First Fan Art

A while ago, Malazan Empire members Itwaes Nom sent me this sketch of Avery Shim ta Salm and Aronan Kloss from Purge of Ashes – my first fan art! Exactly the sort of enthusiasm Imbalance is all about. And those javelin looks sick. Super flattered. The picture must be after Aronan loses his cape 😛

itwas-nom-avery-aronan-sketch

It’s a cool feeling. I recommend everyone write a book. My readership is thin now, but respect like this (plus his review) make it all worth it. Rock on, Itwaes!

JM

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My TOR.com Think-piece on Malazan Book of the Fallen

gardens-of-the-moon-cover

So if you would please take a gander at this article I was asked to write for TOR.com (you know, the biggest fantasy publisher in the world) I would be thrilled. It’s meant for people who are interested in Malazan Book of the Fallen but keep hearing a lot of chat about it ahead of time. Those already disinclined will find nothing to like about the article, while those who already love the series will hopefully feel similar. It really is a unique piece of art when your plumb its depths, and definitely worth the investment.

I have Imbalance news, but will wait a bit to share. Until then: babies, babies everywhere!

JM

Coup de Grace

So I have had some pretty bad news lately, as documented and documented, but ‘everything comes in threes’ as people like to say. Fortunately, as far as news goes, I was saving the best for last.

I am glad to announce I have been offered a guest opportunity to write about fantasy for TOR.com regarding the magnificent opus The Malazan Book of the Fallen. I am really looking forward to praising the virtues of what I believe is the greatest fantasy books of all time, and determined to convince those on the fence of why they need to tackle the monster series. At least one other friend is also gearing up, so it is going to be great fun. Even more importantly to me personally, this chance has come right when my prospective publishing future seemed most daunting (hehe, naw, Imbalance will be one way or another, no worries) and I see it as surefire proof my prose is not so deplorable.

More on the matter to come, and I’ll be sure to direct you to the essay when it is published in September!

JM

The Best Reason to Skimp on Site Updates

So this announcement has been pending for some time, but I went and had a baby boy back on July 14th. Coupled with my two-year old girl life has been busy and unpredictable!

Abby & Sebastian

Now I’m just softening you up. Is there a cuter pair? Doubtful.

Lots has been happening with regards to Imbalance, and a more business-minded follow-up to this post is forthcoming, but hey, as Aronan would say, ‘Family comes first.’ As it stands, this is a pretty good reason for the site’s silence in June and July (and likely August, I’m on very little sleep and the place is a mess).

JM

My Interview for Fantasy Faction’s ‘Superfan’

Fantasy Faction – a wonderful online community for fantasy fans and authors alike – recently interviewed me about the Malazan Book of the Fallen, and it was posted as the first in their ‘superfan’ series. Check it out!

Here’s a sample:

So, what exactly is this series about?

The decay of gods. The history of those whose deaths shape the passage of time. The burden of suffering upon those who would create beauty. The longevity of the land’s spirit beneath the rigors of man. The plight of the unwitnessed whose struggle has been lost in the annals of memory.

If that seems poetic, heavy or massive in scope, as if I did not answer the question, then WELCOME to the Malazan Book of the Fallen!

JM

New Pricing / Amazon Releases

So everything is finally set up on Amazon, even if some of their cover art jpegs have not updated since 19-dickety-2. It breaks down thusly:

Amazon.com

  • Purge of Ashes on Kindle: $5.08 USD
  • Purge of Ashes in lovely paperback: $15.95 USD

Amazon.ca

  • Purge of Ashes on Kindle: $6.49 CAD
  • Purge of Ashes in lovely paperback: $20.21 CAD

We managed to drop the price of the physical copy, mostly in an effort to make a sane price for the book in Canada. This is added incentive for anyone who has been on the fence about a purchase. It’s a great deal on a great book.

As well, to illustrate the above statement, I have added a ‘Reviews‘ section to the site that can be found here.

JM

BEHOLD!

Front Purge of Ashes Cover

You can now purchase Purge of Ashes for your Kindle (and we think other eReaders work fine, too)

Could not be more proud. Epic cover epic content… what’s not to like? If you stumble upon my little corner of the net, please take minute to think to yourself: “Do I need to buy the big container of spinach? It will cost $5 and probably go bad.” Then think to yourself instead: “No, I will spend the same money on a novel that WON’T go soggy” – and then buy my book. It’s that easy.

And hey, it’s got a cool cover, right?

JM

30 Days of Balance #23: Bridge From Dard

Instead of posting about Short Stories today as per the schedule, I’M GOING TO GIVE YOU A NEW ONE! See what I did there?

First I must mention this post was originally going to be about an Imbalance short story called Residue which tells the tale of a master practitioner and his accomplice traveling from Aneoma to the Stillborn Basin in the name of science. However, having penned up a new sort of short story this morning…

I entered the WHEEL OF OSHEIM writing competition, hosted by Agnes Meszaros, which is totally going on over here!

ThornsWC

I am fairly proud of my entry, although there is one word I might change. Hopefully that is not enough to mar the piece in the eyes of the judges. There’s certainly lots going on if you hop back to the start once you reach the end.

RULES:

300 words or less. Must use the word ‘life’ and the word ‘death.’

I give you Bridge From Dard – and you could probably figure out where in the world of Imbalance the story takes place by looking at the map.

ENTRY:

Bridge From Dard

“I’ll be fine, Norae. You’ll see.”

We will see.

She would not get too close. She had her pole if need be.

The Bridge to Furl stretched out before Thanol Baeddicus, four lines of ropes coiled upon ropes framing an ingenious succession of interlocking planks. Each was long as a man and rooted by sturdy metal pins thick as mauls. It obscured not far from where Thanol was making his way out, lost to the blanched air of a soothing snow storm.

Morning had done little to alleviate the night’s chill, and the bridge itself was thick with snow heaped tall as her hand. It sloughed from Thanol’s boots to drop a thousand leaps to the chop below.

“See? Immaculate! A work of virtuoso engineering!”

So you said in crossing.

“Immaculate!” he repeated.

The man was a gifted talent. Her span in Furl as his apprentice had braved his thinly-veiled pomposity to find the skill underneath relished the exposure. In her naivety, Norae had assumed such capability beckoned an honest man. When the bridge had been proposed, such naivety withered. Life was, after all, the vandal of innocence. The greater fault lay at its feet.

Not my own.

“She withstood a blizzard, Pupil Norae. A blizzard! Warleader will march by nightfall.”

Two pins were shoved deep in her rucksack.

“If—”

Thanol reached the plank that felt their absence. Easy to see in daylight. Impossible under snowfall. He gave a weak squeal and slipped through. Norae had her pole ready, but it would not be necessary. The magnate was already fallen to his death.

Chilled, she rubbed her hands together. Just the night’s work catching up to me.

Norae of the Dard drew her knife and began at the ropes fixing the bridge to her cliff.

30 Days of Balance #20: The Roddening

Last we checked the 6-year challenge was a success…

So I finished my novel. I set out to do it in six years and I did it in six years, more or less. It’s done. Finito. Ready for the presses.

Well, besides the editing. Then the further editing. Then waiting a month and then editing again. I edited the book through myself about seven times over the few years following completion. Each time I was astounded at the stuff I would find. Sentences that fit before, unglued. Story lines unvarnished. Parts I loved in the end barely hammered together. Any author knows writing is re-writing. It just is. My three confidants also read it and fed me on a diet of compliment sandwiches.

When happy with the edits (about halfway through those seven edits), I tried to hook 17 agents on Purge of Ashes. One day I sent out a flurry of query letters tailored to suit the submissions process etched out by their 17 separate companies. Over the next few months I got about 8 rejections and 9 non-replies. There were more names on my list, but some daunting aspects of the process were grating on me and I was more life-busy. Somewhere in there I got married and bought a house and had a real job teaching middle school English for a private school. I left off my attempts and instead tried to hook notably excellent editor Barbara Berson who had been recommended to me by Jane Bow, author of Cally’s Way. Barbara was interested and busy, giving me the first positive feedback I ever heard for Purge: “It’s ambitious and ably-written.” Unfortunately, right when I was planning to hire Barbara my contract was not renewed and I was let go from my teaching position, possibly for inspiring the students too well. Only explanation that made any sense to me.

So the novel sat while life took over.

One day I was in the Facebook group for the Malazan Empire discussing quality fantasy releases when it was mentioned that this fellow member Sean Roddenhad published an epic fantasy novel. Reviews (and I count reviews from Malazan fans as worth double that of a normal human) were very positive. I asked him a bunch of self-publishing questions and he answered. Turned out he lived just down the street in Hamilton, Ontario. Realizing I had read a slew of famous fantasy series with only rare forays into lesser known works – and that this would be exactly what I was expecting from the fans I hoped to garner for Imbalance – I decided to buy and read his novel Whispers of War.

It was potent. I wrote a lengthy review of the book for Amazon and I recommend it to everyone, especially if you like your fantasy old school – Tolkien style – or find other books don’t stretch your vocabulary enough. The day I wrote to point him towards my review, he told me of his three-book deal with Realmwalker Publishing Group.

He told me I should submit to them once I finished my book.

I said my book had been done for over a year.

He said to submit then, and I did.

I then praised the ground he walked upon and made the horrid mistake of promising to buy him a beer when next we met. A beer I still owe. A beer I shirk away from as if intrusive morning daylight.

One night I turned my laptop off at 12:30am and was stumble-walking towards the stairs to head up to bed. My phone was flashing. I absently checked my gmail to see what was the matter. It was James Drake, president of Realmwalker Publishing Group, informing me he had selected my novel for publication. I was damned speechless. I made my way to bed and lay next to my already-sleeping wife debating waking her to tell her. Then I just lay there and grinned at the black ceiling, thinking less of the seven plus years of work it took to reach the moment and more about the years ahead – of what it could mean for the series. When we awoke the next morning I looked at my wife and babbled “It’s funny, you know? It’s funny. It feels like just any other morning, doesn’t it? It feels like just any other morning.” She did not know what to make of this, so I showed her the email.

It has been a long journey from being in university dreaming up characters from the steerage of a dragon boat to waking up next to my wife with a publishing deal. I am super excited to share it with the world on April 5th. I suppose Sean’s really earned that beer.

JM

30 Days of Balance #11: Progress to Publication II – Six-Year Challenge

At the end of “Progress to Publication I” I was done with television production but held a great movie script in my hands sure to see no light of day. It became increasingly ignored on the backburner as only the dearest friends would read a movie script. There were no visuals. With only a few words to describe the action, could they ever see what I saw when put together?

I started on a comic with an illustrator while I waited for things to figure themselves out, and when they didn’t took another look at things. The comic was done, but in the end it had taken a long time without any hope of profit looming. Looking at the situation, I realized the proper answer was to work in a medium that was, by definition, a solo act. A way of producing the content I loved without relying on the approval of others or technology I did not know how to use.The answer was writing the movie script back into a novel – one using the script as a skeleton and my further five years of experience reading and writing as the motivation to finish.

What’s more, I had my original version of the book as a template for my first five chapters.

Now, I’ve mentioned my history of not quitting, but this was going to be the biggest challenge yet. Writing a full novelization was going to take a very long time and I was no longer a teen – I had bills and a job and responsibilities. I needed a way to gauge if I was capable of putting in the time to properly execute a full book. I also wanted to use the fact that being young had no bearing on being an author. In television and comics, being young and in the clique was essential to progression, but writing was deemed an older person’s game. It was and is a medium where your product speaks for you in full.

I settled on a 6-year plan to finish the book when I was 33. I figured that at 33 I would still be fairly young, I would be just as happy to have a written novel, and I would have a cut-off age to ensure the project never went into development hell forever. Over the next bunch of years I wrote, and I felt the cap of 6 years was very helpful in keeping me on track. I wrote when I could – sometimes in huge blocks of 8-hour days in a library, other times never for multiple months – but I always felt calm knowing it did not have to be done immediately. I had lots of time. There was no reason to ever feel like a failure if it ground to a halt once in a while. At some point I was going to haul out the gas tank and get moving again.

I finished my first draft of Purge of Ashes when I was 32 – and after numerous edits over the intervening years, found publication at 33, right near the end of my timeline. I will turn 34 eight days before the release date and what an amazing past six years it has been.

And don’t worry – with ‘publication’ replacing the ‘6-year plan’ as my principal motivator, you can rest easy Grip of Dust will not take nearly so long. At the time of this post it is 68,000 words deep.

JM