Friday, January 30, 2015

Blackguards Artwork

I'm sure I'm not the only one who is anxiously awaiting the release of Ragnorok's Blackguards Anthology. I know the guys and gals over there are hard at work at it.  I've turned in my final version (with some pretty fun tuckerization) and contacted the people who paid to have me look over their stuff.  I'm still waiting on Emails for the first day Hollow World entrants, and as soon as those are in I'll be mailing them out.

In the meantime, I thought people would like to see some of the artwork for the book.  Here's the image for my piece, "Professional Integrity."

I don't want to tell you too much about what is going on in the scene depicted...dont' want to have early spoilers and all.  But I can say that I think it was a good choice for the story being told.  If you would like to see the other images, Ragnorak Publications has posted them online and you can scroll through them here.

I love seeing these early "sneak peeks." I'm already speculating on what some of the stories are about, and can't wait to get my own copy.  I hope you'll enjoy reading "Professional Integrity" just as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Today's word is... asyndeton

I doubt my household is "average." Being a writer, I often discuss topics that most would find out of the ordinary (and some downright frightening).  "How long does it take to dissolve a body in hydrochloric acid?"

The other night a friend of mine came over for dinner, and my wife and I were debating the realistic population density of a primitive society in a 100 square mile area.  We, of course, dragged him into it.  Dinner at our house comes with a fair amount of implied nonsense.

Today, my wife and I debated a stylistic aspect of writing.  I knew I was right, but I didn't have a reference to point to (and yes I realize that I just ended a sentence with a preposition, except I didn't because of this addition). Anyway, I've been reading a book and recommended it to Robin, while reading she asked about the following sentence and whether it was grammatically correct.
She licked her lips, reached for her purse, foraged in it. 
"Yes, I replied," that's perfectly legitimate. Robin wasn't convinced. I'm sure we had this discussion before...maybe several years ago, but we had both remembered the outcome differently.  I'm blogging on it now, so that when the issue comes up three or four years from now, I can point to this post ;-)

Okay, just a bit more background and then we'll get into asyndeton. Whenever we discuss rules of grammar it usually comes down to one of two things. The item under question is either:  (a) correct or (b) allowable under the "authors can bend and break whatever rules they want" get out of jail free card.  I prefer (a) because that makes it more likely she'll not edit it on those occasions when I do such things. So, I asked her to find the precedence.

For most of the morning, Robin searched and finally came up with what such a construction is called...and you guessed it, it's asyndenton. I suspect this is a little-known rule of grammar, and I'm recording it now so next time we have this "debate" I'll know right where to look for it.

So what is it? Here's the definition from the website, Literary Devices:
"Asyndeton refers to a practice in literature whereby the author purposely leaves out conjunctions in the sentence, while maintaining the grammatical accuracy of the phrase. Asyndeton as a literary tool [that] helps in shortening up the implied meaning of the entire phrase and presenting it in a succinct form. This compact version helps in creating an immediate impact whereby the reader is instantly attuned to what the writer is trying to convey. Use of this literary device helps in creating a strong impact and such sentences have greater recall worth since the idea is presented in a nutshell."
If we delve a bit deeper, we find there are three general reasons for using asyndeton (according to grammar and education portion of
  • "When [asyndeton] is used in a series of words, phrases, or clauses, it suggests the series is somehow incomplete, that there is more the writer could have included."
  •  "Asyndeton can also create ironic juxtapositions that invite readers into collaborative relationships with writers: because there are no explicit connections between phrases and clauses, readers must supply them to reconstruct the writer's intent."
  • "Asyndeton can also quicken the pace of prose, especially when it is used between clauses and sentences."
So, there you have it.  Perhaps you just learned a new word today, as well. If you're coming over this weekend for the Super Bowl party, I'll expect you to be able to recite its meaning or no nachos for you!

Friday, January 23, 2015

In praise of independent bookstores

This post isn't the first time I've raved about One More Page Books, and I'm sure it won't be the last. They're an independent bookstore in Arlington Virginia who really knows how to "do it right."

First, they don't just sell books, but delicious chocolate and fine wine too.  Three things that go perfectly together.

Second, they do events...a lot of events.  Not only do they have author signings but they also have story time for the kiddies, eight different book clubs, and even have sponsored author panel discussions for budding authors.  I've launched three of my series there, and they were huge successes.

Plus, as you can see by this photo they recently posted on Twitter, they provide special promotion  to local authors. What more could you want?  

While looking through their calendar of events, I noticed their 4th year anniversary is this month.  How exciting!  At a time when the huge bookstores are struggling, and fears of Amazon taking over the world run rampant, it's good to see one of the "little guys" who do well by doing it right.  Oh, and maybe they aren't such little guys, after all.  After all, when the President of The United States of America drops by your store (I kid you not).  You are definitely doing something right!

So congratulations One More Page Books for all you do on behalf of readers and authors alike. If you are in Northern Virginia, stop by and show your support, and if you're not local - find an independent bookstore near you and give them some lovin'.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A high school student's opinion on modern Fantasy and Sci-fi.

I saw this review for The Crown Tower through Twitter. It was very well written, extremely complimentary, and reminded me of one of the reasons why I write books. I love seeing people foster a love for reading. When they are still in's even better!

If it hadn't been for my brother introducing me to Tolkien's works, I might never have become a reader...and certainly not a writer.  So to find Rebekah Drew is not only reading, but also blogging and helping others find books they might love, really made my day.

I've been reading her reviews (both for my books and others) ever since I first saw her review for Theft of Swords back in 2014.  We seem to share a lot of the same tastes in books (not surprising since I write books I like to read). And even when we disagree, I find she gives good support for her ratings of the books.
Blogging, like novel writing, is primarily a labor of love, and I know it would really make Rebekah's days for some people to stop by her site, and see what she's saying about the books she reads. Who knows, you might just find your next great book to love and that would make me, and Rebekah very happy.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Can't believe I missed this anniversary!!

Back in the day, I was tracking my word count as I started my new series, The First Empire. According to the first date recorded there I was 4,200 words into the first book on 2/17/ two years at it as of a few days ago.   I had to take some time off to so some edit work for The Rose and the Thorn and for Hollow World, plus there was some time off for a few conventions...but it's hard to believe that I'm still working on this project.  I'm sure a big part of that is it was originally slated for a trilogy - and then grew into four then later five books.  But I'm loving the new world and the new characters.  Beta feedback has been very helpful and very positive.

I'm about 1/10th through book #5 and Scrivener is tracking my word count to finish on time - and the numbers are going down each day not up, so that is a good thing.  Shouldn't be too much longer now!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Two more weeks for Hollow World Giveaway.

There's just two more weeks left for the Hollow World Goodreads Giveaway. This particular giveaway is open to people in the US, Canada, and United Kingdom.

Because there are some parts of the world who aren't eligible, I'm opening up a second giveaway for people of all countries. What's more, if you are not from those three countries, I'll double your chances to win (to help compensate for the giveaway you can't enter in. Here's a link to the new giveaway. Like the Hollow World Goodreads Giveaway, I'll be selecting two lucky winners.

For those not familiar with this is a bit of information to help you decide if it might be for you:

Ellis Rogers is an ordinary man who is about to embark on an extraordinary journey. All his life he has played it safe and done the right thing but when diagnosed with a terminal illness he’s willing to take an insane gamble. He’s built a time machine in his garage, and if it works, he’ll face a world that challenges his understanding of what it means to be human, what it takes to love, and the cost of paradise. He could find more than a cure for his illness; he might find what everyone has been searching for since time began…but only if he can survive Hollow World. Welcome to the future and a new sci-fantasy thriller from the bestselling author of The Riyria Revelations.

“This is a clever and thought-provoking story, with loads of interesting ideas, some adrenalin-pumping action and plenty of humour...overall an entertaining read with Pax being one of my favourite characters of the year.” — Pauline M. Ross, Fantasy Review Barn 

"This is social science fiction that H.G. Wells or Isaac Asimov could have written, with the cultural touchstones of today. A modernized classic, Hollow World is the perfect novel for both new and nostalgic science fiction readers.” — Justin Landon, Staffer's Book Reviews 

“Michael J. Sullivan has made a name for himself with his excellent series of fantasy novels and Hollow World proves he can deftly tackle science fiction just as skillfully. The ideas are big and the future plausible, this is one of those rare gems you'll be thinking about long after you put it down.” — Bryce Lee, Only the Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 

  • 2014 Goodreads Choice Award Nominee
  • 2014 Barnes and Noble Top Fantasy and Science Fiction Picks for April
  • Only the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Top 7 books of 2014
  • The Qwillery's Brannigan Cheney’s Top 3 books of 2014
  • The Fictional Hangout’s 2014 Best Books of the Year
  • The Book Probe's 2014 Most Anticipating Sci-Fi Novels
  • Ranting Dragon’s Ten Fantasy and Science-Fiction Novels worth reading in April 2014
  • The Bibliosanctum's Top 10 Reads of 2013
  • Indie Fantasy’s Best Book List for 2014
  • Fantasy Review Barn's Barney Award for outstanding reads of 2013
  • Ranting Dragon's 30 Most Anticipated Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels for 2014

Thanks to everyone reviewers and readers a like that have loved Hollow World. This was a book very near and dear to my heart, and I'm pleased to offer this giveaway in celebration of all the great year-end recognition it has received.  Good luck on the drawing!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

More Hadrian and Royce for Polish Readers

I'm pleased to announce I've signed some contracts to bring the Riyria Chronicle stories to Poland so more Royce and Hadrian for that part of the world.  Getting a foreign language publisher interested in more books from an author is directly related to popularity - or in other words, people buying a lot of the previous books - so thanks so much to all the people who purchased copies of The Riyria Revelations in this part of the world. I don't know when the books will be released yet but it's good to know they are coming.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Hmmm....that looks familiar

Ran across this the other day, I couldn't help but thinking I've seen something like it somewhere before...

Then it occurred to me. Oh, yeah.  This is where ;-)

Just thought that was interesting.  The "double crossed" swords symbol also looked remarkably similar to the icon used for Theft of Swords. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Hollow World makes a Top 3 of 2014 List

Hollow World makes yet another "Best of" list. This time it's from Brannigan at The Qwillery.

The breakdown went like this:
  • Best Science Fiction - Hollow World by Michael J. Sullivan
  • Best Fantasy - The Lascar's Dagger by Glenda Larke
  • Best Horror/Thriller - Five Ghosts by Frank J. Barbiere and Chris Mooneyham
Hollow World really is turning out to be "the little book that could" and I'm so pleased that it's loved by critics and readers a like.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

German Edition of Hollow World in the Works

A few days ago I signed the contracts to translate Hollow World to German. This marks the second foreign language translation for this book, and I'm so thrilled.

I don't yet have release dates, but it's good just to know its coming. I've been getting a lot of interest from people in Germany who have loved The Riyria books and have said they wanted to get a native language copy of Hollow World as well - so here yo go.

I'm not sure if I announced it here or not, but the other translation that's been signed off on is Portuguese which was purchased by a Brazilian publisher.  Again, I'm not sure of release dates, but I'm oh so happy that people in other parts of the world that speak languages other than English will get the opportunity to meet Pax and Ellis and explore a new world in the distant future of our own. I do hope they are enjoyed.

Monday, January 12, 2015

How to make Button Bars for your Goodreads Profile

A few days ago, I mentioned the article on Goodreads that Writer's Digest asked me to write. One of the things that I discuss in that article is how to make "Button Bars" on your profile, so people can easily get in touch with you.  Since Writer's Digest posted this in their free content or the article, I can share it as well.  So, here goes.

First, What is a button bar. Well, let's look at my Goodreads Profile:

See that line of buttons right below the "About the Author"? Those are links that will allow readers to:
  • Send me email
  • Visit my webpage
  • See my twitter profile and hopefully follow me
  • Checkout my facebook page
  • Go to my Amazon Author page where people can buy my books
  • Visit the Wikipedia page about me 
  • And the last one, which is hard to read at this resolution is to sign up for my newsletter.
I think its important to have all your contact highly visible on your profile page, and this does so in a nice graphical way. It's not hard to create these, and you can even re-use the graphics I made, or substitute your own.

I wrote up a little tutorial on this, and posted it online - you can get your own copy here.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The GrimDark Review takes a look at Rise of Empire

It's been more than two-years since Rise of Empire was released, and I'm thrilled that people are still discovering The Riyria books. Even more so that they are enjoying them.    

The Grimdark Review is a fairly new site, which I've been really enjoying as of late. Eric Fomley recently reviewed Rise of Empire giving it a 9 out of 10. Woohoo!  Here is a bit of what he had to say,

"If you have not read any of the Riyria Revelations then you have missed out on some brilliant story telling by Michael J. Sullivan. If you are a fan of traditional fantasy or even any kind of fantasy, I think you will enjoy the characters that Michael Sullivan has created. Already with my time with Hadrian and Royce only part way finished, I feel like I’m reading about old friends and they both feel very real to me. This third book was an amazing build on to the first two novels of Theft of Swords and I look forward continuing my journey with these old friends."

I'm so glad Eric feels this way, because it was one of the goals I set out for when writing the book. I like characters who feel like friends, and I'm missing Royce and Hadrian, who I've not written about in a while. But I've also found some new friends in the characters of The First Empire, and I'm hoping to introduce them to you soon.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

I said I was behind, and I meant it. Here is another "Best of" list that came out a week ago.  This one comes from  the Only the Best Science and Fiction & Fantasy site, so I guess it makes it the best of the best. Once again I'm honored to be included on such an amazing list:

It was supposed to be for 7 books but the blog's creator allowed for a tie, and I'm glad he did.  The full rundown is as follows:

  • Hollow World by Michael J. Sullivan
  • City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
  • Breach Zone by Myke Cole
  • Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence
  • Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
  • Veil of the Deserters by Jeff Salyarsds
  • The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman
  • The Crimson Campaign by Brian McClellan

Biggest Surprise of the year went to Pilo Family Circus by Will Elliott. The best standalone novels were Angelmaker by Nich Harkaway and Blackdog by K.V. Johanson.  Best audio books went to Ilium & Olympos both by Dan Simmons. Biggest disappointment went to Impulse by Steven Gould, although the poster did enjoy the other two books that came before.

I really like this list, and not just because Hollow World made it, although that certainly helps. It has a lot of authors on it that I enjoy and even a few I know I have to get to soon.  So, check it out and hopefully you'll find some new titles to pick up.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Goodreads Article in Writers Digest

Recently, Writer's Digest asked me to write an article for them on Goodreads. Anyone who knows me, knows how important I think that venue is for writers, and how important it is to "do it well."  The article appears in the February edition of Writer's Digest. I'm not sure it's on the news stands yet, but I know it's "out there" (maybe to those who have subscriptions?) because I've been getting a lot of positive feedback from it.

Some people have asked me if the article is available for free anywhere. I know that my local library carries this (and many other magazines) so you can certainly go see if yours does as well. I don't think it is available online.
I should note that you don't need a subscription as they do sell copies individually.  Whether downloaded or in print the magazine is just $6.99 and besides my article there is some great stuff in this edition on website building and book promotion, so I think it's well worth the price. Here are links for both the print and digital version.

Of course there is only so much that be put in a single article, even one as large and as compact as I tried to make it.  So here are some other resources that might help people out:
There are also a lot of information that Goodreads puts out to help authors, and here are some of my favorite resources from them:

I hope that you find some of this useful.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

So very behind...

Happy New Year everyone!! What, wait, it's already more than a week past January 1st? Where does the time go?  I have a ton of news and will start rolling them out in the next few days, but for now I wanted to mention to provide an update. I've been pretty busy as of late.

First let me discuss Phyre Book #4 of the First Empire.  As with all the First Empire books the h is silent, so it is pronounced  pyre. You know,  the heap of wood that dead bodies are burned on.  I won't say anything more about that, I'll let your imaginations go where they may.

Oh, and as with the other covers of The First Empire, the above is just a mock-up to help me visualize and provide inspiration. It's a "placeholder" and I'm sure the final version will be different.  So don't get wedded to it.

Generally, I'm one to avoid deadlines, but my wife wanted only one thing for Christmas and I wanted to give it to her. What was it?  Well, to read the next book in the series.  The book was done, but rough, and I wanted to give it one more pass before she saw it.  But...there was a little matter of changes to Book #1 because the first beta read had concluded.  So through most of early December I worked on incorporating beta feedback into Rhune, Book #1.  The beta readers did a great job, making it so I had a lot of work ahead of me. I got that finished up and sent it back over to Robin for copy editing, allowing me to go back to her gift.

Even though I was pretty fried from the beta changes, I wrote night and day and finished up on December 24th at around 11:00 pm - just in time.  She read it nonstop on Christmas and the day after (thank Maribor she took a break to make us dinner and at least acknowledge the kids were around).  

Considering how hard I pushed on those two projects, I was looking for a bit of time off and a kind of cool down. After all, I earned it based on how hard I was working.  Right? Well, that didn't turn out to be the case. You see, Robin had been over my beta changes and has some changes to the changes. Doh!  Also, she and my agent had told the publishers they could get their eyes on book #1 when they got back from the Christmas break.  So a new deadline loomed, January 5th.

Hitting that date was important for two reasons.  One, we had convinced the publishers to wait until the beta changes were incorporated (they had  been hoping to get it in early December, and Robin had the second beta primed for that date. 

We felt like we were cramming for finals, all housekeeping duties were pushed onto the kids, who were on Christmas break from college - Merry Christmas kids. They were sent out to fetch food because Robin didn't have the time to cook.  We worked long into the night and I raised several coffee companies stock by all the coffee I was downing. The last three days are pretty much a blur.

We were exchanging files back and fourth and working late into the night.  Robin gave me her final review of the last chapter around 1:30 am, I got finished with my last pass around 2:30 am.  She finally turned over the last chapter to me very late on January 4th and I got done around 2:00 am.  Robin woke up at 5:00 am to compile the book and get it sent out.  And it's now officially in the hands of others - to see whether they want to release the series or not.  We'll keep our finger's crossed.

With all that done, I've been spending some time reorganizing my notes for Book #5, and revising the outline.  It's massive.  Still, I'm hopeful that I'll be done with by April or May. 

One last item on my "honey do" list, I helped Robin with the layout of the print version of Rhune for the limited edition early, early advance copies. Some may recall a lucky few are getting their hands on the book in basically the "beta read" version. I think we'll be doing another round of these as the second beta starts wrapping up. So stay tuned for that.  In the meantime, the book is at the printer, and once we get the proof reviewed, it should be out to the winners within a few weeks.

So, today I hope to start digging back into Book #5.  It's always exciting when writing the final book. I see light at the end of the tunnel, and it's not even a train...I hope.