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

One Step Backward, Two Steps Forward

Yeah, we got a wicked cool banner up there now – but alas the Birth of Imbalance will have to wait another day while issues with the cover are repaired. Not what I had in mind, but necessary in the grand scheme of things.

Dear everyone! Thanks for all your enthusiasm today. Producing books is an exhausting and tricky business – or so I am finding – but producing a novel with a cover that doesn’t make me grin ear to ear is doing the book a disservice, and I would rather put off the fanfare for another day than commit myself long term to something that does not make me proud.

As such, Purge of Ashes is now slated to be released… tomorrow. After a touch more polish tonight. In the meantime… enjoy the banner!

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 #26: Writing vs. Worldbuilding

What do you value in an author, craft or story? When I was a teenager my favourite fantasy series was without doubt The Wheel of Time. I read and reread books 1-6 until I knew every inch of the map, every obscure Aes Sedai. I never thought twice about the writing – I was so focused on how cool 13 evil mages called The Forsaken were.

When I was a teenager I also read The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay. I did not care for the premise. Real people sucked into fantasy worlds never appealed to me. It made the other world small. Then the story had Guinevere and Lancelot in it and… nope, not for me. How could it compare to The Wheel of Time with so much less worldbuilding?

Well, there was Kay himself. His prose was smooth like silk, and brought emotion to the fore. It did not hide behind tropes or long drawn out teenage awkwardness. It elevated the text itself, elevated the ideas it presented and elevated the reading experience. My father never read fantasy – he found Jordan fun but Kay art. I didn’t quite know how to engage with this at the time. I had no register upon which to compare writing ability. All I knew was action, story, monsters, heroes. Kay’s works since The Fionavar Tapestry are books I have not given enough of my time, but if The Lions of Al-Rassan is any indication, as I imagine it is, he has improved upon his earlier works – in content certainly while I’m not sure how room there is above his formative style to begin with. The Fionavar Tapestry (I had an omnibus edition) is still the only fantasy novel to make me cry.

So Writing vs. Worldbuilding. Where do you fall on the spectrum? Are you a Kay type, literary and leaning towards immaculate works of high language and high emotion, rich in vocabulary and deep in subtlety? Or are you a Jordan type where you can withstand any amount of braid tugging to enjoy the concept of a Myrddraal, the trappings of the Forsaken, or the powerful mysteries of the Aiel Waste and Shadar Logoth? I often see a writer’s craft as being a gift, some ephemeral quality that has been with them forever, while their worldbuilding stems more from dedication. Of course, some authors, like Erikson, are so much of both they break the graph.

Here is an imperfect layout of how I rank the authors I have read most. If authors push left or right, it’s not really a critique of what they can’t do but rather an emphasis on where their strength lies. Sorry for ditching on Sanderson.

Author-Graph

JM

30 Days of Balance #25: Pronunciation + Pronunciation Keys

I’m hopping a few days ahead of schedule, but my cover is coming tomorrow and I want to fit in my favourite topics prior to April 5th: The Birth of Imbalance.

Pronunciation is one of the best things about fantasy novels. Some people hate it, finding all the strange names intolerable and all the extra apostrophes silly, but I find a great amount of joy in the game. Fantasy names are weird. They’re foreign. If they are not like this it usually grates on me greatly (for example, all the simple our-world names of Kingkiller Chronicles – especially when the protagonist has one of the awesomest fantasy names in ‘Kvothe’ – or the ungainly ‘Kyle’ from Ian Cameron Esslemont [long story that one]).

I love the power that comes with reading a name. It is mine to say aloud. If I want to pronounce ‘Daenarys’ as ‘Day-nair-E-us’ or ‘Dan-air-E-us’ it is up to me (unless HBO says otherwise, and even then it is still up to me.) The author can pronounce it one way and readers another. It is written. It has no breath to speak of beyond your own. I noticed this recently listening to the Grim Tidings Postcast featuring a two-part interview with Joe Abercrombie where, in reference to a new character from the upcoming short story collection Sharp Ends – ‘Shevediah’, the hosts kept saying ‘Shev-eh-DIE-ah’ and Abercrombie kept saying ‘Shev-EH-dee-ah’.

No live discussion of a fantasy novel is complete without both people being completely confused because they pronounce a name differently and can’t figure each other out.

For the ‘ell of it, here is a brief pronunciation key for Purge of Ashes’s 3 most baffling monikers:

Asma(thalyne) Madrejingo – [ACE-ma(tha-line) Madra-JING-go]

Rafien Jorgamund – [RAY-fee-en YORG-a-mund]

Xi’ar Chukkundah – [Zire Chuck-KUN-dah]

and for fun,

Arch Deacon Kravroar Bryce Matmas Slyne – [CRAV-roar Brice Mat-mus Sline]

JM

30 Days of Balance #24: The Timeline Doesn’t Matter

Short post today. Cover a-transpirin’.

The running phrase around an old Malazan Book of the Fallen forum I spent a lot of time on was “the timeline doesn’t matter.” It came about as a result of numerous threads wondering how story lines wove together, sometimes critical of supposed gaffes, other times desperately trying to pull together loose ends. Malazan hops around a lot. Keeping track is a job better suited to a computer. Somewhere in this mighty jumble it may have been possible to find an error in chronology, or math, within the ten epic tomes – but the mantra was loud and firm: forget about it.

For one, you’ll churn your noodle. For two, it was deemed rude to question the author when he so clearly has thought of a thousand-fold details. There was a point where having so much depicted with accuracy that the act of questioning went from nit-picking to insult. Erikson had earned any holes you could find. Odds were it was you who was missing the link regardless.

As stated earlier in the 30 Days of Balance, I have an ugly document for time lines. Most authors have not earned the benefit of the doubt as Erikson has and thus have to be extra particular. An obvious hole or even one that can be weaseled out through careful scrutiny is enough to sink my ship in the eyes of the gatekeepers. As such, for Purge of Ashes, the timeline does matter – and very much so. I promise not to hop around much in the next book *wink, wink*

Drat, did I type myself winking?

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 #22: Birthday Promo!

I turned 34 at 6am.

I slotted this post to be a simple promotion so I would not have to work too hard. As it stands, I may have to abort my ’30 days’ deal due to my efforts being required for the creation of the book itself and the managing of the release party. I had not anticipated having so much to do in the final week before release. So: the skinny.

PURGE OF ASHES, Book One of the Imbalance

RELEASED: April 5th on Amazon

BLURB TO END ALL BLURBS

SAMPLE PAGES

Boom. Done. I’m out.

JM