OFFICIAL! Book Two’s out and Book one’s FREE!

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!

 

LAST MINUTE TITLE CHANGE FOR BOOK TWO

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.

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

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.

Writers of the Future, Volume 32 is on Sale!

Recall the short story prequel I wrote for The Jack of Souls?

It won a place in this year’s Writers of the Future anthology, and that anthology is on sale for a buck in the Kindle store!

Original stories and original art for a buck. Sweet! 

Knave Update: Finishing Battle Scene Revision

Forgot to post yesterday, but think of this post as a two-day post, as both days are on the same chapter, what I’m calling the Battle Scene. Today at Cafe Fiore!

(Actually more like Chapter 16)

(Actually more like Chapter 16)

For the record, I did get my minimum of 4 hours in yesterday on the Battle Scene. Also attended a Writers Cramp meeting for a critique of Chapter 21. As always, Cramp raises the bar for me to another level. Thanks Crampies!

Today, an 8-hour day: Goal after Battle Scene: I finish up the Battle Scene and Dive into the Post-Battle Scenes.

This year it’s “Steampunk Formal”

Steampunk Formal – to Goggle or Not to Goggle

Building on the steampunk theme of this year’s Writer of the Future cover, the gala in April is “steam punk formal.” That means instead of renting a regular tux I can wear some kind of hybrid Victorian dinner jacket top-hat thingy with sword-cane and gyro-boots.

I’m excited. It’s like Halloween in April.

Anyone have accessories I can borrow?vict_mens_02_full

Steampunk-Empire-Opera-Coat-with-Tails