Thursday, June 30, 2016

Age of Myth: Release Day + 2

Well, it's two days past the release of Age of Myth and things have really gone well so far.  Fingers crossed for continued success.

Really pleased to see the book caught the attention of some of the biggest industry sites. For instance:

Along with these nice pieces to help spread the word came some pretty incredible quotes:

"A young man grapples with his destiny as a God Killer in this spellbinding tale of power and rebellion, the first in a new epic fantasy series." -- Goodreads 21 Hottest Summer Reads

"Sullivan brings his masterful world-building and agile imagination to bear on a host of interesting characters and a story that feels new and vibrant." -- B& Sci-fi & Fantasy Blog

Initial sales have been strong. So strong, in fact that I moved up substantially on Amazon's Most Popular Fantasy Author List. I usually hang out around 50 - 100. And I was in the 8 - 10 range post release.

Things have been so busy that I forgot to mention some other things that were going on.  So here they are.

Also, Robin tried to arrange a Book Launch Party for Age of Myth at our old stand-by One More Page Books. Unfortunately we couldn't get the timing to work out.  When we were available the books weren't, and now that the books ready we're booked.  Oh well, we'll see what we can do maybe later on in the year.  That said, for people who pre-ordered the books, Robin got all the single orders packaged and sent out. Today she'll be finishing up the packages for those that ordered 2 - 3 books. Originally, the plan was to use a fulfillment center to process these orders, but the volume level wasn't high enough for them to take the project on. So once again Robin has the house torn apart with bubble wrap, boxes, and packing tape. It's not like we are complaining, buying books direct is the best way to provide the most amount of money into the author's pockets, so we are grateful for those people who do buy direct.

Up Next:  What's up Next (now that Age of Myth is released).

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Age of Myth: And So it Begins

Age of Myth is about a fairly likable fellow named, Raithe of Dureya, who is having a bad day. Being destitute, his father has this crazy notion of leaving their miserable homeland and migrating to the lush, territory across the river. The land there is owned by the gods and humans are forbidden from its banks. No one knows why, but everyone knows that disobeying gods is a bad idea, but desperation is the mother of most things crazy, and with the death of everyone else in their family, Raithe and his father have little else to stop them.

The water in the river is near freezing, the current strong, and Raithe nearly drowns on the crossing, but his father was right, the land is amazing—fertile and beautiful. And empty. The two explore this new world for days discovering a wondrous landscape and falling in love with a patch of land where they intend to build a new home for themselves. Raithe’s father has grand dreams of constructing a village, rich in food and wood and clean water. Then he’ll send Raithe back to their homeland to find a wife—maybe two—and together they will build a new future for their family away from the wars and the brittle grass and endless dust of Dureya.

They hunt deer for food, and bring one down with ease. Everything in this new land is easy. Then as Raithe’s father is gutting the stag, Raithe notices they aren’t alone.

The gods have found them.

It’s at this point that the novel begins.

Age of Myth is the first book in the Legends of the First Empire series, and it was released yesterday, Tuesday June 28th. In many ways, this series is an origin story for the world of Elan. It tells the epic story of how my world came to be, and the simple story of a handful of unassuming people who changed everything.

It’s the story of a man who kills what is supposed to be an immortal god. As a result…

It's the story of a woman who isn’t a warrior who must now go to war to save her people. As a result…

It's the story of a girl who insists the only way to win the war is to talk to a tree. As a result…

It's the story of all the little people who make history, but who are forgotten by it.

Age of Myth is a small story that will launch an epic tale that will lay the foundations for a world where in three thousand years two thieves will uncover much of what was lost, but so many more revelations remain to be discovered.

I invite you to start your journey today, with Age of Myth, and learn what you only thought you knew.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Age of Myth: Scene Stealing Characters Stage a Plot Coup

Book outlines are, in effect, plans. What do we all know about plans, whether they be of the battle preparations or the best laid sort? For the stories of plots, they usually don't survive and often go into the delete bin. Such was the case with Age of Myth. 

I had my outline and my characters. I was building my story nicely, but trouble was brewing in the most unlikely of places—the tertiary character district. I can’t help it. Whenever I create any character, I create a person. Doesn’t matter if they have only a bit part, I make a whole individual. I can take greater chances with the third tier cast as the story doesn’t rest on them. In the case of Age of Myth I kept making characters and those characters were unfortunately—great. I discovered I liked them a whole lot more than the main characters. They were far more interesting, more colorful, more tragic, and more emotionaly moving. That’s when a radical idea hit me.

Why not make them the main characters?

This was silly. These assortment of misfit toys from the reject pile can’t possibly carry a novel about heroes the likes of Achilles and Hercules…can they?

So many fantasy novels are about privileged princes or princesses, or skilled warriors, or powerful wizards doing grand things. How many are about average people—no—how many are about less than average people making a real difference and doing something truly extraordinary? Frodo and Sam come to mind. Dorothy of Kansas does, too. I liked the comparisons and set out to explore the possibility of doing something that surprised me, that I hadn’t been expecting. The more I thought about it, the more it excited me.

How much of history was created by people too small to be remembered by historians? Did the big names really do the things they are lauded for, or was it the efforts of a dozen quiet folk who might not be respectable enough to carry such a lofty mantle as "hero"?

The idea just kept picking up speed.

Wasn’t a huge part of why I liked Lord of the Rings because they seemed like ordinary people who succeeded at achieving amazing things?

What if the fate of mankind did not depend on the bravery of a muscular man with a broadsword and a gritty past. What if everyone owed their future to a cripple, an emotional shut-in, a self-centered bitch, and a little girl who likes stories a bit too much? Wouldn’t that be way more interesting? How could such a thing happen?

This idea is where Legends of the First Empire really started.

I didn’t change what I had written prior to this discovery. I didn’t want to. I like that the idea might creep up unseen on the reader the same way as it had with me. I wanted the reader to discover this amazing shift from the expected to the—are you kidding me? No way!

As a result, just like in my Riyria series (where I began with a slow build and familiar tropes only to later twisted them), I did it again. Didn’t mean to. Just happened.

I’m glad it did.

Tomorrow: Age of Myth, And So it Begins

Monday, June 27, 2016

Age of Myth: All the Stuff I Did Wrong

I work alone.

"I don’t play well with others," is how I'm most apt to put it. I tried to collaborate in my youth, and the result was frustration followed by my rewriting everything done by others. This did little to assuage their sense of worth, our friendship, and led to my abandoning the project altogether. I’m not necessarily a control freak, I merely want things done exactly how I want them.

Recently, I turned down the chance to write a book series in collaboration with a film director, because, for me, "Hell" would be writing in another person’s universe where I am subject to their rules. Luckily this tendency is limited to my writing—that’s my story anyway. This said, you can perhaps understand why my wife, and Alpha Reader, almost never gets to see anything I’m working on until the work is finished. Sometimes I will discuss a work with her, but only in specific details that without any reference points, must sound like gibberish. Most of these times my ramblings end up scaring her into thinking I’ve lost my mind.

 “Okay so my problem is that in order to escape the Agave, they need to utilize a source of power, but all they have is stone, so the solution here is water—do you see? Does that make sense to you?”

Anyway, I must have thought that something was wrong with Age of Myth because after writing  the first chapter I let her read the first scene.

She hated it.

 When Robin first finished reading the Riyria Revelations she half-jokingly insinuated that I did not actually write it because it was too good. This time was similar.

 “Who wrote this?” she asked, with a sneer as if something had just died in her mouth.

 “It’s not that bad,” I countered.

 She stared at me with a look usually seen on the faces of rookie first responders.

 “What’s wrong with it?”

 “It’s like you didn’t write it. This isn’t a Michael J. Sullivan book.”

 She went on to mention many things, but it didn’t matter as that one sentence explained everything. I had known something was off, and now I knew what that was. Good suggestions are like that. They don’t need to come from an experienced, talented editor—although Robin is most certainly both of those—anyone who can come close to communicating what’s wrong with a piece will generate that explosion of OMG! Of course! They see the thing you’re blind to. They point it out and boom, there it is—“Where’d all these baseball players come from, Ray?”

What she showed me was that I was writing in a different voice, a different style—most importantly, the wrong style.

This new series is set 3000 years before the events that take place in the age of Riyria. If Royce and Hadrian lived in a time roughly equivalent to say the High Middle Ages and if I go back 3000 years (if you want to think of it in Earth terms) the book's setting is in the intermediate to late Bronze Age in the Near Easter timeline, or the First Phase Nordic, or middle of the British Bronze Age. Generally, for those weened on the history of Western Civilizations that would be the age of legends, the era of the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Trojan War...a time before written history when Gods took active roles in the course of human events and when larger-than-life heroes such as Achilles and Hercules roamed. The Bronze Age was also a time when—in the area of northern Europe—mankind was still very much in its infancy. Near Eastern cultures were reasonably advanced (at least by comparison), while in Briton or Ireland, people dwelt in small communities of roundhouses of thatch and daub.

This, then, was the setting, and I wanted to convey that shift in time between Riyria and Myth in more than mere limitations. I wanted the books to sound different in their prose. As a result, I adopted a more classic tone. My prose and dialog was intentionally formal, more high-minded, more dramatic. My presentation was more ladened with exposition. In short, my writing reflected the style generally found in most fantasy novels, and Robin was right—it wasn’t me.

When I wrote Riyria, one of my goals was to write in a readable form. Beowulf and other ancient ballads were written in a lofty style. In the 1800s George McDonald trimmed that style to reflect the taste of a more contemporary audience while writing the same sort of tale. Tolkien did the same to MacDonald. He wrote in the same heroic-fantasy vein, but once again discarded much of the prose style, tossing the gothic sound for a more modern, easier to digest approach. I wanted to do the same. My aim was to bring fantasy out of the lofty rhetoric were authors attempt to guess at what they think ancient people sound like, and instead translate that into modern English. Some authors want to transport readers to a strange and foreign place—I want to send you somewhere that feels like home. “We shall march at first light!” becomes, “We’ll leave first thing tomorrow.” Because that sounds far more believable to the modern ear, and this translates into easier reading, and easier reading allows readers to lose themselves far more readily in the text.

When Riyria was released, I received some pushback on this technique from fantasy traditionalists, but on the whole most readers appreciated the style. Many were not even aware why, only that the way I wrote was far more enjoyable. They found my characters to be so life-like, and I suspect that is largely due to my use of contemporary language. I could make jokes and use word plays that made sense. However, as I began writing Age of Myth I tossed that concept aside and wrote in a more lofty, more archaic style. I was channeling my inner Homer, and inventing terms for well-known things. Kings would be called “Fane” and tiny fortified cities would be called “Dahls” which I altered from the ancient term of “Tell” used for ancient hill forts. (I liked Dahl because Dahlgren is a place already in the Riyria stories).  I was going back on my self-pledge not to let the prose get between the reader and the story.

Robin hated it.

 I hated it too.

So I started over.

Tossing aside all the heavy prose, I felt free once more to write a gripping tale. Characters came to life, and the story flowed like water too long damed. And just when I thought this first book was going to pour out as smooth as pudding, the characters staged a revolution. In one afternoon the whole book changed, and went from what I had planned to "are you kidding me?" That’s…that’s…hmm…okay, wait, that could work. Hmm, that’s pretty freaking awesome. Let’s do that!

 Tomorrow: Scene Stealing Characters Stage a Plot Coup.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Age of Myth and the new series

Age of Myth is being released Tuesday. It’s my eleventh published novel. I still don’t have a midnight release party, not sure who to call about that.

This will be my first full-blown series since Royce and Hadrian were asked to steal a sword and my hardcover debut. As a result, I thought I ought to take a little time and explain a bit about the book, what it’s like, how I came to write it, and how the whole thing went off the rails just before it took off.

With the publication of Heir of Novron, which completed my Riyria Revelations series back in 2012, I didn't anticipate writing another fantasy novel, much less more Royce and Hadrian books. I never set out to be a “fantasy author,” that’s just how things turned out. Can’t complain. The coin derived from the jobs Royce and Hadrian performed have made my life quite comfortable.

My wife, and numerous readers, lobbied successfully for another R&H book and got two in the form of the Chronicles prequels. Already having the characters, the setting, and much of the story done, made that choice an easy one. Also, a critic once argued that it was impossible that two such diverse people as Royce and Hadrian could ever have come together as a team—the premise of Revelations was flawed because the critic couldn't imagine a way in which such a thing could happen. Couldn’t let that slide. There were other questions too, I decided to answer them in the Chronicles.

After that, I finally got the chance to do something different.

I wrote a science fiction novel entitled, Hollow World. While HW was a financial success, garnered some rave reviews, and has even been taught in a couple of colleges, it hasn’t seen the same popularity as the Riyria works. So when the question of what I would do next came up I settled on a middle ground—something old and something new.

When I conceived the world of the Riyria Revelations, I knew it had several distinct parts: the ancient world of the First Empire, the Empire Years that ends in the Fall of Percepliquis, the Intervening Years where the heir and his guardian were hiding (which includes the Rise of Glenmorgan), and finally the completion of the Uli Vermar as seen in the Riyria Revelations. Each of these eras are filled with great stories, and I always played with the idea of writing something along the lines of Issac Asimov’s work where he joins his stories across millenniums.  I loved the way Asimov linked everything so that as a reader you could see the full development, reminisce about how it once was, and see how those seeds blossomed into what everything became. Even when I was started to write The Crown Conspiracy, and the idea of getting published or having anyone at all read my stories was a pipe dream, I arrogantly imagined that I might write the whole history of the world, or at least the big three eras: The First Empire, the Fall of the Empire, and Revelations (or the Return of the Empire.)

That’s why when it came time to pick my next project, I decided to write the First Empire.

Walking to lunch with my wife I explained my vague idea for the books: “It will be about this guy, the field commander of an elite platoon in a foreign country, who starts to go native. He’ll be like Robin Hood with this band of specialized men. Maybe it will be a love triangle between this commander—who’s like a Roman general in Britannia (maybe I’ll call him Trajan), and this native popular resistance leader who is like the Celtic Queen Boudica, and a native hero—think William Wallace. Each needs the others, but hate them at the same time and manipulate and maneuver to get what they want.”

I thought this was a nifty idea.

I also thought I would call the book Rhune, after what most humans in that area were called at the time. In case you’re wondering if I just gave away the plot of Age of Myth—nope. That was where I started. That’s not where I ended up—not by a long shot.

Some authors are discovery writers, meaning that they just start writing and see where the story goes. I used to do that too, but learned that it was impossible to write a perfect book making it up as I went. Invariably I would discover things on the way that made previous work obsolete or useless, forcing me to re-write. Hemingway is attributed to having said, “All writing is rewriting,” but there are a lot of quotes like this by famous authors. I once told a fellow author that I was editing my book, and she looked at me funny. “My editor edits; I rewrite.” This made me self-conscious because only once have I ever rewritten a novel, and as it turned out I trashed it as unacceptable. Rewriting an awful idea still makes for an awful book.

The concept of writing a whole novel, then tossing it aside and writing it all over again, then doing it a third and fourth time in an effort to “find” the story, strikes me as about as intelligent as building a house not merely without plans, but without any idea of what sort of house it should be. Seems to me that deciding a few things on paper first would save years, money, and resources.

Some say that if they know where the story is going they lose interest in writing it—yet I don’t see how that helps if as a result they are forced to rewrite. So when I decided I wanted to write for a living, I figured it was best not to waste so much time re-writing. Instead, I thought ahead and worked the big things out. Some people call this outlining, but it is never anything as grand as that sounds. Some people outline so much that they can write out of order. I find that bizarre too, as a lot of writing is done by feel, and too much outlining will often contrive a plot and result in wooden characters who rather than act like people, follow the outline.

What I do—I realize now—is rewriting, just not on paper. I rewrite in my head.

I run the story through my mind in storyboard form—picturing the key points, the highlights. I find problems. I can then erase what was and replace it with what should be in an instant. Mentally I write and rewrite the plot points, characters, settings, and even some dialog. When I hit issues, or dead ends, or think of something better, it is an easy thing to alter the story. People, places, and things come into existence and wink out just as quickly.

This is what I did with Age of Myth—and in the process the story and characters changed—a lot.

Characters came and went. Scenes were fleshed out, altered, rebuilt, and finally tossed. I most likely rewrote Myth a dozen different ways before I ever put pen to paper. Even so, even after all that I still didn’t have it right.

Tomorrow: All the Stuff I Did Wrong

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.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

ELEVENGEDDON: A Scifi-Fantasy Extravaganza at the Poisoned Pen Tonight at 7:00 PM

Hey all, I'm pleased to announce I'll be going a host of PhoenixCon Authors at a signing event tonight at the Poisoned Pen.  Here are the details:

Where: Poisoned Pen Bookstore
Address: 4014 N Goldwater Blvd | Scottsdale AZ 85251
Time: Wristbands are being handed out at 6:00 for a 7:00 start
Phone: 480.947.2974

Who will be there? Well, I'm glad you asked:

  • Kevin Hearne (host)
  • 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
  • Michael J. Sullivan
  • Sam Sykes
  • Django Wexler
If you are in the area, I hope to see you there!