The World Without Flags wins a FINALIST medal from Readers’ Favorite International!

I’m happy to announce that The World Without Flags is a book award finalist in the Readers’ Favorite International contest! This is an international competition open not only to self published authors like myself but also to publishers both large and small. It’s great to have this recognition for the book, and I’m grateful to the readers at the contest for following Birdie’s journey. Another great honor for the book!

The World Without Flags is a B.R.A.G Honoree!

 

I’m happy to announce that my newest book has now won a BRAG medallion. It’s great to have all this recognition for the sequel to The World Without Crows. When I started the book, I wasn’t sure if it would work. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to understand Birdie very well because she was such a mystery to me in the first book. I really didn’t know what to expect from her. During the writing of The World Without Flags I discovered a lot about her, her strength, her loyalty, her selflessness, and a determination that bordered on mania. Birdie was a great person to write. I have an immense soft spot in my heart for her. I feel that the medals are for her. Good one, Birdie, you deserve it!

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The World Without Flags is an Indie Book Awards Finalist!

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I’m pleased to announce that my new book, The World Without Flags, has won a Finalist medal in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards! It’s such a pleasure to have this book recognized by so many diverse people. This is the second award for the book, and it feels wonderful that the book is so well received.

For those who haven’t picked it up yet, The World Without Flags is a stand alone sequel to the first book, The World Without Crows. This book follows the main character of Birdie, 10 years after the events of the first novel, as she struggles with Eric across a post apocalyptic landscape. Driven from her home by a resurgence of the Worm, the two must survive alone in a world turned against them.

I’m honored to have the book recognized by the people at the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, and I’m happy that Birdie’s story is so well received!

Book Launch! The World Without Flags

Tonight at midnight my new book The World Without Flags launches! This book is a stand-alone sequel to The World Without Crows. It takes place 10 years after the events in that book, and follows Birdie as she attempts to maneuver through the apocalyptic landscape left after the Worm. Birdie, who was just a child in the first book, takes center stage. Unlike the first book, this book is written in the first person from the point of view of Birdie and is also written in a visceral present tense, which turned out to be more of a challenge than I thought it would be. The book is shorter than the first, and moves lightning fast, with brief, intense chapters, some no more than a paragraph long.

The book will launch on June 1, at 12:01 AM! Below you can purchase your Kindle version, or, if you prefer, you can order an actual real, papery book that you can smell and touch (delicious!). I hope everyone who read and enjoyed the first will find this new perspective enlightening. Thanks to everyone and stay safe!

 

The World Without Flags wins the 2019 Silver Medal from Self-Publishing Review!

 

I’m very happy to announce that The World Without Flags has won the 2019 Silver Medal from the Self-Publishing Review! The SPR has been one of the premiere web sites for self publishers since it opened in 2008, and has been featured in the Guardian, Forbes, and the New York Times, among others.

The production of a book is a solitary, sometimes grueling experience. Beyond the creative energy needed to plan and execute the book, there is also the many, many difficulties of self-publishing: silver2019flags.jpgfinding a book cover, making sure the format looks professional, endless editing, and then the non-stop work of marketing. In the midst of this gauntlet, it’s easy to forget that you wrote the book to be read and hope that it finds an audience of appreciative readers. For me, the most flattering praise comes from strangers, people who have no reason to please you, but simply speak the truth about your book. In this sense, it is wonderful for the book to be recognized by a panel of complete and utter strangers at SPR. I’m glad that they chose to highlight The World Without Flags among the many books they read. 

 

 

 

 

You can pre order your copy of the Silver Medal winning book here:

 

 

The World Without Flags

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It’s been a long time since I wrote on this blog. I’ve been working to finish the sequel to The World Without Crows. Finally, I’ve been able to put the last touches on it, and I’m happy to announce that The World Without Flags will officially be launched on June 1, 2020!

The sequel takes place 10 years after the events of The World Without Crows. The story is told from the point of view of Birdie this time, and follows her as she flees across a ruined landscape, trying to find security. I don’t want to say too much because it would ruin some of the many twists and turns in the story.

When I finished The World Without Crows, I had a few ideas about a sequel, but I never planned on writing one. I always have ideas to continue a story. What happens to this character or that character after the last page? Does Eric actually survive on the island? Do they build a community, and, if so, what would that be like, and what would the challenges be? I had ideas, but none of them were strong enough or interesting enough to write a sequel. In fact, they were kind of boring. The only thing I was sure about was that I was interested the most in Birdie. I really wanted to see what kind of person she would grow up to be. Still, that’s not enough to write an entire book.

Not only that, but there’s a flood of zombie books. It’s been done to death, to a living death, actually, the genre shambling around without anything new to say. I wasn’t going to write a sequel unless I felt I could tell a different zombie story, unlike anything else out there. I wasn’t going to spend my time pushing yet another zombie story out there. I would be bored writing it and my readers would be bored reading it.

I honestly don’t remember where the idea for The World Without Flags originated. I wish I had some cool origin story, but I don’t. All I know is that the idea of doing a sequel from the point of view of Birdie kind of itched at me. Even when I had no plot or idea beyond that, I imagined what life would be like for Birdie when she started to come of age. In many ways, The World Without Crows is Eric’s coming of age story, and it made me wonder what Birdie’s story might be. Meanwhile, I worked on other projects, and wrote some short stories.

Probably a year or so after I published The World Without Crows, I got the seed of an idea for The World Without Flags. It felt like something new. It felt like something that fit very well into Birdie’s story. It was something I wanted to write. Still, I wasn’t in a hurry. I worked on it off and on, lazily, when I felt like it. However, I kept getting encouragement from people online, asking if there was a sequel and if so, when it was coming out. It was really heartening to think that there were people out there waiting for it. I made the decision to focus on it, and to write with more dedication before. If it hadn’t been for the encouragement, I would still have it halfway finished.

So beginning in June of 2020, the book will be out there. It is available now for pre-order. From now until June, I’ll be working on marketing, doing some contests on Goodreads and sending out review copies. I’m really pleased with this book, and I’m happy to re-visit these characters and to answer a lot of questions I had about Birdie. I think you’ll be happy too. Thank you to everyone who encouraged me to write this book, and I can’t wait for you to read it!

 

 

Old Friends

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By the time I was thirteen, I had plowed through every book that called itself fantasy. I had read everything I could, from Terry Brooks to Anne McCaffery. I had chewed my way through thousands of pages, had traveled lands as diverse as Shannara and Earthsea, had met Conan and Taran, and had begun to turn away from the genre. I was sick to death of it. The stories were all variants of the same plot and pretty much the same characters. Some books were far more original than others, of course, but even they suffered from a bleary sameness. An encounter with the same wonder of discovery I had felt reading Tolkien was nearly impossible to find. And although I wanted the same feeling I had when reading Tolkien, I didn’t want Tolkien. I probably would have been hard-pressed to tell you what kind of story or book I was looking for.

I remember walking into the Mr. Paperback store in the Auburn Mall near where I grew up. I remember going as I usually did the wall where the fantasy books were shelved. And I remember scanning the titles, searching for something new. I remember it with a strange clarity that I have sometimes regarding books. The green cover. The florid artwork, the unknown author, at least to me. And although it cost me a good portion of money, and although it was a large, thick book, quite a commitment, I bought it. The book became one of my favorite fantasy books. I recommended it to anyone who liked fantasy, telling them it was the best fantasy book in a long time.

Which it was. Recently, thanks to George R.R. Martin, fantasy has been getting more attention, and in the last few years, fantasy has become much more interesting. The works of Joe Abercrombie, Robin Hobb, Patrick Rothfuss, and Mark Lawrence, among others, have shown that fantasy can have complicated characters, brilliantly realized settings, and remarkable prose. It has all wanted to make me re-visit Tad Williams and the book that inspired George R.R. Martin to begin his epic series A Song of Ice and Fire.

It is interesting to re-read something after so many years. I remember next to nothing of the book, but the moment I encounter a new character, it leaps to my remembrance like an old friend whose face I’ve just managed to recognize through its veil of wrinkles. I had a shock of recognition when I finally remembered Binabik, one of my great favorites in the book. What surprises me about the book is not how much I remember, but really how much I have forgotten. I always name this book as one of the great works of fantasy literature, and yet I’ve forgotten nearly everything about Osten Ard, the world where the characters exist. Traveling in it again is a strange experience, at once new but here and there comes something that I wholly remember. I even remember words that gave me trouble when I was thirteen, and, reading it now, I can see why.

The Dragonbone Chair was unlike any other fantasy book because the author, Tad Williams, likes to write. I don’t mean he likes to write books. I mean he likes to write. He likes words. He likes their history and their sentiments. Williams likes prose. He likes to write wonderful, complex sentences with words you can really chew on like malachite and mooncalf. At the time, it was the best written fantasy book you could buy, probably the best since Tolkien, with the exception of the work of Ursula K. LeGuin, whose snappy prose is a joy to read. The Dragonbone Chair was (and is) a fantasy novel for people who love to read. It wasn’t a blood and guts adventure like the Conan books, or a racing adventure, whose prose just splashed across the page carelessly, like the work of Terry Brooks. It wasn’t really an adventure at all. It was an experience, where the old, tedious lines between good and evil were somewhat blurred. The familiar races of fantasy were complicated by racism and colonialism. It was a book not entirely meant to entertain. It was a book with ideas. It was a book that pulled away from the comforting dichotomies of the Tolkien mythos, with its grand vision of good versus evil. It was a book struggling to say something.

The world of Osten Ard is perilously close to ours. In fact, the book has more in common with Malory than Tolkien, although it’s impossible to imagine this book without Middle Earth. Osten Ard is a place that resembles our own much more than Middle Earth. It’s not an ancient past that was somehow better. It is a world of strife, filled with flawed characters, both good and bad. There are no heroes, not of the Aragorn type. They are flawed like Arthur, Gawain, Lancelot, and Gwenivere. It is easy to see why this book inspired Martin’s popular series. I see Jaime Lannister behind Josua, Williams’ sullen, one-handed prince.

It’s been over thirty years (my God!) since I’ve traveled with Binabik and Simon, but I’m happy to find old friends I had sadly forgotten. It’s good to find them again, still moody, still misunderstood, still clumsy, still wonderfully odd. I now understand much better than I did when I was 13 why this book was so important for fantasy–and how far this series looked ahead.

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday, Book! You needy bastard.

A few weeks ago was the anniversary of the publication of The World Without Crows. I thought it would be a good time to talk about what I’ve learned about indie publishing in this year, and to talk about the future.

Publishing a book is an exciting, wonderful, fulfilling, rewarding pain in the ass. It’s great to get the book out there, to hear the reviews of many people who’ve read it, and to generally feel that all those hours of writing, planning, revising, writing again have meant something to someone. It’s a good feeling to know that people have responded to your work. Even the “meh” reviews are strangely gratifying. Since I’ve published the book, about 70 people have taken the time to write a review on Amazon. (As an interesting aside, this number goes up and down as Amazon drops reviews sometimes, I guess to keep fake reviews from being posted.) I always appreciate reviews. They keep me going.

Continue reading “Happy Birthday, Book! You needy bastard.”

The Complete Slinger Trilogy

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Story of The Slinger Trilogy

 

Several years back, longer than I’d like to admit, I had the urge to write a pioneering story. I didn’t know what exactly, so I let the idea gestate. I was also interested in writing in the genre of science fiction and decided that I wanted to mix those. At the time I was also enamored of dialect and wanted to do more with that. (I had already written a book called. . .well, this isn’t the place for that). Thrown into this mix was my love of Bollywood movies. Somehow, out of this chaos of passions, came Slinger: The Equilibrium of Stars, a western set in the future, written in dialect, about a group of pioneers struggling to survive on an alien planet, starring a ferociously beautiful renegade called the Slinger, whom I always imagined as Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone (see below). From that grew the entire trilogy, which, as I wrote it, was more about life and death than about anything else. The books seemed to write themselves, although they did insist that I actually do the typing.

 

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I published The Equilibrium of Stars and its sequel Strange Bonds with the small publisher BlazeVox. It wasn’t really the greatest of fits. BlazeVox is primarily a poetry press, and although I was grateful to have the chance to publish, I couldn’t get the book off its feet. The only people who bought and read the books were friends and family, which I don’t really like. My favorite readers are always strangers. At any rate, I planned to publish the final in the trilogy with BlazeVox, but I moved to Chile and the publication of Strange Bonds while I was here was a little too difficult. To make matters more depressing, I think even less people read the sequel. I felt like publishing the third and final volume, All of a Darkness, would be nothing more than a tax on my family and friends. Not a good reason to publish a book. So I let the trilogy sit on my hard drive and was unsure that I would ever publish the whole thing.

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I was also very lucky to have had the chance to work with Dan Madden, who agreed to do illustrations for the two books, as well as the covers. I love to work with other artists, and I was happy to see Dan’s vision of the Slinger and other characters. My particular favorite is the work he did on Garland, from Strange Bonds, one of my favorite characters in the whole trilogy (see below, also from one of my favorite scenes to write!) One of the reasons that I have delayed publishing the final book in this trilogy is that I was hoping to publish in a way that would make illustrations worth the trouble. The Kindle format is not the best for images. In the end, I thought it best to move on with publication without illustrations and publish the whole trilogy on Amazon. Otherwise I don’t know if I’ll ever publish it. So the new trilogy has no illustrations at all, which is good news for those of you who shelled out the money for the illustrated books. They remain unique. It’s a shame that the final book, All of a Darkness, never got the Dan Madden treatment. Anyway, my thanks go out to Dan, and my apologies for not finding some way to do the third book with him as well.

 

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As I said, I finally decided to say the hell with it and publish the whole trilogy as one Kindle, The Slinger Trilogy. This badboy clocks in at around fifteen hundred pages, so be prepared. I’m extremely proud of this trilogy. The dialect work is great, the characters are sad and funny and pathetic, and the whole trilogy is epic in scope. Whereas in a lot of books I write, by the time I’ve finished editing them for like the eighth time, I’m sick as hell of the whole thing, and I can’t wait to just publish it and write something new, there’s something about Slinger that draws me in, makes me laugh and cry, and even surprises me. When I read it, I sometimes think, did I really write that? I don’t find that too likely. But amazingly, I did. I did write that.

Anyhow, for the people who read the first two books and have been waiting patiently, here it is, finally, All of a Darkness, the final book in the trilogy and the longest. Thanks for waiting and being patient. All of a Darkness is much like the other books. Lots of laughter. Lots of death. Lots of new characters. I think the book ties everything up nice enough and puts a period at the end of this particular sentence. I hope All of a Darkness lives up to the years you’ve been waiting.

For others, for most of you, this will be the first time you experience Slinger. It’s the story of a group of pioneers on the planet Damodara who, without wanting to, get embroiled in a conflict beyond their control. It’s the story of the Slinger, a renegade cursed by beauty, who finds herself cornered by her past. It’s the story of people fighting and dying, loving and losing, laughing and crying. All of it is written in a western dialect peppered with Spanish, Chinese, and a myriad of other languages that mix among the motley of humans on Damodara. I’m so happy to introduce the world to this trilogy and I hope you find it as strangely touching and human as I do.

And if you don’t like it, “Dizang!” as the Kid would say. “I guess there ain’t no pleasing some folk.”

The Slinger Trilogy officially launches on July 6th, but you can pre-order your copy here. Just remember. . .

Beauty Ain’t Always Nice.

 

 

 

The World Without Crows Wins a B.R.A.G. Medallion!

 

I’m very happy to announce that The World Without Crows has won a B.R.A.G. Medallion from IndieBrag. This award is given to independently published books only. It’s a great way to acknowledge all the work and effort and resources that went into planning, writing, formatting, and marketing The World Without Crows. I want to thank the people at IndieBrag at https://www.bragmedallion.com/ for recognizing my work.

I’m also happy to have changed the cover of the Kindle version of the novel. It now boasts a shiny golden medallion like that shown above. A little bling never hurt.

So it’s official, The World Without Crows is now an award-winning novel. Thanks to everyone who read it and gave it such great reviews, and, as usual, thank you to all the people who have encouraged me to publish my work instead of letting it rest in the peace of my hard drive.

Self-publishing can be a lonely enterprise with very little feedback. It can sometimes feel like shouting in the dark. It was nice to get a shout back.