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.


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!

Cyber Monday Madness!

I don’t usually do sales, but after a chat with a friend on Black Friday, when he asked “Hey, why aren’t you doing a Black Friday sale?” I decided to give it a try. Obviously I couldn’t start a sale when Black Friday was almost over, but let’s face it, this is a digital item. Everyone knows that the good internet sales happen on Cyber Monday! As a result, I’ve generated coupons for all of my non-free books. Along with the always free Book of Deacon, I’ve dropped the price of everything to $0.99, except for Jade, which is totally free! I’ve got six books, and thanks to these coupons you can own them all via Smashwords for a total of $4! MADNESS! I realize most of the regular visitors of this site already own most of my books, but this is a great chance to pick them up for cheap if you’re missing any. Smashwords also allows you to gift copies, so if you’ve got friends or family that you think would appreciate some indie fantasy or sci-fi, you can buy the books for them!

Here are the links and their associated codes. And yes, if you are reading this before Cyber Monday (Nov. 26th, 2012), they will work NOW too. Below are the links and the codes for your purchasing pleasure. Just sign up for a Smashwords account (if you haven’t already) and enter the code in at the checkout screen.

The Book Deacon – Always Free

The Great Convergence – JT38G – $0.99

The Battle of Verril – XC42X – $0.99

Jade – HD52X – Free

Bypass Gemini – CG47D – $0.99

Unstable Prototypes – CS85N – $0.99

Enjoy! And thanks for reading!

NaNoWriMo Update, and Other Stuff

Hi folks! Remember when I said that if I would do the NaNoWriMo thing, I would do it out in the open? Yeah. It turns out doing that would have heaped just a slice more stuff upon an already ridiculous work load. In fact, clearly even writing regular page updates has eluded me. However, there are a few things worth mentioning and I might as well let you in on what’s turned me into a hermit with a keyboard.

The NaNoWriMo book–much to the chagrin of Book of Deacon or Sci-Fi fans, I’m sure–is a goofy little satire about Superheroes with really dumb powers. It grew out of a game my friends and I would play. First it was just “what are the most useless abilities you can think of?”. We came up with some good ones. (Well, we came up with some bad ones, but you get the idea.) The ability to make bees fly upside down and the ability to turn your liver blue are two that leap to mind. Then, many years later, we sort of resurrected the game and added the component of coming up with what that superheroes name would be and what their secret identity would be. So then “Person With The Power To Be Attacked By Bees On Command” became “Beatrix ‘Honey’ Combes, AKA Pollinatrix”. As things inevitably do, it stewed around in my head and scenes started to come together, and eventually it struck me that with an idea this goofy, I’d feel okay sort of squandering it on a speed-written novel. I’ve now got over 36,000 words written, which is a shade ahead of par, but whether or not I end up with a full story at the end of November remains to be seen.

Like the Sci-Fi books, the Super Hero book takes a stab at humor, and uses language a couple of notches harsher than I would use in general conversation, but so far I don’t think there is anything you can’t say on TV. That said, there are one or two powers not described in detail that might curdle your brain if you try to figure out how they work or what exactly they are. Also worth noting is that this book, which exists only as an unfinished word document, already has fan art. An avid fan artist responsible for plenty of stuff on my (badly need of update) fan art area informed me she was bored and wanted to know if I had any requests. I said I was working on this book, and offered to send her a description of one of the only characters who appears in costume. She jumped at the chance, and so she was introduced to Nonsensica. Here’s the result.

Nonsensica, with the power to say two successive words so random they cause people to physically twitch!

Pretty nice job! In case you didn’t recognize the style, that’s by none other than ArieieTheWatcher. And just so you don’t feel left out, here’s the chapter I shared with her to form a basis for her drawing.

Finally, I’ve closed a deal with a narrator named Fiona Dwyer to narrate the audio book for Jade. It’ll be a few months before I’ve got any serious news about that, but I just wanted to let you know, because it’s got me excited.

Thanks for reading!

UPDATE: I’ve already got the first 15 minutes! Fiona Dwyer does a fantastic job!

I’m Back! (Sort of)

Hello all! Last week Hurricane Sandy came through and delivered much of the east coast back to pre-industrial levels. Like many in my home town, I am STILL without power, but we had no damage and no one got hurt. For far too many in the New York and New Jersey area, the same cannot be said, so I’ve been lucky. For me this has been little more than an inconvenience. I’ve learned to be a connoisseur of gas cans, and through various acts of mad science have managed to charge, partially charge, or develop untested means to charge a cell phone with the following: a car charger, an uninterruptable power supply, a rechargeable battery powered charger, a set of AA batteries hooked up to a buck-boost converter, the battery pack from a cordless power drill, and a power drill that I converted to a generator. Who says a computer engineer is useless during a power outage?

However, thanks to a car pool I’m now back at work, and for two hours or so I am not on the clock, so I figure it is a good time to take advantage of the sweet, sweet electricity and internet to re-establish contact with you good people. First of all, thanks to the lack of power and the many things that needed to be done while coping with a fuel and energy shortage, I am already WAY behind on NaNoWriMo, but I’m going to try my best to catch up.

I also promised to spread the word about a Smashwords book written by our own ArierieTheWatcher, which you can find here. While I’m at it, I’d like to wish her a happy birthday!

That’s it for now. I believe I’ve answered all tweets, emails, and comments that built up during my absense, but if you are waiting to hear from me, feel free to send me another message and I’ll get back to you right away. Thanks for reading!

News: Some Good, Some Bad

Okie Doke, folks. It has been a while since I did a full update on the various Book of Deacon goings-on, so here’s a rundown of what’s new. First, a bit of bad news:

Back to the drawing board for the Myn Plush

After giving it the best she could, I’m afraid that the artist I’d contacted to design a Myn plush has had to back away from the project. She’s still enthusiastic about it, and vows to one day finish, but for now she feels she needs to refund the money and redirect her efforts. I fully understand. She’s at college right now, and I know from personal experience that trying to juggle education, a job, and a hobby can drive you to the very edge of sanity. One day we may see what she was working on, but until then, back to square one.

I’ve sent out a few messages to some artists to start the process over, but at this point I may have to entertain the possibility of either having one artist do the design drawings and another one do the plush-ification, or else possibly going to a pro to get the work done. I like staying indie, but there are only so many independent artists with the skills and the time to lend me a hand.

I’ll keep you good folks in the loop as this rolls forward, and I may have some questions about what you’re looking for in a plush.

Second Bulgarian Book

While I’m still grappling with the complexities of international wire transfers in order to get paid for the first book, the Bulgarian publisher has merrily rolled along and announced the forthcoming release of Book 2. It is being sold under the name “United By The Gods” rather than “The Great Convergence” (My, how epic!) Here’s the cover.

United By The Gods

Fan Fic Forum

Hot on the heels of my addition of a “Fan Works” section of my own forum, a few fans (including the prolific ArierieTheWatcher) have banded together to attempt to get a Book of Deacon section added to They’ve staked out a little corner of the general forum and dubbed it Entwell. If you are interested in talking about Book of Deacon and maybe writing some little stories of your own, head on over. It is already nearly as active as my own forum, and with the number of members has, I have no doubt it will quickly eclipse my meager offering.

NaNoWriMo is a go

After talking to my potential agent, I have decided to officially throw my hat into the ring for NaNoWriMo. The writing in Lain Origin has slowed to a standstill. In the past I would take a break, and just futz around and play games for a while, but now I’ve got fans who are eagerly anticipating things, so here’s what’s happening instead. I’m going to work on preparing my current progress on Lain Origin and Unnamed Second Trilogy and pass them along to my beta readers for critique, and while they are working on that, I’ll be attempting to write something entirely new (not a Book of Deacon book, not a sci-fi series book). That way Lain Origin will continue down the path to completion and I’ll get to clear my head and try something new. At the end of November, success or failure, I’ll clean up what I’ve written, send it off to the agent, and see if the traditional publishing world is interested in me. Then I’ll return to Lain Origin to finish it off.

Thinking of redesigning the artwork page

Only a bit more than a year ago, I got my first piece of fan art. I slapped it up on a page of its own that I threw together. For one or two pieces of art, that page did the job just fine. Now I’ve got dozens of pieces of excellent artwork, and the page is getting bloated and hard to navigate. As such, I’m going to talk to my freshly-married web guy about redesigning my fan art gallery. Until then, you might not see your art, pictures, or screenshots show up right away, but I assure you, I still adore them and file them away for future display, so don’t hesitate to send them my way.

There, that’s plenty for now, I think. Thanks for reading!