Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sign up for Age of Swords Beta is closing

Hey all, Robin here.  I try to help Michael (who is really slammed right now) in making posts. For instance, he wrote one for SDCC, that I have to look over and copy edit before posting. But I also need to get this announcement out so people don't miss a deadline.

I'm closing the sign-up for those who want to be beta readers for Age of Swords (Book #2 of The Legends of the First Empire).  In general, we get many more people requesting to beta read than I could ever process, so there will be more people turned down than accepted.  To help you decide let me explain a bit about the process.

1. There is a sign-up form. Where I ask questions about whether you are a veteran Sullivan reader, or new to his works, also age, gender, whether English is your native language, and a host of other questions. The purpose of this is so I can develop a good cross-section of readers.  

2. I'll comb through the entries and narrow the list down. People will then get a write up telling them what to expect (but I'll give you the short form here). If they feel they still want to be a beta reader after finding out the expectations then they'll get a copy of the book in any number of ebook formats.

3. Some will provide feedback on a chapter-by-chapter basis, others will do so on a "reading session" basis (several chapters at once) answering questions about what they liked, didn't like, were confused by, etc.  They will also rate each chapter on a scale of 1 - 5 on things like plot, character, pacing, and overall enjoyment.

4. After completing the book, they'll do one last survey that will be used to give their impressions as a whole.

5. Finding typos or grammatically errors are not a requirement of the beta (we're not looking for free copyediting support) and because it is an early edition, there is likely to be several mistakes in the book on those scores. But, if you do happen to run across something then certainly noting them is helpful.

That's it in a nutshell. I had planned on closing the sign up on 7/31 but then I didn't get his post up until now.  Since I'm late in posting, you can be late signing up.  I'll close the doors for good on Wednesday.  

Thanks all, and I'll try to get Michale's SDCC post up soon.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

SDCC Schedule - See you in San Diego (I hope)

In a few days Robin and I will be jetting off to San Diego for our first ever trip to San Diego Comic Con!  Here's my itinerary in case you want to drop by and say hi, get a book signed, or try to get one of the few remaining ARC's of Age of Myth.

 07/21   5:00 - 6:00 PM  Del Rey Booth #1515 Signing and ARC Giveaway
 7:30 - 8:30 PM Room #4Panel: Deleted Scenes with Kevin Hearne, Harry Turtledove, Tricia Narwani
All day
 VariousMeeting with readers on a one-on-one basis

07/23 3:00 - 4:00 PM Del Rey Booth #1515Signing and ARC Giveaway

As you can see I'm available all day Friday, so if you want to meet, send me an email ( and we'll setup a time. You don't have to have a SDCC badge to meet with me but you do need to be able to get to the San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina since I won't have a car.

And of course there are plenty of other authors besides myself to visit such as: (To find a complete list of their event schedules click here).
  • Renee Ahdieh
  • Sasha Alsberg
  • J. Patrick Black
  • Mike Braff
  • Terry Brooks
  • Jeffrey Brown
  • Pierce Brown
  • Lorraine Cink
  • Peter Clines
  • Jessica Cluess
  • Cristina Colangelo
  • Andrea Cremer
  • Blake Crouch
  • Melissa de la Cruz
  • Indras Das
  • James Dashner
  • Sylvia Day
  • Camilla D’Errico
  • Christopher Farnsworth
  • Matt Forbeck
  • Cory Godbey
  • Alwyn Hamilton
  • Kevin Hearne
  • Matthew Holm
  • Jennifer Holm
  • Cole Horton
  • Colleen Houck
  • Jason Hough
  • Rachel Ignotofsky
  • Gini Koch
  • Sarah Kuhn
  • J.M. Lee
  • Stacey Lee
  • Todd Lockwood
  • Tahereh Mafi
  • Drew Magary
  • Meagan Marie
  • Seanan McGuire
  • Chloe Neill
  • Sylvain Nuevel
  • Ryan North
  • Bryan Lee O’Malley
  • Sydney Padua
  • Natasha Polis
  • Bob Proehl
  • Christine Riccio
  • Ransom Riggs
  • Brendan Reichs
  • Patrick Rothfuss
  • Paul Ruditis
  • Romina Russell
  • Cavan Scott
  • Scott Sigler
  • Nalini Singh
  • Alan Smale
  • Kathleen Smith
  • Sherry L. Smith
  • Thomas Sniegoski
  • Anne Sowards
  • Hayley Stone
  • Rebecca Sugar
  • Michael J. Sullivan
  • Sabah Tahir
  • Harry Turtledove
  • Jessica Wade
  • Andy Weir
  • Chuck Wendig
  • Scott Westerfield
  • Kiersten White
  • Judd Winick
  • Lisa Yee
  • Brenna Yovanoff

Hope to see you there!

Monday, July 18, 2016

From the mailbag, advice on creating characters.

I get a lot of mail from aspiring authors who are stuck or looking for help with their writing. It takes time to answer them, but I try to be as complete as I can. Robin was going through my email recently (she sorts it for me) and saw a response I made and said, "You should share this with others...why help just one person when others might find it useful?" She's so smart.  Well, I'm not sure whether this will help others or not, but I do think it makes sense to share it.  So here goes:

KS wrote: "I am having a hard time developing the characters. The story revolves around , a hobbit type creature."

My response:

First decided what you want them to ultimately do. What role they will play in the story. 

Let’s use Lord of the Rings as an example. 

What do we need him for? To carry the ring. 
Why him? He is decent, kind, lacking in pride or a desire for power, making him resistant to the ring’s influence. This makes him ideal to carry it, and why others cannot.

In this way you can see how the plot will dictate much of the character. You need a person to be a certain way, to fulfill a task in the plot, and so you create that character. If you don’t need a character, don’t make them.

Once you make a character, get to know them the same way you might a real life person, by asking them questions:

How old are you? How tall? How much do you weigh? 

These are important while what color their eyes are is not. Even the color of their hair is not, but the length might be. Why? Because these aspect can influence the story. Many aspiring writers spend a lot of time on eye color, but I’ve never known eye color to affect a story, except for Dune. 

Parents? Siblings? Grandparents? Children? What are their names? What are they like. Do you like them? Do they like you?

All of these are standard physical features questions. They don’t usually make the character come to life, but some of these next questions might.

What is your goal in life?
What is your greatest fear?
What secret(s) do you not want anyone to know about you?
What are you most proud of?
What bad habits do you have?
What hobbies, or side interests do you have? (that have nothing to do with the story)
What would you say are some of your quirks—everyone has them.What’s yours?
What is your greatest failure? 
What are you most embarrassed of?
Who are your friends?
Who are your enemies?
What are some things that you like? And what things do you dislike?
What odd talents do you have?
What is your greatest weakness?
What is your greatest strength?

The more of these sorts of questions you can answer about your character, the more real they become, both in your mind and the mind of your readers. Knowing the characters well, knowing more than will ever be put in the story, is what makes them interesting. 

Don’t think you have to answer all these questions for every character. Knowing the answer to a handful will usually get you going. And they can change as you develop the character. The point is that in trying to answer the questions, you’ll learn things about the individuals you create, they will gain depth and you will see them better, understand them as people. (If you have trouble coming up with answers, do real life studies of people you know. You can even ask them the questions and see how they answer.) Also you can add more questions if you think of some good ones that might help.

The last thing you might need to do, is a brief history. 

You thought it might be fun if your character built ships as a hobby. Now the question is how did this develop? Did he learn this trade from his father? Oh—but no, you answered “orphan” to the parent’s question. So now you need to build a logical solution to this aspect of the character’s life. Working out that solution may provide important backstory that can be used in the novel. 

Also consider going on line and doing an image search for pictures of people you think might look like your character. Copy and paste it into a file that you can reference. Sometimes seeing a face will give you ideas about them. 

Hope this helps,

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

One of these things is not like the other...

One of the nice things about new book releases is the bump that comes from having something new and shiny out. As most here already know, I write books for myself, and I'm always amazed to discover there are a few other people who seem to like the kind of books I do.  Anyway, I was sitting at my desk typing away on some edits for book #6 of Legends of the First Empire when Robin (my wife) sent me the picture below with the email subject of "Nice Company to be in."

Hmmm....Terry Brooks, Neil Gaiman, Michael J. Sullivan, Robert Jordan, and Stephen King. I appreciate my wife thinks it's company that I should be in, but the only thing I could think of is the old Sesame Street song: "One of these things is not like the of these things just doesn't belong." Don't get me wrong, I'm really, really pleased with my writing and my career.  But I consider the proximity to that group of authors as a momentary alignment of planets that lasts but an instant and won't be seen again for another 10,000 years. Still, it did bring a smile to my face before I turned back to the keyboard and started tapping away again.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Did you know that today, July 1st is INDIE PRIDE DAY? Well, now you do!

On July 1st 2016, Indie Authors from around the world will be posting to  social media pictures of the authors holding up their books with the hashtags #IndiePrideDay and #IndieBooksBeSeen. Last year thousands participated, and the Indie Pride Day trended for three days on Twitter; generating over 25,000 tweets. 

As most know, I'm a big indie supporter and have a number of titles that are self-publishes as well. To give a helping hand I plan on buying 10 indie books and then posting reviews of the ones I enjoyed. My preference is not surprisingly fantasy so if you are an indie author and have a book for sale, leave a one paragraph introduction in the comments and I might pick yours.

I should also mention that some authors will also be offering book discounts and giveaways – so keep an eye out for the Indie Pride hashtags; you might just end up with a new book to add to your shelf.  

Also, if you know an indie author, tell them to participate as well. Hoping that I'll find some great new books and that some new authors will get a needed spotlight.