PROOF COPY OF BOOK TWO ARRIVED!

The proof copy of my second novel, THE JACK OF RUIN, just arrived!

If you are confused by the title, which for almost three years was THE KNAVE OF SOULS, I apologize. But this is better for a number of reasons. More on that later–it is time to celebrate!

It comes three years to the day since I released book one, and ****** I am just days away from publication! ****** 😄

#finishednovel #newfantasy #sequelunlocked #hallelujah

DONE! This Week BOOK TWO goes to the Editor!

It’s been three years since the release of The Jack of Souls, but I am proud to announce that this Sunday I will send Book Two, The Knave of Soulsto the editor! Look for it on Amazon at the end of the month or in early December.

The Knave of Souls weighs in at 185,000 words, which is a better length for epic fantasy, in my opinion, and which makes it 140 pages longer. I like to think that makes up for some of the wait. Can’t wait to hear what you think of it.

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Four Muses of Summer

Summer is a season of imaginative recharge for me. A time when the muses grow strong and the furies of duty fall away.  It is a time of family, hiking, hammocking, playgoing, and geekery.

My beloved family at Gasworks Park

 

Historically, it’s also been a time of hardcore writing binges. And this summer would have been the same, except for two things: 1) broke my ankle; 2) I’ve been waiting for my last beta readers; 3) I am a cinder.

1) BROKEN ANKLE

“So what?” I hear someone say.  “Broken ankle is a perfect excuse to sit and write.” I myself thought that, at first. Then I learned what a time-sucking, buzz-pinching frustration fest it is to perform even the smallest tasks.

Normally effortless things like rising to pee, fetch ice for my leg, return the ice pack to the freezer, or search for one of the myriad things I set down or misplaced on one of these interruptions becomes a sweaty and awkward epic crap wagon.

And it was depressing. The one time I optimistically sat in a cafe for my usual six hour stint, my foot swelled up like a throbbing red meat balloon.


2) YOU CAN’T RUSH THE BETA READERS

But that didn’t stop me from trying. I’ve been waiting for the last of my beta readers, including the Closer (though maybe I should call him the Cleaner?), my blood brother in writing, Craig Holt–aka Ivuk Ivukson, whose kickass “jungle noir” novel, Hard Dog to Kill comes out this fall. Craig delivered his notes last week. I had begged him to make his comments on paper so I could revise on paper, a task much easier to do than on computer when one one’s leg is elevated above the heart. I await only one more beta reader.

COULDN’T I START REVISIONS BASED ON CRAIG’S COMMENTS?

Yes. I am now walking on my ankle boot. Things are much easier. But…

3) HONESTLY, I’M BURNT OUT

Too much Knave for too long, and my imagination feels like a wrung-out sponge. My body too, is a shambles, and not just the ankle. I sacrificed exercise time to writing time. Very. Bad. Idea.

THE POINT IS

I haven’t written much this summer, and that’s going to have to be okay. Instead, I have made it a Summer of Imaginative & Salubrious Recharge. While I wait for betas and healing, I’ve let my Four Muses have rein–the four muses of FamilyNature, Shakespeare, and Dreaming. Plus, I have returned to exercise.

Book 2 Update – Beta Readers & Cover Art

Good news: The Knave of Souls, Book 2 is in the beta-reader stage!

That means the manuscript is complete, and it is in the hands of a few smart reader/writer types who are giving me feedback. They’re looking for problems of consistency, clarity, engagement, fun-factor, etc. In fact, it is now in the hands of the last beta-reader, and I hope to hear from him next week.

After next week, I hit it with revisions and tweaks, and then it’ll be time for the copy editor. 🙂

In the meantime, here’s a look at the full cover art, including the wrap-around to the back cover (which is the left half of the painting). The characters on the front cover, from left to right, are Harric, Fink, Caris, and Spook. 🙂

 

Book 2 Cover Art Achieved!

Excited to announce that I finally have cover art for The Knave of Souls. Below is a fun side-by-side shot of the concept sketch from my journal and a detail from the artist’s rendering. Hoping to release the book next month. Stay tuned for more updates!

 

 

Awesome Indies Approved! 5-Stars for The Jack of Souls

Hey, cool news. Submitted The Jack of Souls to Awesome Indies for a review a year ago, and finally got the review. Awesome Indies is a great site for pre-screening indie novels. Their motto is, “We take the risk out of buying indie.”  Hehe!

You out the review and the site here:

AI Approved! – 5 Stars For Jack Of Souls By Stephen Merlino

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Peer Reviewed, by Nathan Lowell

SPEAKING OF PEER REVIEW

The prolific science fiction writer Nathan Lowell recently reviewed The Jack of Souls on his blog, PEER REVIEWED.  nATHAN 3

 

 

If you’re a reader who appreciates help sifting the multitude of novels out there, check out his blog. He gives clear and unpretentious reviews of scifi and fantasy. Click my review image below to see his blog.

Ever since I met Nathan at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers conference, he’s proven to be an extremely knowledgeable and generous guide. Check out his full website, including links to his many space opera scifi books.

THE KNAVE OF SOULS – Progress Update

SORRY FOR THE LONG GAP IN POSTINGS

I posted like mad over my November retreat, but stopped during winter break, and though I’be been writing since, I haven’t posted. I was in France for some of that. Here is a terrifying picture of my family and I at 13,000 feet in a glass box over an icy crag of the Alps. 

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SO! ENOUGH FOOLSHNESS! AN UPDATE! 

I’m sending Chapter 52 (The End) for peer crit this Saturday! Feels great, too. I’m pretty happy with it. PLUS, for those of you who agree with me that 2.5 years to write a book is too long, it’s coming in at about 160K words, which is 30K words more than the first book, so, hopefully that 20% more Harric, Caris, Sir Willard, Ambassador Brolli, and Father Kogan will make up for some of the wait.

Below, some of the crit notes from the Chapter 51 peer crit session. I love scribbles. I find beauty in these artifacts. Hope I don’t become a hoarder.

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4-DAY WRITE = COMPLETE DRAFT

This was my view for three straight 12-13-hour days of writing. Many many thanks to my uncle John and auntie Sue for letting me camp at their dining room table in their absence.

And guess what? I revised and polished two chapters, wrote two new chapters (including the last), and completed the draft! 

Better than that, 90% is ready for the copy editor, and the rest just needs the usual critique and development. 

Perspective From Samwise Gamgee

Thanks to Jeff Weaver for this quote from The Return of the King.
“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Samwise saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”