2 Dec 2013, 6:18am
King Khan making books reading:

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It’s a Cyber-Monday Non-surprise!

The day when everyone, supposedly, starts their holiday shopping online. Try not to be surprised by what I write next:

I have a new book out that you can order.

The short version is that it’s the pulp adventure game tie-in I wrote. If you’re reading this on my blog, the cover is just to your right at the top of the sidebar. If not, click through that link: it’s full of pulp adventure nonsense like shrinking beams, infra-purple light, Aztec mummies, and a certain giant ape movie from 1933. Fun!

If you already have that one, don’t forget that I have a page full of books for kids recommended by my own son. Nothing in that list is there because I thought it should go there; everyone got the thumbs up from the incredibly fussy kid who sleeps down the hall from me. As they used to say: Kid-tested, kid-approved.

What’s more, there are new entries on the list. Check it out.

1 Dec 2013, 2:49pm
evergreen posts King Khan:

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The King Khan post

King Khan cover

This is the post for my latest book: Spirit of the Century presents: King Khan. Frankly, this has been a little late in going onto my blog because the book published in the middle of my Kickstarter, and it became available at different times in different vendors and formats. Anyway, I think at this point it’s available everywhere.

What’s it about?

Spirit of the Century is an upbeat pulp fiction adventure setting about heroes (and villains) born on the change of the century who embody certain aspects of the century. The game materials feature wacky adventures against villains like an army of cloned intelligent gorillas, Ebenezer Scrooge, and “Der Blitzmann, Electrical Madman.” There’s magic, superscience gadgets, and whatever goofy thing you want to throw together.

KING KHAN was initiated as one of the stretch goals for this Kickstarter, and it features the good guy version of those intelligent gorillas as the hero. Here’s the pitch:

Professor Khan, learned ape, has traveled through time, fought psychic dinosaurs and shark-men, visited Atlantis, and battled across the sands of Mars. He has seen it all-—until an arrow shooting out of the sky sends him to the strangest place yet…


The story features shrinking beams, Hollywood phonies, Aztec mummy princesses, corrupt LAPD cops, and super-science archery (all the kids love archery these days, don’t they?)

It’s not nearly as grim or downbeat as the Twenty Palaces novels, and for me it was a challenge to write a book very quickly, keeping the pace as fast as possible and filling the book with fun ideas.

Sample chapters are available on the publisher’s website, and if you buy the paperback from them directly, you get the ebook, too.

Check it out.

9 Oct 2013, 9:01am
making books:

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Yesterday was book day for me?

Honestly, I thought KING KHAN was going to be published two weeks from now, but it’s available on Amazon.com right now with a pub date of yesterday.

At Barnes & Noble, the ebook is available now but the paper book isn’t.

It’s confusing!

In any event, the book is already out. If you want both print and ebook, the best bet is probably to buy directly from the publisher where can get multiple formats for one price. Regardless, all the ebooks are DRM-free. I’m going to work up a post for the book sometime this morning, but hey, new book!

So. Many. Things. To. Do.

Lots going on here. I’m going to do a brief recap to share news and try to catch up.

1) If you’ve been waiting for my rpg game tie-in novel to be released, the publisher is selling it on their website right now. KING KHAN. If you buy the paper version, you get the digital version gratis.

2) Not an hour ago I put my wife on a bus to the airport. She’s spending three weeks back east to attend a family wedding, make some tough decisions about her late father’s artwork, and generally get some time with her siblings. There was a lot to do to get her ready and out the door, but now I’m a single parent again, so things family/house obligations are not exactly going to shrink.

3) If you missed the announcement yesterday, my Kickstarter passed the $30,000/ 300% of goal. Which is a lot of whoa and thank you and I hardly know what to do with myself.

4) If you haven’t backed but are thinking about it, one of the stretch goals is based on new backers that show up starting this week. I’ve been talking about growing my audience for a long time, so new readers are welcome

5) As a followup to number 4, my son has made some pixel art to demonstrate the progress of the stretch goals, but I need to fix it up and post it before we actually reach the goals. Time is flying by

6) I owe a ton of responses to emails and things. I’m sorry. I’ll catch up as quickly as possible.

Now, back to working on my stuff.

24 Sep 2013, 11:26am

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Want a free copy of one of my books?

Are you a reader who writes reviews on your blog? Or maybe Goodreads? Or somewhere else?

Well, you can get an early copy of KING KHAN just for the asking, and when you do, you’ll also get a copy of Stephen Blackmoore’s KHAN OF MARS, the prequel to mine. That’s two books about the adventures of a fussy Oxford professor who’s also a gorilla.

All you have to do is sign up at the publisher’s site before September 30th. They’ll pick 15 names from the people who contact them, and send out both books.

You guys know Stephen Blackmoore’s work, right? His debut novel was one of Kirkus’s “Best of 2012.”

Free books, you guys. Check it out.

I know I keep promising to talk about the stretch goals for this, but I just need a little more time to nail things down.

26 Jul 2013, 8:16am
making books:

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Look what arrived last night! My newest book!







The insides are even prettier, but you’ll have to buy a copy to see those. You can pre-order it now from:


Or, you can win one of the copies in that box. I’ll be holding a giveaway AFTER Stephen Blackmoore’s Khan novel comes out in August. (King Khan is a standalone sequel to his Khan of Mars.) Of course, you can order his book too: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

In case you don’t know Stephen’s work, his debut urban fantasy novel City of Lost Things was one of Kirkus’s Best of 2012. Recommended!

11 Apr 2013, 9:46am
personal The outside world:

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I have something you don’t, board game edition

According to the UPS tracking website, sometime today a person in a brown uniform will pitch a box at my front door and run off without seeing where it lands, and inside that box will be a copy of Race to Adventure.

That’s my Kickstarter reward arriving, but the good news is that you can order one for yourself if you like. If you don’t know what that is, it’s the board game based on the rpg that also spawned my next novel, KING KHAN which means that the protagonist of my book should be a playable character.


After a rough weekend, a new book is released

This past weekend was pretty rough. The one bright spot was lunch on Saturday to catch up with an old friend, but the rest was a litany of minor difficulties: tiny black ants came through the wall that divides my bathroom from a neighboring unit, the section of book I’m writing “feels” wrong while I push through anyway, I’m getting phantom food reactions, and my son had one of his irregular bouts of insomnia which meant he was up in the ass-hours of the morning and punchy through most of the day.

It gets to the point where a guy can’t even steal time to post on his blog.

I have a post brewing about peoples’ tendency to see fantasy as a conservative genre and another about the interesting Amanda Palmer TEDTalk that’s been going around, but both have fallen victim to the demands of making wordcount for THE WAY INTO MAGIC.

But I do want to announce the release of this:


Yes, the Spirit of the Century tie-in novel I wrote for Evil Hat has been released as an ebook, but only to the people who backed the Kickstarter. If you’re one of those people, you can download the book from here. If you didn’t back the project when it first went live, you’ll have to wait a bit for it to hit the stores.

Now, I know there are lots of folks out there who could find a way to torrent a copy or whatever so they have a chance to read it right away. If you do, please consider buying it anyway when it hits the stores, maybe as a gift or something.


4 Feb 2013, 6:37am
making books:

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Follow up to my new cover art post

Over the weekend I posted the cover art to my next novel. Here you can see it without the text, here you can see the preliminary pencil sketch.

Hey you guys, it’s the artist’s web site. Check out the other work he’s done. Every link in the page opens in a new tab, which is a little bit something but check it out.

On my Facebook page, there are currently 140 people who “like” me. Basically, they’re there to keep up with what I’m doing.

Unfortunately, the link to the post about that cover art was only seen by 62 of those people. Less than half. If these folks who are interested in hearing about my books want to actually hear about them, I’m gonna have to pay.

I’m not the first to say this, but this is stupid. If you want to put in a “promote” button, promote beyond the people who are already on my “like” list. Not to the people who have already signed up.

More and more I’m thinking that I should disconnect from FB (as a writer, at least) so that people won’t think they’re getting the latest news when they’re not. I’m becoming increasing convinced that it’s better to have nothing to do with a social media company than to make do with defective service.

I mentioned in the blog post that KING KHAN will be “upbeat and family-friendly,” and right away someone asked me if that meant they could hand it to their seven-year-old.

That was a bit of a stumper. There’s nothing in the book I wouldn’t show to my 11yo, but seven? There are hopping vampires, dirty cops, and period-appropriate (I hope) racism. At one point the action goes to a Sunset Strip nightclub taking part in the Pansy Craze. There are a handful of lechers, an island populated with beautiful women where men are kept in cages, and one mostly-elided sex scene. There is punching. There is shooting. There is stabbing.

I don’t think there’s anything in the book a kid can’t read, but a seven-year-old kid? The only way to know would be for a parent or guardian to read the book first to judge for themselves. Maybe I’ll do what my friends at Jet City Improv do, and change “family-friendly” to “TV-clean.”

2 Feb 2013, 6:16am
making books:

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The cover for my next novel… revealed!

Here’s the cover art for my new novel:


It’s one of the stretch goals for this project, a series of novels based on the Spirit of the Century role-playing game.

WHO is that HUGE MYSTERIOUS FIGURE reaching for Professor Khan?

WHERE could he be climbing that would be such a STRANGE ARCHITECTURAL JUMBLE?

WHY in the heck is he dressed in a zoot suit?

Yes, it’s Professor Khan: scientific genius, Oxford professor, unacknowledged war hero, interplanetary warrior, and gorilla. He also gets a styling new outfit and an adventure that takes him from his beloved England all the way to the big studios of 1930′s Hollywood.

This was a fun book to write because it had to be upbeat and family-friendly. Who knew I had it in me?

I don’t have a release date yet, but when I do I’ll post it here.

Look at this piece of art

I ended up doing a fair bit of blogging over the weekend. Most of it was jokey, silly stuff, but not all. There’s at least one post about failing at writing.

I mention it because I know people like to read about my shame.

What I didn’t mention was that I turned in KING KHAN to Evil Hat. The first round of (minor) revisions have already come back and I’m working on those today.

In the meantime, I have something nice for you guys: My in-laws are artists, in case you didn’t know, and my sister-in-law has just started a tumblr for her work. Check out the first painting she’s showing there.

I have failed my book in the worst possible way

Today was supposed to be a chill fucking day. My agent has the revised version of EPIC FANTASY WITH NO DULL PARTS. Last night I sent KING KHAN, my game tie-in novel, to Evil Hat. I hope they like it because Christmas is coming and I could use the money. Next I’m supposed to work on EPIC SEQUEL WITH NO DULL PARTS and a Twenty Palaces short story I’ve been kicking around.

But today was for relaxing, people. Today was meant to chill and read through an old manuscript.

It was just about a year ago that I put the “final” touches on A KEY, AN EGG, AN UNFORTUNATE REMARK and sent it to my agent. After reading my revised draft, she didn’t want to try to sell it; she didn’t think it was ready.

Some writers would be all outraged by that, but I shelved the book and worked on something else. I knew I could revisit it later after taking some time away from it.

Today, I took a printed copy out to the coffee shop to give it a read.

It’s really a failure. Like, full of an amazing amount of fail. It’s so off that I have a hard time reading it. It’s embarrassing.

What happened is pretty clear: I had something in my head that did not get onto the page. The tone is wrong, the POV has no specific voice, the important emotional moments glide right by without any effort to acknowledge their power…

Fuck. I had this idea for a book in my head and I thought I was writing it. I wasn’t. Maybe I loved the idea of the book too much, because I didn’t take the time to address the problems those ideas would present. Maybe I’m hadn’t studied other works with that tone carefully enough.

Maybe the problem was all that and more. I’m going to have to think on this carefully. Someday. For right now I’m putting this book aside and working on something else.

Damn. Just when I become too confident, I find new reasons for humility. What the hell. It’ll just make me a better writer tomorrow.

5 Sep 2012, 7:06am

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What we talk about when we talk about gorillas who teach at Oxford

Over on the LiveJournal version of yesterday’s post, I had someone say they were surprised to hear that I was working on a project called KING KHAN. I thought, Have I not talked about this?

Let me give you a quick rundown on this project, what it is and what it will be.

Back in April, indie rpg company Evil Hat was having a pretty good run on a Kickstarter. They were trying to fund a trilogy of books based on their Spirit of the Century game, which is a pulp-adventure game with an emphasis on the 1920-30s, and it was doing well enough that they set some stretch goals. One of those was for me to write a book featuring a particular reader favorite character: Professor Khan, an intelligent gorilla who teaches at Oxford.

After some discussion, we decided that I was going to write a book that had Professor Khan visit Los Angeles in the studio era. There’s a mysterious death, a stolen weird-science maguffin, and lots of high-strangeness of the lightning gun/shrink beam/hopping ghost variety.

And it’s funny. At least, it’s supposed to be funny. There’s action, naturally, but I’m hoping the characters and situations will be amusing and uplifting. Did I mention that it stars a gorilla who teaches at Oxford?

Anyway, I’m nearly finished with the first draft (it’ll be a short book, probably 70K or less) and, after a polish, will send it off and get back to EPIC FINALE WITH NO DULL PARTS. No rest for the weary.

16 Jul 2012, 8:40am
making books:

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I write with Scrivener, too

Charles Stross blogged about writing a novel in Scrivener and I thought it was an interesting read. Okay, I skimmed the part where he talked about LaTeX because Jesus, what the hell is that even and I pretty much don’t need to know.

Anyway, he’s right about many things: there is no way to do the track changes thing that people use MSWord for. That means I either have to a) switch over to Scrivener to type out all the changes I want to accept in MSWord, or b) import the edited Word document into a new Scrivener project (or into the old project, which I haven’t done because .scriv files are already HUGE), or c) accept that the .scriv file will not be the most recent file.

I’ve been doing a) which is annoying but feels satisfying, too, like keeping a tidy desk.

Also, I don’t have the same issues with the compiling process. Yes, there’s a helluva learning curve. Yes, it’s annoying as hell. Still, with enough trial-and-error I was able to create a handful of very clean epub files, without any hand-coding at all.

The floating word count window? AWESOME. I seriously love it, especially the way I can set a due date for the draft and it will tell me how many words I have to do per day to make that goal. I can even go in and mark certain days of the week as non-writing days. That’s good. I wrote about that some time ago: You can see the progress bar in this screen cap post.

Something else I like is that I can import web pages into the research section. I can dl the Wikipedia page for “Pansy Craze” or “Samurai” then while I’m writing (my internet is always disabled when I write) I can easily

Finally, one thing Charlie doesn’t mention is one of my favorite things: Custom Meta-data. See, when I was writing the Twenty Palaces books, I drove myself to exhaustion trying to keep track of what Ray had in his pockets: Did he have money? How much? Did he still have a gun? Whose was it? Had he stolen a car? What make again?

It was crazy-making and involved a lot of tedious fact-checking back through the book. But! With Custom Meta-data I could easily make a line for “Money” and keep track. Or “Gun”

In Epic Fantasy With No Dull Parts, I used Custom Meta-data to keep track of the two protagonists’ time lines. (They diverge late in the book.) That’s the sort of thing that drove me to distraction in earlier work.

Anyway, Scrivener is way too complicated, but I just ignore all those complicated parts I don’t need, just the way I did with MSWord back in the day. Plus, I’ve figured out the search thing that used to make me nuts.

I’m still working on the first draft for King Khan, and I swear that progress bar thing is really helping my productivity (not to mention the easy access I have to the synopsis). Yesterday’s word count was 3.3K which is huge for me, and today’s was 4K, which is unthinkable. So, you know, pleased.

I Heard Back From My Agent Re: Epic Fantasy With No Dull Parts


She has notes for me (of course) but they are surprisingly light. And there’s no rush.

Can I just let out a huge PHEW! here? It’s sort of an odd book, and I’m glad she’s enthusiastic about it.

Now to work on King Khan so I can start Epic Fantasy With No Dull Parts 2.

4 Apr 2012, 5:57am
making books:

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Two Kickstarters at once

As I write this on 5pm PST on Tuesday, the Kickstarter for the Professor Khan novel (KING KHAN!) I’m planning to write, which needed to reach $25K to be funded, now has fewer than twelve hundred dollars to go.

And it turns out I had the details of the stretch goals wrong in yesterday’s post: Evil Hat has already committed to publishing a stand alone Spirit of the Century novel starring mystic detective Benjamin Hu, written by Brian Clevinger, creator of Atomic Robo comics. I can’t believe I left that out. A $10 pledge would get you an ebook of that novel, too, along with all the others.

Also, BoingBoing did a brief news article on the Mayan-themed anthology I’m in, and now that project has less than fourteen hundred dollars to make its funding goal.

Kickstarter is doing pretty well by me right now.

3 Apr 2012, 9:32am
making books:

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I’m going to write about a gorilla who teaches at Oxford (I hope!)

It’s true. I don’t know if you’ve been following Evil Hat’s Dinopacalypse Kickstarter, but they started with a goal of $5K and blew through that in no time. This is one company that’s really making Kickstarter work for them.

Anyway, the “stretch goals” (projects they’ll fund if they reach funding levels past their original ones) have been pretty cool. At $15K, they committed to a whole trilogy of Dinopacalypse books…

Wait, I haven’t described these books yet, have I? They’re set in the Spirit of the Century game universe, an early 20th century pulp adventure role playing game in which player-characters who protect the world from conqueror apes using technology from lost Atlantis, thwart the schemes of Doctor Scrooge to steal from the poor, destroy death rays, and otherwise take out mad scientists, world conquerors, and evil sorcerers.

The Dinopacalypse books are about Gorilla Khan, conqueror ape, taking over the world with the help of psychic dinosaurs. Beyond that, the stretch goal for $20K is an Amelia Stone novel–she’s a hero who battles monster gangsters in 1930′s Paris–written by C.E. Murphy herself.

And then there’s the $25K goal, which will get you a book written by me. Yep, if the Kickstarter hits that mark, I will write a pulp adventure novel about Professor Khan, a hyper-intelligent gorilla turned Oxford professor and disillusioned “son” of Gorilla Khan. It’ll be set primarily in Hollywood(land) of the time period, along with some fun pulpy stuff thrown in.

And if Evil Hat reaches its stretch goal of $30K, Stephen Blackmoore, the author of the zombie noir City of the Lost, is going to write KHAN OF MARS. I know.

You can read more about the supporter levels and what pledges get you what swag right here in Update #6. A $10 dollar pledge gets you ebooks for all the novels, but for physical books you should read through the various tiers. You can also see artwork, get cool wallpapers of dudes with jet packs shooting pteranodons, etc, etc. Did I mention that the Kickstarter is already above $22K as I write this? Fewer than three thousand dollars in pledges will get this sucker going.

Anyway, I still haven’t settled on a title for intelligent ape in Hollywood novel. KING KHAN? PROFESSOR KHAN TAKES HOLLYWOOD? I dunno. Maybe, after I finish A BLESSING OF MONSTERS and start working on this, I’ll hold a contest.

I know I’m not one to be all rah rah about the projects I’m working on, but this one is definitely exciting.

  • 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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