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Month: March 2014

A habit of old words

Posted in Just for Writers

A great many writers (perhaps most) have known they wanted to be writers all their lives, scribbling away in childhood, until finally some breakthrough brought writing to the forefront and they began completing and publishing their work.

musicgrid.gif
Many musicians work in mathematics or
          computer-related fields

But not all of us…

I have an intellectual background in mathematics, which (indirectly) led to a career first as a programmer and then as an IT executive in a number of startup software and computer consulting firms for almost 40 years. But, like many math-types, I also had a competing fascination with music, languages, and the visual arts. Everything, in fact, except writing.

As I've said elsewhere, it's all Tolkien's fault. I was a high-volume, indiscriminant, and rapacious reader as a child (still am), never going to grade school with fewer than half a dozen paperbacks to get me through classes, with a strong focus on science fiction and such fantasy as was available in the early 60s. My encounter with Tolkien when his first American editions and then the “authorized” editions came out in paperback, in early high school, gave me a sudden and immediate focus. In brief, I'm the sort of person who reread the Appendices obsessively, trying to understand why his hints at deep history worked so well, how he had built a world with so much consistent detail and background that resonated so effectively with his readers.

Siefried kills Fafnir (Nibelungenlied)
Siegfried kills Fafnir (Nibelungenlied)

As a musician, I was already very familiar with the British traditional ballads (the Folk Revival was underway and I discovered Francis James Child at about this time). Tolkien and books about him spurred my reading toward the older traditional literature of all kinds, both the sort that were the subjects of his scholarship (Beowulf and the Old & Middle English corpus) and its relatives like the Nibelungenlied, the northern sagas and the eddas, the Matter of Britain (King Arthur, the Grail), the Matter of France (Roland)) as well as the classics (Homer, et alia) and even, eventually, some of the Indian ancient poetry, the Rigveda, the Ramayana, and the Mahabharata (has anyone ever read the whole thing?).

I spent much of high school devouring everything I could find in this area, assisted by new releases in paperback of many of these works, as well as the scholarship that illuminated them, most especially on the topic of oral-formulaic poetry, where subject matter, linguistic form, performance requirements, and emotional power intersected so wonderfully. The traditional ballads (most of them) are the last hurrah of oral-formulaic poetry in northern Europe, and as a singer I could easily recognize the utility of the oral-formulaic process in performance, substituting equivalent phrases for ones imperfectly remembered in the heat of performance, or seeing fragmentary epithet phrases fossilized in absurd contexts (e.g., in the ballad/broadsheet of “Creeping Jane”, the racehorse lifts up her “lily-white hoof”, as any heroine would lift a “lily-white hand” — a convenient metrical phrase). Read More A habit of old words

Sale today – To Carry the Horn

Posted in To Carry the Horn

ToCarryTheHorn - Full Front Cover Widget

To Carry the Horn is on sale from March 18 thru March 20 at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo worldwide. Normally $5.99, for these three days you can get a copy for just $0.99.

Click here for links to purchase.

You might also want to check out the following newsletters and sites:

Kindle Books and Tips. If you like them, please “like” their Facebook page.
PeopleReads. Here's their Facebook page.
eBookSoda

Amazon Best Seller
                              Amazon Best Seller

UPDATE (March 20) – Thanks for all your help!

Structures of Earth (excerpt) – Chapter 1

Posted in Fantasy, Structures of Earth, and The Affinities of Magic

Structures of Earth - Full Front Cover - Widget

CHAPTER 1

Were they following me or are they just guessing?

Rushalentar used his SIGHT to peek around the stone edge of the doorway he’d ducked into, without exposing himself. The two guild proctors lingered on the corner across the street, with an excellent view of the servants’ door in the next block that was his original destination.

If they catch me with it, there’s going to be trouble.

He weighed the thick book wrapped in his cloak, and considered his choices. Waiting in a doorway in broad daylight was not appealing. He could BEND light past him, but since he wasn’t very good at it that was only effective for night use. The best thing would be to go all the way around the city blocks to the far side of the one he wanted and work back up to the alley behind the stable, out of their sight.

Well, nothing else I can do. Interfering old busybodies.

He sloped out of the doorway behind the two men and walked noiselessly away from them, turning right at the first alley, and took an alternate route along the streets and cut-through lanes until he reached the far corner of the block that the proctors were watching. He strolled a third of the way along and paused at the entry of the alley that ran through to the next street to wait for the foot traffic to thin out. He looked up at the huge guild house that occupied most of the block, everything on the far side of the alley, and he shook his head.

Someday. I swear, someday the mother house will reopen. I just don’t know how.

His eyes passed over the shuttered windows, the barred gates, and the whole massive five-story stone pile, derelict now, abandoned. No one left to pay for repairs, to heat the place, to keep it running.

Read More Structures of Earth (excerpt) – Chapter 1

Final Cover for Structures of Earth

Posted in Artwork, Structures of Earth, and The Affinities of Magic

I just wanted to show off the final version of the cover art that Jake Bullock completed today.Front Cover - Structures of Earth - 300x464

Here's the blurb…

MAGIC WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING, AND A WIZARD'S GUILD WITH NO MEMBERS.

Young Rush has bent the rules and managed to become an apprentice in wizardry to his uncle, but neither of them is qualified to revive the Torch & Scroll Guild, and there is no one else left. Neglected for generations, the mother house is in ruins, soon to be sold off by the Star Watch, the wizards' council, as the only guild to ever have expired for lack of heirs.

But this clever and deep-thinking young man may have puzzled out some of the fundamental principles underlying all magical practice, and this discovery will change everything, if only Rush can stay alive long enough for his plans to work.


What we're looking at is the servants' quarters behind the decayed guild house of Torch & Scroll. All that's left of the guild is huddled there, in a disgraceful building for an institution that has long fallen out of power.
Background painting - 600x457
Read More Final Cover for Structures of Earth

Why you should buy ISBNs for your books

Posted in Just for Writers

An earlier version of this article was published September 6, 2013.BowkerISBN

Avoiding costs

Independent publishers and author/publishers aren’t supporting corporate boardrooms, expense accounts, or Manhattan addresses (by and large), and frugality is a common theme. Avoiding the purchase and use of an ISBN number for their published work (if they are US-based) seems to many to be another opportunity to cut cost.

But let’s step back a minute. I write for many reasons but one of them is to communicate with someone else. I’m sure that resonates with many writers. Right behind that is the sense that I am joining that long river of communication that is the world of books, a stream that has flowed for hundreds of years, and I want my little drops to join in and make that stream just a little larger. Maybe I will communicate with someone who finds my work decades after my own death.

If you want your work to survive and be part of that river, you have to treat what you’re making as an honest-to-god book that could live forever, not just a document that gets thrown up in digital form somewhere and makes you a little money.

Using ISBNs to Future-proof Your Books

My name is my brand. My books belong to me, and my stamp upon them is an ISBN number, a unique and universal identifier that will bring them out of darkness to anyone’s search, years from now and in databases I cannot envision. It doesn’t matter whether the book is printed or in digital form – that’s just a detail. I would no more omit my ISBN from a book I’ve written than I would take away my name.

I’ve heard people comment, well, you don’t need an ISBN to publish an ebook at this site or that, and that’s a true statement. But when you’re caught up in the here and now of the latest development in the explosion that is new indie publishing, it’s easy to lose perspective.

Consider the following situation: Read More Why you should buy ISBNs for your books

Cover update for Structures of Earth

Posted in Artwork, Structures of Earth, and The Affinities of Magic

Draft before final painting
Draft before final painting

My cover artist, Jake Bullock, has been very busy running through draft versions of the cover for the first book in the new series, The Affinities of Magic. It's been great fun working through this with him, and I thought you might enjoy an update on the process as he moves on to the final version. My requirements…

  • The back covers of the novels will be the front covers for short stories and story collections
  • Every story will include a discovery in the study of bio-magic, so every story or book will include a vignette of an animal, plant, whatever, that is the basis for the discovery
  • There will be an internal illustration of the critter, plant, whatsis inside each story
  • Every novel cover will include the mother house of the Torch & Scroll guild, now fallen on very hard times with its last master. The rise of fortune (or its setback) will be reflected in each new novel.

For Structures of Earth, the vignette shows a burrowing rodent-like critter, the study of which will lead to some amazing insights, rather like Gregor Mendel's experiments with peas.

The cover illustrations in this post are intermediate drafts. The Author font will change to match all of my books, and many painted details will be added to both the background and the Title/Series text.

You can see more of Jake's work here.
Full Cover-2
Critter

Bound into the Blood – Book 4 of The Hounds of Annwn has been released

Posted in Bound into the Blood, Fantasy, Publishing, Release, and The Hounds of Annwn

Bound into the Blood - Full Front Cover - WidgetI'm delighted to announce that Bound into the Blood is now available at a variety of retailers in both paperback and ebook formats.

Much of the book takes place over the summer in the human world and reflects the changes that are the result of the discovery of the rock-wights and the new status of Gwyn ap Nudd, King of Annwn. For those of my fans who enjoy foxhunting, there's a bit of a puppy show, too.

I'm starting a new series, The Affinities of Magic, which will feature a young man who founds an industrial revolution and builds an academy for magic. Structures of Earth, the first book in that series, will come out this summer, to be followed by more work in both series.

You can find out more about Bound into the Blood and where to buy it here. As always, if you like the book, I encourage you to write a review wherever you bought it, or to post one on Goodreads or Amazon. Reviews make a big difference to authors.

Enjoy!

Bound into the Blood (excerpt) – Chapter 1

Posted in Bound into the Blood, and The Hounds of Annwn

Bound into the Blood - Full Front Cover - Widget

CHAPTER 1

Prologue
It was time to move again, he decided. Soon. He searched his face in the mirror. Ten years in one place was enough. The first jokes about how young he still looked had started, and his unchanging appearance would only raise more questions if he lingered much longer.

He grimaced. It’s getting harder each time to set up a new identity, he thought, to stay off the grid. Maybe I should move to another country altogether, one with bigger problems than surveilling its citizens. I could last a long time in some country in Africa, if I could figure out a way to get there without a passport. And there are interesting beasts there to turn my hand to.

Or maybe I should just stop and put an end to it, the last of my line of the special breed, the pure blood.

He’d done what he had to do, twenty-odd years ago, and he remembered it still each morning when he woke. Nothing much had seemed real to him after that, after he fled and left it all, worlds behind. His death wouldn’t seem real either, when it came, he suspected, just the long-delayed natural conclusion. Well, at least he’d be done with it, then. He was tired of the fight. It would be a welcome relief, a silence and a forgetting.

Read More Bound into the Blood (excerpt) – Chapter 1