1001 Knights on Kickstarter

 

I have a short story in an anthology that’s up on Kickstarter right now! It’s called 1001 Knights, and it’s going to be amazing. Three gorgeous hardback, cloth-bound books in a slipcase. On the outside, foil stamps and gilded page edges. On the inside, more than 700 pages of gorgeous art, amazing fiction, great comics, photography, poetry, and whatever else you want to name.

1001 Knights is created by over 250 artists who share a passion for promoting and encouraging diversity. The artists are as diverse as the characters in the book, which includes artwork from up and coming artists as well as pros from such companies as Disney, BOOM!, Archer/FX, Nickelodeon, Sony, Cartoon Network, Marvel, IDW, Archaia, Hiveworks and Lucasfilm. Several 1001 Knights artists have won or have been nominated for Eisners, Harveys, Ignatz, Junos and Grammys.

If you want to know more, check out the Tumblr, or the list of all participating artists.

And please consider backing!

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How not to write The 100. Or Revolution. Or Divergent.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about post-apocalypticism. It’s one of my favorite sub-genres, and yet it is so rarely done well. See, to me, post-apocalypticism is an inherently hopeful topic.

Sounds weird? Maybe, but it’s right there in the name. “Post-apocalyptic”. What happens after the worst thing that could ever possibly happen? There’s nowhere to go but up, right? So why are so many recent post-apocalyptic stories so relentlessly grimdark?

I think the answer lies in a mismatch between tone and scope. Think about it: after the apocalypse, many people will be miserable. Yes, this is true. And you can tell those stories. Small episodes of people’s lives where they’re trapped in an endless hellhole with no way out. You can tell these stories. But when you try to increase the scope of the story, the tone *has* to shift.

Imagine: A small community of farmers and fishers slowly learning how to survive in the bones of a once great city. The apocalypse was only twenty years ago, and plenty of people still remember what they lost, but the new generation has known nothing else — they don’t understand their parents’ grief. Then people start dying. Bodies are found, mutilated in a gruesome fashion. There’s a killer in their midst.

Now, you can tell that story. A story narrow in scope, focusing on the developing-psychosis of a serial killer — it could be great, and authentically dark. But as soon as the scope increases, what do you do? You have to tell the story of the detective who figured out who the killer is, or of the hero (and future town leader) who stopped him. Bam, hopeful story!

Or say you’re writing an epic, detailing the lives of many characters in the village over a long span of time. What happens once the killer’s been caught? They could just kill him, of course. There, you’ve got your grimdark. And you’ve got a world that doesn’t grow, or progress. It’s not post-apocalypse. It’s prolonging the apocalypse.

But isn’t it more interesting, isn’t it a better story, if the survivors try to build a new justice system for themselves? They pull together, debating half-remembered scraps of old legal dramas. An argument gets off track and soon an elder finds herself explaining Judge Judy to the kids. Soon, they figure out what works best for them. They hold a jury trial, and the survivors take a small step back toward civilization. This time, they’ll do it right.

So here’s my theory: tone vs. scope. If you want to write good post-apocalyptic fiction, you have to balance them. You can have your dark, disturbing, miserable story in a one-shot, a small focus, a short span of time. But if you want to write an epic, you need to show progress. And progress means a hopeful tone, with things steadily improving.

The Vagaries of Amazon

Despite their constant touting of the extensive array of free Kindle books, Amazon does not actually offer any way for an author to price her books free for all time. From what I can tell, the best way to get around this is to make your books free (I keep trying to say ‘set your books free’) at other online bookstores, and Amazon will theoretically price-match within a few days.

Well, it’s been a few weeks, and my short story, The Legacy of the Shreevani, is still resolutely sitting there at .99 with not a copy having sold. It is a *very* short story and I don’t want to charge for it, but I’m getting tired of waiting to make the official release announcement. So I guess Amazon is just going to have to sit this one out.

Check out The Legacy of the Shreevani for free at Smashwords and Barnes and Noble! It features aliens, interstellar war, and a stunning cover by Rhiannon Rasmussen-Silverstein.

Other points of interest:

Is anyone ridiculously excited for the Sailor Moon anime reboot? Because I am incredibly excited. Check this out!

This recurring writing contest is judged by an agent, and concentrates on a different field each iteration. This time it’s  contemporary middle grade fiction.

I would also like thank Erin Lynn Jeffreys Hodges for their continued support.

Shreevani cover

Shreevani cover

I’ve been working on getting a short story in shape for release, and I was lucky enough to discover an artist I thought would be perfect to do the cover art. Rhiannon Rasmussen-Silverstein did some beautiful work, creating a cover … Continue reading

Happy 2014!

I hope everyone had a great 2014! I have big plans for the new year, including some exciting news for Puppet Kingdom fans!

  • First of all, The Puppet Kingdom is currently the featured book over at Holly’s Bargain eBooks, a great blog that searches out high value ebooks with low prices. The Puppet Kingdom was the first book of the year to be featured!
  • Indies Unlimited featured TPK in their new release column last month! Somewhat belated, I know, but I’m new to the whole promotion thing. It’s a great honor, and TPK will also be listed in the IU bookstore for a year.
  • I’m planning to release a few short stories on Amazon in the near future. Be on the lookout for Norse gods and alien shenanigans!
  • Work on the Puppet Kingdom sequel progresses, as do plans for the dead tree version. I’ve got a great artist lined up, so the cover will feature beautiful original artwork.

2014 will be a big year. I hope you’re all excited!

Progress

Things are rolling right along on this whole “becoming an author” thing. I’ve finally officially announced it on Facebook, which garnered much positive feedback and a number of sales. The tenth sale was just as exciting as the first, but I’m afraid it will be a long slog to the next order of magnitude. I also applied to the Goodreads Author program, which is pretty cool. I’ve been a member of GR for ages, and now every time I post on there I’ll have the little ‘author’ tag next to my name. I shall selflessly resist the urge to spam every board on the site.

One interesting thing about the Facebook announcement, though, was the breakdown of the link traffic. I used bit.ly’s link shortening services, which also let me track how many clicks each link garnered. I posted both the link to the book on Amazon (http://amzn.to/18rjt27) and to the book on Smashwords (http://bit.ly/18TnjNY), explaining that Smashwords ebooks were DRM free and available in many formats. And yet, six times as many people have used the Amazon link as the Smashwords link. I guess the ease and familiarity of the Amazon experience trumps any dislike some may have of a giant corporation.

…okay, maybe that’s only interesting to me. I’m sure Neil Gaiman could have made that anecdote into a cutting and astute observation.

New edition!

New edition of The Puppet Kingdom released, featuring improved ebook navigation! The ebook found on Smashwords and Amazon now has a new Table of Contents as well as an About the Author section. Future editions will feature improved formatting and will correct spelling and grammar errors, but in general, the book is ready for prime time.

Also, I got the promo cards I designed from Vista Print today. They look really nice! I’m looking forward to handing them out at Darkover.

 

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