Blood of the Green Children Preorder

BotGC-cover-thumbBlood of the Green Children is now available for preorder and will be out September 16!

Beauty. Money. Powerful connections. The mysterious woman has nearly everything, but she’s still seeking out Jack’s help. She offers him a ludicrous amount of money to hang around and catalyze an event, plus a convenient all expenses paid trip to London. It seems like easy money, but when Jack takes the deal he has no idea what he’ll end up paying in return.

Currently available for preorder through Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, and Smashwords.

Blood of the Green Children Cover!

BotGC-cover-bigHere it is, the recently finished cover for the Unseen, book two: Blood of the Green Children.  I beat my head against a wall for months trying to get this cover right.  I went through a variety of different ideas before finally settling on this.  Now that it’s done I’m very excited to share it.  So… here you go!

Required Reading: Rivers of London

I recently came across the excellent Rivers of London books by Ben Aaronovitch.  If you liked my book, you’ll like this series.

I’ve often struggled with how exactly to categorize A God for Thieves.  Elisabeth is the one who put it out in the world, and the paths she went with broke down into, basically:

Horror > Dark Fantasy

or

Fantasy > Paranormal & Urban

These are both perfectly good classifications for my book.  But I often wish there was a category path that went Fantasy > Contemporary & Urban > Crime Fiction.  Because what I feel like what I’m writing are crime thrillers that just happen to have fantasy elements in them.

And that’s what Ben Aaronovitch’s books are like.  If you like a good mix of humor, magic, and mystery, you could do a lot worse than the first book, Midnight Riot.  Aaronovitch’s writing is excellent.  He’s built a very believable magical world inside London with its own rules and history.  There’s a great mix of twists you see coming and ones that surprise you but make perfect sense on reflection.  I also appreciate his excellent characters, with an ethnically diverse and gender balanced cast.  Not to mention a sprinkling of references so nerdy even I have to look one up occasionally.  I mean, book four has a “Shaka, when the walls fell” joke in it.

I finished reading the first five books in about a month, and I’m eagerly awaiting the June release of book six.

Really, what are you still reading this blog for?  Go read the Rivers of London books.

Fallout 4

I’m looking forward to the upcoming DLC for Fallout 4.  Especially the settlement building.  I saw that there are going to be more things to craft, but I feel there’s so much room for improvement to what is a fairly light aspect of the game.  A recent patch did a great thing by showing you what a settler was assigned to while you’re in settlement mode, but it can be more.

First, more stuff to build.  You’ve got tons of object assets, now let me put more of them in my settlements!

I want the happiness stat to be a little better explained, and a little more nuanced.  Example: As far as I can tell, there’s no reason to give anyone a bed other than a sleeping bag (which uses the fewest resources).  I want a boost to happiness if I give everyone a better bed with a frame (at a higher resource cost) and give everyone space between beds.  Maybe a nightstand for everyone.  I’ve actually already done this on my main settlement and I kind of want to be rewarded.

Actually, open happiness up.  Give each settler their own personal happiness stats.  They each want different things.  Maybe there’s a particular kind of bed they like, and they’re happier if they have one of the rare comfy pillows.  Let me assign settlers to individual beds.  (Stay out of that bed, Preston.  Goddamn it that is Piper’s spot!  Go to the corner Preston!)  Maybe every settler has a preferred set of clothes they want, depending on what job they’re in, and having those clothes makes them more efficient somehow.  Admittedly, a lot of this could end up just being more fetch quests, but let’s be honest, that’s pretty much what all of Fallout’s radiant quests are anyway.

So how about more quests?  Especially cases for Nick Valentine’s detective agency.  I know the last big bit of DLC starts with one of his cases, but how about a whole lot more.  Detective style quests could really open up more RPG encounters that this game was sadly light on.

Back to settlements, what about better building options?  I want to be able to turn the clipping and snapping off so I can put a wall wherever I want.  I’m tired of it insisting that for some reason this perfectly normal building corner cannot exist.  I want to create crazy sculptures out of junk.  I want to be able to assign settlers to a work detail where I can tag a junked car in the wasteland and have it hauled back to the settlement, either for scrap or as a foot for my recreation of Robosaurus.

Give me a working Prosnap camera in game.  Let me take pictures with it, then put them on canvases to hang in my settlements.  Huh?  Huh?  That’s a good one.  Give me photography quests.  Encourage me to explore and find great vistas to capture on film, or demand action shots with deathclaws mowing through raiders.

Fix the dialog.  I know it’s too late to change that most of the dialogue options lead to the same answers, but at least tell me what I’m actually about to be saying.  I don’t like guessing at what I’m about to say.  That’s the behavior of a crazy person.

Of course, there’s really only so much Bethesda is going to want to do, so maybe I should also be addressing this to the modding community.  Have at it!

Book 2

For those curious to know, I just finished the first draft of book 2, Blood of the Green Children.  It’s currently a little bit longer than the first draft of A God for Thieves was.

Happy Valentines Day.

Affiliate Links and DRM

This is sort of a good housekeeping, full disclosure kind of thing to start off with.  If a link on this page is going to Amazon or Smashwords, it is probably an affiliate link, which basically means that if you end up buying something Amazon or whoever will give me a small cut for having sent you their way.  It doesn’t increase your price or anything, it’s just a small part of how I try to support my family as a writer.

And on to something that people will actually like, let’s talk about DRM on my books.

A God for Thieves does not have DRM on it.  That way you can put it on your phone, tablet, or whatever and read it at your leisure.  I chose to go DRM-free on the basis that if my books were in dead tree format, nothing would really stop you from enjoying that book as you saw fit, or even reselling it to a used book store.  Heck, I buy most of my books used, so it would be fairly hypocritical of me to apply a different standard to my own work.

That being said, if someone seeds my book onto a file-sharing service and thousands of people start downloading it for free, I’m going to be pretty bummed out.  Like I said, I am trying to support my family here.

The Book is Out!

It’s true!  A God for Thieves is finally finished and out there in the wild.  It is currently available through Amazon and Smashwords.  More formats are coming soon, but if you’ve got an app/reader of choice, let me know and we’ll work on getting it there.

It’s been a long process but now it’s free to roam the internet.  I’m very excited for people to be reading it.

If you want to help me, the best thing you can do is read the book and leave an honest review on your retailer of choice.  That will help drive more eyeballs to it.

Thank you so much.

Three Things

This may become a regular-ish feature on my site, but here are three pieces of media that I am currently a little obsessed with:

1. The Mountain Goats – We Shall All Be Healed

When the little stereo in the kitchen isn’t tuned to NPR, it’s playing We Shall All Be Healed on repeat.  It’s a perfect album for singing along to while I’m cooking dinner or doing dishes.  I’m digging lyrics like “the ghosts that haunt your building have been learning how to breath”, but the maudlin subject matter is lightened by energetic beats.  I can’t get enough of it.

2. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl

There is no reason why a book based on one of Marvel’s most ridiculous characters should be as good as this, but it is.  Ryan North delivers consistently hilarious writing and Erica Henderson’s art is vibrant, full of those wonderful facial expressions that really only work in a more cartoony style.  Read it.

3. Discworld

I first tried reading these in high school and only ever finished The Color of Magic.  I clearly wasn’t ready for them then, but I am now.  Terry Pratchett built an awesome world full of enjoyable characters, but the ones I really look forward to are the City Watch books.  I’m always eager to start another case with Vimes, Carrot, Angua, Cheery, Nobbs, Detritus, Dorfl, Reg… okay, I’m not going to list them all.

Altered Carbon

I read yesterday that Richard K Morgan’s excellent novel, Altered Carbon, is being adapted into a series for Netflix.  This makes me very happy.

Altered Carbon is one of my favorite books.  Oddly enough, it was not another urban or contemporary fantasy novel that really inspired me to sit down and write A God for Thieves, it was Altered Carbon.  I’d like to think there’s a little bit of that neo-noir/cyberpunk aesthetic in my work, even if it’s only a tiny little bit of shared genes, like a how a dachshund proudly considers itself kin to a timber wolf.

I remember reading a while back that the movie rights for Altered Carbon had already been optioned, and though it excited me, I was concerned about how you would make it work at feature length.  Partly I wondered about casting.  If they wanted to do a sequel, how would they deal with the complete change of cast inherent in the whole body-swapping aspect of the Altered Carbon universe?  But I think a limited series is a much better fit for it.  Shows like True Detective have paved the way for a more anthology style program where a complete change in cast between seasons wouldn’t be as jarring.  That way they could move on to Broken Angels for season two with no worries.  (confidential to the producers of Altered Carbon: don’t chicken out.  Let the main character suddenly be black in the second season.  It’ll be fine.)

Of course, this is assuming they’re going to stretch the book to cover the full season, and not try to turn it into a procedural or something silly like that.  That would be a mistake.

Elisabeth and I were talking about it yesterday, and she was saying how she was never happy with novels being turned into movies, because they always had to cut so much out.  Novellas and short stories are easier to adapt without losing much.  A full series can also be awkward for a book, with the content being spread too thin.  But a limited series seems about like the perfect fit to me.

Anyway, I’m really looking forward to seeing Takeshi Kovacs on my TV.

The Timeline

I started writing A God for Thieves in November of 2014.  No, that’s not true.  You could argue that I started writing it sometime in 2000.

A God for Thieves mines some characters and ideas for a webcomic that I started developing while still in high school.  I started producing it while at college and kept it up for a couple of years before moving on to another project.

That comic was significantly different from the book as it stands today.

My wife, Elisabeth, convinced me to read some urban fantasy after we first met.  Urban fantasy was a genre that I really hadn’t consumed much of outside of the Buffy/Angel-verse, which I’d actually come at backwards, watching Angel for a couple seasons before it dawned on me that maybe Buffy could be worth a look as well.  She handed me Moon Called, the first book in Patricia Briggs’ excellent Mercy Thompson series, which I would highly recommend to anyone new to the genre.  I quickly read the rest of them, and now, whenever a new book is released, Elisabeth and I fight over who gets to read it first.

Finding myself enjoying the genre so much, I started wondering what I could make in it.  And then I remembered a long abandoned webcomic, that although reminded me far too much of what I had yet to learn when I first made it, still had a lot of ideas that I liked and could use.  And so I began to write.

At first, the title on my Word document was ‘Urban fantasy thing’.  This fact isn’t important, I just find it kind of amusing.

I finished writing the book in May of 2015.  Then Elisabeth did her first edit pass on it.  And then I did my first revision on it.  Now she’s finishing up her second pass, and (rightly) yelling at me about the things I didn’t fix.  She’s actually sitting across from me, working on it right now.  The big difference is that where her first edit pass took most of the remaining part of last year, this one is looking to be finished in a matter of days.  Then I put my final polish on it and I think we’re good to go.  Oh, she literally just told me she’s done.  Ha ha!

Writing is like dancing through an alpine meadow, where every beautiful flower you see is a new and brilliant idea.  Revising is like stumbling into a field full of rabbit holes, and then it turns out a colony of bloodthirsty badgers have moved into the holes, and they think your brain looks yummy.  Or like a pretty girl badger.  Whichever is scarier.  But it turns out that some of those badgers are beautiful ideas in their own right, and you’re glad they came to attack your brain.  This metaphor probably got away from me a while back.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, it’s now my turn to have a final go at the book, and then it’ll be done, and out there in the wild, and the crushing insecurity that defines all good authors will switch from ‘am I even capable of writing a novel’ to ‘will anyone even like it?’

Cheers.