“The Wilds and FREE” eBook Giveaway

Wilds_FREE_Promo_CoverTo celebrate the release of StoryBundle’s Weird Western compilation—and IDYLL’s inclusion in that amazing set—I’m now offering a free eBook copy of Book 2 of the Idyll Trilogy (THE WILDS) to anyone who signs up for my email newsletter.

All you have to do is email me at jderrywriter@gmail.com and let me know what eBook format you prefer (MOBI or ePub), and I’ll send it over to you!

So If you’ve just finished reading IDYLL (or you’re considering reading it), I’d love to hear from you and to send you a free copy of THE WILDS. I hope you’ll enjoy finding out what’s next for the Starboards and the Bridges. Here’s a hint: It involves a whole planet’s worth of trouble!

In return, I’ll send you eblasts (never more that biweekly) with updates and concept sketches for the Idyll Trilogy, plus news on my next SFF series. You’ll be the first to get info on the upcoming Book 3 of the trilogy (I’m about halfway through the rough draft) and the first to hear about other deals as well.

This giveaway expires on August 27, so don’t forget that old bit of settler wisdom: “Quick is merciful!”

Don’t wait, sign up now!

Brand NEW! The Weird Western StoryBundle

So proud to be part of the Weird Western StoryBundle, launching today!

Boy Eating

Here’s the low-down from the Bundle’s curator, Blair MacGregor:

Welcome to our Weird Western Bundle, where wide frontiers, flintlocks, whiskey and revenge meet swords, airships, terraforming, magic, myths, and dragons. You’ll find stories here set in the snows of old Alaska and the heat of contemporary Arizona, post-Civil War San Francisco and post-colonization planets, and places the seem as familiar as any wooded mountain or wind-swept desert… until tigers and dragons and horses that are so much more than you might assume burst into the scene. The different aspects of the Weird Western spirit in this bundle will give fans of the genre something they haven’t seen before, and folks new to Weird Westerns a wide sampling of its fantastic offerings.

I was raised on a combination of SFF and Westerns. Star Trek and Gunsmoke, Asimov and L’Amour, Lonesome Dove and Battlestar Galactica. I was just as thrilled to shake the hand of Hugh O’Brian of Wyatt Earp fame as I was to meet Katherine Kurtz, author of the Deryni world. It’s been a joy discovering more writers combining the genres, raising their unique voices, and upsetting the familiar with the fantastic. The result is a Western setting that respects history and the people who created it while spinning in unique powers, esoteric challenges, and the terrifying magic of discovery.

You’ll learn the secrets behind the post-quarantined expanse of ranchland in James Derry’s Idyll, and the reasons the man of Joe Bailey’s Spellslinger is ready to make a stand. There’s the subterfuge and wild ride of Gemma Files’s Book of Tongues, and the smart, snappy adventure of Lindsay Buroker’s Flash Gold novellas

Dangerous wonders and determined enemies fill J. Patrick Allen’s West of Pale, and Steve White’s New Worldbrings chainmail and strange powers to the frontier. Kyra Halland puts rogue magery and danger in a dusty Western town in Beneath the Canyons, and Kenneth Mark Hoover gives us a time-wandering lawman in Haxan.

And I’m thrilled to share the debut of Judith Tarr’s first novel of a new series, Dragons in the Earth, set in present-day Arizona, and filled with horses and dragons and the power of the desert itself.

StoryBundle let’s you choose your own price, so you decide how you’d like to support these awesome writers and their work. For $5—or more if you’d like—you’ll receive the basic bundle of four great novels in DRM-free ebook format. For the bonus price of at least $14—or more if you’d like—you’ll receive all nine novels. If you choose, a portion of your payment will go toward supporting Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now.

The Weird Western Bundle is available for only three weeks. It’s a great opportunity to pick up the stories of nine wonderful writers, support independent authors who want to twist your assumptions about the West, and discover new writers with great stories along the way.

The initial titles in The Weird Western Bundle (minimum $5 to purchase) are:
•    Haxan by Kenneth Mark Hoover
•    Dead West Vol 1.: West of Pale by J Patrick Allen
•    Idyll by James Derry
•    Spellsinger by Joseph J. Bailey

If you pay more than the bonus price of just $14, you get all four of the regular titles, plus five more:
•    Hexslinger Vol. 1: A Book of Tongues by Gemma Files
•    Horses of the Moon Vol. 1: Dragons in the Earth by Judith Tarr
•    Daughter of the Wildings Book. 1: Beneath the Canyons by Kyra Halland
•    The Flash Gold Chronicles I-III by Lindsay Buroker
•    New World Book 2: Hair of the Bear by Steven W. White

And as special thanks to our newsletter subscribers, all of you who subscribe get New World by Steven W. White for free! Grab the free first book in the New World series before you start on book 2, Hair of the Bear, found in the bundle.

This bundle is available only for a limited time via http://www.storybundle.com. It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub and .mobi) for all books!

It’s also super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards – which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle – and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.

  • Why StoryBundle? Here are just a few benefits StoryBundle provides.
    Get quality reads: We’ve chosen works from excellent authors to bundle together in one convenient package.
  • Pay what you want (minimum $5): You decide how much these fantastic books are worth to you. If you can only spare a little, that’s fine! You’ll still get access to a batch of exceptional titles.
  • Support authors who support DRM-free books: StoryBundle is a platform for authors to get exposure for their works, both for the titles featured in the bundle and for the rest of their catalog. Supporting authors who let you read their books on any device you want—restriction free—will show everyone there’s nothing wrong with ditching DRM.
  • Give to worthy causes: Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now!
  • Receive extra books: If you beat the bonus price, you’ll get the bonus books!

StoryBundle was created to give a platform for independent authors to showcase their work, and a source of quality titles for thirsty readers. StoryBundle works with authors to create bundles of ebooks that can be purchased by readers at their desired price. Before starting StoryBundle, Founder Jason Chen covered technology and software as an editor for Gizmodo.com and Lifehacker.com.

For more information, visit our website at storybundle.com, tweet us at @storybundle and like us on Facebook.

 

 

Once-a-Book word: Desultory

Like Mr. Miyagi teaching ‘the crane’ to Daniel-san, I will now teach you your own ‘special move’—a once-a-book word that will awe and befuddle your readers. I beg of you: Use it sparingly!

Desultory.

Hmm. What to say about desultory?

Something about this word sounds pretty to me. Is that weird?

I certainly doesn’t look pretty. On paper, it looks like a word-monster, with ‘desolation’ for a head, ‘insult’ for a body, and ‘purgatory’ for a tail.

Des-sult-tory. Hmm. What was I talking about?

Oh yeah. Desultory. When I hear the word spoken, I first think of an illusion, something fleeting and beautiful and slightly dangerous.

Des-sult-tory.

Nice.

Anyway, the true definition of ‘desultory’ skims across of those concepts, to some degree. Kind of?

It means aimless, halfhearted, unfocused. It can also mean random, or sporadic—but always in a lukewarm, lazy sort of a way.

Y’know what I mean? Does that make sense? Kind of?

Oh never mind.

If you care, here are some other once-a-book words I wrote about. Click ‘em. Or whatever.
Peripatetic. Sanguine. Sartorial.

Idyll Chatter: Bass Ackwards

bass_ackwards_309552032Good news! I’m almost halfway through the first draft of Book 3 of the Idyll Trilogy! Not sure if I’ve revealed the name of Book 3, but I might as well announce it in this post. EXILE!! So ‘Idyll,’ ‘The Wilds,’ and ‘Exile.’ How’s that for long ‘I’ sounds mixed with ‘L’s?

So far, my writing has moved much faster on ‘Exile’ than it did with ‘Idyll’ and ‘The Wilds.’ Partly, that might be a “light at the end of the tunnel” thing. I’m starting to get fired up about bits of positive reaction I’ve received, and I’m excited to complete the whole Idyll Trilogy and show my readers how the book ends. I’ve had this Book 3 climax and denouement sketched out (roughly) since October of 2014! I hope people will find it hopeful and thought-provoking, and maybe a bit heartbreaking as well.

Another thing that slowed down my progress on ‘Idyll’ and ‘The Wilds?’ There was a lot more open to change in the story. In fact, I’ve mentioned on the blog before how ‘Idyll’ went through massive changes during the seven years (yikes!) that I fiddled with it. Zombies to lasers, to neo-cavemen, to comet UFOs. At one point, all of these things (and more) existed in the Idyll world. In Book 2, my main stumbling blocks came from the plot. There were at least three times where I would hit a stumbling block in the story (usually I needed a character to act in a way that didn’t make sense, or the story elements were becoming too complicated to explain), so I would have to backtrack and rework the path until I had a story that was as simple and smooth as possible.

With ‘Exile,’ the potential for detours has greatly been decreased. Most of the world-building is established, the character’s voices have been clearly defined. Also the room for divergencies in the plot has been greatly tightened.

With all that said, a few months back I decided to do something unconventional—maybe controversial—to try to eliminate any stumbling blocks or rewrites. I already know exactly where I want the story to be at about 66% into the book. There’s a big milestone event that happens there, and the fallout from that is what shapes everything thereafter. I had a rough outline that was pretty good at fleshing out the story leading to that 66% milestone, but I was pretty hazy on what our heroes do that gets them to the books climax and the series epilogue.

So I stopped writing from the beginning of the book, skipped ahead to the moments after that 66% milestone and started writing from there! From there I wrote up to the epilogue, which I’m guess will be the last 8% of the book. (The epilogue is going to be pretty loooong! I might end up just calling it the last chapter).

Now I’m writing again from the front of the book, armed with the foresight of what the characters need and what they WILL be thinking in the last third of the book. So, far the process has worked pretty well. I just hope the tone that I’ve fallen into now will match the tone that I was writing in two months ago. But there’s been several times before that I’ve written sequential sections of a book at different times, and then I had to go back and smooth over the tone between them.

Fingers crossed that this will work out, and I’ll keep writing at this steady pace!

Idyll Chatter: Opportunity Knocks

Seven years ago, I thought an ‘opportunity’ was a positive thing. But as I’ve become more and more immersed in the marketing and entrepreneurial mindset (as a part of my day job), I can’t help but see ‘opportunity’ as a buzz word—a diplomatic euphemism for ‘deficit’ or ‘problem’ or ‘blindspot.’ Beware of marketing or business consultants who say you have an opportunity. They’re basically saying you suck at something—just a little bit—and now you have an ‘opportunity’ for improvement. Lucky you!

When it comes to my independent publishing work, I know I have opportunities galore. An opportunity to be better at selling books. An opportunity to ‘build my marketing platform.’ An opportunity to be a more informed and insightful publisher—someone who knows what’s happening in the industry and takes advantage of new trends.

The Dark Tower (2017) Idris Elba

The Dark Tower (2017) Idris Elba

But sometimes, good ol’ fashioned positive opportunities can drop into your lap too. Imagine my surprise when I received last week’s Entertainment Weekly issue and saw a cover story about the film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. Hey! Great book, great cast, potentially great movie. Could this mean that new fans will come to the Weird/Sci-Fi Western genre in 2017? Could that mean more fans searching for the genre on Amazon? Could that mean more readers discovering Idyll?

I had to kick myself for not knowing this project had been green-lit. Apparently the movie is set to premiere in February, which means I still have a pretty good head start in which to finish Book 3 of the Idyll trilogy, and to have the whole series available by the time the movie is out. Time to buckle down and really focus on writing. Of course, I’m probably far too small of a fish to catch a ride on ‘The Dark Tower’s’ potential wave of popularity. It’s not like I could attach a book trailer to the film in theaters. And there’s also a good chance the Dark Tower will not be a success. In the last 40 years or so, the Western genre has mixed bag of positive and negative opportunities for the film industry—Westerns with a speculative bent have had especially tough luck (i.e. Cowboys & Aliens, Jonah Hex, and Will Smith’s Wild, Wild, West).

But it’s worth a try to launch the book during a buzz-worthy time. Plus, if I push to have Book 3 done by February, then I can start on my next series. Anybody heard of any ‘opportunities’ in Ancient Civilizations Fantasy?

P.S.: HBO’s new series ‘Westworld’ could be even more earthshaking for the Speculative Western genre. I remember getting excited about potential synergy (speaking of business buzz-words!) a couple of years ago when this was announced. Looks like it’s finally on track to premiere in Oct 2016. No way I’ll have Book 3 ready to launch by then. But still, it’s good news, and the Westworld trailer looks pretty kick-ass. Here’s hoping it will be the next Game of Thrones!

Series Condition: The Spire

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 11.39.24 AMI’ve been trying more fantasy genre comics lately, including this 8 issue limited series, The Spire, and Monstress by Marjorie Liu, which I plan to review later. The two series have some similarities with topical parables to issues of today, including cultural melding and intolerance.

In ‘The Spire,’ the world is separated into two basic races, humans and the ‘sculpted’ (sometimes called ‘skewed’ or just ‘freaks’).  There are several types of sculpted, each mutated with extreme appearances and abilities. All of the sculpted are able to live in the outside world, which is a toxic desert wilderness. Because of the harsh environment, a good deal of the human population are squeezed in a towering city of stacked ghettos that gives new definition to the term ‘vertical growth.’

The Spire
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Jeff Stokely
Colorist: Andre May
Publisher: Boom!
2015-2016
8 issues (A completed limited series)

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 11.44.43 AMIn this city, the titular Spire, humans and sculpted live almost literally on top of each other. The mix of weird ‘ethnicities’ will seem familiar to anyone who’s read  China Mieville’s New Crobuzon novels (and if you’re haven’t, you should check them out!), but Spurrier makes his world unique, with medieval/feudal politics and parables to today’s political climate–all knitted together in a nifty detective story.

The series’ protagonist is a sculpted woman named Sha who is the city’s chief of police. Sha is trying to stop a masked killer. Of course, the killer’s victims are far from random, and Sha eventually realizes that the killings are connected somehow to incident that befell the Queen-mother thirty years ago, while she was pregnant. Coincidentally, (or is it?!) Sha has a gap in her memory that has erased everything in her memory that is older than thirty years. Also, (coincidentally?!) Sha is in a clandestine relationship with one of the Queen-mother’s daughters.

IScreen Shot 2016-07-24 at 11.39.57 AMt’s a compelling and intricate mystery. I was able to figure out some parts, and I was pleasantly surprised by others.

The other distinctive aspect of this series is the art. The art here is very cartoony in places, it reminds me of loose, doodle style you might see in a comic strip in a local alternative newspaper. The art adds some levity to the story, here and there, and it is definitely not a conventional match for a fantasy series. But it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

The coloring is undeniably beautiful, though. Andre May uses a palette from the back row of the crayon box. Ultramarine, salmon, orchid, turquoise, pea green, and ‘off key’ pastels that add an otherworldly feel.

As I said, it you like comics and Mieville novels–or the Gentlemen Bastards books–then I think this series could be worth a try.Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 11.40.49 AM