Archive for the ‘Publishing’ Category

Promo: Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall

Morning, squiders! Happy Tuesday! Today I have Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall for your perusal. (There’s an excerpt at the bottom as well.)




YA Fantasy
Date Published: June 18th 2019
Publisher: Capital Station Books

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Magic. Sailing. A murderer among heroes.

Gravedigger Volke Savan wants nothing more than to be like his hero, the legendary magical swashbuckler, Gregory Ruma. First he needs to become an arcanist, someone capable of wielding magic, which requires bonding with a mythical creature. And he’ll take anything—a pegasus, a griffin, a ravenous hydra—maybe even a leviathan, like Ruma.

So when Volke stumbles across a knightmare, a creature made of shadow and terror, he has no reservations. But the knightmare knows a terrible secret: Ruma is a murderer out to spread corrupted magic throughout their island nation. He’s already killed a population of phoenixes and he intends to kill even more.

In order to protect his home, his adopted sister, and the girl he admires from afar, Volke will need to confront his hero, the Master Arcanist Gregory Ruma.

A fast-paced flintlock fantasy for those who enjoy How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell, Unsouled (Cradle Series) by Will Wight, and Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan.

About the Author


Shami Stovall relies on her BA in History and Juris Doctorate to make her living as an author and history professor in the central valley of California. She writes in a wide range of fiction, from crime thrillers to fantasy to science-fiction. Stovall loves reading, playing video games, entertaining others with stories, and writing about herself in the third person.

 

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Excerpt:

I outlined a fresh grave for the cemetery as bells rang from the isle’s tower, signifying the start of the celebrations. The soil reeked of ammonia and rot, but the crisp morning breeze washed the scent away, dispersing it over the ocean. I removed my shirt, allowing the wind to cool me while I worked.

Every ten years, the people on the Isle of Ruma gathered to watch the fledgling phoenixes bond with a few chosen mortals. Lamplighters did their duty despite the glorious sunshine, each lamp’s fire representing the flames of phoenixes. Merchants cleared their horses and carts from the main road in anticipation of the crowds.

This was my second Day of Phoenixes. A decade ago, on my fifth birthday, I missed the bonding ceremony to attend my father’s trial. He was convicted of murder, but because he hadn’t been born on the island, he was taken to the mainland for final judgement. That was the last time I saw him.

Although the last Day of Phoenixes had been inauspicious, I intended to change that. Once I had finished digging a shallow grave, I would make my way into town.

I slammed the shovel’s head into the dirt and scooped deep. The cemetery sat near the edge of the island, far from those gathering to observe the hopeful students trying to win the favor of the phoenixes.

Tradition stated that anyone who handled sewage, waste, and dead bodies wasn’t allowed to attend the bonding ceremony, which was just my luck. After my father was sent away, I could’ve been given to any profession for apprenticeship. I could’ve gone to the carpenter and learned the craft of woodworking, or I could’ve gone to the silversmith and learned the art of fine metal work, but misfortune hounded me like a shadow. I was given to the gravekeeper, slated to dig corpse-holes until the end of time, forever exiled from the festivities.

I still intended to go. Even if it meant ignoring the traditions of the isle—something unheard of on our tiny spit of land—no one could stop me from proving myself to a phoenix. No one.

I scooped another mound of dirt and tossed it to the side.

“You look deep in thought, Volke,” my fellow corpse-hole apprentice, Illia, said. “What’re you planning?”

“I’m waiting for the trials to begin.”

“And then what?”

“You’ll see.”

Illia sat in the shade of a cypress tree, her legs crossed and her chin in both hands. Most people hated the thought of sitting on graves, since it was supposed to bring bad luck, but Illia wasn’t like most people. She leaned back on a headstone and exhaled as the ocean wind rushed by, catching her wavy brown hair and revealing the scars on the side of her face.

 She held a hand over the marks, like she always did. The moment the wind died down, she pulled some of her hair around to cover her scars, hiding the old knife wounds that had taken her right eye.

 I finished one half of the grave and huffed.

Illia and I lived in a tiny cottage on the edge of the cemetery, apprenticed to Ruma’s sole gravekeeper. We both held the glorious title of gravedigger. Like me, she had no family. Well, we had each other, and Gravekeeper William, but he hardly counted.

For ten years, Illia and I had considered ourselves brother and sister, and siblings always know each other’s mood. Illia displayed all the telltale signs of irritation—narrowed eye, rarely blinking, her mouth turned down in a slight frown. She hated the fact I was keeping secrets from her. If I didn’t explain myself quick, she’d exact her revenge.

“I don’t want to become the next gravekeeper,” I said as I threw a mound of dirt off to the side.

With an eyebrow sarcastically raised, Illia asked, “So you’re going to impress a phoenix and leave this place, is that it?”

“That’s right.”

“Only two phoenixes were born this year,” she said, wagging her finger. “And the schoolmaster has already picked his two favored disciples to win the right to bond. No one wants you to take a phoenix from either of those try-hards.”

“I don’t care.” I scooped out another clump of dirt, my grip on the shovel so tight it hurt. “Bonding with a phoenix is too important. Besides, no one on this isle likes me anyway. Why should I start caring about their opinions now?”

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Promo: The Mercenary Code by Emmet Moss

Good morning, squiders! Today I have a promo and excerpt for you for Emmet Moss’s new epic fantasy novel, The Mercenary Code, which is book 1 of the Shattering of Kingdoms series.


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Epic Fantasy
Date Published:  May 2019

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The Shattering of Kingdoms, Book 1
Break the Code. Shatter the World.

Centuries ago, the murder of a beloved king tore apart the Kingdom of Caledun. The land was plunged into chaos and thousands perished in the aftermath. A new order was established in an attempt to return Caledun to its former glory. It failed, but in its place rose the beginnings of the Code.

During this same period, the mystical caretakers of the Great Wood retreated from the world of Kal Maran, their disappearance an ominous harbinger of the suffering that was to follow. The Great Wood now grows out of control. Cities, towns, and villages have fallen before the relentless march of the forest. Without the former guardians to keep her tame, the wood has become a place of peril, and dark creatures of legend now hunt beneath its leaves.

The summer season is now a time of armed conflict. The fall of the old monarchy has brought about a ceaseless cycle of combat. Grievances are settled by the strict tenets of a binding Mercenary Code and the men who would die to preserve its honour.

However, change is in the air. Political rivalries have escalated, and dire rumblings of a revolution abound. Thrust to the forefront of the shattered land’s politics, a mercenary fights for more than just riches. In the north, a borderland soldier wrestles with his own demons and looks to find his true purpose. And in the shadow of the Great Wood, a young man’s chance encounter with a strange visitor gives hope to a land divided.



Excerpt
chapter IX

Bider’s gaze wandered over the assembled enemy troops camped beyond bow range on the outskirts of the city. At least a thousand men lay to the west, another four hundred were guarding any attempt at a sortie from the south gate. A dozen distinct banners flapped in the strong wind, with each company standard easy to distinguish from Bider’s elevated vantage point. He studied the banners and counted only one northern company among the groups to the south. Most were unfamiliar him, and his eyes settled uneasily on the symbol of the black hyena belonging to Khali’s Reavers.

Nudging Orn, Bider gestured out towards the standard. “What’s the story behind the Reavers?” he asked. “You’ve been around since the early days of the Fey’Derin.”

“The Reavers are a bad lot,” Orn said, spitting over the wall. “A very bad lot.”

“That’s what I know, not what I want to hear,” Bider pressed.

Orn gave his companion a deliberate once over before answering. “Over the last century or so, there have been several unspoken rules in our profession,” he began, “One, is to always minimize casualties of the innocent, especially women and children. Another is to always accord captured officers fair and just treatment. Although such rules were never written into the Code, mercenary companies don’t take kindly to torturers —”

“So Khali’s men tortured officers?” Bider interrupted with alarm.

“If you’re going to interrupt, I’ll stop right here and now,” Orn growled. “Now are you going to shut that trap of yours or not?”

“Yes, sorry.” Bider answered timidly.

“As I was saying, there are several actions that are widely frowned upon. The last revolves around a company’s base of operations during the winter months. Be it a temporary encampment, or a permanent home city, it matters not. You leave the men and their families alone. There’s plenty of time for killing when the spring arrives.” Pausing to take a long sip from his ever-present flask, Orn shot Bider a suspicious look. “You won’t say anything to the Captain now will you?” he glared.

“Not as long as I hear this story …” Bider responded carefully.

“Well, it was three seasons ago, the year before you came on as a recruit, and the company was staying south for the winter. It was the first time the Captain chose not to take us back north to Briar, instead planning to stay near the eastern edge of the Caeronwood. Sergeant Fenton and the Lieutenant left the autumn campaign early with our newest recruits and built a relatively comfortable camp for the men. Rumours began to swirl by season’s end that a few southern companies had been contracted out later than the usual, and many mercenaries across the region speculated at what might be developing. Seems a few of the nobles in the Protectorate territories held the northern companies in some contempt, deeming them unfit to fight in southern lands.”

“But the Code states that the whole of Kal Maran is fit for any company to do battle,” Bider retorted.

“That’s right, but it doesn’t mean it sits well with some of the noblemen hereabouts. The Code isn’t perfect, and men’s hearts can be easily twisted, even by the most mundane of things,” Orn continued. “After the Battle of Cobourne, where the Fey’Derin fought for Lord Erion Brawn, word escaped that an early winter bounty was out on our company. It seems the Captain’s choice of employer over the years had angered certain factions, most notably Lord Yarr and his ally Duke Garius of Imlaris.”

“I’m not familiar with that name.” Bider said.

“He paid a large price to spearhead the campaign against our recruits. They hit the camp before we could muster our strength and warn them. That twelve of the fifty-six men survived, including Lieutenant Burnaise, is something of a miracle. It was a slaughter, and our young men had no chance. Bran, that big brute of an Axeman, still sports a nasty scar under that beard of his, but at least he survived, unlike many of his friends.”

“And it was Khali’s men that attacked?” Bider hesitated to ask.

“Aye, it was. They showed no quarter. Women who had arrived from the north or sweethearts from the nearby towns, it mattered little. Khali’s men murdered them all. Sergeant Fenton died trying to protect his young son and wife,” Orn replied gloomily.

“The Captain was cold that day. He showed no emotion, and yet we all knew he was hurting. His vengeance was swift and as unmerciful as the unjust attack. He mustered half the company and ambushed Garius as he travelled between cities. No one walked away from that battle unscarred. Captain Silveron ignored the man’s pleas for mercy and took his head, sending it in a box to Gadian Yarr.  Then we travelled north, taking a winding road through the Erienn mountain range, passing by Dragon Mount and the Silveryn Mages.”

“And the Reavers?” Bider asked, entranced by the sorrow etched in the storyteller’s words.

“We fought them the following season. Sergeant McConnal nearly destroyed their vanguard single-handedly, and the Captain, well he was both terrifying and awe-inspiring to behold. We haven’t seen those bastards in well over a year now, and it’s all any of us involved in that ambush can do to hold our tempers in check. There’s a reckoning still to come. The Captain swore on those dead men that he would kill the man who coldly slaughtered those innocents, and if I know the Captain, that day is coming.” Orn hung his head as he finished, staring solemnly at the ground.

A long moment passed, and Bider felt a pang of guilt knowing that he had reopened old wounds. Ignoring Orn as he took a second and then third pull from his silver flask, Bider slipped down the stone staircase and left his friend alone with his thoughts.



About the author:

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Emmet Moss lives in Canada with his family and cat. He is a sports enthusiast and an avid reader of fantasy and science fiction. The Mercenary Code is the first installment of his Shattering of Kingdoms epic fantasy series. Book two, The King’s Guard, is set for release in Fall 2019.






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It’s Okay to Self-Publish

Okay, squiders, we’re back in the old blog post drafts again. This one comes all the way from 2010, almost a full (yikes!) decade ago.

Back when self-publishing was, while not the weird and stigmatized thing of elder days, still not as accepted as it is today.

Here are the notes I left myself:

  • Doesn’t mean you’re a failure
  • Put out the best product you can
  • Be aware that you’re fighting an uphill battle
  • Harder to get traditionally published

Let’s unpack this while I channel Kit of nine years ago. Man, that was a very different life.

Doesn’t mean you’re a failure

Interesting. Was I assuming people were only self-publishing because they hadn’t been able to get a traditional deal? Back in 2010 I’d participated in…at least two indie-published anthologies. Was I defensive? Maybe so. Or maybe I was trying to let other people know that it was okay, that traditional publishing wasn’t for everyone or everything, and that each project should be evaluated individually.

Now, of course, some people actively choose to self-publish without considering traditional publishing, since you retain greater creative control and better royalties.

Put out the best product you can

Still true, of course. A well-prepped self-pub is indistinguishable from a traditionally published book. Yet I still pick up books all the time that I can tell are self-published almost immediately. The most common indicator I see is grammar–bad punctuation, run-on sentences, clunky writing. All stuff any editor worth their salt can help clean up. Then there’s general bad writing, inconsistencies throughout the story, and bad plotting. Haphazard covers. Awkward book descriptions.

I’ve heard it said that you have to either put in time or money, depending on what’s easiest for you. But you do have to put something in.

Be aware that you’re fighting an uphill battle

Hm. Did I mean because you don’t have a marketing team behind you? Maybe. But a lot of traditionally published authors these days still have to do their own publicity.

Did I mean in terms of legitimacy? (i.e., whether or not you’re a real author, if a self-published book is a real book) I’m betting that’s what I meant. I think, if you put in the time (or money) mentioned above, this is less of an issue than it used to be.

Harder to get traditionally published

I’m not sure this was true back then, nor now. Someone probably has numbers somewhere.

Publishing is such a weird industry and really anything could happen. Is a publisher really going to turn down an excellent book because you self-published some cringe-worthy badly-disguised fanfiction five years ago? Probably not (though maybe they’ll ask you to use a pen name).

Alternately, people have gone on to traditional publishing deals because they’ve self-published. So it really seems like you should do what it’s right for a particular project and not worry about it.

Thanks for joining me for another addition of “Kit digs out half-written blog posts from the past,” squiders! Thoughts on my thoughts?

Patreon Rights Grab?

I got a disturbing email from one of the other authors I follow, Holly Lisle, this morning, concerning Patreon.

We all know Patreon, right? It gives people the ability to give some amount of money to creators (musicians, artists, writers, etc.) they like to help them continue to be able to make creative content. I made a page myself some time ago, though I have been very bad at it.

So Holly, in her email, said she was cancelling her Patreon because of some troubling wording in the Terms of Use.

The wording is:

“By posting content to Patreon you grant us a royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, sublicensable, worldwide license to use, reproduce, distribute, perform, publicly display or prepare derivative works of your content. The purpose of this license is to allow us to operate Patreon, promote Patreon and promote your content on Patreon. We are not trying to steal your content or use it in an exploitative way.”

While Patreon says in other places that 100% of your content is owned by you, and it doesn’t use it, the fact that this wording exists (and there’s no way for a creator to take permission away from Patreon if they change their minds in the future) is problematic.

There’s more on this here.

I do have some questions. How long has this wording been there? Is it as bad as it sounds? I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV.

But I did think I would cancel my page until I had a better idea of what this means, and it turns out that it’s not live anyway. Har. Apparently I went to edit it at some point and did not publish the changes, and so it’s just sitting in some weird limbo.

(Good job, Kit.)

But, anyway, I thought I’d put this out there, in case other people have Patreons and would also like to think about what this means for them.

Aside from that, I hope everyone is having a pretty good Thursday.

Landsquid Picture Book Progress

Seasons are weird, aren’t they, squiders? Sometimes they make no sense, like when it’s October and 80 degrees and could be summer except the leaves have turned, or when it snows in June.

But spring has come in right on schedule. The weather changed. The flowers came up. The birds came back. All literally starting on the equinox. It’s kind of freaking me out.

I am not being productive, which is a combination of all the not-writing things I need to do and the fact that I want to write, so consequently nothing at all is getting done. But I did force myself to walk to the open space this morning (there’s a convenient picnic table not too far in) to do some drawing on the landsquid picture book I’ve been very slowly working on. (My spouse pointed out that we’d outlined it last summer. Har.)

(Have not called the medical people or done anything for the consignment sale, aside from looking at the facebook page.)

I came to the realization earlier that I was actually sabotaging myself by doing picture book publication research. First of all, it was taking time away from working on the story itself, and second of all, it’s a bit premature. Why do we care about publishing when we don’t have anything to publish?

(The Childrens’ Market book thus far has not been extremely valuable. I have not learned anything I did not already know.)

I think the idea was that I didn’t quite know what I needed to publish a picture book, when we got to that point, and that I didn’t want to be missing something. But I really should just leave it alone for a bit.

So I’m currently working on what I guess is called a “dummy,” which is essentially a sketched-out version of the book. My process thus far has gone like this:

  • Outline the book (basic phase outline using bullet points, one of my favorites)
  • Do length research (I went through a bunch of the small, mobile ones’ picture books and looked at how long they were, and how many pages were sundries–title page, dedication, copyright, etc.–versus story pages. Almost every book I looked at was 32 pages long, with somewhere between 2 and 4 pages being sundries, with most of the stories being 28 pages long)
  • Write a first draft by pages (Example: 1. On a bright, sunny day, Landsquid invited his friends to a picnic in the woods.)
  • Create a dummy (draw and write out story in a non-polished manner, in this case, in an old lined college notebook using a pencil)

I guess the dummy is not traditionally something that is done–that you submit the words to a publisher and then they or their chosen illustrator do the page layout–but I’m finding it’s helping immensely for story flow and plot progression. A lot of the first draft pages are more stage directions than words, and that’s changing as I work through the dummy.

Whatever, this is a learning process, and everyone has to find the process that works for them anyway.

And if nothing else comes of this, it was nice and relaxing to sit in the open space and draw, even if it was windy.

Page 13 of the dummy

Workbooks and Journals, Oh My

So! It turns out that said journal class I had? Not a class so much as a collection of demos of how to make journals. Ah, well.

And also, the whole thing is kind of obvious in retrospect. There are some good pointers and tips, certainly. But the class is for making journals in Canva (I love Canva, I like to make book covers in it, though sometimes they prove too complicated–To Rule the Stars was made in Canva, for example, but Love Shines Through had to be done in Photoshop) and Canva has changed how it works over the past two years (madness, she says sarcastically) so the actual physical journal making isn’t as helpful as perhaps it would have been.

That said, I’m 14 pages into the first workbook (each section has different exercises, so it’s kind of slow going) and made an entire 98-page journal in about an hour this morning.

Title Page of the Workbook in Canva

Kind of fun. A little aggravating. I just realized one of the fonts I’m using I also used on the To Rule the Stars cover so that’s a bit funny. (It’s a nice font, though, so I’m not sorry.)

I’m not making amazing progress on anything (I got T-boned by a car running a red light last Friday, so a thoroughly-annoying amount of my time has been dedicated to that).

(Everyone is okay.)

But I am done with the major revision on the first nonfic book. And assuming it doesn’t spawn any more companion books (the journal came out of nowhere when I was doing my final organization of the book and workbook, as did a freebie that I still need to make), the workbook should be done by the end of the week. And then it’s on to Common Writing Mistakes (no companion books, hopefully), and then Outlining (probably not a companion book?), which should go a little faster.

How are you today, squiders?

Announcing Love Shines Through

Hooray! It took a ton of work, but Love Shines Through: A Fractured World Anthology is now available!

Love Shines Through cover

Here’s the blurb:

The world was whole before the war.

But war is a terrible thing, and terrible things are done in the name of defense and protection. And this war tore the world apart, fractured it, separated families and lives and dreams. The reasons why no longer matter, but the effects still linger. They cause pain, though the war is over.

But despite the monsters and the poisons and the despair, there is a glimmer of light. And hope and love are not gone from the world.

These four stories, set in the Fractured World, explore how light can make it through the darkness. How hope can conquer fear. And most of all, how love can still flourish, even when the world is bleak.

A young woman braves monsters to see the sky.
A reluctant man chooses forgiveness over suffering.
Lovers reunite to save a child and their community.
Best friends risk everything for each other.

Come see the light for yourselves.

I’m so glad to see this done and out! Love Shines Through is available through Amazon in paperback or ebook form, or in your favorite format through Smashwords (and hopefully soon through your favorite ebook distributor).

I had a great time writing my story for this anthology–it was fun looking at Briony’s ancestors and thinking about what could have led them to the point they’re at in City of Hope and Ruin. (Oh yeah, this anthology takes place about 400 years ahead of CoHaR.) And I’m glad to see it come to fruition. The Fractured World was always supposed to be a shared world, so it was great to have some new authors write in it.

I hope you guys have a chance to check it out!