Moorcock at 75

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I’m going to range a bit, so let’s not bury the lede: today is Michael Moorcock’s 75th birthday. The image topping this post is a random assortment of covers for books that he has written. Books that were highly influential to me as a kid. That are still influencing me now. Thank you, sir. I hope there are many more to come.

I’ve been wanting to write something about the pulps for a little while now. Dean Wesley Smith wrote a blog post a little while back called “Pulp Speed,” wherein he breaks down some numbers for varying speeds of what he calls pulp writing. Let’s be honest. Anything these days that is falling into the category of Indie Publishing Put Food on the Table can probably be short-handed as “pulp.” And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Food on the table is a good thing. When all is said and done, my recent forays into traditional publishing haven’t been stellar in getting more contracts to fall into my lap, but that’s probably due to my lack of eager follow-through as much as anything else. (And I’ve been busy with bootstrapping Resurrection House over the last year.) All of which is to say: yes, pulp writing; let’s do some of that.

Michael Moorcock, over the years, has been outspoken about the pace at which he wrote some of his early books. Many of those haven’t aged well for me (rather, I think I’ve aged out of them), but there is undeniably a time and place and audience for those sorts of books. The fact that they’ve managed to survive at all (and still be in print) is certainly a testament to the underlying energy of Mr. Moorcock’s writing and imagination. Did you know that the origin of the names for the ancient gods of Granbretan (from the Hawkmoon books) are none other than the Beatles? Yeah, totally missed that when I was a kid. Now? It strikes me as a funny riff grabbed out of the ether by a writer who is plowing hard on a deadline. Like, “started on Friday, done by Sunday” sort of deadline.

They call this a working job, I hear. The sort you show up for and spend eight hours or more a day for. Crazy talk, I know. But hours worked = content created = money from readers. It’s pretty straight forward, isn’t it? Once upon a time, we used to ask ourselves whether we’d want be read in academia or be read by millions of paying readers. I was young then, and answered that I’d prefer the recognition offered by academia. So young; so foolish. Nowadays, the lure of the paying reader is mighty strong.

On this occasion of Mr. Moorcock’s 75th birthday, it’s worth noting that this is nothing new. The Paperback Fanatic, a zine out of the UK dedicated to the pulps of the ’60s and ’70s, has been cataloging the back in the day equivalent to the frenzied ebook market of these last few years. It’s still a content creator’s market, really. The trick is, as always, making content.

I’d like to do a little of that in 2015. It seems like a good year to make some books. I’ve got some good role models to follow.


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Nanowrimo—National Novel Writing Month—starts in November. A friend recently asked what this was, and I—somewhat cheekily—replied: “It’s what we call a ‘workday,’ but everyone else makes a month-long ordeal out of it.” I re-enabled my account, and discovered that last year’s effort was supposed to be the start of ETERNAL QUEEN ONE, and I logged all of 3K before I wandered off to do something else. And the site design now supports a decade plus of badges and icons and stuff, which makes me wonder how far back my own efforts go.

Spelunking the archives turned up the following conversation in 2004, about that year’s project: I have a children’s book writer who burned out and is living in Montana as a survivalist as my protagonist.  He wrote a series of books about a goat named Barnabas.  His last manuscript (which was never published and is partially why he went nuts) was:  Barnabas and the Apocalypse.  The tagline read:  “Where Barnabas stares into the Great Abyss and the Great Abyss stares back.”

In 2003, I pitched a process blog to go along with that year’s entry (THE BOOK OF LIES). The archives of that effort (called SYMBOLIC) are still out there. THE BOOK OF LIES was something that wasn’t supposed to be a CODEX book, but after a few iterations, I realized it was better positioned as such, and changed some names. Bits and pieces, catalogued as ANGEL TONGUE, still rattle around my head, but they’ve felt like old parts that didn’t fit anymore. However, now that I’m looking at them again (like, perhaps, the entry on the Lunar Society), they may be the right parts for the project and I’ve just been hanging on to the wrong schematic these last few years.

And then I went dark until 2007 or so, and even then it was all CODEX rewrites, POTEMKIN, and unfinished efforts at a SPRAWL book. FOREWORLD in 2010. EARTH THIRST in 2011. It seems like there is other wreckage along the way. Perhaps I will crawl through the archives further. Now is the time to write books, after all . . .

In the Trenches

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It’s the first of November, which means National Novel Writing Month. I haven’t participated in four years or so, because I’ve typically been under some deadline or another and haven’t had the time or energy to devote to this sort of group insanity. This year, though, well, I’m not under deadline (for the first time in three years), and I don’t have any active projects under contract. I do, however, need to get back into the regular practice of writing every day as I’ve been remiss lately. So, yeah, Nanowrimo for me this year.

What’s the goal again? 60K? How does this thing work?

Anyway, I’ve got a profile over there. Tag me as a writing buddy if you like.

How Was Your Weekend?

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Saturday we shipped the first stage of CLANG to our Kickstarter friends. And there was much rejoicing, as well as a party that involved swords and piñatas.

Sunday was a day spent folding t-shirts and prepping to mail out all the Kickstarter rewards. Not as much rejoicing–well, not for those who folded more t-shirts than they’d like to remember–but there was cake.

Today was spent working through the minutia of foreign royalties for eight titles across one quarter and two separate monthly cycles, which meant lots of time in Excel. Not very much rejoicing there either.

And so tonight will be spent working on the last of the mini keg of Georgetown Porter while watching utterly brainless TV. Tomorrow I will get back to the chapter with the flaming sword because, alas, Katabasis is not writing itself.

Something, Somewhere, Is Not As It Was Before

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Book Three of the Mongoliad has come out since the last time I posted an update. Since then I’ve been deep in the word mines on the next volume of the medieval era in Foreworld. The working title of the book is Katabasis. I hope it sticks. We spent quite a few sessions batting ideas back and forth about the titles of the next two books, and while we knew we weren’t going to have something as idiosyncratic as The Mongoliad, we were hoping for something that was a cut above the standard adventure fantasy titles that are on the shelves now.

Negotiations on other projects continue, though with the usual ebb, flow, and utter soul-crushing dead stops that such negotiations always seem to go through. The CLANG team is wrapping up the deliverables for our Kickstarter campaign (we shot the video just over a year ago!), and the Foreworld writers continue to bang out stories. Recently, we’ve entered the Renaissance with great stories by Barth Anderson (The Book of Seven Hands) and Joe Brassey (The Assassination of Orange). Next month, Scott James Magner has Hearts of Iron, which is a jump back to the 11th century, but sets up some of the predecessors of medieval-era players. There are a few others in progress, and I’ll mention them as we get closer to publication.

It’s been announced (and subsequently deconstructed and commented on) that Night Shade Books is seeking to sell its assets to Skyhorse Publishing and Start Publishing, LLC. This matters to me because the CODEX books and Earth Thirst are Night Shade books. It’s still a little early to comment on the sale, but I’m hoping that it goes through and all parties get a modicum of what they hope to get out of it. I considered my options and decided it was best to make the choice that kept the books on the market. It’s a little too early in my career to be stamping my foot and taking my toys and going home.

Dean Wesley Smith has been blogging his process during the ten day sprint to ghost write a NYT Bestseller (the first entry is here). It’s been interesting to see how his day breaks down as far as how much time is spent actually writing and how much is spent doing administrative work. Once Katabasis and the fifth Foreworld book are turned in, I’ll have some time to think about my own projects again. I’m charting my days as well, trying to figure out the optimal word count I can get each day and how much other time is available for related matters. No point in diving off in the deep end of the pool if you’re not sure you’ve got the skills to stay afloat, is there?


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I’ve been in deadline hell for the last few months. For a brief moment, I am surfacing to clear my desk and try to reply to a bunch of emails and figure out where I live still before I get sucked back in to various projects. Let’s see what has happened since the last time I wandered through.

The Mongoliad Book Two came out. As did Dreamer, the second Foreworld SideQuest. As did The Lion in Chains, the third SideQuest. I didn’t write the fourth, The Shield-Maiden, but it is out too. The fifth, The Beast of Calatrava, is scheduled for early January of 2013 (me, again), and the sixth, Seer, is dropping in February when The Mongoliad Book Three comes out. The cover art for Seer has just gone up.

Oh, and Earth Thirst comes out in January too.

This is what deadline hell for nearly a year translates to: lots of content. I can’t complain, but it’s nice not to have that clock ticking. I say that now, but it is going to start up again in a few weeks. Other than that, I’ve been catching up on my reading. A couple Lisa Lutz Spellman books; a huge chunk of the Walt Longmire series (by Craig Johnson), a couple of Robert B. Parker books, and some of the Parker novels (in order, mind you).

And yes, I’m looking forward to the new film version in January. Jason Statham could use a good franchise, and he’ll do just fine as Parker.

Stories, Books, and the Cat

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I’m returning from the writing mines to offer a few updates. The exciting one for those who wonder if I’m ever going to publish more short fiction is that Beneath Ceaseless Skies has just posted “The Heart of The Rail” in Issue #101 where I join Jack Nicholls (whose “Tale of the Aggrieved Astrologer” is quite entertaining, and is his first progressional sale as well; congratulations, sir!) and Christie Yant (whose “The Three Feats of Agani” from Issue #100 is the audio fiction selection this month). Cool steampunk wild west cover art by Ignacio Bazán Lazcano as well.

I join an august group of writers, and I’m quite pleased that “Heart of the Rail” has found a home. It’s a taste of some world-building that has been gaining some traction in my brain as of late. Various iterations of this world can be found in other stories, but I’m finally getting a sense of what this world is going to be.

A few weeks ago, I attended the Cascade Writers Conferences as one of their instructors (I ran through an abbreviated version of the “Jumpstart Your Novel” seminar). I saw some people who I don’t get to see often enough, met some delightful new writers, showed the fine folks at Applebees how writers tend to be oblivious to minor details like closing time, and had a chance to spook myself with a bit of Tarot throwing.

(Short version: my brain is starting to think about Angel Tongue; coincidences and syncronicities are starting to pile up.)

The Foreworld novella, “Sinner,” comes out in a few weeks. The second novella, “Dreamer,” comes out four weeks later, along with The Mongoliad: Book Two. There will also be deluxe editions of Book One and Book Two released at the same time, which is to say, hardback versions with maps and illustrations. The third novella in that cycle (“Seer”) will drop with Book Three in February of next year. These aren’t the only Foreworld stories coming out, by the way; these three were envisioned as a loose triptych.

By the way, yes, I have content coming out with my name on it in August and September and January and February. This is the culmination of the last two years of work, really. And that’s not all of it. There will be more. I was updating my bibliography earlier this morning and noticed that my last short story publication was in 2009. In 2010, I had one publication (Heartland), and 2011 only had the serialized version of the The Mongoliad. While the pace in the last few months has been more chaotic than I would like, I can’t say that it isn’t bearing fruit.

The hoary maxim is true, gang: Write–often, and without reservation.

And as the final edit pass for The Mongoliad Book Three is in my inbox, I should get back to doing just that.

Enkidu is happy that I’m home again. I don’t think he was terribly upset about missing the family trip to Yellowstone Park; it’s just that it annoys him if I’m not around to watch him nap. Cats get stressed out if no one witnesses their indolence.

Earth Thirst Arrives in January

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Night Shade has announced their winter schedule, and Earth Thirst is right there at the end with a planned January release date. Something you can spend your Christmas money on. NSB has a product page up which includes the marketing copy (but no cover art, yet). A bit of a hint of where I’m taking the vampire mythology.

We’re still rolling through Mongoliad press around here. I have a post on John Scalzi’s Whatever this morning (thank you, sir!). We did a video roundtable for Tom and Victoria at Sword and Laser on Monday, which is up on YouTube already. It’s pretty cool that we could do a group interview with most of the team like that without technology getting in the way.

As intimated in the Whatever Big Idea and in the video interview, the team is back at work on the next piece of Foreworld history. It’s not that we stopped between Janaury and now; it’s more that we went into brainstorming mode and have been collecting ideas. There’s a structure emerging, and we’re going to disappear again for awhile as we go make things up. Book Two of The Mongoliad is scheduled for September, and I believe Book Three is penciled in for February. The short stories will start tumbling like fall leaves in the appropriate season, I would expect. There will be a lot for people to read in the next year.

That makes me happy. We’ve got you covered, folks.

Mongoliad Book One Release Day Blitz

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Well, here we are. The Mongoliad Book One came out today. You can buy it in the more discerning brick and mortar stores or through a variety of online retailers. If you have an option to buy it in a physical store, please do so. That’s the extent of my weighing in on all the recent flap about the new age of publishing. Go to a bookstore. They’ll appreciate it. If you live in the Seattle area, Duane at the U Bookstore, up near the University of Washington campus, is stocking the book.

In fact, Duane has arranged for a mass signing of all the authors on May 17th. 7:00pm. Upstairs. Where the crowd will be. We will have all SEVEN authors present. This is, to my knowledge, the only time that we’ll have all seven in the same room for the near future.

Before I get to the obligatory launch day link-o-rama, I would like to highlight the addition of the Collector’s Edition of Book One. The Amazon page has lovely cover art now (which, I am told, may not be final, but I’m pretty pleased with it as it is, since it wouldn’t hurt my feelings any if it ended up being the final cover).

You’ll notice, in the fine print, that the Collector’s Edition contains the prequel story called “Sinner,” which is one of the pieces of our next phase in world domination. The Collector’s Edition may also contain some additional materials which we’re still wrangling.

Okay, to the link list.

There are a number of excerpts that have been posted online as part of the marketing blitz.

Also, a couple of guest posts/interviews on blogs:

A New Class and a New Book

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I like Neil Gaiman’s post the other day about writing, wherein he talks about the magical state and the fog state of the craft. Some days, you know where you’re going; other days, it is akin to being lost in a fog.

For me, these days, it is somewhat akin to being strapped to a locomotive with a fully-stoked engine, going down-hill. It’s all I can do to hang on.

This, then, is one of those attempts to raise my head enough that I can shout out a few things without the wind ripping me off the engine entirely.

I’m teaching another class in a few weeks. Branching Narratives: The Mechanics of Plot Topiary”. It’s on March 25th at the Richard Hugo House in Seattle. For those who attended the one I did last fall an outlining a novel, this is sort of the follow-on workshop. It’s coming up quick, and I have no idea how full the class is, but the previous one sold out and then some.

The PR machinery for The Mongoliad is starting up. We should have some exciting announcements about Phase Two of our Sektrit Plans about that same time. Meanwhile, remember what I said about the train? Yeah, there’s a lot of work being done behind the scenes right now. There’s actually a bit of new Foreworld content that’s been written as well.

The Cabiri, an aerialist group I do some things for, is having their spring show in a few weeks as well. Tarhun: Legend of the Lightening God runs the first two weekends in April. It’s basically an ancient Hittite spring festival performance with monsters. I know. Where else are you going to see such a thing?

I signed the contract last week for a one-off book. Its codename was GREENFANG, but its official title is going to be EARTH THIRST. Night Shade is publishing it, and it should be out in the early part of 2013. It’s my vampire book, and yeah, it’s a “vampire” book in the same sense that the CODEX books are strictly “urban fantasy.” The gang at Night Shade is pretty excited about this book and that’s exactly the sort of home it needed, and so I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with it.

And now you can understand why I’m going to go hide out at the Rainforest Writers’ Village for a few days. I’ve got some writing to get done.