#FF – The Machine Stops

I thought I’d do a little #FF here, though technically it’s a few hours until Friday. If you’re looking for some great mash-ups of fantasy, steampunk, horror, and sci-fi you should head over to The Machine Stops, the blog of author Garrett Calcaterra. He’s best known for his Dreamwielder series (the ebook of vol 1 is on sale through Sept 13th) but his recently released anthology, Dreamrush, is equally worth checking out. It has tales of air pirates raiding the California coast during the Gold Rush, a tie-in story set in the Dreamwielder ‘verse, and other weird pulp adventures.


THE FEY MATTER finds a home with City Owl Press!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here, but I’m happy to return with the exciting news that City Owl Press has agreed to publish my new alternate history / gaslamp fantasy novel, THE FEY MATTER!

Set against the backdrop of 1882 Scotland, the novel follows a young, orphaned fey as she eludes the crown’s minions, matches wits against greedy lords, and battles an auld enemy of her people.

I’m super stoked to be working with City Owl Press and their great staff! More details to come, but now it is time for a happy dance!


The Tomb of Jorem’bel by Craig Comer

“Gavane peered from beneath a shadowed hood, scowling at the iron-bound door. His shoulders scrunched around a neck thicker than Ffyordland timber. Beside him, Mior leaned casually against a shepherd’s cart. Her limbs were relaxed, the fury in her blood simmering in a slow burn, as it had for a fortnight—a blasted fortnight!—the time spent ranging the streets of Emberdeen seeking out a mage. She glanced up the crowded street again. There was still no sign of the death-slinger they’d hired. The man had better show. They’d spent the last of their coin and had no chance of opening the tomb of Jorem’bel without aid. A warded door blocked its entrance, the temple erected around it buried deep beneath the city of lost kings.”

My short story, “The Tomb of Jorem’bel,” is now available in the January 2016 issue of Bards & Sages Quarterly.

A tale of vengeance full of pulp adventure and dangerous magic, the story follows Mior and her companions as they risk everything to reclaim the talisman of their forefathers.

Get it here from Smashwords. Or here from Amazon.


Delayed Drift by Craig Comer

Gravel crunched as the private shuttle pulled into the viewing lot. Below, a lazy stretch of water meandered farther than the eye could see in either direction. “We’re here!” said Joe. “Put that away.”

“Great, a river,” mumbled Derek, tucking his gamepod into his jacket.

“Nope,” said Joe. “Not a river.” He killed the engine and hopped out.

Derek rolled his eyes. “Come on, Suze, let’s see what dad’s manic about now.”

“Mmpf,” came a sleepy groan from the backseat. Derek hated that they looked alike. But then, everyone looked alike when you really looked close. Hands in his pockets, he trudged over to the cliff’s edge where Joe stood whistling.

“Must’ve been a big one,” said Joe.

“What’s that, dad?” Derek scanned the shore hoping some girls were around.

“The earthquake that caused this rift. Millions of years of expanding and contracting pressure, then about 40,000 years ago—BAM!” He whistled again, more dramatically. “Water’s full of salt, too, just like an ocean.”


“That’s because it is an ocean.” Joe grinned like a kid in a candy store. “Scientists announced it last year. Just amazing—they say that under the topsoil the earth is made of these giant plates that can break and drift apart. Some even argue it’s happened several times before. Crazy, huh? Like Gaul might’ve been near Medina. The Dagbons might’ve not existed at all.

“Uh-huh. Neat, dad.” Derek thumbed his gamepod.

Joe rolled his eyes. “So who’d have unified the tribes? Defined the Emperor’s Tongue? Would farm parceling have worked with different landmasses floating around the surface of the planet, completely separated?”

Derek shrugged.

“The opposite shore over there will be miles away, someday,” said Joe, “like the volcanic islands out in the Far Waters.”

“Seems stupid to build a bridge over it, then.”

Joe laughed. “Well, it’ll take time before that matters. The landmasses—they don’t have names for them yet—only move an inch or two each year. But just think, folks will have to cross an ocean to get across the empire. The world will be separated into chunks.” Raising his arms, he shouted, “An Earth divided!”

Suzy slumped into Derek, eyes still glazed. “Why’d we stop?”

“Some river,” said Derek, pulling out his gamepod.

Souldrifter Excerpt

Souldrifter, Garrett Calcaterra‘s follow-up to Dreamwielder, was released last week. Check out the excerpt posted over on Black Gate:


Binge Reading & Soul Drifting

Thanks largely to enhanced streaming capabilities, the past few years have witnesses an increase in the amount of television binge watching. Not only is this method an addicting way to watch your favorite show, some shows have actually restructured their writing to meet this trend. HBO’s Programming President, Michael Lombardo, defended the second season of True Detective by saying viewers needed to, “watch the entirety of it,” before passing judgment, despite the episodes being released one at a time. Netflix and other distributors eschew the week-to-week delivery of content and release entire seasons of their shows in one go with the expectation that loyal fans will be discussing the final episode by the end of the day.

But binge consumption of genre related entertainment is nothing new. Readers have done the same for decades. Maybe not in one butt-numbing stretch, but in eagerly devouring everything an author can produce, and often as fast as the author can produce it. And the funny thing is, this trend occurs whether the author is a favorite or new to the reader. Readers will find out what the author has written before and grab it, even buying blocks of books on Amazon–hey, they’re discounted that way–before cracking open the first volume.


In fact, it is sometimes difficult for new authors to sell their first book solely because readers don’t want to invest in something they can’t read more of if they happen to get hooked. I have witnessed this first-hand at conventions. At GenCon’s Author Alley in 2011, I was hard-pressed to get readers to take a gamble on a single, slim-for-fantasy novel, The Roads to Baldairn Motte, but those authors pitching multiple volumes–who were just as unheard of as I was–continuously piqued readers’ interests not by their series tagline but by the sheer amount of content they were offering! Seven massive tomes always looks more enticing on a table than a single book.

autumn_rebublic_coverAuthors like Brian McClellan have adopted a clever strategy to grab the attention of modern readers and keep them sated. He released novellas surrounding the narrative of his main novels. These are short spin-offs cast from different character viewpoints or set at different points in time. (See Battleship Galactica for an example of how television has done the same thing while viewers waited for the next season.) The novellas give existing readers additional content delivered at a pace months (if not years, Mr. Martin) faster than waiting on a longer novel, and they also present new readers with an Author page filled with content. Even better, with ebook novellas offered as cheap as they are, it’s a financially viable solution for both parties. (McClellan’s novellas are roughly one-third the cost of his novels.)

Which brings me to Souldrifter, the second volume of Garrett Calcaterra’s Dreamwielder Chronicles. I’m excited for this book not just because it promises great adventure and an expansion to the vast, rich world first established by Dreamwielder, but because I know new readers will take a chance on the books marketed as a series where they might have passed on each individually. The door is open for a whole new readership to find Makarria, who, as Wendy Wagner, author of the Pathfinder Tales novel, Skinwalkers, points out, “…is a teenage heroine who does more than just kick butt: she’s smart, powerful, and surprisingly believable for a fourteen-year-old queen.”


Bruce McAllister, author of The Village Sang to the Sea, adds, “Souldrifter meets the promise of its predecessor with royal trumpets. Fine writing, magic, epic intrigue, a great cast, and a central character (Makarria) who mesmerizes—what more does a reader need to be happy?”

As much as they can consume, of course!

Spy v. Spy Had it Right

A great villain is more than someone for your hero to defeat, and
describing your villain as big and bad isn’t enough. They have to
have motivations and attainable goals, just like the hero. So instead
of thinking in terms of a protagonist and an antagonist, imagine
your story as one where two (or more) characters have conflicting
goals. How do the aims of each IMPACT the other? How do each
REACT to the actions of the other? This banter between opposing
sides should drive the cause and effect structure of the narrative.

Often when writers get lost on where their story goes next, it
is because they are only thinking about what one side—normally
the hero—should do. When plotting out a scene, a short story, or
even a novel, imagine yourself playing chess alone. Move your
first piece with a bit of action, then immediately turn the board
around and play from the other side. Ask yourself what move
this side would make in reaction, then flip the board around
again. Keep going in this fashion until there is a victor. Not all of
these moves have to be “visible” to the reader in the final story,
but knowing what they are and why they were made will help
tighten the narrative and add depth to those wicked doers out to
thwart your hero.