Next Wednesday evening at 6:30 on the Gencon Twitch Channel. Here’s the link.
That was the lead. Here’s the explanation.
Turns out, I’m an ON. Original Nerd.
If you went to high school with me, you probably didn’t know I was a Dungeons & Dragons devotee. I kept it in the closet. It wasn’t cool then, and I cared about cool. I had met the game in the sixth or seventh grade when I was already a fantasy reader and Tolkien junkie, and it had been love at first sight. D&D made it possible for me to dream up my own worlds and characters and stories and to share them with friends. Fast forward to 2014, when I published my first fantasy novel, and you can see how that story arc played out. Or at least seemed to play out. Because a year ago a former student pointed out this new thing called D&D “actual play” live streams on Twitch.
I checked it out, and it blew my mind. People were actually video streaming their weekly D&D games. I used to make fun of people who watched YouTube videos of other people playing video games, but I’m a honeyed ham if I didn’t suddenly GET it. Live stream D&D sessions are suspenseful, funny, alternately action packed or thoughtful, character-rich, and strategic. Plus, since it is in fact a kind of nerdy improv storytelling, it is often full of surprises.
The most famous of these D&D live streams—now with hundreds of thousands if not millions of followers—is called Critical Role, led by voice actor Matthew Mercer for six other voice actors in LA. From the moment I learned of it I binge-listened to Critical Role’s podcast version on my walks, and after a while I had a “Lightbulb!” moment. How hard could it be to create one of my own? (Bha! Answer? INSANELY hard, but that’s a story for a different post.)
Of course, I didn’t know any voice actors in Seattle, but I did know a bunch of fantasy writers… What if I could get a bunch of fantasy authors together for a weekly game and live stream it? What if we could get sponsors and someone to produce the shows?
That was sixteen months ago. Next week—after hundreds of hours of practice sessions, video production, and planning—we stream our first live session on the GenCon Twitch channel. We’re calling it Dungeon Scrawlers. (Hey, the internet voted on it; at least it isn’t Dungeon McDungeon Face. )
The members are, in alphabetical order, Erik Scott DeBie (our DM), Erin M. Evans, Rhiannon Held, Randy Henderson, (me) Stephen Merlino, Emily T, and Yang-Yang Wang. Several of us know each other from critique groups, three of us are Writers of the Future award winners, and the first two have well over a dozen Dungeons & Dragons novels to their names.
Looking forward to that first session! If you miss it, we’ll post it on YouTube a few days after. All the links are on the Dungeon Scrawlers website. 🙂
#DnD #D&D #Dungeons and Dragons #Twitch #stream #Brimstoneangels #shadowbane #Silver #thejackofsouls #WOTF #FinnFancy #rpg #gamer
AFTER THREE YEARS OF WRITING, RELEASE!
And you know, I kind of like this one better than the first… In any case, it’s definitely longer, which means more of everything you got in the first. As one reviewer wrote,
“It’s got all the good stuff: soul-eating demons, mind-controlling magical rings, explosions, heartbreak, moral dilemmas with no good outcomes, betrayal, more explosions.”
CHECK IT OUT ON AMAZON, OR IF YOU’VE READ IT, WRITE A REVIEW!
AND TO CELEBRATE, BOOK ONE’S EBOOK IS FREE!
If you’ve been following my progress with Book Two, you’ll notice the working title, THE KNAVE OF SOULS, did not make the final cut.
I fully thought book two would go to press with that title
But a couple months before publication, I was at Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference in Denver, and a good writer friend of mine, Heather Webb, commented, “Isn’t the knave the same card as the jack? And isn’t the title of your first book, The Jack of Souls? By naming the second book The Knave of Souls you’d be naming it the same as the first book, but in different words.
And I had to admit she was right.
But I didn’t. I resisted.
I explained to her that I was using an older meaning of “knave,” meaning “foolish person,” but even as I said it I knew it was a poor excuse, and that she was right. Damn it. Plus, another large fraction of my readers might not be familiar with the term “knave” at all., which would also be a problem. Double damn.
I had actually loved The Knave of Souls.
But I faced the music, and when I did, I was stuck for a title.
So I went round and round on it, noodling for a new title for months as I finalized the manuscript and got the cover going. The title crisis came to a head when I was three weeks out, and still had nothing.
The Fool of Souls was the next closes thing, but it didn’t have a ring to it. Heather had liked The Ace of Souls, which I agreed was cool, and had a ring to it, but which felt too modern, to me., Apprentice of Souls (meh), Squire of Souls, (meh).
So I switched suits. “Souls” was the suit that referred to the Unseen Moon, the moon that controls the magic of the spirit world and dreams. Since the Mad Moon is the moon controlling entropy and the magic of destruction, I’d imagined the Mad Moon’s suit would be “Fires” or “Flames” or something like that, but it hadn’t come up yet in the books, so I hadn’t settled one. After much deliberation, I eventually landed on, The Jack of Flames, but I wasn’t excited about it. Finally, my good friend Mark said, “How about The Jack of Ruin?” and it stuck.
Thematically, it’s actually a better title. But the change means, of course, that the third book needs to be start with “The Jack of…”, so in that respect I’ve painted myself into a corner. Still, I have lots of time to figure that out.
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
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 Souls, to 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.
* For alerts on FREE promos I’ll be running, click here & “Follow” on Bookbub. *
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.
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.
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 Family, Nature, Shakespeare, and Dreaming. Plus, I have returned to exercise.
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. 🙂
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:
SPEAKING OF PEER REVIEW
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.
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.
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.
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.