Roleplay Twenty Palaces!

Last night my Kickstarter hit 925 backers, unlocking Stretch Goal: Monitor, the second to last stretch goal. This morning we reached 1000 backers, which unlocked Stretch Goal, Mask, the very last one.

So I created something new: Stretch Goal: You. I encouraged backers to create their own stretch goals so they could create anything they wanted and share it with the other backers, if we hit their goal.

Already we have an indie composer who has promised 20P music, and…

Fred Hicks and Rob Donoghue have promised that, if we reach 1200 backers, they will expand on the Voidcallers section of the FATE Toolkit to let people role play in a Twenty Palaces-style setting. See here.

I’ve said before that there was no need for me to create a 20P supplement because Voidcallers is already it. But if you want sample stunts, special character creation rules, the whole deal, you probably want to join in on this.

We’ve already gone far, far beyond anything I had a right to expect. Can we manage to hit this goal, too?

I have to run out for a meeting, if you can believe it, but I can’t wait to see how this plays out.

And if you have something you want to share with the other backers, please do.

Progress report

Let’s see if I can briefly cover everything that’s been going on.

First, I’m revamping the Kickstarter page pretty thoroughly. As I mentioned before, I asked some folks with KS experience to check it over and I made a bunch of changes. Then my agent had a look and she told me that I was underselling everything. Like a lot of writers, I’m not the best advocate for my own work. She encouraged me to explain why the books are actually fun instead of, you know, doing the whole “Here’s a thing I wrote you might like it maybe” bit that writers do.

So, revisions. I have new text for the main page ready to go and I’ll be shooting a new video this week. As some of you folks know, I get ugly red blotches on my face when I eat certain foods, so I’m trying to be super careful about every meal until then. I don’t think it would help me make my goal to have leprosy face.

By the way, if you want to know when the Kickstarter launches before anyone else, you should sign up for my newsletter in the form on this page.

The print edition of TWENTY PALACES is still a few weeks off. Everything takes longer than you think it should. That’s the law.

Finally, while the Kindle version of TWENTY PALACES is still only $2.99, there’s a sale price of $5.99 for CHILD OF FIRE, GAME OF CAGES, and CIRCLE OF ENEMIES. If you read from the Kindle and have been meaning to pick up some or all of my books, you’re not going to get a better price.

I recommend starting with the prequel, although I wrote each book to stand alone.

There are shiny new ideas for me to work on, but I have so much revision and other work ahead of me that I don’t expect to get to any of it before the end of the year. Yeah, that sucks; we only get so many productive years in this life, but it needs doing.

More later.

25 Jun 2013, 7:26am
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Circle of Enemies reviewed at BLACK GATE

Here’s the relevant review. Overall, a very nice one.

It’s funny though, what he says about the (lack of) supporting cast. My wise editor recommended that I create one for the series. Yeah, Ray was the lead and Annalise was his boss and that was it. She wanted a colorful group of people who could turn up in every book, the way The Dresden Files does, or Sue Grafton’s alphabet novels do.

Those weren’t the examples she used. They’re just the ones I’m thinking up now.

I resisted, mainly because I envisioned the series having a structure more like a series of private detective novels, where the protagonist gets thrown into a completely new situation each time, surrounded by new people, and has to manage things on his own.

Oh well. There were a lot of choices I made for those books that could have gone another way. They’re all lessons for the future, I guess.

Revision

Twitter user @UOJim asked me to write a post about revision, and I realized I have never done a systemic evaluation of the way I revise. Writing this will be a way to organize my thoughts on the subject, all of which I will probably forget once it’s time to go back over EPIC SEQUEL WITH NO DULL PARTS next spring when the first draft is finished.

(See how hopeful I am? Finished draft in the spring. It’s like a magic spell: I write it to make it happen.)

The way I figure it, there are two basic kinds of revisions: story-level and text-level. more »

Passing into a new world: Portal fantasy

Rachel Manija Brown posted something provocative about so-called “portal fantasy.” For those who didn’t click the link: essentially it’s a Narnia-style story, in which a person or persons from our mundane world is transported to a second-world fantasy setting. Apparently, agents reject those stories at the query stage without ever requesting a full manuscript, and the reasons described in the post (all frustratingly second-hand) strike me as extraordinarily bogus.

They’re talking about non-adult books: YA and MG, but I don’t remember seeing a lot of adult-oriented portal fantasies.

But it’s only after I read a post on Making Light that I realize I myself have been All Over Portals in my books.

Now, that Making Light post is talking about Fantasy With Portals In Them rather than Portal Fantasies, which is not exactly a subtle distinction. For one thing, modern person transported to fantasy world setting is a very specific thing. Still, Circle of Enemies and Twenty Palaces both contain literal portals in which Things Intrude Into Our World, and the other two books have implied portals.

What’s more, EPIC FANTASY WITH NO DULL PARTS is full of portals; the barely-Iron-Age society conducts trade through them and they are the center of the plot.

It’s not portal fantasy, per se, but… is this my subconscious calling to me? Has the online discussion finally made me look into my heart and realize that what I’ve really longed to do all this time was write a book about a mafia hitman transported to pseudo-Narnia? Or a pipe-fitter in Osgiliath?

Well, maybe not, but it’s fun to think about.

One year anniversary of the end of 20 Palaces

I’m writing this ahead of time because I expect to be hanging with my son at the tournament when this posts, but today is exactly one year since I announced that Del Rey would not be picking up any new Twenty Palaces novels and that I was putting the series on hiatus, with all the ominous implications of the word.

And that fucking post is still the most popular thing on my blog. More people have read about my failure than ever read my books.

What has changed since then? Well, A Key, An Egg, An Unfortunate Remark is on indefinite hold. The book itself is a major misfire–not in concept but in execution. It needs a massive rewrite before it’s ready to be shown anywhere and that’s not a very high priority for me right now.

What about Epic Fantasy With No Dull Parts? aka A Blessing of Monsters? Well, shit. We’ll see, won’t we? One big change is that I seriously underestimated the amount of story there; what I’d planned to complete in one volume is not, in fact, complete after 140K words. So it will become two books. Possibly three. We’ll see what my publisher says, assuming I find one for it.

As for me, I’m working on a Twenty Palaces short story, which won’t be told from Ray’s POV. I’m hoping to have it finished soonest so I can get to work on Epic Sequel With No Dull Parts. I’m still waiting on editorial notes for King Khan, the game tie-in book I wrote for Evil Hat’s Spirit of the Century role-playing game, and that will likely be the only book release for me in 2013.

I know. 2012 saw only two anthologies: Don’t Read This Book and Tales of the Emerald Serpent, and next year will almost certainly be a single game tie-in novel. I like all of that work and I’m proud of it, but I need to put out original novel-length fiction if I want to keep my career going.

Audiobook for CHILD OF FIRE, if you can believe it.

I’ve been sitting on this news for about two weeks as I tried to get some further information on it, but SDCC is this week and I’m not going to wait any more.

Child of Fire is out in audiobook right now.

Now, I didn’t know this was going to happen. I didn’t even know there was a audio deal in the works. I went back to my email and searched for the word “audio” and found that the only mention was back in September 2009, when my agent mentioned in passing that she had received a note of interest from an audiobook company, which she forwarded to the publisher (since Del Rey had retained the rights).

After that, I never heard a thing about it until last month when I went to Amazon.com to create a link to the book and notices a new line in the “editions” box. I know there are some authors who are pretty heavily involved in the creation of their audiobooks, but I knew so little about it that I’ve been telling people there was no chance of an audiobook because of low sales.

So! The question you might be asking is “What about Game of Cages and Circle of Enemies? Will they be out as audiobooks, too?”

Unfortunately the answer is still “I don’t know yet.” I’m still waiting to hear back, and I don’t expect an answer on the week of (or after) SDCC. However, when I do hear, I’ll blog about it.

I should also mention, apropos to yesterday’s post about whether book reviews actually sell many books, that the initial note of interest was based on early positive reviews, so reviews can have that sort of positive benefit at least.

By the way, author and bookseller Michele Sagara weighed in on the review conversation yesterday on my LJ. She’s a smart person and if you don’t follow her you should.

Okay, Book. You don’t like me and I don’t like you…

I just returned from the SFWA business meeting, where I learned All The Secrets. Sure, it was 40 minutes long and I left home at seven am to get there and only arrived at the library to start working at noon (thanks to a missed bus connection) but those secrets were totally worth it. [1]

I probably should have loitered afterwards to socialize, but Saturdays are a big writing day for me and I really really didn’t want to lose any more work time today. Besides, I suck at socializing. I’m the boringest guy ever, so it’s best for everyone if I just walk into a room, sit quietly, then walk out again later.

Actually, here’s a tip: If you hear there’s going to be a SFWA business meeting going on at a convention or whatever, just go ahead and crash it. No one checks IDs or anything; just walk in, help yourself to a coffee and a danish, then sit somberly while the nice folks run through the agenda. If they pass a paper around to record who attended, just write “Harry Connolly” on there or some other unrecognizable nobody, then you’ll be able to kick back for some private time with a bunch of pro writers.[2]

The meeting was at Norwescon, which I attended last year. Considering the public transit times involved, I’ve decided it’s just too far to go. Sure, the crowds will also keep me away, and my weak chat fu, and my general disinterest, but the travel times are another arrow in my quiver.

At least I got to use the nice hotel bathroom rather than the downtown library.[3]

Other news! I created a Facebook Page, and will slowly be changing my FB time to that, and trimming back my “friends” on my regular FB account. Nothing personal, but I need to recapture some of my time. If you find yourself unfriended over there, it’s only because I don’t know you really or I see the content you post elsewhere.[4]

Finally, I have something else I need to mention that keeps coming up. I shouldn’t bury it in a weekend post, but what the hell:

I’m not going to do a Twenty Palaces Kickstarter.

Yes, I’ve been involved in two Kickstarter campaigns. The Spirit of the Century one panned out pretty quickly, and the Tales of the Emerald Serpent shared world anthology is still working its way toward the goal.[5]

But neither campaign has been “mine.” I placed fiction there, but I haven’t set the goals, the pledge benefits, the timelines, none of it. I haven’t made the videos and I don’t post the updates. Those projects are someone else’s babies.

A number of people have asked: why not Kickstart a new Twenty Palaces novel? Here’s the answer: While I’m sure I could set a pledge level that people would be willing to meet, it’s not money that’s stopping me. It’s readership.

Each of the Twenty Palaces books sold fewer and fewer copies than the one before. They diminished.[6] As much as I loved the series (and believe me, I love them like crazy–those books are ten years of my life) continuing to push them would be career suicide.

I have new books I’m working on. Some of you will hate them, some will like them–I’m comfortable with that idea. But I have to be writing books that increase my readership, not shrink it.

The Twenty Palaces setting is a dead horse, and my whipping arm is tired.

Okay. Time to make pages.

[1] I’ll even share one with you: It’s hard to get rich in sf/f publishing. You heard it hear first.

[2] As far as you know.

[3] Confidential to the dude in the next stall: Holy Christ, you have my utmost sympathy.

[4] Stupid timeline.

[5] Check out the $5 and $10 pledge levels. They seem like a great bargain.

[6] Circle of Enemies has sold one-third as many books as Child of Fire, and the numbers have pretty much played out. These books are not going to make a surprise resurgence.

Hello, BoingBoing readers

Yesterday, two and a half years after it came out, Child of Fire got a great review from BoingBoing.

And, because my luck is so very perfect, the Kindle store has gone down–apparently because of a database error–so the link from the review takes you to the physical book. No worries, though! I’m sure they’ll have it back up again in no time (grumbles). I’ve heard rumors that there are other places to buy ebooks, but who can tell whether that’s true or not?

The series runs to four books, which you can see over there on the right hand side of my blog. It’s also been cancelled. If you’re curious, I blogged about the reasons why it ended. You can also go to my home page to see the fantastic book trailer made by the guys at Wyrd.

Currently I have a new series in the works I’m about to send to my agent, an epic fantasy about two people caught up in the sudden collapse of an empire. Check out my Upcoming Books page for more info about that.

And welcome.

Pat Rothfuss reads Twenty Palaces

Bestselling author (and my new BFF) Pat Rothfuss did a Google Hangout–aka, a webcam video interview–for Trey’s Variety Hour while I was offline dealing with my father-in-law’s passing. It’s a long interview, guys, but of course I assume you’ll want to listen to the whole thing, since my new BFF is totally interesting.

But if you want to skip straight to the good part (which would be the part about me) go to the 1 hour, 19 minute, 50 second mark where he talks about reading all three books in two days, and what he thinks about them.

Let’s embed, shall we?

I’m glad he liked the books, but whenever someone says: “They’re really different,” the tiny, pitchfork-wielding, scarlet-skinned dude on my shoulder says: “Too different!” Not that I listen, says the guy writing an epic fantasy at the end of the bronze age.

Anyway, new readers! New two-star reviews on Goodreads! It’s all a blessing, and I’m glad people are still finding the books.

I don’t hate Valentine’s Day

I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it, either. Even before I got together with my wife, I didn’t begrudge a holiday for love, lovers, and people with strong romantic feelings.

Still, for me it’s as private as most every other part of my marriage. And I know there are lots of folks out there who hate the day with a passion.

In that spirit, let me offer my sorta-annual pitch for the Twenty Palaces books: The male and female leads do not romance each other, and do not fall in love (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Magic! Violence! Problematic work relationships!

They’re in the little-recognized genre of Paranormal Unromance.

I assume most of the people reading this post will have either read them or decided they’re not interested, but if you know someone looking for some Anti-Valentine’s reading…

Get your own ghost knife. Seriously.

I wish I didn’t have to drop this note on the weekend, but the email came yesterday. I’ll be posting about this again next week when more folks are actually looking at the web.

News: Pat Rothfuss’s Worldbuilder fundraiser has two copies of my SFBC omnibus edition of The Wooden Man–as I mentioned on Twitter, these are the only two copies I’m planning to sign. One is in the general lottery: you donate ten bucks, you have a chance to win one of the items being offered at random. The other is up for auction. I guess several readers sent notes to him asking for a more direct chance to buy it, so thank you!

But once I saw my book was in the auction, I wanted to sweeten the deal. I took the ghost knife prop for the book trailer–the only one I kept–and popped it in an envelope.

So! If you’re the winning bid on this auction, not only will you get a rare signed 20P omnibus, you’ll also get your own ghost knife to use as a bookmark. Best of all, it’s for a really good cause. Here’s a direct link to the auction.

Pat’s a good guy for running this, so I hope we can help bring in a few extra bucks for his favorite cause. The auction ends on the 29th, so don’t wait to make your bid.

Reviews, Part 33

1) Bethany Warner at Word Nerd liked Circle of Enemies: “This Connolly [is the] one Best Discovered Author for me from the Word Nerds this year, the series is that good. Check it out.

2) Marilee J. Layman read all three books in The Wooden Man omnibus and liked them: “I’d really like another book or so of these.

3) Yaz at Yaz’s Books N Stuff thought Child of Fire was “refreshingly unique”: “An enjoyable read, I look forward to more of Ray’s adventures.

4) Garrett at Ranting Dragon liked Circle of Enemies: “… a novel of deep insight and character development.

5) Former SFBC editor Andrew Wheeler at The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent. liked Circle of Enemies very much, and wishes the series could continue: “The Twenty Palaces books come from the world of Jim Thompson and David Goodis, where all choices are bad and all ends are horrible — where just surviving one more day and keeping yourself from getting into more trouble is a major achievement. The magic in these books has the danger and threat of old fairy tales and worse: touching it once marks a person for life.

6) k reads at So I Read This Book gives Child of Fire an A: “You can probably tell that I really liked this book. The voices of the characters are clear and believable and the plot moves swiftly, with not a moment wasted.

7) Fritz “Doc” Freakenstein at Guardians of the Genre expected to hate Child of Fire but very much didn’t: “Not much time is spent on either explaining the magical rules or the origins of the Twenty Palace Society that Ray and Annalise work for. This causes a bit more work for the reader than I’m used to, but it works for Child of Fire in that it forces you to focus on the plot at hand and work out the magical rules for yourself.

Quick note, this is the last review round up post. I may link to one or two reviews in the future, depending, but not every one I see.

THE WOODEN MAN in the Worldbuilders Charity Drive

I haven’t been posting much because I’m really pushing on this new book. I’m fighting my way through the middle. Also, I’m making #LesserDarths jokes on Twitter. But never mind that! I have some cool news.

A couple of weeks back I signed two copies of The Wooden Man, the SFBC omnibus edition of my three Twenty Palaces books and sent them to Pat Rothfuss’s Worldbuilders Charity Fund Drive. The first is now listed right here.

Now, I’ve made some Pat Rothfuss jokes here in the past, but the truth is a) I don’t know the guy at all and b) he seems really really cool. I could never get my shit together enough to run something like this.

So! These are the only two copies of The Wooden Man I intend to sign, ever. One you can win by entering the lottery (Donate a small amount and you get a chance to win one of the many books being offered, at random).

The second copy will be available for auction in the next couple of weeks. I’ll post about it when it goes live.

Guys, it’s a good cause. Help them out if you can.

Reviews, Part 32

1) David Marshall at Thinking About Books didn’t much care for Circle of Enemies: “However, there are so many people who wander in and out of view during this novel that there’s little time to get to know any of them and no incentive to invest any empathy in caring what happens to them. There’s a lot of action, as I said, but although we are advancing steadily towards the end, this book feels less satisfying than the other two.”

2) Martin Sutherland at Legends of the Sun Pig gives positive reviews to the entire series: “I love finding new series, and this was a winner.

3) Kate Shaw at Skunk Cat Book Reviews liked Twenty Palaces: “Like the other books in the series, this one’s a helluva ride. The action starts fast and doesn’t let up.”

4) Jim Henley at Unqualified Offerings liked Twenty Palaces but was unhappy with the typos: “But Twenty Palaces stands right now as the most recent representation of Harry Connolly in the book market. It deserved more care in its presentation. Happily, the story is good enough to make it worth overlooking the vessel’s flaws.

5) Thomas Galvin at Book Club liked Twenty Palaces: “If you like stories about the world behind the world, Lovecraftian monsters, and the nigh-unstoppable badasses fighting against them, the Twenty Palaces series is for you.

6) Bethany Warner at Word Nerd has listed me as the 2011 Discovered Author. Thank you!

7) Screenwriter Bill Martell at Sex in a Sub liked Circle of Enemies very much: “Makes a great holiday gift for people who like twisted violent stuff!

Reviews, Part 31

1) Christopher Valin at Wax Tadpole thought Circle of Enemies was the best of the Twenty Palaces books: “If Circle of Enemies were made into a film and marketed by the wrong people, the tagline would definitely read: “This time it’s personal.” Still, in a nutshell, that’s what makes the third Twenty Palaces novel stand out from the other two.

2) Stewart at Flying Turtle really liked Circle of Enemies: “Note I originally gave this an 8.5 but then decided to switch to a less numeric system. It’s now under Books I Love.

3) Mark Stone at Slacker Heroes thought Circle of Enemies was a big step up from the first two books: “Ray remains a flawed and very human hero emotionally torn by the difficult duties he must perform on behalf of the world.

4) Garrett at The Ranting Dragon thought Game of Cages was even better than Child of Fire: “This is not a series any urban fantasy enthusiast should miss out on.

5) Kiara at Waiting for Fairies thought Child of Fire was terrific even if she didn’t much like the characters: “The language was great, with good imagery, and the pace was rocket-fast.

6) Bastard at Bastard Books really liked Circle of Enemies: “What has attracted me to this series, and what I’ve enjoyed the most, is how horrific and disturbing some of the events and situations are. They often feed off some of our inner most fears, and in Circle of Enemies it’s no different, though a bit more toned down from the previous two novels.

7) Bethany K. Warner at Word Nerd thought Game of Cages was good but hesitates to recommend it because the series has been cancelled: “Connolly’s Twenty Palaces series is like a cross between Jack Reacher and Harry Dresden — all the violence that Reacher can mete out with a hefty does of Dresden-esque magic.

Reviews, Part 30

1) Author Nicholas Kaufmann liked Circle of Enemies, but wishes Ray could have a happy fun romp in the hay: “This is a truly special series, and exactly the kind of fantasy that appeals to readers like me who involuntarily shudder when fantasy novels open with a map and end with a glossary.”

2) Maria at Bear Mountain Books liked Child of Fire: “It’s edgy and very fast paced, but the characters display enough emotion and humanity to make it a very good read.

3) Jeremiah at jbullfrog.net thinks that Circle of Enemies is the “Best book in the series yet. Damn you Harry Connolly for making me stay up so late the past few days.

4) S. C. Green at The Shadowed Quill liked Child of Fire well enough but wanted there to be more explanation of the background: “Even though the book is subtitled a Twenty Palace Novel, by the last page I still have no idea what or who the Twenty Palace Society is. I get their basic function (to a very small degree), but I want more answers to the “why” of everything.

5) Stewart at The Flying Turtle gave Circle of Enemies an 8.5: “The stakes are more personal in this book as the victims are all Rays former friends, who are well written enough to make you care about them pretty quickly.

6) Bethany at Word Nerd likes Child of Fire but thought the ghost knife was overused? “Normally, I would say run right out and start reading, but… sigh… the writing is solid, but if you’re looking for a long-term relationship with a series, know that you’re going to be left hanging here.” (As a quick note, I’ve never read anything by Weis/Hickman.)

7) Andrew at Pleasure for the Empire really enjoyed Child of Fire: “I really can’t say enough how awesome this book is.

I need to offer another thank you.

The response to my previous post has been tremendous, both on my main blog and on LiveJournal, not to mention Twitter, G+, PMs, email, and Facebook. People have been very kind and enthusiastic about my upcoming works and hopeful for a return to the series.

I’m hopeful and enthusiastic, too. Thank you all for linking to that post, for commenting, and for general awesomeness. Once again I am humbled.

Now I have a bubbling crock pot, a skillet full of onions in the over, a living room that needs to be vacuumed, and a kid that needs to do some math. Plus, there are even more comments on that post that I haven’t responded to yet. (Which is why I’m turning off comments here.)

Thank you all.

It’s Official: The Twenty Palaces Series Has Been Cancelled (long)

(Update to this post: I’m shutting down comments because it’s been over a week and they’re still coming. What’s more, I don’t really want to keep talking about it. Thank you.)

(Second update: Disabling new comments hid the old comments, which I didn’t want, so comments are back on again.)

Yep. It’s true. Based on the sales of Circle of Enemies, Del Rey has decided not to offer me a contract to write more Twenty Palaces books.

What? Why?

Well, Pretend Questioner, let me address that in a very long blog post more »

  • 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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