Take This Book From Me

pow-hi

I’m giving away 5 free copies of the paperback on Goodreads! The contest ends on release day of 11/26 so get in there now if you’d like a copy. You do have to be a member of Goodreads to enter -but why aren’t you already you book nerd, you?

Feel free to share this around – this is one of the best ways to get some easy publicity on Goodreads and have people add the book to their queue.

Click the cover to go enter!

Click the cover to go enter!

Continuity

Artist - Abe Taraky

Artist – Abe Taraky

I get asked this question a lot: How many books are there in the Spell/Sword series?

Well, not a lot. Eleven times, tops.

People ask because they want to know what they’re getting into, I suppose. Or just figure out how many years they have to deal with me explaining my fiction with wild-eyed elan. On the site so far I have three titles listed: Spell/Sword, The Riddle Box [PREORDER IT OH MY GOD PLEASE IT COMES OUT ON THE 26th]and Asteroid Made of Dragons.  These are reasonably set in stone – first one is out, second one next week, and I reference the title of the third book IN the second book so those are visible within the Narrative Fog of War. But, as I’ve always said – this is not epic fantasy, I’m not writing a trilogy. The story doesn’t end in the next book ( though you can safely consider AMOD as the end of an arc, or more correctly, the end of Disc One).

So, how many books will there be?

I should really only ask rhetorical questions that I know the answer to.

More than three, obviously? Seven seems like too many, but five might not be enough. BUT who writes a six book series?!? Is that a hexology? Wait, that kind of sounds badass, maybe it will be six books.

See, you would think I’m in charge of these things. But I’m kind of not. I know the tale I’m telling, I know the end. But the path to get there — there’s still plenty of shadows and fog, which is the way I like it. I’m a ‘pantser’, a ‘discovery writer’. I ‘don’t know what I’m doing’. I don’t know what I’m doing. Is there anything more wonderful or grand than that statement? I just point my antenna towards Aufero and pick up the broadcast and try to type fast enough to keep up with it — at least for the rough draft. Part of me wants there to be 10 books, because the last one is so sad.

Let’s pretend. Let’s pretend there are going to be ten books. Here’s what they will/could be.

  1. Spell/Sword
  2. The Riddle Box
  3. Asteroid Made of Dragons
  4. Paper-Thin Harry Potter Parody*
  5. Wild Magic and Mild Salsa
  6. Suddenly the Robots
  7. Ecclesiastical by Jonathan Franzen
  8. The Archivarium Saga : Secret of the Wonderblade**
  9. Swordroom – Adventures in Financial Diplomacy and Corporate Espionage
  10. The Fall

* There will be a year ‘in-world’ gap between the events of AMOD and Paper-Thin Harry Potter Parody

** I think this is the one where they get Bird!

Shit, maybe I will write 10 books. I need to hurry up and become famous so I can write these faster and stop wasting time ‘feeding and clothing’ myself.

The Holy Detective

wide

Close your eyes. Okay, wait, open them again. You can’t read with your eyes closed. Are you reading this now? I guess I’ll need to wait for you to get bored and come back and read this.

Okay – welcome back. Now, metaphysically close your eyes. What do you see when you read the word ‘detective’? YES I KNOW YOU SEE LETTERS.

You are impossible to blog at. Simply impossible.

Now most normal people probably see Sherlock Holmes. Or Batman. Or Sam Spade. Or Tracer Bullet. Or Kay Howard. Or DCI Jane Tennison. Or Columbo.

Or any other number of gumshoes, thief-catchers, and head-scratchers. The ones who find. The ones who put the pieces together. The ones who solve the puzzle, catch the crook, go into the dark place and shine their big-ass X-files style flashlight on the things we’re afraid to look for.

All the way from Sgt. Cuff in The Moonstone to the watered down latter day sleuths that tromp across primetime underneath their personal assortment of L.E.T.T.E.R.S. — we love them. Or at least I love them. But I would make the argument that in our modern minds the role of detective has taken on a religious bent.  When they appear in a story we know their purpose, we understand their function. And when they succeed, when they drag the truth to light,there is a feeling of our faith being rewarded.

Humans have always used stories to understand the world that surrounds us. I find it interesting that so much of popular fiction in one way or another features this figure: the Detective as Hero. True Detective on HBO explored this trope in several fascinating ways — overlaying the mechanics of a procedural on the Hero’s Journey. As a side bar, I also found it interesting that the grungy, dystopic world of that show culminated in a moment of true, non-ironic hope and peace.

Maybe that’s why the popularity. If Campbell is to be trusted [ AND HE FUCKING IS] the mono-myth appears again because it mirrors the operation of the human psyche. Mapping the Hero’s quest to Detective stories is a natural pop-culture tic. The Call is some dead body in an alley somewhere, the Underworld an interrogation room, the Elixir a confession, a signed piece of paper, vengeance wreaked, the sound of the cuffs as they click closed. Across the board we make a solemn grunt of satisfaction as the Detective solves the case.  Other heroes have their battles take many forms, but for the Detective it most often boils down to ‘ Figure This Out.’ Maybe I just find mental battles more interesting in my dotage.

What do you think? Close your eyes again. [Metaphysically you ass.] When you see your Detective, are they outlined in a holy fire? Or, as is all too often the case, is it just me having a weird fixation?

Because I see it. Bayless and Pembleton, Mulder and Scully, Watson and Holmes. When the Detective appears I am on board. I lean forward, towards the TV or the page, eager for the first move to be made. I want them to get out there, out there in the dark and get on the trail. I want the hounds sniffing at the scent, I want the board covered with pictures and yarn, I want the detective to drink her coffee grind away at the problem. FOLLOW THE LEADS, GET IT WRONG, TRY AGAIN.  Play the violin and stare at the drop of green ink on the handkerchief and realize that the priest was blind so there is NO WAY HE COULD HAVE KNOWN THE KILLER HAD RED HAIR.

I may have a problem.

So yeah, I like mysteries a little. And detectives a bit.

When I realized that the most logical sequel to my fantasy novel was an Agatha Christie locked-room murder mystery, I was to put it mildly: NUCLEAR LEVEL STOKED. Just throwing all those toys in the box and rattling them around was exciting enough, but the idea of my hero becoming the Detective was the most exciting. Rime is a character defined by her intellect, the idea of matching her up against this type of puzzle was very exciting. Also, finding out that Rime has the same nerdy love for mystery stories that I do was another nice surprise. She’s so excited to step into that role. If I may put it mildly, she is a huge dork about it. Another surprise: Rime is not the greatest detective in the world. I wouldn’t say terrible exactly – but definitely not on speed dial for Commissioner Gordon.

So, what do you think? Is the Detective ‘holy’? OR HAVE I JUST GONE MAD.

[This post is a naked attempt to promote my new book, The Riddle Box. The first two chapters are free here and you can pre-order the ebook here. DON’T FALL FOR MY TRICKS.]

Design Sketch - Mike Groves @poopbird

Before You Buy the Barrel

Now available free here on the site: the first two chapters of The Riddle Box.

Sample Chapters This Way!

This is a common tactic – in both the world of traditional and self-publishing. It’s nefarious.  You’re going to read the first two chapters, just enough time to figure out you think the book is fucking awesome, then I’m SLAMMING THAT PAYWALL DOWN IN YOUR FACE. It is goddamn Machiavellian.  Even better this book is a murder mystery, so you will never ever know ‘whodunnit’ if you don’t fork over your filthy silver coins into my internet pouch.

I know, Kuwabara! It IS upsetting.

I know, Kuwabara! It IS upsetting.

So yes – give the chapters a taste, you fools! Commit yourself all unknowingly to an oubliette of narrative servitude that will last unto the cracking of the world.

Or maybe you won’t like it – also possible.

If you like what you read, you can pre-order the book via the link below — available November 26th!

The Riddle Box Preorder- Kindle Version – .99

So try that wine. I’ll be talking much more about they why and wherefore of the novel, trying to win you over many other ways as we get closer to the release — but ultimately you can just read the first few pages and make the decision for yourself, you informed consumer you.

tron

I/O Tower – General Spell/Sword Shenanigan Update

1. I’m getting the final 50 pages of copy edits for The Riddle Box this weekend! With any luck I’ll be able to have the ebook up for sale sometime next week.

2. Which means I need to start the shilling. Eh, I’m not as bothered by it this time around — which probably just means I accept I’m not any good at it, and will be incredibly lackadaisical about the whole process. WHATEVS. I’ll put some posts up here promoting the book when it goes live.

3. Publishing Book Two means I get to start work on Book Three : Asteroid Made of Dragons very soon. Oh man, I’m practically slavering. There is slaver all over this place. It’s kind of a loose grab bag in my head at the moment, but I know the first scene requires the most absurd action sequence I can possibly manage. Exploding buildings, dragon mechs, ninja stars made of Pure Hate – it’s all on the table people. We’re going to see a lot more of the world next time around because Jonas and RIme Are Getting on a Boat [original working title].

4. I might try my hand at writing a script for a short film. Some friends are looking for a new project and need some script fodder. Could be fun? Interesting to write something that will have no budget to shoot. I’m thinking secret agents that work for minor deities.

5. Go NaNoWriMo! Good luck to all you typers out there.

diner

Your Advice and My Stupidity

[This is an actual email I’m sending to another writer today. I’m removing their name, of course, to respect their privacy — all you really need to know is they have sold a shit ton more books than me in the same genre, and I’m a moron for not listening to them.]

Good afternoon, XXXXX.

I’ve been intermittently agonizing over this email. You gave me some excellent advice and feedback on my novel The Riddle Box and went out of your way to assist me. Now I’m trying to come up with the best way to tell you I’m ignoring your advice even though I agree with it.
Of course, I just told you. But there are provisos and navel-inspections below. You are successful and busy, so if you don’t want to clog the mind-works, please stop reading here with my compliments, my thanks, and my undying respect.
Will it help if we imagine a more appropriate setting? Perhaps if we were sitting in leather chairs in front of a roaring fire as we sip tea? No, too patriarchal – how about at a deli counter in New York, enjoying bagels and coffee, trading different sections of the Sunday Newspaper. [Apparently this is set in 1987.] The jukebox is playing Elton John and the morning sun is slanting across the white tile and the rye bread.
First, your advice is completely correct. To make the book more marketable, to make it an easier access point for the reader, I should make the revisions that you suggested. I should forego the ‘joke’ , the ‘TV open’ and begin with the main characters. Asking the reader to slog through the prince’s monologue before the reveal, before the first murder, before even grounding the reader in a firm setting is stupid. Any editor worth their salt would tell me the same and be just as right. It demands patience from the audience — a fool’s gambit in any piece of writing — nowadays more so as there is so much media jousting for every bit of mental bandwidth we humans can muster. Not making these revisions is harming my chances of success in a quantifiable and significant way.
I take a bite of my bagel. Just to blunt the tension.
Second, I want you to know that I attempted to make the revision. I pulled that whole chapter apart, wrote a couple thousand words restructuring it, putting my main characters front and center. I got to write some new jokes, it even fixed some confusion in later chapters when I had to time-hop a bit to describe their arrival at the Manor. It was a good revision, it worked. And I hated it. I hated working on it, I hated making the changes. I hated you for being right, in a perfectly urbane, respectful way.
It’s just then that I realize I don’t have my wallet with me. I’m being rude to you professionally and I’m going to have to get you to spot me for lunch. I brush the crumbs off my chest in despair.
These kinds of revisions are a reality. They are necessary and good. If I want any chance of success in traditional publishing or even in the Wild West of self publishing, I need to get used to it. I need to accept it.
Now cue the Special Snowflake Defense. But my vision — but my art – but my blah blah blah.  I know it’s crap. You will never meet a greater cynic than I, not in any imaginary diner in the world.
Ah, but still. But still. From the Cavern of Idiocy it arises. Of course I’m different and special.
I have to be the writer I am. If I stop listening to my Muse, then there’s really not much point to this whole enterprise. At this point my success is not renown or anything remotely financial. My success is my mistakes, my success is the stupid, weird, wrong-thing I wrote that would never exist anywhere else, under any other auspice. What I like is writing my weird story. What I don’t like is chasing an incorporeal finish line.
Maybe it comes down to this: If I’m chasing money and success I’m clearly losing. If I’m chasing weird art I’m always winning. And just about the only true fringe benefit of self-publishing is I can make the mistakes I want as often as I want.
You are folding up the Comics section in a most displeased manner. I consider going to the bathroom and jumping out the window.
So, there it is. You are an exceptional human and you’ve done me a solid. And I’m going to ignore it and be stupid. I make no claims that I’m doing it for the right reasons, or that one day people will compare my oeuvre with the Grand Masters who began their novels with history lessons, minor character slaughter, or songs.
Thank you so much for taking the time to help. You have led me way up into the water and even passed me a straw.
And can you cover my bagel?
With completely unfeigned sincerity,
G. Derek Adams
spell-sword.com