredibly, hot” (by the female author a few seats down from me), turned out to be genuinely friendly and considerate. Scott is a dust-devil of fun, and far more pleasant than his standard Bruce Willis yippie ki yay expression would suggest. Ali (short for Alexandra) is about to see her new debut novel released, and is understandably excited.

Still it was my readers that I came to meet, and they came to meet me. More than ever before. They brought bags of books for me to sign. They had stories they wanted to tell me about how my books had affected them. They wanted to tell me “thank you.” I always find that strange. I enjoyed writing the books, and they gave me good money for the pleasure. I’m the one that needs to be thanking them.

During the “Cocktails With Authors” event—where authors get to drink and chat with readers in a large wedding-style hall—I met one fellow, a huge reader of mine who asked me how I felt being stuck in this “horse and pony show.” I guess he surmised that I would hate it. Most of those who call themselves “my fans” appear to assume that. They apologize: “I’m sorry—must be really awful to have people like me come up to you like this, acting like I know you. It’s just that after reading all your books I feel like I do.” Or they tear up and say, “I’m sorry, it’s just that your books mean so much to me.” They apologize for liking my work so much that many of them traveled hours and paid money to enter the con, specifically and only so they might get thirty-seconds of my time so that they could apologize for liking me. 

Maybe it was the beer I was drinking, or the fact that it had been a long day by then, but when the fellow asked how I felt to be in the “dog and pony show”, instead of saying it was great, or it was another day in the life of an author…I told him the truth. 

“I feel guilty. That I don’t deserve the adoration. I didn’t feed anyone. I didn’t cure people of illness, or pull anyone out of a burning building. I merely made up some stories and wrote them down. And everyone thinks far too much of me for that.”

And so, where before I felt bad that I didn’t have any “fans” coming up to me at signings clamoring for my autograph. Now I do—and I feel guilty about it. So maybe this is a new milestone, a new mile marker for me. And if so, should I be happy or sad? Funny, how you never think of these sort of things when you’re alone in your room making up stories to entertain yourself, but everything you put into the world has an effect. Most you never see or hear about. Tolkien never knew that his silly little tale of hobbits turned me into a writer who apparently touched so many others. Makes me wonder if the future of the world can really be fundamentally changed with nothing more than a well timed smile or a frown. 


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Audible's $4.95 Editor's Choice Sale for Fantasy

Hey all, has an incredible sale going on until June 13th on some great fantasy titles, including my own.  Each is just $4.95 and is either the first book in a series or a standalone book. Here's a complete list of what you can get.
# of Ratings
TitleAuthorLengthRating# of Ratings
Dead Until Dark Charlaine Harris 10 hours 4.10 8,528
First Grave on the Right Darynda Jones 9 hours 4.20 5,739
A Discovery of Witches Deborah Harkness 24 hours 4.20 13,344
Skinwalker Faith Hunter 14.5 hours 4.10 4,220
The Magicians Lev Grossman 17.5 hours 3.90 7,440
Storm Front Jim Butcher 8 hours 4.30 10,629
Hounded Kevin Hearne 8.25 hours 4.50 15,102
Monster Hunter International Larry Correia 23.5 hours 4.30 10,629
Theft of Swords   Michael J. Sullivan    22.5 hours  4.50 9,776
Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs Molly Harper 9.5 hours 4.20 6,630
American Gods Neil Gaiman 19.75 hours 4.40 10,722
Name of the Wind Patrick Rothfuss 28 hours 4.60 25,430
Homeland R.A. Salvatore 10.25 hours 4.40 4,715
The Shining Stephen King 15.75 hours 4.60 5,529
  Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell  Susanna Clarke 32 hours 4.10 5,018
Because these titles are Audible's Editor's Choice Picks there is an incredibly high level of quality in these 15 audio books, so get them while you can!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Guest on Scott Sigler's Friday's Fix Podcast

Hey all,

Robin and I are still in Phoenix and enjoying meeting everyone on this side of the country. While here, we met up with Scott Sigler and "ARealGirl" and recorded a session of his "Friday Fix" Podcast.

Scott, is someone we've talked to in the past on the phone, but it took coming to Phoenix to meet him in person. Interestingly, Scott and ARealGirl have a "tag team" approach to Scott's writing, much like Robin and I team up for my stuff.  So, we sat down and explained some about how we divide and conquer. So lots of industry stuff in this podcast, as well as a good dash about where we started and how we get to where we are now.  If that kind of stuff interests you, come on over and take a listen.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Excitement is growing!! Age of Myth is #3 in Hottest New Releases for Epic Audiobooks!

Hey all, Robin and I continue our visit to Phoenix ComicCon. Having a grand time so far!  But wanted to take a minute to announce some good news. Age of Myth is #3 in the Hot New Releases for Epic Fantasy list at Amazon. I feel the momentum building!  Thanks all that are pre-ordering the book and don't forget that if you do, sign up for your pre-order bonus material. Links to the digital rewards are going out as fast as Robin can send them, but she is also having to squeeze it between panels and when and where she has Internet.