Five Things Make A Post

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First, my Father’s Day was pretty great. I asked to get no gifts and didn’t receive any but the cards were wonderful. We also went out to brunch. My wife is pretty cool on the idea of going to a restaurant for breakfast–and my son actively hates it–so this is something I sorta love but get to do only once a year. And yeah, I ate more than I should have.

We went some distance to a little place called Mulleady’s, mainly on the rule that we could get things we never make at home, like blood pudding, boxty, scotch eggs, and other things we didn’t order. Sadly, marrow wasn’t on the bfast menu, but maybe another time. One downside of going there is that it really doesn’t many people before it becomes uncomfortably loud.

Second, you may have seen news articles everywhere recently claiming that bike share programs increase head injuries. They’re wrong. Head injuries fell after bike share programs were introduced, but they didn’t fall as fast as other kinds of injuries. Therefore, according to the media, head injuries rose because, among those injured, a greater percentage of them had head injuries.

It’s statistical fuckery. To quote the linked article: “A more critical view would be that the researchers went looking for evidence that bikeshare programs are dangerous, and upon failing to find any, cherry-picked a relatively unimportant sub-trend and trumpeted it as decisive finding.”

My wife rides almost every day and she always wears her helmet. When I rode (back in my office job days) I wore a helmet all the time, too. We also have lights, reflective vests, and all the safety gear that people make fun of. But it’s important to remember that nothing makes the streets safer for cyclists than having a whole lot of cyclists on the streets.

Third, I’ve sent out copies of The Great Way in hopes of getting blurbs for them, and the first two have come back. Both are wonderful and make me feel like dancing around my apartment singing “I Feel Pretty.”

Fourth, I’m currently at work revising my pacifist urban fantasy, and never in my life have I had so much trouble making headway. My revisions are creeping along at a pace barely better than my first draft days. Stuff is difficult, you guys.

Fifth, I bought the first edition of CHILL (by Pacesetter) way back when it first came out. I bought the second edition enthusiastically, and when I made that six-figure deal for Child of Fire, I rewarded myself by buying up all the Chill books I didn’t already own.

Even though the game is pretty much unplayable.

Pacesetter’s first ed. was fun and had simple game mechanics. Mayfair’s second edition improved on things, but still couldn’t deal with Fear checks. You could prep a haunted house, prep the monster that would be there, arrange the clues the players needed to find or the person they needed to save, but what you couldn’t do was predict who would pass a Fear check. If all the players made it, the monster would not be able to stand against them. If only one made it, that player would have to face a villain designed to challenge a party while his compatriots ran screaming into the streets.

It was impossible to create a balanced confrontation, because you could never tell how many players would make that Fear check (the first thing to happen in every encounter), so you didn’t know which would stay in the scene.

And let’s be honest, any time a GM takes control of a player it sort of sucks, especially if you make the run in terror.

So, none of the games I tried to get off the ground ever went anywhere. My friends had no interest in horror games, since they’re pretty much the opposite of jokey power fantasies, and the only truly successful Chill game I ever ran was with my six-year-old son, and it was one session.

Still, it was great fun to read, and now I’m foolishly excited to see that, after a couple of false starts, there’s a third edition on the way. The previous attempt at a third edition got as far as informal play tests, which I took part in until assholes drove me away, but I’m hopeful for this. I don’t even know anything about the game, but I’m foolishly hopeful.

Only two days left in my Kickstarter drive

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I have generally avoided asking people to help spread the word, but the whole purpose of writing these books was to bring in new readers. At this point in the campaign, I’m going to create this as a resource for people willing to share news in their own social media spaces.

For friends who prefer ebooks:

At the $12 pledge level, they’ll get THE WAY INTO CHAOS, the first book in the trilogy (including the Chris McGrath cover). The basic description of the series is right on the main Kickstarter page:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1179145430/the-great-way-an-epic-fantasy-trilogy-by-harry-con

The (pre-edited) sample chapters start right here:

http://www.harryjconnolly.com/blog/index.php/the-way-into-chaos-chapter-1/

They’ll also get A KEY, AN EGG, AN UNFORTUNATE REMARK, the urban fantasy novel with a protagonist in her mid-sixties. The book is sort of like The Dresden Files if Harry Dresden was actually a cross between Auntie Mame and Gandalf. A more complete description can be found here:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1179145430/the-great-way-an-epic-fantasy-trilogy-by-harry-con/posts/628459

They’ll also get the comic fantasy novelette my son wrote as part of the homeschool project, with cover art by Kathleen Kuchera:

http://www.pinterest.com/kathleenkuch/my-art/

Finally Also, they’ll also get a copy of TWENTY PALACES, the prequel to the books in my Del Rey series. More detail here:

http://www.harryjconnolly.com/blog/index.php/twenty-palaces/

And finally, we’ve just this morning unlocked the last book, a short fiction collection that will include the Twenty Palaces short “The Home Made Mask” along with other new and reprinted stories from me.

That’s a short fiction collection and three novels (plus the novelette my son wrote, with cover art) for only $12. For someone who is unfamiliar with my work, that strikes me as a pretty good deal.

At the $25 level, they’ll get all of the above and the other two books in the trilogy. That’s five novels all together, including all three of the Chris McGrath covers, plus the short fiction collection and the novelette.

If they’re gamers, too, then only $5 more will get a game supplement, too, so backers who play FATE Core can run a game in the setting of The Great Way. Also, as I write this, we’re only 30 new backers away from unlocking a FATE Core supplement for KEY/EGG It’s unlocked. There will be two FATE Core supplements for everyone at this level.

For people who prefer paper books,

Well, that’s a heavier lift, because the reward levels for the trade paperbacks are well above the typical market rate for books.

Twitter-friendly sample posts:

If you’re new to Harry Connolly’s fiction, the last hours of his Kickstarter have some good deals. http://kck.st/18DEKAL

or

Four ebooks for $12 and six for $25. Be sure to check out Harry Connolly’s fiction: http://kck.st/18DEKAL

Also! The hardcover omnibus edition offered at the King/Queen level and above is not going to be available after Saturday evening when the Kickstarter closes. If you’re the sort of person who likes rare (if not necessarily valuable) books, this will be the only opportunity to score a copy.

ADDED LATER: The new stretch goal is STRETCH GOAL: YOU, which means that backers can set a goal for them to create something they can share with all the other backers.

One of the option is an expanded writeup of the FATE Core Voidcallers game setting. Now, I’ve had people asking me for a Twenty Palaces rpg for a while and frankly, FATE’s Voidcallers is it. They capture the feel of the setting and the magic far better than I ever could.

So if you would like a Twenty Palaces rpg, help the campaign reach 1200 backers.

Also on offer in Stretch Goal: You: audio fiction, music, and I know someone else is working on a historical 20P game writeup.

I can’t pretend this isn’t exciting. Not just because of the numbers, but seeing other people jump in with their own ideas is a real thrill.

Thank you, everyone, for the support you’ve given me so far.

About that Kickstarter: Holy Cow (omnibus limits and stretch goals)

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As I write this, my Kickstarter project is at 80% of goal after only four and a half hours. So, that’s wacky pants and completely unexpected.

That said: As soon as we hit goal, I’ll open up more slots for the hardcover omnibus edition. That seems to be the format that most people prefer and I only limited it because they’re expensive to print and ship. Delivering physical goods is the kryptonite of most Kickstarter projects, and I guess I was over-cautious.

Also, I know I need to prepare to some stretch goals, and I’m doing my best to estimate those costs. I don’t want to rush into a promise I can’t keep.

That said, I do have A KEY, AND EGG, AND UNFORTUNATE REMARK already written (working title: “The Auntie Mame Files), and I’m doing the math to work out how much I’d need to get that book ready to publish. I already found an excellent editor to work on it, but I’d have to figure out the art and typesetting, too.

There’s also the short story collection, which will include the new Twenty Palaces story. That story will get written and the collection will be released no matter what; the pledges would only go to cover art and editing.

So, thank you to everyone who has pledged so far.

Revision

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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. Continue reading

2012

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I’m going to keep this short.

The most popular entry on this blog is the one where I dissect the reasons why my series was cancelled. I’m not what you’d call excited about that, but the fact remains. With luck, I’ll have a post in the new year that will finally draw more attention.

The year itself has been tough. I’d hoped to sell A Key, An Egg, An Unfortunate Remark but my agent was reluctant to send it out and I took her advice. Thank god. Last fall I took another look at the manuscript and realized I’d blown it. The novel needs major revisions and christ but the moment for it has pretty much passed. I’ll still finish it, eventually, but that leaves a big hole in my schedule. I put out no new work in 2012.

As for 2013, the only novel I expect to put out is King Khan, the tie-in novel for Spirit of the Century. If Epic Fantasy With No Dull Parts sells, it’ll probably be scheduled for 2014. In any event, life is short. I am working constantly. I don’t have a lot to show for it right now.

On a personal level, my family life has only been getting better. I am a very, very lucky ugly fat man.

And that’s it. I don’t do New Years’ resolutions, because they carry the cultural baggage that no one keeps them, and I never wait until Jan first to make the changes in my life I think I need. But I’m going back to work now, and I’m going to keep working on a sequel to a book that hasn’t even sold yet and which probably won’t come out until 2015.

I don’t even know what to say about this except that I can muddle through it.

One year anniversary of the end of 20 Palaces

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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.

I have failed my book in the worst possible way

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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.

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

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(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 Continue reading

Friday quick notes

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1) I’m taking the family to see Steven Tobolowski live on our local NPR affiliate this morning. Exciting! My son loves his show (my son loves oral storytelling) and we can’t wait to see how it goes. And I don’t think I have to say that I’m also a big fan of Steve Scher, the interviewer.

2) I get a lot of people asking me about the status of the Twenty Palaces books, so I’m going to say: Please stop. I’m waiting to hear something official from my editor at Del Rey, but I’m not going to announce anything until I get the final word from them.

Believe me, when I finally hear, the first person I share the news with will be my wife. The second person will be the whole rest of the world. But it’s a stressful time right now, so please don’t keep prodding me. When I know, you’ll know, believe me.

3) After years of hearing about other writers receiving anthology invitations, I’ve started getting some of my own. The only one I’m sure I’m allowed to talk about is a book related to Evil Hat’s Don’t Rest Your Head rpg, which is being edited by Chuck Wendig. And I have a nasty little story idea in mind…

4) I sent a revised copy of A Key, An Egg, An Unfortunate Remark to my agent. New book! Hopefully soon.

5) I’ve been planning a large politics post for quite a while, and hearing that the U.S. government just killed a U.S. citizen without due process is prodding me to get around to it. Watch (or avoid) this space.

This is how today went:

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Me: “Hey, book.”

Book, still sprawled out all over my life like the non-rent-paying couch-surfer it is, looks up. “Hmm?”

Me: ::Punches book in the face so hard it flies through the window, over the city, and lands in an open grave. The impact is so powerful that the piles of dirt on either side collapse onto it, burying it completely.::

Me, an hour later: ::Saunters up to grave, a celebratory burger in one hand, a marble tombstone tucked under the other. Drops tombstone in place and takes out broken, petrified femur stolen from Dorothy L. Sayers’s coffin. Kneels down and carves “A KEY, AND EGG, AN UNFORTUNATE REMARK” at top of headstone with bronzed tip. Below that line, carves “Agent has called this one to judgement.”::

Me: ::Walks away, eating burger::

(Actually, I haven’t sent it to my agent yet. I have to prep a nice little thing to accompany it it first.)