Asteroid Made of Dragons: First Read Impressions

Banana cover

I’m a little muddled honestly. I think it’s a stronger book than my last, but I don’t have the same feeling of certainty after the first read. Maybe because this book has a LOT more moving parts? I feel like it all works, the baseline mechanics of it all, and some scenes really shine, and the end really surprised me? It makes me deeply happy, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t what I expected it to be.

I think it may just be a matter of form. Riddle Box was a murder mystery and that structure is a joy to inhabit — AMOD follows a three-act structure with a meta-narrative frame and all sorts of weird  hyper-narrative threads that shoot off all sorts of places. I like them! I want them to be there! But I guess it’s hard to quite feel it all settle in my head quite yet. RB was a dark lance to the heart, AMOD is this strange spinning wind chime that looks different from every angle.

I’m also serving a lot of masters in this book – something that is giving me no undue amount of anxiety-knives in my spleen. As always, the book must deliver on its own merits – one episodic adventure served a la carte. But, I also want readers who’ve followed me from the first two books to find the threads and rewards there for them – BUT BUT this is a bigger debut for a larger audience with my new publisher, so I don’t want new readers to feel unwelcome or confused, I also need to introduce the world and my entire ethos in an exciting and palatable fashion, ALSO I need to set up some secrets and foreshadowing for things that will happen in later adventures ALSO ALSO AS WELL AS just frankly deliver on the fun of the premise.

I won’t say that this draft has succeeded on all of these fronts. I will say that it is in the process of getting there.

BULLETED LIST

  • The frame story really lands for me – not sure how betas and editor will feel, but I think it will be especially nice for readers of RB and still work thematically for new readers.
  • First act really cooks along – lots of fun, strong starts, distinct voice for each section. May also just be because it’s been the longest since I wrote this section, but I enjoyed first act the most.
  • Xenon is the best. Suck it, all you old characters. You bore me.
  • First Act feels a lot like Spell/Sword in the Jonas & Rime chapters – wacky battles and teen angst.
  • Second act feels lumpy. There’s a chapter that straight SUCKS. Just halting, charmless, and bad. All connective gristle. Lots of re-writing here and the whole second act – this is where the reader gets to spend time in Gilead, and I don’t want that to be wasted.
  • Third Act we’re back to ACTION, ticking clock, asteroid falling, all that – the mechanics and emotion all land fairly well, need to work through the rise and fall of some of the action sequences. There’s a sequence i’m calling ‘Rime Goes Boom’ that I need to muse over and play with, going to need feedback on that one to get it to sing properly.
  • Denouement makes me grin like a huge nerd, its the anime ending – I can already feel the wind of the next adventure blowing and it’s exciting and makes me happy, especially because the plan is to leave Aufero to its own devices for a while after AMOD.

So, a complicated reaction. Lots of work to be done. God I’m glad I’m not doing it alone.

If you aren’t already – follow the book’s progress on my Inkshares page – where you can BUY IT if you’d like, or just malinger in the shadows and watch it change and grow and get better and better until its too hot for you, just way the fuck out of your league.

Straydog Stammer

Coming back sometimes, flipping times like a rolodex

to my younger self, hammering away sans respect

to the idle box i’d be spamming and scratching

looking for fire with a match that wasn’t catching

stomp and stammer, praying for the manner

of device and craft, of thor’s fucking hammer

to break the wall of the world with my science

mjolnir’s breaking, now i got to try this

hustle and grease and the black knight’s deceased

trying to get more when the most is the least.

if i can just keep moving, keep rattling the wires

the solution will fall out, and my brain on the spires

now

i’m older and colder and Mulder and Scully

stomping on the ice, glass that i sully

with my whisper-gleams that i steal from the fabric

Hoppin and bopping and boosting the magic

easy to forget the eggs, the chicken and the box

which came first, doesn’t matter when the locks

you break are the locks you make

and the chains you snap are at the bottom of the lake

with the lady and the blade and the fool and his masquerade

while i’m sitting at tea with Death saying ‘pass the marmalade’

then

now

two mirrors looking back, and neither the wiser

my heart is a storm and my third eye’s a miser

but all that i have is two holes in my soul

punctured and engraved and bound in white gold

and sometimes they line, like a telescope made of pain

and all i can do is yammer and dance in the City of Rain

reaching back now, holding hands with a shadow

of me and me and my brain in the green window

hold on to me then, and i’ll hold on to you now

we can’t forget what and we never bow

thirteen devils singing on the mantel

five demons bound silver and vandal

flipping and flapping and laying down the lines

hoping and hopping that i don’t forget the rhymes

please forgive the memory still burns

sunlight and salt and what are the words?

i end this here, but howl all the same

straydog stammer remembers his name.

Charleston

ah, those people

kneeling in a circle of light

and the feather-crown beast

came and sat

and waited and

thought a bit

then broke the circle

and spilled the people

then fled

another temple desecrated.

part of me wants

to have known

to have been there

to have cried out

a warning this time.

but i was not

but i was

but i am

but please hear me say

it is coming

it is gone

my heart rings like a stone bell

and you all, in the circle of light

i’m crying and you don’t hear me

and that is as it is

but i am here

and the clack-clack bird is flown

and we remain

and you remain

and the circle of light still shines

and i am crying for you out here in the dark

I Explain My New Publishing Deal to Aragorn, the Cat Who Lives With Me.

“Aragorn!” I screamed as I ran up the steps of our porch, feet pounding up to our front door. “Aragorn!!!! It happened! It. HAS. HAPPENED.”

I slammed the door behind me, remembering to throw the bolt – it doesn’t shut properly if you don’t throw the bolt, and when Train rumbles by the door can pop open — allowing the Dogs to wreak a very limited havoc on the neighborhood. My words echoed in the house and then fell quiet.  My Beloved and the dogs were out on a walk and the black and white cat was in the backyard absorbing solar radiation. It should just be me and Aragorn in the house. Is he asleep? I think I yelled pretty loud. I prepared to venture further, to face the lion in his lair, when at last his magnificent orange frame sauntered into view.

Aragorn

Aragorn

“What.”

“Oh, hey. Hey, Aragorn. Were…were you asleep? I mean, I can tell you about this later, if you were, you know, asleep.”

The orange tail lashed and he said nothing.

“Okay, I was just very excited because I’ve got my first publishing deal and I wanted to tell you about it.”

Aragorn blinked, then slowly uncoiled himself, heading back for his favorite nap spot.

“No! It’s a really cool thing! I won a contest and now I’m getting published by Inkshares and I’m going to be on Sword & Laser and –”

The orange cat stopped and looked back over his shoulder with disgust. “There’s no way you’re going to let me go back to sleep until you tell me about this, is there?”

I bounced on one foot, vibrating with pent up excitement. Aragorn sighed and curled back up in a nearby sunbeam. He flicked his whispers in a way that signified if not submission then at least grudging consent. I sat down next to him with my legs crossed. We sat together, him in the sun, me respectfully folding my hands and preparing my tale.

Aragorn opened one eye. “Did you fall asleep?”

“Snrrr..no! It’s just been a relentless couple of months okay, I was just taking a brain-pause.”

The orange cat closed his eye.

Inkshares is a publisher, an honest to god book publisher – but they’re trying to do something different. They crowdfund books – a little like Kickstarter, but with a guaranteed product. If you can convince 1000 people that you have a cool idea for a book, they will publish that book. Professional editor, professional marketing, professional cover design, the works – and it’ll be in bookstores. For real. Like I don’t have to personally deliver them myself and sweet-talk the staff. I heard about them a few months ago when Sword & Laser interviewed Gary Whitta.” I jabbered. “I had already been poking around the site – kicking the tires as it were – trying to decide if it would be a good fit for me and my next book. But then, out of nowhere they announce this contest.”

“Contest?” the cat didn’t quite sneer.

“A contest sponsored by Sword & Laser! It started in April and ran through the end of May. The top five fantasy and science fiction campaigns on the site with the highest pre-order counts would all be published – even if they didn’t hit the 1000 book goal. I thought about it for ten whole minutes before I jumped in. It was just too good of an opportunity to pass up. It was too many coincidences! I had never even heard of Inkshares until the podcast, and now the podcast was running a fricking contest for fantasy novels and I WRITE FANTASY NOVELS. I had already setup a ‘dummy’ campaign with very basic information – in a frantic hour or two I field-dressed it and set it to launch.”

“What’s the book called?”

“Uh. I mean. I think we’ve agreed to disagree before about my style, so –”

“What. Is the stupid. Book. Called. Human.”

Asteroid Made of Dragons…?”Asteroid

Aragorn arched his back and hissed at me.  I held up both hands, hoping to placate him. “Yes, yes – I know. But you see, I won. I won Aragorn. It took a lot of amazing people helping me out and Inkshares amending the contest rules right at the end to factor in unique readers as well as pre-order totals. But I’m getting a book published. It is happening. It’s happening, Aragorn!”

The cat lowered his spine and plopped back on the floor – or at least the most graceful version of a ‘plop’ that can exist. I kept going, hoping he wouldn’t mind the excited spittle flying across the room.

“And on top of that I get to be in the Sword & Laser Collection. I get to be interviewed on the podcast. It’s come full circle or something. I also have to write a whole hell of a lot in the couple of months to get the manuscript done and I think I may have some sort of anxiety-related tic forming in my left eye – but I get to see my work in hardback. I…I…I…”

Aragorn stretched with boredom. “You realize this is only interesting to you? It’s nice that you tricked a bunch of friend and strangers into helping you, but I fail to see what this could possibly mean for me?”

Cats ruin everything. “I mean, we’ve just talked so much about the other books, i thought you’d be excited.”

“Yay.”

“Okay – okay, I get it,” I got up from the floor and skulked away.

The Best Thing

Banana-2

In the middle of all this madness, I get a new review for my first book.

And, as I’ve learned, my core demographic is 11 years old.

austin2What I liked about Spell/Sword is that when Rime and Jonas get of jail and fight the crystal frog and I also liked when they fought the grey witch and the assassin also that there’s a sword that is magic and can take away Rime’s magic also when she uses magic it damages her health and her power is unstoppable and Jonas on the run for murder.

Austin Sigman – Age 11

Yup. That’s what I like about Spell/Sword too. I can’t wait for him to read The Riddle Box and AMOD.

I’m being very terse because this took a kind of crappy stressful day and made it awesome. I don’t wear happy well.

Thank you so much for reading, Austin!

Addressing the Troops

in: Schweizerische Monatsschrift DU, August 1948.

in: Schweizerische Monatsschrift DU, August 1948.

[I wrote this as a backer update for my Inkshares campaign of Asteroid Made of Dragons — and I kind of liked it. I’m always trying to express my goals in some fashion or another, and I liked the word-shapes I came up with this time, so here you go.]

Good afternoon you feckless rabble, you hard-hearted convoy of bright-eyed adventurers.

We’ve picked up quite a few new followers – shamans, bladewalkers, puppeteers, guys named Chuck. My army grows with potency and I sip from a goblet of purest obsidian in vile pleasure.

Because this is the secret – this is the thing that books do, the invisible machinery of Purpose. It brings human minds together – across space and time and race and rhyme. It brings them together like little fireflies – little droplets of human energy floating in the dark. The more we gather the brighter that light becomes – doubling and redoubling like a dynamo, like thunder rumbling its way across the heavens.

The big Books? The ones out there with thousands or millions of readers – they burn like tiny suns, whole skies full of fire. Flame that sings across memory and dreams, powering the machines, turning the drill.

The drill? What drill? The drill that turns, breaking down the wall between our old gray world and the brighter worlds on the Other Side.

That’s my job, every author’s job, really. To walk along the edge of this world, tapping at the wall. And when you find a crack – when you smell something sweet or dark or evil or bright – some color on the other side you put your hand on it. You put your hand on it and you start to holler. Because you don’t want to lose it! Anything but lose the scent, the tiny little weak place in the dimensional barrier. And then you write – you write what’s on the other side, and if you’re very very lucky – readers come. With the real power, the real human energy — and if you get enough of them, you can break through.

We can break through. One day… one day. The Other worlds are out there and I can see mine — one day we’ll break on through and slip away.

Maybe this is a weird goal to post here? Chuck looks like he’s having second thoughts.

So thank you – is what I’m kind of saying – thank you for this small bonfire that we’ve built. May it guide others to our banner.

Have a great El Seis de Mayo! If you were unaware, it is officially the Greatest Day of the Year.

Sic Semper Tyrannosaur,

Derek

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Two Free Books and One Asteroid (Made of Dragons)

I’m giving my books away this week – in hope that you will think about helping me reach my dreams and pre-order my new book. I put out the first two all on my own – now I’m working with Inkshares.com – a crowd-source publisher and their Sci-Fi / Fantasy Contest sponsored by Sword and Laser. Normally I would have to get 1000 pre-orders to get my book published – but in this contest the top 5 campaigns by the end of May all get published. For a raggedy self-publishing scamp like me, it’s the chance of a lifetime.

So here we are! I’ve gone through my friends and contacts online and begged, lied, pleaded, wept, and cajoled. And, almost unbelievably,  so many of them have stepped up to support me. But now I have to convince you – total stranger – to take a chance on my new book Asteroid Made of Dragons.

So I want to meet you half-way — I want to give you my first two books for free.

Kindle Version – FREE – May 4th – May 8th

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There they are – the fruits of my brain garden – please take them.  You can learn more about each here and via the reviews on Amazon. The short version is: if you are a huge dork, well I pretty much wrote these books specifically for you.

And now, your part of the bargain! Because we have entered into some sort of bizarre internet blood-pact – bang a gong and summon the lukewarm spirits. The link to campaign page for the third book is below. Take a look! It’s another adventure for my heroes Jonas and Rime – but fret not! I write episodic fantasy – not epic – like any good episode of X-Files or Sherlock Holmes investigation, you will be provided with the minimum required knowledge to enjoy the adventure du jour. There are a couple of sample chapters already up of the third book, but if you enjoy those FREE BOOKS I JUST GAVE YOU – the third book will not disappoint.

Asteroid

ASTEROID MADE OF DRAGONS – PRE-ORDER ONLY 8.99!

  • Pro-Tip: If you sign up for Inkshares itself, they give you a $5 credit – which you can use towards my book!

Well – I guess that’s it? I don’t know quite what else to tell you, stranger. You are on my blog now, so there’s a metric ton of my other ramblings, short stories, and other errata – plus I just GAVE YOU TWO FREAKING BOOKS.

This is always where I come a little unglued at self-promotion. You have no reason to help me – but I hope you do! Even if you decide not to pre-order – maybe you know some people that would like some free books – or maybe people who would really like to help a book about a nuclear winter caused by a meteor crammed full of mythological creatures get published.

There are those people, right?

Leave comments here if you have questions, concerns, or burning rages — or come burn me down @gderekadams on Twitter.

Here’s a picture of a banana:

Banana-2