NYCC, NaNoWriMo, and lots of other letters

NaNoWriMo

Whoa, it’s the middle of October. You know what that means? It means NaNoWriMo is knocking on my door! This is my first NaNoWriMo in which I am a full time writer, and oddly the first one since I started that I’d considered skipping. I’ve got a lot of stuff stewing and simmering on various burners of the figurative stovetop, and wasn’t sure I’d be able to justify moving one of them to the back in order to dive into NaNo. However, after a bit of discussion and consideration, I think it’s safe to say I’m willing to give it a go.

Now the question is, what story do I write? Below is a list of some possible projects that are floating around in my head:

  • A Zombie Story
  • Free-Wrench 2
  • The Other Eight 2

Last year there were a few additional things on the list, like Urban Fantasy. I suppose I’m still willing to give that a go, but now that I’m Mr. Fancypants Professional Author-Type person it is becoming steadily more clear to me that I need to focus a little tighter on the stuff that actually earns me money, at least until I can be relatively sure that I can juggle money making stuff and experimental stuff.

As before, I’m interested in what you folks think I would write next. If the past is any indication, whatever I write will be made available some time next year. Because of their short length, NaNoWriMo books have a very short turnaround. So take a pick, vote for your favorite choice, or maybe make your own suggestion. You can comment or email me at jrlallo@bookofdeacon.com. After about a week I’ll make a choice and start the outlining process. Fun!

NYCC

For those of you on the East Coast, you probably already know this, but the New York Comic Con just passed! It struck me, about halfway through the last day, that I probably should have, you know, mentioned here on my blog that I’d be attending. But you know what? It turns out it didn’t matter, because I met fans anyway! FOUR OF THEM. (Yeah, yeah, big whoop, single digits.) It was really awesome to meet you folks, and even more awesome considering I didn’t have a booth or anything. All four of these fans had to hunt me down (or in one notable case, run into me completely by chance). I even got a picture with one! I also took a bunch of pictures and got to talk to my favorite animator, Bill Plympton, for a while. Super neato!

Despite all of the great stuff I saw and did, the weirdest thing of all was the fact I took a snapshot of a guy dressed as Geoffrey Peterson (Craig Ferguson’s Robot Sidekick) and tweeted it to him… ONLY TO BE RETWEETED! It was promptly favorited and retweeted hundreds of times. So there you have it. Almost five years of doing my best to be the best writer I can be, and my biggest splash ever is a blurry photo of a guy pretending to be a robot skeleton.

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Character Interview: Myn

What follows is a non-canon character interview with Myn the dragon. The interview takes place at some point several decades after the events of The Battle of Verril. As such it contains SPOILERS, not just for the events of The Book of Deacon and Jade, but books that have not yet been written and my not be written for years. I repeat this MAY SPOIL FUTURE BOOKS. You should know from the question if it is going to spoil the future, but it is a minefield, so beware. Also, until those books are written, nothing here is necessarily set in stone. Also, I did this interview a bit differently than the others, framing it as a short story rather than a straight up interview. I hope you like it. Enjoy!

myn_looking_for_a_suitort_by_catseathedevil-d6bquai

Image courtesy of CatseaTheDevil

A dragon, her scales a radiant red and deep amber, was lounging on a mound of gold twice as large as she. The creature was the picture of contentment, her elegant gold eyes turned to four young dragons, each just a fraction of her size, scampering and wrestling about on the gold. They scrambled around and over her legs, climbing her back and nestling beneath her wings. Around her was a clean, dry cave. The light of a rising sun filtered through the yawning mouth of the cave, bathing its interior and reflecting from the coins and goblets of the hoard to speckle the walls with points of light.

There was a sound at the mouth of the cave, footsteps. She pivoted her head from her brood and looked with interest to the mouth of the cave. There was an old man there, his hair thin and white around the edges and his scalp bare across the dome of his head. He wore a blindfold and carried with him a scroll and quill.

The baby dragons reacted to the visitor with mixed reactions, some baring their teeth in threat, others scampering for cover behind their mother. The adult dragon merely observed the visitor, wary but unthreatened by his arrival.

“Hello Myn. Do you remember me?” spoke the visitor.

Myn tipped her head, eyes analyzing the man.

“I do…” she answered, her voice smooth and soothing, soft and feminine yet unmistakably powerful, as though it was gentle only because great care had been taken to render it so. “But I do not remember from where…”

“I suspect it will come to you in time. My name is Oriech, and we have met before, though not under the best circumstances. I hope you don’t mind, but I have some questions for you.” He stepped forward, prompting the smallest of the dragons, a green and yellow scamp, to charge forward in challenge.

Myn scooped her tail around the posturing little one, uttering a soft, cooing sound in her throat and depositing him atop her haunches. “Questions? For what purpose?”

“You may not realize, but the tale of you and your friends has drawn the interest of many, and of those many, there are curious minds who wonder after the events not yet recorded. Would you care to answer?”

“Sit. Ask, and we shall see.”

Oriech took a seat on the ground and carefully prepared the scroll.

“Are you blind, sir?” Myn asked respectfully.

“I am.”

“Then how do you intend to write, and how did you find your way to me through the mountains?”

He grinned. “Still the curious one. I promise answers for you just as soon as we are through. Is that acceptable?”

“I suppose.”

“Then let me begin with Myranda. What do you think of her?”

“What do I think of her?” Myn asked, as though the question was absurd. “She belongs to me. And I belong to her. She is everything. All that I have done I have done for her. To make her proud, to keep her safe. And I know that she has done so much for me.”

“When did you learn that you felt this way?”

“I still remember my first moments. She was the first living scent to fill my nose. Hers was the first touch to brush my scales. She was laying there on the floor of my cave. I was cold and she was warm. I laid atop her to share her warmth. When she awoke, she held me. She fed me. I knew that she was there for me, and I decided I would be there for her.”

“But she was hurt, and she was not a dragon like you. Dragons are just as likely to be greeted by their first meal as by their caretaker. Why didn’t you make a meal of her?”

“I was not hungry yet,” she said with a shrug. “I suppose I needed companionship more than a meal. My family was already gone. But also there was something more. A light I suppose. Not the sort you can see. The sort you can feel. She was special.”

“She was indeed. You say you lost your family. A terrible tragedy. Did you know anything about them? Have you learned much about your past?”

“I have prowled the mountains of my birth for some time. I have smelled scents that remind me of my own. I know that those far older than I still make their home there. Perhaps someday I shall find them, learn from them. But we dragons live long. There will be much time for that.”

“Indeed… Was Myranda the only one in the cave that day, the day you found her?” he asked.

“No… No there was one other. He… I don’t know what name to use. I never needed a name for him. Like Myranda, he was simply mine, and I was his. He was the teacher. I learned to hunt from him. I learned to stalk. I learned to fight. I remember that Myranda called him Leo, then Lain.”

“He was not a dragon either, and yet you accepted him. Why?”

“It was his eyes. His heart. His soul. He too had the light, though not so pure. And he was wise. A hunter knows a hunter. I felt that he would teach me, and that I had much to learn. All that I feel for Myranda I feel for him as well.”

“Were you content to just follow Myranda and Lain wherever they went? Do you totally accept what Myranda chooses to do? Would you have done some things differently than she did?”

Myn huffed a breath that was close to a laugh. “If I had my way in the beginning, Myranda and Lain and I would have curled up in a cave, safe and warm, forever. Maybe some hunting, maybe some exploring, but always together. I did not like that she was always going places that were dangerous. And she was always going near water.” Myn shuddered. “I do not like water.”

“You’ve fought beside many others in your time. What do you think of them? Deacon, for example,” Oriech asked.

“Deacon…” she said, her voice with a breath more hiss to it. Her eyes narrowed and drifted aside, her tail slicing through the air a bit. After a moment her expression softened and she turned back to Oriech. “He belongs to Myranda. I suppose he belongs to me as well. But I do not belong to him. And Myranda may say that she does, but I say she does not belong to him either. She belongs to me. I do not like that I must share her with him. In the beginning I very much did not like it. I wished Myranda had not let him get so close. But now… If I must share her, I am glad it is with him.”

“You didn’t like Ether very much either.”

Her eyes narrowed again, claws raking softly at the gold. “Ether. Ether wanted to make me share Lain. No, she wanted to take Lain from me. But Lain did not belong to her. No one belongs to her. And she belongs to no one. She was cruel, and she did foolish things while claiming to be wise.” Her expression softened slightly. “But now… Now I do not hate her so much. Maybe because Lain is gone.”

“So would you say the uneasy truce has become something of an understanding?”

“Not an understanding. I respect her power, but more so I pity her.”

“Pity her? Why?”

“Because she belongs to no one, and no one belongs to her. She has nothing. And everyone knows it but her.”

“What do you think about Ivy? And what did you think in the beginning?”

She grinned. “Ivy was easy to like. She belongs to me too. I had to share Myranda with her in the beginning, but I did not mind so much. She was soft, and warm. And she liked to give me potatoes. And she smelled very much like Lain.”

“How did you learn to talk?”

“How does anyone learn to talk? I listened. I listened to Myranda mostly, and Deacon as well. Ivy wanted very much for me to learn. She was always very excited when I learned a new word.” She grinned. “I remember, I learned her name and she was so happy.”

“Did it take long to learn to speak?”

“Not long for a dragon. Most things are not long for a dragon. But maybe long for a human. I do not know, precisely. Kenvard was a kingdom again before I learned to speak, but it had not been for long.”

“There is one thing in your life, or perhaps ‘lives’ is more appropriate, that many have wondered about. Your rebirth. The day that Myranda lost you.”

Myn closed her eyes and lowered her head. “That was a very bad day…”

“What do you remember?”

“Not much. I remember Myranda was falling, and I caught her. I was trying to land. I was smaller then, and she was too heavy to carry. Something caught me, tore my wing. I fell. Into the ice, into the water. It was so cold. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move. And then it wasn’t cold anymore. There was darkness… and then there was light. I remembered feeling peace, but also I felt other things. There were figures in the light. Watching me. Whispering. Judging. They were trying to decide something. Something about me. … And you were there. It is there that I remember you from.”

“Indeed I was. When matters of the chosen arise I am often asked to be on hand. I am the hand of fate, after all.”

Myn’s wings flared a bit. “You were one of the ones who decided what came next then.” She lowered her head, coming nose to nose with the blind man. “I was not happy about what came next,” she rumbled. “Myranda was there. I couldn’t see her, but I felt that she was there. She came for me. She wanted me to follow her. She led me away from the figures, but whatever it was they were deciding, they made up their minds, and they needed me to stay. You needed me to stay. They pulled me away from Myranda… and then it became so bright. I remember first there was warmth, then… power. It tingled, fizzled inside me. Filled me to bursting. When it left me I was cold again, but I also felt that there was light inside me. The same light that burned inside Myranda and the others.”

“Did you understand what was happening to you? That you were being Chosen? That you had to die so that you could be reborn by the will of the gods?”

“I didn’t know what it was to be Chosen, but I knew that I was more like the others than I had been. I knew I had the mark. I was happy to share it with Myranda and Lain.”

“What happened next?”

“I was flying through the air when I woke, carried by those dark things, the dragoyles. They seemed smaller than they should be, but I was weak. I could not pull away. They took me to a place with many cages, and soon I met a creature who… If Myranda and Lain and the other Chosen had a light, these creatures had a darkness. The D’Karon. The one named Demont seemed pleased by me. I was large now. Nearly as large as I am today. Something in the power I felt after the figures in the light pulled me away must have done it, helped me to grow. Made me more than I was. But he wanted me to be larger. Stronger. And he wanted me to do as he said. I would not. So he… changed me. He hammered a loop of steel onto my head. He poured dark potions and uttered dark words… and I changed. I grew. And I grew angry. He could not control me. I would not do as he said, but the anger was all he wanted. He wanted me to hurt things. To fight them. To kill them. And I did. Every day, large and small, I slashed and charred and stomped and crushed whatever they put before me. I couldn’t think. The metal burned me.

“Then one day they wanted me to crush something so small. Something that was already so broken. But the smell… how could I forget that wonderful scent. The first I had ever smelled. It was Myranda. She healed me and we escaped.”

“When she restored you from their treachery, you were still much larger than you were. How did you cope with that?”

“I did not mind. With size came power. I could not curl up atop Myranda anymore, but she could curl up atop me. The change didn’t matter to her, and it didn’t matter to me. We were a family again.”

“And now your family has grown.”

“Yes… Four wonderful hatchlings. Windsor, Thorn, Roka, and little Halfax,” she said, licking the smallest lightly. “I came to the mountains to lay them, and to raise them. The young… I do not regret how I was raised, but I think maybe for my children I want them to know their own kind.”

“How did you meet their father, your mate?”

“He was a dragon from the south. We went there many times after the war ended. There are dragons there with riders. Something like Myranda and I. The riders belong to the dragons, the dragons belong to the riders. But it is not the same. The dragons and riders have rules, must behave certain ways. Not always the way they want to.” She grinned. “And they have strange names. They called him… what was the full name? Mikkalla and Shaal’s Terrible Green Gristle. Such a strange name.”

“The sort of name a breeder would give.”

“I suppose. His rider had a different name for him. Garr. That is what I call him now. He is away. Hunting. He will be back soon. You should be gone by then. He is very protective of the hatchlings.”

“He must be quite a dragon to pique your interest after all you’ve seen.”

“He is brave and strong. He fights well, and is more intelligent than many know. We had adventures together. He helped us. We helped him. We grew close. We became each other’s.”

“Touching. Tell me, do you still fly? Does Myranda fly with you?”

“I visit her often, and she visits me. We fly whenever we can.”

“Where is your favorite place to go flying?”

“I like the edges of places. The places where one thing becomes another. I like to fly along the mountains where they turn to snow, or where they turn to forest. And the sea. I like to fly where I can see the waves lap against the shore. And I like to fly near to the clouds, so with a swoop I can be above, looking at the stars, and another swoop I am below, looking down at the roads and the fires. Garr likes to fly over the desert, but I do not. It is all the same, so large, so boring. Give me the edges. He can take the middle.”

“Have you ever thought of going back to Entwell?”

“I would very much like to. Solomon is there. He was the first dragon I knew. He taught me so much of what it was to be a dragon. He would be proud of what I have become. He was proud of what Myranda had done for me, even before he taught me the things Myranda couldn’t.”

“What sort of things did he teach you?”

“There are things… It is hard to explain if you are not a dragon. There are right and wrong ways to breathe fire. Ways to make it hotter, to blast it further. Ways to make it more precise. And there are ways to see, too. More than other creatures do. And to hear, and to smell. He helped me learn to fly. There are many things only a dragon can teach.”

“Do you know that Deacon believes he can never return to Entwell?”

“He believes he has done some crime, some terrible thing. He says they will not allow him to return.” She raised her head somewhat. “He is very intelligent. He has spent his life learning, but sometimes I think he is a fool as well. He has done so much. He has helped to save this world. I believe they will forgive him. I do not know that they ever truly did not forgive him.”

“If he asked you to, would you take him there? Through the mountains, or perhaps over them?”

“The cave of the beast… I do not know that I would want go there again. But if Myranda needed me to, or Deacon, then perhaps. But it floods. And I do not like water.” She said. “The winds above it are treacherous, tricky. I could make it, but I do not know if a passenger could. Of course, Myranda and Deacon are both strong, they are wizards. I believe they could, and I would gladly help them. I would speak to Solomon, and the strong wizard who fed me, Azriel. I would tell them the things Deacon did. He belongs to me, after all. If he wishes to return home, I should help him do it. But if they wish, I will gladly stay with them in Kenvard. It is our home too.”

“I suppose that answers all of my questions, save one. Though it is a rather odd one.”

“I have answered all. Why not one more?”

“Do you know Spyro?”

“The name is not familiar.”

“He is a small purple dragon of some renown in other worlds.”

“I know a small purple dragon. A female hatchling further up the mountain. But her name is Gleed.”

“Nevermind then. A silly question. Thank you for your time, Myn. I’m sure your answers are of great interest to a great many.”

“You are welcome.”

“Would you like me to answer any of your questions now?”

“Perhaps another time. For now I shall tend to more important matters. Travel safely,” Myn said. She stood, sending cascades of gold to the ground. “Come, little ones. Perhaps today is the day you fly…”

Well, that’s that. I hope it was satisfying. I know a lot of these questions have been burning the minds of readers for some time. I was really hesitant to have Myn speak at all, but it seemed unfair not to.

If you’ve got any other questions for any other characters, the poll is always open.

Thanks for reading!

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The Return of Between!

Very few people seemed to have an opinion on Between, my weekly serial project that I created to use all of the ideas I considered too bad to use elsewhere, but I really liked the idea of a project with a rapid turnaround. Keeping to a schedule is something I’ve never been great at, so doing a weekly project and having readers be able to chat with me about how it is developing seemed like a good way to work on that.

You can read chapter 9 of the story on Wattpad by clicking here. In the past I’ve also posted them here on the site, but since I don’t update my site every week, I felt it might bury the news posts pretty quickly, so right now it’s just on Wattpad. If you think I should toss it up here, then I’ll do that too.

I also wrapped up the first eight chapters into a quick and dirty ebook to share with some of my beta readers, and that seemed to work pretty well, so I might collect up story arcs and make them into books to give away as newsletter perks or something. We’ll see.

The plus side of making that ebook, though, is the fact that it earned me some fun fan art, and inspired me to get a cover done. The cover is still in the process of being created, but here’s the fan art. Rill and the Overseer by CatseaTheDevil!

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Starting a New Chapter

I’d like to share a little video with you, if I may…

Thursday, September 4th, 2014 was my last day at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, the fabled “Day Job” that has sustained me for just over nine years. For a long time the books have been earning more money than the day job, but stubbornness, paranoia, and inertia had conspired to keep me doing IT for HBCBSNJ, on behalf of IBM, via ICS. (Far too many acronyms in that job.) Well, not any more. Now I’m an author and nothing else. God willing, I’ll stay that way for the rest of my days, or at least a good long while. In about a week I’m going to work out a routine that should keep my nose to the grindstone enough to take full advantage of the extra hours I’ve freed up, while still giving me the time to do a load of things I used to dismiss as impossible. I’ve got a lot of fun new projects right around the corner, and some old projects that went away due to lack of time are going to come back.

It’s an exciting time, and I have all of you to thank.

Seriously, you made this possible. You are the ones who are keeping me fed. You are paying my bills. Every day that I wake up and do what I choose and what I love is because of you. I cannot thank you enough, and I’ll do my very best to prove to you that your support has not been misplaced. Now I have just one more favor to ask, but I assure you, it’ll be worth your while.

If you’re visiting this site, you’re interested in knowing what I’m doing. And now that I’m relying entirely on the books to keep my head above water, it behooves me to make sure that you know whenever I’ve done something that you might like. To that end, I’ve instituted the Newsletter Perk system. Here’s the deal, on my contact page (or right here) you’ll find a signup for my newsletter. Anyone who signs up from now on is going to get a perk, something non-subscribers don’t have access to. Every now and then I’ll swap out the perk for something new, moving the old one out for the rest of the world to see. So if you are signed up, you’ll get to see lots of stuff that other people will have to wait for. And we’re not talking little things. Here’s a glimpse at the first perk:

Not even done, and still gorgeous

Not even done, and still gorgeous

That’s the work in progress of a desktop wallpaper by the cover artist, the one and only Nick Deligaris. If you sign up for the newsletter, you’ll get the finished version of this background right now in a variety of sizes. You see how detailed Myranda is? In the finished version, everybody looks that good. And all you have to do is sign up to get the updates you were already interested in. Win win!

Now, if you decide you don’t want another email in your mailbox every time I’ve got something new, that’s fine. You can always visit the site or go to any of my many social network pages. You’ll eventually get every perk the newsletter folks get, just a little bit later.

Once again, I thank you. My life is changed in a way I’d never imagined possible, and you did it. Now to get started on that next chapter…

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Work in Progress (WIP) Blog Tour

I believe this is the first time I’ve ever been tagged in one of these blog tour type things. A little while ago fellow author M.L. LeGette tagged me for something called the WIP tour. The rules are simple. You link back to the person who tagged you. Done. Let’s see… Next, write a little about my upcoming novel.

Well, it’s the third book in the Big Sigma series, starring Lex, Michella, and all your favorites–unless you’ve never read the first two, in which case it features a bunch of strangers. It takes place about six months after the end of the previous book, with Michella’s journalistic career continuing to blossom and Lex’s various careers failing to do likewise. Shortly after we join our heroes, they find that someone seems to have something against them, because they start to face friction from every conceivable angle. It hits Lex particularly hard, costing him not one but two jobs. Meanwhile Michella’s trademark hard-hitting journalism is declawed by the management. Not one to be stymied by the powers that be deciding she needs to keep a low profile, Michella tracks down a ridiculous story about extraterrestrials. The bosses love it because it’s the kind of harmless story that won’t cause any waves. Michella likes it because it happens to be right near where her meatier story needs her to be. Naturally, once they get there, the truth takes them in directions they never could have predicted.

Right. So now I have to write the first sentence of the first three chapters. easy enough.

Prologue

The darker the corner, the nastier the things that hide there.

Chapter 1

Certain jobs just weren’t meant to be done by humans.

Chapter 2

Near an icy, dim planet that had not attracted enough interest from the rest of the galaxy to earn a name, Silo and Garotte were working surveillance.

Well, at least that last one had some meat on it, huh? Okay, what’s left. … I have to pick four authors to tag. Hmm…

How about Lindsay BurokerCharlotte E. English, Terah Edun, and Nicholas Kahler. (That last one’s sneaky. You’ll find out why eventually.) No pressure, folks!

Okay, hope that does justice to the Blog Tour.

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Blackguards Kickstarter

Blackguards-FB_Header-2014-v1 (1)Hi folks! Guess what? I’m in a Kickstarter Campaign! Nineteen other authors and I have joined forces with the good folks at Ragnarok Publications to present to you an anthology stuffed to the gills with scoundrels and rogues. It is called Blackguards: Tales of Assassins, Mercenaries, and Rogues. It’s got a heck of a lineup:

And me, too! My contribution is a little Book of Deacon story called “Seeking the Shadow”. It features two very memorable characters from the trilogy, one everyone loves, and one everyone hates. (With “Shadow” in the title it’s probably not so hard to guess who one of them is.) A beta reader referred to the story as “An appetizer you wish was the main course,” so I guess it’s worth a read!

There’s all sorts of fun perks for people who contribute, not the least of which is the ability to work with me on naming one of three characters in Seeking the Shadow. I’d great if you’d consider making a pledge. I’ll be sure to let you know if and when it’s funded, and when the time is running out.

Check it out!

 

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Best Books of the Month

I just got the most remarkable email! Free-Wrench has been selected as one of the Best Books of the Month for the AU/NZ iBooks Store! If you’re a reader in that region, THANK YOU! To understand why I’m so deeply honored to be selected for this promotion, you must first understand the nature of the promotion. This is not simply a matter of a marketing team selecting a book with a pretty cover and good reviews. The good folks in charge of the promo select books that they have read, they have enjoyed, and they believe others will enjoy as well. It is an honor that has been bestowed upon giants of the industry. People like JK Rowling. It comes with a front and center banner advertising the selections, and that’s wonderful, but what means the most to me is that it comes with an editorial note!

!!!

!!!

 

If you’d asked me last November when I was writing Free-Wrench if I thought anyone in New Zealand or Australia would even read it, I’d have said, “Well that’s a bit much to hope for, isn’t it?” But to have it read by someone in Apple, and to have them believe in it enough to share it with the rest of the iBooks users is more than I ever could have imagined.

For those who have read and enjoyed Free-Wrench already, thank you. For those who haven’t, it is proudly available on iBooks. Australians and New Zealanders can find the promotion here. I hope you’ll give my books and the others a try. Apparently they’re pretty good!

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Once again, and as always, thank you for reading.

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Artificial Evolution Cover Reveal and Pre-Order (Plus a Newsletter)

What? Already?!

Yep, with Free-Wrench just a few days old, I’m already starting the engine on the next major release, Artificial Evolution. This is the book that I’ve been calling Sci-Fi 3 for the longest time, and it has been in the works for WAY LONGER THAN IS ACCEPTABLE! Partially because people smarter than I recommended it and partially because I needed something to light a fire under my butt, I decided to set a release date. In December, you’ll be able to read this monstrosity once and for all. Which means I really need to finish writing it. And today, you can pre-order it on the iBookstore!

As always, the cover is by the magnificent Nick Deligaris, and I am beyond excited to be showing it off, so I’m going to make it HUGE.

Look out. Michella means business.

Look out. Michella means business.

Seriously, how can you not love that. This brings back pretty much the whole cast from Unstable Prototypes, including Silo, Garotte, Karter, Ma, Michella, Squee, and of course Lex. What happens? Well, I’ll just plop the synopsis in here to tell you:

Artificial Evolution is the third book in the Big Sigma series, building upon the story and characters introduced by Bypass Gemini and Unstable Prototypes. Lex, Michella and Squee are once again joined by the mercenaries Silo and Garotte. Along the way they’ll need plenty of help from mad engineer Karter Dee and his AI Ma.

After butting heads with the megacorporation known as VectorCorp it was only a matter of time before Lex Alexander and his girlfriend Michella Modane would face the consequences. It is remarkable what a single corporate agent with the resources of a multi-global conglomerate can do to a person’s career. In the space of a few days Lex is looking for work and Michella is feeling pressure from the network to ease off the hard-hitting stories. Not one to be silenced, Michella quickly hatches a plan to continue her investigations under the guise of a fluff story about a so-called extraterrestrial, and who better to be her personal driver than Lex?

Meanwhile, mercenaries Silo and Garotte are still nipping at the heels of the terrorist group known as the Neo-Luddites. Rumors of an attempt to secure a devastating weapon bring the pair to a forgotten little planet in an undeveloped corner of the galaxy. Circumstances require that local authorities lay claim to the terrorists’ apparent target, but what sort of threat could one gangly collection of anatomical curiosities pose to the galaxy?

The answer to that question will put our heroes to the test and leave a whole world hanging in the balance.

I hope that sounds good to you! I’m still finishing up the climax, and then there are rewrites and beta readings and the whole mess, but it is coming along great. Go ahead and pre-order it! And if you’re a Nook or Kobo user, rest assured, pre-orders are on the way for that too. If I can work out the details, I’m thinking of offering up some cool pre-order bonuses for folks.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE

While I’ve had a newsletter for a while, it has recently become rather important that I nurture that thing into something more than a vestigial vector for information. So first let me direct you to the signup page. Then let me say that I’ll be offering incentives for newsletter subscribers too! I’m still working out what they’ll be, but folks on the fan page have suggested desktop backgrounds of your favorite characters, and supplementary book stuff like future excerpts, deleted scenes, and expanded character interviews.

Feel free to weigh in, consider signing up, and I’ll keep you posted on future goodies!

Thanks for reading!

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Free-Wrench Official Release!

The time has come for what’s probably the most unusual and confusing release I’ve ever done. Free-Wrench, the NaNoWriMo project I completed last November and released as part of the NaNoWriMo bundle, has now officially released! It should already be available at Barnes and Noble, KoboAppleAmazon, and Smashwords with others soon to follow.

Free-Wrench_text-b

Thanks to the early release, I’m proud to say the book has already earned some wonderful reviews, so if even if you’re not a steampunk fan, I hope you’ll give it a chance. It’s got some fun characters, and a rather wacky setting. But don’t take my word for it, go ahead and read the blurb! (Yes, I’m aware that’s also my word. Don’t be difficult.)

The islands of Caldera are a shining jewel in a rather bleak world. A terrible calamity in the past had blanketed much of the world with a toxic “fug.” Those who survived were forced to take to the mountains and the skies in wondrous airships. Life has since been a struggle, with only the most ruthless and crafty able to survive. To spare themselves the same fate, the Calderans erected a battery of guns to fend off the airships of the mainland. They isolated themselves from the madness of the world, choosing instead to focus on the pursuits of art and creativity. Few believe the technologically advanced but socially barbarous outsiders have anything to offer. Amanita Graus, though, is hoping that they do.

Nita’s mother has lost her livelihood and perhaps soon her life to a terrible disease. Already the black sheep of the family for embracing engineering rather than art, Nita resolves to leave the safety of her home and do whatever it takes to find a cure. For a price, the bizarre crew of an airship called The Wind Breaker are willing to grant her a meeting with their mysterious benefactors, and thus a chance to procure the one thing with a chance to save her mother.

Free-Wrench follows Nita’s adventures in a steampunk world of airships and lunatics. Helping her in her journey are an eccentric crew of smugglers; the gruff Cap’n Mack, the simple but enthusiastic Lil and Coop, the arrogant marksman Gunner, the surly surgeon Butch, and the irritable mascot Wink. To survive and find what she seeks she’ll need to earn their trust, follow their rules, and meet face to face with the people who pull the strings of their society.

Normally I’d make a big production of a release like this, but life is preventing such a thing. I’m currently working 13+ hour days at the day job, and mulling over a rather significant career offer that I’ve got less than a week to act upon. I don’t have much time or brain to spare for book promotion. I’d be much obliged if you folks would spread the word about the books, though.

I’m so very, so painfully close to finishing the first draft of the next book, a little sci-fi story called Artificial Evolution. (That’s now the official title, since I went and told Nick that’s what it was.) You might see that ready for pre-order before its ready to proofread, since I’m starting to take advice from the good folks at Book Expo America and Smashwords, which means doing a LONG pre-order. Fingers crossed, people!

Thanks for reading, and enjoy!

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Character Interview: Lain

This was a tricky one to write. A lot of the other characters would be perfectly willing to be interviewed. In order to answer all of the questions asked it would have to take place toward the end of the Trilogy, and let’s face it, Lain during the trilogy isn’t the sort of character who would be answering questions from just anyone. Thus, the interview is being conducted by Ivy, who is one of only perhaps three people Lain would even potentially answer. Even with that in mind, Ivy didn’t know some of the things that you good folks had questions about, so this is non-Canon, and she’s going to learn a lot. It therefore CONTAINS SPOILERS. If you have not read the trilogy and The Rise of the Red Shadow, don’t read this unless you are okay with having some major plot points spoiled. If this scene had a place in the book, it would be in the fields Lain’s rescue from the Volcano, in the time following Myranda waking him and helping him to recover.

Enjoy!

Ivy: Lain, you look much better now. How do you feel?

Lain: Well enough.

Ivy: (Hugging him.) I was afraid we were going to lose you.

Lain weathers the embrace and reluctantly returns it with one arm.

Ivy: (pulling back) Don’t scare me like that again! I mean… You’re my friend, Lain. And I don’t know anything about you! I can’t imagine losing someone I care about without ever really knowing them… I’m not taking that chance. I want to know all about you, Lain. Starting now.

Lain: Ivy, you don’t need to–

Ivy: (With finality) Yes I do. What about your name, Lain? Where does that come from?

Lain looks at her steadily, as if testing her resolve. She returns his gaze defiantly. When it is clear she will not relent, he releases a breath in something just short of a sigh.

Lain: Lain is a title. I earned it in Entwell for proving my skill and stealth.

Ivy: Well do you have a name then? A real one.

Lain: I have been called many things. Leo, Teyn, Shadow. I have no true name.

Ivy: How can that be? Did you forget it, or change into someone new, like me?

Lain: I lost my mother before I could learn my name.

Ivy: Oh… I’m sorry. So you grew up without a mother? What about your father?

Lain: I never knew him.

Ivy: Right… right, I remember now. Ether says he is a god.

Lain: So she says.

Ivy: Do you know which one?

Lain: I do not know that it is even so.

Ivy: Aw… growing up without a Mother and Father. I’d have been so afraid, but you’re never scared.

Lain: The only ones who are never afraid are the insane and the ignorant. I’ve learned to hide fear, but it is always there as a warning.

Ivy: Really? But you seem so brave!

Lain: Brave is the word for those who conquer fear, not those who do not face it.

Ivy: Well what is the scariest thing you’ve ever been through?

Lain: My first memory is being captured and brought to a plantation to serve as a slave. I’ve never been more frightened than in the moment they seized me by my tail. I knew there was no one to help me. I was powerless. It was years before I became numb to the fear.

Ivy: That’s horrible… There must have been good things too, though. What’s the most amazing thing you’ve ever been through?

Lain: What good does it do you to ask all of these questions?

Ivy: I need to know that there’s been some light in your life. (She crosses her arms.) And this’ll go a lot faster if you just answer questions instead of trying to talk me out of asking them. You aren’t going to talk me out of it.

Lain: (eyes shut in combined remembrance and subdued irritation) There have been many things. The village of Entwell, when the falls are flowing… And the cliffs just past the village’s edge. I’ve seen a wizard conjure up a whole city around me. I’ve seen a dragon hatch from its egg and choose a human as its caretaker.

Ivy: Wow… Have you… Have you ever met any other malthropes? Besides me, I mean.

Lain: Very few.

Ivy: Were any of them your friends? Or at least did you know any of them well?

Lain: One of them. I knew her very well.

Ivy: (Smiling) Her? (Excitedly) What was her name? What was she like?

Lain: (Pausing, as if hesitating to speak the words) Her name was Sorrel. She was lovely. Bold. Brash. Clever. Stubborn.

Ivy: Were you… close?

Lain: We were.

Ivy: Did you… Did you love her?

Lain: I did.

Ivy: (Eyes twinkling with emotion) And did she love you?

Lain: (Pausing longer, as though considering the question for the first time.) I believe she did.

Ivy: (Almost tackling Lain with another enthusiastic hug.) That’s wonderful! Where is she now? What happened to her?

Lain: I turned to my task, to buying back the freedom of the slaves. It was too dangerous for her. She went her own way. To raise a family in a place where she believed she could be safe.

Ivy: A family… she had children?

Lain: Twins. Reyna and Wren.

Ivy: Were they… yours?

Lain: … I believe they were.

Ivy: You’re a father! (Eyes streaming with tears and clasping his hand in hers.) What happened to them? Tell me they’re safe!

Lain: I don’t know for certain what happened. I know that she left for the Crescents, and reached them safely. She was heading to North Crescent. She believed she would be safe there. But that was decades ago. Even if their lives were long and happy, they are surely gone now.

Ivy: Oh… I would have liked to meet them. If you’d been able to, if you knew they were still there and still safe, would you have taken me to meet them?

Lain: If I knew they were safe, I would send you to them. But I wouldn’t go with you.

Ivy: Why not?!

Lain: (Gesturing around at the army, and at his own injuries.) This, all of it. I can’t leave this behind. Where I go, this follows. I couldn’t risk bringing it upon them.

Ivy: (Wiping away a tear) Then we’ve got to end this war. We’ve got to make it so that you can at least try to find her. Or your children. Or your grandchildren. (She clasps her hands and bounces excitedly) You might have a whole family out there. I can’t wait to tell Ether. Imagine the look on her face. … Hey, tell me the truth, what do you think of her? Because she loves you.

Lain: She thinks she loves me, but she doesn’t know what love is.

Ivy: No, that’s the funny part. She thinks she doesn’t love you because she doesn’t know what love is. But she’s head over heels for you. I can tell. What do you think of her?

Lain: (Shaking his head slowly, a dash of irritation showing on his face) She’s occasionally a valuable ally, when she can control herself. More often she is a liability. She’s spent an eternity learning little of her own potential and nothing of the world she’s tasked to save. Until she learns the value of those things she’s shunned, she is hardly deserving of consideration.

Ivy: Wow… Well, what do you think of me?

Lain: You are young and you have a great deal to learn, but you have grown much in the short time since we found you. You are a credit to our race, and I value your safety above all else.

Ivy: Oh… (She covers her face for a moment in embarrassment.) Thank you. What about the others? What do you think of Myranda?

Lain: When I first found her, I believed her to be like any other human. She seemed foolish, perhaps even greedy. I’ve come to respect her in the months since then. She is dedicated, patient, intelligent, and tolerant. She is many things I thought humans were incapable of. There aren’t more than five people in my life that I’ve ever truly trusted. She is among them.

Ivy: Yeah, she’s wonderful… What about Myn, what do you think of her?

Lain: She is cunning, fierce, and loyal. Everything a dragon should be. To see how far she has come despite the endless calamities in her short life, I can only imagine the sort of dragon she will become.

Ivy: What about Deacon?

Lain: I admire his skill, but I believe his thirst for knowledge and his blind devotion to Myranda will lead him to a terrible end.

Ivy: I sure hope not! He’s great! … Hey, he’s been to Entwell too. Everyone I know who’s ever been there seems like they’ve learned wonderful things. Did you have a favorite teacher when you were there?

Lain: (Expression very slightly hardening, his patience with the conversation waning.) I learned a great deal. I am indebted to my many teachers.

Ivy: But who was your favorite?

Lain: … Those who taught me combat, stealth… Their lessons were the most valuable. But there was a fairy, Fiora… She taught me things I’d never known I would need to know. She taught me to read, to write. She taught me languages. And I believe she valued me as a student as highly as I valued her as a teacher.

Ivy: She sounds nice. Fiora. I don’t think Myranda mentioned her when she was talking about Entwell.

Lain: It was before Myranda’s time.

Ivy: Are there any from your visit with Myranda that you liked?

Lain: I went there to recover, not to learn.

Ivy: Still, was there anyone?

Lain: … I was pleased to find that the elder had taken her rightful place.

Ivy: What about…

Lain: I’ve answered enough questions. There is much to do in the days ahead. You need your rest and I need mine.

Ivy: Fine… Thanks for answering though. Sometimes it seems like you’re this larger than life thing. Like a statue of a great hero instead of a living, breathing creature. It’s nice to know that inside you’re a person, even if you don’t always show it. (She leans in and gives him a peck on the cheek.) Get some rest. I’m going to get my fiddle.

Well, there you have it. I hope all of your questions were answered. If you have additional questions, or questions for other characters, don’t forget the poll is always open.

Thanks for reading!

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