Ghosts of the Tristan Basin

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you'll know I've been hinting at this new novella for quite a long time. Well, it's almost here. Ghosts of the Tristan Basin is the latest addition to the Powder Mage Universe. It takes place eight months before the events of Promise of Blood. Here's the synopsis:

Taniel Two-Shot is a powder mage with the Tristan Ghost Irregulars, a band of volunteers who have made a name for themselves fighting in the Fatrastan Revolution. They range through the swamps of the frontier, cutting off enemy supplies and raiding towns while Taniel hunts the Privileged sorcerers that make the Kez armies so powerful.

When a desperate call for help comes from the nearby city of Planth, the Irregulars aren't the only ones to answer and Taniel must deal with another hero of the revolution: Mad Colonel Styke. But not all is well within the young Fatrastan government, and more hangs on the defense of Planth than Taniel and his companions could possibly know.

I'm particularly excited about this novella because it's the first glimpse you'll get of Ben Styke: a viewpoint character in Sins of Empire, book one of Gods of Blood and Powder. Ghosts of the Tristan Basin officially releases on all your favorite ebook vendors February 16th, with hardcovers to follow March 15th. If you want to get it right now, you can buy a direct download from me.

Pre-order below:


Another Birthday Giveaway!

Hey guys! Today is my 30th, so all this week I'm giving away a powder mage novella to everyone who subscribes to my email newsletter. All you have to do is confirm your subscription (check your spam if you don't see it) and then click on the link on the confirmation page. I'll be sending all current subscribers a link to the download on Tuesday.

For those of you unfamiliar with my short fiction, here's the quick scoop: I write side stories within the Powder Mage Universe as a way to supplement my novels. It lets me explore themes and backgrounds I don't have time for in the books, and gives my fans a little something extra to read while they wait for the next full-length installment. I try to write these novellas so they can be read on their own, and many readers find them a good launching point into the Powder Mage Trilogy.

Murder_At_The_Kinnen_Hotel_02.jpg

I'm giving away Murder at the Kinnen Hotel. It's a murder mystery featuring a young Adamat, long before he became the private investigator you meet in Promise of Blood. Subscribe and it's yours!

It's a good time to subscribe, because you'll get information regarding the next novella within the coming weeks.

Brian's ConFusion Schedule

The weekend of January 22nd is coming up on us quickly. If you're in the Detroit area during that time you have the chance to witness something special - The March of the Authors. This is when almost seventy industry pros of various shapes, sizes, and specialties make the long, cold trek to Michigan in order to participate in ConFusion.

ConFusion is a small genre convention that has, in recent years, attracted a huge number of pros who now view it a bit as VacationCon, where we can go for a quiet drink to hang out with out friends and interact with fans without the enormity of a comic con. It promises to be something special this year and, as usual, I'll be there hanging out for the whole weekend. Below is my schedule:

Saturday 9:00:00 AM Author RPG: Planet Mercenary!

Authors from across the genre spectrum come together to put Howard Tayler's new game, Planet Mercenary, to the test. Come watch these exceptional creatives put on a show and enjoy some laughs. Please remember to give the players their space.

Howard Tayler (M), Brian McClellan (M), Delilah S. Dawson, Cherie Priest, Mur Lafferty, Robert Jackson Bennett, Saladin Ahmed, Brent Weeks

Saturday 12:00:00 PM MacArthur to MacGuffin

From the King's Army on the march, to the trying to survive basic, to the epic clash of Helm's Deep, the genre reader can hardly escape military operations. Is the military an integral part of genre fiction or is merely an easy milieu to deploy? What about the military makes it such good fodder for genre stories?

Tom Doyle, Stina Leicht, Brian McClellan, Steve Buchheit, Brent Weeks

Saturday 2:00:00 PM Beyond The Hero’s Journey

Joseph Campbell wrote about the hero's journey in 1949 and it has become the default character arc of western writers for the past sixty years. But, there are many human experiences beyond heroism as narrowly defined by Campbell. What narrative types exist beyond the Hero's Journey? And why aren't they more widely 

Cameron McClure, Brian McClellan, Max Gladstone, Miriam Weinberg (M), Paul Kemner

Saturday 3:00:00 PM The Rise of the Novella

The last few years have seen a resurgence of shorter forms of fiction. Novelettes, novellas, and even short novels are doing better than they have in years, through self publishing and traditional publishers like Harper Impulse, Tor.com Publishing, and Subterranean Press. Is this resurgence a result of a digital evolution or declining attention spans? What does the future hold for fiction under 50,000 words.

Melissa F. Olson, Brian McClellan, Jason Sanford (M), Yanni Kuznia, Carl Engle-Laird

Saturday 5:00:00 PM Autograph Session 2

Saturday 8:00:00 PM Would You Rather?

Hosted by fantasy author Sam Sykes, the contestants will play a science fiction and fantasy inspired game of "Would you rather?" Expect shenanigans, adult language, and laughs.

Brian McClellan, Sam Sykes (M), Cherie Priest, Greg van Eekhout, V.E. Schwab

The Autumn Republic in Paperback

Hey guys! I'm happy to announce that today is the launch of The Autumn Republic in trade paperback here in the US. It should be available in your local bookstore or online and if it's not you have my permission to get someone at the store an earful (politely). For our friends across the pond, the mass market will be available in the UK on Thursday.

A quick FAQ regarding the paperback:

  • No, there are no plans for a mass market in the US or a trade paperback in the UK.
  • No, I'm not sure why they decided to print them one way here and one way there.
  • Yes, I have a limited number of copies of both the trade and mass market available in my store.

Thanks for all the support, everyone! Below is a list of buy links for the paperback (looks like the cheapest buy is on Barnesandnoble.com). Now I'm back to working on the next Powder Mage novel!

United States

United Kingdom (mass market)

Australia

Signed

Commissioning Powder Mage Cover Art

This is the latest of my essays about being an author, brought to you by my Patreon page.


Today we're going to talk a little about self-publishing. I've gone on about self-publishing at length, both regarding the debate over self-pub v. traditional pub and just generally about the process itself, but I'm going to get a little more specific this time by walking you through the process I've taken in commissioning art for my Powder Mage short fiction. To give you some comparison for the rest of the piece, here's the covers for my traditionally-published novels:

My traditionally-published covers, design by Lauren Panepinto and photo illustration by Gene Mollica and Michael Frost

My traditionally-published covers, design by Lauren Panepinto and photo illustration by Gene Mollica and Michael Frost

You're going to find a variety of opinions on cover art, from the "whip up something in Microsoft Paint and slap it on the cover" to "if you've spent less than $5000 on your cover you're obviously an amateur." Two extremes, to be sure, and most of us fall somewhere in the middle. At the end of the day, though, your cover art is the public face of your book. Most people will see it before reading a single word, perhaps even before noticing your name, so it's a hugely important bit of your novel.

girl of hrusch avenue cover.jpg

My first foray into tackling cover art myself was for my short story, "The Girl of Hrusch Avenue." This was totally experimental, as I didn't know at the time whether anyone would actually buy any Powder Mage expanded universe material. Therefore, I had absolutely no budget and tried to go the "whip up something in Paint route." After I spent way too much time flailing around, my friend Isaac Stewart (who did the maps in the Powder Mage Trilogy) eventually took pity on me and threw something together.

As you can see, he matched the font with my novels, slapped on a bit of musketman clip art, and added a dash of color. It's not awesome, but if you consider it cost me all of a "treat me to lunch sometime" from a friend it's really quite nice. I wound up using the same template for two more short stories because frankly, even after they were a reasonable success, $.35 per sale is not making enough money for an art budget.

My next plan was a little more ambitious. Because of Amazon's payout structure, I knew that if I wrote something three times the length and charged $2.99, it would make six times as much money per sale. I also suspected I would sell more in general and so I gave myself a real budget for self-publishing what would become my first novella, Forsworn.

Once you have a budget, you have to find an artist. You can try to do so off a recommendation, or you might have a friend you can use. I spent a couple of weeks looking through DeviantArt accounts and emailing artists whose work I enjoyed. I gave them a summary of what I wanted and asked for cost and turn-around times. I must have emailed forty different people. Only about a third ever actually returned my messages and of those, only a small handful could work with my budget of around $400.

As an aside, I want to be very clear on something: don't rip off artists. Don't try to bully them into working "for exposure" and don't stiff them on the bill at the last minute. It's just fine to have a budget and just fine to negotiate ahead of time. Every artist is going to have different amounts of leeway and different prices. If someone is adamant on a price you can't afford just thank them for their time and move on. Being a prick about it may save you a few bucks—but word gets around. Don't be that guy.

I was hugely lucky to find Rene Aigner. He's affordable, talented, he answers all my emails in a timely manner (I've heard horror stories of pro artists who just sort of disappear for six months at a time), and he works dang quick. Because we'd had a previous email chain regarding character art he was willing to come down a little bit to meet my budget. All in all, he was (and still is) a delight to work with.

The first thing you should know about commissioning an artist is that they are not the art director. You are. You have to make the decisions about who and what goes on the cover—the colors, the characters, the text (which the artist doesn't necessarily include in their services). The artist is doing exactly what you tell them to do which means that if you're unhappy with the final product it's just as likely (or more so) to be your fault as it is theirs. For each of my covers, I've given Rene a very specific set of instructions regarding the foreground and characters, and then been a bit more vague on the background.

Some people have the talent to be their own art director. Some people don't. I'm not saying I do, but I've got particular tastes and generally know what I want ahead of time. I also have a couple of graphic designer friends (Isaac and Jen) who I can consult when I'm in a quandary.

For Forsworn I wanted something that threatened violence, with the immediate dueling theme of the novella. The background is fairly vague because of budget constraints (and because the duel referenced takes place in a blizzard) but the characters and foreground present a deadly, powerful picture.

Servant of the Crown is an immediate follow-up to Forsworn, so I wanted it to have a similar aesthetic. We see Erika on the front, but instead of facing her challenge she is back-to-back with her new ally, a young Tamas. We still have the threat of violence, but off-screen rather than on, and we have a cityscape instead of the snowy mountains. The detail meant it was more expensive than the Forsworn cover, but I knew it was going to sell so I didn't mind paying it.

Murder at the Kinnen Hotel was a murder mystery more than an adventure novella, so I went in a different direction. The violence this time (this is a Powder Mage story after all) comes from the guillotine. It's far more passive than the other two, with Adamat looking on thoughtfully. Here are some of the "in progress" shots that Rene sent me.

My latest finished project was the short story collection, In the Field Marshal's Shadow. I wanted to remove the clipart covers of my old short stories from sale and bind them all in a single book with a better cover. Because it's five different stories under the Powder Mage umbrella, I just went with a still-life that hearkened back to the opening credits of Sharpe's Rifles. This was probably the easiest to "direct" because it's so straight-forward.

I just got the art for the next (unfinished) project, a new novella following Taniel's adventures in Fatrasta, from Rene this week. You can see how he sent me a number of templates to choose from based on my initial requests, and the direction we ended up taking it.

Something I've tried to do for each of my novellas is give them a different color scheme so that they're easy to differentiate on the shelf. I want them to look like they're in the same series (hence the same artist and style for each one) but I don't want them to all look exactly alike.

Once you have the final cover art, you still aren't done. You have to get the text in place, have the sizing redone to fit Audible's parameters if you're doing an audiobook, and design a back cover if you're doing a physical book. All of this I go to my graphic designer friends for which makes it easier, but it's still more time and money the project 

Commissioning art can be a bit of a crap shoot. You can run into any number of problems, from your own wobbly budget or inexperienced artistic eye, to a flaky or inconsistent artist. Prices fluctuate hugely, and you have to dig to find a good match of affordability and skill. Like I said, I was dang lucky to find someone who met my budget and was still in the top-range of skill. Now that I know exactly what to expect, I don't mind paying Rene more for a greater amount of detail and the fact that his time is in far greater demand than when we first started together two years ago.

All-in-all, it's been a fantastically rewarding experience. I've learned a lot about the business and techniques, and I've also gotten way more respect for the job my art director does at Orbit. It was certainly one of the scarier parts of self-publishing and learning how to get through the process has been very fun.


Update on In the Field Marshal's Shadow

*Edit* The hardcover has arrived, and all of the orders should be in the mail. If you haven't gotten a confirmation email, drop me a line to make sure it didn't slip through the cracks. Happy Holidays everyone!

Hey guys. I've been getting some worried emails about pre-orders of In the Field Marshal's Shadow so I wanted to let you all know where those are right now.

I had expected them to arrive the 14th, but that turned out to be a miscommunication with the printer. Then I thought they were going to be here the 18th but nothing showed up. So I'm waiting with bated breath for them to (hopefully) get here tomorrow. I've got the afternoon and evening set aside to get everything signed and packaged and put in the mail.

If they don't arrive Monday for some reason and you have other books in your order, I'll go ahead and ship those. If you'd like to cancel your order or give me an earful, drop me an email at brian (at) brianmcclellan (dot) com.

Hugely sorry about the inconvenience and thanks for your patience.

Holiday Sale!

Hey everybody! It's almost Thanksgiving here in the US, and that means the ol' infamous shopping week - including Cyber Monday and Black Friday. To make things a little easier for you book-present-givers this holiday season, some of my author friends and I have put an assortment of our books on sale through the middle of December.

These are all signed (except for the ebooks, obviously) and coming straight from the author, meaning they take home an extra cut and have a little more money in their pockets for the holidays. I hope you'll take a look!

  1. Brad Beaulieu - The Lays of Anuskaya and 12 Kings in Sharakhai
  2. Brian McClellan - The Powder Mage novels and novellas.
  3. Jason Hough - The Dire Earth Trilogy and Zero World.
  4. Michael J Sullivan - The Riyria books and Hollow World.
  5. Wesley Chu - The Tao Trilogy and Timesalvager (25% off with coupon code "DABLIGHTDAY")

Here are my own books I've put specifically on sale, so you don't have to sort through them:


In the Field Marshal's Shadow

As many of you know, I've written a number of pieces of short fiction in the Powder Mage Universe over the last couple of years. Due to popular demand, I've turned the novellas into small, collectible hardcovers for those of you who prefer print books. I've never done the same with the short stories, however, because they're just too small to print.

Now, though, I've taken the five short stories so far and collected them all into one, 44,000 word collection. These include Hope's End, The Girl of Hrusch Avenue, The Face in the Window, Return to Honor, and the never-before-printed Green-Eyed Vipers. Happy days, it's big enough to print - and you can pre-order the hardcover now!

You can now pick up In the Field Marshal's Shadow at all the usual places:

Ebook:

Hardcover

Why Writing Groups Are Awesome - And I Don't Use Them

This is the latest of my essays about being an author, brought to you by my Patreon page.


One of the most common questions I get from amateur writers is "how do I know whether my writing is any good?" It's a great question because, in my experience, writers tend to fall into one of two camps when it comes to self-evaluation; either nothing they produce is ever good enough, or they think they are the second coming of Tolkien. Even if they're right one way or the other, it's always good to get some outside perspective on this sort of thing. But you're going to exhaust the goodwill of your friends and family pretty quickly if you're frequently asking them to read your work-in-progress.

This is where writing groups come in. It's a fairly straight-forward concept; you and a group of peers get together and critique each other's writing. The reciprocal nature of it means that not only do you have people telling you whether your writing is worth pursuing, but you also get experience on the critical side of things that might aid you in your own writing.

Creating/joining a writing group, especially in this age of online communication, is really easy. It might be a good idea to start with real-life friends that share your interests or, if that's not an option, to check with your local library to see if they host a weekly group that might be looking for a new member. A writing class at your local college will probably force you into writing groups; a lot of people I know still use the same group they met through class decades ago.

If you're more comfortable with the ease and not-having-to-talk-to-people-face-to-face of the internet, there are tons of forums and websites dedicated to this type of thing, where you're going to have a much easier time finding people who write in your same genre. The impersonal nature of an online group might get you better, more honest critiques, but it might land you with a couple of trolls too, so beware.

Once you're settled in, you'll have to set rules (or abide by those of an existing group), which include frequency of meetings, weekly word limit, negative vs positive feedback ratio—all the stuff that comes with organizing a new group of people. Be warned that it can end up as an enormous headache. I said that getting a writing group is really easy. Getting the right writing group is difficult as hell.

I'm going to take a moment and stress just how important writing groups are. I learned huge amounts from my writing groups through college—I learned how to give and take criticism, and how to be realistic about my own failings as a writer and how to make myself better. There was also the confidence boost that came with it. A big part of why I'm a full-time author today is that I took a writing class when I was seventeen, and a cute girl told me I was the best writer in the class of twenty or so kids—and then everyone else agreed with her. That may sound stupid, but increments of positive reinforcement like that over the years kept me going, helping me believe I was actually good at something.

Now I'm going to tell you why I can't particularly stand writing groups. Keep in mind this is my own personal experience—mileage will vary.

As I've alluded, there are a lot of problems that come with a writing group. Egos are a big one. Even the most open-minded, introspective people will get prickly when you're dissecting their baby. If someone says they can handle constructive criticism, spend ten minutes telling them how terrible their dialogue is and see if you're still friends. Now imagine doing the same with strangers who may be vain, overprotective, or just looking for the confidence boost without the criticism. It gets real old, real quick.

This may sound like me being a stuffy old man and believe me, it is. But it's more than just me not having the patience to deal with the people. I quickly found after school (and sometimes during it) that people in my writing groups were not on my level. Not in a skill way, though sometimes that was the case, but in a "I want to make this a career" way. That's not a bad thing, of course—you can have whatever ambitions you want with your writing, large or small—but it meant I was coming to group each week with 10K words of prose, constantly editing and devouring feedback, while they'd bring in a tenth that and understandably didn't want to have to slog through all of mine.

I also don't like the repetitiveness. Someone (including me) would get critiques on a chapter, rewrite it, and (again understandably) want to see if they'd done a better job, so resubmit for the next week. Everyone would have to read the same chapter, rewritten, four or five times and then a month has passed and what do you have? A single chapter. That speed works for some people, but I can't handle moving along that slowly.

Thing is, whether they want to admit it or not, people don't always come to writing groups for the reason you'd assume (to get better). They come for the social aspect, for an echo chamber, to get out of the house on a Tuesday night; sometimes just to find something new to read. And that's all fine. But you have to be honest with each other so no one has false expectations and that doesn't happen very often because human nature.

I'll reiterate, writing groups were immensely useful to me. I met awesome authors and good friends—people I still keep in touch with today—through my writing groups in Brandon Sanderson's class and OSC's Literary Bootcamp. But I eventually dropped writing groups all together. They weren't, at the end of the day, worth my time.

Hopefully that doesn't sound too arrogant. Writing groups are important because of the outside feedback they provide and thankfully I've been able to find that elsewhere. Since college my wife has been my first reader on everything, so she could tell me whether or not I was going to embarrass myself submitting to an agent or editor. And now that I'm a reasonably established author, I have a fanbase and professional friends I can ask for beta-reads even before my agent or editor sees a piece.

Don't get me wrong; the right writing group may still come along some day. I don't have experience working with a long-term, pro or semi-pro writing group, where everyone has serious writing credentials and a career at stake. Given the chance to join one of those I may very well change my mind about the "worth my time" thing. Or maybe I wouldn't. I'm a bit of a fuddy-duddy.

At the end of the day, most people don't have the benefit of an established fanbase, a professional editor, or someone literally in-house who can tell them to fix a chapter or work on their dialogue. Despite the misgivings about writing groups I mentioned above, I still think they're an absolute necessity for newer writers. You need some kind of outside input if you ever want to get better. That means dealing with egos, trolls, and even your own social anxiety to get it. But it's worth it. No one ever gets better without being told what they're doing wrong.


Fan Art Contest II

It's time for a new Powder Mage fan art contest! The last one was a huge success, and I'm looking forward to seeing what you guys put together this time.

The rules are simple:

  • Produce a piece of visual media (painting, photoshop rendering, drawing, photos of cosplay, whatever) that has something to do with the Powder Mage Universe, whether it be the books or the short fiction.
  • Send it to me as an Imgur link, or somewhere you've posted it on social media, via email to brian (at) brianmcclellan (dot) com. Put the words POWDER MAGE ART CONTEST in the subject line. Please be sure to include a mailing address so I don't have to chase you down later if you win. Your address will not be used for any other purpose.
  • You have four weeks from today to enter (until the 18th of November). Afterwards, I will have selected my favorite pieces and inform the winners. Winners will be announced on my website.
  • By entering you've agreed to let me show off your art via social media and my website. YOU RETAIN ALL RIGHTS TO THE SUBMITTED WORK.
  • Multiple entries are allowed!
  • The contest is open internationally.

Prizes:

  1. Grand Prize: two artists will be awarded with a silver powder mage keg pin from Badali Jewelry.
  2. Four runners-up will be awarded with signed hardcovers of Promise of Blood.
  3. I reserve the right to award no prizes (say, if the only entry is a hand-drawn stick figure with a gun or some other good reason). You can check out the entries from last year here.

Thanks for reading everyone, and have at it!

Powder Mage Jewelry

For those of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter, I've been teasing this for a few months now. For those of you that don't: earlier this summer I signed an agreement with the awesome Badali Jewelry to make officially licensed Powder Mage merchandise! Badali creates jewelry for some of my favorite creative properties, including Lord of the Rings, The Dresden Files, Mistborn, Stormlight Archives, Kingkiller Chronicle, and much, much more.

So, what are they making for me? Well, we've got a bunch of cool ideas in the works, but the first piece debuted a couple weeks ago at Salt Lake Comic Con. You can now get your hands on a silver Powder Keg Pin, like those carried by Taniel, Vlora, and the rest of Field Marshal Tamas's powder cabal.

photo by Hillarie Billy Gowers

photo by Hillarie Billy Gowers

This was actually a pretty cool process. I've been wanting to create one of these pins since Promise of Blood came out, and I've been getting requests for them for almost as long. So at each convention I'd eye the jewelry tables and pick up cards, and try to budget to have something commissioned.

At Phoenix Comicon in 2014, Kevin Hearne was kind enough to introduce me to Badali, whose work I had already come to admire. We chatted, I expressed interest, and left it at that. Then, at the following Salt Lake Comic Con, I was able to go take a tour of their facilities in Layton, Utah where I met Paul Badali, the head jeweler. They made it clear that they only take on work by authors whose books they enjoy, and so I sent them a box of books and crossed my fingers.

I didn't hear anything for almost six months. I didn't want to be a bother, and I was pretty busy, so I stayed mum about it. Then the 2015 Phoenix Comicon rolled around. I casually sidled up to the Badali booth, resolved to commission a pin if they weren't interested in outright licensing.

Janelle Badali spotted me and came around the table, gave me a big hug, and immediately asked if they could license Powder Mage jewelry. Yay! It worked out!

I couldn't be more thrilled with the results of the first piece. You can now order pins directly from me and (within a few weeks) from the Badali store.

Earning Out

Yesterday, I got an email from my agent telling me that The Powder Mage Trilogy had earned out it's advance. This is fantastic. This is like, holy crap freaking awesome, and I'll tell you why. Warning: I'll be patting myself on the back a bit here.

TL;DR: I'm awesome, my fans are awesome, my publisher is awesome. Everyone is awesome. Except you. You know who you are. Oh, and money.

So, why is earning out my advance a big deal? It basically means that I'm no longer living on "fronted" money. An advance is just that; an advance against royalties. Authors don't see any money beyond their advance check until they've earned enough via their royalties (I broke down how much money an author actually makes off each sale here) to "pay back" the publisher their advance money (in quotes because if you don't earn out you won't actually have to pay that money back, unlike the music industry). The rule of thumb thrown around the publishing industry is that only about 20% of books earn out.

The Powder Mage Trilogy is, for accounting purposes, viewed as a single book. So I wouldn't earn any extra money from it until all three books, together, have made enough money to cover the whole advance (as opposed to counting each book against a third of the advance). It also sold for six figures, which in itself is pretty rare for a debut series.

Now, the series is earning out on the royalty statement for the first half of 2015. As far as I can tell from my own spreadsheets, it earned out about three weeks after The Autumn Republic hit shelves, which was just a little less than two years after Promise of Blood. The powder mage books are not bestsellers by any means, but to have this happen means they've sold at a solid, consistent pace for those two years.

There are too many people to thank for making this happen - from my publisher, editor, and agent on the business side, down to the readers who recommend my stuff to their friends and family. However a handful of people, including my old writing professor Brandon Sanderson, fellow fantasy authors Brent Weeks and Peter V. Brett, and my favorite online webcomic Howard Tayler, have been particularly loud about their support of me and my books, lending their immense platforms to help get the word out, and for that I'll be forever in their debt.

Earning out on the trilogy means that I'm now, in my own small part, helping pay the bills at Orbit, which is a point of pride for me. It also means that from now on, I'll get a check every six month, hopefully for the rest of my life. Each check will be a little smaller, dwindling over the years, but for now it's enough to let me keep writing full time.

Which is a good thing, because I have no other useful talents.

Thanks guys. You're all great. Keep reading.

UNBOUND Cover and ARCs

Hey guys, Grim Oak Press now has a cover for the UNBOUND anthology. Check this out:

For those that don't know, UNBOUND is by the same people who did UNFETTERED, and has an equally-huge list of mega-SFF authors (you can see that list here). It's also going to contain a brand new Powder Mage short story about a young Sergeant Tamas in the Gurlish Wars. UNBOUND will be out in December and you can pre-order it either from me (with my story signed) or direct from Grim Oak Press.

But here's something else neat. ARCs (advanced review copies) are normally available only to vendors and reviewers. Because Grim Oak is a small press that works with big authors, they do this special thing where they sell hardcover ARCs to regular readers that just can't wait to get their hands on these stories. Only 250 will be printed, and you can order one from Grim Oak here.

Brian's Salt Lake Comic Con Schedule

This week is Salt Lake Comic Con, and for the second year in a row I am delighted to be attending! The convention goes Thursday, Friday, Saturday (September 24th, 25th, 26th) and I'll be there all three days, signing books, going to panels, and just generally hanging out. You're most likely to find me at Badali Jewelry (booth 1023), the lovely people who are hosting me and selling my books and who will have a special new treat on sale for fans of the Powder Mage series. My full schedule is as follows:

Thursday, September 24th, 2PM: Writing Advice: The Good, the Bad & the Very Ugly room 151A

Thursday, September 24th, 4PM: Book signing at Badali Jewelry booth 1023

Friday, September 25th, 12PM: Character Development for Novels and Film room 255E

Friday, September 25th, 1PM: Book signing Shadow Mountain booth 1401

Friday, Sepember 25th, 6PM: Book signing at Badali Jewelry booth 1023

Saturday, September 26th, 6PM: Book signing at Badali Jewelry booth 1023

Saturday, September 26th, 8PM: The Military in Science Fiction and Fantasy room 253A

 

Help Me Donate My Books to Your Local Library!

TL;DR: I want to donate copies of Promise of Blood to libraries in the US. Follow the direction in bold below to contact me if your local library doesn't have a copy.


I'm a huge fan of libraries. My mom volunteered at our local library when I was a kid, and I spent several years of my life, for several hours on Wednesday nights, just roaming up and down the shelves for new books. As you can tell, that experience was a bit formative for me.

Since becoming an author, libraries have been very good to me. I've heard awesome things from librarians who get teenagers hooked on my books, and I had the joy of walking into my own local library immediately after Promise of Blood came out to find it sitting on the shelf through no effort of my own. I've even been invited to speak at several libraries, and those experiences have been overwhelmingly positive.

Every now and again, I get a message from someone bemoaning the fact that their local library doesn't have Promise of Blood. I always tell them to talk to the librarian in charge of acquisitions to see if they'll order it in, but I'm aware they have a large list of their own to work from so that doesn't always work. So here's what I'm going to do:

I've got 50 remaindered hardcovers of Promise of Blood. Remainders are basically overstock from my publisher that were sold in bulk. They got beat up a little bit in the warehouse, and they've got a remainder mark (a black dot on the side). Sold on Amazon they'd be described a "lightly used."

I'd like to donate these to your local library.

If your library is in the US and does not have a copy of Promise of Blood, let me know! I want to hear from either patrons or librarians, but librarians will know the details I need better. Send me an email at brian (at) brianmcclellan (dot) com with the header LIBRARY DONATION. Give me the name and address of the library, and (if you know) the name of the acquiring librarian. I'll send the books on my own dime, and even sign them to the collection of that library. If you're a big library, you can ask for two copies.

These books are freely given, and as long as they end up in the hands of a library I don't care what they do with them. Your libraries can put them in the collection or sell them in the next book sale to raise funds. So please, help me get these out!

Powder Mage RPG

Hey guys! I've mentioned from time to time on social media that I'm working on a Powder Mage pen and paper RPG with Alan Bahr. Alan is one of the brains behind the Planet Mercenary RPG (that had a wildly successful Kickstarter earlier this year) based on my favorite webcomic, Schlock Mercenary.

As Alan and I get into the more serious planning stages, we're hoping to hear from you guys what you'd like to see in a Powder Mage RPG. Are there particular game mechanics you'd enjoy? What parts of the universe do you want to immerse yourselves in?

Any thoughts would be welcome, either in the comments below or over on /r/powdermage!

Pre-orders for UNBOUND

Hey guys! I'm happy to announce that I'll have a new Powder Mage short story out this winter in the latest mega-anthology from editor Shawn Speakman. The short story "The Siege of Tilpur" will follow Sergeant Tamas as he risks everything to claw his way up the chain of command in the Gurlish desert. To date, it'll be the earliest of the Powder Mage stories chronologically.

Final cover will be illustrated by Todd Lockwood

The anthology itself will include a huge number of SFF authors, with stories short and long. People like Jim Butcher, Terry Brooks, Seanan Mcguire, Mark Lawrence, Anthony Ryan, Mary Robinette Kowal, and well over a dozen others. It's an immense privilege to be included among such awesome authors, many of which I'm delighted to be able to call my friends.

UNBOUND will be published in trade hardcover on December 1st, 2015. Here's your pre-order information:

Pre-order directly from me. I'll sign and date the first page of my own short story.

Pre-order from Grim Oak Press.

A limited, leatherbound, signed and numbered edition will also be available from Grim Oak Press. It will be signed by every author (I believe this one takes several months to put together and ship, but I'm not sure).