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!

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 like games win real money, 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 fanfiction.net. 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 fanfiction.net 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!

A Sci-Fi Interlude

Well well well… It looks like the science fiction books are starting to gain traction! Check out these fancy little tidbits from two of my fan art regulars. First, let’s see what CatseaTheDevil has for us.

I can see why Lex fell for her.

That’s Michella Modane, aspiring investigative journalist and love interest for our protagonist, “Lex” Alexander. She’s even got the freckles! Funny side note, by the way. I describe her as having auburn hair, which is accurately depicted here. This has led some to make the observation that my leading ladies tend to have a few things in common, including “M” names and red hair. While I can’t deny it, the fact of the matter is, when I was doing the initial description of Michella, I picked auburn because the word had a good sound to it. I actually thought it meant brown. Turns out it means “reddish-brown”. So dueling redheads is the result of poor chromatic vocabulary on my part. As for the M names? Probably something in my subconscious. Don’t even get me started  on the unusual prevalence of “librarian-style glasses”…

This picture is so cute I might need to take a minute to recover.

Look, it’s Solby the Funk (short for Soul Brother, an inexplicable reference to Fatboy Slim in a story that takes place in the distant future). Don’t mind the laser. It is just doing a little clean up. Solby is an adorable little genetic experiment that is a cross between a fox and a skunk. Its presence in the story has thus caused people to remark that I seem to be a fan of foxes. (I am, by the way. Seriously, go look at a fox’s face. It looks like it was designed by Jim Henson.) In this case, the reason for the funk’s creation in the story and in reality are the same. I’d had a discussion with a few of my friends and said, “Hey, if you had a cross between a fox and a skunk, it would be a funk! And it would be smelly, so it would HAVE a funk! It is the perfect pun!” So I put it in the book.

Now let’s see what ArieieTheWatcher has for me.

Look, a robotic arm belonging to Ma, everyone’s favorite artificial intelligence.

Lex gets a tasty treat as a reward for figuring out part of the nefarious plan of the bad guys! I’m relieved to see Lex show up in art so early, because despite being the star, he’s very much eclipsed by the other characters in terms of popularity, it seems.

All of this sudden love for sci-fi presents me with a bit of a dilemma. This is BookofDeacon.com, after all. I feel a little weird putting up stuff for the sci-fi series. But where else could I put it? I’ll probably carve out a little niche in the fan art gallery for this stuff for now. Anyway, thanks so much for the art, everybody!

To NaNoWriMo or Not To NaNoWriMo, That Is The Question

Okay, so right now a lot of you are looking at that title and scratching your heads. I shall explain. Every November, there is a self-imposed challenge that a lot of people in the writing community take a stab at: Write a 50,000 word novel, from scratch, between Nov. 1st and Nov. 30th. It is a monumental task, but I’ve often toyed with the idea of giving it a try. As I do whenever I make a big decision with the books, I figured I’d float the idea by you folks. Here’s how it breaks down:

The Pros:

– I’ll potentially have a whole extra (short) novel that I hadn’t intended to write for a long time.

– If I do this, I’ll probably write it more or less in the open. I’d set up a page on the site and do updates every few days showing off my progress, or lack thereof.

– If the book reaches completion, I’ll probably price it at the minimum (99 cents), if not outright free. Unless I decide to bulk it up to “Typical Jo Novel Length”.

The Cons:

– This will take all of my writing time for an entire month, putting the breaks on Lain Origin and any of the side stuff I’ve been working on.

– There is no guarantee that I’ll succeed, which would result in a wasted month and an incomplete story.

– The resulting story might well be the worst thing I’ve ever written.

A few answers to anticipated questions:

If you were to try it, what would the story be about?

Well, the rules say it needs to be written from scratch, so anything you’ve heard me say I was working on (Lain Origin, Entwell Sidequest, Second Trilogy) would not be it. It could be something entirely new. (I’ve already got people suggesting “that wacky superhero thing you were talking about”.) Stuff I’d mentioned as potential future projects but never actually started would be fair game. Maybe I’d even do a poll.

If you plan on doing it out in the open, why would you ever consider selling it?

Because the version I’d put on sale would be more carefully edited, and I’d probably try to get Nick to make an awesome cover for it. One of those takes extra time, the other takes extra money. Who knows, though, I’m just making this up as I go along.

If you are so incredibly busy, why even suggest doing this?

Because sometimes I hear about something neat and I get excited about it without thinking it through.

I’ll do the usual disclaimer here. My brain is fickle when it comes to stuff like this. I could be gung-ho about it for a week and then completely abandon the idea the day after. It is almost certain that I’ll ditch the idea before the month starts, and I’m frankly amazed I’ve remained enthusiastic about it long enough to write this post. But whether I do or I don’t I’d love to hear your thoughts. You can comment here, hop over into the forum to discuss it, or even visit the facebook fan page, where a matching announcement will shortly be made. You might want to check out the official website of NaNoWriMo, just to see that I’m not making the whole concept up.

Thanks for indulging my impulsive pondering, and thanks for reading.

So Much Time and So Little To Do…

Wait a minute, strike that, reverse it. Sorry it has been so long since I’ve given you folks an honest to goodness update. My life has been a wee bit insane of late. Oriech—my buddy, web master, and mystic overseer of the fickle whims of fate—got married last weekend. I’d congratulate him here, but I was the best man, so I my congratulations have been thoroughly handed out by now. He and his new wife are now on their honeymoon at Disney World. My role in the wedding seized an awful lot of my time and brain cycles over the last few weeks. I had to write and deliver a speech, which predictably was about twice as long as I’d intended. There were many pictures taken. There was much food eaten. I windexed the outside of wine bottles. You know, best man stuff. Anyway, that’s behind me now… until October 20th, when I do the whole thing over again for my older brother. The insanity has not ended. But you folks aren’t interested in the matrimonial duties heaped upon me of late, you want to know about book stuff, right? So let’s get to that.

First, the KBR contest. Some time ago, I mentioned I was up for an award, Best Indie Sci-Fi Book of 2012. Some time after, I realized I was going up against Hugh Howey, who is the author of “Wool”, a series of books that is currently the case-in-point when people talk about the sort of quality and success indie books can aspire to if the planets align just right. At that point, I knew I didn’t have a shadow of a chance, and sure enough, yesterday they finally announced him as the winner of the category. The mere fact that I made it to the final round was an awesome achievement. So congrats to Hugh on his continued success, and I’ll continue to work toward his standards of both quality and success.

Next, the cameo contest. If you purchased a StoryBundle in August, you may or may not be aware that you were entered in a contest to win a cameo appearance in one of two books by bundle authors. So far, six winners have been pulled, three for me and three for the other Joe in the bundle. To my knowledge, not one email has gotten a reply. We’re going to continue to send out emails until either Jason pulls the plug or we get replies. If the plug gets pulled, do not fear, I know there are plenty of you out there who are interested in that particular prize. I’ll resurrect the contest right here and try to work out the best way to pick my own winner. I’ll keep you apprized of any new developments, though my twitter feed will probably be the fastest way to find out.  UPDATE: The winner has stepped forward. Congratulations to Louise Yang!

Let’s see, other pending stuff… Well, I believe the Bulgarian Edition of Book of Deacon (called “Marked” in their edition) officially released last Monday, and as I understand it, a pair of copies are coming my way. I’ll post pictures when I get them. I haven’t been paid yet, but that’s mostly because a combination of complex banking policies, a huge time zone difference, a language barrier, a very small bank, and mutual inexperience has stymied any attempts to do an international wire transfer. If only I had someone with years of experience in handling things like this…

Oh yeah! I’ll be meeting my potential agent face to face in a few weeks, and if things go well, I might actually have someone to talk to who knows what the heck they are doing. That’ll be handy!

Speaking of NYCC, it is getting close so I’ll ask once again if any of you are attending, and if so, do you folks want to meet me? I’ll be there Saturday, October 13th, as well as for press day on Oct. 11th and possibly another visit on Oct. 14th. Let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

Okay, more stuff. I’ve added an upgrade to the forum and the site that will allow you to censor your posts, so you can hide spoilers. I’ve also added a “fan works” section to the forum for people to post and discuss fan fiction and fan art. These upgrades were in response to a reader who has been working on an unofficial sequel. Cool, right? I’ve also reached out to the good folks at Fanfiction.net to see if they want to add a section for Book of Deacon. No news on that.

Now for the little stuff. Plush? No news. The artist is working and going to college, so the fluffy dragon is being postponed by real life, as so often happens. Jade audio book? Nearly ready to be made. I’ve picked a narrator, I just need to get the final revision of the manuscript and negotiate price. There may be more art from Nick Deligaris in a few weeks, assuming real life doesn’t force it aside for him as well. You might want to head over to the fan art page, there’s been some new additions there recently. Lots and lots of stuff going on, many good things on the way. Hopefully a few of them will have come to fruition by the next time I do an update!

Until next time, thanks for reading!

Lending a Hand to a Fledgling Editor

Hello everyone. I know I generally use this space to talk to you about things going on with my books, but this time around I’d like to do something a little different. From time to time I get messages from fans who have found errors, typos, plot-holes, etc in my books. More often than not, you are kind enough to point out one or two. Some of you have done far more than that. In the case of a reader named Claudette, she did much much more than that. Claudette, who used to be part of the editorial freelancers association, did nothing less than read and notate every single one of my novels, marking off errors, bad structure, and awkward phrasing and sent them to me. For the final novel, Unstable Prototypes, I sent her the word doc and she sent it back with the full editor treatment: tracked changes, comments, and suggestions. Having had my books edited by a pro in the past, I was impressed by her thoroughness and professionalism, and told her so. It got her thinking. Could she do this for a living?

Well, she’s willing to give it a try, and I’m willing to lend a hand. If you are an author looking for an affordable proofreader/copyeditor, Claudette has opened for business. You can reach her at claudettecruz@ymail.com. For a first time editor, I’m truly impressed at what she’s been able to accomplish. She even had useful comments for the professionally edited books, and seldom took more than a few days to proof a book. As I understand it, she’s looking to price in the $500 range for a standard length novel. Her price for basic proofreading is $150, and for a full edit is $250. If that sounds like a fit for you, send her an email.

UPDATE: Claudette contacted me with brand spanking new prices, plus check out the comments below for a special discount for Book of Deacon fans!