Tags: award, endeavor, nexus, ramez naam, sf, thriller
Tags: amy christine parker, autograph, Lucienne diver, samhain, save the cat, signing, storyboarding, vlog, ya rebels
About to head to the airport for the Romance Writers of America’s Annual Conference. Days and days of meetings, appointments, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, drinks, parties and sleep deprivation. I love it! A chance to reconnect with clients, editors, bloggers and friends. For anyone looking for me, I’m doing the agent appointments. I’ll also be part of the big Literacy Signing tonight and the Samhain signing from 1-2:30 on Saturday. Come and find me!
In other news, Amy Christine Parker was kind enough to fly solo yesterday on our YA Rebels vlog. Check her out! She’s talking about storyboarding and SAVE THE CAT.
That’s all for now. “See” you next week with pics from RWA!
Tags: amy christine parker, bucket list, Lucienne diver, ya rebels
Tags: amy christine parker, Lucienne diver, research, vlog, writing, ya rebels
Tags: colonial, d.b. jackson, david b. coe, ethan kaile, fantasy, historical, new releases, plunder of souls, thieftaker, thieves' quarry, urban fantasy
To celebrate yesterday’s release of the third novel in D.B. Jackson‘s wonderful Thieftaker series from Tor Books, I’ve asked him to come talk about the division between character and writer. A PLUNDER OF SOULS, the latest novel, is also my favorite in the series so far…and just wait until you get to book #4, DEAD MAN’S REACH! The series just keeps getting better and better. But more about that later. For now, I present to you:
How many times have you read a story or book and assumed that the protagonist was, on some level, speaking for the author, or that the experiences of the author’s point of view character were in some way autobiographical? It’s hard not to make such assumptions. Perversely, the better the writing, the more convincing the character development, the more this becomes a problem. The narrating character becomes so real and so convincing that it’s hard to imagine how he or she could be entirely imagined. I’ve been writing for the better part of two decades, and still sometimes, when reading a great book, I forget that the author and the hero do not necessarily have a lot in common.
Ethan Kaille, the thieftaking, conjuring hero of my Thieftaker Chronicles (Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, and, most recently, A Plunder of Souls), a historical urban fantasy series set in pre-Revolutionary Boston, is very much a man of the eighteenth century. He has lived a hard life, he’s a loner, and he makes his living in the violent streets of a lawless city. Aside from his fine physique and devastating good looks, he and I have very little in common.
[Tapping foot and glaring] As soon as Lucienne stops laughing I’ll continue . . .
Kidding aside, Ethan and I are very different people, not only because we live in different times, not only because he has access to magic and I don’t, but because I have worked hard to make him his own man, with a life history and personality that have nothing to do with me. He is braver than I am, and more willing to rely on his physical strength in moments of crisis. He is self-reliant to the point of being standoffish, a product, no doubt, of having survived years as a prisoner, laboring under brutal conditions on a sugar plantation in Barbados. Time and again, he has proved himself far stronger than I ever could have been.
Do we have some attributes in common? Sure. We’re both rash and quick-tempered at times. We’re both utterly devoted to the people we love. And we both pride ourselves on our integrity.
The fact is, though, being similar to or different from our characters comes down to much more than just a catalog of qualities. We are all collections of attributes, positive and negative, and invariably we are going to share some of those qualities with our protagonists, and be their polar opposites with respect to others. What still surprises me about characters in general — and what has surprised me about Ethan from the beginning of the series — is the choices he makes.
Let’s start with the fact that Ethan is a Loyalist, also known as a Tory: put another way, he is a supporter of the Crown and Parliament in their dispute with the American colonists over taxation and representation. Without in any way wanting to start a political argument, I know myself and my leftward political leanings well enough to understand that there is no way I would have been on that side of the argument. But despite my own Whig leanings, Ethan made it clear to me from the outset that, because of his service in the British Navy as a younger man, and in part as well because of his conservative temperament, he has no tolerance for rabble-rousers like Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty. This changes somewhat after the British occupation of Boston begins in the second Thieftaker book, Thieves’ Quarry, but still, his political tendencies are nothing like mine.
And then there is this moment, also from Thieves’ Quarry, when Ethan truly shocked me. Late in the story, he explains to someone all that has been done with “magick” over the course of events described in the novel. The man to whom he is speaking is horrified and nearly orders Ethan from his house. “If this power you wield can give and take life with such ease,” the man asks, “how can such a thing not be evil?”
“I carry a knife on my belt,” Ethan answers. “I can take a life with it. Does that make the knife evil? Or does the question of good or evil fall to the man holding the blade?”
The argument should sound familiar. It is basically the same as “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.”
As I said before, I am not trying to start a political discussion about gun rights or, for that matter, any other issue. But I’m a political progressive, and it would never occur to me to make an argument like this in favor of gun ownership. And to be clear, I didn’t make the argument. Those were my character’s words, not mine; I didn’t know he would speak them until I typed the line. I realized immediately, though, that it was absolutely the right thing for him to say.
For those who don’t understand how an author can create a character without knowing him or her fully and without making intentional choices about that person’s politics, or tastes, or personality, I can only say that it happens. Yes, I have an idea of what my characters will be like. I try to give them certain traits, I fill in their backstory, I guide them through my narratives. But still, my characters surprise me all the time, doing and saying things that I neither planned nor expected. To be honest, it’s one of the greatest rewards of writing. When my characters surprise me in some way, be it with an unexpected comment or some plot-changing action, it tells me that the character has taken on a life of his or her own, and has become as close to sentient as a fictional being can be. It’s kind of cool, actually.
Ethan and I are not the same person. We have some common traits. I like him, admire him, respect him. At times I find him exasperating. I would like to think that if he could know me, he’d like and respect me, too. But I’m not at all sure he would. I do know that if I were to try to control him more forcefully — if I were to try to make him more like me in his actions, thoughts, and emotional responses — he would lose something vital and would be less convincing and compelling as a narrator for the Thieftaker books. So, I’m glad to give him his independence, and I expect he’s glad to have it. I’m sure, though, that he’d rather you didn’t share that bit of insight with Samuel Adams.
A Sampling of Praise for the Series:
A PLUNDER OF SOULS
“This engaging third entry in Jackson’s Thieftaker series (following 2013’s Thieves’ Quarry) ably mashes up the historical with the fantastic… Jackson is an increasingly reliable tour guide to America’s colonial past.” —Publishers Weekly
“A Plunder of Souls is a terrific addition to the Thieftaker Chronicles. D.B. Jackson shows once again that he knows how to pull all the right strings to create one creative story. As I have said if you thought that Thieves Quarry was great wait till you get your hands on A Plunder of Souls, it’s even better, D.B. Jackson has really outdone himself.” —The Book Plank
“With solidly developed characters, the vivid depiction of 18th-century Boston, and a seamless blending of realism and fantasy, this sequel to Thieftaker should interest fans of historical fantasy, alternate history and period mysteries.” —Library Journal
“I literally read this book in one sitting. Its fast pace, shocking crime, vivid historical setting, and the twists and turns of intrigue and suspicion totally absorbed me.” —Kate Elliott, author of King’s Dragon
“D.B. Jackson’s writing is amazing and Thieves’ Quarry is even better than the first book. Absolutely enthralling and I couldn’t put it down. It’s a wonderful read!” —Kat Richardson, author of Greywalker
“The Thieftaker series is a tour de force. There is no way to get enough of it– and I LOVE Thieves’ Quarry. This is definitely the best new series of the decade!” —Faith Hunter, author of the Jane Yellowrock books
Named one of the Best Fantasy Books of 2012 by SciFiChick.com
Named “Best First Book in a Series” for 2012 (one of two books so honored) by the Word Nerds.
“The author does an impressive job of weaving fantasy into historical fiction, and even introduces a few familiar names from . . . the Stamp Act from American history . . . With plenty of adventure, mystery, magic, drama, and thrills – genre fans won’t want to miss this one. Thieftaker is a fantastic series debut that I can’t wait to see continue.” —SciFiChick.com
“Thieftaker is a bit like the Dresden Files meets Johnny Tremain, combining magical crime-solving with the Revolutionary War. At first, it sounds like a strange combination, but it works and I’m already looking forward to the sequel . . . A fun read.” —The Word Nerds Book Banter
“Jackson has an enviable gift for detail, the ability to put his reader smack-dab in a location (Boston, 1765) with such intensity that you can hear the burr in voices, smell the smoke and tea in the air, and wince when the hero gets punched in the face . . . Thieftaker is a delicious murder mystery sundae, with a sprinkle of supernatural bravado and a few famous historical figures for cherries on top.” —Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show
D.B. Jackson is also David B. Coe, the award-winning author of more than a dozen fantasy novels. His first two books as D.B. Jackson, the Revolutionary War era urban fantasies, Thieftaker and Thieves’ Quarry, volumes I and II of the Thieftaker Chronicles, are both available from Tor Books in hardcover and paperback. The third volume, A Plunder of Souls, has recently been released in hardcover. The fourth Thieftaker novel, Dead Man’s Reach, is in production and will be out in the summer of 2015. D.B. lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two teenaged daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.
Tags: j. kathleen cheney, lessons learned, new releases, publication, publishing, pubtips, seat of magic, the golden city, writing
J. Kathleen Cheney’s second novel, THE SEAT OF MAGIC, came out last week. It’s an amazing novel, sequel to THE GOLDEN CITY, which was a finalist for the Locus Award for Best First Novel and received special acclaim as a best book of 2013 from Library Journal and Ranting Dragon! She’s here today to talk about what she’s learned since then.
The Second Time Around… by J. Kathleen Cheney
For a bit of background, my novel The Seat of Magic debuted last week, right before the July 4th weekend, which was wonderful timing. The sequel to The Golden City, it’s a Historical Fantasy set in an alternate 1902 Portugal, with nonhumans and humans working together to stop two strings of murders in a city where the nonhumans have been banned.
Yes, my new book is a sequel. I’ve been through this book debut business before, and I learned some things from my first debut that have made this one much easier. So here are a few hints—for those aspiring writers out there—of what to expect when your turn comes around.
1) Reviews trickle in.
I don’t know why I had this perception before, but I believed (wrongly) that all the major outlets (Publisher’s Weekly, RT, Library Journal, Kirkus, etc.) would review my book months in advance.
Where I got that idea, I have no clue. They’re human, just like me, and they have to juggle a TBR pile far larger than mine. So this time around, I haven’t spent hours refreshing the webpages, wondering when they’ll get my review up. I’ve been more patient, and it’s been a less stressful experience for me. (The same goes for reader reviews, by the way. Not everyone will read your book the day it comes out…because hundreds of other books will come out on the same day!)
2) Things will go wrong, and it won’t be the end of the world.
Of the three signings I had set up for the debut of Book 1, two were hit by ice storms. Yes, even though you plan months in advance for everything to be perfect, things will happen that are simply beyond your control.
3) You don’t control those sales numbers either, so spend your time elsewhere.
As a brand-spanking-new writer, it’s easy to get hooked on refreshing Amazon every few minutes to see your author ranking change. (Going up, one hopes.) But knowing your sales figures doesn’t improve them. Concentrate on the things that you can affect to build readership instead, whether it’s blogging, making appearances, of writing something good. In fact, that has to be your first priority, because as a writer, you always need to be working on something new.
4) Expect a troll or two.
I’m a fairly inoffensive person online, so I was surprised to be hit by a troll reviewer within a day or two of my book’s debut. I couldn’t imagine why this reviewer was passionate enough about my book to write two full pages on why she didn’t like it, but she did. The truth is, someone is always going to dislike my writing, and they are going to talk about it online. I learned very quickly to spot that kind of reviews and walk away. It’s going to happen, but I don’t have to read them.
5) Enjoy where you are.
Not enjoying your novel debut is a bit like climbing to the top of Mt. Everest and not stopping to look around. Thousands of people would love to be where you are.
So expect a few things not to turn out like you’d hoped. That’s inevitable. Enjoy all the ones that do turn out the way you planned. Enjoy the signings and tweets from happy readers. Enjoy the blog posts and good reviews and friendly FB comments. Enjoy.
And then get back to writing…
Magical beings have been banned from the Golden City for decades, though many live there in secret. Now humans and nonhumans alike are in danger as evil stalks the streets, growing more powerful with every kill….
It’s been two weeks since Oriana Paredes was banished from the Golden City. Police consultant Duilio Ferreira, who himself has a talent he must keep secret, can’t escape the feeling that, though she’s supposedly returned home to her people, Oriana is in danger.
Adding to Duilio’s concerns is a string of recent murders in the city. Three victims have already been found, each without a mark upon her body. When a selkie under his brother’s protection goes missing, Duilio fears the killer is also targeting nonhuman prey.
To protect Oriana and uncover the truth, Duilio will have to risk revealing his own identity, put his trust in some unlikely allies, and consult a rare and malevolent text known as The Seat of Magic….
Great Quotes for the Series
THE SEAT OF MAGIC
“[A] killer sequel…Intriguing and fun, the mystery unfolds like a socially conscious tour through a cabinet of curiosities.” —Kirkus Reviews
“[M]esmerizing.” —Publishers Weekly
“This second entry in the Golden City series is even better than its predecessor. Readers will be completely enthralled with the characters and the organic development of their relationship. It is a sheer delight to see more of Oriana and her people… Add to that an engaging world filled with selkies, sereia and the prohibition of magic and you won’t want to put The Seat of Magic down. This reviewer couldn’t help falling for the hot hero, whose banter with Oriana is awesome; their sweet romance is utterly charming.” —Romantic Times
“VERDICT Cheney’s debut is a masterpiece of historical fantasy, set in early 1900s Portugal, a time and place rarely explored in English-language fiction. The fascinating mannerisms of the age and the extreme formality of two people growing fonder of each other add a charmingly fresh appeal that will cross over to romance fans as well as to period fantasy readers.” —Library Journal, Starred Review
“Cheney’s The Golden City pulls readers in right off the bat, as the story kicks off with our heroine in a desperate situation that will leave you rooting for her almost instantly. Oriana’s “extra” abilities are thoroughly intriguing and readers will love the crackling banter and working relationship between Oriana and Duilio.” —Romantic Times
“An ambitious debut from Cheney: part fantasy, part romance, part police procedural and part love letter to Lisbon in the early 1900s.” —Kirkus Reviews
“The Golden City is easily my vote for this year’s best debut novel, and Cheney has made her way to my must-read list.” —Ranting Dragon
“I honestly cannot wait to read what Cheney writes next.” – Bookworm Blues
J. Kathleen Cheney is a former teacher and has taught mathematics ranging from 7th grade to Calculus, with a brief stint as a Gifted and Talented Specialist. Her short fiction has been published in Jim Baen’s Universe, Writers of the Future, and Fantasy Magazine, among others, and her novella “Iron Shoes” was a 2010 Nebula Award Finalist. Her novel, “The Golden City” is a Finalist for the 2014 Locus Awards (Best First Novel).
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Tags: blood games, chicagoland vampires, chloe neill, d.b. jackson, friday night bites, j. kathleen cheney, mass market, new releases, seat of magic, the golden city, thieftaker, thieves' quarry
So excited about all the new releases this month and recent rereleases! In no particular order, I’m pleased to crow about:
THIEFTAKER and THIEVES’ QUARRY by D.B. Jackson, the first two novels in the author’s acclaimed “tricorn punk” fantasy series, now out in mass market. The third, A PLUNDER OF SOULS releases in hardcover (and digital, of course) tomorrow!
SOME GIRLS BITE and FRIDAY NIGHT BITES by Chloe Neill, the first two novels in the New York Times bestselling Chicagoland Vampires series are now out in mass market form. So portable! Best news – if you love them (and how could you not?), the series is on-going, with the tenth, BLOOD GAMES, coming out on August 5th. Mark your calendars!