Tag Archives: novel

Echo of the High Kings Book Bomb Reminder

Just a quick reminder that the Echo of the High Kings book bomb will occur on the 11th of October. As part of this, I’m also doing a giveaway for those who buy the book and post a review (because I can’t tell who bought it otherwise) by the 15th of November.  I’ll randomly pick three of the reviewers as the winners. The three winners will receive either a signed paperback copy of Echo of the High Kings, an audiobook, or a spot in my next book.

In Eoriel, the High Kings are legend: rulers who once stood against the darkness and ruled the world for two thousand turns of peace and prosperity. In the long turns since their fall during the Sundering, Eoriel’s civilization has faded. Dark men and darker beings have torn down and destroyed the old works. While some have held out against the grind of history, other places have been reduced to primitive tribes of savages, worshiping dark spirits and demons as their gods. Yet a spark of hope remains. Some still believe in the old legends, some still fight to restore the old ways, and some will stand against the darkness, in an echo of the High Kings.

Get your copy of Echo of the High Kings here.

Independent Author’s Toolbag: Editing

If you’re an independent author like me, when you get to the point where you’ve finished your manuscript, you need to start editing. This really gives you three options: self editing, getting someone to help, or hiring a professional. Each of these has some positive and negative aspects, and I’ll do a rundown of my own experiences therein. I cannot overstate the importance of editing, both for formatting and for appearance. Nothing turns off readers faster than poor grammar and misspellings.

First off, self editing. Self Editing is just what it sounds like, going through your manuscript and doing a line edit for grammar, punctuation, and flow. Most of this is simple stuff, but sometimes, you may have to stop and look up specifics on how the mechanisms work and to make sure you’re using things correctly. There are a couple major issues with self editing. The first one is that you, as the author, are probably not the best person to do this. A tendency for most people is to see what they expect to see. What that means is when you look at something you wrote, you know what you wrote and therefore might miss a typo or will understand something that will be confusing for someone else. The second issue with self editing, especially if this is your only method of editing, is that without outside influence, issues with the flow or structure of your work will not receive outside attention. It is difficult to improve these kinds of problems when you may not even realize that they are there. In the positive, self editing allows you to improve your writing through discovering issues with word use and other bad habits. In addition, self editing is cheap. For those looking to save money, this is one place where that can serve as a trade-off. However, you may find you’ll have to do multiple series of edits to make sure you clean up your manuscript. There are a few tools to mitigate some of the issues and maximize the positives. The first is reading your text aloud as you go through. This will often allow you to notice issues with grammar and word choice. Why this works is complicated, but basically you use a different part of your brain when reading aloud. It’s also a great method to see if your dialog is wooden. Another method is, oddly enough, reading sections of your book in reverse order. Note, I don’t say read the sentence backwards, but start at the end and read paragraphs out of order. This disjoints the experience and allows your brain to focus on the individual sections rather than putting the whole into a story.

The second method is getting a friend or someone else to help out. Note, if your ‘someone’ is a professional editor, that’s a different can of worms which I’ll address later. This method is great if you have a friend or family member (or even a fan) who has a mind for nitpicking details. This method is good for a few reasons. First off, a fresh set of eyes may catch details that you would miss. Also, if the person finds some section confusing, then you probably need to go do some edits. It is also a great method for seeing if the story flows well and if it hooks the reader. If your friend can’t put it down and finishes it quickly, that’s a great sign. On the downsides this method is rarely foolproof. No matter how helpful the person might feel, this will probably not be their priority. You may have to wait weeks or even months for them to finish their review. Also, depending on their background, your friend may miss certain issues, especially the kind of things such a pacing and scene tones which can change a good book into a great book. Lastly, sometimes these kinds of arrangements can go sour or can strain a friendship. There are a couple of methods to improve your results in this style of editing your manuscript. The first is to take a step back and realize that any criticisms are not attacks on you… they’re attempts to help you improve your story. Unless of course, they are attacks on you, in which case you should politely tell your editor that their assistance is no longer required. The next method, is to be sure you find the right kind of help. Writing groups are good places for authors to network, and some authors are more than willing to exchange manuscripts. Editing someone else’s manuscript is also a great way to learn about your own writing issues and can give you a different perspective on the editing process.

The last method is to hire a professional editor. This is often a task that can seem daunting, but can have the biggest payoff. There are a number of freelance copyeditors and editors who will look your manuscript over for reasonable rates. The first issue here is cost. If you don’t have the money to pay an editor, then this probably won’t work out for you. However, I view this as an investment. Find a good editor and they are professionally inclined to clean up the issues… because it’s not just your work at that point… they put their professional name behind it as well. The other issue here is making certain you find the right editor. Talk with other independent authors. Many times they have experiences with various editors and can give you info on the ones they liked to work with.

Hopefully this helps you in editing your manuscript. Remember, editing is an investment (of time or money) to make your story better and more palatable to readers.

Writing Progress & Update

I thought it best that I update my readers (or at least those of you who check here for inf0) on my current work and progress.

Right now I’m done writing Renegades: A Murder of Crowes, the fifth novella in the series.  That will be posted singly.  I’m currently working on Lab Notes, a short story from Run the Chxor’s perspective.  That story, along with Runner, Fool’s Gold, XXX, and Refugee will be included with all five Renegades novellas into one omnibus called Renegades: Origins.  While I know that many people have already purchased some or all of the novellas, this will be your chance to get all five as well as five short stories, four of which are all new.

Once Renegades: Orgins is completed, I’ll go to work on my next project: The Shattered Empire.  The second book of the Shadow Space Chronicles follows the events of The Fallen Race.  It takes place a short time after the Third Battle of Faraday, and it covers Baron Giovanni and the UC taking the offensive, not just in a raid or battle over a minor world, but engaging the Chxor at vital systems and trying to turn the tide of the war.

While writing that, I’m going to try to balance attendence at various conventions, editing and releasing some of my other finished works, and plotting out the YA science fiction book I’ve been wanting to write.  So I’m pretty busy.

I’ve been asked where some of these series are going and whether there will be series.  As a short answer… yes and no.  The Renegades novellas are something I love writing, but to be honest, they don’t earn back nearly as much effort as I’ve put into them.  I’ll still write them and I plan that series to be a long-running one.  The Fallen Race has left some (very big) loose ends, which I plan to tie up in another two or three novels.  After that I’ve got another series planned that ties in, though it is set a few years later, with new characters and a new storyline.

I do have a few stand-alone books, both written and plotted.  The issue I face with that is as an independent author, there are some readers that I can’t reach without an estabilished series.  That said, I’m not the type to run a character through ten or even twenty books of action.  At a certain point an author runs the risk that the character’s arc is spent, either they’ve culminated and grown to the point that they can handle whatever follows or the story becomes repetitive.  Don’t get me wrong, some authors can do it, and do it brilliantly.  But that’s not where my current novels are headed.  Eventually Lucius Giovanni’s part in The Shadow Space Chronicles will come to an end.  I know who will take up the fight after him.  I know where the story will go from there.  But, it will be a different series, new characters, and a new story arc.

All that said, any comments or questions from me?  I don’t mind taking time to answer questions.  Also, I’ll be attending Starfest at Denver on 2-4 May, 2014, so if you have questions, want a book signed, or just want to talk, feel free to find me there!

Free Stuff: Preview from Echo of the High Kings, Part 3

A third installment from Echo of the High Kings.  The section covers a skirmish between Lady Katarina’s followers and some of Duke Hector’s men.

Aerion set his back against the tree and took a deep breath.  Through the trees, the squeal of pigs and the rumble of wagons carried.  He listened to that sound, and he waited.  For a moment, he remembered his home.  Aerion remembered Old Taggart’s voice, rough and low, filled with caution, as if every word were some precious coin to spend.  He remembered the smell of his mother’s apron, the scent of stew and bread, and of smoke from the wood fireplace in the inn. 

And then he remembered the fire, and the screams.

At that moment, a clear trumpet clarion sounded as Gerlin signaled the attack.

Aerion leaped from behind his tree, and immediately spotted the wagons, only thirty feet away.  He ran forward, hands clenched on the greatsword.  One of the guards on foot, raised a drawn bow, arrow pointed at Aerion.  The guard released just as Aerion stumbled.  Aerion felt the arrow’s fletching kiss his neck.

The guard reached for another arrow.  Aerion felt his world narrow, as everything but that guard and his bow vanished.  He felt his legs pump him forward.  His heart raced, a steady drumbeat that drowned all else out.  Aerion felt a cry of rage and fear open his mouth, but he couldn’t hear it, couldn’t hear anything.

The guard, knocked another arrow.  The mercenary seemed to move in slow motion.  He raised the bow, drew it back.

And then Aerion had closed the distance.  He swung the sword downward, all memory of his training lost, he swung the four foot blade like an axe.

The sword struck the mercenary between his right shoulder and his neck.  The blade chopped down through his simple leather armor, and a fountain of blood erupted.

Aerion stumbled back, spitting blood and suddenly sickened.  He had to tug hard, foot pressed against the corpse to pull his sword free.  Some motion sensed as much as seen caused him to turn.  He ducked under a spear thrust and caught the shaft just behind the barbed head.  Aerion pulled hard, and suddenly stood, face to face with a blonde bearded mercenary, his eyes wide, pupils dilated.

Aerion saw him release the spear, hands going for a dagger at his waist.  He brought the pommel of his sword up into his opponent’s face.   The mercenary stumbled back with a cry.

A shout made him turn, and he saw one of the Jasen on the ground, a brutish looking warrior above him with an axe.  Aerion lunged forward, sword extended.

The iron tip of his sword skidded off of the axeman’s chainmail.  Aerion continued his move and slammed his shoulder into the larger man’s back.  The axeman stumbled away, and Aerion stumbled back.

Another man, his face drawn in a rictus of hate, swung a sword at him.  Aerion brought up his sword to parry, and a shock went down his arm.  The beserk warrior swung again, and again Aerion blocked.  He kicked out, desperate to get some room to move, but his opponent caught the blow on his shield and continued his wild attack.

Again and again the madman battered at him, Aerion desperately swung his larger sword to block blow after blow.  He backed away, tried to gain some space, but his attacker didn’t slow his own pace, and continued to press him.

His feet caught on something.  Aerion fell back over a still body.  Aerion hit the hardpacked road on the flat of his back.  The impact drove all the air out of his lungs.  Aerion brought his sword up to block as his opponent swung a powerful overhand blow. 

The sword struck just inches above the crossguard with a sound like a hammer striking glass, the brittle iron of his sword snapped.

Aerion held the stump of his blade up in shock as the berserk warrior above him raised his own blade for the finishing blow.  Aerion kicked out hard.  His leg struck his attacker’s knee, which bent backwards with a horrific crackle.

The warrior dropped with a scream, and Aerion stood, still clutching the stump of a sword.  The beserker still swung his sword at Aerion.  He crawled towards him, maimed leg dragging.  Aerion saw Jasen, a bloody gash down the side of his face, drive a spear down into the beserker from behind.

“Grab his sword, boy!” Jasen shouted.  He pointed over Aerion’s shoulder.  “There’s more of them, ancestors know where they came from, but they’re attacking lady Katarina!”

Aerion felt a jolt of ice water pump through his veins.  He looked over, just in time to see eight horsemen push through a cluster of fighting.

He saw her then.  She stood in the middle of the road, only twenty feet away.  She had her sword in her left hand, something else in her right.  She looked like a scene from a story.  She stood like a savage warrior princess, her dark hair back in a braid, her chain shirt spattered with blood.

Aerion blindly reached down.  His fingers found the hilt of the sword that had nearly taken his life.  He charged forward.  Jasen had already run ahead, but Aerion’s longer legs easily outpaced him.

He sprinted past Lady Katarina, just as she raised her right hand.  He heard her shout something as he raced past.  He couldn’t hear her words over the roaring in his ears and his own labored breathing.

One of the horsemen reared before him, and swung down with a blade.

Aerion ducked under the horse’s head, then thrust up on the horseman’s left side.  He felt the lighter blade skitter off the horseman’s greaves, then catch and plunge up under his breastplate.

The horseman sagged, just as the frightened horse sidestepped.

Aerion jerked the blade free and turned, just in time to see two more behind him.  Time slowed again as he saw the nearest had his hammer raised, about to descend upon Aerion.  Aerion tried to force his body to move out of the path, but he didn’t have time.

He heard Lady Katarina shout something, her high, clear voice cut through the shouts and screams.

Aerion watched the hammer descend, saw his death in that swing, with no time to move out of the way or block it.

Then the world flared white.

Oddball SF/F: Cyberpunk

I was reading through various forums when I came across an interesting question… what is Cyberpunk.  Cyberpunk is a subgenre of Science Fiction and Fantasy that tends to be very singular, though in today’s markets, blending of Cyberpunk with other genres has occured.  As a subgenre of science fiction, it tends to be defined by a near-future semi-dystopian world, often with post-modern aesthetics.  The characters tend to be outcasts from society, often renegades, who are often antiheroes.  The latter is the ‘punk’ part, the main characters are often societal rejects, often by choice, who have rejected the system, much like Punk Rock.

Cyberpunk is odd because it often takes an anti-technology standpoint, almost to the point of suggesting that certain technology is inherently too dangerous.  Cyberpunk often utilizes cybernetic implants, hacking, cloning, and genetic engineering, all items that our society has serious ethical questions.  Most cyberpunk stories show deliberate missuses of these technologies, often by the companies or countries which should (in theory) protect their employees or citizens from such misuse.  Cyberpunk stories are often very dark, with characters who struggle for survival rather than to effect any real changes in society or the world at large.  An important theme to much of cyberpunk is the ethical delimmas posed by technology, and cyberpunk authors are sometimes unique in science fiction for questioning the advance of technology.

William Gibson is often considered the defining author of cyberpunk.  Many of Phillip K. Dick’s novels and short stories (to include a lot of them which have been made into movies such as Blade Runner and Minority Report) are very similar in themes and setting to standard cyberpunk.