Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Shadow's Lure Nominated

Hey folks,

Shadow's Lure has been nominated for this year's David Gemmell Award. Anyone can vote (just takes a mouse click), so please check out the site.

http://www.gemmellaward.com/page/the-legend-award

Only the Best Top 5 Pick

Hey gang,

Shadow's Lure nabbed a spot on the Top 5 of 2011 list on Only the Best.

The monkey approves.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I'm Still Here!

Sorry, gang. I know I haven't been posting much here of late, but it's not because I don't love you. I've just been up to my ass in work and chores and stuff.

Work on the house goes well. The kitchen remodel is almost done. Just need to have the tile backsplash completed this week, and then some painting (yay, more work for me), then done.

Oh, and Jenny and I just got our first cell phones. I held out 41 years before I caved in. But now I'll be able to call her more easily when I'm out on the road at cons and such.

Also, I will be a mentor at Seton Hill University starting in January as part of their genre writing program. I'm very excited about that, because I'm curious to see if I can pass along the skills I've learned.

Work on the new series progresses, more or less. I seem to be spending as much time revising my outlines and notes as I do actually writing. Maybe I'm over-thinking the project, but the ideas just keep flowing. (Which is better than the opposite.)

Well, I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday. Don't forget to buy lots of copies of Shadow's Son and Shadow's Lure to stuff those stockings! :)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Shadow's Son Chugging On

Hey gang,

I see that Shadow's Son just crossed the "300 ratings" milestone on Goodreads. Even better, it's managed to keep a 3.5-star average. Thanks to everyone who has read it, and to those who took the time to rate/review it.

In other Shadow news, I just finished the copyedits for Shadow's Master and sent it back to the publisher. Still hoping we'll see it on the shelves in early-to-mid spring 2012.

Friday, November 25, 2011

November Update

Hey sports fans,

Well, I've officially begun my new series. The outlining is (mostly) done, and this week I started actually writing. And it feels great. I admit I'm a little rusty. It took me all week to put out 2k words, which is slow (for me), but I'm getting back into the rhythm. And things should pick up next week.

Also, Shadow's Master (book 3 of the Shadow Saga) is going through the various publication hoops. It's with the copyeditor now, I believe. When she's done, I'll get it back for corrections, and then I probably won't see it again until I get my author's copies, sometime next spring.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Peace.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ay Caramba!

Just received a few copies of the Spanish version of Shadow's Son. With a nice quote from Charlaine Harris on the cover! Me gusto!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Book Signing

I'll be signing copies of SHADOW'S SON and SHADOW'S LURE at the Camp Hill, PA Barnes & Noble this Saturday (Oct. 22) at 1 pm.

Come say hello.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Shadow's Son Discussion

Hey folks,

My first book, Shadow's Son, is one of the books being discussed this month at the SciFi and Fantasy Book Club on Goodreads. Come by if you have the inclination and share your thoughts with other readers, and me.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

New Things

A blog is a dangerous thing.

Back in the old, old days, whenever I started a new writing project I would sequester myself in my den, working feverishly by the dim light of my computer monitor, completely alone. It would be months before even my wife (always my first reader) saw any of the fruits of this labor, and then months (or years) more before the outside world got a taste.

Now, it's so tempting to just spew my burgeoning ideas into the ethers of the Net. But I will resist.

What I can say is that I love the process of creation. When it comes to writing, I'm a planner. I want to know everything before I commit to actual writing: the setting, the characters, the story. But most of all, I want to know the Big Answer-- what is this book (or series) going to be about?

For my next series (I mentioned it was going to be a series, didn't I?) I have the Big Answer. Or I should say I have My answer, because when you read these books you might have very different ideas about them. And that's healthy for both of us.

So enough about my crazy ideas. For you writers out there, what do you need to know before you start writing a new story?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Shadow's Lure On Kindle

Hey folks,

You can now get Shadow's Lure on your Kindle.
Or in the U.K..

Yay!!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Third Book Submitted

It is with a tired sigh that I announce the manuscript for Shadow's Master has been officially submitted to my publisher. The last twelve months have been both a labor of love and a long trek through the writing wilderness, but I can say without hesitation that I'm very proud of the final product.

I hope you will enjoy it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Revising Shadow's Master

I'm a good way through revisions for my third book (yay). I'm hoping to have it all wrapped up in short order and send it along to the proper authorities.

As always, revisions are a bittersweet experience for me. You hope you're making the right changes, and not missing any vital problems. At the same time, you are altering the fabric of your universe with every keystroke.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Conan the Wasted Opportunity

I want to preface this by saying that I respect everyone in the creative movie-making industry. I know what it takes to create something out of nothing. And everyone’s a critic, right? But having said that . . .

The new Conan the Barbarian movie made me a very sad panda.

I’m a long-time Robert E. Howard fan. (Note: If you don’t know who R.E. Howard is, please RUN to your local library or bookstore and look him up.) In fact, the Conan series is one of my all-time favorites. I’ve read them in book form (they were originally a pulp serial) at least twenty times. So when I heard about the new movie, I was initially excited. Then I saw the first trailer, and my stomach dropped. It looked like something from 1983, but I held out hope that my eyes were deceiving me.

Well, I finally went to see the film this week. It wasn’t a complete train wreck. There were some redeeming elements.

The good:

Jason Momoa. Jason has the look, especially that dead-eyed stare he does, that makes me think he could be Conan. He’s leaner than Arnold was, but very agile and he has a panther-like way of moving that really evokes the idea of a Cimmerian.

The opening sequence: Conan as a boy. They found a miniature Jason Momoa, and he was great. Had the same look, the same stare, the same dangerous agility. Although I thought having boy-Conan kill five warriors single-handedly was a bit over the top, I liked the vibe. And Ron Perlman as Conan’s father was brilliant. If the entire movie had been this good, I would be raving.


The bad:

The story: I’ve heard this script had like a dozen writers. Well, it looked as if they all wrote their ideas on napkins, taped them to a wall, and let darts decide the storyline. For most of the movie the pacing was literally: action scene – 3-second transition shot – action scene – 3-second transitions scene – action scene. After the initial sequence, Conan grows up and falls into a predictable sword-and-sorcery plot. Just borrowing from Howard’s books, I could name a dozen better plots than the generic one they used. I hate it when Hollywood thinks it knows better than authors. If you’re going to use the name Conan, why in the hell wouldn’t you use the stories that the fans already love?

Set Design and Props: Everything looked fake, like it had been made the night before. There was no majesty to the landscape shots and piss-poor detailing on the close-ups. The weapons appeared to be made from paper mache. The armor was unconvincing. Here is where the producers should have taken a page from Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings. Instead, they skimped, and it showed.

Jason Momoa. As good as he looked in the action scenes, everything else was wrong. I cringed every time he opened his mouth. He sounded more like a surfer from southern California than a barbarian warrior. It just jarred me out of the experience. I don’t really blame Jason for this, because all this was easily correctable if anyone competent had given him some direction.


Some people have defended this movie as being more like Howard’s books than the Schwarzenegger film. Perhaps in some ways, but the older movie had a sense of grandeur that this reboot just failed to capture. Take it from a sword-and-sorcery author: if you’re going to follow a predictable story, you need to polish it until it fucking glows. This movie didn’t do that. It relied on Conan fans to plunk down their money and shut off their sensibilities. And that is why it failed.

What a waste.

(P.S. – Dear Hollywood, you need a bullshit-detector to keep you from fucking up movies like this. Give me a call.)

(P.P.S. -- Dear Jason Momoa, keep your head up, kid. You've got more swagger than 90% of today's action stars. Team up with a good director and you'll shine.)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

DragonCon 2011




After three days of awesomeness in Atlanta, I must declare that DragonCon is the best scifi/fantasy/costume party on the planet.

The Pyr Books booth was bigger than last year, and many of the authors spent significant time there. And rather than feeling lost in the shuffle, it felt like coming home to my second family. We had fun selling each other’s books, kidding each other, and getting sloshed together.

There are a lot of people I need to thank for the great time I had.

First off, thanks to Lou Anders, editor and art director at Pyr Books, who convinced me to come again this year. Over the past couple years, Lou has become a good friend. Hanging out with him is a special experience.

Big thanks to the Pyr staff—Jill, Rene, Lynn, and Gabrielle—for kicking ass and taking names (Money-takers!). When you work with your publishing staff in a professional setting, you expect them to be knowledgeable and helpful, but you don’t expect to get choked up saying goodbye. A year is too long to wait to see you good people again.

My fellow authors who helped to man the Pyr booth, including Sam Sykes, Andrew Mayer, Erin Hoffman, Ari Marmell, Susan and Clay Griffith, and James Enge. This is a special bunch of people. I encourage you to buy everything they write.

Joshua Bilmes at the JABberwocky Literary Agency for helping me get a professional invite to the convention. It made me feel like a minor celebrity.

The fans. For me, there are things more thrilling than to meet someone who has read (and hopefully, enjoyed) my books. You guys are the best.


Some very cool things happened to me this convention. First, we sold out of copies of my Shadow’s Son, and also Sam’s Tome of the Undergates and Andrew’s The Falling Machine.

Second, I had drinks with Brent Weeks, the best-selling author and widely-acknowledged king of fantasy assassin fiction. And when he told me that he’d read my book (and liked it!), I was floored. Then he came to the booth the next day with his lovely wife and bought a copy of Shadow’s Lure. As you might imagine, my hand was shaking a little as I signed it for him. Let it be shouted wide and far that Mr. Weeks is a Class Act of the first order.

Then I got an invite to the exclusive reading of Susan and Clay’s The Greyfriar by none other than James Marsters, who played Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Not only did James give a terrific reading, he signed a copy of the sequel book, The Rift Walker, for my wife. And I almost got him to call Jenny on a cell phone, which would have blown her frigging mind, but he had to run to a dinner engagement after the signing. Oh well. It was still pretty cool to shake his hand and chat for a moment.

If that wasn’t enough, I met Laurell K. Hamilton, author of the Anita Blake series, and her husband. Got to hang out at their booth a little and swap stories. Both are very nice people, and I know Jenny will treasure the book they signed for her.


The last night of the con was a little surreal. As some of the staff and authors at Pyr got dinner, and then sat in the bar drinking, there was a feeling among us that we didn’t want this experience to end. Like it had all gone by too fast. Finally, too tired to stay awake, we stumbled back to our hotel rooms, and I prepared myself to re-enter the real world.


If you ever get the chance, go see DragonCon at least once. If you’re like me, you’ll be hooked by the costumes and celebrities, by the dealers’ rooms filled to capacity with all sorts of scifi/fantasy paraphernalia, and by the great people you’ll meet. My only regret was not being able to take my wife along. Maybe next year.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

DragonCon Schedule

Hey Sports Fans,

Here's a glimpse of my official events for DragonCon this coming weekend. Beyond these, I will often be found at the Pyr Books booth making a nuissance of myself.

Friday 10 pm -- Panel: Fightin' and Writin' (Manilla/Honk Kong/Singapore room)

Saturday 12 noon -- Book signing (709/711 Marquis Ballroom, Marriott)

Sunday 12 noon -- Book signing (709/711 Marquis Ballroom, Marriott)
Sunday 2:30 pm -- Panel: Pyr Books (Greenbriar, Hyatt)






Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Meet Heidi Ruby Miller


Today we have lured author-editor Heidi Ruby Miller into our lair for a Q&A session about all things literary. Heidi is the author of the novel Ambasadora and the co-editor of Many Genres, One Craft with Michael Arnzen. She also teaches classes in creative writing at Seton Hill University.


Tell us about Ambasadora. Is this a book you’ve been working on for a long time?

Six years! Ambasadora started as my thesis novel for Seton Hill's Writing Popular Fiction graduate program back in 2005 and has undergone so many rewrites that some of my early readers might not recognize it at this point. Good friend and fellow writer, Mike Arnzen, told us that the book we choose to write for our thesis will probably be the most scrutinized piece of writing that we will produce during our entire career. If you read my acknowledgments section, you'll see he was absolutely correct. And as more reviews come in, it continues to be.

Though it's a niche market (SF Romance), I've been surprised to hear from readers who don't usually read SF, but picked up the book on recommendation and ended up being able to relate to the characters and the world. That's a huge compliment to me.


Is there going to be a sequel?

Fragger (Book 2 of the Ambasadora series) is scheduled to come out at the beginning of December 2011.


Do you prefer short stories or novels?

I read and write both, but prefer novels.


As a teacher, what advice do you give your students who aspire to write science fiction?

Write the type of SF you want to write—don't write to market. My novels deal more with the social sciences rather than hard science, plus are centered around relationships. I heard from many SF insiders that there wasn't a readership for that kind of SF, yet I've found one, mostly women like me who want stories where the relationship is just as important as the adventure (to quote my own tagline!).


Who and what are the biggest influences to your fiction?

Pop culture! Books, movies, video games, TV, graphic novels, music, fashion, even social media. I devour the everyday art around me. In return, it awes and inspires me.


What was the idea behind Many Genres, One Craft?

When Mike Arnzen, the Chair of Humanities at Seton Hill, mentioned putting together a comprehensive writing guide based on the WPF program, I loved the idea. The Seton Hill group is such a wonderful writing community, spanning ten years with hundreds of members. What better pool of authors to share advice about the craft and industry specific to genre fiction.


Was it strange editing other writers? Or was it an easy transition?

Since my first critique workshop at Seton Hill, my life has been non-stop editing—both other people's work and my own. I will admit feeling intimidated initially with some of the heavy hitters who contributed articles to Many Genres. We have Tess Gerritsen, David Morrell, Nancy Kress, Susan Mallery, and Tom Monteleone, to name a few. But everyone was so professional and wanted to make this the best genre writing book out there, so the process went smoothly and ended up being very exciting. I thank Mike Arnzen for that!


What are you reading at the moment?

I'm at OBX as I'm responding to this interview, so I guess you could call these my beach reads: Seduce Me in Flames by Jacquelyn Frank, Double Crossing by Meg Mims, Never Regret Tomorrow by G. Paul Gondin, Flying Fish by Randall Silvis. I'm an eclectic reader.


What is your next project?

I'm finishing a novella titled Greenshift, which is part of the Ambasadora-verse. Because I spent years world-building, my universe is so expansive that it lends itself to multiple stories on multiple timelines. This first shorter work (40,000 words) follows David and Mari, two secondary characters from Ambasadora, on an adventure that is more sensual in nature, but still SF-friendly. In other words, there will be more sex mixed in with the spaceships and ray guns.


LINKS:
Heidi Ruby Miller – http://heidirubymiller.blogspot.com
Heidi on Twitter - http://twitter.com/heidirubymiller
Heidi on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/heidirubymillerauthor
Heidi on Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/heidirubymiller
Many Genres – http://manygenres.blogspot.com

Ambasadora at Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004ZR9WOY
Ambasadora at Smashwords – http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/55171
Ambasadora at Barnes 'n Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ambasadora-heidi-ruby-miller/1031305214

Many Genres, One Craft at Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/dp/0938467085
Many Genres, One Craft at Barnes 'n Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/many-genres-one-craft-michael-arnzen/1100760927

Thanks, Heidi!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Book Reviews

Some writers get bummed out (and even angry) when their books get a negative review. I'm just happy someone took the time to read it.

I think most reviewers give books a fair shake. We might not always agree, but you're never going to please everyone.

This isn't in response to any review of my work, just my philosophy on the matter.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rocking Out in Hershey

My wife treated me to a concert in nearby Hershey last night. After dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant, we got into the arena a little late (thanks to the f***ed-up parking system used by Hersheypark), so we missed about half of Night Ranger's 30-minute set.

We were a little bummed, but then Foreigner came out and lit the place on fire. I was a bit of a fan back in the day, but I'd never seen them in concert. Wow. If you get the chance, go see them. They are getting rather old, it's true, but they still put on one hell of a great show. Very passionate about their music and it shows.

The main event was Journey, which Jenny and I had seen three times previously. We both love the music, but I'm sorry. At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man, Steve Perry is Journey. New frontman Arnel Pineda has a nice voice and is improving his stage presence, but he just doesn't possess Perry's soulful power.

Anyway, it was an enchanting evening. The rain stayed away, and I had my best girl with me. Rock on.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Frustrated Muse

We are honored today to have Michael Sullivan, author of The Riyria Revelations series and all-around swell guy. (Check out his website.)


I know, the title of this sounds a bit like the name of someone’s poetry blog, or perhaps a novel about an artist obsessed with a woman he had seen briefly in a crowd. Actually, it’s the answer to a question that I’m frequently asked.

I suspect a lot of authors get this question in interviews or while at conventions and signings. It’s one that stumped me for a while—one that took far more time to figure out than I expected. It seems like a very simple inquiry, but those are often the hardest to answer. Why do people laugh? How high is up? This question follows in those traditions, but unlike ones that suggest a need for specialized education or research to attempt an answer, this question appears to be one I should know immediately. It is a question more like: what’s your favorite color? The question is deceptively complex, and I saw it as a potential trap until recently when I finally landed on a satisfactory answer. What I came up may not be the answer, it’s just mine. So what’s the question?

Where do you get your ideas from?

The tricky part is that the question isn’t where did you get this idea from, that would be hard enough, but what it’s asking is where do all your ideas stem from. The real answer is, “I don’t know. It just sort of came to me.”

I mean, why did I decide on pizza for lunch? Why did I wear the blue shirt rather than the green one today? And why is there no emote for shrug? These are impossible questions, but while no one really cares why I ate pizza, except maybe the pizzeria’s marketing department, and few are interested in my shirt color, where my ideas as an author come from are clearly a hot topic.
The answer, while mildly interesting to readers trying to get a better understand of their author, is taken more seriously by aspiring writers. They may consider this a well that they might like to find and dip their cup in, I guess. I mention this because the follow-up question is usually: how do you deal with writer’s block or a lack of ideas?

I think those asking the question make a fair number of assumptions. Romance novelists are hopeless romantics who never found true love. Science fiction authors wished they could be astronauts. One has to ask, if such a theory holds true, what would that make H.P Lovecraft or Poe? People like to get at the truth. They like to figure out the mechanics behind the magic trick. How is it done? What caused it? Can it be duplicated? My conclusion is that sometimes what appears to be magic, really is magic. Maybe one day scientists will figure out the workings of the human brain enough to explain the creation of an idea by some mathematical formula, but for now there is no explanation other than magic—or as I call it: A Frustrated Muse.

A muse is a goddess in Greek mythology who inspires creation. Daemons are similar, although less grandiose than muses. While still Greek, they are more popular in Roman culture. But both the concepts are the same—something other than the artist provides the idea, the spark, or since this is the modern era, the light bulb. In his recent book Incognito, David Eagleman suggests it’s our own sub-conscious. So whichever way you look at it, the idea appears to come out of nowhere.
I’m sure this is not the answer that people want, particularly those trying to replicate the process. So how do you find a muse or rouse your sub-conscious? As it turns out, this is easier than you might think.

You piss them off.

When I was trying to get published, I knew that the best chance I would have is if I could get my wife to help. Being a high school valedictorian with a degree in engineering, who went from a grunt programmer to president of a software company in four short years, you can see she tips the over-achiever scales and has a good mind for business. I knew if I asked her to help she might resist, or put out a half-hearted effort. After all she is a busy person and has other things to do. Knowing her as I do, I also figured that if I made an intentionally pathetic attempt she would be appalled, shove me aside, and demonstrate how to do it right. My theory worked and today I am a published author as a result.

Just imagine yourself watching someone struggle with a problem that you find simplistic or second-nature. Desires to demonstrate your skill, irritation at watching them fail, or compassion at their frustrations will eventfully motivate you to take action. I think the same principal comes into play with those muses and daemons. When you write, she is forced to sit by, looking over your shoulder, watching you screw up again and again. It’s got to be frustrating. You can almost imagine her doing repeated facepalms, shaking her head, or muttering obscenities under her breath. The words moron and hopeless may slip out. You hear them, not audibly of course but inside your mind, and it makes you want to give up. Most do. The true basket-cases ignore the insults and keep pressing keys. You keep struggling to create interesting characters, landscapes, and emotionally compelling plots…and keep failing.

Unbeknownst to you, you are also torturing your muse. Stop it! she cries, but you press on because you can’t stop. You’re a writer, even if no one cares, even if everything you put out is contrived, weak, clich├ęd and utterly hopeless, it’s who you are, and you can’t stop trying anymore than you can stop breathing. Try holding your breath—you’ll just pass out and start breathing again. Muses try to inspire you to use a plastic bag and a rubber band next time, only it doesn’t work. You just keep writing—badly. Copying others, imitating styles, you’re foolishly mired in being a mirror.

Then, one day the muse just can’t take it anymore. Uncle! You hear the faint whimper. She just has to make the pain stop. The endless parade of ghastly words must be fought. And if you won’t give up, then she will.

Here. An idea flares.

In mid-sentence your typing pauses, stunned. Whoa. That’s good! Fingers race. Words pour. It is as if someone is whispering in your ear. The whispering stops. You trail off, staring at the wall.

Oh for heaven sake! Really? You can’t take it from there?

More whispering and the words come again. When you’re done you’re breathless, exhausted and have no idea of the time. What just happened? How did you do that? Will you ever be able to do it again?

The next time you write the words don’t flow and you’re stuck again. Despair grips you. Eventually you just start typing miserably again. Whatever it was that you had has been lost. You’re hopeless again. The magic must have been just a fluke. But you’ve broken the will of your muse. She tries to resist, but each time you hammer away it takes less to frustrate them into helping. Her fight is gone, and they relent faster and with more frequency. The more you write, the less she resists. If you take a vacation, you let your muse rest. You give her time to recover and the next time you write she has the strength to rebel. Writer’s block can be as simple as letting a muse catch her breath.

This is why writers are encouraged to write every day. This is why even if you don’t know what to write, you just start typing until it comes to you. This is why muses and daemons hate NaNoWrMo.

Whether it is a muse, a daemon, or your sub-conscious, ideas come from frustration, from the need to do something the “right” way, or say what isn’t being said. This is the heart of passion, the drive of desire that gives birth to that spark, that light bulb—that idea that will prompt others to come to you one day and ask: where do you get your ideas from?

At this point, the weary head of the battered and beaten muse will lift with anticipation of recognition and listen carefully, and you will say…“I don’t know. It just sort of came to me.”

Touching Base

Hey sports fans,

Just popping in to hi. Sorry I haven't been blogging much these past couple weeks, but I've been juggling a lot of plates. The big one, of course, is finishing revisions on book 3, Shadow's Master. That, finally, is nearing the end. Soon I'll be letting my beta-readers see it, incorporating their feedback, and then sending the manuscript on its merry way to the publisher.

Also, we're in the process of looking for another house, so that is taking up a certain amount of time and brain-power.

I don't have anything juicy to report, except that I'm working hard to deliver a good book for you. Thanks.

Oh! And we have a guest blogger today. Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Confluence 2011


This weekend was my first time at Confluence, a small-but-mighty SFF convention held in Pittsburgh, PA, but I've vowed to return next year and for the foreseeable future. The answer why is simple: Confluence has a powerful sense of community. At most conventions, the organizers are nebulous figures scarcely glimpsed in the background as they hurry from place to place. At Confluence I ran into the Kevin Hayes and Karen Yun-Lutz several times, and they both made time to just shoot the breeze with me.

The authors invited are very approachable. This year's Guest of Honor was the uber-SF writer Robert J. Sawyer, who was as personable and friendly as he is accomplished (and that's saying something).

I did three panels, a book signing, and a reading, and I think I made a good showing at them all. Still not used to reading out loud in public, but I'm slowly getting more comofortable.

If you live anywhere close to PA, I suggest living Confluence a look next year.

Monday, July 18, 2011

UK Version of Lure

I got a special delivery from the U.K. today. Copies of Shadow's Lure (in both paperback and hardcover) fresh off the press!

Thank you to the fine people at Gollancz.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Bricks and Mortar

Hey folks,

Just wanted to talk about bookstores, the real ones you can walk into and browse without a monitor or a mouse (we hope). I've loved going to my local bookstores since as long as I can remember. I like to walk through the aisles and see all the cover art, pick up the books and read the back cover. To me, that is book buying.

I understand we live in a new age where it's easier to shop online, and I don't begrudge anyone that convenience. But if you're a reader--a true lover of books--you need to consider what life would be like if our physical bookstores closed down. Sure, you could still find the works of your favorite big-name authors online, but what about the new voices just emerging? Can you trust web browsers to pick out the next GRR Martin, Joe Abercrombie, or Stephen King?

And for authors, book stores represent a great way to connect with our readers. It's a little difficult to do a book signing online.

Just something to think about the next time you're looking for a book.

My new book, Shadow's Lure, can be found at Barnes & Noble, Borders, Aaron's Books (Lititz, PA), Between Books (Claymont, DE), and other fine bookstores.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Progress Report

Hey gang,

Now that Shadow's Lure is out, I am splitting my time between promotion and working on the third book. You can check my website (www.jonsprunk.com) for a list of places I'll be visiting.

Progress on book 3 is going well. The writing went very smoothly, but now I'm up to my ass in revisions. The way things are shaping up, I don't think I'll have a problem making my September deadline, but there is a ton of work to do before then, much moreso than with the first two books in the series. Anyway, it's a labor of love.

--Jon

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Blog Problems et al.

Hey gang,

Blogspot isn't let me make comments, so don't think I'm ignoring you.

I've been asked about an ebook version of Shadow's Lure. I haven't been given a firm date, but based on my experience with the first book I'd venture to say it will be on Kindle before the end of the summer. As for other e-platforms, it's being worked on. I'll let you know when I know.

Thanks again.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lure out in Stores

Hey folks,

At long last, Shadow's Lure is out in stores. I took this photo in my local Borders. As you can see, they also have a few copies of Son.

I hope you enjoy the sequel as much I loved writing it. I'm working hard on book three.


--Jon

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Guest Post and Podcast

Hey folks,

Here's the link to a guest post I wrote for the SF Signal website. It features the two maps to be found in Shadow's Lure.

And here is the link to my podcast interview with John Anealio on the Functional Nerds site.

Enjoy!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Interview with Eddie Schneider

Today we're proud to have Eddie Schneider, agent at the JABberwocky Literary Agency, to answer some questions about the Biz.


How did you become an agent? Was that always what you wanted to do?

It all started, one peyote-fueled night in the desert...

Really, I moved to NYC with the vague notion I might want to be an editor, and got an internship at another literary agency, which quickly divested me of that notion. Agents can have more leeway to work on their hearts' desire than editors, and as I read pretty widely, that appealed to me.


Take us through a typical day in the life of a New York agent.

A typical day starts with a meticulously laid plan, which is tied up neatly in a bow and then tossed out the window. Inevitably we wind up working on surprises that come up, which can occupy more time than they ought. But isn't every job like that?

More specifically, during the day, an agent might: Negotiate a contract; nag a publisher on an overdue payment or correct a royalty statement that has been subject to creative accounting; discuss changes to the title/cover of a forthcoming book; box up twenty pounds of books to ship to subagents in Germany or Thailand; curse at the foolishness of the latest publisher to reject a book they would pay $100,000 for, if they had any sense. Then after business hours, on weekends and holidays, we get to work on the fun stuff: Reading, editing, looking for new clients.


What makes a manuscript stand out to you? And what can authors do to improve their chances of impressing an agent?

What makes a manuscript stand out most to me are two things. The quality of the writing (#1), and the ability of the storyteller to immerse me (#2).

The second part is easy. Write well, and we'll be impressed.

The problem, of course, is getting from a place where you have the burning desire to write a book, to actually being good at it. It's like playing football in that regard. Lots of kids grow up wanting to be a pro quarterback or a linebacker, but a tiny fraction make it to the NFL.

Those that do, make it because they worked harder than anybody else they went to school with, followed that up by working harder than anybody else they went to college with, and followed that up by working harder than the other rookies in training camp.

As Jon mentioned in an earlier blog post, it's a huge help to have a writing group. To keep this metaphor going, having someone else who knows what they're doing look at your writing is like sitting down with the quarterbacks coach and going over game tape. You'll learn a lot, which you can apply to your next performance.

Work hard, keep trying to improve your game, and you'll give yourself the best possible shot at being a professional author. No one's going to just give you that QB slot, or that publishing contract, just because you have heart.


What is the usual process for presenting manuscripts to editors? Are those stories of three-hour work lunches really true?

These days, we usually e-mail them after talking with editors. Changing over to e-mail from physical manuscripts wasn't good for the bicycle messenger industry, but it was for the environment.

As for those lunches. If only the urban legends of the three-martini lunch were true! We do have lunches, and they can sometimes run long, but it would be rare for one to go on for three hours. Both editors and agents' lives are too hectic for that, at least in the US.


Are you actively seeking new clients? And what kinds of books are you looking to represent?

Yes! I'm looking for YA and adult fiction, specifically sf, fantasy, and literary fiction. I'm also looking for science, history, and narrative nonfiction. For more detail, visit http://awfulagent.com/agents.

Our submission guidelines are here: http://awfulagent.com/submissions-2

Please note that the agency has re-opened to submissions, so don't be shy.
---------------------------------------------------------------------

Thank you, Eddie. If you folks have any additional questions for him, post them in the comments and I'll bug him for an answer.

--Jon

Saturday, June 4, 2011

ARC Winner

Congratulations to Jeff Timmers of Denver, Colorado -- our winner in the ARC giveaway contest.

And thank you to everyone who entered. I received a much bigger response than anticipated, which makes me think I'll have to do this again for the next book.

Enjoy, Jeff!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Guest Post by Lucienne Diver


Lucienne Diver is a super-star agent and writer. We're honored that she stopped by today.

How Novels are like Children
- You give birth to the idea. It’s shiny and new, so beautiful you can’t look away.
- You’re responsible for its nurturing and development. Without your time, attention, love and support it will never reach maturity.
- Inevitably, there will be crap. You clean all that away when you revise, rewrite, polish .
- It hurts like h-e-double-hockey-sticks when someone criticizes your baby.
- Any accolades are a source of immense pride.
- Your baby will have other influences, like educators who come in the form of teachers, critique partners, agents and editors.
- No matter what your plans are for them, they’re likely to frustrate you by going off in unanticipated directions.
- Ultimately, you get very little say in what they wear (wardrobe/cover—same difference).
- Eventually, you have to let your child off into the world and to succeed or fail on his or her own. In book terms, this is called the submission process.

How Novels are Different than Children
-They won’t hit you up for college funds, though networking at conventions, hiring a publicist, etc. may cost you just as much.
-They won’t move back in with you. Oh, wait…that’s called rights reversion.
-Unlike children, you can get them to open up to you anytime. And you can read them like—look at that!—a book.
-They’re much more translatable—French, Polish, Hungarian, as opposed to text and teen speak. (OMG, BFF, LMAO.)
-They’re easier to keep track of. You can put them on a shelf and they’ll stay there. Authorities tend to frown on that when you do it with children. (Have to give my husband credit for this one.)

Of course, novels also won’t cuddle up to you, melt your heart, give you bouquets of weeds and call them flowers, and make you watch really bad movies, like Transformers 2. But a new release is every bit as nerve-wracking as sending your child off to school for the first time. You can’t be there to protect him from teasing and other forms of torment. You can’t hold his hand, explain, apologize, or otherwise ease the way. You have to let go. And never let them see you panic.

My new baby? Bad Blood, a novel of Latter-Day Olympians (urban fantasy).
Due date? Digitally - June 28, 2011, print in 2012 from Samhain Publishing
Siblings? Vamped and Revamped (young adult vampire series) from Flux Books

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Balticon Wrap-Up

This past weekend was my first Balticon (in Baltimore, MD). I had a blast. It's very much a writers and readers convention, with some big names and plenty of smaller, regional authors like yours truly.

Everyone was very friendly, as if usual for a SF/F con. One of my agents, Joshua Bilmes, was also there, and it was great to soak up some free meals from him. I also met Elizabeth Moon for the first time. She's much friendlier than you'd think a big-time author would be.

Also there was Myke Cole, who shares an agent with me, and who's debut novel, Control Point, comes out next February. Myke is a great talent, and we had several great conversations.

If you live in the region, you should really check out this con.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Shadow's Lure is Here

Looks like some stores are receiving copies of Shadow's Lure.

This is the sequel to Shadow's Son, continuing the story of Caim the Knife and his ethereal friend, Kit.

"Searching for the truth behind the murder and disappearance of his parents, Caim discovers a land in thrall to the Shadow. But there are some things a son of the Shadow cannot ignore, and some fights from which he can’t run. In this battle, all of Caim’s strength and skill won’t be enough. For none can resist the Shadow’s Lure."

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Win an ARC!

I have one advanced reading copy of my new book, Shadow's Lure, to give away. Unfortunately it won't be signed (because it's coming straight from the publisher), but them's the breaks.

Just email me at messages@jonsprunk.com before midnight on June 3rd to enter the giveaway contest. I will draw the winner on June 4th. Good luck.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Meet Lou Anders


Lou Anders is both the Editorial Director and the Art Director for Pyr Books, which means he's a god in the fantasy world. (Or at least a demigod.) It also means he's busier than any one person has a right to be, so we're very honored that he took the time to sit down and answer some tough questions from Yours Truly.


Tell us a little about yourself. How did you become the Editorial Director at Pyr Books, and what exactly do you do?

Well, my background was in theatre (London and Chicago), journalism and screenwriting (Los Angeles), and dot com startups (San Francisco), before I started working in 2001 as a freelance anthologist. In 2004, Prometheus Books hired me to help them build a science fiction and fantasy list and here, seven years later this March, we are. As to what I do—that’s a complex question and a long answer. As Editorial Director, I’m both acquisition’s editor and art director, and sort of a “buck stops here” on a lot of other aspects of book production. I would try to summarize by saying I select all manuscripts (with the aid of my editorial assistant and slush reader), edit the manuscripts (but we also have excellent copyeditors), select which artist to put on the cover (we have magnificent artists), art direct said artists (again), determine which of our three in house designers will do the design (we have three wonderful designers), oversee/art direct the design, oversee the interior layout (also a wonderful person), work with the (wonderful) people in production, publicity, sales & marketing, etc… in the creation and promotion of the book. I also travel about seven or eight times a year speaking about our line at conventions, to libraries, etc… I wear about a half dozen different hats, but that is not to diminish the efforts of the score and a half or more people at the parent company that work on every Pyr title. But basically, I mostly push emails back and forth between departments while trying to carve out a few precious minutes at the close of each workday to actually, you know, read.

We know you read a lot of manuscripts. What makes a story stand out to you? And what does it feel like when you find a book you want to publish?

People think that reading submissions is reading a sea of unpublishable dreck. But what it actually means is reading a sea of work that is “just okay.” And therefore just as unpublishable. That final yard between okay and “unputdownable” is the longest one. It’s the hardest to quantify or explain, but it’s that quality, which you know the instant you are in it, that makes a manuscript stand out for me. Very often, I’ll be reading something and when my wife asks about it and I start to reply, she’ll hear the lack of enthusiasm in my voice before I do and say, “Put it down; you don’t like it. Move on.” It’s the manuscripts that have me leaping out of my chair to hound her with that I offer on, the ones that excite me and won’t let me sit still. Basically, I acquire the manuscripts that thrill me, which answers the second part of your question – thrilling! Seriously, when I discover a new author, or read a new manuscript from an established pro, I cannot shut up about it.

What is your “perfect” query letter? Any insider tips for our readers?

Don’t put too much stock in query letters. I’ve bought several manuscripts now whose query letters were laughably bad (and had prepared me to expect an equally bad manuscript). I only take agented manuscripts (and our slush reader’s submission guidelines are posted on the contact form of our website, www.pyrsf.com) but I’d say that my preferred query is an email (not a snail mail) from an agent (not an author) that summarizes the book in a paragraph or two and does NOT include the manuscript if I haven’t asked for it. After seven years, I have a pretty good idea what works and doesn’t work for us, so I can tell from a query whether I’m interested and save us both time. All this being said, I do remember one query that simply said something to the effect of “I loved Joe Abercrombie and I write similar fantasy to him.” But, alas, that trick only works once! (But it is the reason we established guidelines for unagented submissions. Thanks, Jon.)

Glad to be of service. What is your perspective on rejections? What can writers learn from them?

Sadly, I don’t have time to give feedback when I pass, so there isn’t really anything to be learned directly from me in a rejection. However, I’d say the first thing to bear in mind is that all books are not for all people, and thus, not for all editors. If an editor, or an agent for that matter, passes on a book, that only means it isn’t for them, not that it isn’t a good book or that it might not appeal to a different reader. Now, if rejections are starting to pile up over and over, it might be worth asking yourself why and addressing that.

Those who follow your social media sites might know that you’re also a writer. Does that change how you approach editing another writer’s work?

Well, Lou the fiction writer isn’t yet a working professional, unlike Lou the editor and Lou the former journalist. I’d say that it’s the reverse—that editing for over a half decade has radically improved my writing.

How do you approach matching artists and artwork with a book?

This is very much something that arises from my gut. I start to see the cover in my mind before I am halfway through a book. In fact, visualizing the cover is one of the things that I look for as a sign to myself that I am interested in a manuscript. It’s rare for me to get to the end of a manuscript and not already have the illustrator in mind. I think I’m privileged to be both editor and art director and to be able to bring a knowledge of the manuscript to bear on the cover, which is something some art directors don’t have the luxury of doing, just due to time and publication constraints. But working with the artists is one of the most rewarding aspects of this job.

With the recent rise of e-books and online publishing, where do you think the industry is heading in the next five years?

I think “death of publishing” reports are grossly exaggerated while the predictions about the demise of print books may be conservative. In other words, I think that ebooks are accelerating beyond even the wildest predictions and could easily be the dominant (not sole) form of book in five years, but that it will still be publishers who are producing and selling 80% - 90% or more of the commercially successful content in the ebook world. As with any time of change, there are going to be a lot of shakeups and a lot of opportunities. But ebooks are a pain in the butt to produce – or rather, ebooks are a pain in the butt to produce well, and a recent survey found that less than 2% of the book buying public sighted social media as the way in which they made title selections. So I think there is still going to be a role for publishing to play, not just as in being arbiters of taste (though that’s a very important job), but in terms of the actual production and marketing of books, whether they are print or electronic.


I want to thank Lou again for spending some time with us. I hope it's been enlightening. Those who want to hear of Lou's thoughts can follow the blog on the Pyr Books website.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Letting It Breathe

Well, now that the first draft for Shadow's Master (Book 3 in the Shadow Saga) is done, I'm going to set it aside for a couple weeks. I'd like to say a solid month, but I can never let a manuscript go for that long.

In the meantime, I'm going to be messing around with other projects. I've been kicking around a short story idea about the incident(s) that led Caim into the assassination profession.

Stay tuned for a very special interview with Lou Anders, Editorial Director for Pyr Books. Coming soon!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Happy Shadow Day

Happy Shadow Day!

To celebrate, I have a treat for you: the world premiere of the first-ever book trailer for my upcoming book, Shadow’s Lure. This beautiful video was created by the multi-talented Susan Griffith, co-author of The Greyfriar (Pyr Books).

But first let me explain the concept behind Shadow Day. Simply put, my goal is to encourage as many people as possible to pre-order Shadow’s Lure. How well a book does in its first couple weeks is very important, and pre-orders are an important part of that. We want to make a big splash that sends ripples throughout the literary world!

And it starts with you. If you’ve already pre-ordered Shadow’s Lure from an online source (like Amazon, Borders, or Barnes & Noble) or from your local bookstore, then I thank you from the bottom of my evil little heart. But don’t let it end there. Tell your friends and family about the book, your co-workers and classmates. If you have your own website or you’re on a social site like Facebook, spread the word. Everybody has a cousin or a brother or an aunt who reads voraciously. Clue them in. Or order them a copy as a gift. Nothing says love like an assassin bent on revenge.

Thank you all very much. And now, without further ado, the video trailer for book two of the Shadow Saga. . .
video

Monday, April 18, 2011

Meet Author Kimberly Bennett


Kimberly Bennett is one of the wonderful authors I met at both Steel City Con and the Pittsburgh ComiCon. She is a lifelong resident of Northeast Ohio. Kimberly released her first book, Twisted Delights : A Thrilling Short Story Anthology, in Sept 2010 and is scheduled to release her second, A Degree of Wickedness, in Dec 2011. If you like Tales from the Crypt and the writings of Edgar Allen Poe, then Twisted Delights is up your alley!

Find out more about Kimberly and her work at: http://www.kimberly-bennett.com/

Pittsburgh ComiCon 2011

Hey folks,

This past weekend I was at P.C.C, which was held at the same venue as the Steel City Con from last month. The crowd was good. Some great costumes. And I was really impressed by the quality of the artwork that could be found (as well just about every comicbook ever created).

I wasn't the only author there. The con had several small presses in attendance, as well as some individual authors like Kimberly Bennett. I'll throw some pictures up on my facebook page in the near future.

I also want to give a shout out to my buddies, Chris and Christina and Brian from Fortress Publishing, who were at the con also. Much alcohol was imbibed after hours, and the entertainment alone made the trip worthwhile.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lure Cover



Here's the finished cover for Shadow's Lure. Special thanks to Lou Anders for his art direction, Nicole Sommer-Lecht for the cool design work, and Michael Komarck for another fabulous piece of art.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Villains of Shadow's Son

In my last post, I talked about the heroes of Shadow’s Son, and this week I want to explore the other side of the tracks.

I’ve always enjoyed writing (and reading about) villains, sometimes even more than the heroes. Even when I was little, I was attracted to the dark side. Darth Vader, the Terminator, Hannibal Lector, the Ringwraiths – these were my idols. They didn’t take shit from anyone. Okay, so maybe they exterminated a few people here and there, but you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. Am I right? (Don’t answer that. I know I have issues.)

When I think back to writing Shadow’s Son, the first villain that comes to mind is Ral. Ral was an accident. He just showed up on the page. I originally planned for him to be just a side character who shows up now and again to irritate Caim and then go away, but from their first interaction on the stairs at The Three Maids, Ral carved out a more unique role for himself.

Ral is Caim’s flipside. He’s what Caim might have become if he started actually enjoying his work. Ral was fun for me because he has no rules. While not as crazy as Heath Ledger’s Joker character, he’s definitely in it for himself and screw everyone else.

Levictus is Caim’s other flipside. Like Caim, he also has a troubled history, but instead of being raised by a nurturing friend like Kas, Levictus is adopted by a man with no scruples, and so any chance he had of letting go of his past and living a normal life is gone from the start. With Levictus, I wanted to show the effects of evil on other evil things. Levictus was created by Vassili, but then grows beyond his creator’s ability to control. That theme of unintended consequences really resonates with me.

Then we come to Archpriest Vassili, the spider at the center of the web. I’ll admit, I don’t really like Vassili much. He’s corrupt, faithless, cowardly, a hypocrite on several levels, and without a single redeeming quality. He ought to run for Congress. But he’s a man with a vision. To be sure, that vision is of himself sitting at the top of the world dictating to everyone else how they should live their lives, but he gets things done, dammit! Well, he tries to, but he’s largely ineffectual because he tries to manipulate events from the back instead of getting in front of them, and that’s something I personally cannot stand. So, killing him off was a pleasure.

There is another villain in the book, one who didn’t get much face time, but who influenced every page. I’m talking about the Shadow. In Shadow’s Son we only get brief glimpses of the real power behind the plots. But the next book will take Caim (and you, Gentle Reader) deeper into the rabbit hole. I suggest you bring a flashlight and something warm to wear.

The villains of Shadow’s Son. Whether you loved them or hated them, I hope you found them compelling.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Heroes of Shadow's Son

I love the heroes of my first book.

Writing about Caim, Kit, and Josey was thrilling and rewarding. I had never felt such a connection to characters before. Now they’re like members of the family. Sometimes I half expect to see Caim coming up from my basement on his way for an evening constitutional and a little mayhem.

The idea of Caim was a process. I had written the beginning of a fantasy assassin novel years and years ago, but abandoned the project after a few chapters. But the idea of the character always stuck with me.

Insider tidbit: Parts of the first scene in Shadow’s Son, when Caim assassinates Duke Reinard, was borrowed from the beginning of that abandoned project.

Years later, I got an idea for a roguish character who gets sucked into a political scheme. I tried plotting the main character as a thief, a sort of cat burglar, but I ran into some snags. Then I remembered that old project with the assassin, and the two ideas merged. That was the real birth of Shadow’s Son.

Writing Caim was a challenge for several reasons. First, Caim is a physical person. He’s not afraid to mix it up with anyone. And although I’ve been a rather physical person for most of my life, including years of martial arts study and working at a job that required “hands on” counseling with sometimes-violent inmates, my personality generally steers me away from conflicts. So I had to subdue that impulse with Caim. Whenever a situation got intense, I tried not to let myself, or him, back down.

Also, Caim has a trouble past. This is something I share with him (although not in nearly the same proportion), and there were times when tapping into that turbulence was painful. But it felt right at the same time, like I wouldn’t be doing Caim proper justice if I didn’t dig deep for those emotions.

Then there’s Kit. When I talk to people who have read the book, they always want to talk about Kit. Yeah, Caim is interesting and conflicted, but Kit is just too cool for school. And she was a blast to write. Letting her say just about anything that came to mind (and there wasn’t anything Caim could about it) was so much fun. And I really liked how she evolved into the perfect foil for Caim. Where he’s often morose and pessimistic, she’s carefree and lighter than air (literally). He wants to live life on his terms, and she’s happy to take things as they come. Oil and water on the surface, but they get along like peas and carrots. The hardest part about writing Kit was not including her as much as I wanted. Shadow’s Son could have easily turned into Kit’s Happy Adventure Time if I wasn’t careful. But the good news is that if you are one of the people who wanted more face-time with Kit, just be patient. She has all new tricks in the sequel, and I think (I hope) you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Ah, Josey. The damsel in distress. According to some, a wooden stereotype who exists only to give Caim someone to rescue. Well, that’s not how I see her. While Caim is the muscles of the book, and Kit is perhaps the soul, Josey is the heart. I only had a rough idea of who she was when I started writing, but with every scene she became clearer in my imagination. By the end I knew she couldn’t be just a throw-away background player; she needed a spotlight of her own. That impression stuck with me after I’d finished the first novel and started on the second. One of the most difficult parts about writing Josey wasn’t her gender, but writing a believable seventeen-year-old without making her into a caricature. Teenagers are so often maligned and patronized in literature, I wanted Josey to ‘sound’ real. And judging by the responses I’ve gotten from actual teenage readers, I feel good about my efforts.

There’s one other hero I’d like to mention. Of all the book’s secondary characters, the one I loved the most was Mat, despite his brief appearance in the book. Mathias Finneus, the extravagant godfather of Othir’s assassination ring. Originally, Mat was the leader of a guild of assassins, and Caim was his star pupil. But as I wrote their scene the idea took hold of me that Mat was more a business partner than a boss (and assassin guilds have been done to death, let’s face it). I was sorry to see Mat go, but I only killed him because I loved him so much.

If there was a hero of the book that you particular enjoyed (or didn’t), let’s talk about him or her.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

SF For Kids

Hey folks,

For the educators out there, I've been sent a link to an article, The 80 Greatest Sceience Fiction Books For Kids. Makes for interesting reading if you're searching for age-appropriate SF stuff.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Award Finalist

Hey folks,

Just a quick note. Shadow's Son is a finalist for the Compton Crook Award, given out at Balticon each year. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Steel City Con Report




Last weekend I was a guest at the Steel City Con in Monroeville, PA. The coordinator, Dominic Alessandria, and his staff put on a very impressive event. There were scores of booths selling all sorts of collectibles, comics, old movie posters, and original artwork. I was, I think, the only author there.

My table was right across from Adam West, the original Batman, and a replica of the show's Batmobile--the biggest draws at the con. So I got a lot of traffic past my table. Unfortunately, this wasn't the right crowd for a fantasy novelist. I signed a few copies of Shadow's Son, but not a lot. Still, it was a cool experience. Lots of toys and people in costumes.

The highlight for me was meeting Melissa from "My World...in words and pages," who has been very supportive of my book in her blog. She lives near Pittsburgh and made the drive out, which was completely awesome.

My next convention is the Pittsburgh ComiCon (April 15-17).

Thursday, March 3, 2011

March Update

Hey folks,

It feels like I haven't touched base in a while.

The manuscript for Shadow's Lure (book 2 of the Shadow Saga) has passed the copyedit phase and should be in the final production phase, which is the actual printing. I've been told that we're shooting for a mid-June release. I have some plans for the time around release, but I'll wait until closer to June to reveal just what they are.

The manuscript for Shadow's Master, book 3, is progressing well. I figure I'm about halfway through the first draft. Lots of ideas flowing (good ones, I hope).

As far as conventions, my strategy this year is to hit a lot of local ones, rather than one big con. This weekend I'm headed to Pittsbugh for the Steel City Con (with special guest Adam West). And next month I'll be attending the Pittsburgh ComiCon. My website (www.jonsprunk.com) has the full list. Hope to see some of you.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Interview at Suvudu.com

Hey sports fans,

Check out the brand-new interview I did with suvudu.com here.

Ciao.

Friday, February 18, 2011

New Lure Bookmarks


I just received some bookmarks for Shadow's Lure to take to signings and conventions. Big thanks to the staff over at Prometheus/Pyr Books. They look outstanding (again).

(Sorry the picture appears sideways. Blogger is acting weird.)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Steel City Con

Hey folks,

I'll be a guest at the Steel City Con in Monroeville, PA (March 4-6). This will be my first time at this con, so keep your fingers crossed for me.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Shadow's Lure Available for Pre-Order



Hey folks,

Just an FYI that Shadow's Lure, the second book in the Shadow Saga, is available for pre-order on Amazon. You might also be able to pre-order it from your local bookstore.

Thanks for your support.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hour of the Wolf

FYI, I'll be appearing LIVE on the Hour of the Wolf radio show, hosted by Jim Freund, this week on Thursday, 1:30-3:00 AM. Yes, that is AM, folks. Which either makes it very late Wednesday, or very early Thursday.

Their website: http://www.hourwolf.com/toc.html

Sunday, January 23, 2011

UK Cover for Shadow's Lure



This is how the UK cover will look. Again, this is by the always excellent Chris McGrath, who seems like a very awesome dude.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cover for Shadow's Lure



Here is the cover art for my next book, Shadow's Lure. I want to thank artist-supreme Michael Komarck for another outstanding cover. I've been told this is still a work in progress, which blows my mind because it's so terrific already.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

First Tor.com Blog

Hey gang,

You can see my first blog on Tor.com, called "Worldbuilding: The Art of Everything."

http://www.tor.com/blogs/2011/01/worldbuilding-the-art-of-everything

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Guest Blog: Susan Gourley


Thanks, Jon, for inviting me to your blog. Today I’d like to talk about naming characters and more specifically how I named the characters in my fantasy series, The Futhark Chronicles.

How do authors decide what to name their characters, their fantasy worlds and the objects in it? I personally seldom name a character after a real person especially if the real person is a family member. That’s a good way to get in big trouble.
I have to make up names or use names I recalled from somewhere in a foggy memory. But it’s not always random.

In my fantasy series, The Futhark Chronicles, I’ve heard comments about the word Futhark. I didn’t make it up.
Futhark is the more formal name given to what is commonly known at the Runic alphabet. Elder Futhark dates back to 300 B.C. and is still used today though often in a younger form. By using the word Futhark as the name of my word, I knew connections would be made on search engines. People looking up Futhark, interested in using runes, are also likely to be people who read fantasy novels. I hope.
In my book, Bayard, is the warhorse belonging to Cage Stone, the hero of The Futhark Chronicles. In legend, Bayard was the immortal horse in Charlemagne folklore. My Bayard isn’t immortal but he’s special.

Not all names I use are of mystical lore or legend. Cage Stone, the half-elf featured in my fantasy series, is a man trapped by destiny into his role. As the series progressed the chains on him draw tighter, making his name seem very appropriate. The Keepers of Sulbreth finds him coerced into helping the king fight demons. Cage learns more about his forced involvement in the war with the foul beasts in Beyond the Gate.

It’s also important to not make names too similar. A certain very long fantasy series has so many characters and many with similar names the reader almost needs a list to keep them straight. And make the names pronounceable. Lots of accents and odd spellings can distract a reader from enjoying the story.

Avoid names associated with completely sympathetic characters. Certain traits would be expected in a character named Hitler or Vader. A name like Belle would give rise to other expectations though some might call it overused. You can use small variations with names like I did with my main female character, Sabelline.
Are there names as a reader you think are overused? Have you ever been taken out of a story because of the distracting names?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Hot-Selling Indie Writers

Robin Sullivan posts an eye-opening guest blog on indie-writer J.A. Konrath's blog (here). She even mentions me!

Now, I've always believed that talent will eventually rise to the top in any field, especially when combined with hard work, so it's great to see writers finding new ways to reach readers. I'd really like to read more about how Ms. Sullivan has been so successful in promoting her husband's work. (This dog ain't too old to learn some new tricks.)

Great post, and a great blog in general.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Signed Copies Available

I've teamed up with the local Borders to make signed copies of my books available to people who live too far away to attend my signings. Just contact the store, and they'll send it to you. Normal mailing charges apply, of course.


Borders
5125 Jonestown Road
Harrisburg, PA 17112
USA
(717) 541-9727


Special thanks to the staff and management of Borders for extending this courtesy.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

Hey folks,

I'm not very good with resolutions (We fear change!), but I'm going to 'try to try.'

1. More play, less TV. As Logan gets older, he's becoming more interested in tv shows. And it's soooo easy to just let him watch while I get stuff done. But this isn't a good trend, and I'm going to focus on more play time.

2. Write more. I'm increasing my weekly goal for new pages written. Hopefully this won't result in lesser quality. Hey, Stephen King writes on Christmas, so I can, too. (Note: I did write a little on Christmas this year. Yay?)

3. More conventions. Last year I attended just one fan convention. This year I've got four lined up already, with at least one more to add. The goal here is to get out of my cave and expose myself to more people.. er, expose them to my writing, that is. I'll post a list soon.

4. Make signed copies available to those who live far away. I feel horrible when I'm contacted by readers who would like a signed copy of my book, but they live in different states (or countries). I have a couple ideas how to accomplish this without breaking the bank. I'm going to work on it.

5. Enjoy more, stress less. There's a lot of uncertainty in a writer's life, especially when you're just getting into the business. But you can't let it affect your thinking. You just have to keep producing your best work and let the cards fall where they may.


That's it. I hope everyone has a wonderful 2011. Stay safe.