blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)

Here you go, my darlings!  All the links to author interviews and cool musings.  This post will be updated as new pieces come on line.

Here’s your direct link to the Weird Western Bundle, where you can choose to purchase four novels or all ten novels.  You’ll also have the opportunity to donate a portion of your purchase to Girls Write Now, a fantastic organization dedicated to teaching the writing skills necessary for success.

Here’s the launch post posted by Gemma Files, whose award-winning novel Book of Tongues is in the bundle.

All Covers Large

Joe Bailey, author of Spellslinger, chatted here with fellow bundle-author Kyra Halland (author of bundle book Beneath the Canyons) about mixing magic in Westerns.

Next up, Kyra Halland interviews Tiberius Bogg, the mountain man of Steven White’s Hair of the Bear and New World. You’ll find BOTH those novels in the bundle!

Now we have Steven White’s interview of Idyll author James Derry, chatting about writing, publishing choices, and his other-planetary Western.

Then Walt Starboard, the rancher’s son training to be a county doctor in Derry’s Idyll, tells you about life on the other-planet settlement, including his mother’s coma-inducing illness.

Update August 31:

JP Allen , author of West of Pale, talks with Joe Bailey about the deeper underpinnings that draw him to writing Weird Westerns and the upcoming sequel.

Next, JP Allen hosts Kenneth Mark Hoover, author of Haxen. He shares his thoughts on the importance of history, consistency, and worldbuilding in creating a strong Weird Western.

Once again, Kyra Halland opens her blog to host a bundle author, and this time it’s Judith Tarr, whose newest novel Dragons in the Earth is debuting in the Weird Western Bundle. She shares the Tucson Magic and love of horses that combine with dragons in this fabulous series opener.

More links to come!


blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)

Personal Note:

OH MY DARLINGS I AM SO EXCITED FOR THIS!

Ahem.

Welcome to our Weird Western Bundle, where wide frontiers, flintlocks, whiskey and revenge meet swords, airships, terraforming, magic, myths, and dragons!  You’ll find stories here set in the snows of old Alaska and the heat of contemporary Arizona, post-Civil War San Francisco and post-colonization planets, and places that seem as familiar as any wooded mountain or wind-swept desert… until tigers and dragons and horses that are so much more than you might assume burst into the scene. The different aspects of the Weird Western spirit in this bundle will give fans of the genre something they haven’t seen before, and folks new to Weird Westerns a wide sampling of its fantastic offerings.

I was raised on a combination of SFF and Westerns. Star Trek and Gunsmoke, Asimov and L’Amour, Lonesome Dove and Battlestar Galactica. I was just as thrilled to shake the hand of Hugh O’Brian of Wyatt Earp fame as I was to meet Katherine Kurtz, author of the Deryni world. It’s been a joy discovering more writers combining the genres, raising their unique voices, and upsetting the familiar with the fantastic. The result is a Western setting that respects history and the people who created it while spinning in unique powers, esoteric challenges, and the terrifying magic of discovery.

You’ll learn the secrets behind the post-quarantined expanse of ranchland in James Derry’s Idyll, and the reasons the man of Joe Bailey’s Spellslinger is ready to make a stand. There’s the subterfuge and wild ride of Gemma Files’s Book of Tongues, and the smart, snappy adventure of Lindsay Buroker’s Flash Gold novellas

Dangerous wonders and determined enemies fill J. Patrick Allen’s West of Pale, and Steve White’s New World brings chainmail and strange powers to the frontier. Kyra Halland puts rogue magery and danger in a dusty Western town in Beneath the Canyons, and Kenneth Mark Hoover gives us a time-wandering lawman in Haxan.

And I’m thrilled to share the debut of Judith Tarr’s first novel of a new series, Dragons in the Earth, set in present-day Arizona, and filled with horses and dragons and the power of the desert itself.

If you’re already familiar with StoryBundle, and you’re ready for these great books, go right ahead and make your pay-what-you-choose purchase! If you need a little more information, read on…



All Covers Large
Ten Novels, My Darlings!

StoryBundle lets you choose your own price, so you decide how you’d like to support these awesome writers and their work. For $5—or more if you’d like—you’ll receive the basic bundle of four great novels in DRM-free ebook format. For the bonus price of at least $14—or more if you’d like—you’ll receive all nine novels. If you choose, a portion of your payment will go toward supporting Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now.

The Weird Western Bundle is available for only three weeks. It’s a great opportunity to pick up the stories of nine wonderful writers, support independent authors who want to twist your assumptions about the West, and discover new writers with great stories along the way.– Blair MacGregor

The initial titles in The Weird Western Bundle (minimum $5 to purchase) are:


  • Haxan by Kenneth Mark Hoover

  • Dead West Vol 1.: West of Pale by J Patrick Allen

  • Idyll by James Derry

  • Spellsinger by Joseph J. Bailey

If you pay more than the bonus price of just $14, you get all four of the regular titles, plus five more:


  • Hexslinger Vol. 1: A Book of Tongues by Gemma Files

  • Horses of the Moon Vol. 1: Dragons in the Earth by Judith Tarr

  • Daughter of the Wildings Book. 1: Beneath the Canyons by Kyra Halland

  • The Flash Gold Chronicles I-III by Lindsay Buroker

  • New World Book 2: Hair of the Bear by Steven W. White

And as special thanks to our newsletter subscribers, all of you who subscribe get New World by Steven W. White for free! Grab the free first book in the New World series before you start on book 2, Hair of the Bear, found in the bundle.

This bundle is available only for a limited time via http://www.storybundle.com. It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub and .mobi) for all books!

It’s also super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards – which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle – and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.

Why StoryBundle? Here are just a few benefits StoryBundle provides.


  • Get quality reads: We’ve chosen works from excellent authors to bundle together in one convenient package.

  • Pay what you want (minimum $5): You decide how much these fantastic books are worth to you. If you can only spare a little, that’s fine! You’ll still get access to a batch of exceptional titles.

  • Support authors who support DRM-free books: StoryBundle is a platform for authors to get exposure for their works, both for the titles featured in the bundle and for the rest of their catalog. Supporting authors who let you read their books on any device you want—restriction free—will show everyone there’s nothing wrong with ditching DRM.

  • Give to worthy causes: Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now!

  • Receive extra books: If you beat the bonus price, you’ll get the bonus books!

StoryBundle was created to give a platform for independent authors to showcase their work, and a source of quality titles for thirsty readers. StoryBundle works with authors to create bundles of ebooks that can be purchased by readers at their desired price. Before starting StoryBundle, Founder Jason Chen covered technology and software as an editor for Gizmodo.com and Lifehacker.com.

For more information, visit our website at storybundle.com, tweet us at @storybundle and like us on Facebook.

#SFWApro

blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
So the appropriately named Rock-pocalypse (thank you,  [livejournal.com profile] gnibbles!) that devoured my sister's new-home experience also ate nearly two weeks of my life because... well, because someone tried to screw over my family member and that Will Not Stand. Everything in me that is Scots-Irish Sicilian came out in force, and there wasn't room for elsemuch.

I cannot go in to all the details quite yet (though I'm muchly looking forward to doing so, if for no other reason than to purge it from my brainspace). But I can say over two thousand square feet of two- to four-inch sized rocks were removed from my sister's yard this week. They removed enough rock from her yard to have filled the previous home I lived in with rock six to eight inches deep.

That's a fuck-ton of rock.

In case you missed it, here's what it looked like when they moved in:







Now she and her partner can move forward, with a large deck being built this week and the landscapers coming to finish everything off next week. By the 30th, everything needs to be in place, since they're throwing a huge party in that backyard to celebrate their marriage!

And this means I can move forward, too.

I'm wrapping up final commitments for a new StoryBundle I'm curating, answering almost as many emails as there were rocks in my sister's backyard, and sending over a dozen pieces of content for a client back and forth to ensure what I've said about their industry is accurate down to the last little word.

This weekend, I get to write, and to get Breath of Stone review and promo info out to willing folk.

I do not get to go camping. Two weeks out from my sister's wedding celebration, it would be bad familial form to, y'know, disappear into the woods. But this I know: much of September will belong to me and me alone. I intend to take advantage of that and disappear often.

In the meantime, I will be taking more afternoon wanderings. I've found a few removed places within an easy drive that both permit me to feel far away and offer writing-conducive atmospheres and resources. The far-away part is mostly psychological; I need to be somewhere that convinces my brain I'll not be randomly interrupted at any moment. Being in a house with a person who processes every single internal thought verbally (mother), and a person who will interrupt to first assure you he won't interrupt, then interrupt again to apologize for the earlier interruption (father), means I spend most of my home-time waiting for those interruptions. Somehow, someway, a fifteen to thirty minute drive fixes it. Whatever.

Book Three of Desert Rising is progressing. It feels so damn good to be writing it. I do need to nail down the title, because calling it Book Three is bugging me. :) I'm leaning toward another pairing--Flesh of Strife and Ash of Life--or something similar.

And a friend kicked my butt for not writing and publishing more non-fiction, and she's right. Recently, my non-fiction energies have flowed toward immediate client needs. If I'm going to build income rather than chase it, I must invest in my personal non-fiction writings as well. I've twelve months to meet my "hit the road with an RV" dream goal, so I'd best get cracking!


blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)


Darlings, I am so excited about this one, and would love to have your support in seeing these great writers connect with a wider audience!



“Ten fine bloggers and blog-sites spent a year considering almost three hundred self-published fantasy books to bring you their ten favorites. It’s hard to imagine you won’t find some gems among them.” — Mark Lawrence

This is a unique bundle to curate as its books were chosen not by me, but by reviewers who took part in the first Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off organized by Mark Lawrence. Each reviewer received over twenty-five books and a mission: Choose one. This bundle contains the books those reviewers put at the very top of their list.

The SPFBO Bundle includes some of the coolest indie fantasy around. Crista McHugh’s A Soul for Troublegives you a witch named Trouble, possessed by the god of chaos. William Saraband’s Shattered Sands follows a slave girl suddenly empowered by forces older than the desert itself. You’ll delve into the more-than-murder mystery of Matthew Colville’s Priest, and follow another priest trying to save the world after the gods disappear in Barbara Webb’s City of Burning Shadows. And The Weight of A Crown from Tavish Kaeden serves up the deep epic of a recently-united realm on the verge of fracturing.

There is the sharp warrior who knows the value of leaving heroism behind in Under A Colder Sun by Greg James, and the ruined hero who chances into a way to surmount the past in David Benem’s What Remains of Heroes. Plague Jack delves deep into a brutal world of conspiracies, consequences, and backlash against a conqueror in Sins of a Sovereignty. Ben Galley smacks a young man into a frontier Wyoming filled with blood magick and secrets in Blood Rush. And Michael McClung’s The Thief Who Pulled On Trouble’s Braids—the novel scoring highest in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off—races along with a sassy, smart thief who must find an artifact everyone thinks she already has before she’s killed for it.

StoryBundle lets you choose your own price, so you decide how much you’d like to support the writers. For $5—or more, if you’d like—you’ll receive the basic bundle of five novels in DRM-free ebook format. For the bonus price of at least $15, you’ll receive all ten novels. If you choose, a portion of your payment will go toward supporting different charities such as Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now. Over the years, StoryBundle and its participating writers have donated thousands to support awesome charities doing great work.

The Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off Bundle is available for only three weeks, so now is the time to pick up this unique collection of reviewer-beloved fantasy novels, and discover new independent writers who want to take you on thrilling adventures through worlds you’ve never seen with characters you want to know (even if a few of them are rather terrifying).

So here’s how you get your hands on this marvelous collection:

For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you feel generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of five books in any ebook format worldwide:


  • Shattered Sands by W. G. Saraband

  • The Weight of a Crown by Tavish Kaeden

  • Priest by Matthew Colville

  • What Remains of Heroes by David Benem

  • A Soul for Trouble by Crista McHugh

If you pay more than the bonus price of just $15, you get all five of the regular titles, plus five more:


  • Sins of a Sovereignty by Plague Jack

  • The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids by Michael McClung

  • Under a Colder Sun by Greg James

  • Bloodrush by Ben Galley

  • City of Burning Shadows by Barbara J. Webb

The bundle is available for a very limited time only, via http://www.storybundle.com. It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub and .mobi) for all books!

It’s also super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards – which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle – and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.

Why StoryBundle? Here are just a few benefits StoryBundle provides.


  • Get quality reads: We’ve chosen works from excellent authors to bundle together in one convenient package.

  • Pay what you want (minimum $5): You decide how much these fantastic books are worth to you. If you can only spare a little, that’s fine! You’ll still get access to a batch of exceptional titles.

  • Support authors who support DRM-free books: StoryBundle is a platform for authors to get exposure for their works, both for the titles featured in the bundle and for the rest of their catalog. Supporting authors who let you read their books on any device you want—restriction free—will show everyone there’s nothing wrong with ditching DRM.

  • Give to worthy causes: Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to charity.

  • Receive extra books: If you beat the bonus price, you’ll get the bonus books!

StoryBundle was created to give a platform for independent authors to showcase their work, and a source of quality titles for thirsty readers. StoryBundle works with authors to create bundles of ebooks that can be purchased by readers at their desired price. For more information, visit our website at storybundle.com, tweet us at @storybundle and like us on Facebook.

#SFWApro

blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)

Item the First: The membership of SFWA has spoken and, by a vote of 6-to-1 in favor, has changed their governing by-laws to allow writers whose success comes from independent publishing to qualify for membership.  Detailed procedural guidelines are being hammered out, and it looks like authors will be able to begin applying by March of this year.

Last summer, I had my own dilemma over whether I should join.  And after I joined, I had my own disagreements with some of the organization’s choices, and I seriously expect I’ll have a couple more in the months and years ahead.  Yet and still, I am so danged happy–relieved!–to see this vote go through.  The support of the voting membership was loud and clear.  I’ll be sticking around.

Anyone who has questions about it, feel free to ask.  If I don’t know the answer, we’ll see if we can find someone who does. :)

Item the Second: The Indie Fantasy Bundle is entering its final week!  At the bottom of this interview with Brad Beaulieu are links to all the other author interviews.  In them you’ll find talk about worldbuilding, alchemy, international relations, history, windships, subversive genre-play, wish fulfillment and more.  It’s a fascinating group of people, and their diverse works reflect that.

If you’ve already picked up the bundle, thank you so much for supporting the authors and the charities!  It’s a wonderful thing, knowing so many new readers are finding and enjoying our books!

Item the Third: The sequel to Sand of Bone is still moving forward apace.  Breath of Stone is currently slated for an April 2015 release.  If you want to be on the early warning list, sign up now for the Sand and Stone newsletter!

Item the Last: Sand of Bone received a marvelous review from The Book Adventures!  Happy writer!  In the current market, when there are so many more choices–quality choices, mind you–it means a great deal to not only be noticed, but to know the story was enjoyed.

#SFWApro

blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
My internet access last night was as slow as an exhausted sloth slogging through mud with kettleballs chained to its ankles, and writing on the computer in any position -- sitting, standing, reclining, whatever -- was distractingly uncomfortable. Thus I spent some hours stretched out across the bed to write by hand while the hip discomfort receded to an ignorable dull ache.

Excellent forward progress was made on Breath of Stone, the sequel to Sand of Bone. Considering I cut thousands of words with a fell swoop not too long ago, I'm pleased to have gained ground once again. Best of all, the collection of chapters that actively fought to escape the rules of a timeline are now behaving properly. I'll still need to do some trimming of edges here and there, but no characters now need teleportation to arrive at their proper plot-required destinations.

I'm closing in on the sprint. I can feel that sense of urgency coming—the sudden clarity that happens when I can hold the entire plot in my head while, at the same time, focusing on an individual scene. By the end of the week, barring intrusions, I should hit stride again.

Oh, and I had a birthday yesterday. Nothing terrible happened. In fact, it was rather pleasant. Best of all, my sister—who readily points out she is the younger sister—flew into town last night. Icky roads and flight delays meant she didn't arrive until around midnight, but we stayed up until 3am to make up for it. So worth it.

Maybe I'll actually risk planning something fun and interesting and ambitious for my 45th birthday next year.*

And in the meantime, links and commentary!

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck: You've seen this -- I know you have -- but I include it because the thing I celebrate most about growing older is the ability to better discern what is worth caring about. And the older I get, the more interested I am in action over advocacy, involvement over analysis, and problem-solving rather than problem-uncovering. I realize, too, that those who prefer advocacy, analysis, and problem-uncovering would look at my choices and wonder what the hell good I think I'm doing that's actually valuable. That's okay. I know what I'm doing.

How Secular Family Values Stack Up: First of all, please know I'm completely uninterested in slamming/stereotyping the faithful and the believing. I was raised in the American Episcopal faith ("Catholic with options"), spent time at Benedictine monasteries, and strongly considered spending my life in religious studies. The path to my current secular life is long and winding and not for this post. Suffice it to say I am not surprised by what the article claims. And my sensitivity on the issue is most certainly influenced by the fact I've for years been surrounded by some extremely judgmental and unloving folks who have justified their actions through religion. Regardless, I found the article interesting.

Yes, Women In Dragon Ago Could Use Longswords: In addition to pointing it the mental gymnastics some folks go through to accept fighting dragons while dismissing female fighters (a pointing I heartily agree with), the article uses historical facts rather than play-acting assumptions to make its point. Sadly, I must admit the "Women do too fight!" argument is rapidly tumbling into my "no fuck to give" bucket—not because I don't have knowledge of the situation, but because the "No, they don't!" crowd is increasingly irrelevant on multiple fronts. Yes, some in the creative industry—many of whom, not surprisingly, say they just love strong women—will cling to their self-affirming bias. But there are many more who don't. And an increasing number of writers and creators who have been marginalized are trading in the approval of the establishment for the support of their fans.

(Besides, as a martial artist, I admit an unseemly satisfaction comes from throwing a bigger, stronger, cocky opponent who doesn't yet understand that force is not the same as power.)

Indie Fantasy Bundle: If you haven't already checked it out, please do! If you have, thank you! If you're interested in giving those writers more support, you can do simple things like add the books to your Goodreads lists, leave reviews for the ones you've already read, and let others know about the Indie Fantasy Bundle.

Speaking of StoryBundle, I'll be curating for them again! A whole post on the curating experience will be coming later in the week. In the meantime, the details of time and theme of my upcoming bundles are still settling into place. But if you're an author interested in being part of a future bundle, leave a comment or drop me a line and I'll let you know how to submit either directly to me or to StoryBundle.

Lastly, if you'd like to be updated on StoryBundle projects and know first when Breath of Stone is released, remember to sign up for my not-too-often newsletter.



*For those who have no clue what I'm alluding to: I had planned a complete weekend getaway with a group of friends to celebrate my 40th birthday. Instead, I spent it in a VA hospital with my not-ex-but-separated-from husband, helping him eat his first meal in three days while trying to find out from the doctors why he'd had multiple heart attacks in two weeks, and reading lab reports that indicated the diagnosis would be end-stage liver cancer. There is no need for you to mention this in comments if you feel awkward or obligated to do so. If, however, you have questions or are seeking support/information/sharing, I'm more than willing to discuss it.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)

Brad Beaulieu and I met about ten years ago at the twentieth anniversary Writers of the Future workshop, where we spent a week learning the craft from Tim Powers and K.D. Wentworth.  (I still have the notes Brad made on a story of mine from that week.)  From the beginning, he struck me as a person who had an inquisitive and analytical mind that matched his creativity.  Since then, it’s been a pleasure watching his career grow, gaining strong fan support and critical acclaim.  When the opportunity to curate for StoryBundle arose, I knew I wanted to include Brad’s work.  His debut novel, The Winds of Khalakovo, is available as part of the Indie Fantasy Bundle available through February 10, 2015.

Hearing Brad talk about writing is a pretty cool experience.  Though most writers think about their creative process, Brad delves into it.  The result can be a wide-ranging conversation or a tightly focused discussion, but it will always be interesting.  If you have the chance to catch one of his convention workshops (he taught at GenCon’s Writer Symposium last year), I highly recommend it.

In the meantime, Brad was generous enough to answer a few questions about his writing process in general, and The Winds of Khalakovo specifically.  Enjoy!

***

Secrets are a big part of what drives your story and adds complexities to your characters.   How did you approach weaving those secrets into the plot?  Can you talk a little about how those secrets—the ones withheld and the ones discovered—impacted the characters’ choices?

Agreed, and I’ll take it a step further. I think secrets are a big part of what drives any story. Even those that are light or comedic in tone are driven by story questions, the answers to which are revealed only after torturing the reader for a time. Throughout much of The Hobbit, we have the overriding question of What is Smaug? and How dangerous will he be when Bilbo and the dwarves reach the Lonely Mountain at last? In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, we have the mystery of who, in fact, framed Roger Rabbit.

In The Winds of Khalakovo, I tried to introduce mystery early. I wanted the inciting incident to show up quickly, and for it to lead to more questions as the story played out. Early on, there’s an attack on a windship, which the hero of the novel, Prince Nikandr Khalakovo, responds to when it happens. That attack is much more than it seems at first. As it unfolds, larger mysteries are revealed to the reader, which lead to even more mysteries, until the full scope and stakes of the novel are shown near the end of the book.

One of the central characters is a boy named Nasim. He’s a cipher early on. He doesn’t speak often, and when he does it is often unclear what he’s speaking about. Nasim is, in fact, very powerful, and the reasons for that are revealed later in the novel, but one of the things you have to be careful of in novels is having characters that are too powerful. I had initially envisioned Nasim as a savant, a boy gifted with incredible magical abilities, and he is that, but he also lives with a condition that is similar to what we think of as autistic.

It was necessary to limit Nasim in some way, but as it turned out the incarnation I used in the book led to some very interesting reveals. It’s the very root of his condition—an autistic savant—that led me to know so much more about who he really is and where he came from, something I probably would never have come up with if I wasn’t trying to keep his power in check in the first place.

One of the many things I love about The Winds of Khalakovo is its sense of deep history.  How much of the novel’s backstory did you develop before the writing began?

Well, it’s difficult to say exactly, but I’d say “to a moderately large degree.” I worked a lot on the world itself, the nations at play, the magic, the cultures, the wars and times of peace, how trade developed and flourished, threats from outside forces (including the world itself). I didn’t develop every piece of every part of the world, but writers will often develop much, much more than actually shows up on the page, and that’s the approach I took here. I wanted it to be a rich world that I could portray in the novel without committing myself to years of worldbuilding.

And I didn’t stop after I’d developed the world. It matured as the writing began. I can’t see everything I’ll need for the plot ahead of time, so when new things crop up, and I realize I need to lay more bedrock before I can build societies and cities on top of it, I did so, setting aside the writing for a time, comfortable in the knowledge that what I was doing was necessary to deliver the rich story I was trying to give the reader.

How do you decide the limits of your world’s magic?

Here I fall into the camp of “a little goes a long way” of magic systems. J.R.R. Tolkien and George Martin take similar approaches in that magic isn’t very present on the page for much of the books, and when it does show up it’s pretty subtle. It has major effects here and there (the Nazgul, the White Walkers, Sauron, dragons, etc.), and is known to be very powerful, but it’s not shown often, and so (for me, at least) has more impact when it does show up.

One of the earliest decisions I came to was that the magic would be elemental in nature (earth, air, fire, water, and life). What followed was the decision of who could wield it. By and large, the most powerful among the people in The Winds of Khalakovo are the Aramahn, the indigenous people of the islands where the story takes place. They are also very pacifistic. They don’t believe in war—it stains their souls, so to speak—so it made for an interesting mix: a conquering people with little magic lording over a conquered people with powerful magic. It was tricky to find a way to paint this realistically, but hopefully I managed it.

One last thing I’ll mention about the elemental magic is that it is difficult to use, even for those with the ability to do so. One must commune with spirits from the elemental plane in order to do so. If one isn’t careful, one might draw an elemental spirit across to the material plane, and when that happens, the spirits are, well, let’s just say unkind to the living. And even for those who can wield magic well, it costs, because the spirits draw from their life force as the mage uses them for their magical effects. It’s a balance I quite liked: a reasonable cost for the wondrous things they can achieve.

The design of your airships is really, really cool.  What sort of research went into their design and their flight capabilities?

Well, I did a lot of poking about into seaborne craft, and abstracted that for air travel. I had decided early on that the seas in the world of The Winds of Khalakovo were very rough, and so it came to be that windship travel was actually more safe than sailing the seas. And from there I worked out how they might look, and more importantly, how they might work. They have masts on all four sides of the ship (up, down, starboard, larboard), and they have a “keel” at the very center of the ship that uses the ley lines of the archipelago chains to orient the ship. Qiram (magi) help give them lift and summon the winds to steer them to other places on this dangerous world. They also needed a way to land—since they have masts pointing down, they can’t exactly land on the ground. Instead, they have “perches” that jut out from tall cliff faces where the ships moor. These cliff faces become akin to harbors in the age of sail, and are a source of revenue from trade, but are also prime targets in times of war, and so are protected vigorously.

The windships themselves became one of my favorite elements of the entire trilogy, and were the genesis of all sorts of plot points, ship battles, and swashbuckling adventure.

What was your favorite part of the story’s creative process?

I got a real kick out of developing the world itself. I used an excellent little piece of mapping software called Fractal Terrains. The program allows you to specify some basic parameters about a world—things like diameter, water coverage, mountain height and ocean depth, the number of moons—and the software will then render a world for you. I played with the software a lot, altering the parameters and retrying until I had something I liked. I knew I wanted a world with archipelagos. The rendering of the terrain and the channels beneath the ocean surface ended up advising me on the magic of the world. It also created the geo-political structure. I circled the island chains until I had what I wanted: a loose collection of archipelagos that depended upon one another for survival. These became duchies, part of the larger Grand Duchy of Anuskaya, and two of my main characters became a Prince of one duchy and a Princess of another. It also made sense to me that there might have been an indigenous people on these islands that were pushed out by the expansion of the Grand Duchy. And from this flowed both the Aramahn, the peaceful peoples that originally inhabited the islands, and the Maharraht, the warlike splinter of the Aramahn who wish to push the Grand Duchy from the shores of the islands at any cost.

You can take a look at the maps here: http://quillings.com/fiction/the-winds-of-khalakovo/maps/

***

See?  I told you he delves into the process!  To get Winds of Khalakovo today as part of the Indie Fantasy Bundle, check out StoryBundle.  To read more about Brad’s work, check out Quillings, where you’ll also find out about his upcoming epic fantasy series, The Song of the Shattered Sands.

#SFWApro

blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)

Eight novels!  One bundle!

storybundle

A couple years ago, StoryBundle included my first novel in the Indie Fantasy Bundle. This time, StoryBundle offered me the opportunity to curate a bundle of my own, and I jumped to accept. I couldn’t pass up the chance to share some of my own favorite writers with you.

This Indie Fantasy Bundle includes some names you’ll recognize, and some that might be new. The novels give fantasy readers who love the genre a diverse feast of great reads: epics where the fate of dynasties depend on the strength of a few dedicated men and women, adventure tales that never slow down, gods who intervene on behalf of their chosen servants, cultures in upheaval when its people dare to question ancient boundaries, political intrigues fueled by magic, and characters young and old who face challenges of faith, honor, and survival. It includes a World Fantasy award winner, Gemmell and Spectrum award finalists, Nebula finalists, and Writers of the Future award winners.

The bundle includes Bradley Beaulieu’s epic debut novel The Winds of Khalakovo, where dynasties and personal desires collide in secret chambers below and the wind-filled skies above, and Scott Marlowe’s action-packed The Five Elements, filled with adventure and alchemy and powerful elemental magic.

You’ll meet a talented and clever outlaw in Sherwood Smith’s Lhind the Thief, a soldier who must rediscover his own purpose in C.J. Brightley’s The King’s Sword, and an alien race facing challenges and discoveries that could destroy their society in M.C.A. Hogarth’s The Worth of A Shell.

Francesca Forrest’s Pen Pal joins a child watched over by the spirits of the ocean with a woman who discovers the awakening power of the earth’s fire. Judith Tarr’s Arrows of the Sun sets an empire a mere century old on the brink of breaking apart. My own dark fantasy Sand of Bone casts one outcast ruler into the wilds to discover the desert’s magic before her kin hunts her down.

StoryBundle lets you choose your own price, so you decide how much you’d like to support the writers. For $3—or more, if you’d like—you’ll receive the basic bundle of four novels in DRM-free ebook format. For the bonus price of at least $12 or more, you’ll receive all eight novels. If you choose, a portion of your payment will go toward supporting different charities such as Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now. Over the years, StoryBundle and its participating writers have donated thousands to support awesome charities doing great work.

The Indie Fantasy Bundle is available for only three weeks. It’s a great opportunity to pick up eight wonderful novels for winter reading, support independent writers who want to take you on an fantastic journey, and discover new writers with great stories along the way.

Find your bundle here!


More details...



Read more... )
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Since StoryBundle launches tomorrow, my computer crashed this evening.  Of course.

I do not feel happy when starting the computer results in the message, "Internal harddrive not found." Honestly, computer, it's in the same place it was last time you looked!

Since I've no clue what to do myself in that situation,* I took it to my local computer wizards. I'll hear tomorrow about what magic they might or might not be able to wield over my suddenly-blind laptop.

In the meantime, I'm working on the dojo computer -- thank goodness I was able to bring it home! -- and am so, so grateful I backed up all my pictures just last week.

And nothing, not even my fumble-finger keyboarding, is dulling my excitement for tomorrow's StoryBundle launch!



*The computer is one of the few components of my life I've never learned to DIY, alas. I am enabled in my ignorance by very good, very reasonable, very personable computer wizards who've taken good care of me for years.

blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)

So I’m curating a fantasy bundle for StoryBundle. I’ve begun reviewing submissions and would love to see more.

What I’m looking for: Epic, sword & sorcery, traditional, diverse, and/or dark fantasy. Clean writing and sharp pacing. Well-developed characters, comprehensive worldbuilding, and coherent magical/supernatural elements. Fully edited and proofread, properly formatted, cover art in place.

Things I’m not looking for: Paranormal, urban, YA, or grimdark fantasy.

If you’re not familiar with StoryBundle, you can check out my experience as a writer.  In the StoryBundle archives, you can check out past bundles, interviews from writers, and FAQS about how the process works.

To submit your novel, send the MOBI or EPUB file to submissions@storybundle.com. If you want to ask questions first, go ahead and ask in comments or via private message.

ADDED: If we're friends (or even just friendly with each other), and you'd rather sub directly to me, drop me a message through LJ and I'll make sure you have the right email address.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
First: A very nice review of Sword and Chant from Marissa Lingen. After our conversation on this post on the visibility of women writers and reviews of self-published works, I queried her about reviewing Chant. I'm beyond delighted she had nice things to say about it. Really, there's always that voice in the back of my head telling me I should be grateful if I get feedback more enthusiastic than, "Well, it doesn't completely suck." And that voice natters at me even when I love a story and am confident others will, too. So the fact her review includes the word "recommended" without the word "not" in front of it had me singing. (Yes, I truly sang. No, you wouldn't want to hear it.)

The publisher side of me is just as jazzed about her acknowledgement of the good production values. Reviews of traditionally published books wouldn't make mention of such as thing unless it was truly awful, but it's so important for reviewers to include at least a passing mention of good production in self-published works. We all know there is crap out there. Reviewers do all professional writers a service by acknowledging decent work.

(And if you haven't read that post of women and reviews I referenced above, I recommend taking a look if for no other reason than it'll link you to Marissa's comments on her own review policies.)

Second: Revisions of Sand of Bone are still progressing despite the distractions of spring fever. There is still one plotting issue I'm not certain how to fix. I'm letting it simmer in the background while working on other sections in the hope a solution will reveal itself. If a solution doesn't spring from my brow fully formed, I'm not certain what I'll do.

Third: It's official! I am curating a fantasy bundle for StoryBundle.  I had such a positive experience with them on the author side, I'm excited to be working on the curating side as well.  We've talked about tentatively slating the bundle for a fall release, and I've already begun to screen submissions. If you're interested in submitting something, cool! Later today I'll put up an overview of what I'm looking for and how to go about submitting.

And a couple personal things:
One: I booked Dev's flight to and transportation in Italy yesterday. I'm grateful EarthWatch provides solid briefing material on what to expect every step of the way since I haven't been overseas in the last twenty years, and have never been to Italy. The next step is to coordinate his travel from Indy to JFK. We might opt to drive out together, if I can pull the time away from the dojo, and have him fly back at the end of the trip. Yesterday was the first time I felt nervous about sending him off -- which I don't think is unreasonable, even though he'll be less than six months from eighteen. If anyone has any additional do this/not that advice, I'd love to hear it. And I'll likely beg for it again as the date creeps closer!

Two: And yesterday I wanted to call my friend Patricia just to tell her how much I miss her. It was one of those weird moments of the grieving process. I didn't forget I couldn't really call her; I wanted to call her specifically because I couldn't.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
The bundle ended Friday.

My payment arrived yesterday.

That sort of turnaround is pretty hard to beat!
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
I could hardly be more pleased with my first StoryBundle experience.

We closed out the Indie Fantasy Bundle with about 2350 bundles sold. That means Sword and Chant is in the hands of over two thousand strangers.  For a new writer like me, just starting out with a "platform" the size of soapdish rather than a soapbox, that's fantastic.  I didn't make as much per-sale as I would have selling those books independently, but StoryBundle allowed me to tap a new set of readers in a short amount of time.  That was worth it to me.  If readers like the book, they'll tell others and buy future works.  If readers don't like it...  Well, it's better to know now, yes? :)

By the numbers: About 84% of those sales were over the bonus mark--an awesome number for a pay-what-you-want strategy.  The income totals indicate plenty of folks paid more than the minumum bonus mark.  The readers chose to donate over $1000 to Mighty Writers and Trees for the Future. 

My share of the total income makes me very happy.  It brings me almost one-third of the way to my eighteen-month income goal.  It also brings me to about one-third of my unit-sales goal for the same time period.

The folks behind StoryBundle were great and easy to work with, and I look forward to keeping in touch with the writers who shared the bundle with me.  Payment happens within 30 days of the bundle's end--faster than any other platform.  I would do it again in a heartbeat.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)

Maybe it's the fleeting touch of spring in the air. Maybe it's the pressure to Get Things Done. Maybe it's a response to finally—for months, and without non-fiction distractions—focusing on stories. Or maybe it's a delayed rebound from the multiple years I chose to ignore all the ideas. Whatever the cause, I find myself beset night and day by the internal demand I get everything written NOW.

I'm blasting through the rest of Sand of Bone now, making swifter progress now that I feel more immersed in the world. Suddenly, this idea trotted in this morning that I should completely cut the middle book from the trilogy. I could do it, with the creation of a new set-up for what's now the third book, and I'm liking the ideas more and more.

The second book wouldn't be just lost words, though. On the heels of the above thought came the inkling of a different story that could be told of the characters and culture that fill much of the second book.

Grumpy Neb from The Drunkard keeps tossing me his observations about his young charge, smart and sexy Lin from The Slaughterer is forever just sitting down to dinner with his huge family because that's the scene from which the entire plot flows, and the narrator of the final book in the Chant series is whispering angry tidbits at me.

Three key scenes from Surrender run through my thoughts over and over. I drove home from Asheville with another novel idea rattling around, and had a rough plot sketched by the time I got home—one that will connect with the Indy book I still plan to finish, and the Charleston book I decided to write when I visited That Man.

Because I really, really needed another project. Because having ten novels in various stages ranging from "nearing final draft" to "collection of ideas and plot points" simply wasn't enough.

Sweet New Idea Muse, surely there must be a writer out there staring at a blank page who could use a touch of your inspiration. Truly, I will be just fine if you move along to the next gal. But if you're worried about how I'll do without you, you could leave your kind cousins Word Count and Revision to watch over me.

(Aside: That Man continues to be awesome and fascinating and kind and fun and someone I'm happy to have in my life. Hee.)

blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)

I thought it was beyond cool to see Sword and Chant's cover as part of a Storybundle article at CNET.

Now, I'm tickled in the extreme to see Storybundle mentioned at the National Library of New Zealand's Library and Learning Blog.

ETA: Sales exceeded 1500 sometime last night.

blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
I am so jazzed to be make this announcement:

Sword and Chant is included in the Storybundle's new Indie Fantasy Bundle!

"Fantasy has been one of our most requested genres, and we're thrilled to bring you these wonderful and exciting titles that represent some of the best epic adventures that you can find anywhere. Our authors have created expansive and sophisticated worlds that any reader would love to explore, with magical apocalypses and vast landscapes of history and legend. And whether you prefer dragon companions or djinn, supernatural schisms or looming evils, secret societies of thieves and spies or epic clashes between ancient rivals, this is the bundle for you."

So what is Storybundle?  Like HumbleBundle, it puts the pricing power in the hands of the reader.  You determine what you'd like to pay for the set of six titles.  (If you choose to purchase for $10 or more, you'll get an additional two titles.)  You determine what percentage of your purchase price will go to the authors.  And you choose whether 10% of your purchase will go to one of the current charities.

All titles are DRM-free, and ready for Nook, Kindle, or Kindle-enabled device.  You even have the chance to read an excerpt from each title before deciding on your purchase.  You can even purchase gift cards for others, or choose a specific date for when you'd like the bundle delivered.

So go forth to read, discover, and enjoy!

Profile

blairmacg: (Default)
blairmacg

May 2017

S M T W T F S
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28 293031   

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Oct. 23rd, 2017 04:03 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios