Reviews, Part 29

1) The person writing at “The Entropy Pump” seems to think that Ray’s successes in the first couple books show that he’s a “million-to-one snowflake” and disapproves.

2) Paolo Gabriel V. Chikiamco writes a very interesting (and positive) review of Child of Fire at Fantasy Faction: “While the characters are the heart of the novel, and the reason why I enjoyed it so much the first time I read it, what I grew to appreciate in subsequent readings is the way that Connolly manages to both hew to and eschew a tried and tested fantasy formula.

3) LiveJournaler Zornhau really enjoyed it: “It’s what you’d get if James Ellroy spent a month reading Lovecraft. Macho. Dystopian. Touching. Disturbing. The horror is horror, but the heroes go up against it and gain not entirely futile victories.

4) Alice at All there is… and the rest of it liked Child of Fire: “I like the main character, Ray Lilly. He changes, almost against his will over the course of the book. It’s a matter of regaining a moral compass. He doesn’t necessarily want to be a better person, but he knows he has to. I will definitely read the rest of the series.

5) Garrett at The Ranting Dragon gives Child of Fire a big thumbs up: “This novel is an exhilarating addition to the urban fantasy genre.

6) Bill Martell, the screenwriter at Sex in a Submarine, really liked Circle of Enemies: “I really liked that this is Ray dealing with people from his past – that made this more than just an entertaining story. It deals with lost loves and ex-friends and guilt and remorse and every messy friendship situation you’ve ever had.” It’s nice when a reader really sees what I was trying.

7) Drew Bittner at SFRevu gives Circle of Enemies a “Recommended”: “Harry Connolly delivers another high-powered and fast-paced adventure, with a great protagonist in Ray Lilly.

Reviews, part 28

1) Owlcat Mountain thought Circle of Enemies was the best Twenty Palaces book yet: “The unique system of magic, the complex characters, and the fresh and vibrant plotline all combine to form one of the summer’s best fantasy novels.

2) Dean Fetzer liked both Game of Cages and Child of Fire enough to use the word “genius”: “Okay, if you don’t like anything fantastical or supernatural, my advice would be to look away now. But you’ll be missing good reads. Your loss.

3) Samantha Holloway at the NY Journal of Books liked Circle of Enemies quite a bit. “It’s noir made vital again with really strange monsters. It’s a thriller almost totally lacking the usual obsession with the technical details of the weapons, leaving more space for thrills. It’s one man against the dark with only a paper knife and woefully little education. And it’s addictively compelling.

4) Beth at Library Chicken also liked Circle of Enemies: “It’s a gripping combination of characters and situation, and finishing the last book makes me want to start the series all over again.

5) Michael B. Sullivan also also liked Circle of Enemies: “But if you’re looking for a dark, action-and-investigation oriented modern day fantasy series, nobody else is writing books quite like Harry Connolly, and you should check out Child of Fire.

6) Charlaine Harris says nice things about my books: “I think Connolly’s books are startlingly original and suspenseful, and I recommend them all highly.” (Which is very nice! I expect I’ll have to update that link very soon, though)

7) K.C. Shaw at Skunk Cat Book Reviews thought Circle of Enemies was the best book yet: “Connolly’s monsters would freak the hell out of Lovecraft.

The trailer script revealed

As promised, here is the actual script I wrote for the trailer. You can see the similarities and the differences.

What’s that? You missed my post last night with the full trailer embedded? You hate Vimeo? Well, here’s your chance to watch it on YouTube:

Anyway, you can see there are quite a few differences, to put it mildly. The guys at Wyrd told me straight out to write whatever I wanted–to not hold back at all–and they would figure out what they could or couldn’t do.

Well, dangling from the hole in the world wasn’t going to happen, and neither was the Molotov cocktail. There were some other things that were shot but didn’t make the final cut, like Catherine’s only line.

And there was other stuff that the guys at Wyrd just grabbed and ran with, like the floating storm, the confrontation with the guy drawing the sigil, and the final shot, which the director rightly changed from a punch to the ghost knife. Not to mention, thank god they changed the way Annalise is introduced. ::slaps forehead::

A note about formatting: This isn’t “correct” script formatting, because Christ this is a blog post and it’s 10:50 at night and I don’t want to go nuts making a fake screenplay. Also, I cheated the format for my own purposes by using two columns–why not, right? I didn’t have to follow any formatting rules! It was my money!

Plus, for those reading this on my main blog, my nifty WordPress theme puts a gray bg on part of it. Just pretend that didn’t happen and we’ll both be happier.

For folks who haven’t read a script before, character names are ALL CAPS the first time they’re introduced. The INT or EXT mark a new location in the script, and making the first few words in a line ALL CAPS also designates a new location or shot, esp in a montage like this.

Here’s the script behind the cut. more »

The full Twenty Palaces trailer is now live

Previously, I’d posted a teaser trailer for my Twenty Palaces books, but we’re finally ready to share the whole thing. This version includes all the special effects, characters and short scenes from Circle of Enemies (not spoilery), Catherine Little, Charles Hammer, the ghost knife…

And of course, Annalise doing some damage.

Here you go:

Full Twenty Palaces Trailer from Harry Connolly on Vimeo.

Swear to god, the guys at Wyrd did a fantastic job on this. Above and beyond, really. If you follow that link to their site, you can find out more about their award-winning genre documentaries, including H.P. LOVECRAFT: FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN.

Hey, if you like the video, please do let other people know about it. Almost forgot: if I can work out the formatting, I’ll post the original trailer script tomorrow, so folks can see the differences and how things change.

Reviews, part 27

1) Google Alerts didn’t offer this link, but I found it on my own. Marshall Payne really, really didn’t like Child of Fire: “… the overuse of Dick and Jane sentences and lack of expressive writing bothered me…

2) Over at the blog for Black Gate magazine, “GrueCrow” liked Game of Cages very much: “Catherine and Ray have been dispatched to botch the sale of a predator, who is being held in the “cage” of the title. Of course this doesn’t turn out to be as simple as planned, and the plot deepens in complexity and bounds along from there on without leaving any holes to fall though.

3) Christine Rains liked both books: “This is dark and gritty urban fantasy at its best.

4) Dreamwidth user rushthatspeaks liked Game of Cages but thought it was too similar to Child of Fire” “Still, this is perfectly competent fantasy of a kind I would call ‘urban’ except that it’s kind of semi-rural, with an enjoyable Twin Peaks vibe.

5) Harriet Klausner liked Circle of Enemies: “Fast-paced and loaded with action, Ray’s timely and angst ethical dilemma (think of drones in the war against terrorism) makes for a great tale.” But she calls the book the “final Twenty Palaces urban fantasy thriller.” Does she know something I don’t??? :)

6) Owlcat Mountain liked Game of Cages: “Harry Connolly’s first novel, Child of Fire, was named one of the best books of the year by Publishers Weekly. And indeed, Connolly proved worthy of the honor—for a first-time author, he showed remarkable skill. With his second novel, Game of Cages, he continues the tale of Ray Lilly, an ex-con swept up in a world of magic and danger.

7) Jaime at Ruled by Books liked Child of Fire: “The characters that Connolly creates, most especially his main character (Ray Lilly), are outstanding. Ray has a very clear voice, which is difficult in the first person point of view common in the Urban Fantasy genre. However, Connolly quickly differentiates him from his peers in the genre.

You guys, OMG

I just watched a rough cut of the Twenty Palaces trailer (no, I will not share) and it looks fantastic!

There are no effects yet, and the cut is still rough, right? Obviously. But it looks fantastic.

Sooooo excited!

Added later: I watched it at home with the sound, and it’s 50x more awesome. You guys, seriously.

Fun with Bookscan

Did you know that Amazon.com lets authors look at the Bookscan numbers for their books? Of course you did. Did you know that Bookscan, which shows a fair portion of an author’s sales, doesn’t show them all? Probably.

But it’s still fun to look, right? Especially if you’re on deadline and have a massive amount of writing to do, and even less time than usual to do it.

Anyway, for quite a while the sales of Game of Cages and Child of Fire were going along at a steady pace. The numbers weren’t fantastic; HBO isn’t going to dump that Martin guy’s show for something made from mine, but it was steady and–best of all–not declining.

Then I did that guest stint at Charles Stross’s blog and those Bookscan numbers really jumped… for the length of time I was blogging there. After, they sloped back down.

But lately they’ve risen again, fairly steadily. I mean, the numbers are much nicer than before.

And I have no idea why. Am I being hilarious on Twitter? (all the spambots following me think so) This blog isn’t getting significantly more hits, and Google Alerts isn’t pointing me at any new reviews.

Which just goes to demonstrate that it’s true that authors don’t have a lot of control over books sale. Guest blogging did pretty well for me. This second surge? No clue. As far as I can tell, it has nothing to do with me or anything I’m doing.

Good news revealed

A week ago (for you guys–I’m writing this the same day) I told you I had some good news that I wasn’t free to talk about yet. Well, I’m told the 29th is the day, so here’s the good news.

The Science Fiction Book Club is going to put out an omnibus edition of Child of Fire, Game of Cages, and Circle of Enemies as a Main Selection for their September catalog. The book will be called The Wooden Man: A Twenty Palaces Omnibus and the catalog will reach book club members in mid-August (although the book itself won’t ship until after 8/30/11… aka, the release date for Circle of Enemies. It’s also going to be offered online through the BOMC2.

It’s also going to be a “Sliver of Night Selection,” which is meant to highlight especially good urban fantasy novels, which means the omnibus will include a black satin ribbon bookmark.

Fancy! Almost too fancy for a scruffy guy like me, but I’m very happy they like the books. I hope their readers like them even more.

Yay!

Reviews, Part 26

1) Wayne (@skyfall_ranger) liked the Twenty Palaces books quite a bit: “Twenty Palaces is what you get if you take fairly high magic Lovecraft and make an action movie. Swimming in blood. And on fire.

2) LiveJournaler brooke_hok had a mixed reaction: “Basically they’re fun, fast-paced books that you’ll probably enjoy if you like gritty Urban Fantasy with a mystery element.

3) Bob Walch at bookideas.com gave Child of Fire four out of five stars: “If you like fantasy grounded in reality with some fascinating twists and turns coupled with edgy characters give this latest Harry Connolly novel a try.

4) Douglas Justice (aka @TushHog5 — we don’t judge!) liked both books: “Just finished your books – in fact A game of cages last night …and loved ‘em!”

5) Author Nicholas Kaufmann liked Game of Cages, but not as much as Child of Fire. “I’m enjoying this series immensely, and can’t wait for the third installment, Circle of Enemies, to come out this summer.” He’s not alone in thinking the cast of characters was too big. Much of the editorial work I did on this book involved identifying and delineating the characters.

6) Tim Gray (aka @timgray101) had this to say about Game of Cages: “A weird beastie and lots of people having bad days. Fun stuff. Kind of” I understand just what he means.

7) LiveJournaler jpsorrow (aka author Joshua Palmatier) liked Child of Fire enough to seek out Game of Cages at some point but he found the first third rough going. “… once the reader was given something to focus in on–a plot thread that was clear and easy to follow–it drew me in and kept me reading.” Folks in the comment section have quite divergent opinions on the quality of the book. He’s not the first reader to be somewhat disengaged by the first part of the book, where Ray and Annalise are not sure what’s going on in Hammer Bay and poke around trying to get to the bottom of things. It’s a pretty common storytelling style in mysteries, but quite a few readers didn’t like it; maybe it’s a matter of execution.

Put in a 22 hour day yesterday

Ah, the joys of parenting a child with sleep issues.

Without getting into too much detail without his permission, as I mentioned before the time change hit him very hard. Yesterday he couldn’t get up until noon and last night I couldn’t get him to sleep until after 3:30 am. If it were my sleep schedule that went out of control, I’d set my alarm, get up super-early, be tired all day and go to be slightly early. Fixed!

For him, we may be forced to let him stay up all night one night so he can turn himself around that way.

On top of that, we’re squabbling over his assigned reading. I’ve given him a book that’s a second-world medieval-ish fantasy and he’s treating it like a plate of bitter carrots (“It has castles. I don’t like castle books.”)

Aside from the stress of having a fantasy writer’s child refuse to read traditional fantasy [1] there’s also the idea that he doesn’t believe that I, as his homeschooling parent, have the right to assign reading to him (book-length reading, at least). This… doesn’t work for me, as you might expect. If he’s griping about books written for popular readers of the modern era (with fantasy elements, which he loves) how’s he going to respond to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer?

Obediently, if I have anything to say about the matter. Of course, it’ll help if he’s well-rested and has been fed healthy food that he likes. We’ll see.

Finally, I got my royalty statement for the middle part of 2010 and… well, those numbers could be better.

[1] IT READS THE HOBBIT BEFORE BEDTIME. IT DOES THIS WHENEVER IT’S TOLD

Reviews, part 25

1) Josh Albritton (@CapnIndigo on Twitter) liked the first book a little: “Holy shit that was an amazing wild ride! Can’t wait to read the rest!

2) On his “lackluster blog,” Gary Furash really liked Child of Fire: “… another urban dark fantasy novel and, surprisingly, even darker and more noir than [Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim].

3) On Twitter, Thadeous Cooper says he tore through Child of Fire. “Great book, needs more long term characters though.

4) On Strange Horizons, William Mingin has many, many, (many) criticisms of Game of Cages, but ultimately calls it compelling, stating: “Besides the pull of sheer event, story, or vicarious identification with risk and triumph, there’s an ineffable quality of style in page-turners, a quality of compulsiveness that some writers evoke—unpredictable, hard to pin down, and unfairly distributed. Anyone experienced in reading the fiction of event knows there’s “good stuff” and not so good, even if the difference between the two isn’t always easy to pinpoint. Connolly writes the good stuff.” That’s sort of good, I guess. Anyway, I knew the big cast of characters would be difficult for a lot of readers. I learn and move on.

5) There have been several kind words from comments in my last thread on Charles Stross’s blog. No quote, but there are quite a few nice ones. See?

6) On Twitter, @timgray101 (aka Tim Gray) liked it enough to read more: “CoF goes from location to location uncovering stuff and having action/peril scenes. 80s action paperback/Call of Cthulhu scenario/car chase.

7) Noel Rappin put both Child of Fire and Game of Cages on his “Best of the rest, 2010″ list: “The first book, I think, works very well. It’s creepy — a town’s children are dying one by one, and as they do, everybody forgets they ever existed. I get kind of creeped out just typing that.” He’s less fond of book two (although it still makes the list) and of Ray’s nicknames for characters whose names he doesn’t know.

Reviews, part 24

1) Chris at the King of Elfland’s Second Cousin liked Child of Fire and Game of Cages enough to write a three-part series on his blog to examine the various characteristics of episodic novel series. Part one is on characters. Part two is on plots. Part three is on the hero’s emotional journey. Pretty cool.

2) K. Bird Lincoln at St. Helen’s Bookshop give Game of Cages four stars out of five; she liked it even though it’s not her usual favorite. “This Book’s Food Designation Rating: Chips and salsa, for the way that you start eating them, and then look up a moment later and realize you’ve eaten the whole bag and your mouth is smarting from the spicy salsa.” I love chips and salsa.

3) DJ Weaver likes Game of Cages enough to award it four “spiders”: “Ray Lilly is an unlikely protagonist in this all-out battle to control or kill the strange predator and he does it with all the finesse of a ne’er-do-well James Bond.

4) On Twitter, @karmamule liked both books very much: “Look forward to more!

5) Vicki Brown, also on Twitter, said “Intense. I enjoy reading about that world, but wouldn’t want to live in it!

6) Three stars from Rich Braselle, who calls Game of Cages “Pretty decent stuff.”

7) Ronronia Adramelek at Science-Fantasiction didn’t care for the books one bit: “No character development, no plot, no background, no rithm.[sic] Boring.

Waddayano. I’m a Google ebooks author

Apparently Child of Fire is available in the Google ebook store. They even have sample pages from the beginning of the book. If you look at it as “scanned pages” (iow, laid out the way the printed book is) you can read up to page 37. If you set the sample to “flowing text” you can read a little farther, and can change the font, font sizes, and line spacing too. It’s pretty nice. I haven’t had the opportunity to read a book on an ereader; is this what it looks like, usually?

Interestingly, Game of Cages isn’t available for sale there. I’m not sure why. Maybe it just takes time to load the books in.

Reviews, part 23

1) Charles Stross gives both Child of Fire and Game of Cages a thumbs up. “More, dammit!

2) LiveJournaler Zornhau liked Child of Fire very much. “Imagine James Elroy characters on a fast-paced, shit-kicking mission in a Stephen King small town horror scenario, underpinned by a cosmology so coldly alien that by comparison the Lovecraft Mythos seems anthropomorphic and anthropocentric…

3) LiveJournaler Spartezda enjoyed Game of Cages a great deal. “Urban fantasy with smart interesting opposition for the MC, fast-paced action, a clear-eyed take on the issues it raises, and an intriguing magic system that we’re slowly learning more about.

4) Game of Cages received a terrific review from Colleen R. Cahill for the Fast Forward Contemporary Science Fiction video podcast. “Fans of Jim Butcher and Dean Knootz will find Game of Cages a great book, with plenty of excitement and thrills; this is one worth ignoring the cover and diving in.” That’s a link to the direct transcript of the review, but there’s no video to watch. Apparently, this is from October, but I didn’t know about it until Google Alerts found the blog post announcing it last week. They do have an interview with Jane Linskold still, which is pretty cool.

5) Priscilla at Cult of Lincoln really enjoyed Child of Fire. “Superb. I love the costliness of the magic system–it brings a freshness into the urban fantasy genre.” But I had to turn to Google to find out who Kristin Chenowith is.

6) Former SFBC editor and current book-a-day blogger (among other things) Andrew Wheeler gave Game of Cages an excellent review a short while ago, and now, in his end-of-year roundup, he’s named that book best of September over some pretty stiff competition: “… an urban fantasy that short-circuts miles of the standard justifications and romanticizations of the genre.

7) Rich Brassell calls Game of Cagespretty decent stuff.” It’s another instance of a reader looking forward to the next book in a series when they only gave it three out of five stars. I wouldn’t follow any series that got fewer than four stars, but there you go.

8 Jan 2011, 5:20am
The outside world:
by

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ZOMG! It’s all real!!

And it’s already happened!!!

IMG_8322

The blue sapphire dog has already come to Earth! To the U.S.A.! It has taken control of this company and is spreading its influence to the rest of the population! We can’t deny the evidence of our own eyes!

Run for your lives!!!

“If every other writer jumped off a bridge, would you?” (repost after WP problems)

Don’t mind me. I’m just hanging up this dirty laundry. It needs airing.

You know how I discover that the Hugo and Nebula nomination season has opened? Dozens of writers start listing their yearly sales to say “Here’s my eligible stuff!”

Which is fine. It’s important to them and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. And really, Pikachu forbid that I or anyone else tell people what they write on their own blogs, which I choose to read without paying a penny.

But I’m not going to do that, not this year or any, because the sort of books I write don’t win those awards. And that’s cool. I think of Hugo and Nebula awards as things of importance within the science fiction community and I’ve never really been part of that. [1] It’s like seeing the BAFTA winners, I guess; I’m happy for those people in that foreign country.

It does prompt me to look back over the year, though. Game of Cages came out at the end of August, of course, and it’s been doing pretty well. I also took part in A Glimpse of Darkness. But that’s it.

Many of the other writers I see out there had a couple of novels come out in 2010 along with a string of short stories. I envy them their productivity. Me, I had a tab open on this computer for three days which held an article about being productive and getting things done, but I couldn’t find time to read it, so I just closed it. (Not kidding).

So, my 2010? It’s been a frustrating year for me, writing-wise. The publishing end of things has been great–Del Rey has been doing a terrific job with my books, and I was glad that Child of Fire got a second printing.

But the first third of the year was spent finishing up Circle of Enemies, seven months past deadline. Yikes. I did not want to be that writer, and yet, there I was. I think it’s a solid book, maybe the best thing I’ve ever written, but it took so much time…

After that I spent months working on a proposal for The Buried King, a Harry-Bosch-in-fantasyland rhino killer, done my way. But there was something wrong with it–I’m not even sure what. I knew it would be difficult to translate a procedural to a second-world setting (a major part of the appeal of a police procedural is iron clad research and a glimpse into a privileged world, but how does that work when the author is making it all up?) but I guess I didn’t the the solutions in place. It didn’t get very far.

Then I went to work on A Key, An Egg, An Unfortunate Remark and… Jesus, what am I thinking here? Do people really want an urban fantasy with a 65-ish year old heroine? Who’s a committed pacifist?

I took a whack at the story once already, but none of it held together. right now I have, here beside me at the coffee shop, nearly 200 pages of manuscript for The Auntie Mame Files, about 30K words. I’m about to drop it into the mail for my agent.

If she can’t sell it, 2010 will have been a total wash, writing wise, except for the short chapter I wrote for A Glimpse of Darkness.

What the hell, right? It’s what I did. Hopefully, when the end of 2011 rolls around, I’ll be able to look back on a more productive year.

[1] That’s not meant as a condemnation. I’m just not much of a socializer

Well, this post took a while to put together.

The book trailer shoot for my Twenty Palaces series is still ongoing. A couple weeks back, the good folks at Wyrd posted more set pix and frame grabs from the shoot. Pics behind the cut. more »

Reviews, part 22

1) An anonymous reviewer at Daily Ebooks Reviews gives Child of Fire four and a half stars (out of five, it seems). “I found Child of Fire to be both an accomplished debut novel and an extremely enjoyable read.

That’s a much more positive response than the Game of Cages review from last month.

2) Dr. Henry Leon Lazarus (pseudonym? real?) at Philadelphia’s Weekly Press liked both Child of Fire and Game of Cages: “Only the tattoos that protect him from bullets, his magic knife that can slice through anything, and grit and determination can keep Ray alive in this solid thriller. Impossible-to-put-down. I liked the tale well enough to find the first, Child of Fire (paper), at Amazon for my kindle software. It was just as much fun.

3) Josh Vogt at Examiner.com gives five stars to both Game of Cages and Child of Fire. “A rare and greatly enjoyable set of reads, with exceptional potential for the next installments.” Nice!

4) David Marshall at Thinking about books weighs in: “In many ways, I think Game of Cages rather better than Child of Fire.” NB: He liked the first one quite a bit.

5) Charlaine Harris, being Charlaine Harris, has read and posted about Circle of Enemies declaring it “just as action-packed and thoughtful as the first two.

6) Drey of Drey’s Library gave Game of Cages a Very Good rating: “Harry Connolly keeps you on your toes from the first page until the very last word as you ride shotgun with Ray in this rough-and-tumble read.

7) Tegeus at Mare Nostrum calls Child of Fire a “This is a definite keeper and is recommended for fans of the Dresden Files and Anita Blake.

Happy Black Friday, people

You know what makes a great Christmas present? Books. A mass market paperback will even fit inside a stocking. That’s a true fact.

I’m not saying which books you should give as gifts. No way. I’m just pointing out their excellent gift-appropriateness.

  • The prequel to Child of Fire: see here for more details

  • Starred review from Publishers Weekly

  • Starred review from Publishers Weekly

  • Named to Publishers Weekly's "Best 100 Books of 2009" list. Get the audiobook here.

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