Category Archives: Sword and Chant

Sword and Chant — Now Is the Time…

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If you haven’t yet checked out Sword and Chant, now you can read it for free!

For a limited time, Sword and Chant is available exclusively through Kindle Unlimited at Amazon.  If you’re already a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you can read the novel for free.  If you’re not a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you can sign up for a 30-day free trial membership, and then read Sword and Chant (along with other cool novels) for free!

“Vivid, evocative prose, strong characters, definitely not for the faint of heart…. It’s rare, after reading fantasy for more than fifty years, that I couldn’t predict where a story is going, but this was one.” — Sherwood Smith, author of Inda

“Beautifully crafted world with engaging, unpredictable characters and conflict. The situations felt so life-like, it seemed like I was reading something written by veteran returned from one of our desert wars.” — Goodreads reviewer

SerpentCoverBut wait, there’s more!

Serpent Heart is also available through Kindle Unlimited!

#SFWApro

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The “I Can’t Make It To Worldcon!” Sale

Maybe you can’t make it to Worldcon, but you can meet a new author or spend some time with a favorite one, without spending too much money.

Starting today, August 14, you can pick up any of the titles below at special staying-home prices.   Sword and Chant is included at the sale price of $1.99 for Kindle and Nook .

The sale ends August 20, so pick them up now, let your friends know, and enjoy!

Continue reading The “I Can’t Make It To Worldcon!” Sale

StoryBundle Sum-Up

I could hardly be more pleased with my first StoryBundle experience.

We closed out the Indie Fantasy Bundle with about 2350 bundles sold. That means Sword and Chant is in the hands of over two thousand strangers.  For a new writer like me, just starting out with a “platform” the size of soapdish rather than a soapbox, that’s fantastic.  I didn’t make as much per-sale as I would have selling those books independently, but StoryBundle allowed me to tap a new set of readers in a short amount of time.  That was worth it to me.  If readers like the book, they’ll tell others and buy future works.  If readers don’t like it…  Well, it’s better to know now, yes? 🙂

By the numbers: About 84% of those sales were over the bonus mark–an awesome number for a pay-what-you-want strategy.  The income totals indicate plenty of folks paid more than the minumum bonus mark.  The readers chose to donate over $1000 to Mighty Writers and Trees for the Future.

My share of the total income makes me very happy.  It brings me almost one-third of the way to my eighteen-month income goal.  It also brings me to about one-third of my unit-sales goal for the same time period.

The folks behind StoryBundle were great and easy to work with, and I look forward to keeping in touch with the writers who shared the bundle with me.  Payment happens within 30 days of the bundle’s end–faster than any other platform.  I would do it again in a heartbeat.

If you missed the bundle, you can still go to StoryBundle for links to all the works included.

UPDATE: A few writers have come this way in search of information on StoryBundle’s payment terms. For the Indie Fantasy Bundle, payment was in my account within a few DAYS of the bundle’s end.

Sword and Chant on Storybundle!

I am so jazzed to be make this announcement:

Sword and Chant is included in the Storybundle’s new Indie Fantasy Bundle!

“Fantasy has been one of our most requested genres, and we’re thrilled to bring  you these wonderful and exciting titles that represent some of the best epic  adventures that you can find anywhere. Our authors have created expansive and  sophisticated worlds that any reader would love to explore, with magical  apocalypses and vast landscapes of history and legend. And whether you prefer  dragon companions or djinn, supernatural schisms or looming evils, secret  societies of thieves and spies or epic clashes between ancient rivals, this is  the bundle for you.”

So what is Storybundle?  It’s a showcase for independent writers AND it puts the pricing power in the hands of the reader.  You determine what you’d like to pay for the set of six titles.  (If you choose to purchase for $10 or more, you’ll get an additional two titles.)  You determine what percentage of your purchase price will go to the authors.  And you choose whether 10% of your purchase will go to one of the current charities.

All titles are DRM-free, and ready for Nook, Kindle, or Kindle-enabled device, and you have the chance to read an excerpt from each title before deciding on your purchase.  You can even purchase gift cards for others, or choose a specific date for when you’d like the bundle delivered.

So go forth to read, discover, and enjoy!

The Next Big Thing!

This is fun: writers answer ten questions about a new or upcoming project, then tag other writers to do the same.   Sherwood Smith was kind enough to tag me, and the writers I’m tagging will be listed at the bottom of the post.  I’ll link to their answers next week.

Here we go:

What is the working title of your current book?

Sword and Chant

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Different parts came from different places.  The central characters and their relationships came from a horrid, derivative, pseudo-Celtic fantasy novel I’d written years and years and years ago.  It was my first attempt at a novel.  The characters and their relationships were interesting but everything else was…  Ugh. 

Worst of all, I actually sent it to a couple publishers.  Once I’d learned enough to know how terrible it was, I lived in fear I’d someday hear it read aloud at one of those “It Came From the Slush Pile” convention panels.

Many years later, while writing four other novels that shall one day be revised, I became interested in the social and political dynamics of the Kashmir region, Afghanistan in the 1990s and the events surrounding Six Day War.  Those ideas freed the characters of my first attempted novel from the prison of derivative plot, and I combined them with different elements of setting and culture.  Some beta readers have said the setting feels like Turkey, and some say it feels like northern Africa.

The primary antagonist—the Chant—evolved from musings about the nature of sacrifice: the cost to the one making the sacrifice, the one causing the sacrifice to be made, the one accepting the sacrifice, and the willingness of all parties to participate in the sacrifice. (Those ideas will get more stage time in the sequel.)

What genre does your book fall under?

Fantasy, most certainly.  Epic fantasy, I suppose.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

First of all—movie! Woohoo!  Unless, of course, it’s one of those horrid adaptations.  Then it would be awful, and the actors actually playing the roles wouldn’t want to admit their involvement.

Anyway.

In my mind, the characters look and sound like themselves, not actors, but I can come up with a couple ideas for the secondary characters.  I could age Grace Park many, many years so she could play Nikala, one of the warlord-chieftains.  Andre Braugher could to play Yasid Sword, and Joy Bryant could play his daughter.  But for the main characters…  I’m clueless. 

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Seriously, it took me months to write a blurb that was under 200 words, and even then someone else had to fix it.  One sentence?  Gah.
It could be: Jaynes will do anything to avenge his father’s murder, but his triumphs as a warlord didn’t prepare him to face the threat of civil unrest, foreign invasion, and the seductive promises of the exiled god of sacrifice.

Or it could be: Shala Sword emerges from hiding to prevent the god of sacrifice from conquering the tribes, but finds the most brutal battles are against mortals intent on exacting revenge for sins committed a generation ago.
Or it could be…  Well, you get the idea.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I chose to self-publish, for reasons outlined here.  It’s currently available as an ebook through online retailers and in multiple formats.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Once I decided what I wanted to do with the old manuscript, I futzed with the opening chapters for about three months.  Then 9/11 happened, and the last thing I wanted to do was write about asymmetrical warfare, insurgencies, and guerrilla tactics.  When I was finally ready to face it again, I tore into it with a fury.  It was the first novel I’d written from a detailed outline. I finished within three months, and came in at nearly 160K words.  I later cut out enough words to make another short novel, had those chopped words not been so worthy of chopping.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Yeesh, I hate doing that.  It’s epic fantasy with a large cast of characters, gods who speak with mortals, battles and arguments, love and loyalty and loss, and a subtle form of earth magic.  It’s like other books with those things in it.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My own internal debates.  What happens when lifelong enemies decide they’re tired of fighting, or when the leaders want to end the fight but those they lead don’t want to?  What are the personal costs of fighting a weaker opponent who refuses to give up?  What are the moral implications of fighting an enemy who is weaker but more ruthless than you are?  What are the moral implications of not fighting, if that choice enables the enemy to hurt someone else?  When is it ethical to sacrifice your life—whether through action or death—and when is it ethical to use the willing sacrifices others make?  When does the act of defending one’s self cross the line to excessive aggression?  Why do people insist on saying, “It’s really that simple” when it obviously isn’t?

Odd as it sounds, I think about these things a great deal.  However, I very rarely discuss them because folks usually want to deal with real-world examples, and as soon as real-world examples are used, the discussion becomes one of politics.  And once politics enter the picture, Someone Must Be Right.

Sword and Chant lets me explore what happens to a culture, and to individuals, when they can’t find solutions that are good and right, and find themselves instead trapped doing what is ugly and necessary.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s filled with women and men who have families and friends, who argue and fight, who fall in love and defend one another, who are sometimes proud and sometimes ashamed, who have to lead with confidence even when they know they haven’t a clue what to do next.

And there is the Chant—god of sacrifice and patron of unfulfilled dreams.  He controls a skilled assassin who has an attitude, who’d be a pretty cool guy if he weren’t a god-enthralled killer who’s quite good at his job.

Who did you tag? I tagged two of my VPXV classmates–LaShawn Wanak and Stephanie Charette–and my longest-running critique partner and VPXVI grad Sandy Skalski.  There are a couple others I’ll be adding to the list, too.