Heeeeee’s Baaaaaack!

John G. Hartness

Hey Y’all, watch this!

I’m back, gang, bringing my own particular style of mayhem and merriment to the Magical Words gang. Last year was a bit of a rough one, but I’m happy to be back and thrilled to have the opportunity to share with y’all my podcast, Literate Liquors. Some of you may remember a series of videos I produced with the same name a couple years ago, where I talked about writing, publishing and most importantly, drinking, with some of my favorite writers, including a bunch of folks from right here at MW.

Well, now I’m back, and producing Literate Liquors as a weekly podcast, instead of as a weakly video show (see what I did there?). And the fine folks at MW have asked if I wanted to use this site to co-host the podcast, and I said “ummm . . . yeah!”

So without further ado, and no additional gilding of the lily, here is Literate Liquors Episode 9!

Warning – the language used in this podcast is a lot more explicit than that typically heard on Magical Words. If such things offend you, don’t download this podcast. And for pity’s sake, don’t let your boss hear it!

If you’d rather download it and listen later, you can go here to do that.

 

David B. Coe: Release Day and Defining Success

DavidBCoeDavidBCoe

200CoeJacksonToday is the official release day for Spell Blind, the first book in my Case Files of Justis Fearsson. I’ve already blogged about the book in some detail, and so I think that at this point a description of it would probably be superfluous. Instead, I’d like to use this post to revisit the idea of defining success.

Spell Blind will not be debuting on any bestseller lists. It’s possible that the book will do well enough in these first few weeks to creep onto a list or two (and if you would care to help in that regard by purchasing a copy for yourself and perhaps sending one to a friend, I would be most grateful), but even that is a long shot. The book will receive some good reviews, I’m sure. It already has gotten a few. But if I define the success of this book in terms of raw numbers or starred reviews or offers to have it made into a movie, I’m probably going to be disappointed.

We’ve discussed this before in this space. Each of us needs to define success for ourselves, because no matter what we do, no matter how good a story or book we write, when we rely upon others for the validation of our work, there is always the potential for disappointment. Someone, somewhere is going to write up a bad review. Some editor or agent is going to reject it. Sales can always — ALWAYS — be better.

I began my series of posts about Spell Blind early in December with a description of the process I had gone through in getting this version of the book to press. I rewrote it, I went through rounds of rejections and then rewrote it again. I was stubborn as hell because I believed in the book and I wanted desperately to see it in print. I wanted readers to meet these characters and read Jay Fearsson’s story, and I fought and fought and fought to make that happen.

SpellBlind250So in a sense, the very fact that this book is being released today is success. Sales don’t matter, and neither does the critical response to the book. After all that I’ve been through with this novel, it should be enough that I can hold a bound copy of it in my hand. Of course, the operative word there is “should.”

Because the truth of the matter is that in self-defining our success, we constantly wrestle with two contradictory impulses. On the one hand we want to take pride in what we have already achieved. If your goal was to complete a novel and you’ve gotten it finished, then you have succeeded, and can be pleased at having done so. I wanted this book to be contracted and released, and as of today it has been. But then there is that other impulse. We are — and should be — ambitious for our work. I want more than just to see my book in print. I want it to sell well. I want readers to love it and thus buy the next books in the series. Having finished that novel, you now want to sell it somewhere.

And that’s as it should be. Sure, it seems like we’re moving the goalposts for ourselves, but I’m not at all sure that this is a bad thing. Success, in whatever form we seek it, can and should be a fluid set of goals. In meeting one, we immediately look toward the next. And so, we will eventually and inevitably be disappointed. Spell Blind is out. Goal met. It has some nice reviews. Check. Maybe it will sell well and go to a second printing. Check. Sooner or later though, whatever marker I look to next will remain beyond my reach. As I say, it’s inevitable.

The secret for me is finding that balance between ambition and satisfaction. I refuse to be complacent. I will always look toward that next horizon. But I am learning as well to be pleased with whatever success I’ve already enjoyed. This is a stretch for me. For years I beat myself up for not achieving more. I embraced all the ambition without allowing myself any of the satisfaction. And quite frankly, I made myself miserable in the process.

I’ve said it before: This is a hard business, a hard way to make a living. I love it and I would never want to do anything else, but it sure isn’t easy. Nor should it be. Conceiving a novel is hard. Writing that novel is harder still. Revising it to the point where it’s publication-ready? Really hard. Selling it to a publisher? All of us know how hard that is. Having it do well in the marketplace and garner good reviews? Becoming a bestseller? You get the idea.

So no matter where we are in the process, there is something we have done in which we can take pride, just as there remains more for which we can strive. We should all take a moment to acknowledge those things we have succeeded in doing. Then, and only then, should we look toward the next potential accomplishment.

*****

David B. Coe is the award-winning author of more than fifteen fantasy novels. His newest series, a contemporary urban fantasy called The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, debuts with the January 2015 release from Baen Books of Spell Blind. The second book, His Father’s Eyes, will be out in the summer of 2015. Writing as D.B. Jackson, he is the author of the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy from Tor Books that includes Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, A Plunder of Souls, and Dead Man’s Reach (also coming in the summer of 2015). He 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.

http://www.DavidBCoe.com
http://www.davidbcoe.com/index.php/blog/
http://www.dbjackson-author.com
http://www.facebook.com/david.b.coe
http://twitter.com/DavidBCoe
https://www.amazon.com/author/davidbcoe

There’s Stories In Them There Hills!

Misty MasseyMisty Massey

Y’all, I’m so excited to announce this, I can hardly sit still!  Our wonderful publisher, eSpec Books, has come up with some bonus stories to offer everyone who backs the Weird Wild West kickstarter, and it’s pretty incredible.

For each $500 sub-goal we reach ($3500, $4000, $4500, $5000), all backers will immediately receive a bonus bundle of digital fiction with prizes from Gail Z. Martin, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Cynthia Ward, and Ragnarok Publishing, among others.  Right this minute, we’re $134 away ftom breaking our first subgoal!

When we hit our goal of $5500, one backer at the $20 or higher level will receive a package of promotional goodies, plus the following mega-western pack of movies and classic TV:

  • Paul
  • Serenity
  • High Plains Drifter
  • Joe Kidd
  • Two Mules for Sister Sara
  • Tombstone
  • The Outlaw Josey Wales
  • Pale Rider
  • Lone Ranger (12 classic episodes)
  • Shotgun Slade (eight episodes)
  • Zorro (24 episodes)
  • The Cisco Kid (six episodes)

Isn’t that incredible?  All that great western watching for some lucky backer, in addition to all the amazing reading you’ll get just for backing this project!

If you’re already a backer, thank you so much!  We appreciate your support and look forward to bringing you some quality stories.  If you have a minute, could you share the link and convince your friends to back us too?  We’ve even got pre-written social media blurbs you can use if you like.

So, flag down the Pony Express, hop on that telegram, break out those smoke signals…or head over to the social media site of your choice and spread the word! The more people we get on board, the quicker we unlock those prizes! Want to help us make this happen? Here are some social media posts you can use.

Twitter: Help the Weird Wild West hit goal and unlock prizes along the way! Back a winner here: http://kck.st/1udizgM @eSpecBooks

Facebook: Back the Weird Wild West anthology here http://kck.st/1udizgM and you could strike gold! Sub-goal rewards include stories by Gail Martin, Danielle Ackley-McPhail and collections from Ragnarok Publishing, among others.

webbanner copyTonight on Talk of the Tavern, our great publisher, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, will be their guest, so if you feel like listening, the fun begins at 9 pm!

 

 

Margaret McGraw, Gail Martin and I will be appearing at Illogicon this weekend in Cary, NC.  We’d love to see some of you there, if you can make it!  Here’s my schedule:

Friday, January 9, 2015
4 pm The History of Anything You Want To Know
A panel of ‘experts’ take questions from the audience and produce a completely un-researched response.
Chris Garcia, Miley Mason, Gray Rinehart, John Kessel, Misty Massey
5 pm Contemporary Cultural Influences
The future looks familiar… Come discuss the contemporary infuences that show up in dystopian views of the future
Jacqueline Carey, Betty Cross, Misty Massey
9 pm Bwa Ha Ha!
Let’s talk about some of the best literary villains, and techniques writers can use to make a truly memorable bad guy.
Gail Martin, James Maxey, Garth Graham, Bill Ferris, Misty Massey
Saturday, January 10, 2015
12 pm How the West Was Weird
From The Dark Tower to Firefly to Cowboys and Aliens, fantasy set in the wild, weird west is becoming a popular niche in speculative fiction.
Margaret McGraw, Gail Martin, Chris Garcia, Misty Massey
4 pm Live Action Slush
A quick-moving, helpful exercise for writers.
Edmund Schubert, Gray Rinehart, James Maxey, Misty Massey
Sunday, January 11, 2015
10 am Religion & Myth
A discussion of religion and mythology in SF and fantasy

Jacqueline Carey, Natania Barron, Debra Killeen, Ada Milenkovic Brown, Misty Massey

 

David B. Coe: Taking Stock and Taking Risks

DavidBCoeDavidBCoe

200CoeJacksonAnother year, another New Year’s post. That’s not meant to sound like a complaint; I actually love to write them. I use the New Year’s holiday as an opportunity to take stock and assess my accomplishments for the year that’s ending, and also to wipe the slate clean and “start from scratch” on a new year.

This New Year’s in particular feels momentous for me in a professional sense. I have just completed the most productive writing year of my life. I wrote three complete novels in 2014, as well as two new short stories and more blog posts than I care to count. I also edited two books and proofed two others. I recently totalled it up, and I’m pretty certain that I wrote about 400,000 words this year. I had a new Thieftaker book come out (A Plunder of Souls), as well as three original short stories.

And looking forward to 2015, I have three novels coming out: Spell Blind, the first book in The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, comes out from Baen Books on January 6; Dead Man’s Reach, the fourth Thieftaker (and the last one currently under contract) comes out from Tor Books in July; and His Father’s Eyes, the second Justis Fearsson book will be out in August. The Fearsson books are my first releases as David B. Coe since 2011, and I’m pretty excited about that. And taken together the three releases represent, I believe, my finest work to date, and I’m VERY excited about that.

SpellBlind250But 2015 also promises to be exciting, as well as a bit frightening, for another reason. The three books I wrote in 2014 are the last ones I have contracted. I’m flying without a net again. And while I think that I would like to write more books in the Thieftaker and Fearsson universes at some point, I also have it in mind to start something completely new. What? you ask. I have no idea, and there’s the rub. I am, in a figurative and literal sense, staring at a blank screen. I have some thoughts as to what I might do with a new project, but they are no more than vague notions. There’s nothing concrete. Well, that’s not entirely true. I have a world in mind, and a few loose plot ideas, and several characters who have introduced themselves to me and then faded into the background again as I, by necessity, focused on the Fearsson and Thieftaker novels.

But I have not been this uncertain about what comes next in a number of years. The last time it happened, I was panicked, wondering if my career might be over. This time I’m thrilled. I have faith that I’ll come up with something I can write and sell, and if I don’t sell it traditionally, I’ll publish it myself. I’ve been doing this for long enough that I feel I can go the self-pub route and have some success.

That though is not really the point I wish to make with this post. My goals and ruminations on the coming year are not all that fascinating or original. I’m a writer; I intend to publish and promote and write. The larger point is that I want to use the coming year to take some chances, to force myself onto new creative avenues, to push and challenge myself to step out of the comfortable. I can write anything I want. I haven’t been in this position in years. I’ve loved writing about Ethan Kaille and Justis Fearsson, but for several years now I’ve HAD to write about one of them or the other. Not now. I’ve written traditional epic fantasy, historical urban fantasy, and contemporary urban fantasy, and I had a blast writing all three. I don’t know quite what I’ll be writing next, but I do know that it will be different. I want to take risks.

Quite often, as past New Year’s holidays have rolled around, I’ve set out specific goals for myself, and to some degree I’ll be doing that again this year. I want to maintain my level of commitment to my work — I have enjoyed being productive. And, of course, I intend to promote the hell out of my new books. But beyond that I’m going to stay away from specifics. I don’t know enough about what I’ll be writing to say how much I want to write or how soon I intend to get it done. I am standing at the boundary of a new creative world and I feel that I need to discover its terrain without any pre-conceived notions, without any expectations. I feel like an explorer setting out for points unknown. My pulse quickens at the thought of all I may find along the way.

What about you? Are you up for a creative risk this coming year? Do you have something new in mind to try out? Do you have a work-in-progress that you need to complete? Good for you. Best of luck in getting it done. But what lies beyond that project? What will you try next? Are you up for an adventure?

I will be coming back to the site periodically during the year, even after my January posts are done, to report back on my new endeavor. And I would love to hear now about your plans, and I would love it if you gave us updates as the year progresses.

Happy New Year to all of you. May 2015 be a year of success, prosperity, and creative discovery for all of us.

*****

David B. Coe is the award-winning author of more than fifteen fantasy novels. His newest series, a contemporary urban fantasy called The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, debuts with the January 2015 release from Baen Books of Spell Blind. The second book, His Father’s Eyes, will be out in the summer of 2015. Writing as D.B. Jackson, he is the author of the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy from Tor Books that includes Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, A Plunder of Souls, and Dead Man’s Reach (also coming in the summer of 2015). He 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.

http://www.DavidBCoe.com
http://www.davidbcoe.com/index.php/blog/
http://www.dbjackson-author.com
http://www.facebook.com/david.b.coe
http://twitter.com/DavidBCoe
https://www.amazon.com/author/davidbcoe

The Weird Wild West Needs Homesteaders!

Misty MasseyMisty Massey

Hey y’all!  I hope the holidays treated everyone well, and that you were fortunate enough to spend at least some of the time with people you like who like you back!

I’m back again to talk about our Kickstarter.  We’re pleased that so many folks believe in us enough to pledge a little money, and we hope that we reach our goal so that we can bring you all some incredible stories.  The first volume will feature thrilling tales by R S Belcher, Tonia Brown, Diana Pharaoh Francis, John Hartness, Gail Martin, James Tuck, Jonathan Maberry and me.  But we’ll also have space for some of you!

If we reach our initial funding goal, we’ll offer up four open submission spots.  We’re very excited to see what you all can imagine, but it will only happen if we reach that goal.  You can help us along.  Pledge if you can, but also share the link on your social media.  Talk other people into pledging and sharing, too!  The more noise we make, the likelier we are to hit that goal!

In order to help it along, we’ve started a contest.  If we can get 200 backers by New Year’s Day, everyone who pledges at the $5 level (or higher) will receive a bonus DRM-free Deadly Curiosities novella from Gail Martin, AND a digital deed to your very own weird western homestead!  How cool would that be?

We’ve also added a pledge level for those of you who love your fur babies as much as your human ones…Tonia Brown, author of the web serial Railroad!, will name characters in her story after your pets!  It’s a neat offer, and a wonderful way to immortalize your beloved in fiction.

Tonight, editor Emily Leverett will be interviewed on Talk of the Tavern, so tune in at 9 pm on Wight Party Radio or Riel Radio (or download it later from iTunes and Stitcher.)  Last Monday, Emily, Margaret, Danielle and I were guests on the show together, and it was a blast.  You can still listen to that episode if you missed it – just visit the TofT site.

webbanner copy

Lisa Mantchev: On Ticker

admin

Enter this time machine, if you will, and it will dump you in the vicinity of 2007. I had just finished writing what would be published as EYES LIKE STARS, finished drafting a version of PERCHANCE Ticker Cover FinalTO DREAM that would largely never see the light of day, and I funneled all the nervous energy I had while we tried to sell the trilogy into buying pocket watch bits.

That spring, I’d seen people milling about various conventions in NeoVictorian splendor. And I am all about the costuming, so I needed bits. Clanky bits. Shiny, poky bits. Can you hear the echo of the rallying cry—

TO eBAY!

In the midst of the madness, I stumbled over a pocket watch. Inside, it had a compass and a sundial, and I immediately knew two things for certain:

1)      I was going to buy that watch

2)      I had to tell the story about the person who owned it

What started as PENNY FARTHING and became TICKER is, at its core, a story about perseverance. The manuscript was rejected and revised and bounced around and rewritten again. At the request of an editor, I tore it down to the studs and wrote it from scratch during NaNoWriMo 2011. That is the version that sold to Skyscape in 2013 and was just published as a Kindle First selection in November.

TICKER went from “the book I thought would never sell” to “the book that got me to the #2 Author on Amazon slot” in a week. During the promotion, I found myself bracketed by authors like Stephen King and John Grisham (don’t worry, I screencapped everything for posterity.) It really has been the little steampunk story that could, and I have my lovely agent, Laura Rennert, and the supportive editorial and PR team at Skyscape to thank for that.

In a way, I’m now hopping in another sort of time machine, typing this up in the midst of the chaos, knowing this blog entry will go live at the end of December. A lot can happen in six weeks, but I have the shiniest of hopes for this novel, one of which would be to write a sequel. Also, if Laika is interested in turning it into the next Coraline or Box Trolls movie, I am amenable to offers of cash and bribes of cake.

EDITOR’S NOTE – GIVEAWAY! 

Lisa is giving away a signed paperback of TICKER plus swag (US shipping only, please) to one lucky commenter.  Leave us a word here, and Lisa will put all the names in a hat and draw out the winner! 

 

MANTCHEV author photo smLisa Mantchev is a temporally-displaced Capricorn who casts her spells from an ancient tree in the Pacific Northwest. When not scribbling, she is by turns an earth elemental, English professor, actress, artist, and domestic goddess. She shares her abode with her husband, two children, and three hairy miscreant dogs.

She is best known as the author of the young adult fantasy trilogy, The Théâtre Illuminata. Published by Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan,) the series includes the Andre Norton and Mythopoeic awards-nominated EYES LIKE STARS (2009), PERCHANCE TO DREAM (2010), and SO SILVER BRIGHT (2011.) Her young adult steampunk novel TICKER is now available from Skyscape/Amazon. Her picture books, STRICTLY NO ELEPHANTS and SISTER DAY!, are forthcoming from Paula Wiseman/S&S.

Stay updated with all the fun and glitter at her author website: www.lisamantchev.com

David B. Coe: Holiday Superlatives!

DavidBCoeDavidBCoe

200CoeJacksonOne of the problems with doing these one month appearances on the site is that those months tend to be pretty focused: a post on character, a post on plotting, a post on the writer’s life, and a promotional post on whatever book we happen to be pimping promoting at the time. One of the great things about being a Magical Words co-founder, is that I can sign on for more than one month at a time, as I have for the release of Spell Blind, the first book in the Case Files of Justis Fearsson, which comes out on January 6. I’ve been here for December, and I’m sticking around for January, too.

And that means I have time to do some fun stuff in addition to the promo. So welcome to my 2014 Holiday Post!!

SpellBlind250We’re in the last couple of days of Hanukkah, and Christmas is the day after tomorrow. No one wants to talk shop right now. Certainly I don’t. Instead, I was thinking about a holiday superlatives list. I’ll start and you can play along.

Favorite Holiday Movie:  I’m going with two, one traditional and one not so much. I am a total sucker for Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. I know: Cliché city. I don’t care. I love it. That moment at the end, when George Bailey’s brother shows up in front of that table laden with money and says “To my big brother George: The richest man in town,” reduces me to a puddle every time I see it. And my other favorite — I know this is so uncool, not to mention not very masculine, but I love the movie While You Were Sleeping. Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman, Peter Boyle, among a terrific cast. It’s funny, heartwarming, and really a perfect holiday film. So sue me.

Favorite Holiday Song:  Another tie. I’m not wild about the trend of pop musicians making a killing with commercially viable Christmas albums, and when James Taylor, one of my all-time favorites, came out with his first Christmas muzak collection, I was pretty appalled. But before he did that album he put a version of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” on his album, October Road. The album came out less than a year after the 9/11 attacks, and the song clearly is meant to reflect on the tragedy. It’s a beautiful interpretation. And then, at the opposite end of the spectrum, is a song called, “There’s Something Stuck Up In the Chimney.” It is a sick, gross, disturbing, hilarious song, and the voice of the little girl who sings it is perfect.

Favorite Holiday Television Special: How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the animated original; NOT the live-action Jim Carrey vehicle). I love Rudolph and Charlie Brown’s Christmas, but the Grinch is my all-time favorite. Boris Karloff’s narration is wonderful, and I adore the Grinch’s little dog.

Favorite Portrayal of Santa: Edmund Gwenn in the original black and white version of Miracle on 34th Street (John Payne, Maureen O’Hara, and eight year-old Natalie Wood). He plays the role with the perfect blend of wit, innocence, and wile, and boy does he look the part.

Best Holiday Present I Ever Received: Yes, another tie. My post, my rules. Deal with it. When I was about nine years old, my parents got me a set of Hot Wheels cars and the orange track that the cars would run on. They set up the track the night before, so that when I came downstairs there is was, winding around and under the tree. It was the only thing — the ONLY thing — I wanted, and I had no idea I was getting it. I was pretty thrilled. And then last year . . . It had been a rough year in our household, mostly because my younger daughter was going through a hard time, struggling with friends and at school, fighting with us a lot. But for my Christmas gift, she wrote me a note in which she told me how much she loved me and why, and how hard the year had been for her, and how much Nancy and I meant to her, even though things in the house were sometimes tense. Best present ever.

Best Holiday Present I’ve Ever Given: Back in 2005-2006, we lived for a year in Australia, where, of course, Christmas is a summer holiday. So Nancy and I planned our Christmas around a day at the beach. We bought prawns and strawberries, because that’s what you eat at the beach in Australia on Christmas day, and “Santa” (our younger daughter still believed) gave the girls a boogie board for riding the waves and a cricket set for playing on the sand. Best Christmas our family has ever had.

Favorite Holiday Food: Okay, this one is going to be weird. My favorite holiday food of all time is the cream cheese-based clam dip my mother used to make for us to snack on before holiday meals. It was rich and decadent and the perfect dip for potato chips, and to this day the flavor brings back all the holiday memories of my childhood. That said, I also LOVE the brisket and latkes that Nancy (my lapsed-Catholic wife) makes us for Hanukkah.

Okay, that’s probably enough. What about you? What does your list of holiday superlatives look like?

Regardless of what holiday you celebrate, I wish all of you a season of joy, love, and peace.

*****

David B. Coe is the award-winning author of more than fifteen fantasy novels. His newest series, a contemporary urban fantasy called The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, debuts with the January 2015 release from Baen Books of Spell Blind. The second book, His Father’s Eyes, will be out in the summer of 2015. Writing as D.B. Jackson, he is the author of the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy from Tor Books that includes Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, A Plunder of Souls, and Dead Man’s Reach (also coming in the summer of 2015). He 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.

http://www.DavidBCoe.com
http://www.davidbcoe.com/index.php/blog/
http://www.dbjackson-author.com
http://www.facebook.com/david.b.coe
http://twitter.com/DavidBCoe
https://www.amazon.com/author/davidbcoe