Tag Archives: Joshua Unruh

The Next Big Thing

My friend and fellow fantasy author (and now collaborator) Joshua Unruh asked me to write about my next project as part of a chain blog. He spent a lot of his own post talking about writing in my world, so it would be rude for me to ignore his request. But, then, I’ve struggled so much with my “next project” that this has felt like a really difficult post to write.

The thing is…long before Josh tagged me, I already knew that this was the post I needed to write. And it’s been difficult that whole time. That’s why I haven’t said a word here for two months now (and why that last word was some nonsense about cookies).

Here’s the thing: One year ago, I quit my day job to be a full-time writer. I spent five months completing my masters degree and capping off an epic fantasy series that I’ve been working on since I was a teenager. Every bit of that was a dream come true.

Then I published The Dragonprince’s Heir, and in the time since then I have wanted to do anything but write.

Those words are painful to say. It’s especially painful to share with you, my strongest supporters.

There are a lot of reasons. There was a vocal negative reaction to The Dragonprince’s Heir, but that’s probably the smallest reason of them all. I’m used to criticism, and I’m not under the impression that anything I write right now is pure gold. I’m still learning, still developing as an artist, so the books I’m writing now are just stepping stones to the really good stuff I’m going to work on next year.

I believe that now, and I hope to keep believing it with every passing year until I run out of them entirely.

No, most of what’s getting in my way is stress and obligation. See, I didn’t just quit my job last year. I also started an indie publishing company and hired a couple editors and a marketing guy. You probably know them all by name. They’re all fellow authors and good friends of mine, and it was our plan to put together a flood of awesome fantasy for you guys that would leave you begging for even more (and, in the process, fund Consortium Books to hire and train even more authors).

It…didn’t quite work out that way. We got a good start with the release of Courtney’s epic fantasy Rethana’s Surrender and Joshua’s noir viking saga Downfall, but the weak point in our plan was me.

I had boring day-job work to do. Not for my old government bosses, this time, but for my own organization. There was so much work to do, and now several families’ livelihoods depending (at least partially) on my business acumen. That’s a lot of pressure (and not a small amount of tedious paperwork).

On top of that, for lots of very good reasons, I signed a three-book publishing deal with Amazon’s 47North. I owed them the first novel in a new trilogy on November 1, but when I started hiring people in June and planning our schedule, November looked a long way off. As it turned out, I just had time to deal with the first, most urgent mountain of corporate paperwork before I had to dive into the 47North project with a desperate urgency just to hit my deadline.

And, of course, after I turned that in I found myself facing a new mountain of chores that had piled up while I was frantically writing. And then, when I realized they still needed me for consulting on promotional materials and reviewing edits and revising the manuscript, I discovered there was still a surprising amount of work to do on the novel I’d just delivered.

Somewhere in there I had a root canal, watched dad campaign for and then unfairly lose a bid for State Representative, caught pneumonia for six weeks or so, and survived two major holidays with all the family commitments those entail.

That’s how I’ve spent my dream-come-true so far: exhausted, overwhelmed, and behind schedule.

So! The challenge for this blog post was to tell you about my current writing project. The sad fact is, it’s the same one I blogged about last July (and promised by the end of summer). I’m working on a novella set in the world of the Dragonprince, featuring Daven and taking place immediately after the events of The Dragonswarm. Six months now, and I’ve got a little over 6,000 words written.

I’m actually really excited about the story. It’s Daven in all his power fighting a vicious (and frighteningly clever) dragon brood out in the eastern plains. It’s full of exciting action and tense drama and some surprising revelations with regard to the dragon bond.

It also sets the stage for the collaborative novellas Joshua was talking about in his post. A Darkness in the East is the first chapter in a five-piece collection called The Dragonprince’s Arrows. Among them, those stories will reveal how Daven came to have an army of dragonriders behind him and introduce some of the more interesting riders.

Unlike the one I’m still working on, those stories are already written. Or…drafted, anyway. Joshua and Jessie agreed to collaborate with me on them, so I’ll get to introduce you to Joshua’s break-neck plot and Jessie’s endearing characters, all wrapped up in the huge and fascinating setting that is Daven’s dragonswarm.

In other words, the next big thing is huge. It’s awesome, and I can’t wait to share it with you. I just have to get over myself first, get out of my own way, and learn how to write for fun again.

Wish me luck. I’ll let you know the moment the story’s done.

Advance Reading Copy of Myth Reaver (Noir Viking Fantasy)

I mentioned this yesterday, but wanted to give it the full attention it deserves. So here’s my official grand announcement:

Someone decided to merge a neo-noir fantasy epic with a Viking saga…and nailed it. And I got to help.

Joshua Unruh is my Marketing Czar at Consortium of Books, and we’ve just completed acquisitions for Saga of the Myth Reaver: Downfall. Here’s the product description:

Noir: Everyday men and women drowning in the murky, corrupt waters of their own flaws.

Saga: Peerless heroes fighting epic battles yet ultimately doomed to fail.

At the crossroads of these two literary traditions stands the Saga of the Myth Reaver.

 

The Nine Worlds have never seen a hero like Finn Styrrsson. Blessed with an unmatched thirst for victory and the supernatural strength and vigor to slake it, Finn might have been the greatest warrior-king his people had ever known. But he was born the youngest of eight princes with a conniving eldest brother who won’t abide the threat Finn poses to his rule. Despite Finn’s unfailing loyalty, he is forced from his home to forge a new destiny.

Already a powerful warrior and deadly reaver, Finn discovers that he above all others is equipped to kill the monsters, the giants, the myths that besiege Midgard. He becomes the Myth Reaver and a living legend.

Yet despite his prowess and fame–indeed because of them–Finn never wins that which he most desires. He never finds a home. After a lifetime spent battling dread monsters and shining demigods, Finn realizes that in all the Nine Worlds, there is only one enemy whose defeat can give him the renown he so richly deserves.

Whether it’s in search of glory or a glorious death, Finn always overlooks his true enemy. That mistake will be his downfall.

We’d like to start the book off with some positive word-of-mouth, so if the premise sounds interesting and you’d be willing to provide a helpful book review, leave a comment below (with a valid email address). We’ll send free ARCs to the first 100 people who ask.

Update!

The book is now live at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo! That means we’re no longer offering the ARC, but you can pick up your own official copy for just 99 cents.

Check it out, and be sure to leave a review!

Meanwhile, in Oklahoma City…

A title like that really shouldn’t be followed with fascinating tidbits, should it? But life has been action-packed around here lately, and it’s only getting more interesting by the minute.

Here are some highlights:

Most of my books are now available on Kobo!

That means you can get DRM-free ePubs even if you’re not living the in the US. (I hadn’t realized Barnes and Noble made that restriction). We’re working on getting all the Consortium Books library up there, and will have it shortly.

Draft2Digital (my new e-book publishing platform) is…functional! Sort of!

Man, that should really sound more exciting than it does. As of yesterday afternoon, we can now add new book projects, input all the basic sales data, upload a source document (Word or Google Docs), and then generate a beautifully-formatted e-book. We haven’t integrated the tools to publish that book to our various vendors yet, but I’ve done proof of concept and tying all the pieces together shouldn’t be too hard.

I just signed a three-book deal with Amazon’s sci-fi fantasy publishing imprint, 47North! (Yes, these all get exclamation marks. If they didn’t deserve exclamation marks, they wouldn’t be news.)

That was actually last Wednesday, but Amazon has agreed to publish and promote three books in the World of Auric superhero-fantasy series. I’m really looking forward to experiencing the (somewhat) traditional publishing process, and especially to the promotional partnership Amazon can provide.

And while I was writing this post, I was contacted by an anime production group interested in developing the Dragonprince’s Heir into a feature film, or possibly a series!

I have no idea how much interest you would have in seeing that, but I find the idea fascinating. And, of course, it gives me an opportunity to find new readers in another market altogether. That some exciting stuff!

And, finally, I recently approved our next title from Consortium Books, Myth Reaver: Downfall, by Joshua Unruh!

It’s neo-noir Viking fantasy, which means it’s huge and dramatic and all kinds of grim. If any of that sounds at all interesting to you, you’ll probably love the book. It’s epic in scale and tone, and perfectly executed. I’m so proud to have been a part of this story’s development.

I really wanted to mention this one sooner, but I saved it to the end because it comes with an offer! Draft2Digital will be building us an Advance Reading Copy of Myth Reaver: Downfall sometime tomorrow, and Josh offered to let me share copies with my readers.

I’ll probably make a separate post about that tomorrow (if I can find the time), but if you’ve read this far, you can get a head start. Leave a comment below asking for an ARC of some grim Viking fantasy, and I’ll make sure you get one.

Now…I guess I’d better get back to work!

Works in Progress

I’ve spent most of July being a businessman. I’ve been shopping group insurance coverage for my editors and me, trying to find someone reliable to handle payroll and corporate taxes, and running board meetings.

Most of the writing I’ve done recently has been on a formal business plan. Fun.

But it’s all to the good. You might remember how glad I was to stop working out of Starbucks and start working out of an office. That office was a tiny, temporary space just to get me a desk. Now that we have editors on staff and are working to hire a whole handful of new folks, we need more space.

And we’ve found the perfect space. It’s a two-story open retail space in the midtown/arts district. We’ve drawn up plans that include a public art gallery, a little bookstore for our products, a wide open work area for our Writers and Programmers, a raised studio with direct sunlight for our Painters and Photographers, and (eventually) a dedicated recording studio for our Musicians.

It’s gorgeous. It’s also a huge financial commitment. So I’ve been very busy crunching numbers and making best guesses (and worst-case scenarios) and planning for the future. I had to convince my board of directors that we could (and should) afford the place, and now I have to convince the building owners to take us on as tenants.

It was an interesting board meeting. Once we’d finished the agenda items, it settled into more of a casual discussion as one of the directors asked me how I planned to handle the conflicting job responsibilities of producing new novels and running the company.

I smiled sweetly and explained that I’m still producing new novels in my free time. I’m a full-time CEO, and it’s everything I can do to manage that job.

This experience is so far from anything I ever expected for my life. It’s incredible. It’s stressful and tedious at times and often incredibly uncreative, but it’s also big. It’s important. I’m not just telling stories; I’m building a new media empire.

That’s not to say I’m done telling stories. Hah! I am still producing new novels in my free time. I’ve been hard at work on a short story in the World of Auric, a dragonrider novella featuring Daven, and a brand new epic novel (which I hope to get written this fall) featuring Daven’s son Damion.

I’m also hard at work as publisher and coach. In just the last week I’ve helped workshop Courtney’s sequel to Rethana’s Surrender, Joshua’s epic viking fantasy Myth Reaver: Downfall, and Jessie’s adventure fantasy, The City of Orphans. And then there are the dragonrider collaborations. But that’s a story for another time.

Advance Reading Copy of The Dragonprince’s Heir!

For several weeks now (primarily at my Facebook page) I’ve been promising to provide some some Advance Reading Copies of The Dragonprince’s Heir (The Dragonprince Trilogy, #3) to my fans. As you may know, that effort has been delayed a little bit, but I think I’m finally ready to follow through.

I’d like to allow everyone a little time to make their requests (which will also give me time to finish this round of edits and build the files I’ll need to send out). So if you’re interested, leave a comment (with a valid email address) on this post before the end of the day Tuesday, June 12th. If you don’t know what to say, “Me too, please!” will probably do the job. It’s not an essay contest.

I only have digital copies available, but they should be readable on whatever you’re using to read this blog post. On Wednesday, I’ll send review copies to the first hundred people who commented below. All I’d ask in return is that you write me a review at the digital vendor(s) of your choice. Blog posts are welcome too, of course.

Please note that this is a separate offer from the one we made at KickStarter, but everyone who made a pledge there before the end of the day on May 31st should also be getting their ARCs this Wednesday.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, definitely check out our KickStarter campaign! It’s a good cause, and it’s an easy way to pre-order a signed first edition of the paperback.

Update from the Comments

Congratulations to everyone on the list so far! You’ll be hearing back from me on Wednesday. And, of course, there’s still room for more!

I just wanted to pop in and respond to those of you who’ve mentioned how desperate you are for an ARC because you’re all out of reading material. At the risk of sounding like some soulless salesperson, I should mention that I do have some other stories available.

Maybe you’ve already read them all. If so, I can still introduce you to some great new writers. You can’t go wrong with anyone from Consortium Books.

Update from the 100th Responder

We just got our 100th request! Sorry to anyone who missed out, but you’ll only be waiting a couple weeks. The book will be available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble by Tuesday, June 26th.

Can’t wait to hear what you all think! Thanks for the enthusiastic response!

The Quest for a New Patronage

My Director of Marketing helped me come up with this tonight. He’s a useful man to know, I’ll say that much.

There are a few things you can count on in fantasy novels: The hero is brave and strong, he always beats the monster, every quest is an adventure, and magic is a useful tool for changing the world.

Unfortunately, reality isn’t always as reliable. The hero might just be an author. The monster might be a stupid and dangerous system propped up by the rich and powerful. The quest might be to get a master work of art into the hands of those who can enjoy it.

But magic…magic is always a useful tool for changing the world. And art is magic. It’s magic you can take part in whether you’re a lover of the arts or a creator yourself.

You may not be able to conjure living fire or will yourself halfway around the world, but you still have the power to battle an evil monster that devours the free expression of art. That monster is called copyright. Together we can beat it, and fill the world with a magic only art can bring.

Please visit this link to see how. Stand with us, hero.

That’s going in the back of Taming Fire and The Dragonswarm for the next couple weeks. Think it’ll spark some interest?