by Brian

First Review of TCC

January 15, 2014 in Reviews, The Crimson Campaign by Brian

The first review of The Crimson Campaign is out! You can read it here on Kirkus. They say ”A reliably rewarding installment that will keep appetites whetted for the conclusion.”

I can live with that.

If you haven’t pre-ordered The Crimson Campaign yet, you can do so on Amazon, B&N, Amazon.co.uk, Waterstones and more. Pre-orders are huge for a new author like me, so I’ll be very appreciative!

by Brian

ConFusion Schedule

January 15, 2014 in ConFusion, Conventions by Brian

This week I’m going to be at Legendary ConFusion in Dearborn, Michigan. Should be a very good time with a plethora of authors including Peter V. Brett, Myke Cole, Sam Sykes, Cherie Priest, Kameron Hurley, Brad Beaulieu, and many, many more.

If you have Amazon Prime and are local to the convention, you can order Promise of Blood today and still have it arrive in time to get it signed. I have no idea if it will be available in the dealers room, so I plan on bringing a stack of my own copies to sell but my quantity will be limited. I also have no idea if they’re giving me a seat at the mass author signing… so that’s awkward. Oops. I didn’t see the “Full Schedule” PDF. Looks like I’m set for the 3PM Mass Author Signing on Saturday.

If you want to come see me get all sweaty and nervous at the front of a room full of people, here are my panels:

 

Does my world need an economy?

Rae Carson, Cherie Priest, Ron Collins, Brian McClellan, Ferrett Steinmetz

7pm Saturday – Southfield

Worldbuilding can be fun, daunting, and everything in between. One of the aspects that can have a drastic impact on the course of the story is the fantasy economy. As a discipline, economics is often seen as boring in the extreme, but in practice it informs such fantasy staples as warfare, diplomatic relations, crime – organized or desperate, and nearly any other conflict one could choose to name. The fantasy economy is fundamental, and here is how to do it right.

Don’t write what you know

Brian McClellan, Elizabeth Shack, Stina Leicht, Tobias Buckell, Catherine Shaffer, Mike Carey

11am Sunday – Erie

An axiom of writing has long been “write what you know”. In SFF circles this is somewhat amended, but the sense that one should constrain writing to subjects of passionate interest and deep understanding still seems to be quite popular. But what about the other side of the coin? What value can be found in writing what one does not know about? Research, learning, and then spreading that joy can yield fantastic results, if done right. We discuss how to do it right.

Faking History

Brigid Collins, Brian McClellan, Kameron Hurley, C.C. Finlay, Howard Andrew Jones

1pm Sunday – Erie

Legends generally take time. History has a weight that helps to propel the present and inform a culture. In building an epic backstory in fantasy or science fiction, how does one do that? Flat out stating “there is a legend of this thing with a badger” only serves to make an audience look for the badger, so how does one craftily insert these details without a reader taking conscious notice? Who does this well, and what can we learn from some others who have done it less well?

Gaming and Writing

Carrie Harris, Saladin Ahmed, Howard Andrew Jones, Brian McClellan

2pm Sunday – Rotunda

Many authors grew up playing games: tabletop, roleplaying, live action, or a mix of all three. Games, tie-in fiction, and the experience of constructing a shared narrative all help develop the drive to write, and can have an impact that lasts far into an author’s career. This panel discusses what they learned about storytelling from the act of gaming
Note: this was not on my original slate of panels. A couple of people asked for something like this, and I added it. If you do not feel like you have anything to add to the discussion, don’t hesitate to let me know. That being said, I think this one sounds fun and I wish I could take credit for coming up with is.
by Brian

Cover Art for the Upcoming Powder Mage Novella

January 14, 2014 in ebooks, Short Fiction by Brian

I’ve dropped a lot of hints recently (especially if you follow me on Twitter) about my latest little side project, a Powder Mage novella. It’s coming along nicely. The cover art is finished and the manuscript has gone through numerous edits and two rounds of beta-readers. If everything stays on schedule, I’ll finish another edit tomorrow and send it off to the copyeditor, then final edits next week and a release of 1/26/14 on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and directly from me.

The novella takes place 35 years before Promise of Blood. For reference, “Hope’s End” takes place about 18 years before PoB and “The Girl of Hrusch Avenue” is about 10 years before PoB.

“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.”

by Brian

Book Giveaway Contest!

January 9, 2014 in Contest, Giveaway by Brian

With the release of the UK paperback of Promise of Blood earlier this week, I decided it was as good a time as any to have some kind of a giveaway. But I’m not gonna make it easy on you this time. No, no. This is going to be a contest! And a photo contest, no less. To enter the contest, here’s what you have to do:

The contest is over! Check out the winners here.

1. Take a picture of your copy of Promise of Blood. It can be a hardcover or an ebook on your favorite ereader (turned to the title page). Do something fun with it. Jazz it up. Make me laugh. You can also take a picture of where you’d keep your copy if you had one.

2. Post it to Facebook or Twitter or Reddit or Imgur or where ever you like online.

3. Send me an email at brian (at) brianmcclellan (dot) com with the header CONTEST ENTRY. Give me the link to where you posted it as well as your city/state/country. I will be sharing the pictures on the website as they come in.

In a couple of weeks, probably after I get back from ConFusion, I’ll choose my three favorite photos. First place will win a signed hardcover of Promise of Blood. Second place will win a signed US trade paperback. Third place will win a signed UK paperback. You can add them to your collection, give them to friends, donate to your local library, use it as a plate. Anything you want! And yes, this giveaway is open internationally.

The first entries are in!

And another one from Tori (Instagram won’t let me copy the image).

If you don’t want to wait to see if you won, Amazon has reduced the sale price for Promise of Blood a whole nine more cents, and it’s currently $1.91 in the US. Madness!

A few other things of note. I recently wrote a guest blog on the Kindle Daily Post, where I talked about my favorite fantasy novels of all time. I also found this stinking awesome Steampunk Star Wars art which I shared on Facebook and Twitter and like it so much I’m going to share it here too. Also, if you liked the Powder Mage short stories “The Girl of Hrusch Avenue” and “Hope’s End“, you’ll be happy to know that I’m editing a Powder Mage novella that should be out by the beginning of February. I plan on posting the cover art sometime next week.

by Brian

Award Nominations

January 8, 2014 in Awards, Campbell Award, Hugo Award, Nebula Award by Brian

It’s award nominations time of year in the world of science fiction and fantasy literature, and for the first time ever I’m eligible! Here is what I wrote in 2013, and what awards they are eligible for:

Promise of Blood (Orbit Books, April 2013)

Hugo Award for Best Novel

Nebula Award (Novel)

“The Girl of Hrusch Avenue” (June 2013) and “Hope’s End” (September 2013)

Hugo Award for Best Novelette

Nebula Award (Novelette)

Not only that, but I’m in my first year of eligibility for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. This is the big one for new authors and frankly the Hugo is a little out of my league (so is the Campbell, but that doesn’t stop me from reaching for it). The Campbell Award voting is done in conjunction with the Hugo Award, so don’t forget that one when you’re filling out your Hugo Ballot.

In order to nominate for the Hugo, you have to have been a member of the 2013 Worldcon (LoneStarCon, or be a member of the 2014 Worldcon (LonCon). Here is a link that will tell you everything you need to know about nominating. In order to nominate for the Nebula Award, you have to be an active SFWA member. More info on that here.

Be sure to nominate in every category that you can think of someone deserving. Here is a partial list of those eligible. These are the people I have my eye on:

Campbell Award

Helen Wecker

Westley Chu

Best Novel

Emperor of Thorns (Mark Lawrence)

Best Editor

Devi Pillai (Orbit Books)

Best Professional Artist

Gene Mollica

Isaac Stewart

Best Fan Writer

Justin Landon

by Brian

UK Paperback

January 7, 2014 in Books, Promise of Blood, The Crimson Campaign by Brian

The UK paperback of Promise of Blood is out today! And there was much rejoicing! Huzzah!

You can get it from Amazon, Waterstones, and your local bookstore. It looks like it’s also available in Australia. If you’re looking for a signed copy of the hardcover, looks like VJ Books still has them in stock. If you want something a little more interesting, there is one signed, lined, and dated copy left at Doodled Books.

UK Paperback

I know what you’re thinking. And yes, this looks strangely familiar. I’ll tell you a secret. It’s the same cover art. I know. Mind=blown. But since the cover art for the hardcover was so stinkin’ gorgeous, they’re using it in the US, the UK, on paperbacks and hardcovers. All willy-nilly! But the whole point of the paperback is to provide a smaller, cheaper book for fans to read. So here is the size difference:

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From left to right: UK C-format, UK paperback, US hardcover, US trade paperback

 

And another comparison shot:

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From left to right: US hardcover, UK C-format, US trade paperback, UK paperback

For those of you in the US, the trade paperback won’t be out until April 8th, but you can pre-order it on Amazon or B&N. In the meantime, don’t forget to pre-order The Crimson Campaign, or grab one of the Powder Mage short stories.

As consolation for the delay of The Crimson Campaign, I’ve been working on a new Powder Mage novella that I hope to release by the beginning of February. This one takes place many decades before the events in Promise of Blood and features someone we have not met before: Erika, Field Marshal Tamas’ wife.

by Brian

Tabletop Games

January 6, 2014 in Tabletop Games by Brian

A lot of people have been asking what tabletop games I play (because I tweet about it from time to time), so I thought I’d write up a quick post about it. I’ll do another post in a couple weeks about some of the other games I own, but these are the games I played last night:

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7 Wonders. This is my recent favorite. Each of you gets a Wonder and you have three ages in which to build it, after which you’ll add up victory points determined by a variety of gaming mechanics to figure out who wins. Once everyone knows how to play, the game absolutely flies by. I also enjoyed the Leaders expansion. Not as big of a fan of the Cities expansion, but that may just be because I haven’t quite learned how it works. Easy to Medium learning curve.

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Carcassonne. I’ve only played this one twice and only the base game without expansions (belongs to an out-of-town friend), but it’s pretty fun. You and your friends are developing the countryside of the city of Carcassone by laying tiles to try to get yourself the most points and screw over everyone else. Easy learning curve.

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King of Tokyo. What my friend refers to as a “palate cleanser.” Fast, easy game that’s good to play between more complex games. Each of you is a monster attacking Tokyo. You win by getting the most victory points or when the other monsters are dead. The expansion lets you play with more people. Very easy learning curve.

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Puerto Rico. I honestly can’t decide if I like this one. It’s another “build up victory points by producing materials” game and in that respect I like 7 Wonders better (and 7 Wonders if also easier to learn). So, uh. Buy 7 Wonders. Puerto Rico has a medium learning curve.

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Cosmic Encounter. Oh, this one was fun. I don’t own it yet (it belongs to the same out-of-town friend), but I probably will within the next couple of months. Each of you is a separate alien race attempting to colonize planets belonging to the other players. You fight or negotiate your way through the game, using your hand of cards and your alien’s special race ability to do so. With so many alien races it has a ton of replayability. It also has a ton of expansions, and I’m not sure which ones we were playing with. Medium learning curve.

Let me know what you’ve been playing and if you recommend it!

by Brian

2013 in Review

December 30, 2013 in Books, Year in Review by Brian

It might be said that 2013 was a big year for me.

It may have been the biggest year of my life. It certainly was on a professional level.

My first novel, Promise of Blood, was released in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook by Orbit Books, the science fiction and fantasy imprint of one of the Big Five publishers. So that’s a major life goal accomplished right there. We’ve sold the rights to Promise of Blood in Hebrew, Bulgarian, and Russian, as well as the rights to the whole Powder Mage trilogy in Polish and French.

I also signed on for a second series with Orbit (bringing the total to six Powder Mage Universe books).

In terms of sales and recognition, Promise of Blood did far better than I could have ever hoped. I was stunned to see it be voted to #10 on Goodreads’ “Best Debut Goodreads Author of 2013” and #15 on Goodreads’ “Best Fantasy Books of 2013.” It wound up on a list of the “Twelve Greatest Fantasy Books of the Year” on Buzzfeed (a list that got over 405K views). It won an /r/fantasy Stabby Award for “Best Debut Novel of 2013.” Just the other day it showed up on Fantasy Faction’s “Best Fantasy Books of 2013.” It even wound up as a finalist for the RT Award for Best Epic Fantasy alongside industry giants Mark Lawrence and Robin Hobb.

In 2013, I also released Powder Mage short stories, “The Girl of Hrusch Avenue” and “Hope’s End,” both of which have been received favorably. I sold a third, “The Face in the Window,” to Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and it will be released in February of 2014. I’ve even got two more short stories in the works.

I finished writing my second novel in the Powder Mage Trilogy, The Crimson Campaign. Even though it was harder to write than Promise, my agent and editor both thought it was even better. It will be out on May 6th, 2014.

I started work on the third book in the Powder Mage Trilogy, which I imagine will be out sometime in the spring of 2015. Most of the book is written already, so I should have it finished up and submitted sometime this winter/early spring.

I got my first piece of fan-art, done by a friend of mine from high school:

Ka-poel

 

Of course, with all the ups there are bound to be downs.

It’s easy to scoff at the emotional roller-coaster that is being a published author. After all, I’ve accomplished my dream. What could possibly worry me? Poor reviews. Being late with manuscripts. “Meh” reviews. Release date changes. Good reviews with nasty caveats. Managing money. Of particular note, I was baffled by how many epic fantasy lovers dismissed my book out of hand because “guns don’t belong in fantasy.”

But the good outweighed the bad by far. I’m delighted to start on this journey of being a published, full time author, and I hope to continue on for many, many years. I hope you’ll all come with me.

by Brian

What I Read This Year

December 29, 2013 in Books by Brian

It’s that time again: time for everyone and their cousin to write an end-of-the-year blog. And since I’m no different than anyone else…

I didn’t get to read nearly as much as I would have liked to this year. There are so many amazing books on my radar that I haven’t yet gotten to, including The Lives of Tao, NOS4A2 (which is only $1.99 as I’m writing this), Blood Song, The Daylight War, The Golem and the Jinni, The Darwin Elevator and so many others.

So what did I get to read? I’ll tell you.

Thousand Names

The Thousand Names by Django Wexler

I must confess that I was worried when I heard about this. After all, for a long time I thought I was the first person to think up the idea of setting an epic fantasy in an 1800′s world with muskets and magic and everything else. I put off reading it because I was worried that there would be similarities to Promise of Blood that would get one or both of us accused of being unoriginal or something like that.

I really shouldn’t have been concerned. Django’s world was both fantastic and completely different than my own. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I think  that people who read and liked my book will also end up reading and loving Django’s. It proved to me that Flintlock Fantasy isn’t going to be a one-trick pony, but rather a bona fide subgenre that can be explored by multiple people in just as many ways as the medieval epic fantasy that we all know and love.

Emperor of Thorns

Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

I think I actually read all three books in this series this year (two last spring, and the final one when it came out this fall). Mark’s books are brilliant, brutal, unforgiving, fun, and lyrical. His main character is a horrible, raping, murdering, compelling creature. I read Prince of Thorns and King of Thorns back to back on subsequent nights, staying up until the wee hours of the morning, and Emperor was no different. Incredible writing, and the fact that it ended up on or atop many “best of” lists for 2013 is not at all surprising.

Abaddon's Gate

Abaddon’s Gate by James S. A. Corey

The third installment in the Expanse series. Loved returning to the world and seeing how the universe continues to play out after the events of Leviathan Wakes. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the books in this series.

Dragon's Path

The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham

Daniel Abraham is actually 1/2 of the duo that writes The Expanse series under the name of James S.A. Corey. The Dagger and Coin series is his currently on-going epic fantasy. I think that I enjoy The Expanse a little more, overall, but that shouldn’t turn you away from this book. I really very much enjoyed it.

Bitter Seeds

Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis

Very cool concept (think “warlocks vs Nazi x-men during WWII”), and a well-written book. I enjoyed it quite a bit, but I must confess it was a bit too bleak for me. It didn’t have the “fun” that I tend to look for in a genre book. That’s entirely my own preference, though, and I think anyone who likes spy thrillers, serious science fiction, or anything that tends to be a little more gritty will like this one.

Emperor's Soul

The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson

This is quite a bit shorter than anything else on the list (it won the Hugo for best Novella, which means it’s under 40K words). As most of you know, I love Brandon’s stuff, and this one was no exception. It’s definitely worth picking up.

Partials

Partials by Dan Wells

I don’t read a lot of dystopian work (again, I tend to avoid bleak), but Dan’s stuff definitely makes me want to read more. Partials came out in 2012 and I think the second book is out and the third is coming soon. Highly recommended. And while I’m here, I will say that everyone should read Dan’s “John Cleaver” novels.

I don’t do a lot of re-reading (due to time and personal preference), but I will make some exceptions now and again. This year, I reread The River Why by David James Duncan (one of my all-time top ten books) and Dune by Frank Herbert (one of my all-time top five books). Hopefully I will get to read more books next year, including all those that I listed at the top.

 

by Brian

The Crimson Campaign Delayed

December 17, 2013 in Books, Publishing, The Crimson Campaign by Brian

Hey everyone. There’s some bad news in the Powder Mage universe today. As some of you may have noticed when Amazon changed the release date yesterday, The Crimson Campaign has been delayed. It has been pushed back from February 18th, 2014 to May 6th, 2014; a delay of about two and a half months.

Let me assure you that I’m just as disappointed as you are. Release dates have quickly become the major milestones in my life (this being my full time job) and changing one of them has a pretty huge effect on me psychologically.

That being said, my publisher has decided that a May release would be so much better in order to put The Crimson Campaign into has many hands as possible. I completely trust their decision in this matter. They’ve done such an awesome job with my books so far, I don’t think they’re going to let me down now. You may be grumbling that it sounds like a marketing decision and wondering why this matters to you. It is, and it does: the better The Crimson Campaign (and subsequent books) does in the bookstores, the better I will do as an author, which will allow me to focus on writing and not, say, go find a full time job doing something else. This means that you’ll continue getting a Powder Mage book every year for the next four years after this one, rather than me having to spread out the release dates because I don’t have as much time to write.

This also effects the release of the Promise of Blood trade paperback. Orbit will push that release back to April 8th in the US. The UK release will stay the same (January 18th). Yes, the trade paperbacks are already printed. They are pushing this back so that the TP of Promise of Blood and the hardcover of The Crimson Campaign are in the bookstore at the same time (new releases generally only spend 3-4 months in the bookstore).

I know this all amounts to a big pile of having to wait for all of you guys. I’m sorry about that. To help ease the waiting a bit, I’m going to fast track a couple of story ideas I have and put out more Powder Mage short stories this winter. The first of these will introduce us to Erika, the wife of Field Marshal Tamas.

Sorry to let you down, and I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday season!