Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Hollow World Makes Another Best of 2014 List

@baneofkings posted the books he thought were best for 2014 on his site The Fictional Hangout. I'm honored to make his list of 25 books that he enjoyed the most.  We certainly have similar tastes since much of the books he selected, I've enjoyed as well. Here's the list:

Here's the list in text form for people who prefer to see them that way.
  • 25.  Koko Takes a Holiday by Kieran Shea (Ebk 1)
  • 24.  Hollow World by Michael J. Sullivan
  • 23.  Defenders by Will Mcintosh
  • 22.  The Abyss Beyond Dreams: Chronicle of the Fallers by Peter F. Hamilton
  • 21.  Sworn in Steel by Douglas Hulick (Tales Of The Kin 2)
  • 20.  The Crimson Campaign by Brian Mcclellan (The Powder Mage 2)
  • 19.  The Widow’s House by Daniel Abraham (The Dagger & the Coin 3)
  • 18.  The Forever Watch by David Ramirez
  • 17.  Shadowplay by Laura Lam (Micah Grey 2)
  • 16.  The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell (Shadow Police 2)
  • 15.  Glaze by Kim Curran
  • 14.  The Oversight by Charlie Fletcher (The Oversight Trilogy 1)
  • 13.  Half a King by Joe Abercrombie (Shattered Sea 1)
  • 12.  Breach Zone by Myke Cole (Shadow Ops 3)
  • 11.  Prince Of Fools by Mark Lawrence (The Red Queen’s War 1)
  • 10.  The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare by Mg Buehrlen (Alex Wayfare 1)
  •  9.  Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien De Castell (Greatcoats 1)
  • 8.  Cibola Burn by James Sa Corey (Expanse 4)
  • 7.  Our Lady of The Streets by Tom Pollock (The Skyscraper Throne 3)
  • 6.  Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie (Imperial Radch 2)
  • 5.  The Martian by Andy Weir
  • 4.  Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  • 3.  The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
  • 2.  City Of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
  • 1.  The Girl with All the Gifts by MR Carey

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Guest Author at I Read Encyclopedias for Fun!

During the month of December, Jay Dee Archer featured me on his blog as the Guest Author of the Month.  Thanks, Jay Dee, I was honored.  As part of this series Jay asked a number of questions to both me and other authors.  Here is what we discussed:
In addition to myself a number of other authors weighed in.
There were some interesting answers...most notably what most of the authors wanted was "more time." Of course, writing full-time is the best way to get such a thing. I really feel for those authors (the vast majority) who have to balance a "day job" and work.  I'm eternally grateful for all my readers who have given me this gift. I couldn't ask for anything better.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Xmas - 16 Daily Deals from Orbit for the Kindle

Daily deals are the best!  Exclusive low-cost kindle books for 24-hours. On this Christmas, Orbit and Amazon teamed up to offer 16 ebooks each priced at just $2.99
(generally a savings of 70%!) I'm so pleased that Orbit included the first book in my Riyria Revelations series, Theft of Swords in today's daily deal.  Here are all the titles on sale.

Here's a list of all the titles as well:
  • Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch) by Ann Leckie
  • Promise of Blood (Powder Mage Trilogy Book 1) by Brian McClellan
  • The Remaining by D.J. Molles (Jan 7, 2014)
  • Theft of Swords (Riyria Revelations box set Book 1) by Michael J. Sullivan
  • 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Parasite (Parasitology Book 1) by Mira Grant
  • Charming (Pax Arcana Book 1) by Elliott James
  • A Dance of Cloaks (Shadowdance Book 1) by David Dalglish
  • Dirty Magic (Prospero's War Book 1) by Jaye Wells
  • Shaman by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Thief's Magic (Millennium's Rule Book 1) by Trudi Canavan
  • Defenders by Will McIntosh
  • The Falcon Throne (The Tarnished Crown Series Book 1) by Karen Miller
  • The Shambling Guide to New York City (The Shambling Guides) by Mur Lafferty
  • Ice Forged (The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga) by Gail Z. Martin
  • Eloise by Judy Finnigan
So if Santa brought you a kindle, or you have one and want to get some great titles, inexpensively.  Check it out...but hurry - the sale ends in about 14 hours.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Audiofile Magazine's Best Fantasy and Science Fiction for 2014

Considering how few spots there are in the various "best of" lists, I'm always amazed and honored to find my books on them. Audiofile Magazine is "the source" for keeping up on books in audio and I'm thrilled that The Rose and the Thorn made their best of 2014 list.

Here's the full rundown:
  • The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell (Multiple Narrators)
  • The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness (Narrated by Jennifer Ikeda)
  • Dark Eden by Chris Beckett (Multiple Narrators)
  • The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R. Carey (Narration by Finty Williams)
  • Influx by Daneil Suarez (Narration by Jeff Gurner)
  • Iron Man: Extremis by Marie Javins (Full Cast Recording)
  • Loot of the Shanung by L. Ron Hubbard (Full Cast Recording)
  • Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett (Narration by Stephen Briggs)
  • Red Rising by Pierce Brown (Narration by Tim Gerard Reynolds)
  • The Rose and the Thorn by Michael J. Sullivan (Narration by Tim Gerard Reynolds)
  • Salome by Oscar Wilde (Multiple Narrators)
  • Skin Game by Jim Butcher (Narration by James Marsters)
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (Narration by Kristine Potter)
  • A Sudden Light by Garth Stein (Narration by Seth Numrick)
  • The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman (Narration by Neil Gaiman)
  • Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson (Narration by Michael Kramer & Kate Reading)
I'm thrilled that the narrator for Riyria, Tim Gerard Reynolds got not one but two nods on this list. The only narrator to do so.  I'm also pleased to announce that Tim Gerard Reynolds will be on board for two new projects of mine coming up soon.  The first is The multiple book series The First Empire, and the other is Riyria Chronicles #3.  No release dates on these works yet, but I'll be sure to let people know.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Audible's Five-star favorites

One of the cool things audible does each year, is provide a list of the books that received the most 5-star reviews broken down by a number of categories. In addition they provide their "Best of Everything" indicating the books with the highest 5-star ratings regardless of category. I'm pleased to say I've made the "Best of Everything" twice.
  • 2012: Theft of Swords
  • 2013: The Crown Tower
While I didn't have any books hit this year, there are a lot of great ones that did, and I wanted to share them in the hopes of you finding a great new book to try.  Here's the selections for "The Best of Everything"
  •  The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
  • Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
  • The One by Kiera Cass
  • Yes Please by Amy Poehler
  • Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
  • Influx by Daniel Suarez
  • Shattered by Kevin Hearne
  • Capital by Thomas Piketty
  • The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
Seeing as how I write Science Fiction and Fantasy, this list is also one I care a great deal about.  So here are this years top-rated audio books for those genres:

  • The Dragons of Dorcastle by Jack Campbell
  • Influx by Daniel Suarez
  • Skin Game by Jim Butcher
  • Monster Hunter Nemesis by Larry Correia
  • Shattered by Kevin Hearne
  • 299 Days: The Preparation by Glen Tate
  • Tech World by B.V. Larson
  • Prince Lestat by Anne Rice
  • Lock In by John Scalzi
  • Ex-Purgatory by Peter Clines
  • The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R. Carey
  • The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman
  • Earth Awakens by Orson Scott ard and Aaron Johnson
  • Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
  • Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor
  • Terms of Enlistment by Marko Kloos
  • The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
  • Off to be the Wizard by Scott Meyer
Happy Holidays and I hope you find something great to listen to!

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Best Book That I Listened to This Year

The fine people over at audible asked me and a 23 other authors to weigh in our favorite listens and here is the answer I gave:

Here is a link to the full list.

For those that are lazy, but still curious, here is what each person picked.
  • Anthony Doerr - We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
  • Lisa Genova - You are a Badass by Jen Sincero
  • Lev Grossman - Her Majesty's Secret Service by Ian Fleming
  • Michael J. Sullivan - The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
  • Jennifer Probst - Heroes Are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
  • Kevin Hearne - Dirty Magic by Jaye Wells
  • B. V. Larson - Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov
  • Debbie Macomber - Wonder by R. J. Palacio
  • Chris Bohjalian - One More Thing by B.J. Novak
  • John Connolly - Light of the World - by Lee Burke
  • K. A. Tucker - YOU by Caroline Kepnes
  • Dan Bucatinsky - Unbearable Lightness by Portia De Rossi
  • Jasinda Wilder - Sand by Hugh Howey
  • Willy Vlautin - Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton
  • Suzanne Young - The Dream Thieves 0 by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Caroline Kepnes - Big Little Lies by Caroline Lee
  • Ilsa J. Bick - Dead Mountain by Donnie Eichar
  • Becca Fitzpatrick - Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
  • Christina Lauren - Dark Skye by Kresley Cole
  • A.American - The Martian by Andy Weir
  • Lisa Renee Jones - The Rookie by Scott Sigler
  • Katy Evans - Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
  • Andrew Peterson - My Sister's Grave by Robert Dugoni
  • Kathleen Brooks - The Wrong Todd by Donna McDonald
What's your favorite listen of the year?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Audible's 2014 Best Books in Fantasy

Yep it's time for yet another "best of" list. This one brought to us by the amazing people at Audible.com. So here are their picks for the Best Fantasy of 2014.

The full list includes:
  • Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson narrated by Michael Kramer & Kate Reading
  • The Legend of Drizzt: The Collected Stories by R. A. Salvatore with multiple narrators
  • Prince Lestat: The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice narrated by Simon Vance
  • The Book of Life: All Souls, Book 3 by Deborah Harkness narrated by Jennifer Ikeda
  • The Magician's Land: The Magicians, Book 3 by by Lev Grossman narrated by Mark Bramhall
Some fantasy showed up on some of the other lists as well, including:

  • Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
  • Written in My Own Heart's Blood: Outlander, Book 8 by Diana Gabaldon
  • Skin Game: A Novel of the Dresden Files, Book 15 by Jim Butcher
  • Monster Hunter Nemesis by Larry Correia
  • Red Rising by Pierce Brown
  • The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R. Carey
  • Dark Eden by Chris Becket
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

  • The Book of Life: All Souls, Book 3 by Deborah Harkness narrated by Jennifer Ikeda
  • Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
  • The Magician's Land: The Magicians, Book 3 by by Lev Grossman narrated by Mark Bramhall
So go grab some earbuds and give a listen, there's these and plenty more good listens over at audible.com.

Friday, December 12, 2014

NPR's 2014’s Great Reads in Science Fiction & Fantasy

NPR's staff and critics came up with a list of 250 titles they loved for 2014. When breaking them down to the science fiction and fantasy category, here is what they came up with (and a link for you to learn more):

The format of the images makes it a bit hard to see exactly what was picked, so here is the full list for your reading pleasure.

  • The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
  • On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee
  • The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  • Ancillary Sword by Anne Leckie
  • Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix
  • How to be Happy by Elenor Davis
  • Definitely Maybe by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
  • Aviary Wonders Inc. by Kate Samworth
  • Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan
  • The Martian by Andy Weir
  • Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan
  • Afterparty by Daryl Gregory
  • The Memory Garden by Mary Rickert
  • The Bees by Laline Paull
  • Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • The Man with the Compount Eyes by Mu Wing-Yi
  • Unexpected Stories by Octavia E. Butler
  • The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang & Sonny Liew
  • California by Edan Lepucki
  • Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood
  • Little Nemo Dream Another Dream by Winsor McCay
  • Heap House by Edward Carey
  • The Hawley Book of the Dead by Chrysler Szarlan
  • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer
  • The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan
  • The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
  • The Night Gardener by Johnathan Auxier
  • The Peripeheral by William Gibson
  • The Usagi Yojimbo Saga Volume 1 by Stan Sakai
  • A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
  • The Last Illlusion by Porochista Khakpour
  • The Three-body Problem by Cixin Liu
  • The Adventures of Beekle by Dan Santat
  • The End of the Sentence by Maria Dahvana Headley & Kat Howard
  • Fatale Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
  • LightSpeed Women Destroy Science Fiction Special Issue
  • The Apex Book of World SF 3
  • Kaleidoscope by multiple autohrs
  • Quest by Aaron Becker
  • The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple
  • Rat Queens Vol. 1: Sass And Sorcery  by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch
  • Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer

Thursday, December 11, 2014

This kind of thing benefits no one

I must say that I get a bit tired of hearing how self-published books scam readers with fake reviews and artificial rankings. I've been in (and watched) the self-publishing world for a long time now, and I can tell you the professional self-published get their sales and rankings based on what they should be...readers who love books and say so.  Yes, there are a few bad eggs who operate in disreputable ways, and this undermines an industry that deserves better. Given how self-publishing has benefited both writers (making full-time income), and readers (inexpensive books they love), it's sad to see these things happens.

Which brings me to All About A's.  A book whose description says, "Have you ever wondered about the letter A? It's the first letter of the alphabet, but why? Who created it? This books purpose is to answer these questions, maybe. So sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride."

But the problem...is it's a book with six chapters and the entire content is just the letter A repeated over and over and over again.  I'm sure it will be removed from Amazon soon, so I'm not going to bother posting a link.  But it's current #222 in free stories:

Well, it's free so maybe some people downloaded it just as a joke or to show others.  But this book is also in the Kindle Unlimited Library, and if a big part of that 222 ranking is through "borrows" it's going to hurt the legitimate authors in the program. This is because regardless of price, everyone in Kindle Unlimited gets an equal cut of a pool divided by a number of borrows. So, I do feel bad for the authors whose paychecks will be a little smaller until this book is removed (hopefully Amazon won't give this books author any cut and it will be a moot point).

But, here's the part that really gets me...the reviews.  A 4.6 rating and 119 of them.

Are they paid reviews? Are they friends of the person who did this book? I've even seen comments on a writing forum who thinks it was done by one of the big publishers, no doubt to hold up as an example about the "quality" of self-publishing.

So, I'm not sure if this is (a) a joke (b) someone trying to make a point (c) someone hoping for a viral 15 minutes of fame or (d) just someone trying to cash in with next to no effort. But no matter what the truth is, it's really not helping anyone, and I'm really sorry to see it released.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Tenacious Reader's 10 New Series or Standalones to Look for In 2015

Tenacious Reader put together a really great list for books they are looking forward to in 2015. Here's a link. What's on it?  Well, I'm glad you asked!

For easy searching, here are the titles:
  • The City Stained Red by Sam Sykes
  • Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by  V.E. Schwab
  • Those Above by  Daniel Polansky
  • Clash of Eagles by Alan Smale
  • Uprooted by by Naomi Novik
  • Time Salvager by Wesley Chu
  • A Crown for Cold Silver by Alex Marshall
  • Armada by Ernest Cline
  • The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milán
There was also an honorable mention:
  • The Fireman by Joe Hill 
A lot of great books to look forward to!  Add some to your "to be read" pile today!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Goodreads 201: Advanced Tips for Driving Book Discovery

I've made no secret about my unabashed love for Goodreads as both an author and a reader. The only downside is the knowledge that I'll never make it through all the books that are constantly being added to my "to be read pile." But I love the community and their enthusiasm for the written word. I think Goodreads is doing an excellent job fulfilling their mission "to Help Readers Find and Share Books They Love."

At this years BEA (Book Expo America) Patrick Brown, Director of Author Marketing, did a great presentation on tips that authors can use to make their books more discoverable.  Yes, I know that's not a word, but I'm exercising the authorial right to expand the English language through usage. I wasn't there, and I "sorta" knew it was occurring, because I started to see tweets about my name being mentioned. Yesterday, my wife ran across the online version of Patrick's slideshow.

This presentation covers a wide range of topics, and provide great tips. I highly recommend you check it out. It's well worth the time to watch.  Here is some of what is covered:

  • Readers enthusiasm with author interaction (Bella Andre & Stephen King)
  • Author on-line meetup Groups (John Green)
  • Ask the Author Program (relatively new feature. I was part of the the debut launch and it's now available for any goodreads author
  • Author's reviewing books they've read
  • Author's posting bookclub discussion topics
  • Making "quizes" for readers to show their knowledge of your books
  • Publisher lead "re-readings" for earlier books in a series just before the launch of a new title
  • Add Goodreads Reviews to your site
  • Word-of-Mouth sharing through Goodreads News feeds
  • Giveaways as social ads
  • Goodreads notifys people who have shelved a book on release day
  • Personal selection emails - sends a notification to anyone who rated author's book at least 3 stars
  • Creating Book Challenges
  • Author Groups (both public and private)
  • Be a reader first!!  Participate in groups, review books.

This is  just one of several useful slideshow presentations put on by Goodreads. Here are some others worth checking out (there may be some overlap in content):

Monday, December 8, 2014

2014 Grimdark Review's The Best Fantasy

It's that time of year again, filled with "best of" and "most anticipated" lists. I'm honored to have The Riyria Revelations join a stellar line up over at Grimdark Reviews.

According to my wife, who tracks this kind of things, that makes the 95th time on these types of year end books.  Pretty amazing considering my own goal was to write book that I wanted to read. A number of lists have come out as well, including the final results of the Goodreads Choice Awards...no, Hollow World didn't win, but it really was an honor to be nominated. I'll try to do some posts on the other "best" of lists over the next few days.  And I wanted to thank Grimdark for including my series in an amazing line-up!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Take THAT George R.R. Martin

Last night I noticed Theft of Swords was the #1 best-selling epic fantasy book on Audible.com.  It will probably be short lived, but it still is #1 this morning, so I have that going for me.  I get a kick when my little books that were once self-published make any kind of splash, and I know a big part of the books popularity is the amazing Tim Gerard Reynolds (who narrators all the Riyria stories).

So, if you have a spare credit, please consider giving Theft of Swords a try...or if you want to try out a Royce and Hadrian short story, which is absolutely free there are two of them up there:


Just click on one of the covers above to go to the free download page.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The First Empire Limited ARC Winners have been notified

A while ago I announced I would do a giveaway of 5 VERY limited editions of a VERY early edition of Rhune (first book of the The First Empire).  By early I mean essentially the book in its beta state.  I've done a drawing and the winners are:

  • Beta readers drawing (1 of 44) - Michael Coward
  • Goodreads Giveaway (2 of 6,475) - Tammie Venne & Gary Vanicek
  • Dark Room Members (1 of 943) - Dawn from Oceanside NY
  • First Empire Mailing List sign-up - David Quist
I've already heard back from some of the winners, and the others have 1 week to respond before I pick someone else from the list.  Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks to everyone else for entering / participating.  If you would like to be eligible for future such giveaways, here are some links you can use to sign up.
  • Request to join the Dark Room (a secret - private Goodreads group - just send me a message via email or from within Goodreads.
  • Sign up for release notification, pre-release specials, and giveaways for books in The First Empire, click here.  NOTE: If you are already on the mailing list - you are automatically entered for future drawings.
Originally I was going to print up the book in the same state as the first beta, but I now want to get the changes in and then print THAT version.  I say this because it shouldn't take too long, and the people who won will get a much better book. If for some reason the edits drag on too long, then I'll revert to my initial plan.

Friday, November 28, 2014

52 Fantasy Titles are on Sale for $4.95 at Audible.com...

and Theft of Swords is one of them. If you've thought about getting to know Royce and Hadrian now is the perfect time, but you have to hurry as the sale ends December 2nd, 2014.  All the Riyria books are narrated by the amazing Tim Gerard Reynolds, and he is well worth a listen. In fact, his recording of Theft of Swords received an Audie nomination when it was released.  But don't take my word for it, 5,375 people have rated or reviewed the book they share my enthusiasm for Tim's remarkable narration.

But even if you're not interested in Theft of Swords there are 51 other titles on the sale and here is a link to the complete list

  • Steelheart: Reckoners, Book 1  by  Brandon Sanderson
  • Hexed: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 2  by  Kevin Hearne
  • Theft of Swords: Riyria Revelations, Volume 1  by  Michael J. Sullivan
  • Spellbound: Book II of the Grimnoir Chronicles  by  Larry Correia
  • The Bone Season  by  Samantha Shannon
  • Airel: The Airel Saga, Book 1  by  Aaron Patterson
  • Night Broken: Mercy Thompson, Book 8  by  Patricia Briggs
  •  Nine Princes in Amber: The Chronicles of Amber, Book 1  by  Roger Zelazny
  • The Black Company: Chronicles of The Black Company, Book 1  by  Glen Cook
  • The Dragon's Path: Dagger and Coin, Book 1  by  Daniel Abraham
  • A Kiss of Shadows: Meredith Gentry, Book 1  by  Laurell K. Hamilton
  • A Modern Witch: A Modern Witch, Book 1  by  Debora Geary
  • Throne of Glass: A Throne of Glass Novel  by  Sarah J. Maas
  • Split Infinity: Apprentice Adept Series, Book 1  by  Piers Anthony
  • Rogue  by  Gina Damico
  • Friday Night Bites: Chicagoland Vampires, Book 2  by  Chloe Neill
  • Bitter Seeds: The Milkweed Triptych, Book 1  by  Ian Tregillis
  • Moon Dance: Vampire for Hire, Book 1  by  J. R. Rain
  • Shadow and Bone by  Leigh Bardugo
  • The Becoming: Anna Strong, Vampire, Book 1  by  Jeanne C. Stein
  • Dead but Not Forgotten: World of Sookie Stackhouse by multiple authors
  • Prince of Thorns  by  Mark Lawrence
  • Night Watch: Watch, Book 1  by  Sergei Lukyanenko
  • Hero  by  Perry Moore
  • Touch the Dark: Cassandra Palmer, Book 1  by  Karen Chance
  • The Wretched of Muirwood: Legends of Muirwood, Book 1  by  Jeff Wheeler
  • Bloodfire: Blood Destiny, Book 1 by Helen Harper
  • Feast of Souls: Magister Trilogy, Book 1  by  C. S. Friedman
  • Dead Spots  by  Melissa F. Olson
  • Troubled Waters: Elemental Blessings, Book 1  by  Sharon Shinn
  • Imager's Intrigue: Book 3 of the Imager Portfolio by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
  • The Merchant of Death: Pendragon, Book 1  by  D. J. MacHale
  • Phoenix Unchained: Book 1 Enduring Flame by  Mercedes Lackey, James Mallory
  • The Summoner: Chronicles of the Necromancer, Book 1  by  Gail Z. Martin
  • The Thousand Orcs: Hunter's Blade Trilogy, Book 1  by  R. A. Salvatore
  • Half-Blood: Covenant, Book 1  by  Jennifer L. Armentrout
  • The Pride of Chanur: Chanur, Book 1  by  C. J. Cherryh
  • Sanctum: Guards of the Shadowlands, Book 1  by  Sarah Fine
  • Red-Headed Stepchild  by  Jaye Wells
  • Blue Moon Rising: Forest Kingdom, Book 1  by  Simon R. Green
  • Moonheart  by  Charles de Lint
  • Frost Moon: Skindancer, Book 1  by  Anthony Francis
  • Dark Descendant: Nikki Glass, Book 1  by  Jenna Black
  • Magic Casement: A Man of His Word, Book 1  by  Dave Duncan
  • Thief's Magic  by  Trudi Canavan
  • This Case Is Gonna Kill Me  by  Phillipa Bornikova
  • White Plume Mountain: Dungeons & Dragons: Greyhawk, Book 1  by  Paul Kidd
  • The Curse of Wendigo: The Sequel to The Monstrumologist  by  Rick Yancey
  • The New Watch, Watch Book 5 by Sergei Lukyanenkov
  • The Paths of the Dead: Book 1 of the Viscount of Adrilankha by Steven Brust
  • The Clockwork Heart  by  Dru Pagliassotti
  • Aladdin Relighted: Aladdin Trilogy, Book 1  by  J. R. Rain, Piers Anthony

Friday, November 14, 2014

Traditional & Self-Publishing Via Rocking Self-publishing Podcast

It's been an exciting time to be a novelist...so many changes...so many opportunities. If you're on this blog, then you are probably familiar with the fact that I discuss my experience and the changes in publishing on any number of sites including:
I don't mind doing this...in fact, I enjoy helping fellow authors in any way I can, but it does take time. Time I sometimes have problems making room for.  Over the summer, I was taking a bit of a break from writing. My concentration was on training for the Ride to Conquer Cancer and recharging my batteries after writing the first three books of the The First Empire Series.  

I also had some events that I was scheduled to speak at (such as the 2014 Writer's Digest Annual Conference). So I set my date to start writing book #4 after that and planned on doing so in a  "heads down" mode where I cut back on just about everything else.  Unbeknownst to me, my wife was in the process of setting up a podcast interview with RSP (Rocking Self-Publishing) to be squeezed in right before I started...then I moved up the date.  

Robin came to me with a fair amount of nervousness. She had a few problems.  
  1. I was burned out on educational activities and wanted to pour myself into my creative stuff. 
  2. The podcast host is "across the pond" so it would have to be in the AM - my writing time.
  3. I had "just" started the book - a critical time for me
  4. She knew I wanted to focus on book #4 and even a brief podcast would be a disruption.
Long story short, I didn't bite her head off and the interview went ahead. I must say, it was one of the best run interviews I've seen. The host was (a) knowledgeable (b) did his research (c) really knows the state of the industry.  Since that interview, I've listened to a number of the other ones on his site and I'm continually impressed.

Which brings us to today...or more accurately yesterday, as the interview went live.  While cooking dinner my wife was listening to it and mentioned that, "You sound like you knew what you were doing."  High praise from her...let me tell you. Hearing it, reminded me exactly what we had covered and I do think it turned out to be pretty informative. So I'm posting today to draw some people's attention to it and Simon. Listen to my interview here, and check out the back episodes as well.  Lots of great information coming out of this podcast.  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Book #4 of The First Empire is done!

My goal was to finish Fhrey by November 15th, and I finished a few days early (November 11th).  Please note, the cover to the left is a mock-up only and it will no doubt change.  I learned a lot about this series writing the fourth book, and was faced with an important decision. Do I stick to my original concept, or when I came up with what would be a way to up the series in a whole new way, should I go for that?

This isn't the first time I've been faced with such a dilemma...my planned conclusion for Riyria was much different than the published one, and it took about 6 - 9 months of cajoling with my muse for her to give up that piece of information...something I thought was well worth waiting for.

So as I was nearing the end of Book #4 in this series, I faced the same sort of crossroad...and I took the path less traveled.  Rather than taking the easy way out, I've decided to once again expand the series and now it will be five books.  It's decisions like this which is why I want to write the entire series before publishing any of the books. I can now make some minor adjustments to book #1 to account for incorporating that "really cool idea."

Will this set things back again?  Yeah, it will. But not too badly. I have a clear idea of where it is going and another 3 - 4 months in the grand scheme of things is not much of a wait.  Weighing the pros and cons I think this is the right thing to do.  So, good news and bad news...Book #4 is done, but I'm still not finished with the series as a whole.  I'll keep you updated as the saga continues.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Hollow World is a Goodreads Reader's Choice Award Nominee

For the fourth time, I have a book nominated in the Goodreads Reader's Choice Award. This year it's Hollow World which is nominated in the Science Fiction Category. Here is the full set of nominated books:

  • Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
  • Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer
  • Apolonia by Jamie McGuire
  • Better World, a by Marcus Sakey
  • California by Edan Lepucki
  • Cibola Burn by James S.A. Corey
  • Earth Awakens by Orson Scott Card
  • First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, the by Harry August
  • Flight of the Silvers, The by Daniel Price
  • Heaven's Queen by Rachel Bach
  • Hollow World by Michael J. Sullivan
  • Influx by Daniel Suarez
  • Lines of Departure by Markos Kloos
  • Lock In by John Scalzi
  • Long Mars, The by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
  • Martian, the by Andy Weir
  • Out of the Black by Evan Currie
  • Sand by Hugh Howey
  • To Honor You Call Us by H. Paul Honsinger
  • World of Trouble by Ben H. Winters
I'm doubly honored.  First, by being included with an incredible array of Science Fiction from some amazing authors, and second, because it is the readers who select who is nominated.  In the past, my other three nominations came in the first round, determined by rankings and number of people who have shelved the book.  This year, I was thrilled to get an email from both my agent and publisher indicating that Hollow World was one of the five write-in nominees.  I really hadn't expected that, and I'm so grateful for all the people who worked to get it on the ballot.

Second round entries never win...they miss out on a ton of votes that occur during the first round, and even if I didn't have that handicap working against Hollow World, I have no illusions about it's widespread appeal.  Still, it truly is an honor just to be nominated and I couldn't be happier about that.

If you would like to add your vote to the more than 1,800,000 people who have voted this year. You can do so by clicking this button.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Ride

At five o’clock the sun was still two hours from rising, but I was getting up. I’m well aware there are wonderful people who get up this early everyday. People with important jobs, people with awful jobs, people whose only time to exercise is before their important or awful jobs who drag themselves out of bed and out of the house before the fella who throws the newspapers from the window of his car drives by (and of course, he’s one of them, too). And some people actually like getting up early—people who might have been Benedictine Monks in another life, or if things had gone differently, in this one. 

I’m not one of those people.

I’ve hated getting up before the sun since I was old enough for school. Never seemed right starting a day before the day started. Puritan work ethic be damned, this has to be a sin. If God wanted people to get up earlier, the Almighty would have switched on the overhead sooner. One of my greatest pleasures—one of the most wonderful perks I discovered—upon becoming a full-time writer was that I never again had to get up before dawn. Yet on Friday morning, September 13th (yes, Friday the 13th) I did just that.

I squinted in the stark glare of the bathroom light brushing teeth and searching for clothes I laid out the night before. Spandex shorts with padding in the seat, low rise cotton socks, slipper-like sneakers, and a brightly colored yellow, black, and white biking jersey with an American flag patch on one shoulder and a blue Ride to Conquer Cancer logo on the chest. After a summer of training as best I could, the big day was here. I was going to ride 150 miles on my wife’s bicycle. Two days later I would celebrate my 53rd birthday. 

I’m not athletic. The only sport I played in high school was tennis, and I only did okay. I’m not overweight. I was underweight most of my life, so when I hit the mid-thirties-metabolism-slow-down, I ballooned up to a normal person’s weight. Still, for the last decade I’ve been a novelist, which is about as sedimentary as a professional World of Warcraft gamer. I did try and bike five to ten miles several times a week, and I often took walks to conceptualize stories, but there’s a world of difference between that and preparing to ride a century and a half over two days. Thing was, I figured the distance would be my biggest problem. I had no idea what lay ahead. 

I’m one of those people whose stomach doesn’t wake up until around ten-thirty, so while my wife drove us in the dark to the start of the ride, some twenty minutes away in Maryland, I force-fed myself a bowl of tuna fish pasta and baked beans. This magic combination I determined to be the only thing I could make myself eat that would also sustain me for hours of biking. 

We arrived at the Academy of the Holy Cross where an army of yellow jerseys were bivouacked on a lawn under arc lamps. A row of green plastic “Gene’s Johns” lined one end, while the rest was filled with white tents housing food, information, bike mechanics, media sign-ups and rider check-In. 

Blinking, still barely awake, my wife, Robin, made sure I had my gear and snapped pictures like a proud mother on her boys’ first day of school. As the sky brightened to a gunmetal gray, the ceremony began at the starting line where we all waited holding our bikes. The national anthem was followed by a morale rousing speech, then a heart-felt, tear-welling address by cancer survivor Andrew Reed who was joining in the ride despite news his cancer had spread and had undergone surgery little more than two weeks earlier. Then as music blared we were unleashed in a congested line of matching jerseys and an odd assortment of helmets, gloves, capes, and bikes. 

I waited letting most of those with sculptured calfs and snap-on peddle shoes go ahead. I held up until almost everyone else was gone, then I slowly, tentatively mounted up, waved goodbye to my wife, and began peddling.  

Go slow. I told myself. This isn’t a race. I just have to finish. Turns out I didn’t need the advice. We were single file on a narrow road and riding tire-to-tire for miles. Bikes peeled off to adjust hastily assembled gear, and I moved ahead. Then I soon began to see folks on the side fixing flats. Already? This turned out to be a chronic problem as I passed dozens of riders on the side fitting new tubes to injured tires. Later I realized why. Maryland has a lot of junk on the sides of roads: screws, glass, nails, pins. Soon I felt like Hans Solo flying through an asteroid field. 

We hit a few hills where traffic was light and I found myself passing a number of the slower riders. This made me feel a little more confident. I wasn’t at the end anymore. Mile by mile I crept up the pack and was feeling good. The tuna salad and beans were doing their magic, and twenty miles later when it came time to make the first pit stop I had no need to bother and just kept on rolling.  

Instantly I was in another league. By skipping the stop I had moved way ahead and suddenly those I rode with were lean, muscled youths. Men and women I had no business riding with. I kept my head down and just tried to find my normal rhythm.  

We traveled north through meandering roads past homes that had McMansions for garages. These places had named roads for driveways and gates with separate entrances and exits. As I approached the thirty mile mark, I was getting hungry. My fuel tank light was on and I’d needed more magic beans to continue, but otherwise I was feeling good and began to think, this wouldn’t be so bad.

Then it began to rain. 

The weatherman had promised a sunny day with a high of 75. The weatherman is not to be trusted. The weatherman I think was invented by the brother’s Grimm. That gunmetal sky never got any brighter and by mid-morning it was chilly and a light rain began to fall. I quickly shoveled down forks full of pasta and beans and a few bites of a Snicker’s bar. Then I changed clothes.

Years ago when we used to kayak, my wife and I bought these expensive fleece shirts that, when worn next to the skin, can keep you warm and dry even after a dunking in the ocean. I slipped the fleece on and my jersey over top and shivering so hard the bike shimmied, I set out once more, this time into a solid downpour. 

Keeping my head down and using the visor on my helmet to protect my eyes from the drops, I plowed on, and after the first few good hills I warmed to a comfortable level. Only problem was, there were more than a few good hills. Maryland as it turns out is not the midwest. Apparently a mountain range runs through it. 

Spraying water on slick roads we dove up and down hugging white lines on narrow two lanes that cut through what I’m certain was a very picturesque landscape. The few glimpses I had of the idyllic farms and corn fields with green mountains rising in the rainy mist was lovely, but who had time to look? I was watching the white line where the narrow shoulder—in addition to the afore mentioned screws, glass and nails—was also mined with holes, grates, and washouts. As riders ahead pointed out traps to those behind, I no longer had trouble wondering why so many were repairing tires, but by why some weren’t.   

The cool temperatures lingered, the rain continued, and so did the ride. Mile after mile passed and soon I found myself alone on a vast empty country road wondering if I had missed a turn. They had arrows and decade mile markers stapled to telephone poles along the way, but I could easily have missed one. Just as I was growing concerned I saw another marker and knew I was on track, but I was still alone. From thousands to one, it was a strange feeling. 

I wasn’t really alone. My wife was in the car leap-frogging me and already at the next pit stop. She would occasionally call me asking how I was doing, her voice popping in my head via one earbud. She sounded like Lindsey talking to Bud when he descended to the bottom in the Abyss in the James Cameron movie, only it wasn’t near that bad, wasn’t too bad at all. As I left the final pit stop with only ten miles to go, I was feeling downright cocky. Then came the hills. 

One after another, each one bigger than the one before. Cresting one, gasping for air, we’d see another hill looming. By the sixth or seventh, even many of the young and fit began walking their bikes. I refused. I wanted to be able to say I rode the whole way, but that final hill was a killer. 

There ought to be a motivational saying that starts: “When you can’t find the strength to peddle up the hill and discover you’re already on your lowest gear, that’s when you find what you’re capable of.” After riding seventy-one miles they saved the toughest for last. Mount Two-lane Asphalt went nearly vertical—at least it seemed that way. Gripping the bars low with my head down so that the rain water dripped off my nose, I locked my upper body and just pumped—breathed and pumped. I must have been going all of about .0002 miles an hour up that hill. Worms driven up by the rain were passing me. At times I wondered how I was staying vertical, and then I noticed the effort lessen and I was at the top, then down the other side and coasting into the end of Day One while people cheered and rang cow bells and thanked me. 

People thanked me a lot. 

Folks handing out apples and peanut butter (a fantastic taste treat I never tried before) thanked me for riding. People handing out bananas and peanut butter (another must-try combination) thanked me. Crowds along the road, police officers directing traffic for us, and even other riders thanked me. Thing was I honestly didn’t know why, and it made me uncomfortable as if I was pretending to something I didn’t deserve. 

I was just riding a bike. Granted it was in the rain and cold, but I’ve done stupider things in my life for no reason at all. I went canoeing for six days in similar weather sleeping in a soaking tent. No one ever thanked me. Sure, this was to raise money to fund finding a cure for cancer, and sure I gave some money too,  but mostly I just asked other people to give money to the effort. Those are the people who did something, and it was usually people who didn’t have much money to give, but they did anyway. I ended up raising about $3,000 for the ride, and the ride as a whole raised 2.6 million, but mostly all I did was ride a sodden bike for two days. And I didn’t even have to do that. If I wanted to I could have given up, packed the bike and gone home. It wasn’t like if I didn’t finish the money wouldn’t be used. The funds I raised would still be collected, still go for the cure. The ride was pointless—but still, I had promised people that I would do it if they gave. I never once believed that’s why they gave the money, but I hate failing to fulfill promises. Maybe that was why I refused to walk the damn bike up the mother-of-all-hills even when no one else was there to see, even when it didn’t matter. And still it felt awkward having all these people thanking me as if I’d personally cured cancer that afternoon while peddling in the rain. I wish it was that easy. 

The next day the weather had one more surprise. No more rain, but the temperatures dropped to 48 degrees. Usually I never bike in temps below seventy. Forty-eight was uncalled for especially when everything everyone had was soaked through from the day before. Getting up in the cold—again before dawn’s early light—and in having to put on wet shorts and waterlogged sneakers, and then bike in a headwind is…well, the  opposite of fun. Thankfully I still had my fleece, my wonderful mithril armor, that I wore beneath my jersey. 

That morning we rode out under a cloud-free sky to a rising sun that scattered shadows across farms and fields. My legs, as you might imagine were not pleased with me. I learned that at age forty, my body no longer recovered from excessive anything after just one night’s rest. At fifty, that point was beyond obvious. I began riding on rubber band thighs. The good news was that after the first downhill glide, I couldn’t feel them much because they were sort of numb.  

It could have been worse. It could have been a hundred degrees, or I could have been one of the many riders with yellow flags attached to the backs of their bikes. The flags designated cancer survivors.

We all rode in the rain and cold, and rode a hundred and fifty miles through punishing hills and dangerously narrow roads, and I never heard a single complaint. All I ever heard from my fellow riders were words of encouragement to each other. 

“Looking good!”
“Stay strong!”
“You got this!”
“I’ve got nothing left for these hills, but I’m not stopping.”
“You call this a hill? Lieutenant Dan wouldn’t call this a hill!”
“Life is like a box of chocolates!”
“Anyone got a box of chocolates? I’d love a box of chocolates right now.”

If that sounds like dialog from a great war movie where a raw platoon struggles though a rough hike, that’s sort of what it was like. Everyone watched out for everyone else, and for one brief shining moment, total strangers were life-long friends. 

By noon on Sunday it was warm enough to lose the fleece. I had been dead tired mid-morning, but as we neared the end—I don’t know, maybe it was riders’ high, but I didn’t feel tired at all. The last few miles was a giddy laugh-fest as red-faced bikers joked and screamed at long traffic lights yelling, “For god sake, we only have point five miles left! Change already!”  

And then we were rolling in the fenced off corridor of fame where tv cameras threw our images on a big screen and an announcer called off names and congratulated us, and again thanked us. A whole crowd of strangers filled a hillside applauding and everywhere I went I was thanked. 

They had food. They had drinks, but I didn’t stay. I took my obligatory photo in front of the I Conquered It sign, and left. I didn’t want to be thanked anymore. 

As I walked my bike out to the parking lot a man asked if we were going to do the ride again next year. 

“What do you mean, next year?” I asked. “Didn’t you hear? We conquered it. They’ll find a cure in the next few months, right?”

The man offered an awkward smile. “Sure, so next year it will be a ride to remember the ride that ended cancer for good.”

And there it was that unrelenting optimism that couldn’t be squelched, that couldn’t  be marred even by decades of disappointments and deaths. I thought of all the people who consider fantasy books about heroes that do good for good sake, or who keep fighting against an impossible foe and say such things are simply unrealistic., that people don’t act that way in real life. People are innately selfish, cowards who’d throw their neighbor under a bus to get a step further ahead. I thought of those people, and then of all the riders I’d spent the last two days with, and all those people standing in the rain on street corners cheering us on, all those who gave their few extra dollars when I asked, of my wife who watched out and took care of me along the whole route, and of Andrew Reed, and the other yellow flagged bikers, and I stopped. I halted right there in the parking lot and turned to the guy asking about next year’s ride. 

I smiled and said, “Thank you.”

Saturday, October 4, 2014


There's news on the Unveiled front (formerly titled as Neverland's Shadow).  You can now pre-order copies over at Grim Oak Press. For those that don't know, this is an interesting concept where the stories are told from the point of view of the villains. And yes I have a story in it. Who else is contributing?

  • Terry Brooks (introduction)
  • Ann Aguirre
  • Piers Anthony
  • R. Scott Bakker
  • Jim Butcher
  • Glen Cook
  • Tang Fei (Chinese translated work)     
  • Mark Lawrence
  • Tanith Lee
  • Ken Liu
  • Scott Lynch
  • John Marco
  • Tim Marquitz
  • Peter Orullian
  • Kat Richardson
  • Anthony Ryan
  • Shawn Speakman
  • Brian Staveley
  • Michael J. Sullivan
  • Adrian Tchaikovsky
Pretty cool line-up, yes? I know I'm excited.  The editors for this is Shawn Speakman and Roger Bellini. It's scheduled for the first quarter of 2015.  Shawn does an excellent job of limited edition versions and this anthology will be no exception. The limited edition versiosn of Unfettered sold out quickly, so I wanted to let people know right away when pre-orders went up.  Here are the details:

  • THE SIGNED & NUMBERED EDITION —This edition of Unveiled is limited to 500 copies, signed and numbered, leather-bound, ribboned and slipcased. It will match your number of Unfettered and will give you the first chance to buy the Signed & Numbered edition of Unfettered IINOTE: For the month of October, those who ordered the S&N edition of Unfettered have first chance to buy the S&N edition of Unveiled. If any copies remain after October, they will go on sale for everyone in November!
  • THE ADVANCE READER COPY EDITION — The ARC of Unfettered was a huge success last year. It allowed those who couldn’t order the Signed & Numbered edition of the anthology to feature a book as rare on their shelves. The ARC of Unveiled will have the white cover as its predecessor does and it will be limited to 250 copies!
  • THE TRADE HARDCOVER EDITION — The trade hardcover of Unveiled will be produced with the same quality standards as Unfettered and will have a cover painted by artist Todd Lockwood! It will also have interior artwork! The print run for this edition will be dependent on the amount of pre-orders received.
  • THE EBOOK EDITION — There will be an ebook of Unveiled. It will feature all of the stories in the trade hardcover edition and will publish on the day the hardcover arrives. If I can discover next week how to feature it as a pre-order on the various ebook websites, I will do that.
So rush on over to Grim Oak Press to learn more.