Tuesday, March 29, 2011


In a town near where I live there are two streets whose names have always caught my eye. I get a lot of character names from street signs and these two just beg to be brought to life in fantasy fiction. They are called Niblick and Mashie. In my mind, they are two wayward goblins with bad luck and a knack for finding trouble. I considered doing a series of short stories about them or even a novel, but I never have. Still they lingered in the back of my mind, much the same way Royce and Hadrian had.

Recently, my wife and I went to the American History Museum where they had an original Peanuts cartoon penned by Charles Shultz. It had his pencil sketch and the inked-in original. Looking at it, I could see that the art was very simple, and could imagine that it would not have taken Mr. Shultz all that long to do once he had the idea. This got me thinking and on the ride home on the Metro, I considered the idea of a Niblick and Mashie comic strip, or rather a single frame comic staring the two goblins that I could occasionally post here on this blog to poke fun at the life of a fantasy author.

The concept really took off the moment I realized I could make the focus of the comics be about writing and publishing from the point of view of an author’s two minor characters. Almost instantly a dozen ideas popped in my head and when I got home I sketched a couple out. I showed them to my wife. She was wholly unimpressed by my cartooning ability.

Now, as it happens my daughter, Sarah, is an aspiring cartoonist. Who, in addition to her day job, is presently working very hard at creating an epic graphic novel that she expects to finish in about six years (she estimates from her present speed.) Robin suggested I ask her for help.

I presented Sarah with four ideas and she promptly whipped them up in her own whimsical style that made mine look pathetic. So here now is the first of the Niblick and Mashie comics, heretofore and forthwith entitled - Plotholes.

I hope you like it. Look for more adventures of Niblick and Mashie in the World of Literature, as she has time to produce them.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Name Dropping and Dead Robots

While walking to lunch the other day with my wife--we often go down the street to a Ruby Tuesdays where I get the ribs and she gets the salad bar--Robin was talking about recent happenings in the publishing world. She was explaining about self-published newcomer Amanda Hocking signing with a traditional publisher for $2,000,000, and Barry Eisler, a New York Times Best Seller, turning down $500,000 to self-publish. Along the way she mentioned something about me in all this, but I didn’t catch it as I was concentrating on watching traffic while crossing a street. Robin doesn’t believe in the dominance of cars on the road and I need to be on constant guard to pull her back from an oncoming bumper when she pushes her principles too far.

In any case, whatever she said didn’t sink in. This morning however, I was reading an email from a fan that mentioned he saw my name mentioned in a blog discussion between Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath. It reminded me of that thing I almost heard Robin say in between the Ford Explorer and the Toyota Camry so I went to look and found this:

Joe: I feel all writers need to be made aware that there is finally an option. Not just an option, but an actual preferable alternative to signing away your rights

Barry: It’s inevitable that more writers will be realizing this is true. It’s being demonstrated by more and more self-published authors: you, Amanda Hocking, Scott Nicholson, Michael J. Sullivan, HP Mallory, Victorine Lieske, BV Larson, Terri Reid, LJ Sellers, John Locke, Blake Crouch, Lee Goldberg, Aaron Patterson, Jon F. Merz, Selena Kitt, hopefully me... :)

Mr. Eisler is a New York Times Best Selling author and he knows I exist? He can pull my name off the top of his head? Wow. I’m amazed and flattered. For any writers reading this blog – the discussion between Joe and Barry is pretty interesting. It’s long 13,000 words but well worth the read. I myself have stayed away from the frog and monkey portion – but I’m a firm believe in live and let live so I won’t think less of you if you peek at it.

Also in the news…

The folks over at The Dead Robot Society recently interviewed Robin and myself about writing, self-publishing and the deal with Orbit. You can listen to the whole thing by going here. They are a fun lot and endured our long-winded, odd brand of sarcasm as we did our best to answer their questions, that ranged from if I outline before writing a book, to the philosophy behind Ridan Publishing.

I'm not a very good speaker, but they are, so just plug your ears when I start speaking.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Writer’s Wife Part 2

I once heard of a woman who had recently divorced and was not coping well, and her best friend explained that she needed to get on with her life pointing out that she had one before she was married, so there was no reason not to have one after. I would have a problem with this argument were it applied to me as I really didn’t have a life before hand. It is more accurate to say I existed partially and painfully in the world.

While childhood was fine enough, things deteriorated rapidly as I entered my second decade of living that saw the death of my father and older sister. By seventeen I had graduated high school and watched what few friends I had disappear. My grades were modest and I flunked the SATs. I had a little talent with art and a knack for making up stories, but lacking any skill in grammar or spelling, I just wrote to amuse myself.

As I faced life after school I realized the road ahead was going to be a total misery likely ending in a dreadful death. I was a teenager after all, and I didn’t even have the benefit of the goth culture to categorize my misery or provide me with cool music or the proper uniform. I was working full time at a horrible job in the low rent district of Detroit waking every morning to another day of torture. Perhaps the worst part was knowing this was the best my life would be, because at eighteen, at least I had my health.

But as you recall from our last installment, I met Robin around that time. In some ways I always knew she was out there. I had premonitions of a girl, like a fantasy book prophecy: and lo you will meet a woman of unsurpassed beauty and she will make you whole. Again, remember I was a teenager with the kind of imagination that created a six book series that takes place in an invented world. Stuff like this happens.

As in all fantasy stories, this prophesy proved to be true. Where I am stupid, Robin is smart. If you’ve ever seen that black and white symbol for yin and yang--that’s us. Together we make one circle. Putting us together was like connecting the Shazzan rings. (That’s a reference to an old 60’s cartoon where a boy and a girl connect their rings and summon an all powerful genii. I know it’s obscure but aren’t you just glad I’m not quoting Kierkegaard?) Suddenly anything was possible.

Robin had a profound effect on my life in that when she looked at me she saw a great person. This was bizarre. No one ever looked at me like that. As impossible as it was, this valedictorian called me a genius. Which immediately made me question the quality of the school that named her valedictorian. The thing is, when someone who you have such a profound respect and admiration for thinks you're great…after a while you dare to believe it too.

She was the one who got me to enroll at a community college. It was a waste of time I knew, but some part of me wanted to live up to her expectation of me. I never got a degree, but I did land a job at an entry level position at an art studio.

Then we bought a house. No one in my family had ever bought a house--but we did. I worked 18 hour days and Robin worked full time while going to college full time to pay for it. We lived off spaghetti and peanut butter and jelly. But everyday things got better. Robin’s mother insisted she would “outgrow” me and it was easy to see why. By 1984 she graduated third in her class with an electrical engineering degree taking a job in a cutting edge software company, while I was working at a minimum wage job that soon became irrelevant with her new pay check.

When we started having children, I stayed home. At that time, stay-at-home-dads were not exactly lauded. Robin however treated me as if I were doing her a favor--how kind, how thoughtful of me for not insisting she stay home and raise the kids. Most everyone else had a slightly different opinion. Once more, her view of me trumped theirs. I then had a crazy notion of moving to the wilds of Vermont. I often have crazy notions, but this one was prompted by having been robbed at gun point in our bedroom at 3am and reinforced by the birth of our first child. In northern Vermont everyone leaves their keys in their cars, their doors open, and the worst crime is drunk driving. They play darts on Friday, square dance on Monday and attend the local band concerts on the town green on Wednesday evenings. It was about as far from Detroit both physically and culturally as I we could afford.

Now most people would think moving to a very rural area about 600 miles away from anyone you know was a little nutty--well most of our family and friends did too. Not Robin. If it was a dream I had, she wanted to make it manifest. And she did. Taking a pay cut she landed a job in the only software company in the Northeast Kingdom, where for seven years we played Little House on the Prairie. We got some land and built a house. We fought fires, blizzards, and coyotes. Robin crossed a mountain to work each day, and I carved a homestead out of thirty-acres. It was a lot easier to be a stay-at-home-dad when your building a home in the middle of nowhere. And it is pretty easy to write novels when you can’t see another house from your front porch, most of the year the ground is covered in four feet of snow, the temperature hovers at 20 below, you only get two and a half stations on the television, and the Internet hasn’t been invented yet. You either write novels or go crazy.

We had many adventures that we have entertained guests with. Tall tales of a Shangri-la world where people trust each other and only fear the government and Walmart.

Aside from providing me with an environment to write, Robin also read my books--even the bad ones. Usually she was the only one. Back then she didn’t so much critique the books, she just read them. It might seem pathetic in a way, but having one reader is oh so much better than having none. Neither one of us really knew enough about writing at that time to make any intelligent observations about what I wrote beyond, I liked this, but not that. Still it was enough to keep me going for ten years. That and the look in her eyes that never made me feel I was wasting my time, deluding myself, or that I should put the hobby away and do something important. To her, whatever I do is important.

If that’s where it ended I would have been insanely blessed to have a person within whom I had found a complete universe with no need to look beyond for satisfaction or fulfillment, but it didn’t stop there. As I mentioned from the day I met her, each day got better than the last. Days have gone by and I would say to myself, “there is no way tomorrow can ever be better than today was,” but it always is. And I expect it always will until that day when one or the other is left alone. On that day the ride will at last be over and the game no longer worth playing.

One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more, and Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar. His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain, Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane. Without his life-long friend, Puff could not be brave, so Puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave.
-- Peter Yarrow

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of The Writer’s Wife--still trying to figure out how to include a vampire. Grr…arrgg.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


I never really put any thought to what it would be like to be an author. I suppose some people do. Maybe they imagine it like others imagine being a rock star, or ballet dancer, astronaut, or whatever hard-to-achieve career there is. Those aspiring to these positions may inadvertently glorify their goal to make it worth the effort, imagining all sorts of wonderful rewards at the end of that struggle. I on the other hand just wrote a bunch of books because I like making up stories. I never put much thought into the actual day-to-day events of a writer so all of this is rather unexpected.

For some very odd reason I thought if I were ever an author I would just sit at home, write books and send them out, then move on to the next one. Checks would come in the mail, and so would be my life. One of the biggest shocks was discovering I had to promote the books. This is obviously a shock to a great many writers, who all tend to be introverted shut-ins afraid of the sun and other people. Why else would we crawl into the dark recesses of our own minds to create our own virtual worlds and friends?

I hate self-promoting. I find it extremely uncomfortable telling others how great I am. For me that’s lying, and I hate to lie about anything. I can be counted on to tell the truth even when it is not a good idea. My wife learned never to ask the legendary question: “Does this make me look fat.” And then there was the time when we were running our ad agency and a client asked my opinion of the ads the client’s company had spent months creating in house, and I replied that they were possibly the worst things I had ever seen. I saw my wife noticeably cringe. I suppose one of the rules of business is not to openly insult your clients. We got the account anyway, but after that Robin kept me away from the customers.

I expect some of you reading this will take exception to my belittling myself--or at least my books. After all, you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t like them. In my own mind I think my books are great, but then how could I not? I mean, I wrote them, right? I wouldn’t write something I didn’t like. They are tailored to my preferences, so they should be the best books I’ve ever read…I just have a hard time believing others would feel the same. I suspect this has to do with my being critical about other writer’s works. I expect readers are just as critical of mine. So I have a hard time telling others, “yes you’ll love this!” When I feel what I should say is: “I have no idea if you’ll like this or not, but I do…of course I’m the author so that has to be factored into your decision.”

If I approached potential readers like that Robin would shoot me.

So, self-promoting is not my strong suit. And I had no idea there was so much to it. Sure there is the book signings, and book clubs, and online discussions, and all of this has been fine, but as things move along this snowball just keeps growing.

As I mentioned I started getting fan mail, which is great and a sure fire way to make other writer’s jealous. Now there are interviews.

I’ve actually done several now. I can’t even recall the first one. It was way back when Crown was first released. I had no idea what was going to happen. The only experience I had with interviews was what I saw on television, but I doubted Barbara Walters would come to my home with an entourage of cameras and make-up artists. Now while I have had a few “live” interviews where I was questioned over the phone with the conversation recorded for audio, most interviews are done by email where the interviewer sends questions and the author writes back with the answers. It’s not all lights and blue M&Ms, but still, I was amazed that someone would be interested enough in me to want to go to the trouble.

Watching famous people on talk shows I’ve always wondered how they were so able to field questions so easily, as if they needed no time at all to think of an answer. I know why now. After doing a dozen or more interviews, I realize most of the questions are the same. When you are answering a question for the fourteenth time you’ve managed to develop a solid reply that makes you sound as if you’re very eloquent, relaxed and quick-witted. This really helps to cut any nervousness with a live interview. As soon as the first question is asked, it is like watching an old episode of Jeopardy that you saw before, only all the people with you haven’t. “What is Peru,” you say casually, and heads turn with you’re-smarter-than-I-ever-imagined looks.

Interviews are akin to fan mail. People are asking you questions because they, and/or, their audience are interested in you. So even though they can be repetitive, they are still great to do, and the mere request for one is a little ego boost.

The problem with interviews is that you just know that the interviewer is shackled. If they are a reader and a fan, you realized there are hundreds of questions they would like to ask, but can’t--at least not yet--because the series isn’t out. They try and sneak a few in anyway, things like: So can you tell me what happens in the last book of the series? Which of course I have to decline. It will be interesting to do an interview once all the books are out and I can speak freely about the plot, characters, and events contained in them as opposed to how I started writing, or where the idea for the series came from.

A few interview questions stand out in my memory as being out-of-the-box. One asked me how best to get rid of a whole host of monsters and asked me to respond as Royce Melborn. His reply was: “Pay me.” I was so pleased by this, that as I was doing the editing for Nyphron Rising I added the idea to that book, but attributed the line to Merrick.

Another out of the ordinary question was: You’re stuck on an island and can only bring one book with you. What is it and why? I assume this question was designed to gain a better insight to my reading preferences--what book could I imagine reading over and over for the rest of my life. It would have to be a pretty great book to entertain you for perhaps years if not the rest of your life. I thought about this for only a moment however and to me the answer was obvious: How to Survive on a Deserted Island by Tim O'Shei

With the news about Orbit, the interview requests have increased, and it is still hard to believe that this many people want to know so much about me. Like I said, I never imagined the life of a writer, but even if I had I never would have guessed it was a job of notoriety. I believed authors were quiet folk who lived little isolated lives. Unlike a musician, no one is going to ask me over to their house and say, “Hey there! We all just love your work and are so excited to have you here. Do you think you could write a chapter for us?” So having a lot of people suddenly interested in you, is at once exciting, but also baffling, and I sense ultimately disappointing as I’m really not a very interesting person.

With all these interviews I feel this pressure to start a scandal, be flamboyant, or live an edgier life. Perhaps the next time I am being interviewed online I will wear a fedora.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Writer’s Wife

Robin 1980

I knew a writer I met online who was struggling to learn how to write a novel. He was a big fan of George RR Martin and trying to write in that style but did not know how well he was doing as he had no one he trusted to give him a fair review. He sent me chapters and I ripped them apart. This led to his remark, “I know I said I could handle criticism but…”

He went on to explain that he realized now that he clearly could not write and was ready to give up. In an attempt to prevent him from committing literary suicide, I pointed out a number of good things about his writing and tried to explain the principle that just because one person dislikes something another might not and that it is up to the writer to determine who to listen to. It was then I suggested he have his wife read and review his stuff, as wives can usually be counted on to be honest about their husbands limitations when perhaps no one else is.

He replied, “Who, that harpy from the third plane of Hell?”

This was when I realized I was even more fortunate than I thought. I recently gave an interview to Melissa over at My World Through Books and Pages and one of her questions was, “I've heard your wonderful wife has assisted you in this adventurous journey in a great way. How has this worked out for you, married and living together and working together? Sounds like it could be hard at times”

Having been asked this, I realized it was about time I wrote about Robin, the architect of my success. I'm going to start at the beginning, so bear with me.

For those of you who don’t know, Robin is my wife. We met in the late seventies when she was a waitress in a local Big Boy
where I would go for a late night snack with friends after I got off work. We were both in the same high school, but she was a year younger and ran in different circles than I. I did cartoons for the school newspaper and she was valedictorian of her class. I saw her off and on through mutual friends but never really took notice of her until, while in an argument about how pathetic I was, the girl I was dating, Wendy, made the foolish mistake of pointing out that her friend, Robin, was also interested in me.

As mentioned Robin was something of a brainac and not inclined to the sort of fashions that turned teenage boy’s heads. She did however run with a pack of girls that did, and it was not unusual for those dating her girl-friends to stop by Robin’s house to inquire about how well a date went. Often Robin also liked the boys who came by, but all they wanted to talk about was one of her friends and never noticed her.

So she knew exactly why it was I stopped by her house after midnight on a Friday, and seeing the door open and Robin doing her homework at the dining table, I knocked. She greeted me as she had so many others who were dating her friends, with a wonderful smile of surprise tinged with a hint of sadness that sighed a mute, “if only.”

The real reason I stopped in was that we had all been out the day before and Robin had lost her glasses. I found them in my car after my latest date with Wendy. Despite the hour, I felt glasses were things people would rather not be without. She was so inviting however, that I lingered and talked with her.

The perfect hostess, Robin offered me a foil wrapped Ding Dong and a glass of milk and we talked about this new author called Stephen King who she had been reading and how his latest book, The Dead Zone, was very thought provoking. We chatted for hours about books, religion, and philosophy, and I was stunned by her intelligence--at that time I was not yet aware of her valedictorian achievement, because it hadn't happened yet. Then I left. The one thing I hadn’t chose to talk about--the one thing that left her bewildered as I drove away--was that I never once brought up Wendy.

I stopped seeing Wendy and made a habit of visiting Robin. Soon we spent every night together at 24 hour restaurants like Denny’s just talking. Everyone we knew believed we were sleeping together. The reality was that we hadn’t even held hands. We were just great friends. This went on for many months until one day, a year after I had graduated from high school and Robin was about to, I was at work and the radio played She’s Out of My Life. This got me thinking what my days would be like when some guy finally did swoop in and whisk her off. The thought felt like someone hit me in the stomach with a baseball bat. And as I stood there I realized with a curious surprise that I was in love with her.

I walked out of work early that day because I was certain some other bastard was on his way that very minute to steal what I desperately realized I wanted to be mine. Despite everything I could not get her alone and what I had to say was not the kind of thing you wanted to do in a room full of friends and strangers. Still I couldn’t wait and I ended up writing “I love you,” on a torn piece of Denny’s place mat and slipping it to her as we said goodnight.

That’s how it started. That’s how I ended up asking a woman to marry me before I ever kissed her, before I ever dated her--in all honesty we never really dated. That was back in 1980,and from that day forward everything got a little better.

Consider this part one of the docu-drama, romance, flash installment, non-fiction account of the tale of Robin and Michael. If I can figure a way to get a vampire in it, this could be big.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Trilogy

A number of people have inquired about the final form of the Riyria series. By now you know that the original six books will be released as a three book trilogy. When Orbit approached me with this concept I was apprehensive. The books were designed to be standalones and putting them together defeated the idea of a short, easy-to-read fantasy story that could appeal to fantasy readers as well as non-fantasy readers who might be put off by longer books.

Initially the idea had been to make true omnibuses--two books in the same binding. This idea bothered me. The concept struck me as very odd, and it is indeed a rare thing these days although once this was more common. Still I didn’t care for it. Orbit was remaining firm on this idea explaining the many advantages of this model, all of which had merit, such as the ease of readers finding all three books in a book store as opposed to six in a series which might be hard to keep in stock all at the same time. Most readers of fantasy have faced this problem.

I thought about this and realized that Tolkien had subdivided his Lord of the Rings into six books that were put into a trilogy. His were certainly not standalone, but I began thinking more favorably on the idea. What I didn’t want was for the books to be omnibuses in that they had two titles. As a kid my parents bought a set of books by famous authors like Jack London who had Call of the Wild on one side, and if you flipped it over, on the other side was White Fang. This always seemed hokey to me. On the other hand I did not want to lose my titles either.

After a phone meeting I went grocery shopping and I pondered this problem. While driving I realized I could live with the “Tolkien” format, but to do it correctly I needed to create a new title for each of the three books. I needed something that would encompass the common thread of each pair of books and also link all three double books into a team. As I parked the car and walked across the parking lot I asked myself what was the commonality in the first two books. Two ideas came to me. First was that Crown and Avempartha both deal with towers as central settings, but Two Towers just wasn’t going to cut it. The other commonality was swords. In both stories Royce and Hadrian are hired to steal swords. That was it! Perfect. I tossed around some ideas and one was Theft of Swords--simple, short and it reinforced the thief idea. The next two books in the series consists mainly of the rise of the new empire. As I was passing through the vegetable isle it struck me that “of” could be the consistency I wanted between all three titles. If the first was Theft of Swords, then the second could be Rise of Empire.

I was pretty happy with this concept while I was waiting in the checkout line. Now I just needed the last title. Clearly it had to be just two words with the word “of” in the middle. It also had to encapsulate the idea of the last two books. So what was the common theme there? I had trouble with this one as Wintertide and Percepliquis are very different.

I was walking back across the parking lot and getting back in my car before it hit me, and I felt pretty stupid. The answer was just too obvious. The three word mantra had been repeated by me throughout the series, in every book--Heir of Novron. It was perfect.

As I drove home I pictured the books being subdivided much as Tolkien’s were into “books.” Only where his did not have individual titles for each sub-book, mine would. Theft of Swords would begin with Book I: The Crown Conspiracy and be followed by the second part that starts with the face page, Book II: Avempartha. Rise of Empire would consist of Book III: Nyphron Rising and Book IV: The Emerald Storm. This I felt would work wonderfully, keeping the integrity of the original books and titles and yet repackaging them in a traditionally time-honored fashion.

(Just an FYI: I was fascinated to discover that Tolkien never liked the title his publisher gave to The Return of the King, as he felt it gave away the ending, which I tend to agree with.)

Combining the books has another benefit. I designed the series so that main characters backgrounds would be mysteries to the reader at the start, allowing them to be revealed over the length of the whole work as if it was one long story--which is really is. I felt this technique would keep the story fresh and exciting all the way through. However this causes many readers of Crown to assume that the characters have no depth. It is not surprising to see why. Hardly any background is given for either Royce or Hadrian, as I hold that back presenting it at times in the story where it fits the plot. This idea of purposely not fleshing in the protagonists in the first book of a series is an unusual approach and not one traditional readers can easily anticipate. As such many see it as a flaw they can’t accept, which makes them stop reading. Likewise the world does not feel as fleshed out as many fantasy readers would like, because I don’t want to bore the reader with excessive world building before they want to learn about it. My opinion has always been that if you tell a reader about a random place or system they will skim and forget, but if you gain their interest first then provide the same information, they will remember.

By combining the first two books into one volume, the reader of Theft of Swords should now have enough of the story to begin understanding how the characters are on a slow build, and the two books should provide the kind of world detail that will spark an interest and suggest the story isn’t what it might first have appeared. This could be a crucial advantage the books need to capture a larger market.

Having self published the series first, it is like screening a film. It has allowed me to look for mistakes and fix those before the books are opened for nationwide release, and putting the first two books together looks like it might solve one of the biggest problems the series has faced.

The Orbit trilogy, aside from the packaging, should not be significantly different than those already published, but there have been changes. Most are merely plot tightening issues and several mistakes that had been pointed out over the years to me, and a few I discovered on my own while reviewing the books. The most profound changes have to do with a whole new section added on to the beginning of the series and a reduction of much of the excessive phonetically spelled dialect that several readers found annoying. You might wonder at the delay in release then if there is not a lot of changes being made. I don’t believe it is due to rewrites, but rather factors having to do with catalogs, reviews, and other marketing concerns that must be done well in advance of a book’s release in order to help it be successful. In self, or even Indy publishing, the books are usually released and then marketed building an audience slowly with years of runway time. Bigger publishers need to do a lot of the promotion early to make a bigger splash right away to spur sales.

As far as how this will affect the Podiobooks, I actually can’t say. Too much is still undecided. Orbit is working very fast--putting three books out in less than a year in addition to all the other books they have scheduled. So things like audio versions are not a priority right now. Besides, Nathan has been busy with his own titles. Originally I told him to go ahead but now I'm second guessing as I don't want to spend his valuable time that he can use devoted to his own work. This doesn’t mean it won’t happen, it just means I don’t know yet.

Once more, thanks for being understanding about all this. I know how awful it is to have to wait for the last book when you had your head set on reading it in April. Robin and I are in a similar boat. We’ve been waiting desperately for the whole series to be out so we could, at long last, openly speak about it. There is so much we can’t say, so much we can’t share and it has been driving us crazy for years now. If the rest of you only knew what was coming in the final book, you’d understand how aggravating it is to read all your comments, posts, emails and reviews and not be able to say a word. We were so close, and now we have to wait too.

Well…I hear Patrick Rothfuss has a new book out this month, and his are way thicker than mine, perhaps he can keep you busy for a while. Just don’t forget to come back this fall. I’ll still be here and I’ll leave the door open for you.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Fate of Percepliquis

The ancient capital of the Novronian empire was lost seemingly overnight. Its fate remained a mystery, but many mourned its disappearance. All that is about to change.

Orbit has offered to make available a limited ebook and print version of the final book of the series using my cover in order to allow readers of the original books to complete their sets. The book will not be released until January 2012, but those of you with printed sets will get the book you wanted.

I personally am amazed they would go to this effort on behalf of my series, and I think it says a lot about the kind of company Orbit is.

I guess I will need to work on that cover after all.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


The events of last week were sobering. I was taken a bit by surprise and the delay in my response was due to not wanting to make things worse. That was perhaps not the best choice, nevertheless, I would like to thank all those who offered their support, and those kind and courageous enough to publically voice regret about earlier comments or emails. I am not proud of my part in all this either, so I hope we can all look past our mistakes and stay friends.

This brings up an interesting thought in my mind--the idea of success.

I didn’t write a book, get an agent, and a month later land a major deal that saw my first book on the bestseller’s list. The fact that my path was slower to a point of ambiguousness, I think is perhaps better. Through my minor advances I never experienced that moment of “wow.” I eased into things like a person slowly wading into a pool. So slowly did I advanced that I am unaware that I am even in the pool.

Prior to Orbit’s announcement, many other self-published or aspiring authors have indicated a certain acknowledgement of my “success.” I never felt successful--not really. I failed for ten years to get published. When I did it was with a tiny, unknown company who was unable to print my second title and who ultimately felt a second printing of my first book was not worth it. After that I was just another self-published author (back in the day when that was a bad thing--back in the day being six months ago.) I sold more than some and less than others. I got a foreign deal and that made me think I might be doing a bit better than most, but still it wasn’t something to pin on my breast pocket and boost about.

The deal with Orbit is big. For the first time I felt I might have done something worth really being proud of (at least in the literary sense.) In some ways I think I might have been too proud of it. The fan smack down I received diluted the sense of self satisfaction I was developing, and in all honesty, I think that was a good thing. I’d rather get smacked occasionally than become a arrogant jerk anyway. Last week helped remind me that I only managed to have a publisher offer me a contract. This in no way dictates success. In all likelihood my books will be remaindered six months after they hit the shelves, and that will be the end of my writing career. So as much as I would like to think this contract is a big deal, it isn’t. It is only one more step into the pool.

The thing is, having waded into the water so slowly I never realized how deep I was. I knew there were a few people who liked my books, but I felt the vast majority “liked” my books--meaning they said they liked them to be polite, or because they felt sorry for me. I stood for three hours in a Barnes and Noble doing a signing once and had a man come up and offer to buy one. I asked why and he replied, “I feel sorry for you standing here all day and no one buying anything from you, and it is only a few dollars.” You hear this sort of thing enough times and it sinks in. Until this outcry, it never occurred to me that so many people were so invested in these books, that they really liked them. I suppose that was the majority of my shock. I really didn’t think anyone cared that much. Not only did I not expect people to be upset, I didn’t expect people to even notice. The idea that, because the books were all finished the series would be released in a timely fashion, was little more than a joke associating myself with the big names in this industry with whom I had nothing in common. I’m not Martin, Jordan, or Rothfuss, I’m not in the same universe. They delay a book and I can see an uproar. I delay a book and all I expected was for my neighbor to give me a dirty look. I just never knew how far into the pool--how successful--I had actually become. (This still boggles my mind a bit).

Like all good friends you reminded me who I am and you never would have been upset if you didn’t care. That means a lot, even more than a contract from a major publisher.

A few of you have asked specific questions about the series in comments and emails, and I will address them in my next post. I just wanted to get this up in order to let everyone know how much I appreciated their comments and support.

One last thing. I think it says a lot about my audience that despite the opinions posted, no one chose to insult, or demean anyone else, even when they clearly disagreed. And Libby even made a comment to point out the guts and heart of those willing to publically apologize. I’m not sure how I can take credit for that, but somehow this makes me feel good about myself.