Murder at the Kinnen Hotel + Black Powder Friday

Want to get a jump on holiday gifts? Here are two coupon codes for my store for the next two weeks:

  • blackpowderfriday : 30% off any signed Promise of Blood
  • blackpowder10 : 10% off any order over $49

The newest powder mage novella is now on sale! Here's the cover copy:


Special Detective Constable Adamat may be the most capable young investigator in all of Adopest. He's sharp, thoughtful, and his particular sorcery gives him a flawless memory. A transfer to the First Precinct seems like the perfect opportunity to showcase his abilities and advance his career.

But things work differently in the First Precinct. The murder of a businessman's mistress quickly pulls Adamat into an unexpected world of conspiracy and politics where he's forced to use all his wits to stay one step ahead of unseen enemies and keep his friends—and himself—from the guillotine.

Occurs twenty-two years before the events in Promise of Blood.


As usual, coordinating the publication dates across all ebook platforms is a bit of a pain because some process the ebook almost immediately and others take as much as three to four days. The "official" launch date is Monday, November 24th. You can pre-order on Amazon for it to be available that morning, or you can order it directly from me to have it right now. I'll add the rest of the buy links below as they become available.

United States 

United Kingdom

Other

Audio

  • Audible
  • iTunes

An End to Every Kerfluffle

As many of you have heard, it was announced yesterday that Amazon and Hachette (my publisher) have finally come to an agreement that will end months of bickering.

This is a huge relief to myself, as well as the other authors published by Hachette, and takes a giant weight off my shoulders going into the holiday (ie, selling) season.

For those wondering how this changes things for the reader:

The price drops, at least for now, are rather significant and I suspect will result in a reasonable jump in interest for the series over the holidays. More importantly, pre-orders on Autumn Republic will likely make a huge difference for how well the book launches come February 10th.

Thanks to all my awesome readers, and to the people at Amazon and Hachette for finally getting this thing hammered out!

 

Update

Quick update on the status of the novella hardbacks:

There was an issue at the printer where the art on the cover of Servant of the Crown did not align with the spine. They're reprinting the covers and they plan on having the books to me by early-to-mid next week. Forsworn was fine and should arrive this afternoon.

I'm hoping to have everyone's books, including the signed Promise of Blood and Crimson Campaign copies you ordered, by the end of next week.

Thanks everyone for your patience, and if you'd like to pre-order the novellas we still have some available here.

The Economics of a Book Fair from an Author's Perspective

A couple of days ago, I spent the better part of the morning and afternoon at the Buckeye Book Fair in Wooster, Ohio. I did a lot of smiling and hand shaking, and spent a lot of time tweeting about the way old people tend to nod condescendingly when you tell them that you write epic fantasy.

See, I have a love-hate relationship with book fairs. I spend most of my professional life chained to my office chair, hammering away at the keyboard, so when there's a book fair or I'm invited for a signing or some such thing, I tend not to stop and wonder if it's really worth my time. I get excited and go and pitch my book to strangers and, quicker than I care to admit, my patience for telling middle-aged men that no, it's not a historical novel about the Civil War tends to wear thin.

By the time the book fair is over, I'm tired and I don't sell that many books so I tell myself there's no way I'm coming back next year. Then next year rolls around and I remember the tasty free lunch and the way it felt when I did successfully pitch my book, so I sign up to do it again.

On the way home from Wooster this year I began to think about the economics of the book fair. Forgetting the positive or negative emotional impact, I wanted to take a look at whether this was actually paying for itself for me, the author.

First, a couple thoughts.

  • I don't think Adult SFF is a best-selling genre at these book fairs. I've noticed that the big sellers tend to be inspirational, local non-fiction, mystery, and sports. Even better if the books hit more than one category. YA also sells fantastic, but that's it's own beast. So if you write one of those (or even if you write SFF) your experience may vary WILDLY.
  • Book fairs will likely be different depending on where they're located. This one is out in farm country Ohio, so local non-fiction and sports are the headliners. I did quite a bit better at Books by the Banks in downtown Cincinnati last year.
  • I don't have solid numbers on attendance at this book fair, but I'd guess a couple thousand readers and (I was told) around 85 authors of all genres.

Next, the numbers:

This year, I sold eighteen books. Fourteen of those were Promise of Blood in trade paperback and four of those were Crimson Campaign in hardcover. I make 7.5% of the cover price of trade paperbacks and 10% for hardcovers. Let's ignore the fact that these are royalties against an advance, which I've already been paid and will not earn out for a while. Our math will be percent times cover price times units sold.

  • .075 x 16 x 14 = $16.80
  • .1 x 26 x 4 = $10.40
  • Total royalties: $27.80

The event itself was six and a half hours, and we were asked to be there a half hour early. The drive from my house was an hour and a half each way. That's ten hours of my time. It was a 78 mile drive each way, at an assumed 25MPG, at an assumed $3/gallon of gas for a cost of $18.72 in gas money (which is tax deductible).

I made $9.08 in profit over ten hours. $.91 an hour. So, uh, not looking so good for the use of our time is it?

Let's take this a bit further. I'm going to share a few anecdotes:

  • I had three people come up and tell me they had my books on ebook and loved my work and didn't know I was here and would look for me next year for a copy of Autumn Republic.
  • I had one guy come up who bought Promise of Blood as a gift for his son when he attended last year. He said that he was going to buy Crimson Campaign this year but noticed just that morning that his son had already bought and read it on his own. We chatted and I told him he could pre-order Autumn Republic and he picked up a signed book plate.
  • I had two people who bought the book this year that remembered seeing me last year, being interested, but not having the money.
  • Of the half dozen or so people who came by that had already read my books, every one of them mentioned how they had been telling their family and friends about me. Several had hooked at least one other person on the series.

What I'm getting from all this is that these book fairs, beyond the cold sale of eighteen copies, have a ripple effect that is utterly impossible to predict. Adult SFF, perhaps even beyond other genres, depends on word of mouth to create a successful novel.

I don't think I'm exaggerating to say that those eighteen sales could very well, over the next year, result in another forty or more sales. In fact, let's say that's the case. Assuming an average royalty of $1.75 a book times 40 books, I'll add another $70 to our $9.08 for a profit of $79.08 or $7.91/hr in royalties.

Ew. That's still not looking that great.

Okay. So book fairs are, financially speaking, not that awesome of a time investment. At least not for me. I could have made a lot more money staying at home and working on the next powder mage novella. The only thing I can do is file that financial report away in my brain next to all my other experiences and impressions from the book fair and look at them all in one big lump to decide whether it was actually worth my time.

Overall, I sold to new fans and connected with current ones and deepened my impression on the reading community, which can't really be quantified.

The final question is whether I should go back next year and I'll be honest: I have no idea. It'll probably depend on what kind of mood I'm in when registration opens up because I'm an author, damn it, and I'm fickle as hell.

A last anecdote: it was around 12PM, less than half way through the day, and I was already tired and grumpy. Then a girl shows up and begins to absolutely bubble about my books. She adored Promise of Blood, I'm up there with GRRM in her mind, she's part way through Crimson Campaign. She's wore a cool Adran uniform-esque jacket just to meet me and she wants a picture.

It made the whole trip worth it.

Novella Hardcovers

Orders are now open for hardcovers of both powder mage novellas, Forsworn and Servant of the Crown. They will be signed and dated. Orders are open as a bundle first.

*The first first run has sold out. I've ordered another run of each and restocked the store, but this run will not be numbered. Thanks to everyone who ordered!*

For more information, read below the cut.


For those of you that follow me on Twitter, I've been talking about turning the novellas into hardcovers ever since Salt Lake Comic Con, where I received a huge number of requests for physical copies. Well, the proofs have finally landed on my desk!

In the above picture, Servant of the Crown is a textured glossy and Forsworn is matte. I like the feel of the glossy, but it shows imperfections easily and it's already showing a crack along the spine, so the final of both books will be matte.

Weekend Buys 10/17/2014

“Each weekend I recommend three books. Some are books I’ve read and some are books I want to read. Some have been written by my friends. Or maybe I’ll just post a good deal I saw online. Just a little something to expose you to the kind of books that interest me.”

My current read is a book called How We Got to Now: Six Innovations that Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson. I'll start out by saying that I've only read the first section (on glass), and I paid for the hardcover, and I already feel like I got my money's worth.

It's truly fascinating and will appeal greatly to the type of people who like to watch Dirty Jobs or How It's Made and other fascinating "behind the scenes" kind of science and industry. As I said, the hardcover is well worth it--but the ebook is also only $4.99 right now, so yeah. Grab it.

 

 

You know how I'm always going on about my "to read" list? Well, here's another that's been on it for quite a while. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin has been heaped with all sorts of awesome praise. It's on sale for $1.99 right now, and we share a publisher which is always fun. For an extra bonus, the entire trilogy is finished already. You can get The Broken Kingdoms and The Kingdom of Gods without having to wait for release dates.

 

 

I think I've visited Terry Pratchett before on Weekend Buys, but you know what? It's my website, I'll do it again if I want. The first Pratchett book I ever read (and still one of my very favorites) is Mort. It's the story of a hapless young man who becomes apprenticed to Death. It's hilarious, I think a great entry into the Discworld books if you've never read them.

t's just $3.79 right now and it appears that many of the other Discworld ebooks are also sitting at bargain price. Two of my favorites are Going Postal and Night Watch.

 

Novella Giveaway!

Been a while since we had a giveaway around these parts, and I woke up feeling like this would be a good week for it. So here's what we have for today:

Forsworn is the first of two novellas I've written in the Powder Mage Universe (the second being Servant of the Crown). It follows the plight of a young Kez powder mage about thirty-five years before the beginning of Promise of Blood. Here's the cover copy:

Erika ja Leora is a powder mage in northern Kez, a place where that particular sorcery is punishable by death. She is only protected by her family name and her position as heir to a duchy. 


When she decides to help a young commoner—a powder mage marked for death, fugitive from the law—she puts her life and family reputation at risk and sets off to deliver her new ward to the safety of Adro while playing cat and mouse with the king's own mage hunters and their captain, Duke Nikslaus.

 

You can download a zip file of the novella that includes a PDF, mobi, and epub, by clicking RIGHT HERE. I'll leave the download up through this Saturday, the 18th. --GIVEAWAY OVER--

If you'd like to go ahead and purchase Forsworn, just follow this link. You can also get your hands on Servant of the Crown and the rest of the Powder Mage short stories including "The Girl of Hrusch Avenue," "Hope's End," and "Face in the Window."

Oh, and what the heck. Here's a coupon for 10% off signed and dated copies of Promise of Blood in my store. Just use the code FG1014.

Weekend Buys 9/26/2014

Haven't done a Weekend Buys for a while, so thought I'd throw one up.

“Each weekend I recommend three books. Some are books I’ve read and some are books I want to read. Some have been written by my friends. Or maybe I’ll just post a good deal I saw online. Just a little something to expose you to the kind of books that interest me.”

You might remember that back during the spring, when I last did these Weekend Buys updates, I mentioned Stephen Blackmoore's Dead Things and how it looked awesome, Stephen was a cool guy, and I wanted to read the book. Well since then I have read Dead Things as well as the sequel, Broken Souls, and both books are really freaking awesome.

I will give a content warning. The series is about a necromancer in LA, and all the horrible things that go with it. Lots of gore. But it's SO GOOD. Get both Dead Things and Broken Souls. They're $5.99 each, which really is a steal for an afternoon of fun.


This summer I took a big chunk of time to catch up on my reading, including the aforementioned Dead Things. One book I haven't gotten to yet, which I really, really need to get to, is The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley. Not just because he spells his first name right, but because everyone I've talked to who read it has really enjoyed it. Right now is a good time to get your mitts on the ebook of Emperor's Blades, because it's only $2.99. I have no idea how long it'll be that price.

 

Finally, we'll take a look at a book most of you have (or should have) already read. Mistborn: The Final Empire is the first book in Brandon Sanderson's first trilogy and it's currently on sale for $2.99. I read this book for the first time while taking his class a bajillion years ago and loved it enough to get in hardcover even though I was a poor college student. For those keeping score, the whole trilogy (Mistborn, Well of Ascension, Hero of Ages) has been out for some time, so you won't have to wait for a conclusion.

 

 

 

 

 

Review of the Short Fiction

Over the weekend, Fantasy Faction had a great write-up and review of all the Powder Mage short fiction so far. There are plenty of people still on the fence about whether to get into them, so this might help sway you!

Someone made a comment on my Facebook page that they'd love to see prequels to the Powder Mage Trilogy. FYI, the short fiction pretty much are the prequels. I don't know if I'll ever expand to novel-length works during that time period of the universe, but I'll definitely be writing more novellas. I think they work better for the purpose of expanding the universe.

Audiobook for The Autumn Republic

Audiobook listeners will be pleased to hear that Orbit will be doing an audiobook of The Autumn Republic. It will be read by Christian Rodska and released February 10th.

These things are always up in the air pending sales of the previous audiobooks and availability of the reader, so I'm very happy that this is the case. Everyone I've talked to has absolutely loved Christian's reading.

Don't forget that you can pre-order signed physical copies of The Autumn Republic directly from me through my store, as well as regular signed copies through a number of other venues as found here. I'll update that list as it grows.

Honey Harvest

Today I'm going to step away from your regularly-scheduled writing and Powder Mage updates for something a little different. As many of you know, I keep a hive of honey bees. Yesterday was our fall harvest and I thought I'd walk you all through it. If, like me, you find this kind of thing interesting then read on! If not, go grab a Powder Mage novella and read quietly in the corner.

The hive I harvested was a first-year hive (the hive from last year was sick this spring and has now died off completely). A first year hive means they have just a couple thousand bees to start off and probably won't make a lot of honey. We ended up having four (out of possible 6) medium supers filled, and I left three of those for the bees to winter over. That left me with a single super, plus a couple of choice frames from the next one down because I'm greedy.

Getting equipment ready. Plastic jars (in the bag), extractor, 5-gallon bucket, and uncapping tank..

Getting equipment ready. Plastic jars (in the bag), extractor, 5-gallon bucket, and uncapping tank..

A super full of honey.

A super full of honey.

I got stung once pulling the top super off the hive and emptying it of bees. One girl climbed up my pantleg and stung when I tried to gently shake her out. Sadness. Everything else went smoothly and I brought the whole thing inside!

A frame full of capped honey. Pretty much the ideal frame.

A frame full of capped honey. Pretty much the ideal frame.

Doing the cleanup work.

Doing the cleanup work.

The first thing you do is uncap the honey. You can see my uncapping knife in the picture below. One of these days I'll spring for an electric uncapping knife. The one I use has to be dipped in hot water between frames so it's hot enough to cut through the wax. I also use an uncapping scratcher to pick the caps off of any cells that the knife missed.

 

Uncapping knife in action.

Uncapping knife in action.

I'm getting better. The last harvest (two years ago, as last year was a tough time for the bees) I wound up just butchering the wax. You can see below what it looks like post-uncapping. You do this to both sides.

IMG_20140914_153204993.jpg

Once I have three frames decapped on both sides, I put them into the honey extractor and give them a spin. If the weight distribution is even it's a breeze. If it's off a little, the whole thing wobbles and shakes all over the place and I have to hug it close.

This is the best part of the whole process because you suddenly go from having a wooden frame full of sticky stuff you stole from a bunch of bugs to a drum full of gorgeous honey.

Once you've spun the extractor for fifteen seconds or so in each direction, you lift the lid and check the frames. If they're clean, take them out and move on to the next trio. My extractor lets me get through six frames before it's too full to spin, at which point we open up the cap in the bottom and let it filter through a sieve to get all the bug bits and wax out.

Above you can see a video of the honey pouring out of the bottom of the extractor. Very satisfying moment! Once we've gone through all the frames, it's time for cleanup, wax processing, and honey bottling.

All the honey dripping out of the wax cappings. Saved a good two pounds of honey this way!

All the honey dripping out of the wax cappings. Saved a good two pounds of honey this way!

The final result after all the filtering. About three gallons (36 pounds) of gorgeous wildflower honey.

The final result after all the filtering. About three gallons (36 pounds) of gorgeous wildflower honey.

After the extraction, I put the empty frames outside in front of the hive and the bees come and clean them all up for me so I can put them in storage for the winter.

After the extraction, I put the empty frames outside in front of the hive and the bees come and clean them all up for me so I can put them in storage for the winter.

The final product!

The final product!


Signing in Willoughby

Local friends!

I'm participating in an "Author Expo" at the Willoughby Hills Community Center in Willoughby Hills. That's happening this coming Saturday, September 13th, from 11AM to 3PM. I'll be hanging out signing books and chatting with fans. There will also be several dozen area authors in attendance, if you're looking to support the local crowd and find something new!

They'll have copies of Promise of Blood and Crimson Campaign. Drop by and get a book or just say hi!

Salt Lake Comic Con Wrap-up

I've spent the last three days at Salt Lake Comic Con and let me tell you, it was a crazy experience. The initial number I heard for attendance was 150K people, which would put it at the very top of the pile with San Diego Comic Con and New York Comic Con. That's pretty amazing for just their second year.

Let's start with the bad: Thursday wound up being a disaster of registration and lines. Something about too few volunteers on registration, and those not quite handling things properly. I honestly don't know the whole story so I certainly won't point any fingers. A lot of people wound up being pretty angry about it. My aunt, uncle, and cousins waited in line for hours in the sun before giving up. Contrast that to inside the center where we were wondering where everyone was.

The good news is that the line management seemed to go a ton smoother on Friday and Saturday (little condolence to those that only had Thursday passes). The worst I heard was a half hour in line on those days, as opposed to 2-5 hours on Thursday. Inside the center, most of the crowds were manageable, though mid-day on Saturday was shoulder-to-shoulder.

Moving on to my own personal experience. This was my first time participating in a big convention as a vendor. I spent most of my time either at panels or the Schlock Mercenary booth (thanks again to Howard and Sandra for having me!), with just a couple hours spent walking around. I thought being on this side of things was a lot of fun, if exhausting, and I was shocked to find out how many fans I actually had in the region.

A blurry photo of the booth during set up.

A blurry photo of the booth during set up.

I was fortunate enough to have friends like Brandon and Howard who sent new fans my way, and I had a fairly steady stream (better than most of my signings) of people come by and say they had read my books and ask about Autumn Republic. For three straight days!

I took several boxes of hardcovers with me, expecting (based on experiences at PHXCC and Gen Con) to sell about half of them. By Saturday morning I was taking mail orders. Based on my early math, the convention paid for my entire 11-day trip as well as a little bit on top and I won't have to ship anything home.

My Uncle John with his '65 Mustang

My Uncle John with his '65 Mustang

A few words on the rest of my trip: outside of SLCC, the highlights were getting to see the friends and family I left behind after wifey and I graduated school. I saw wifey's sister (who is working on a cool Powder Mage project for me) and grandparents, and hung out with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. I also got to attend Brent Weeks' signing alongside Brandon Sanderson. Spending time with two of the modern giants of epic fantasy was pretty awesome.

Over all, both Salt Lake Comic Con and the trip itself were a giant success, but I'll be happy to be back to wifey and my own bed and office.

Salt Lake Comic Con Schedule

Next week I'm going to be at Salt Lake Comic Con. I'll wander the Dealer's Room, hang out and sign/sell books at the Schlock Mercenary table, and do a handful of fun panels with some very cool and talented authors. Really looking forward to it.

You'll be able to find me at the Schlock Mercenary table (booth #1600) Thursday 4-5 PM, Friday 11 AM to 1 PM and 3-4 PM and Saturday 11 AM to 1 PM. I might be there at others times as well and if I'm not they'll have signed copies of both my books.

My panel and official signings schedule is:

  • Thursday, 5 PM: Signing at the Shadow Mountain Booth #111
  • Friday, 1 PM: The Monster or the Man, Who Makes the Best Villain? RM 255F
  • Friday, 2 PM: Is Epic Fantasy Still Relevant to the Genre? RM 255B
  • Friday, 6 PM: Signing at the Shadow Mountain Booth #111
  • Saturday, 4 PM: Religion in Science Fiction and Fantasy. RM 255E
  • Saturday, 5 PM: Building a Move-in Ready World. RM 255B
  • Saturday, 6PM: The Business Side of Your Dreams. RM 255B

Weller Book Works Signing

I'll be signing at Weller Book Works in Salt Lake City on August 30th, from 2-4PM. This is my "for people who aren't going to Salt Lake Comic Con" signing, as I have tons of friends, family, and fans in the area who won't be at the big event (for those of you who are attending SLCC, I'll post my schedule early next week).

Come on by Weller Book Works to get your copies signed or just to say hi and chat! I look forward to seeing you all! Here is the Facebook page.

Gen Con Schedule!

I'm going to be at Gen Con this week in Indianapolis! It's going to be a wild ol' time, so come on by and say hi. There will be plenty of copies of both my books at the Author Alley bookstore, or I'll sign one you bring with you.

I'll probably be bouncing around between Diet Cokes at the bar and loitering in Author Alley with my friends. Otherwise, you can find me at these panels:

Thursday

  • 11AM signing in the Dealer's Room. Probably at the bookstore.
  • 7PM Writer's Craft: Non-Medieval Fantasy. Room 244

Friday

  • 7PM Writer's Craft: Twists vs Gimmicks. Room 245
  • 8PM Writer's Craft: Character Backstory. Room 244

Saturday

  • 8PM Writer's Craft: Death of a Hero. Room 243

Pre-ordering The Autumn Republic

As I'm sure many of you are aware of by now, my publisher Hachette is in a bit of a spat with Amazon as they try to come up with an agreement on ebook pricing. One of Amazon's negotiating tactics is to delay shipping of many of Hachette's books (like Promise of Blood). Another is to take the pre-order buttons down off of future Hachette titles, including the final book in the Powder Mage Trilogy, The Autumn Republic, which is due out February 10th, 2015.

This has become a bit of a concern for me. Amazon accounts for a huge portion of the book market and there are plenty of people with no knowledge of the ongoing fight between the two companies that are no doubt going to my book page on Amazon, scratching their head at the lack of a pre-order button, and moving on with their lives.

Pre-orders are kind of a big deal. They tell the publisher how many physical copies they should print and whether they should bother putting marketing money behind a book and so on. I'd rather not lose those pre-orders.

To that end, I'd like to draw your attention to my very own little book store, where you can now pre-order a signed and dated copy of The Autumn Republic directly from me.

But that's not all. If you're looking for a discounted hardcover or to support an indy bookstore or for the ebook pre-order, I've included a big old list of the places you can put your money down for a copy of Autumn Republic:

United States

United Kingdon

Australia

Signed Copies

Short Story Giveaway

I've been off in sideprojectland the last few weeks, cleaning out my brain before I start book one of the next trilogy of Powder Mage books. Just popping in to say hello because I thought it would be a good time for a giveaway!

For Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, you can download a *.mobi, *.ebup, or *.PDF file of the Powder Mage short story "Hope's End" for absolutely free. No strings attached, no DRM. All you have to do is grab it from right here (some people have mentioned problems using that download on mobile - try this)

The giveaway is finished! Thanks to everyone who grabbed a copy!

If you'd like to just go ahead and buy the story you can still do so for $.99 by going to my store or your favorite ebook marketplace, where you can get the other stories as well: Forsworn, Servant of the Crown, "The Girl of Hrusch Avenue," and "Face in the Window."

New to the Powder Mage Universe? Pick up a copies of Promise of Blood and The Crimson Campaign today!