Looking Back on 2016 and Looking Forward to 2017

It’s been a heck of a year, hasn’t it folks? Don’t worry. This isn’t a post about how awful 2016 was. There are plenty of those to go around. Instead, I’m going to talk a bit about what this year looked like from the point of view of my writing and self-publishing journey. First let’s look at the new releases.

In 2016 I put out four full length titles: Temporal Contingency (Big Sigma 4), Ichor Well (Free-Wrench 3), The Redemption of Desmeres (The Book of Deacon 3.5), and Between. I can’t say any of them were blockbusters, but those of you that have read them all seem quite satisfied. The reviews I’ve gotten are positive, and while they haven’t all made back their cost, they’re still earning, so it’s just a matter of time.

Aside from my direct releases, there are also a few supplementary releases to talk about. I self-financed a reading of The D’Karon Apprentice (Book of Deacon 4). It’s the second audio book I’ve done via ACX, and though I’m thrilled with the narration and the quality of the result, it looks like it’s going to be a long time before I earn back the cost. A good performer costs money, and as it stands right now, the demand for audio editions of my stories doesn’t quite justify it.

Meanwhile, Books in Motion picked up several of my other stories for publication. This year Bypass Gemini and Unstable Prototypes released. Since they paid me an advance, technically I’ve already made a profit on those. Neat, huh?

The Great Convergence was released in Germany and has been quite successful, might I add.

In non-book news, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast, which I co-host with Lindsay Buroker and Jeff Poole, passed the 100th episode. We’re developing quite a following, and I’ve heard from a number of people that it has been extremely helpful, and ranks among their favorite author podcasts. Its humbling to be of value to my fellow author types, and though Lindsay is unquestionably the driving force of the podcast, I’m happy to add what value I can.

Whenever I commission a piece of art, particularly figurines, I always get a bunch of people asking me where they can buy one. In 2016 I decided to give people that option, if they had deep enough pockets. The figurines I commission cost at least $100 a piece (often much more) but thanks to the sculpting prowess Leilia Clay and the digital artistry of Liz Landis, I was able to make Solby/Squee and Myn available in full color or one color 3D prints via Shapeways. You can also get a nifty Myn Pendant and some other stuff, if you’re interested.

While we’re on the subject, I also had some neat stickers printed, and I’ve still got some bookmarks and bookplates. You can only get those by sending me a self-addressed, stamped envelope (international folks, email me to figure out the postage alternative). Send your letters (and goodies, why not?) to:

Joseph R. Lallo
PO Box 190
Colonia, NJ 07067

 

So that’s the year that was. Now, let’s look ahead.

I’ve got a few things already finished and either awaiting an edit or a cover. There’s The Big Sigma Collection: Volume 1, which will release next month (hopefully). I’ve also completed Free-Wrench 4, and a story called Pizza Dragon. There’s also a short story collection called “Lone Wolf” that will include two stories, one of which is in the Book of Deacon series.

Thanks to a vote, at least Book of Deacon 5 and probably The Rise of the Red Shadow 2 will be written next year as well.

There are some new things I’m trying for 2017, too. For the first time, I’m writing something in someone else’s setting. Lindsay Buroker opened up her Fallen Empire series for Kindle Worlds, and I’ve thrown my hat in the ring to write something. I wrote the first words in that project today and I’m going to try my darnedest to get it released for the official launch in April. I’ve also written a children’s book that is being illustrated as we speak.

You can also expect to see Artificial Evolution become an audio book, as well as at least Free-Wrench, if not Skykeep as well.

Aside from the writing, what are my plans for 2017? Well, like everyone I’m hoping to get a little healthier. I wasn’t as disciplined as I’d like to be in almost any way this year, and I’m hoping I can improve that next year. That means higher word counts, and more books overall. Hopefully I can get on a better schedule, too. And frankly, the time has come to start reading more regularly. My brain needs feeding.

That’s about it for me! Hope you had a good 2016 and here’s hoping for an even better 2017.

The Leading Ladies Bundle

The D’Karon Apprentice joins an epic lineup of fantasy stories with non-distressed damsels

If you’ve read just about any of my books, you’ll know that I’m no stranger to the popular fantasy tropes. Dragons, wizards, prophecies, etc. They’re classic story elements for a reason! But one cliche I tend not to use is the traditional “Damsel in Distress.” Let’s face it, ladies don’t always get a chance to be heroic in fantasy stories. Often they exist as little more than the target of courtly romance and/or a McGuffin for the hero to fetch, in either case wearing a thoroughly impractical ensemble. It can make for an interesting story if written well, but that’s seldom been the sort of story I wanted to tell.

It turns out, I’m not alone!

StoryBundle and Charlotte E. English — both of whom I’ve worked with multiple times in the past — have teamed up to produce The Leading Ladies Bundle. This is a limited time, name-your-own-price bundle of stories with a strong female lead or a supporting cast of capable ladies. The D’Karon Apprentice–ironically the book of mine with the most scantily clad lady on the cover–joins works from such heavy hitters as Lindsay Buroker (another person with whom I’ve frequently collaborated), Annie Bellet, and (of course) Charlotte E. English. Here’s the full lineup, plus some words from the curator herself.

In these tales of derring-do, the ladies have stepped firmly out of the background. Not every story is female-led, though many are. In some of these books, they’re taking centre stage and rocking it. In others, it’s a supporting cast of women that shines.

I have for you an aristocratic amateur sleuth and a wayward forest witch from W. R. Gingell; a top mathematician and codebreaker from Lindsay Buroker; and from Joseph Robert Lewis and J. Zachary Pike, elf ladies as we’ve never seen them before. There’s a cursed princess from Annie Bellet, a brilliant scholarly mage from Rachel Cotterill, and a cast of wizards, necromancers and dragons from Joseph Lallo. And from me, there’s a predominantly female team of wily masqueraders with a grand mystery to solve.

These books cover a range of fantasy sub-genres, from comic to epic to romantic to adventure fantasy. They’ll take you to diverse fantasy worlds, and show you how spectacular leading ladies can be.

– Charlotte E. English

The initial titles in the Leading Ladies Fantasy Bundle (minimum $5 to purchase) are:

  • Elf Saga – Doomsday (Omnibus Edition) by Joseph Robert Lewis
  • The D’Karon Apprentice by Joseph R. Lallo
  • Watersmeet by Rachel Cotterill
  • Masque by W.R. Gingell
  • Encrypted – Forgotten Ages Book 1 by Lindsay Buroker

If you pay more than the bonus price of just $15, you get all five of the regular titles, plus five more!

  • Orconomics by J. Zachary Pike
  • Seven Dreams by Charlotte E. English
  • Gryphonpike Chronicles Volume 1: The Barrows by Annie Bellet
  • Wolfskin by W.R. Gingell
  • Decrypted – Forgotten Ages Book 2 by Lindsay Buroker
Quite a deal, wouldn’t you say? I hope you’ll pick it up! And you can do so starting now over at StoryBundle!

Between Release

It’s time for a new book, everyone! Between is available wherever books are sold. For the first week or so it’ll be $0.99, so if you want it cheap, get it early! After that, the price will go back up to $3.99.

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Here’s the blurb:

Between is a new sci-fi/fantasy adventure from the mind behind The Book of Deacon, Free-Wrench, and Big Sigma.

Philo Middleton wasn’t having a very good day. It began with him waking up strapped to a chair inside a strange, high-tech chamber. His mind was wiped clean, even his own name unfamiliar to him. And yet somehow things went sharply downhill from there.

After being collected by Rill, a three-headed sea serpent with a curious set of dispositions, he learned he had somehow found his way to a place known by its many displaced residents as The Between. It wasn’t so much a location as a lack of location. Time did not exist there. The concepts of direction, distance, and gravity were subjective at best. Worst of all, with laws of physics dictated largely by whim, science and technology were nearly worthless. Those with a mind for magic held all the power, and those unfortunate ‘science-types?’ They did what they were told.

Philo was quickly joined by a cast of characters unified only in their desires to survive and one day return to their homes. Along with Rill, he soon found himself either aligned or at odds with creatures like Trixie the mechanically-inclined demon, Mr. Stubbs the scheming hobgoblin, and the vampiric Duke. They worked as the all-purpose henchmen known as ‘fetchers’ for the adorably nefarious Overseer.

If he wanted to survive, Philo would have to find a way to make himself useful, and if he wanted to escape, he would have to find people he could trust. Too bad the only thing rarer than a useful science-type was a trustworthy fetcher.

This was a fun one. Not what I’d call a major release, because let’s face it, Book of Deacon and Big Sigma are where my bread is buttered, but fun nonetheless. If you’ve not been following closely, then you should know that an unedited version of the first 2/3rds of this story was released on a weekly basis on Wattpad a while back, but when it failed to get traction over there I sidelined it, then finally decided to finish it this year.

As I’ve said before, this was the way I put “The Bad Idea Exercise” to work for me. If I got a bad idea lodged in my head, I would write it down just to clear my brain so I could move on. Often I would just throw that idea way. (Call it preemptive editing.) But sometimes I felt there was the kernel of quality buried somewhere in there, so I’d hang onto it. Eventually I had tens of thousands of words mounded up in that document, so I decided to see if it could be made into something resembling a cohesive plot. And it turns out, yes! I could!

I hope you like the story. And while you’re reading, why not play one of these little games?

Crossover Watch: This story has two subtle-to-not-so-subtle elements that are explicitly crossovers from the Big Sigma and Book of Deacon Universes. You might even spot a Free-Wrench reference.

Origin Hunting: Most of the characters/events in the story and several whole lines were originally rejected ideas from other stories. As you read, maybe try to figure out where a given character came from!

I hope you pick up Between and enjoy it. If you do, let me know. Better yet, let everyone else know with a nice review!

Audio Giveaway and NYCC

Hi folks!

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Just a quick couple of notes today. First, Karyn O’Bryant–a name you’ll know if you’ve been following the releases of my audiobooks–emailed me to let me know she’s got an extra copy of The Battle of Verril on CD. She’s interested in giving it away to a fan of the series, and I’ve got a few copies of the other titles, so we’ve decided to run a giveaway. If you’d like a chance to win, check out the gleam.io giveaway. Contest ends October 12th.

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Also, if you’d like to meet me in person and you’re in the NYC area for New York Comic Con, I’ll once again be attending. Email or tweet me if you’re attending and maybe I can schedule a meetup in Artist’s Alley like last year.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading!

Updates and Such

Hi folks!

Good heavens, it’s been a while since I did a good old fashioned blog post. It turns out very few people actually check my website for updates, so I divert most of my news to my twitter and facebook pages. But I decided now might be a good time to have a nice blast from the past and dust off the blog.

So, what have I been up to? Well, a while back I was asked to produce a few stories for a fantasy anthology about lone wolf characters. I wrote two stories, tentatively named The Dwarfindam Run and The Rules of the Game. Those’ll be out in the anthology at the end of the year, and eventually will cycle into the newsletter perk list. (A good reason to sign up for the newsletter, if you haven’t already.) One of them, The Rules of the Game, is tied to the Book of Deacon series. The other is a one-off not related to (or set in) the Book of Deacon world. Unless I change my mind about that.

I’ve also got a cover for The Big Sigma Collection: Volume 1, an anthology of the first three books in the Big Sigma series. It will include at least two, probably three short works/novellas. Those are the stories I’m working on now, and like the Lone Wolf Shorts, will eventually make their way into the Newsletter Perks. Wanna see the cover? Here it is, as always, illustrated by Nick Deligaris.

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And so the series has its emblem.

People who faithfully read every ridiculous thing I write will be familiar with Between. It’s sitting in basically unedited, incomplete form on Wattpad right now. It recently received a brush-up and completion, and will be available in novel form “soon.” In this case, soon is defined as after the second pass of the edit is finished and after I get a cover for that too. However, seeing as how it’s likely to be my next full-length novel to release, I’ve been accumulating artwork. Here’s The Overseer by robo-shark.

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As evil as he is adorable, I assure you.

The inimitable spookychan drew a picture of Trixie as well.

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I look forward to introducing the rest of the characters eventually.

And finally, for those of you who entered the audio-book contest, thanks! The winners have been drawn. Keep your eyes peeled for a potential “second chance” contest to get another shot at winning The D’Karon Apprentice in audio-book form!

Thanks for reading!

The D’Karon Apprentice Audiobook Giveaway

Hi folks! Audible gave me a stack of codes for free copies of The D’Karon Apprentice. I’ve decided to give ten of them away via a fancy raffle! If you’re an audible user (or have been thinking of becoming one) go ahead and enter the raffle for a chance to get a code for all 21+ hours of Karyn O’Bryant-narrated Book of Deacon goodness!

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D’Karon Apprentice Audiobook Giveaway

Ichor Well is Available Now!

The third book in the Free-Wrench Series has finally been released!

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Nita, Lil, and Wink, and the rest of the Wind Breaker crew continue their adventures today. If you’re impatient to get to it, pick it up now on Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords and everywhere else! And if you haven’t started the series? Now’s a great time to start, because Book 1 is FREE for a limited time on all the same stores!

Free-Wrench continues to astound me with its success. Those who have been with me long enough will know that it began as a NaNoWriMo experiment. Back then the theory was I’d do a new standalone story each NaNoWriMo to stretch my writing chops. You folks quickly put a stop to that, making it clear NaNoWriMo was destined to be “the month of steampunk” for the foreseeable future. Ichor Well is by a wide margin my longest Free-Wrench story, and as you’ll see in the blurb below, I feel it’s got a pretty darn nifty plot.

Ichor Well is the third adventure in the Free-Wrench Series of Steampunk novels.

Ever since Nita Graus left her homeland and joined the crew of the Wind Breaker, the reputation of the airship and its crew has been growing. The destruction of the mighty dreadnought, the escape from the legendary Skykeep, and the inexplicable ability to remain hidden from the ever-watchful eye of the Fug Folk have combined to make her and her fellow crew the stuff of legend. Alas, legendary heroes cannot exist for long without attracting a worthy villain. Luscious P. Alabaster strives to be just that foe.

While he works his nefarious plans, the crew itself is not without turmoil. Captain Mack, already having survived far more years in the hostile skies than he had any right to expect, is making plans for his golden years. The crew is gradually learning all that Nita can teach them, leaving her with the looming decision of whether or not she still has a place among the crew.

Before the matter of the future can be settled, the crew has the problems at hand to solve. And in escaping the webs woven by the cunning and eccentric Alabaster, they may discover the darkest secrets the churning and toxic Fug has to hide.

Followers of my various social media accounts have been treated to some recent artwork of the characters returning or debuting in this story. We’ll start with robo-shark’s recent illustration of Wink and Nikita, two of the adorable/surly inspectors that call the Wind Breaker their home.

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By far the most substantial addition to my character artwork for the Free-Wrench series comes courtesy of SpookyChan.

Here’s Nita.

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And Lil. (This may well be the definitive picture of the maniacally enthusiastic Chastity “Lil’ Coop” Cooper.

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And finally, the nefarious LUCIUS P. ALABASTER! You haven’t met him yet. But you will…

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Once again, this book is now on Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords! If you like it, please remember to leave a review.

The Redemption of Desmeres

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This being the Book of Deacon Newsletter, I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind folks that The Redemption of Desmeres, my latest Book of Deacon story, is available now. This one slipped under the radar a bit, what with it’s sudden, surprise release a few weeks ago, but the reviews have been great. If you missed it, pick it up! If you’ve read it, please let me know what you think. If people enjoy the further story of Desmeres, it might be fun to explore other characters, or even further stories of Desmeres and his growing circle of friends and allies.

Ichor Well Cover Reveal and Pre-Order!

If you’ve been paying attention over the last few months, you know that I’ve been working on a number of different projects. Because editing and artwork tend to become a bottleneck, rather than seeing one project all the way through, I’ve been continuing on to another project just as soon as I complete the previous one. That means things get really confusing for me, since eventually I end up doing a release on a book that I’ve not had to think about for MONTHS. To that end, I’m happy to announce the pending release of last year’s NaNoWriMo project, Ichor Well.

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It’s slowly becoming available for pre-order on iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Google Play. The Amazon version will be available much closer to the release date, July 14th, 2016.

The cover is, as always, by Nick Deligaris, and here’s the Blurb:

Ichor Well is the third adventure in the Free-Wrench Series of Steampunk novels.

Ever since Nita Graus left her homeland and joined the crew of the Wind Breaker, the reputation of the airship and its crew has been growing. The destruction of the mighty dreadnought, the escape from the legendary Skykeep, and the inexplicable ability to remain hidden from the ever-watchful eye of the Fug Folk have combined to make her and her fellow crew the stuff of legend. Alas, legendary heroes cannot exist for long without attracting a worthy villain. Luscious P. Alabaster strives to be just that foe.

While he works his nefarious plans, the crew itself is not without turmoil. Captain Mack, already having survived far more years in the hostile skies than he had any right to expect, is making plans for his golden years. The crew is gradually learning all that Nita can teach them, leaving her with the looming decision of whether or not she still has a place among the crew.

Before the matter of the future can be settled, the crew has the problems at hand to solve. And in escaping the webs woven by the cunning and eccentric Alabaster, they may discover the darkest secrets the churning and toxic Fug has to hide.

Believe it or not, FIGURINES ARE HERE!

Every time I show off a new doodad for my fabled Cabinet of Awesomeness, I get at least a few fans asking when and how they can get their hands on one of their own. New plush? New figurine? Anything custom at all and folks want to have one in their collection. I feel for you folks, but the fact is, I don’t have enough fans to justify the cost of doing even a minimum run of a custom plush or toy. In fact, I wouldn’t even be able to afford to offer paperbacks if not for Print on Demand.

But that’s when it hit me. Print on Demand… That could work. Cue some research, some negotiation, some reference art, some revisions, and then?

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These little beauties were designed by Liz Landis and based in large part upon the original Squee, sculpted by Leilia’s Clay Creations. They are printed on demand by Shapeways if you’d like to buy one.

Each figurine is about 3 inches high. I’ve got Solby, complete with the transceiver on the back of his neck, or Squee, sporting her Silo-approved pink nail polish, hoop earrings, and a bandage over her transceiver. You can buy either of them in any of four versions.

For $30 you can get a solid black or solid white plastic version. These are slightly rough to the touch, pretty robust, and may have some visible print lines. I got a sample of Squee in this form so you can see what you think.

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For $35, you can upgrade to a full color print. These have a “sandstone” feel to them and are a little more fragile, but they survived shipping to my house just fine. As long as you keep them dry they’ll hold up fine, but if they get wet the color could fade slightly. Here’s Solby in that form, if you’d like to see.

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For $45, you can get a full color coated version. These are the same material, but they’ve been given a glossy finish that makes the colors a bit sharper and protects them against water damage. Squee got a test print in this form as well, shown here beside her older sister in the original sculpt!

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These are a beta run of potentially several characters to get similar treatment, so if you like the idea, let me know! And if you end up ordering any from my shop on Shapeways, I’d love to see pictures of when they find their new home!

And don’t forget, Squee and the rest are available right now in their latest adventure, Temporal Contingency!

Possible Future Merch!

Yeah, I know, I’m always talking about making merchandise. But this time I’m serious! Many of you folks will remember Leilia’s Clay Creations, creator of the following beautiful additions to my collection of wonderful things:

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Now, there’s a funny thing about figurines. Having one made costs on the order of a few hundred dollars. Having two made is really hard, because most sculptors don’t want to make the same thing twice, and having things molded and cast requires all sorts of other limitations and costs and the like. Also, when people think about figurines, they more or less think about mass produced ones, which cost a few bucks a piece because they are churned out of a factory by the thousand that has set up costs in the tens of thousands of dollars. So figurines of like these of my characters that you can buy? Not terribly likely in the short term.

But pendants? They’re itty bitty, they mold and cast easy, and they can be just as cute. I present exhibits A and B (with hand for reference).

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CUTE! Each of these is hand sculpted, cast in small batches, and hand painted. That’s downright artisanal! 

So, now for the big questions.

Let’s assume that you could get one of these adorable doodads for $10 for an unpainted one (you paint it yourself) or $30 for a painted one. Would you want one? And would you want Myn or Squee?