The Book of Deacon in StoryBundle

Happy Tuesday, everybody. On the various social networks I’ve been teasing that I had big announcements on the way. Well, the time has come! First and foremost, I’d like to announce that the complete trilogy will be available starting today (Feb. 26th) and running until March 19th as part of StoryBundle’s all new Indie Fantasy Bundle. Faithful followers of my blog posts may remember me mentioning StoryBundle a few times in the past. They were kind enough to feature my Sci-Fi books in their very first bundle. However, if you’re not familiar with them, let me recap. StoryBundle is a site that collects handpicked (or “curated,” if you want to be fancy) batches of indie eBooks and makes them available for a limited time for a price of your choosing. You can pay anywhere from $1 to $100. If you pay enough, you’ll get bonus books too, and with a simple click, you can send a chunk of your payment to charity. If this sounds familiar, Humble Bundle works in much the same way.

Combo!

For this bundle, the base bundle includes The Book of Deacon: Books 1 and 2 by yours truly, The Second Coming by David H. Burton, The Duchess of the Shallows by Neil Mc Garry and Daniel Ravipinto, Sword and Chant by Blair MacGregor, The Tormay Trilogy: Books 1 & 2 by Christopher Bunn, and Strange Places by Jefferson Smith. If you pay at least $10 you’ll also get The Battle of Verril (once again by me), and The Tormay Trilogy – Book 3: The Wicked Day by Christopher Bunn. All books are available in ePub and Mobi formats, meaning that they are compatible with just about every reading device out there. And remember, the very same minds who selected my books to be a part of this bundle selected the rest of the lineup, so if you like my stories, it stands to reason you’ll enjoy the rest of the list, so the bundle is well worth your while even if you own all of my books already… except you don’t own my books already, at least not as they appear in the bundle. You see, when the StoryBundle folks approached me, I wanted to do my best to give them something special, so the books on offer aren’t just The Book of Deacon. They are The Book of Deacon: StoryBundle Edition. First and foremost, as listed above, the bundle offers Books 1 and 2 of the trilogy packaged as a single double length book. In addition, I sifted through the feedback I’ve received over the years and identified the two most frequently cited gripes about my books. The number one complaint has always been the scattered grammatical errors that plagued the book upon its initial release. Now, most of these errors were wiped away long ago, but this latest edition has been re-read and re-revised, cleaning up some awkward sentences and lingering issues. The number two complaint was that my readers often didn’t know when to stop for the night due to the lack of chapters. Well…

Tadaaaaa!

That’s right. For the first time ever, The Book of Deacon has been broken into chapters. For now, this edition of the eBook is available only through StoryBundle. I urge you to consider picking it up, and even if you don’t, spread the word! As a part of the bundle we’re hoping to do lots of fun stuff, so check the StoryBundle site and my various web presences to see what sort of new things we’re up to throughout the Bundle’s run. As always, if you’ve got any questions about the bundle or my involvment in it, feel free to comment.

Until next time, thanks for reading!

Contest Winner and Other Fun Stuff

Hi everyone! Thanks to everybody who entered the Jade giveaway. A few minutes ago I consulted a random number generator, and the lucky winner this time is Jonathan Glass. Congrats, Jonathan! I’ll be sending you an email soon to work out the details of the prize. To those of you who didn’t win, there will be one more chance to win a copy. Late next month I’ll be doing a twitter giveaway, and I’ll be sure to announce it. There might be one more chance to win between then and now, but that’s something I can’t discuss today. Maybe tomorrow…

In Non-Deacon news, I’ve been talking to a plush artist, yet again. She’s super talented (see for yourself), but as you know, I’ve had a tremendous amount of difficulty getting any plush work done. Nevertheless, I decided to ask if she was interested in any of the plush characters that have been requested by you folks over the years. She was! Solby, the Funk from my Sci-Fi series, was the character that caught her eye, and she’s provided a quick sketch of how she envisions the stuffed animal. Check it out!

SO CUTE!

If all goes well, the plush could be completed some time next month, and depending how it comes out and whether or not she’s still interested, I may see if she wants to give the long awaited Myn plush a try.

Finally, a few days ago another great interview was posted by Amber and Nas over at Zinc Universe. It was a fun one, and I hope you’ll check it out.

That’s all for today, but keep your eyes and ears open, because there might be a big fat announcement tomorrow.

An Interview and A Giveaway

Hello everyone! A few things to talk about today. First, I’d like to thank Nicholas Taylor for recently interviewing me on his blog. Nick is a fellow indie author, and the chances are very good that if you’ve discovered my book, you’ve seen the cover of his floating around quite near it. He and I are part of the same cluster of fantasy books that have made a name for themselves on the free and discount book racks. I really appreciate him taking the time to ask me a few questions and share the answers. Head on over to his site to check them out, and while you’re at it, consider reading his book!

Now, followers of my Facebook Fan Page were recently given the chance to win a copy of my brand spanking new audio book of Jade. After managing to giveaway something*, I announced that I’d be doing two more giveaways. One would be right here on my blog, and another would be via twitter. Well, the time has come for the blog chunk of that trifecta. If you’d like a chance to win the Jade Audio Book, all you need to do is leave a comment in reply to this post. Say whatever you’d like. On February 25th, one week from today, I’ll pick the name of one of the people who commented and reply to the email address associated with the comment informing you that you’ve won. I’ll also do a post congratulating you.

And what do you get? Well, a copy of the Jade Audio Book, of course! But you’ll also get any and all of my currently available eBooks that you’d like. How you get them will be worked out via the email. So go ahead and leave a comment. Each person gets one entry, so please don’t feel the need to spam. And if your comment doesn’t show up immediately, don’t worry! I personally read and approve each comment before it makes it on the site, so if yours hasn’t shown up, it is probably sitting in my inbox waiting to be given the thumbs up. Good luck everybody!

* What the winner got wasn’t what I’d intended to give him, and the thing I did intend to give away has yet to find someone ready, willing, and able to accept, but that’s being dealt with.)

Apple’s Breakout Books

Hi everyone. There are a few things on the horizon which I hope to announce soon, but right now I’d like to take a moment to spread the word about something momentous. Earlier today, Apple unveiled a new promotion on iTunes in the US. They are calling it Breakout Books. It is a major marketing push dedicated entirely to up-and-coming indie authors. The promotion is starting with over sixty authors, and as time goes on and more books gain traction, Apple will rotate in fresh faces. I am pleased and honored to announce that I’m among the first few authors to be featured!

Can you spot the familiar cover?

Now you may be wondering, how are these books selected? Well, past performance in the iBookstore plays a major part, but the selections are also based on the popularity and quality of each title based on reader feedback. That means that I wouldn’t be there without all of the kind words and support from those of you who gave my books a try and shared your thoughts. So thank you for making this moment possible!

This is a great moment for me personally, but I can’t stress enough how important this is for indie authors as a whole. Self-published books have long taken a back seat to the their traditionally published brethren, and not without reason. For much of their history, self-published books had a well-earned reputation for poor quality. I’ve done my best to put in the effort to make my stories and my books as good as the can possibly be, and I’m not alone. The overall quality of self-published books has been rising, and Apple has taken notice. They have had the foresight and confidence in us to provide some real exposure. I can’t thank them enough for their support, and it is up to us as authors and you as readers to let them know that their trust is well placed. So I urge you to check out the promotion. If you liked my stories, I’m sure you’ll find other gems. And let Apple know that you appreciate their support for your favorite indie authors!

Click the image below to checkout my book in the iBookstore. You can also learn more about the promotion and what it means to readers and authors by reading about it over on the Smashwords Blog.

Click to see it in the iBookstore

The “Other” Project

I’m a glutton for punishment. This is not news. It was for this reason that I decided, right in the middle of the writing of Lain Origin, to take a break and write a whole other book. This other book was about superheroes with stupid powers. Now, around the same time I was conceptualizing the whole mess, a cartoonist in the UK named Adam J. Hall got a hold of my book and was inspired to share with me this little masterpiece, which I posted once before:

Still looks awesome.

Now, I’m a sucker for art. This also is not news. I knew that I wanted more art from this guy, and after a few emails, it was decided that along with a little Book of Deacon project, I’d toss him some character descriptions for the superhero book and see what he could come up with. He came up with this:

Or should I say, what he came up with so far.

Say hello to the first four members of The Other Eight. (That’s what I’m thinking of calling the book. It makes sense in context.) These folks are introduced in that big long preview chapter I put up on my birthday, but for those who haven’t read it, here’s the quick version.

Non Sequitur is on the left. He’s got the power to take advantage of the effect of an action  up to 30 seconds before the cause. He’s also not that thrilled about the whole idea of Superheroism, but he’s got his own reasons for trying out for the team.

Next is Chloroplast. He has the amazing power of photosynthesis. That’s all. If he gets enough sun he can skip lunch. He’s snarky too, but clearly rather serene when catching a few rays.

The guy in the green shirt* is Gracias. He’s got the ability to give anyone who does him a favor a grass-covered butt simply by thanking them.

* And no, he’s not a Packers fan. He’s a superhero with plant-based powers, thus dressed in green, and his name starts with G, hence the letter. The resemblance to the Green Bay Packers logo is entirely coincidental and has nothing to do with the fact that buying an iron-on Packers logo was cheaper than having a costume made. Honest.

Finally there’s Nonsensica. She can string together a two word phrase so random that the listener will twitch involuntarily. This creates a handy opening in their defenses, which she’s only too happy to fill with her handy Non-Chucks ™.

This first lineup created by Adam is the “Hero” lineup. Also in the works are the “Rival” lineup and “Villain” lineup. Now, in case it hasn’t been made clear, this story is hands down the stupidest thing I’ve ever written. True, it is stupid on purpose, but still stupid. That said, chances are very good I’ll be releasing it anyway. Probably shortly after the Lain Origin story, which is gradually approaching completion. I just wanted to let you folks know what sort of goofy shenanigans I’ve been up to. That’s all.

Oh… Wait… There’s one other thing.

The audio book of Jade is finally ready!

Yep, at long last, you can stop by Audible or Amazon (also iTunes, but I can’t link it) and pick up a copy of Jade as narrated by the incomperable Fiona Dwyer. I may be biased, but I think she did a spectacular job. Hopefully you’ll feel the same. I know you may be thinking, “Jo, why did you tuck this away down here?” Well, maybe it is because I have something planned regarding this little piece of news that will be sufficient to earn its own post. We shall see.

Thanks for reading!

Thirty Consecutive Years

That’s how long I’ve been alive, folks. Three whole entire decades. As I said on Twitter, that’s a new personal record. I must say, I’ve achieved more in these past few years than I’d expected. For those keeping count, by the beginning of February I’ll have been doing this indie author gig for three years. In that time I’ve brought six books to the world, and I’ve found an audience that enjoys the stories I have to tell. I’m just about to head out to a restaurant to eat some barbecue and listen to some old stories from friends and family, but I felt that this occasion called for a little bit of a gift to you fans. I quite literally wouldn’t be typing this, and would have much less to celebrate, if not for you. Moreover, you’ve all be more patient than I could have ever hoped in waiting for me to give you the next story. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get a few books out this year, but to hold you over I’ve uploaded a rough sneak peek of two of the books in the pipeline. The first is the “Introductions” scene from the upcoming Super Hero Book.

The Bus Ride

The second is the first few pages of my perpetually on hiatus continuation of the Book of Deacon Series.

Unnamed Second Trilogy Intro

Thanks again to all of my fans and supporters for making this dream come true!

Jumping The Gun

Hello once again, everyone. I would like to say that I have a great deal of news to share… but I don’t. I will have a great deal of news to announce in the next few weeks, but it has been an awfully long time since my last post. I find myself, improbably, with a slice of free time, so I figured I’d take this opportunity to tell you what little there is to tell, and give you a heads up on the things that are ju-u-u-u-u-st about to reach the point of announcement.

First, I’d like to take this moment to say that I’m officially going to be covering PAX East 2013 as Media once again. I don’t know how many fans will be in Boston attending the event, but if you want to meet up, let me know and we’ll try to arrange something.

Now for things that I really ought to wait to talk about, since updates regarding them are forthcoming. Tomorrow at 3:30 PM I’ve got a call with a different agent at Trident Media Group (the same agency who had initially been in talks to represent me). The last time this happened, I ended up getting matched up with a really helpful and enthusiastic agent who spoke to me on the phone a few times, met face to face once, gave some useful advice, then changed careers. It was educational, and led to the writing of the still not officially titled superhero book for NaNoWriMo. I’m anxious to see how this new guy compares, or if he’s even interested. I guess I’ll have a better idea soon enough.

Speaking of the aforementioned superhero book, remember that really cool cartoon-style bit of fan art I got a few weeks ago? (I posted about it in my “ARTS!” post at the beginning of December.) Well, I’ve been talking to the artist responsible, and he was enthusiastically interested in the stupid superhero idea. So much so that I decided to commission a few character pictures from him. Then a few more. In total, a dozen characters are getting the cartoon treatment. When the first group of four are ready, I’ll show them off, but I can tell you he’s done a great job so far. Some of my favorite non-Deacon artwork to date.

In other not-quite-news, the more I work on Lain Origin, the more I feel like it is going to outgrow a single novel. If you’re familiar with the character, he’s got a lot of history, most of which is entirely unexplored. I’ve got well over 100,000 words written, and he’s barely into adulthood. At this rate, around the 150,000 word mark I’ll be just finishing a big piece of his life. I’m probably going to try to tie it up into a tidy little package at that point and save the rest for a future novel. We’ll see, though. Doing that will prevent one or two popular and/or infamous characters from showing up in this installment, but will also get the book in your hands sooner and free me up for some of the other stories that need to be written. It also means I’ll have to start thinking about the cover of the Lain story. Time to write an email to Nick.

Last but not least, on Sunday I’ll be turning 30. It will be a day of much eating and laughing, and I may mark the occasion by publishing a few never before seen snippets of my current projects. Again, we shall see.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading.

UPDATE 1: Based on my phone call, my agent status has not changed. He was helpful, and there are more discussions to be had, but it seems at the very least that I’m not quite ready for prime time yet. … Which means I guess that Super Hero book is good to go for self-publishing!

Book of Deacon Goes Global

I had one of those “Holy Cow this is really happening” moments yesterday. Remember when I said I was getting published in Bulgaria? Well, it has been a heck of a learning experience. There were contracts to be written and signed, bank accounts to be set up, wire transfers to set up, cover art to finagle, and a dozen other things I’ve already forgotten. My brain had long ago logged it away as “something that will be perpetually simmering in the background but never actually happen.” Then I got an email from my contact within the company. Predictably, he had identified another minor error I’d made in the paperwork that would need to be corrected, but he also mentioned that I should check out their Facebook page to see what they’d been up to. Now, unless you can read Bulgarian, that page probably doesn’t mean much to you, but like all people with a loose grip on a language, I was more interested in the pictures.

It looks like they’re having a good time, cosplaying at some sort of fair… but say… what’s that on the shelf on the left? Maybe there’s another picture from a different angle.

What’s that behind her head? Why, it is the trilogy! On a bookshelf! IN BULGARIA! Now I’m proud of every ounce of success I’ve had. My books are on virtual shelves all over the world, and they are selling remarkably well in places like England and Australia. They’re even selling a few copies a month in Germany for some strange reason. But seeing something I wrote show up on a physical shelf in another country feels absurd to me. What’s also absurd is the difference in media coverage you get when a real publisher, even a small one, is involved. After a quick search for my name as it appears on the cover, I found countless blogs I couldn’t read talking about my books as new launches from the publisher. Maybe it is just because the number of epic fantasy novels being published in Bulgaria is much smaller and any new title is big news, but it is still remarkable to me. I’m hoping that I’ve ironed out the last of my little mistakes and I can receive my first payment. (Technically it is an advance, but thanks to my lack of experience, it is now coming long after the release of the first book.) As far as I’m concerned, though, just seeing my book being treated the same way that one from an actual author would be treated is payment enough.

Thanks for reading.

ARTS!

As followers of my twitter feed and Facebook fan page already know, I got a surprise treat from my spectacular cover artist. A few months back I’d asked him for some sketches, which he agreed to squeeze into his schedule whenever there was an opening. You’ve seen a few already, but this most recent one has been hotly anticipated by a strong majority of my readers, even if they were not aware of it. That’s because it is his first (official) depiction of everybody’s favorite baby dragon, Myn.

The cutest fire-breathing carnivore you ever did see.

The Facebook folks exploded over this, making it my most liked post since I started posting there. One long time fan, Alicia, suggested it would make a great poster, and the comment made me realize that ages ago I’d spoken to a printing house about quotes for reasonable sized runs of posters. They never got back to me. So on Friday I reached out to a new place, and Sunday night they responded with a number that, to my shock, I just might be able to afford. So here’s the deal. The price I’m shooting for is $9-$10 (plus shipping) for a full color 24×36 inch poster. That brings us to the inevitable questions.

1. Would you buy a poster at that price?

2. What would you like to see as a poster?

If I get a strong enough response, after the holidays I’ll get the wheels turning on this. (Why after the holidays rather than just in time for them? Because I’ve got poor foresight, that’s why.) Unlike the plush, most of the work has already been done for a poster, because I’ve got quite a library of top notch artwork, both commissioned and gifted. Naturally there will be negotiations and reconfigurations and whatnot, but that will only happen if you good folks want it to happen. So if you’d like a Book of Deacon related poster, feel free to comment or email to let me know. While you’re at it, let me know what art you’d like to see made into a poster. And while you’re at THAT, check out this bit of fan art I received from Adam J Hall.

It is like a fairytale!

Though an entirely different style of artwork, I have to say that I really love this picture. It’s got such a crisp, vibrant style to it. So many thanks to Mr. Hall. I gave him the remainder of the trilogy by way of thanks, though as always there is the deviously self-serving hope that he’ll be inspired by The Great Convergence or The Battle of Verril to provide me with another awesome bit of art.

In closing, let me say that this site has stagnated a bit, so much so that there’s a bit of a backlog of artistic gifts that have not been added. I’m working to remedy that now, with a revamped gallery page which should be showing up in the next few days. This very post includes some experimentation in that regard.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading!

NaNoWriMo: Mission Accomplished

To my great surprise, twenty-five days after writing the first words, I crossed the 50,000 threshold in my NaNoWriMo story. This morning I validated the novel and it clocked in at just a shade over 51k. It was written quickly and it shows. The plot is rushed, the characterization is so so, and there are residual references to dropped plot threads or last minute changes in events or descriptions, but it is a complete story written from scratch in a month. I genuinely didn’t think I could do it. Now, I’d like to say that you good folks will be reading it soon, but that remains to be seen. For one, I’m going to be reading over it a few times to add in missing pieces, catch errors, and tie up threads. On top of that, though, there’s the other big piece of news I have to share.

Frequent blog readers will know that a while ago I received a message from a literary agency expressing interest in taking me on as a client. I eventually got matched up with someone and we began working with one another. Due to the fact that we never formalized our agreement, I always referred to her as “my kinda sorta agent.” She gave me a lot of really useful advice, and she was even a big part of the decision to tackle NaNoWriMo, since she was enthusiastic about my silly superhero idea and thought it would be a good project to submit for consideration to publishing houses. Well, the other day she asked to set up a phone call. On the call, she informed me she was taking a new position in a different company and would no longer be an agent. This meant I would no longer have a kinda sorta agent. HOWEVER! Upon contacting the guy who initially got in touch with me, I was informed that they are indeed still interested. To make a final decision about whether they’d offer me representation, though, they would need to look at my ‘new’ novel. Now a long time ago I made the decision that I didn’t want the current string of deacon books to be professionally published unless I knew that they could either be kept inexpensive and DRM-free or improved vastly enough to warrant a higher price and tighter lock down. Thus, I would not be sharing any of the self-published Deacon books or Lain Origin (which isn’t really near enough to completion to be shared anyway). However, I DID just finish NaNoWriMo, so I sent that story along with the disclaimer that I wrote it in a single month and hadn’t smoothed out the rough edges yet. I also sent out a perpetually on hold Post-Jade continuation of the Book of Deacon series. I’ll wait until they give me a response before I move forward with either of those stories. If they say, “This superhero story is utter drivel! We hate it!” then I’ll self-publish it like the rest. If they say “We think this superhero story has potential. We’ll fish it around and see who bites.” then it’ll go through that whole meat grinder before showing up. As always, I’ll keep you informed. As for the mysterious Deacon book, I’ve begun assembling a small list of supplementary beta readers to give it a look over. There’s an element of the second half of the story that I am quite sure should be changed, but my usual brain trust is pretty well split on the matter, so I need some tie breakers.

On the plus side, it means I can finally get back on track with Lain Origin! I’m hoping that the month-long hiatus will help me power through a few sticking points that had slowed me to a crawl. It turns out that Lain’s history, as established by the brief glimpses we are given in the trilogy, has a timeline that is a touch difficult to reconcile in a way that makes for good reading. I’ll keep at it.

Finally, I was contacted by Claudette (of editing fame) and informed that she’d received an email from a free audio book website. The email vaguely implied that A: I had a free audio book (or any audio book, for that matter) and B: I had somehow sanctioned or endorsed the website. Neither is currently true. I’m not saying the site or the person sending it is fishy, I’m just saying if you receive a similar email, be mindful that I’m not affiliated.

That’s about it for now. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reply to the post. Until then, thanks for reading!