Behind in so many things…

One of my goals before the release of the new series was to get my act together and join multiple websites into one place.  Seeing as how I have less than 48 hours before Age of Myth hits the street, that’s not going to happen. It’s just one of the reasons why this blog gets so little of my attention while the older “Riyria blog” contains a lot of stuff that really is about the new series, The Legends of the First Empire.

Why am I bringing this up here?  Well I spent a good part of this weekend writing some posts about the conception and execution of the new series and I’ve posted it on my “other site,” even though it makes more sense to be posted  here.  Why?  Well more people know about the other site and until I combine these two, this one will continue to be the neglected child.  So, if you want to know a bit about my original concept for this series, you’ll have to head over to this link.  Sorry to make you go elsewhere, but until I get some time these sites are going to have to exist independent of one another.

Age of Myth Pre-order Promotion

Hey everyone, I’ve already announced this on my Riyria blog, so this may be a repeat to some. But I’m pleased to officially announce the Age of Myth pre-order bonus program!  t In case you aren’t familiar with it, here’s the deal.

Pre-ordering a book shows your early support and provides a host of benefits for authors such as:

  • Pre-order sales count as first-week sales, and it’s this all important debut week that gives a book the best chance of hitting a major best-selling list like the New York Times or USA Today.
  • Books with a high number of pre-orders will get more traction with booksellers such that the books will be carried in more stores and in higher quantities.
  • Books with a high number of pre-orders will receive increased marketing support from the publisher.
  • Books with a high number of pre-orders will generate a larger print run.
Now, that’s what I get…but I want a win-win for both readers and writers, so I (and Del Rey) have put together a nice package to reward you for pre-ordering the book.  It’s like getting Kickstarter perks without a Kickstarter!
So, what do you get?
  • Character profiles with photographs.
  • The first five chapters of the book to read right now!
  • A package of free short stories.
  • Access to a high-resolution map.
  • A signed bookplate (free to residents of the US)
  • A signed bookmark (free to residents of the US)
  • Wallpaper for your computer, iPhone, and tablet featuring the amazing artwork of Marc Simonetti.
If you are outside the US, and still want the bookplate and bookmark, I’ll gladly send them to you if you cover $3 for the postage and handling. Here is a link to order them.Here are is what the bookmark and bookplates look like:

Okay, so how do you participate?
  1. Pre-order any version of Age of Myth: ebook, audio book, or hardcover from your favorite store.
  2. Take a picture of your receipt.
  3. Fill out this form so we know where to send your stuff.
  4. Be sure to upload your proof of purchase (there is a field on the form).
  5. If you are overseas and want the bookmark and bookplate, order it from this link.
That’s it. We’ll take care of the rest.  Oh, and if you have ordered a signed copy directly from my website, you don’t to do anything. Your book will be signed and personalized based on the instructions you provided, and you’ll have a spare bookplate to do with as you will.
I hope you are as excited as I am about the new release.  Just 1 month and 25 days away!! And thank you for pre-ordering, it means a great deal that you have such faith in my upcoming series.

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

Now that I’m done with edits for the fourth book, I have some time to post about the name changes for The Legends of the First Empire books.  Let’s start with the names of the books themselves.  Here are the original names along with the names the books will be released as.

  • Rhune >> Age of Myth
  • Dherg >> Age of Swords
  • Rhist >> Age of War
  • Phyre >> Age of Legends
  • Fhrey >> Age of Empire

Let me start by saying, most authors have “working titles” and that is what the original names were. The name they ultimately come out with come with a great deal of thought from the publisher, author, and booksellers.

When I originally named the books, I had a few things in mind:

  • I wanted short one word titles because it allows for making those titles really easily visible on thumbnails of the books
  • I wanted the words to be “made up” because one word titles of “real words” is almost impossible to get traction on.  Type “Wizard” into Amazon’s search for books and you get 51,615. That’s not a made up number. I just did it and by the time you try it may be more.
  • I wanted consistency between the titles – notice all of them are 5-letters and have “H” as the second one.

These working titles had a number of problems.

  • First, the don’t mean anything.  Do you know what Rhist is?  How about Dherg? Do you know how to pronounce Phyre?  Is it “Fire,”,”Pyre,” or “Fear”? After reading the books the names make some sense (Rhune< Dherg and Fhrey are races in the series and Rhist is a person and a place and Phyre is one of the realms of the afterlife). But on first glance no one will know what they are – they are just five letters strung together without any context.
  • Second, many people won’t know how to spell the books.  They’ll type Rist rather than Rhist (or maybe even Wrist) when they hear from a friend about that new “Rist” book from Michael J. Sullivan.  Having unconventional spellings makes it difficult for people to find them.
  • Some of the titles are already used: Rhune – came out May 31, 2013 by Lynn Leite. There are nine books with Phyre in its title. Melissa Wright has a very popular Frey Saga of books and the first one is called Frey.

These are  pretty serious problems.  But I’d be willing to live with them if I couldn’t come up with a better alternative.  Luckily I could. Here’s my process for renaming the books.

  • When I was doing names for Riyria I really liked that the consistency of three words with “of” in the middle.  So returning to that paradigm seemed like something to pursue.
  • I also liked that the Riyria books had great contextual meaning.  Theft of Swords was about — well the theft of two different swords.  Rise of Empire was about — you got it an Empire that is taking from and Heir of Novron…well it concludes the great mystery about who really is Novron’s Heir.
  • The names of the Riyria books clearly place them in the “fantasy” realm.  We use words like “Swords” and “Heir” and “Empire” these make it easy for people to immediately classify the books.  Always a positive thing.

For the new books, I thought about what was at the core of each one and could I provide context while still keeping consistency…all while avoiding “made up words” which are difficult for all kinds of reasons.  So here’s the context behind each of the new titles.

  • Age of Myth – at its core is about the effects on a culture when they realize the difference between myths and reality. Not only are their core beliefs shattered but it means they’ll have to rely on themselves to insure the continued existence as a race.
  • Age of Swords – The Rhune in the First Empire books are a primitive people. They use spears and wooden shields, rarely see domesticated horses, and are just barely above hunting and gathering. To survive, they are going to have to find new technology and materials that will make it possible for them to fight against a vastly superior race. How they come about “sword technology” is an important event in the history of these people.
  • Age of War – shows the events when the two cultures from the first two books finally meet in battle. It explores how the underdogs can strike out against a vastly superior enemy and what sacrifices are necessary. This paradigm has played out many times throughout history and I was excited to put my own spin on how such a clash would effect my world of Elan.
  • Age of Legends – From day one of this series I was playing with the notion of “Myths and Legends” the difference between people we look at as heroes and the reality of their deeds. I also wanted to explore how ordinary people do extraordinary things. Royce and Hadrian are awesome because they are so capable, but they are nearly superheroes in their capabilities. What happens when people who are just “people” can they rise to the status of Legends without special capabilities?  That is the primary focus of this book so it seemed like the perfect title.  Well, to be honest, I thought the prefect title was Age of Heroes but I was afraid people would think I was trying to ride on Brandon Sanderson’s coat tails since he has a book called The Hero of Ages. So Age of Legends was a good second choice.
  • Age of Empire – This series of books tells the part of Elan’s past where the First Empire is created by the legendary demigod  Novron.  Of course the story arc has to end with eventual forming of that empire, so, Age of Empire is the logical choice for it. The only issue…a popular game by that name – one of my favorites. But hey you can’t get everything the way you want it and conflict with a game is better than conflict with a book.

Just like the Riyria books we have titles that are (a) contextually accurate (b) have consistency and (c) use words that identify them as fantasy (swords, legends, myths, war, etc).

One last thing I should bring up.  Names of books are not something that authors usually get to have a say in, but Del Rey has been very accommodating with me on all kinds of fronts including the names.  They didn’t veto my original names and put in their own. They raised what their issues were with the original names and asked if their concerns had merit. I felt they did.  Then, then asked me if I could come up with some names that would solve their problems and I’d be happy with – and these are what I came up with. I liked them and I’m glad they did as well.

So, that’s the story behind how and why the names changed. No publisher conspiracy or arm twisting. I know some of expressed they don’t like the new names, but I think that is largely due to being exposed to the other names first. If we had started out with  the “Age of” titles and then switched to the 5-letter titles, I think we would have similar push back. You like what you get used to.

Yet another overdue status update

I’m not sure where the time keeps going, but going it does.  Here is yet another long overdue status update on the series.

  • Age of Myth – is coming out on June 28th. Del Rey and Robin have been working on some pre-release promotions. We will be offering a bunch of free material including character profiles, high-resolution map, author Q&A and screen savers of the amazing cover artwork.  If you want to sign up to be notified of how to get these bonus materials be sure to sign-up on this email list. ARC’s have arrived and they are going out to reviewers and being given away at various venues. Speaking of which I’ll be at Phoenix Comic Con in early June and signing a bunch of them there.
  • Age of Legends – book #4 in the series is almost done with its second rewrite. I had hoped to have it finished by the end of March but I also had a week’s worth of travel so all in all I’m right on schedule. Only two chapters left! Out of all five books this one had the most restructuring and I think the changes have really helped it out.
  • Age of Empire – book #5 in the series is scheduled to have its second pass edit done at the end of April or mid May and I think that is still doable. It will require more edits than books #1 – #3 but significantly less than book #4.
  • Audio books – Robin and I went to New York to sit in on the recording of the first two sessions of Age of Myth. Tim Gerard Reynolds did a fabulous job (as always). It was great getting a sneak peek of the audio version. We love the voices he picked for the characters and I’m sure you will as well.
  • Age of Swords – we are expecting to do the beta in June. If you want to sign up here is the link. Unfortunately, not all people who sign up will get in (we generally have several thousand beta requests and we just can’t run one with more than 12 – 20 participants as it’s too hard to manage.

Well, that’s what’s going on here. Things are very busy and June will be here before we know it. Hope you all are as excited as Robin and I.

Overdue update

Well, it’s been far too long since I’ve updated this site.  I have a pretty good excuse.  In order to avoid any competition between my Riyria books and this series, I had to get the third Royce and Hadrian book  (The Death of Dulgath) out before the end of the year.  Well, that task has been accomplished, and now it’s time to get back to work on this.  So here goes.

  1. 4/28/2015 – The book was “officially” submitted to Del Rey for their editorial commentary
  2. 5/28/2015 – New Naming – I’ll write a blog post on this soon.
  3. 6/11/2015 – Contract “officially” signed.
  4. 7/06/2015 – Preliminary work on cover design.
  5. 8/17/2015 – Official Release date set for first book: June 7, 2016
  6. 8/30/2015 – Cover Artist selected – I’ll write a blog pos on this also.
  7. 8/31/2015 – Copyedit of Chapter 1 performed so it could be included in The Death of Dulgath
  8. 9/15/2015 – Rough sketch of cover received
  9. 9/16/2015 – Editorial feedback on book #1
  10. 9/17/2015 – Pre-order pages go up
  11. 9/25/2015 – Proposed Jacket copy
  12. 9/29/2015 – Jacket copy finalized – I’ll write a blog post on this.
  13. 10/14/2015 – Revised Cover Artwork received
  14. 10/19/2015 – Structural edit begins

I know that last time on the list is actually in the future – tomorrow to be precise. But I’ve put my house in order so that I can start on this tomorrow.  My plans are as follows:

  • Need to re-read Book #1 from start to finish looking for opportunities to add the changes from Del Rey’s structural edits.
  • Need to write three pieces of additional content.
  • Once that goes back to Del Rey I’ll read and edit Book #2
  • Hope to have book #2 ready for beta reading by the end of the year.
  • Hope to have books #3 – #5 fully edited by Summer 2016
  • Start a new writing project Fall 2016

As you can see, things have been moving forward even if I’ve not been posting. Now that I’m “off” The Death of Dulgath, I’m back “on” The First Empire and updates will come more frequently.

What’s going on now?

Okay, so I did indeed get my second pass editing done for Robin’s birthday, and she has now read the whole story. It was the perfect gift for her. Unfortunately she got a less welcome gift…a trip tot he Heart and Cardiac center with sever chest pain, elevated CK levels, a murmur, and an abnormal EKG.

Now that sounds very bad, and it was really frightening, but the good news is after a week and a half of testing it’s been determined there is no permanent damage and no corrective surgery is required.  The cardiologist still can’t explain what happened or why, but he’s given her the green light to return to life as normal, so that is exactly what we are doing.

Okay, so that takes me back to what I’m doing now.  Well, with the series now complete, I’m able to go in and make the changes to book #1 required now that the series is wrapped. I’m on chapter 22 of chapter 28 and the changes have been minor and easy to incorporate. I expect within the next few days I’ll have the “official submission” for Del Rey and it will be out of my hands until I get changes from my editor.

Sounds like time to celebrate, sit back and relax, right?  Well unfortunately no. Usually I “ease up  during spring and summer as fall and winter are my big “production time” for writing. But, there is a snag.

As the contract with Del Rey was going on, it turns out that what I understood as “competing” works and what they considered “competing works” weren’t the same thing.  I don’t need to go into all the details, but the bottom line is that if I can’t get the third Royce and Hadrian book written and released by the end of this year, it will have to wait until 2019!  Considering The Rose and Thorn came out in September 2013 that six years is WAY TO LONG.  So, I’m going to life whatever mountains I have to in order to get it done by the end of the year.

I’m confident I’ll be able to get it done.  The story has been building over the last few years and I’ve never missed a deadline yet.  So, no summer vacation for me this year, but I’m glad to be going back to visit with my two favorite rogues and seeing what adventure they are going to take me on.

And done!!

Yep, I’ve finished the last book of The First Empire – the trilogy that turned into 5 books is now completed.  While the editing process still has to be dealt with, that’s nothing compared to getting the story fully fleshed out.  All told it took me 772 days to write this.  Now I have about 8 days to give it the “once over” before I send it over to Robin for alpha reading.  I’ve already incorporated my notes for things I needed to change as I was writing, but I need to look at book #4 and book #5 as I think some events may shift between these two.

In any case, all of that is minor when held up against the task of getting the endpoint of the story penned and completed. Always exciting to complete a multi-book series!

Writing dearth

Recently I finished “the big climax” and only had  a few little scenes to clean up to be done with the series and I’ve gotten next to nothing done for the last 4 days!  All kinds of things are getting in the way…a AMA that I’m still answering questions for.  A day when I couldn’t concentrate at all, so I went “out” to try to clear my head.  Then I pulled something in my back…reminding me that I’m an old man.  So now that I’m right at the finish line I’m not getting across.  Hopefully this will be remedied soon.

Meet Gifford!

One of my favorite characters from The First Empire is Gifford. You’ll meet him in the first book, Rhune, but I really enjoy when we are reacquainted with him in the opening of the second book, Dherg. I thought you might enjoy it, so here goes:

Gifford would never win a footrace. He was late coming to this realization; everyone else knew it the day of his birth. It took years for him to accept that his dead leg wouldn’t revive and his twisted back wouldn’t straighten. He had hoped for a miracle, to be healed, to be normal. It didn’t happen.

His leg and back weren’t the worst of it. Even the dead half of his face, which made it hard to see and a struggle to talk, wasn’t the worst of it. When he was young, he thought ridicule held that distinction. Everyone had called him something, none of them good. Gavin Killian had dubbed him The Goblin, and Myrtis, the brewmaster’s daughter, proclaimed him broken. Of the two, he preferred The Goblin—he’d been infatuated with Myrtis back then. For Gifford, it wasn’t hard to understand why “crush” was used for both a humiliating defeat and adolescent love.

Gifford would never win a footrace. He was late coming to this realization; everyone else knew it the day of his birth. It took years for him to accept that his dead leg wouldn’t revive and his twisted back wouldn’t straighten. He had hoped for a miracle, to be healed, to be normal. It didn’t happen.

His leg and back weren’t the worst of it. Even the dead half of his face, which made it hard to see and a struggle to talk, wasn’t the worst of it. When he was young, he thought ridicule held that distinction. Everyone had called him something, none of them good. Gavin Killian had dubbed him The Goblin, and Myrtis, the brewmaster’s daughter, proclaimed him broken. Of the two, he preferred The Goblin—he’d been infatuated with Myrtis back then. For Gifford, it wasn’t hard to understand why “crush” was used for both a humiliating defeat and adolescent love.

Over the years the names faded. No one called him The Goblin anymore, and if people still thought of him as broken, they didn’t say so—at least not to his face.

After the name calling ended, his nighttime degradations became the worst part of being him. Gifford had as much trouble governing his bladder while asleep as he did controlling his legs and mouth when awake. He woke most mornings smelling rancid in a wet bed. He’d dealt with his bed wetting as he’d learned to live with everything else, by finding a way to adjust. He never drank at night and slept naked on a thin layer of straw. He woke early and replaced old bedding for new before anyone else stirred. There was always a way, always a path forward, even though his roads seemed narrower, rockier, and strewn with more thorns than others.

Gifford didn’t see himself as a victim; he preferred to focus on the positive. While nothing came easy, he found ways to manage. Things that were impossible he concluded as unnecessary. He had everything he truly needed…everything he wanted. Almost. Despite his optimism, it wasn’t possible to ignore there was a worst part of being him, and every time he was with Roan he knew without question what that was.

One more scene!

Near as I can tell I have 4,000 – 6,000 words left to write. Just one more scene that will need a couple of different POV’s so it will take a few days yet, but things are wrapping up nicely. I still have to go over it from start to finish before I can pass it on to Robin. Her birthday is April 8th, and I should be able to hit it by then…for sure.