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Category: Works

Cover Reveal – On a Crooked Track

Posted in Artwork, On a Crooked Track, and The Chained Adept

20161016-on-a-crooked-track5-frontHere's the final draft of the cover art for the fourth and final book of The Chained Adept series. There will still be some tinkering with the position of the author name for consistency with the other covers, but my cover artist Jake Bullock is done with the illustration.

I thought you might be interested in how this sort of thing evolved.

The scene I wanted to illustrate was Penrys returning to Tavnastok in Ellech. The famous Collegium lies across the river, but her passage is barred by some of her old colleagues.

See how it looks with the other three books in thumbnail, compared to other fantasy covers (click to enlarge). This is the acid test for legibility.

thumbnails-on-background-draft2

We began with three sketches to sort out the composition.

Book Bundles

Posted in Formatting, Publishing, The Hounds of Annwn, The Hounds of Annwn Bundle (1-2), The Hounds of Annwn Bundle (1-5), and The Hounds of Annwn Bundle (3-5)

Hounds of Annwn Bundle - 1-5 - Full Front Cover - WidgetBook bundles are one of the great features of the ebook format. It's technically quite easy to bundle several standalone ebooks together into a single ebook file, whether it's a collected teaser of your own works, all the books in a series, or samplers from a group of contributors. Some bundles are constructed for a limited time super-sale, and others remain permanently available at discounted but not giveaway prices.

Over the next month or two, I'll be releasing some permanent bundles for the series books in The Hounds of Annwn. The problem is pricing.

If someone buys all four novels and the short story collection at full price, it costs them $31.95. I'd be happy to sell that as a bundle for 50% off, or $15.99. It's a nice compromise between the number of people who buy all the series books, and those that don't.

The problem is, I can't do that on Amazon, since I'm severely penalized for prices over $9.99, even though it's to the reader's benefit. The best I can do is to offer the five-book bundle on other retailers and directly from my own website, and the two volumes of mini-bundles on Amazon, at $9.99. That's only a third off the full price instead of half off, but what else can I do?

Stay tuned for announcements. The two mini-bundles will be released in August, and the all-books bundle a month or two afterward.
 
Hounds of Annwn Bundle - 1-2 - Full Front Cover - WidgetHounds of Annwn Bundle - 3-5 - Full Front Cover - Widget

Broken Devices has been released

Posted in Broken Devices, Release, and The Chained Adept

Broken Devices - Full Front Cover - 297x459Book 3 of The Chained Adept

CHAINS WITHOUT WIZARDS AND A RISING COUNT OF THE DEAD.

The largest city in the world has just discovered its missing wizards. It seems the Kigali empire has ignited a panic that threatens internal ruin and the only chained wizard it knows that's still alive is Penrys.

The living wizards and the dead are not her people, not unless she makes them so. All they have in common is a heavy chain and a dead past — the lives that were stolen from them are beyond recall.

What remains are unanswered questions about who made them this way. And why. And what Penrys plans to do to find out.

Order direct from the author, or see the publisher for retail sites.

Broken Devices (excerpt) – Chapter 1

Posted in Broken Devices, and The Chained Adept

Broken Devices - Full Front Cover - WidgetCHAPTER 1

The Grand Caravan arrived that afternoon in sunlight fresh enough with the spring season to ignore the dust of the travelers and settle on the bright colors of their exotic robes and turbans instead.

Outriders had preceded them into Tengwa Tep, and the merchants and citizens of that entrepôt that could spare the time gathered on the southwest outskirts of the city as soon as the news had spread that the Grand Caravan had come, as scheduled, and that the trading season with sarq-Zannib and upstream Kigali had begun for the year.

Penrys rode well back in the caravan, dressed in the riding-length robes that all the dark Zannib wore, men and women, on horseback. Najud, her husband, was near the front, but the rest of her companions, as new to the caravan as she was, chattered excitedly about their first look at a Kigali city, its yellow brick golden in the light from the west, varied by the colorful stucco of its many residential and manufacturing compounds. By comparison, the caravan’s first stop, a few days ago, had just been a large market town.

She’d seen cities before, in Ellech, across the northern seas. Here it was the children that caught her eye—dozens and dozens of them, screaming with excitement. Some were with a parent, but mostly they ran free, the littlest ones trailed by irritated older sisters or brothers. Unlike their elders, with the long single braid that almost all Kigali not in the military used, the children wore their hair loose or, at the most, gathered into a tail.

Broken Devices ready for edit

Posted in Broken Devices

Finishing a book “The end” are the finest words in the English language to type on one's keyboard.

Now I've finally got a good answer for the domestic situation portrayed to the left.
 

 

I wrote the last sentence for Broken Devices yesterday. Now its just (!) a matter of editing, mostly copyedit (i.e., proofreading.)  I also have to double-check all the “foreign” words and update the index to match, which takes a little while.

Proofreading

While that's going on, I need to start book 4 of The Chained Adept, which will conclude the series. There's no break from daily writing if I want to keep my word count up — all the edit and formatting work for the just completed book becomes work on the side while I make progress on book 4. And in any case, chapter 1 of the next book has to be finished in order to be included at the back of Broken Devices.

Broken Devices is planned for release soon after the 4th of July holiday — the book page here will be updated shortly with all the details.

WritingSolitaireThe final book in the series will be released circa October 1, sooner if possible. That's a four-book series, in eight months (book 1 was released February, 2016).

I like this new speed!

Meanwhile, procrastination remains the evil enemy…

Cover reveal for Broken Devices

Posted in Artwork, Broken Devices, and The Chained Adept

Broken Devices - Full Front Cover - 297x459

Thanks to my cover artist, Jake Bullock, the cover's ready for my current book. Good thing, too, since it'll be out in roughly a month

Broken Devices, book 3 of The Chained Adept, takes place in Kigali, the great southern empire.

Penrys and Najud are underground in Yenit Ping, the largest city in the world, confronted by a heap of chains. Intact chains, like the one Penrys wears. Used ones.

Since they can't be unfastened, there's only one way to get them off — head first. This, of course, renders their one-time wearers into broken devices.

 

Making all the plot threads meet

Posted in Broken Devices, Plot, and The Chained Adept

PlotMaze

My series, The Chained Adept, began as an exploration in overall writing technique, that is, the dreaded divide between writers who outline (plotters) and writers who fly by the seat of their pants (pantsers).

I'm an old software engineer and company builder, so (as you might imagine) I'm a natural outliner. Say what you will about software — in the end, if you didn't plan (plot) it right, the program won't run.

Of course, for my first series, I found that as an outlined plot progressed, less and less of the original outline was relevant. In the end, all I was really left with were echoes of the original goals and plot inflection points (the inciting moments, the setbacks, the crises, the resolutions, and so forth). So I thought I might as well start with just that much, or at least the end goal, and try the alternate approach.

The great virtue of writing as a pantser is that, if you don't know how it's going to work out as you go along, then neither do your readers, so you're likely to keep surprising them as you surprise yourself.

KickMachineYou have to trust to your subconscious which has read a lot of books in your genre. It's very good at putting together the clues you've already written (inadvertent or not) and speculating about what might come next. Writing becomes more like reading — you write to see how it's going to come out.

Each time you pause and add a bit to what's been written already, your subconscious adds that to the mix and continues to churn. Every now and then, though, I find I have to give my subconscious a good thump — I've put the coins in the machine, but nothing's coming out.

Right now, I'm headed for a big setback in act 3 of Broken Devices. It's not the final crisis, but it's significant. I've got the villains and at least three other sets of characters all headed for the same general area, with good reasons to be there and serious purposes, and I know what the result will be, but the actual paths that will tie them all together are being a bit… elusive. Like the center of that maze above, you can see the goal but you can't get there down any of the existing paths.

My subconscious is doing one of those whirr-thunk, whirr-thunk moments you get when you turn the key and the car doesn't start. I'm going to be stuck here until something shifts. I need some nice mindless tasks so it can churn away and spit out useful choices that don't depend on implausible coincidences.

Conyers, GA - May 21: The streaks of a rider's headlamp make a winding trail through the woods during the Granny Gear 24 Hours of Conyers 24-hour mountain bike race in Conyers, Georgia.

I've been here before and I know it'll sort itself out, but they don't call this approach “writing into the dark” for nothing.

 

An observation

Posted in Broken Devices, Heroes, Plot, and The Chained Adept

Put your hero in danger and keep them there
Put your heroes in danger and keep them there

So here I am nearing the middle of Broken Devices, and I'm itching to broaden the scope. I mean, we're in Yenit Ping, the biggest city in the world, but it's just not… enough.

Ever notice that if you put your hero in a spot of danger, just a little bit, it has a way of greatly increasing your story options?

We enter the scene with everything all hunky-dory, and we exit… rather differently, as if a wind had blown down all the jackstraws.  Let's see what our heroes (and villains) are going to do about it.