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

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Launch Party!

The book launch for Purge of Ashes occurred April 9th at #hashtag gallery in Toronto. It was a festive occasion full of long-winded speeches and an ill-conceived pantomime. Three copies of the Purge of Ashes proof – featuring an extra-black cover – were given away and cupcakes were had by all.

Book Launch BannerBook LaunchBook Launch PoseEJM at the Book LaunchBook Reading 3Book Reading 2

Book Reading

Book Launch Food Table

JM

My Book is Out…

…and what a feeling it is.

Anxiousness.

It was supposed to be joy, right? Bliss? Balming relaxation? Squeaky giddiness?

Nope, just anxious. My publisher imploded a week before the release. Everything was late. All my traction from my efforts in the months prior fizzled like the lit fuse of a dud grenade while I scrambled around getting the job done instead of celebrating the victory. Even now I wait on a proof for the final version to arrive, certain it is great but unwilling to assume again based on the digital copy alone. Eventually it shall be as it was meant to – but the span where the iron was hot came and went with more than a few sleepless nights.

It has been rough, what should have been wonderful. The only fortunate aspect was that the novel itself has not been harmed and remains as it was: a debut sweat for.

Going forward I shall do as suggested me by author Graham Austin-King. Get on with writing Grip of Dust, read, and let the traction sort itself out. Anxiety and authorship were never estranged to begin with.

JM

The Last Book of Realmwalker Publishing Group

Mine was the last book published by Realmwalker Publishing Group.

It came out April 5th, about a week and a half after the company imploded over a series of business fall outs and other concerns. Keeping up with a jam-packed schedule of releases led to a build-up of pressure akin to the leakage of gas, while problems with payroll provided the incendiary match. Everyone could smell the sulfur, everyone could hear the hiss – but when the fireman among you says not to worry, your worries dissipate. They creep back later when the intrusive sensation persists, but for the moment you are placated. After all, they are the fireman. This is what they do.

By the time of launch all my rights were returned to me, and while my novel gives publishing credit where it is due, I essentially was and am now a self-published author.

Not the kind of thing I envisioned upon signing. The requisite time to produce my debut properly was divvied to newly-acquired authors whose re-releases could theoretically be republished in short order and with less effort. With the principal cover artist on holidays for March, a replacement was found who hailed from Brazil. Some miscommunication went down between he and RPG, and after two weeks he had produced nothing but the .PSD of a pre-existing picture of his. Company president James Drake was sufficiently horrified as to not let me even see it. With two weeks to go I had no cover. I enjoy the grit and fanfare of the cover I have now, but it would be a lie to say it was not a last minute thing.

When the whole community went belly up a few days later, there was lots of driftwood and silt to sift through. My book vs. the outrage and confusion of a whole body of newly published authors. It did not stand a chance at seizing the time necessary to be properly produced. With the release date looming, Drake and I worked an inordinate amount of hours–From the morning of Sunday, April 3rd, to midnight on April 5th, I was awake 58 of 60 hours –to no avail. In the end Purge of Ashes mostly missed its release date, took yet more time to get a softcover online, and then had some last minute issues still being resolved. Oh, and because of this the shipment of softcovers inbound for my book launch spent the party in a cargo container at Pearson Airport in Toronto. I called every company involved a billion times, but UPS was incapable of getting them for me on a Friday night and refused to work Saturday. Not one deadline hit.

The release of Purge of Ashes was an unmitigated catastrophe. Any momentum I had built through posting my 30 Days of Balance articles and hoopla over on Twitter was erased by the miasma of confusion over if and when the books were available. This was rotten. With tales like these one might imagine me fuming and irate – but that’s not me, and what’s more there was plenty of good that came from the mess of the last three weeks.

  1. For one, James was good on his promise to work diligently on my book regardless of the status of Realmwalker. While there was a foreboding sense of ‘too late’ hanging above everything we did, he did produce a book for me which has a solid cover and looks GREAT in the interior. He listened to my many questions and included lots of my suggestions, even for little things like the imbalance icons for the page count. He spent 56 of those 60 hours awake as well, doing most of the actual work. And as a pardon for the payroll flames of yester-week, did so entirely for free.
  2. Things could have been A LOT worse. The book did, in fact, get finished. I did not lose any money. I did not have to explain to everyone I know about why I actually wasn’t going to have a book in under a week. RPG could have fled with its tail between its legs and left me stranded, instead of admitting defeat and facing the fall out. A small consolation given what happened, but a consolation yet.
  3. I take being an author much more seriously. When I first got in contact with RPG Imbalance had been collecting dust. I was torn between pushing for representation and self-publishing. I was part of no communities. I was just a guy who had spent the better part of his free time for seven years completing a works. Now, in the process of promoting my release, I have met a cool cadre of authors, read a lot about the publishing industry, and dealt with much of the ever-present flak of being a newcomer. Everything has worked to aid me in better managing the project. Six months ago I had no such insight.

My only real concern is that fantasy aficionados who follow the ins and outs of the industry will look at RPG’s broad collection net and decide that, by virtue of being a new author hired in such a sweep, my novel is but krill.

While this concern is real to me, it is likely unfounded. From what I can tell experienced authors have seen it all before and offer guidance instead of scorn. Other authors pushing the self-publishing Sisyphus boulder raise their fists in solemn salute. To their credit, Realmwalker held off branding Purge of Ashes with the company logo to help ensure the novel did not suffer by association. This was a venerable act that further indicates the tragic nature of the implosion.

How much was smoke and mirrors? Somewhere more or less than we authors all thought, no doubt.

But I’m pretty proud of the accomplishment of the fellow I see in the mirror, and to the Purge go the smoke and ashes.

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 #27: The Wait

So I fell a bit short of my 30 Days challenge. I had the capability to go the distance, but with the publication of my book in jeopardy my priorities switched. I imagine I touched on most important subjects in the last two months. I will finish the 30 Days tomorrow in a big lump so as to be true to my word in the end: 30 posts in 30 days.

Tonight, I wait.

I chose writing as my ideal medium because it was a solo pursuit where you did not need anyone to create something exactly how you like it. But that’s not entirely true. By the end of the process you need a whole bunch of other people involved – good friends as mentioned before, but also editors, publishers, eyes in the sky. Things got messy and went down to the wire like an alighting bird. They still are even as I write this. My book comes out tomorrow yet work remains to be done. It helps having people in your corner who are nearly as dedicated to the proliferation of your book as you yourself.

The delays have cost me in promotion time. There are numerous places where I cannot promote because of missing art and a lack of an Amazon pre-order page. Unfortunate, but not soul crushing. Soul crushing is not doing the book properly and having to live with it for all your years, wondering how and why you could not have spent more time cultivating.

Tomorrow I will release the cover art AND the book itself all at once. For tonight I am dozy from a combination of explaining my unique circumstances and going to bed at 4am yesterday in an effort to hasten production.

JM

 

Best Practices

…to borrow a phrase from my teaching background.

This post was popular on my Facebook page, so I thought I’d repost it here:

Lots of people want to know how to best help me out as there are numerous manners to acquire the novel.

For starters, picking up the book ASAP is the most important thing as ‘frequency of purchases’ is what pushes a book’s ranking on Amazon. The higher the ranking, the more likely strangers are to find the novel when searching – and more likely a novel will show up on Amazon’s search algorithm. These both mean more sales, which then pushes a book even further. The week of the book’s release is the best week to accomplish this ascension because the initial pointed interest spikes sales numbers. It’s about getting launched as high as you can and then retaining momentum. Here is a purchasing breakdown for what helps me most:

1. Buy a physical book ($19.95) at the Release Party or from Amazon come April 5th. It will be quite pretty I assure you.
2. If you’d RATHER read an eBook but still want to support my fledgling efforts, when you purchase a softcover you ALSO get an eBook version for (I believe) the Kindle for FREE.
3. Buy an eBook ($3.99) from Amazon come April 5th. If you don’t know me so well / are hesitant not to physically shelf a book you’re not SURE you love, this is still wonderful. The cost of a burger and it won’t gnaw at your bowels!

No matter how you acquire the novel, one of the most helpful things anyone can do for an author is write a review of their book, typically on Amazon. Reviews mean a lot to people online who know nothing but the author’s pitch. They assure people what they are buying is not garbage. Even better are reviews that take the time to explains their reasons – lots of reviews with barely any content implies they’re ‘bought’ reviews more or less.

If the book does the trick, this part is very honesty and easy.

JM

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 #19: Fantasy vs. Horrible Fantasy Covers

Yes, a post about fantasy covers without actually showing any covers. There are plenty of ways to take a gander at some horrible (and excellent) fantasy covers without me spending my night collecting them for you. For the readily mockable, this place.

It is also well documented how vital a quality cover is to sales, and how vital a brand is to advertising. The cover is a form of brand for an author. It adds to a novel’s ‘collectable’ nature. Weaving themes through the covers of a series is very attractive. It implies to the reader that there is consistency within the novels as well. It shows planning and foresight. It can also be exceptionally cool or clever.

Of course, the covers can also be duds.

The ones that stick out to me are the ones with lizard men on them. Every time I want to mock a fantasy / sci-fi cover, I think lizard men. Usually either a) holding a screaming woman overhead, or b) being shot at by a woman in a silver space suit that ignores the shoulders. I also despise covers that are trying to sell fantasy using sex, because it rings of the ’80s and ’90s stereotype of fantasy lovers as basement nerds who require titillating covers to feel connected to a woman’s curvature. It rings of pulp. I want my fantasy to defy pulp. One of my favourite things about Game of Thrones on HBO is that it opened the world’s eyes to the very idea that fantasy is more than cliches and cheese. That the political machinations in Westeros can be as interesting and rich as ones in the White House.

The fantasy covers I prefer are more minimalist, have symbolism, and are connected to the story itself. They are never of massive battles, dangerous duels or nasty monsters – just a symbol and a correlated theme. The best example of this difference is between covers for Malazan Book of the Fallen:

The Bantam cover is everything I like. A backlit throne held by an imposing warrior? All in. Especially when the next few novels follow this pattern of black + coloured smoke + ominous central figure.

The TOR cover is everything I dislike, although this one is better than most of the others. Carriages just aren’t that interesting. The action scenes rarely capture any of the energy of battle, but instead tend to showcase characters like action figures. Plus every time I see a character in full light I immediately think “That’s not how I picture them.” Especially our good friend Silchas Ruin here as TOR’s covers came later than the original Bantam run.

By this time in my 30 Days of Balance schedule I was supposed to have a cover ready. It would not be a stretch considering Purge of Ashes is being released in less than two weeks to say it is late. What matters is that it is finished and ready for press time. Alas, this may not be the case. Here’s hoping this crisis yields opportunity, because I can’t imagine looking at my first novel, finally done, finally fit for print, finally ready for the world – and be repulsed by the face it wears.

JM

30 Days of Balance #16: EARLY SAMPLE from Purge of Ashes

With my cover reveal just a day around the corner (hopefully), this 16th day of Balance will be given over to a preview of Purge of Ashes. Hope it scintillates!

JM


The illumination provided by the lantern cast a flickering mosaic along the stone sides of the spiral staircase; each crack a horizon distant, each protrusion amass with nooks and crannies so precise they appeared as a tapestry of faces. Faces lost ages past, perhaps even yet to come. Scenes played out again and again, or perhaps events that never transpired at all. No man-made thread and needle were required for the banners of history woven all along the descent – they were wrapped around and around in the features of the masonry, overseen by a mere three sconces spans since last offering light. When memories pervade my waking consciousness, such salient visions are indeed commonplace.

A thin smile parted the lips of a tall, speculative man. Quietly shutting the door behind him, he kept his light source aloft – and were the stone walls a living history in truth they may have gleaned insight into the extant history of a great man through his eyes. Alas, the cold stone of the mosaic was witness merely to a lord whose shoulders hefted curious accouterments in opposition: a sweeping, off-shoulder cloak on the right and an overly-large, reinforced manica of dirty iron on the left.

Underground he went, deeper and deeper into the heart of this inexplicable hunk of earth lost in a sea of rot. It was cold up above and even colder as he approached the base of the stairs, warmth of all kinds distant from such an unreasonable location. He was unperturbed by the icy chill across his forearms and neck. Indeed, he welcomed it. Most gaols he had found himself in, as warden or dead man walking, had been musty, hot, sand-filled urinals rife with scorpions and cyclopean thorizar. More unbidden memories, but they were of no consequence and easily cast aside. What was more, he had arrived.

The last hidden recluse in the capital. Oh, he had spent many spans in the castle, searched out every cellar, every roost. He had traveled the corridors of the servants and stood in the throne room more times than he could count. That an excavation this expansive could remain so hidden from his probing senses was a mystery – but it was also an answer. There was nowhere else to look. And at this distance, now but paces from what the lantern was revealing to be a sizable, half-rotten wooden door raked by iron bars, he could feel the soft droning of reticent chakka burgeoning after decadaes of elusion.

With a final jangling of his undercoat, he stood in silence before the door, the lantern’s perforation revealing little through the dull, slime-covered splinters. With a gentle palm he pushed on the handle. The fulcrums groaned, but it fell open nonetheless, a metallic wheeze reverberating up the stairwell behind him. Not the amount of resistance one would normally expect from a door untroubled for a great many spans. Flaked chips of rust within a reach of the threshold confirmed his assumption.

Fingers darted out, snuffing the lantern. His quarry was most certainly within the pitch black room. He took one step forward. His eyes would not adjust, he knew. Matchsticks waited on the inside of his cloak for the return trip. Extinguishing the lantern was but a courtesy.

“Ah,” Rafien Jorgamund said simply, a noise more than a word. A rusty creak answered him, followed immediately by the onset of a shiver and the sensation of a most perceptive regard steeling into him from somewhere within the chamber – which was, of course, impossible. Oh, he might try, but Chakka’Ghar were, without exception, blind. The gesture was for his benefit so he could locate the particular direction of black to address. Long ears would have picked up his bootfalls tics prior, descending the stairs with no attempt at the clandestine.

“You could not have thought to evade me here forever.”

No reply was forthcoming. Some things never changed.

“However, being here I must assume that utter evasion was never your desire, else you would have left Sventium altogether and made your way back home. Or maybe north to Brace Cartia. Or west and across the Rockswell. But you are here and I don’t know whether I find that telling or worrisome… because I do not know why.”

They had been friends long ago. They were friends now, truth be told, although the veracity of that statement depended upon the manner upon which one gauges friendship and, indeed, the passage of time.

Rafien could remember the exact sixtieth he saw his friend last, a centoraspan prior, standing on a desolate road south of the site. They had stood together facing the Landbridge, an isthmus runs to the west across wind-swept plains and prairie grasses, the carved bays of its edges disrupting the seamless circumference of the horizon and framing the path soon to be undertaken. Beyond it the battered sun set in vivid display.

The weight of the impending moment had already brought tears to Rafien’s eyes, freezing to his skin as they rode the wind across his cheeks and down his face. They had left him a sleek mask, humorously reflective of his inner turmoil and exposing, for the uncaring flats of Aneoma to see, his self. A petty facade, but one he had clung to nonetheless, unable to come to grips with an emotion he had not felt deeply in so many spans. And so he had wept.

He had stood alone in the gale winds and then they had stood side-by-side when the time had come. A gloved hand had settled on his shoulder, stirring awake the husk he had become: a frigid overseer beset by bandages and bruises staring ruthlessly down at the expanse before him. The action cracked his streaked exterior, spawning new tears and crumbling the remnants of his resolve. He had then whispered the last true prayer of his life.

Ronun Thel had stepped past him and never looked back.

Poetic, then, that his vigil began on the West Plain, where the once-holy could walk half a dozen runs of flat road before becoming a smudge in the distance. Telling, then, that in traveling by night his friend’s progression was all but untraceable in a matter of tics. Maybe he had not wanted me to watch him go, but by Aneom’s robes I stood and watched the darkness. Aneom’s dirty robes, I stood.

Stood as he did now, in utter darkness, with only his measured breaths to act as the wind and break the silence. Somewhere beyond his senses, Ronun.

“What is the… root of this self-pity?” he asked, the plea of his pursuit once more entering his voice unbidden. “What have you not already faced?”

Rafien let the questions linger, the air hanging thick with the unmentionable. He hoped to use their past history to draw the man out, but – as the tics grew longer and Rafien burgeoned on spending a half-tora underground between the bells – he was unsure his friend was ready for the conversation. He had waited a long time to meet Thel again. He could wait a little longer.

“I will return.”

With a respectful bow, he stepped back into the stairwell, his right hand pulling the rotted door shut behind him. It had to be handled carefully. Thel’s scars would weep in time, but, as usual, Rafien himself would have to be prepared for the burden of their bleeding, and that challenge would require a substantial amount of patience.

His hand rummaged in a pocket, finding a long match which he struck against a stone protrusion on the wall. It caught, once more doing the work of the tired sconces. One step at a time, Rafien Jorgamund trudged his way back towards the top of the stairs. Once more in the corridors of the castle, and long out of earshot of the new denizen at the root of the hidden staircase, his lips let slip a ragged sigh – winds of the past once more lashing like flails against his cheeks.

*Courtesy of Chapter Six of Purge of Ashes, Book One of the Imbalance – coming April 5th, 2016, through Realmwalker Publishing Group.