Mr. Kiss And Tell, by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham #15in2015

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Mr. Kiss and Tell (Veronica Mars, #2)Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Browser crash ruined my first version of this review, but let’s try again:

This book was going so well, until it fell apart at the end.

As I mentioned in my review of the first book, I’m a fan of the Veronica Mars tv show. I’ll admit that I didn’t watch every episode multiple times, but I’m pretty sure there was never an episode where Veronica got the criminal to confess by bringing in a huge bruiser to beat the confession out of him.

Poor book-Veronica doesn’t have half the devious wit of TV/movie-Veronica, because book-Veronica just can’t think up a way to catch the bad guy without having his bones broken. Sure, in the TV show there were fights and physical dangers. Logan brandished a gun to pull her out of a tight spot. Keith faced off with Aaron Echols. Logan got himself thrown in prison to kick the shit out of the Hearst rapists.

But at no point did Veronica ever pull a lazy, shitty stunt like torturing a suspect into a confession.

Did I mention that a major subplot in the book involves the fight against corrupt local police?

Here’s the thing: Veronica was a trickster character. She put on disguises, played with people’s heads, and tricked them into incriminating themselves. She used her brains. In this book, not so much.

Anyway, that’s a massive, massive disappointment. I expect better. I wouldn’t want to drop a series for one terrible creative choice, but I’ll be borrowing book 3 from the library, and if the authors pull this lazy shit again I’m out.



No buy link this time.

Book 4 for #15in2015

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham #15in2015

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The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars, #1)The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Obviously, I was a fan of the show and I backed the Kickstarter. I even went to the theater to see the film. When this book came out, I bought it right away, but it languished on the shelf.

It shouldn’t have. It’s not the deepest detective novel I’ve ever read, but it was addictive as hell. I lost half a work day pushing through to the end.

This is the first novel I’ve ever read about characters from another. medium and being able to picture the actors delivering the dialog had a strange effect. There was a flush of warm feeling because I enjoyed the show so much, but it took me out of the story, too. Every time a scene with Wallace would end, I’d start thinking about Percy Daggs’s career, and wonder how much acting work he was getting now.

Still, it was compulsively readable, funny in spots, and while the scenes between Keith and Veronica didn’t have the warmth of the TV shows (because how could they without those two actors) it was still Keith and Veronica.

Good stuff. Recommended if, like me, you enjoy private investigator novels.

Book 3 in #15in2015



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The Blog Tour Continues, Part Next

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Continuing from the first post.

Over at the Skiffy and Fanty blog, I wrote an entry for their “My Superpower” series. My superpower is an unusual kind of invulnerability.

“It’s Dangerous to Go Alone” is a post about figuring out why most people didn’t like my old series, and what if anything I should change for The Great Way, hosted by David B Coe.

“Let’s Fail On Our Own Terms” is about making ridiculous creative choices and standing by them, no matter what.

On Nick Kaufmann’s blog, I wrote about The Scariest Part of the trilogy, which is also the longest chapter in the trilogy.

Also, author Joshua Palmatier interviewed me about the series. I talk here about the hardest part of the trilogy to write, among other things.

An amusing review posted over at reddit.

And not to bury the lede, but once again here’s that starred review in Publishers Weekly.

If you found any of that interesting, please share.

Randomness for 2/8

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1) A Choose-Your-Own adventure game based on Twitter accounts.

2) Photographs of an iceberg that had recently flipped over to reveal the gem-like underside.

3) A very long exposure photograph of a rock climber wearing glow sticks.

4) Seattle sidewalk art that is invisible until it gets wet, aka “rain art”.

5) Amazon readers post troll reviews of anti-vaxxer’s “pro-Measles” children’s book.

6) Eight tips for studying smarter.

7) Leave aside the association of “white” with good and “black” with bad, this is just terrible phrasing.

The Blog Tour Begins, part first

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As mentioned yesterday, the third and final book in The Great Way has come out, and I’m doing something of a blog post to spread the word. Some links!

I wrote advice for running a successful Kickstarter on Charles Stross’s blog. It’s not new information over there, but I don’t think I’ve ever organized it so well.

Using the video series EVERY FRAME A PAINTING as inspiration, I sat down to closely analyze a section of text. I think it’s valuable to look at individual sentences and phrases at that level because those simple choices have such an effect on the story as a whole.

Over on Mary Robinette Kowal’s My Favorite Bit series, I wrote about my favorite thing in the whole 375K-word trilogy. In fact, with all the chases, fight scenes, big magic, triumph and tragedy in those books, I suspect readers will be surprised to find out my favorite bit is a single line of dialog.

I also have the Spotlight editorial in the Online Writers Workshop newsletter, where I talk about the concept of talent, why it doesn’t mean what people think it does, and why it’s pernicious.

Today’s post appeared on Kate Elliott’s blog. It’s about how a Christmas holiday season where my wife and I squeezed nine people (including a newborn baby) into a two bedroom apartment, and how that made me change the way I think about my writing.

Finally, not a blog post, but a review: The Way Into Chaos written up at BoingBoing.

If any of those seem interesting, give them a read. If you think they’re valuable, give them a share. Also, there’s more to come.

More in part next.

Let me tell you about something cool

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Back in 2012, Fred Hicks, the big wig over at Evil Hat game company (and I can’t type “Evil Hat” without adding an “e” to the end), and Chuck Wendig, author and editor, invited me to write for an anthology based on one of EH’s games. The game was called Don’t Rest Your Head, and it was an rpg about insomniacs who suddenly find themselves trapped in Mad City, a nightmarish dreamscape full of evil shit that wants to eat you. Plus side: the characters also get lucid-dreaming-like powers, and the whole thing is very weird and cool.

The story I wrote, called “Don’t Chew Your Food” was reprinted in my short fiction collection, but there are a whole bunch of terrific writers in the table of contents: Mur Lafferty, CE Murphy, Laura Anne Gilman, Stephen Blackmoore, and more. Check it out, seriously.

Which brings us to today. Evil Hat is putting out a “Don’t Rest Your Head” card-building game, and a creature that I invented, the Shameful, is on one of the cards. (!!!)

Image behind the cut.

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The Way Into Darkness Post

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Today, finally, is the day that the third and final book in my epic fantasy trilogy will be released. The page for book two is right here, and the page for book one, with the introductory synopsis and the links to sample chapters, is right here.

If you haven’t read either of these books, you don’t want to read book three. It’s all one story.

How about a cover?

cover for The Way Into Darkness

The Way Into Darkness, Book Three of The Great Way, art by Chris McGrath, design by Brad Foltz

Amazing, isn’t it?

Spoilers for the story so far if you read the synopsis below. For real, if you think you might want to read these books, stop reading here and check out the post about book one or read the sample chapters.

Or, if you’re a Spoilerphile, here’s the synopsis for the book:

BOOK THREE OF THE GREAT WAY: What was once the Peradaini Empire is now a wasted landscape of burned, empty cities and abandoned farmlands. The Blessing, now more numerous than ever, continues to spread across the continent, driving refugees to the dubious safety of the city walls. Unharvested crops mean that few strongholds have enough provisions to last the winter, although most know the grunts will take them before starvation will.

But hope survives. A piece of stolen magic just might halt the spread of The Blessing if Tejohn and Cazia can find a scholar with the skill to recreate the spell. If such a person still lives.

Unfortunately, they are nearly out of time. The few remaining human enclaves are isolated and under siege. Worse, The Blessing has spread to other sentient creatures. If Cazia and Tejohn are going to strike back at their monstrous enemy, they can not delay.

And there’s another, deeper question left unaddressed: where did The Blessing come from, and why have they invaded Kal-Maddum?

The Way Into Darkness is the final book in The Great Way, wrapping up the story begun in The Way Into Chaos and continued in The Way Into Magic.

If things seemed desperate in the previous books, this one brings humanity to the brink.

Some blurbs:

“One hard-hitting, take-no-prisoners, breathtaking holey moley of a book.” — C.E. Murphy, author of Walker Papers

“Highly recommended, if you want a stay-up-all-night, forget-to-eat, must-have-the-next-book-NOW reading experience.” — CC Finlay, author of Traitor to the Crown: A Spell for the Revolution and editor of F&SF

“Complex world, tight action, awesome women as well as men; Connolly was good right out of the gate and just keeps getting better.” — Sherwood Smith, author of Inda

“Gripping, absorbing, and fast-moving, an epic fantasy for those of us who like it lively” — Charles Stross, author of Halting State and The Laundry Files.

“Heroic in scope, but intimately human, and richly detailed.” — Kat Richardson, author of the Greywalker series.

Here is the page for book one. Here is the page for book two. To order book three, just click below.

| Amazon (print and ebook) | Apple iBooks (ebook) | Barnes & Noble (print and ebook) | Books-a-Million (print) | CreateSpace (print) | IndieBound (print) | Kobo (ebook) | Smashwords (ebook) |

The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin

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The Janissary Tree (Yashim the Eunuch, #1)The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The whole time I was reading this, I kept thinking This is why I give terrific books like MAPLECROFT four stars, because I need room for THIS.

Then I got to the end, and the whole thing fell flat.

The setting is Istanbul in the 1830’s, and an army officer has been murdered, his body displayed in a gruesome way. Imperial operative Yashim is brought in to solve the killing, and to find the other three officers who disappeared at the same time. Yashim is a man of some breeding who can move unobtrusively through all levels of society, including the sultan’s harem… because he’s a eunuch.

Anyway, historical fiction is something of a research competition. Writers immerse themselves in the time and place, studying the details that will make the reader feel that they’re really experiencing this other time and place, with just enough details to ground the story without turning into a travelogue. Then readers come along, looking for nits to pick… It’s a whole thing.

And it bores me, to be honest. As a fantasy reader, I love the sense of place and don’t worry too much about accuracy. Anathema, I know, but there it is.

In truth, the novel made me wish there were more novels with the same feeling of complexity and nuance that the real world has. I wish I were capable of it, myself.

Yeah, this is a murder mystery with far-reaching political implications. If the protagonist was a little slack in his investigation, well, that’s a nice change. The denouement didn’t work, unfortunately, and the “action” scenes deserve the air quotes. There was violence but none written with the sort of tension that makes the heart race.

Still, the description of everyday life in 1830’s Istanbul was a delight, and made me wish I could visit right now. The characters were complex and interesting. The genre stuff was tatty window dressing, and disappointing in the end.

If you’re a reader who enjoys reading fantasy novels for the settings, try this. Seriously.

Book 2 for 15in2015



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Some things are hard to satirize.

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I didn’t get a chance to mention this yesterday with all the Book Day activity (Book two of my trilogy is out. Look at that cover! Then buy book one because these things don’t stand alone. Book three comes out in less than three weeks.) But, I had a brief conversation with my agent, and I started talking about the book I plan to write next. This is what I told her:

It’s a present-tense, second-person epic fantasy called Only You Can Save The Kingdom, Farmhand. I was originally going to use “Farmboy” but that would cut out half the readership. The best part was, when readers got to the part that read “You sneak up behind a guard and knife him in the back,” the reader would actually have to sneak out and kill a security guard.

Which I thought was absurdly hilarious, but from her? Nothing. Silence.

See, she reads queries, so whatever I try to think up, as a crazy, ridiculous idea for a book is pretty tame compared to what she’s used to. And that, frankly, is funnier than the joke I was telling.

Tough crowd.

Also, buy my books.

The Way Into Magic post

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Hey, remember that book I released last month?

Well, it’s time to release book two, The Way Into Magic.

Before I go any farther, why don’t I post the cover?

Great Way Final Cover eBook 2 copy

Gorgeous, right? I love all the covers for this trilogy, but this is the one I love the most. The dragon skeleton, the cool blue, Cazia’s whole pose… It’s just incredibly appealing.

As I’ve said before, you don’t want to read this book without having read book one. This is a continuation of the story, not a stand alone text. That’s why there won’t be any new sample chapters (although you can still read the beginning of the story here) and why the description of the book will absolutely contain spoilers.

So why should you read it?

(Spoilers beyond this point.) Continue reading