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.

* For alerts on FREE promos I’ll be running, click here & “Follow” on Bookbub. *    

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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Special Midnight Free Book Offer!

Buy a copy of this year’s Writers of the Future before Midnight tonight and I’ll joyfully ship you a first-edition paper, hardback,* eBook or audiobook of The Jack of Souls!

BUY BY MIDNIGHT

*First come first served on the paper and hardbacks (I think I have a dozen of each). No limit (except midnight) on The Jack of Souls eBooks and audio.
How Does This Work? 
Simple! Just send me a receipt/photo of you and your WOTF to stephenmerlino@hotmail.com, along with your preference of paper, hard, ebook or audio, plus your address, and I’ll put it in the mail.  Thank you!
 
Buy at a local book store or online. Here are the links:
Amazon US (paperback | Kindle)         < $11.52 paperback, $6.99 Kindle
Barnes & Noble (paperback | Nook)    < $ 11.63 paperback, $6.49 Nook
Kobo
Books-A-Million
IndieBound
Walmart
Target

 

This is the week to get WRITERS OF THE FUTURE for Summer Reading!

THIS IS THE BEST WEEK TO BUY Writers of the Future!

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If you’ve been waiting to get yours, this is the week that helps us most — our Bestseller Week.” 
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(Little-known fact: Bestseller lists measure velocity of sales over one week, Sun-Sat. So this is our week to urge sales that fund next year’s contest and maybe give it Bestseller status.)
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So, please buy before Sunday! At any book store or online:
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( * PLUS, YOU CAN HELP A TON BY SHARING THIS POST!  * )
Thanks again for your support!

Win a free eBook of THE JACK OF SOULS!

eBook-Slot-Machine GIVEAWAY!

Click the image for a chance to win an ebook copy of The Jack of Souls on Amazon!

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Give it a whirl, and share this link with friends! Good luck!

 

Days 2 & 3 – Writers of the Future Workshop

off the grid for 24 hours

When last I posted, we’d all been assigned the task of writing a short story in 24 hours. I was given a random object (a 38 Special shell casing) and told to go interview someone on the street, and then use these things to inspire and craft a story.

And that’s what we did for the last day. I didn’t come up for air for basically fourteen hours (in two 7 hour chunks), which is why I didn’t post the schedule for yesterday

A first

But I did it! I wrote a 5K story in a day, and it has all the bones of a decent story. It’s a rough draft, sure, but it has all the bones. There were valuable lessons in that for me. Perhaps the most valuable lesson of this exercise was to see that I could in fact do this from scratch, with random inspirations; the other was that I could do that in a 24-hour window. That makes me feel good.

So here’s what we’ve been doing: 

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You’ll notice the right-hand column is the schedule of the Illustrator’s track.

the illustrators arrived today

The Illustrators got here yesterday, and we just met them today and saw for the first time the illustrations they did for the stories that will appear in the anthology. I’ll get a close-up of the illustration for my story. The artist (as you can see in the picture) is a young woman; her name is Maricella, and she is from Mexico.

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2016 Writers of the Future Workshop – Fri & Sat Schedule

3 Days left! Larry niven, Mike resnick, nancy kress…

Fri & Sat

NANCY KRESS: “Develop writing rituals to train the ‘Little Man in the Basement.'”

LARRY NIVEN: “If Lucifer’s Hammer gets humanity to do something about this threat, I’ll feel my life was justified.” 🙂

MIKE RESNICK: “You sell your first 3 books on promise. You sell your 4th on record.”

Day 1 Program – WOTF Workshop

This program was a closely guarded secret until we arrived

In fact, before we came, I searched the internet for one of these from previous years, to no avail. Now that we’ve all got a copy and permission to share, I can post mine. I’ll post one every day this week.

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And yes, you see that right: 8 hours today with David Farland and Tim Powers, talking plot construction, characters, theme, conflict, etc., and hearing stories about bar-hopping with Phillip K. Dick. Fantastic. Such a wonderful opportunity.

Below, David and Tim, after they distributed story props to all of us. In the foreground is the prop that is to inspire a story I write tomorrow. In case you’re not familiar, that’s a 9 mm shell casing, which makes my job easy.There are lots of those in fantasy.
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THE JACK OF SOULS is up for preorder on Audible!

The audiobook for The Jack of Souls is up for preorder on Audible, and it’s freaking fantastic!  I am so pleased!

Here’s an audio file of the opening pages. The actor, Alex Wyndham, went with an English accent—probably because of the lofty material, 😉 –and he rocks it! Turns out he’s a great character actor.

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Even in the first minute I love what he did with the barman. II can’t wait to hear how he did Caris and Willard and Brolli and Bannus’s voices.

I shall have to subject my kids to it on the road trip to the mountains this weekend. Mwa-hahaha!

 

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

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Steampunked

   Announcing the cover for  this year’s Writers of the Future Anthology (vol. 32)!

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I love this cover. In my opinion it is the best in all 32 years. I think Steampunk lends itself well to this kind of whimsy. And such colors!

What’s in the Anthology?

The anthology, which includes all twelve of this year’s winning short stories (including mine) as well as stories by Brandon Sanderson and Dave Wolverton, is now available for preorder on Amazon.

 

 

More in the Anthology

The anthology also features essays on writing by Tim Powers (who wrote On Stranger Tides, from which Pirates of the Caribbean was made), and others.

Final Edits

My story is now in final edits. I got to work with the fabulous Dave Farland (Dave Wolverton), who will also be at the conference. How lucky was I that my spring break coincides with the week-long conference and gala? Can’t wait.

WRITERS OF THE FUTURE Contest Winner!

 

WOTF CONTEST WINNERSunday night, I got a call from Joni Labaqui, the Writers of the Future contest director…

Since I was a finalist already, I knew this was either going to be good news (that I didn’t place in the contest, but I could be happy to be a finalist), or astounding news (that I’d placed).

“Are you ready?” she said. “Your story is one of the winners!”

I’m not sure what she said after that. Something about this being the biggest quarter in the history of the contest (8,000 plus submissions?) and how they were flying me and the other eleven winners (three for each quarter) to LA in April for an all-expense-paid week of workshops and parties and classes with instructors like Tim Powers and K.D. Wentworth, and guests like Larry Niven, Ken Scholes, Robert Sawyer and Mike Resnick.

I’m still stunned just thinking about it. And yes, I’m incredibly excited.

I couldn’t get to sleep that night. I had to step out for a walk. I felt, and still feel, overwhelmingly grateful. I am so thankful that something in my story caught someone’s eye. I know how subjective story judging is. There were surely stories better written, funnier, smarter, sexier. But someone noticed something in mine that set it apart, and I thank my good angels for that.

The Conference is the Real Prize

Yes, there is a generous cash prize, and yes, they publish the twelve winning stories in an anthology. But the real prize is the conference and the intangibles of learning and exposure that week.

A 2010 Winner Explains the Benefits of the Contest and Conference

Brad Torgersen wrote a complete breakdown of the value of the contest and all of its intangibles on his website, here.

Thank you, Writers of the Future! : )

 

 

 

THE JACK OF SOULS Animation!

I asked Luke Shea, freelance animator/artist, to make a trailer for THE JACK OF SOULS. Due to my inexperience as an art director, what we ended up with is more of a YA primer to the world of the Jack, but whatever it is, it’s really fun, and Luke is amazing. (That’s also his voice as the narrator!)

Check it out here:

Short Story Award

I just learned that my short story, “Outside the Game,” won first place in the Southwest Writers International Writing Competition!  SWW-Contest-Header

Many thanks to David Levine and Fairwood Writers, who helped me develop it.

“Outside the Game” is an alternative first chapter to The Jack of Souls, set in the same place the novel begins, but an hour before the events that start the novel.

I wrote it as a tool to gain attention for the novel (and because Harric is so much fun to write about!).

Here’s the link, if you want to check it out:

http://www.southwestwriters.com/contest/sww-annual-international-writing-contest/