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Book on Sale! (+ Miscellaneous Horn-tooting)

THE OLDEST TRICK_Haven’t read my debut fantasy novel yet? Well, you’re in luck: both halves of the novel (The Iron Ring and Iron and Blood) are now available in a single omnibus edition (i.e. “the complete novel I intended”) called by its original title, THE OLDEST TRICK. And there is even better news! The e-book version is currently on sale for a mere $1.99! That’s right – for about the cost of a Gatorade from a gym vending machine, you can get the novel reviewers have been calling “a romp in the style of Scott Lynch and Patrick Rothfuss” and “an amalgamation of anime, grimdark, and the top tier of contemporary epic fantasy. ”

So, go and do it now! The sale won’t last forever, and the sooner you get it, the sooner you will be ready for the next installment, NO GOOD DEED, which is scheduled for release on June 21st!

Speaking of which…

No Good Deed‘s final draft was accepted by my editor on Friday, which means all that’s left is the copy edit and then the thing is off to the presses (errr…or digital formaters. Or whoever handles e-books – it’s an e-book initial release). You can pre-order it now on Amazon, and you’ll be hearing an awful lot about it here over the coming two or three months. Stay tuned for promotions of various stripes, once I figure out what the hell those might be.

Oh and by the way…

This is my final year of eligibility for the John W Campbell Award, which is given to new writers in the field of science fiction and fantasy. After two years you are no longer eligible, so if you think I’m great, now is your last chance to act (nominations for the Campbell end at the end of March, BTW). I have a couple things eligible. My novel (see above) and a couple short stories. One you can read for free right here on Escape Pod. I’m fairly proud of it and it has even received a pretty glowing review from SF Bluestocking which I shall excerpt for you here:

“Adaptation and Predation” is an excellent piece of world building, something that is often lacking in short fiction but which Auston Habershaw accomplishes here with panache. His cast of alien species is wonderfully imagined and described, and this short exploration of life in their highly stratified society is simply riveting.

High praise, yes? I think so – I’m very pleased at the review and, should you find it in your heart, feel free to nominate it (and me) for whatever you feel it deserves.

Okay, so there you have it – horn tooting over. I’ll be back later in the week with something more substantive for you folks to read.

Thanks, and talk to you soon!

NO GOOD DEED Cover Reveal!

Well, it’s finally arrived! Here is the cover art for Book 2 in the Saga of the Redeemed, NO GOOD DEED:

Gaze upon its magnificence! Take as much time as you need.

Gaze upon its magnificence! Take as much time as you need.

Pretty sweet, no? I like this one a good bit more than the last few covers–the cup and blood effect give it an aura of menace and mystery which is, frankly, what I’m going for here. Very excited!

The cover copy will be posted at points of sale in a few days, I imagine. For now, though, you can get your sneak look here:

Cursed with a magic ring that forbids skullduggery, Tyvian Reldamar’s life of crime is sadly behind him. Now reduced to fencing moldy relics and wheedling favors from petty nobility, he’s pretty sure his life can’t get any worse.

That is until he hears that his old nemesis, Myreon Alafarr, has been framed for a crime she didn’t commit and turned to stone in a penitentiary garden. Somebody is trying to get his attention, and that somebody plays a very high-stakes game that will draw Tyvian and his friends back to the city of his birth and right under the noses of the Defenders he’s been dodging for so long. And that isn’t even the worst part. The worst part is that the person pulling all the strings is none other than the most powerful sorceress in the West: Lyrelle Reldamar.

Tyvian’s own mother.

Pre-order today!

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Google Play

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Read Campbell Award-eligible Stories For Free!

Cover art by friend Holly Heisey!

Cover art by friend Holly Heisey!

Do you like scifi and fantasy? Do you want to see excerpts from almost all the new professional writers in the spec-fic field for the low, low price of FREE?

Well then have I got a deal for you! The good folks over at Bad Menagerie have put together a staggeringly huge anthology of this year’s Campbell Award eligible writers (over a million words long!) and it is free to download right here. Act quickly, though, because it will only be available for the month of March! I’ve got a lot of friends and colleagues in there, so check it out (yes, it does have a table of contents for easier browsing)!

The first of my two entries is a novelette, “A Revolutionary’s Guide to Practical Conjuration,” which was my winning entry into the Writers of the Future Contest, published just this last May. You can read a lot about the story behind it here.

The other is a short story, “Adaptation and Predation,” which was published on Escape Pod in December. It is an exotic scifi tale set on an alien world and featuring a shape-shifting asexual assassin, a carnivorous businessman and his “feed slaves,” and spider-waiters. It is a story about morality, but not personal morals as much as social morality: what makes a cultural practice evil? What makes it good? Who, ultimately, should feed on whom and why? It’s very noir-ish, a bit dark with a bunch of colonial themes, and it’s one of my favorites – I hope you’ll check it out as well as the rest of the anthology.

A million free words of the up-and-coming scifi authors is hard to pass up, right?

About NO GOOD DEED/Saga of the Redeemed #2:

I’ve received back my content edits from my new editor over at Harper. She’s done a great job and I plan to have this book turned around and submitted for copy-edits by the end of next week. For now you can still pre-order the book wherever e-books are sold. The cover art should be appearing soon, I think (hope).

In the meantime, if you haven’t read the first book (and yes, the first two volumes are one book), you’ve still got time to read The Oldest Trick and be ready to jump into a new Tyvian adventure come the end of June. If you’ve read or read any of my shorter work and think it was cool, I promise you’ll enjoy my longer stuff, too! Go check it out!

 

Reading Your Own Press

The general consensus among writers (or, at least ones that I’ve heard talk about it) is that you shouldn’t read reviews of your work. This makes sense, arguably: good reviews can give you an inflated sense of self-worth, while bad reviews can damage your self-esteem for no good reason.

I spend waaay too much time stalking myself on this site.

I spend waaay too much time stalking myself on this site.

But of course I read them. I don’t honestly understand how it’s possible not to. I mean, I didn’t write my books to exist in a vacuum – I want them to be read, dammit! I breathlessly await the audience’s reaction. And why not? My books are as much for them as they are for me. It’s like giving somebody a present but never checking to see if they appreciated it. Who does that? Don’t you want to know? If I told you that just over there inside that room there were a bunch of people leaving anonymous notes about your work performance, wouldn’t you go take a look? They’re talking about you! Don’t you want to know?

If you answered “no” to that question, well, you’re a much stronger person than I. Or perhaps a sociopath.

Maybe both.

So, I’m going to read my reviews. I will do so until they get boring or repetitive or I have the lucky fate of having so damned many of them that I can’t keep up. How, though, to retain my sanity in the face of constant critique? The trick, I think, is to read your reviews with one thought firmly held in your head: This is just their opinion.

If they love the book, then great! But that doesn’t mean everybody will.

If they hate the book, booo! But that doesn’t mean everybody will.

If they call me names, I am rubber and they are glue (etc., etc.).

There will be unfair reviews (both good and bad) there will be fair, well-thought out reviews (both good and bad) and I must be okay with this. Now, I have had the lucky fortune of getting mostly good reviews for my stuff, so hooray for me! I am, of course, deeply appreciative to anyone who wrote a review (good or bad), because that helps other people find my books and confirms to me that, yes, people out there are reading and thinking about what I wrote. This all isn’t just some crazy dream.

So, I say go ahead and read your reviews! Just don’t listen to them. It’s one thing to read your own press, it’s quite another thing to believe it.

AND ONE MORE THING: Never, ever ever ever respond to reviews. Ever. Not good ones, not bad ones, not middle ones–NEVER. Under any circumstances whatsoever. Why? How about all of these reasons.


No Good Deed Updates!

So, more and more folks are bugging me about when the sequel to The Oldest Trick comes out. As my last editor just left Harper and I have a new one, the release date has been pushed back to June 21st where, hopefully, it will stay. I am still waiting for edit notes from my new editor and, once I get them, I’ll be turning them around fairly quickly (I hope). So, just a few months left to wait, I swear!

For now, you can pre-order the book on Amazon and, when it releases, an e-copy will find its way to your device promptly. Until then, I promise to be doing my best to get you the best damned Tyvian story there is. Thanks for all your support!

 

Writing Updates: My Continued March (Amble) to Victory (Modest Success)

So, time for a writing update!

Thing have been going very well, lately. Lots to update everybody with, so I’ll start with the short fiction news and move into the novels.

I'll be out there on the edge someday soon!

I’ll be out there on the edge someday soon!

Short Fiction News

Galaxy’s Edge Sale!

My short story “Lord of the Cul-de-sac” was just purchased by Mike Resnick over at Galaxy’s Edge. This is a great market with a typically stunning table of contents and edited by the man who has won the most Hugo awards in history, so that’s pretty damned sweet. No word yet on when my story will appear, but I’ll keep you all posted.

Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction Sale!

I mentioned this a few weeks back, but I’m still pumped that I sold a story to CC Finlay over at F&SF.

My story “The Mithridatist” (set in Tyvian’s world, Saga of the Redeemed fans!) went on a heck of a journey through the pro-markets, garnering personal and, dare I say, glowing rejection letters from places like Tor.com before finally earning itself a home. Again, no word on release yet, but I’ll keep you posted.

Escape Pod!

I also recently sold a story to Escape Pod podcast about a month ago. It’s free and in audio or text. “Adaptation and Predation” is a space opera-esque story set in my Union of Stars world and has received a very positive response. I’ve even gotten some fan mail! Yay!

Chappy Fiction!

Then there’s this as-yet-untitled Time-Travel anthology over on Chappy Fiction, which bought/will buy my story “The Day It All Went Sideways” dealing with two-bit gangsters and fifth-dimensional time. I’m being called an “anchor” for the antho, which is a great compliment and I’m excited to see what Zach Chapman puts together!

Beyond that, I’ve got another five stories or so on submission to various places on and in various stages of review and another two I need to spiff up and send out again. Pretty good haul for a guy who spends *most* of his time writing novels!

Novel News

The first book in the Saga of the Redeemed, The Oldest Trick, and its two halves (The Iron Ring and Iron and Blood) are currently selling very well – particularly the two halves – thanks to a price promotion and a BookBub at the end of last year. The Iron Ring peaked at #115 overall for Amazon (#2 for Fantasy) on the day of the BookBub “Book of the Day” promotion, which is mind-bogglingly awesome. It and Iron and Blood have been selling in the low 5-figures in rank ever since, which, in Amazon terms, is really goddamned good. So thank you, all of you, who have read!

That said, I could still use more reviews! I have ranked up a few over the past month or two (all very positive – thanks!), but you can never have too many reviews and, given how Amazon’s algorithm works and how important word-of-mouth is for book sales, more reviews is essential! If you’ve read any of my books, I would be ever so thankful if you left a review (even if you didn’t like it very much!).

Now for the kinda-sorta bad news. My editor at Harper Voyager has left for another publisher and, as a result, I have a new editor (hi, Rebecca!). Since she has just been saddled with a lot of my former editor’s old workload, she’s had to delay the publication of No Good Deed again. Bummer. It’s new release date is June 21st, 2016. This is disappointing, but at least now it seems like that date will be firm. I’ve also seen the cover art, which is really pretty awesome. Not time to reveal it just yet, but very pretty, trust me.

So, yet, Tyvian will be yet a few more months before he arrives in his second adventure. Of course, that’s typical Tyvian – never arrive on time when you can arrive late and make a splash. This also gives people world-wide more time to read the first book and be ready when the second comes out, so silver linings abound.

Overall, then, a great batch of news. I leave you, Tyvian fans, with the teaser text from No Good Deed, for those of you who haven’t seen it yet. I hope it sounds as intriguing as I hope it is:

Cursed with a magic ring that forbids skullduggery, Tyvian Reldamar’s life of crime is sadly behind him. Now reduced to fencing moldy relics and wheedling favors from petty nobility, he’s pretty sure his life can’t get any worse.

That is until he hears that his old nemesis, Myreon Alafarr, has been framed for a crime she didn’t commit and turned to stone in a penitentiary garden. Somebody is trying to get his attention, and that somebody plays a very high-stakes game that will draw Tyvian and his friends back to the city of his birth and right under the noses of the Defenders he’s been dodging for so long. And that isn’t even the worst part.

The worst part is that somebody is his mother.

Learning the Short to Master the Long

Over the past three or four weeks, I’ve written four short stories. Ordinarily I would spend my semester break writing a novel, but I was waiting on the edit note from my editor (fun story there – see the note appended to the bottom of this post) and, rather than get deep into a long-term project only to be torn out of it by a more pressing long-term project, I opted to fill out my stable of short stories to have on submission at any one time.

I know a bunch of writers who don’t bother with short stories – either don’t write them at all or don’t really take them seriously if they do. I also know a fair number of writers who seem to write exclusively short stories and quail at the prospect of tackling something as big as a novel. I’m here, today, to make the case for writing both.

Why Novelists Should Write Short Stories

I know what you’re thinking. “Do people even read short stories?” and “You’ll never make a living writing stories all the time!”

Well, in the first place, yes people do read short stories. Not a tremendous, vast multitude, maybe, but certainly a hell of a lot more people than, say, read your blog. Some of those people happen to be editors, reviewers, and professionals in the genre you’re writing in. Making an impression doesn’t hurt. In the second place, I have to break something to you that you’re probably not going to like hearing: you probably aren’t going to make a living writing much of anything, novel or story. Most writers don’t. We all have day jobs, and you should think about keeping yours (or finding one that affords you time to write) rather than dreaming about making a mint writing the next Hunger Games. Who are you to turn your nose up at a hundred bucks for a story you wrote over the course of two weeks?

And anyway, neither exposure nor wealth are reasons you should write short stories. You should write short stories because they make you a better writer. At worst, they can be seen as practice runs for plot, character, theme, diction, style, and the lot of it. You get to work your writer muscles at a more rapid pace than you do writing a novel. You take a beginning, a middle, and an end and you paste them together and see if it sings to you. If it doesn’t, you break it down and try again. You can do this over the space of a few weeks or days or even hours.

The short story is an unforgiving form – it doesn’t permit indulgence or dithering or random tangents. You’ve got to stay on target, keep it focused, and make it magical. That’s a challenge. The thing is, though, if you can do it in 5000 words, you can certainly do it in 10,000 or 100,000. If you can’t do it in 5000, how are we to expect better from you with more space? I mean sure, you can do it, but while novelists you can’t write stories do exist, somebody who can do both things is usually better off. Or at least I think so.

Ummm...that's it?

Ummm…that’s it?

Why Short Story Writers Should Write Novels

Say you are a master of the short story or, hell, even the short short (flash fiction, under 1000 words – bing, bang, boom, you’re out). You’re comfortable there, in your little story writing niche. You’ve gotten some publications and so on and you figure “yeah, this is nice.”

Well, far be it from me to suggest you vacate your micro-fiction utopia, but the novel is out there, waiting for you to call. Short stories can only do so much – we all know this. They also struggle for readership and, while very flexible, lack the weight and pathos a staying power a good novel can provide. And if you can write a good story, you can also write a good novel. It requires a different set of gears, yeah – a bigger scope, a broader picture, a more populated world – but it also gives you the opportunity to really see what you can do as a writer. To paraphrase Stephen King, you can “dig something big outta the sand.”

You can do it, too. You know you have it in you. I feel we mostly think in terms of novels – the stories of our lives, the stories of our families and our towns and our nations are novel sized stories. They always have been, though we haven’t always told them as novels (there were epics and romances and myth cycles, and so on). I think every writer owes it to him- or herself to make the attempt. To seek out the mountaintop. You’ve been honing these skills – take them out of the yard and see what they can do.

But don’t abandon the story, either. Do both. Write both short and long.

 


Notes on the Saga of the Redeemed and No Good Deed

I’ve gotten some fan mail recently (fan mail! w00t!) that has been prodding me over book 2 (or 3, or whatever) in Tyvian’s story. So, here’s the deal: book 2 (No Good Deed) is finished and on my editors desk. It has been since May of 2015. I’ve been waiting for her edit notes so that the book can be polished and revised and then be ready for print. I have been waiting since May and the release date as been pushed back twice now (from Jan 21st to February to now April 12th).

My editor is leaving my publisher for a different publishing job (and good for her – she’s great and I hope she’s happy where she’s going). This means, though, that I have a new editor. This new editor needs some time to get familiar with the book before she can give me notes and she also has been slammed with a good number of other writers from my former editor, so things might take a while. This means the release date might be moved back again (though I really hope not). None of this is really my fault (so far as I’m aware), and I’m every bit as anxious to put the next book in your hands as you are to have it there. I promise.

Oh, and I just saw the preliminary cover art, and it looks really, really cool. Can’t share it just yet, but soon. Very soon.

Thanks everybody, and I’ll keep you posted!

New Story Sale! Anthologies! Time Travel! VICTORY!

I have big news. Actually, I have a variety of news on the writing front, and so this will be a (long overdue) update on my writing activities:

 

Pictured: My eight year old self feeling awesome.

Pictured: My eight year old self feeling awesome.

Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine has bought my short story, “The Mithridatist,” a fantasy story set in Alandar (Akral, to be specific). This is big, big news for me, and for a couple reasons. First, this is a great market that I’ve been reading for ages. When I was a kid, I had stacks of these things piled up all over my room. They’ve published the likes of Ursula K LeGuin, Walter Miller, Stephen King, and tons of other writers I have admired for years. The idea that I’d be in that same publication is humbling and very exciting, to be sure. The editor, CC Finlay, has been extremely encouraging with his rejections to me (I know – it sounds strange, but it’s true) and I’m very happy to have finally met his exacting standards.

The other reason this is big news is that this counts as my third professional story sale (the previous being Analog and The Writers of the Future Anthology), which qualifies me for Active Membership in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). My novel(s), incidentally, haven’t qualified me yet since I wasn’t paid an advance and haven’t made me sufficient money. Now, though, I get to join (once I figure out how to prove the sale, as it won’t be in print for a while) and take one step further along the road to Serious Professional Author, No Really, You Have Heard Of Me Or Read My Work For Serious. If there were a checklist of my professional goals, we would now be about halfway down the list. Go me.

Trippy, eh?

Trippy, eh?

The next piece of news has more to do with all of you fine people than it does me. My friend and colleague, Zach Chapman, has decided to become a big-time story anthology editor in addition to being a talented scifi writer himself. His editorial debut is to be a time travel themed anthology. I have already promised a story as has the extremely talented Martin Shoemaker, but the anthology needs more. Zach has an open submission period, open now until January, for folks to submit their time travel stories. Submit! He’s paying pro rates, so this is no joke! Do it, and best of luck to you all!

Getting back to me for a moment, we’re approximately three months out from the release date for Book 2 of The Saga of the Redeemed, No Good Deed. The publication date is currently February 23rd, with pre-orders already up on Amazon and other places, as well. Of course, in order to be ready for it, you need to have read Book 1, The Oldest Trick.  To make this easier, the first half of book 1, titled The Iron Ring, is going to go on sale next week (I’ll give you the details soon).

For those of you already up to date on the adventures of Tyvian and the gang, here’s my little pitch for Book 2 which, as of this moment, is going to serve as the jacket copy. This is an exclusive, first look at the continuing misadventures of Tyvian Reldamar, grouchy and very reluctant hero:

Cursed with a magic ring that forbids skullduggery, Tyvian Reldamar’s life of crime is sadly behind him. Now reduced to fencing moldy relics and wheedling favors from petty nobility, he’s pretty sure his life can’t get any worse.

That is until he hears that his old nemesis, Myreon Alafarr, has been framed for a crime she didn’t commit and turned to stone in a penitentiary garden. Somebody is trying to get his attention, and that somebody plays a very high-stakes game that will draw Tyvian and his friends back to the city of his birth and right under the noses of the Defenders he’s been dodging for so long. And that isn’t even the worst part.

The worst part is that somebody is his mother.

Sounds cool, right?

Talk to you all soon, and thank you all for your continued support!

On Titles and Originality

Before I start, just a publicity update: Go to Barren Island Books to read an interview with me just before I am banished to a desert island. Fun times, and many thanks to A.F.E. Smith for the opportunity!

Now, let’s to brass tacks.

You know what I find the hardest thing, ultimately, to do for a novel or story? Give it a title.

Seriously, what the hell do you call the whole thing? Me? I don’t know. It always seems like the best titles are already taken. Anytime I come up with a good title – a real zinger, you know? – I make the mistake of Googling it. When I finish, this is my face:

But...but I was being so *original!*

But…but I was being so *original!*

Yep – somebody else had used it. Sometimes numerous somebodies else. Super lame.

You know that book I’ve been telling you all to buy – The Iron Ring, remember? Well, even though it wasn’t my first choice for title, it was the one my editor liked best and, as it turns out, Lloyd Alexander liked it, too. Dammit!

So, anyway, after much hand-wringing and nonsense about the titles of the various books of The Saga of the Redeemed (that one’s original – take that ye gods of Google!), I came up with a system that I felt would create decent titles for my fantasy books. Namely, I’d take a common saying and chop it up. Books 1 and 2 (which are really the same story) were/are titled The Oldest Trick, for instance. As in “the oldest trick in the book.” Right? Get it? Huh, huh? Neat, right? Google that one and you come up with nothing – it’s all mine, baby!

Fast Forward to Book 3 (or Part 2, depending on how you look at it). The working title has always been All That Glitters, as in “all that glitters is not gold.” Pithy, clever, thematically appropriate – I love it. Google it, and all you get is a short-run sitcom in 1977. Ha!

Oh, but wait, it’s also:

  • A VC Andrews novel from 1995.
  • A Michael Anthony novel from 1981
  • A memoir by Pearl Lowe in 2007
  • Some kind of documentary/reality show set to air this year.

And about a million other titles. Bye-bye that title.

Turns out, though, that no matter what I pick, odds are I’m going to step on somebody’s toes. You have to ask, though, whether that’s such a big deal. Like, if the last time somebody used the title was in a different medium (movie, not book) for a different audience (crime thriller, not fantasy) a couple years ago, does it really matter? How much of a chance of confusion is there, really?

In bouncing potential titles back and forth with my editor, the one she liked best was No Good Deed. Yes, yes – it’s the title of an Idris Elba thriller released last year, I know. It isn’t as though anybody’s going to be confused, though. It would be one thing, I guess, if the movie were a big hit (nobody’s walking around titling their novel The Empire Strikes Back or Platoon, I suppose), but even then one has to wonder. What’s in a title, anyway? It’s just one of the umpteen billion handy devices by which we convince people to pick up our books and read. Perhaps the “perfect originality” standard is a bit too stiff for so modest an element.

Or maybe I’m just lazy. That’s also pretty likely.

Nevertheless, I’m going to stick with No Good Deed for now. I’m calling dibs, everyone, got it? It’s mine! Well, for now, anyway, and unless I can think of something better.