Five Things Make a Pre-Giftmas Post


I’ve tried to cut back on my Twitter time so I have an actual life, but I’ve also been neglecting my own spaces. So here goes. As you can guess from what’s below, these have been building up for a while now.

  1. Long ago in the misty dawn of time, my friends would get together on the day before Thanksgiving for the Turkey Bowl, which was a game of “touch” football, (with sarcastic quotes around the word touch, obviously). Then I moved to Seattle and slowly fell out of contact with most of my circle of high school friends. 

Well, last month, on the day before Thanksgiving, I got a call from the high school/college buddy that I still game with. He invited me to a Turkey Bowl zoom call, where I got to say hello to some people I hadn’t seen in many years.

Honestly, it was great. I got to see their grownup homes in the background, and they got to see our dinky apartment with the oil painting of a naked man’s back and backside on the wall behind me. We’ve led different lives, but it felt incredibly comfortable to hang out again. Hope to do it again before  another 10-15 years passes.

Oh, and I was the fattest of the group, but we all knew it would be that way.

2. One of my friends on that zoom call admitted that, until the previous day or two, he’d been planning to travel to his parents’ house to have a big Thanksgiving meal with the whole family.

Online, I’ve seen people like him portrayed as braying, deluded conspiracy theorists, openly mocking scientific conclusions and common sense. But it wasn’t like that for my friend. He had people he loved pleading with him to visit, and he felt himself being pressured to take a risk in the hopes that everything would turn out okay.

Luckily, one of his sons talked him out of it, but it took someone else who loved him to break that spell. Just something to think about when we see people behaving recklessly during the pandemic.

3. As I mentioned in the first note, I’m still in touch with one of my friends from high school–through ttrpgs–and this past weekend we finished up an eight month Liminal campaign.

First, it’s a terrific game. The system is simple and quite effective. Not as open as a PbtA system, which we play a lot of, but still terrific. Even better is the setting, which is contemporary fantasy in London (with the option to move the action elsewhere, if you have to.) There’s lots of interesting factions and NPCs, plenty of plot hooks, the whole deal.

The game book also physically beautiful. Seriously.

One problem we had was that the game is designed to be episodic. The characters form a crew, they get “cases” and they take on small dangers. If there’s a longer plot line, it’s meant to surface as a subplot each case, building to a climax, like Person of Interest or Veronica Mars.

Our group doesn’t play that way. Our campaigns are like movies, with constantly escalating stakes and a big conflict at the end.

That meant we couldn’t access one of the ways to gain experience, which was to solve a case, and we had a hard time healing up, because starting a new case erases the damage you’ve suffered. Without that latter rule, it was hard to recover from fights.

(We can argue about whether or not that’s realism and also whether it’s the sort of realism that’s welcome in a ttrpg–actually, you can have that argument if you like, because this isn’t the sort of realism that interests me. In this context, anyway.)

But the game was a lot of fun and the system let us make characters that we could really dig into. I wanted to add a romance subplot but it didn’t really work, mainly because I didn’t work hard enough to integrate it.

Anyway, fun game. Check it out.


Arrogant Bastard Ale again

For The Iron Gate

5. The Iron Gate is almost complete. I have to do another polish before I arrange to have it copy edited, and I’m letting it rest right now while I brainstorm The Flood Circle.

It’s weird. I have a little tickle at the back of my brain telling me there’s something about TIG that doesn’t match the overall 20P mythology. What’s wrong there? What is that tickle trying to tell me? 

No clue. That’s why I let my work rest for a bit. 

The Twenty Palaces novels have always been the most difficult of my projects, although I’m not sure why. One Man was more complex. Key/Egg had a voice and a tone that was challenging for me. But writing anything 20P just eats up time, as I work through character moments and plot twists, jumping around in the story because I realized I missed something here. And there. And also there.

Plus, I gotta say this is a weird book, and I’m not sure how well it’s going to go over with… anyone, really. Sorta nervous about it, actually, in a way I haven’t been nervous in many years. Not that these worries will stop me.

Okay. I need to do a bit of Christmas food prep, and figure out how to create a new evil rich person for The Flood Circle.

Enjoy your holidays, stay safe, and find joy where you can.

Circle of Enemies Audiobook Available Today

Cover art for Circle of Enemies audiobook


If I had any brains, I would have posted this much earlier, and started sending the announcement newsletter at midnight last night. Unfortunately, today is Blursday, and yesterday was Blursday, too, so I lost track of the date.

Note to self: write rent check.

So, yes, the audiobook for Circle of Enemies is available today, for the first time ever. You can grab a copy from online vendors:

Or wherever you prefer to get your audiobooks.

There will be more Twenty Palaces audiobooks, but not until I finish The Iron Gate. Once this book is fully revised and edited, it’ll be combined with The Twisted Path and released as a set. Until then, I’m not going to have much to release.

Also, remember that the Kindle Monthly Deal for One Man expires at the end of the month. Until then, you can pick up an ebook for yourself or a friend for only $1.99.

Game of Cages Audiobook available now


There’s not much to say here, but it absolutely needs to be said.

Today, there’s a new audiobook in the Twenty Palaces series: Game of Cages.

This is the first time the book will have appeared in audio form. Child of Fire was picked up years ago, but not the sequels. So, if you’re an audiobook fan who already has book one, this is your first opportunity to turn the series into a set.

Here’s the art:

Game of Cages Audiobook Cover

Next month, Circle of Enemies.

After that, The Twisted Path and The Iron Gate come out together, whenever I get The Iron Gate finished.

Stay safe. And to everyone who has written reviews, thank you.

Child of Fire Audiobook Available Today. Right Now, In Fact


Let’s make this short and sweet, so I can go back to revising The Iron Gate:

Today, the audiobook for Child of Fire is available.

Not just on Amazon, but also on and iBooks and where ever else you pick up books for your ear drums.

Remember that the prequel, Twenty Palaces, came out last month and that Game of Cages comes out next month. Circle of Enemies is the month after that.

Me, I’m going back to my books.

Twenty Palaces Audio Book Available for Pre-Order


What it says above: Tantor will be publishing audio books of all the Twenty Palaces novels (and that novella) and the first one will come out June 10th.

Audible has made the book available for pre-order, which you can do right now if you like.

As I write this, that’s the only place where it’s listed, but if you have a favorite audio vendor, I’m sure it’ll be there soon.

And the rest of the series arrives throughout the rest of the summer, one book per month. I’ll send a newsletter later this year, to announce all of them at once rather than spamming your inboxes once a month.

One Man Audiobook Drops in a Few Weeks


On May 19th, this will be available:

Yep, the folks at Tantor Media have signed on to make audiobooks of some of my work, starting with this one.

Then, in June through September, they’ll be releasing the four core Twenty Palaces novels:

June: Twenty Palaces
July: Child of Fire
August: Game of Cages
September: Circle of Enemies

And once The Iron Gate and The Flood Circle are finished, they’ll be coming out, too, with “The Twisted Path” piggy-backed onto Iron Gate.

So, that’s a lot of my words to put into the auditory centers of your brain. And… that’s it. That’s what I have to say. Audiobooks incoming. I hope you are keeping safe and comfortable.

Things to Watch and Things to Listen to: Audiobooks, Plus Other Stuff


First, courtesy of Greg Van Eekhout, author extraordinaire, the perfect nine-second YouTube video for our times.

Second, if you’re one those good people who backed my Kickstarter for new Twenty Palaces novels, you’ve already seen the update with this news, but: Tantor Media has signed on to create audiobooks for all the Twenty Palaces books I’ve self-published. That’s Twenty Palaces, The Twisted Path, and the two Kickstarter novels.

What do I know about audiobooks? Not a lot! I just hope things turn out well.

As for the 20P books published by Del Rey, they still hold the audio rights. Will they also sign with Tantor? Or handle them in house? Or something? Or nothing? I dunno. That’s up to them.

Third, what the Kickstarter backers don’t know is that Tantor has already signed up to create an audiobook for One Man.

I’ll let you know when the books are available, obviously, and when I have definitive word on who will be doing the narration. It’s exciting! Audiobooks are big deal, and even though they don’t fit neatly into my life, I know they matter to a lot of you guys out there.

And finally, thank you everyone for the kind reviews, especially the ones saying you thought One Man was the best book of the year. That brings a slight flush to my cheeks every time I read it.

Also, it prompts others to buy the book.

Thanks again.

One Man Reviews and Discoverability


One Man has been on sale for nearly two months, and while sales have not been life-changing, they’ve been holding fairly steady. And that’s mainly because of the reviews.

The reviews so far have been very positive, with a number of people saying One Man was the best fantasy they read all year. To which I have to say:

Wow, thank you.

I spent two years on this book. I’m not what you’d call prolific, and I thought it might be wise to stop trying to be. What if, I thought, I stopped streamlining and started dawdling. What if I gave it extra time and attention to make something complex? What if?

Well, publishers said Meh, which has me thinking that what I want to see in a second-world fantasy is not exactly in the mainstream. (Like all my other books, I guess.) But still! There’s space outside the mainstream if I can connect what I love to the readers who would also love it.

Which is why I’m so grateful for the reviews you guys leave, and why I keep asking for them. Last week, One Man passed the fifty review mark over on Amazon, which is a huge boost to discoverability. Amazon likes to prioritize books that get a lot of reviews, and I’m hopeful that One Man will pass the next level for Amazon’s algorithms, which is 100 reviews. Child of Fire has over a hundred, and so does The Way into Chaos.

However, Game of Cages, Circle of Enemies, and several other works of mine have not, so I have to keep coming here to talk about this and ask you to drop a review if you haven’t already.

Amazon makes that easy. When I enter the book title “One Man” into their search function, the results actually include books with that title. It puts them at the top, even.

It’s different for Goodreads, though. Goodreads’s search algorithm seems like it assumes you don’t actually know the title of the book you’re searching for, and throws up a lot of weird results. For example, when I type “One Man” into a search window, the auto-complete looks like this:

autocomplete includes book titles unlike the search string I entered

What you get before you press enter

I get that Camus is more popular than I am, but are they really putting in a book that I didn’t search for instead of one that I did?

What happens, you may wonder, after I press ENTER to see the results?

Search for One Man, get a lot of books with a different title

It’s like they’re ignoring the title I actually entered.

This shows the scroll bar on the side, and you won’t be surprised to hear that my book doesn’t appear on that first page at all. In fact, it doesn’t appear on pages two through five, either.

The reason I bring this up is that some folks have said they had trouble finding the book on Goodreads, especially when it first came out. You’ll have to throw my name in there to actually find the right page, at least until Amazon brings the search algorithms on Goodreads up to the standards of their online store. Or click this link.

And thank you again for the reviews you have already written. I’m incredibly grateful.

By the way, if you want a direct link to an online vendor to drop a review, see below:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Indiebound | Kobo | Mysterious GalaxyPowell’s | Smashwords

Welp, It’s Black Friday


Today is Black Friday, and if you’re planning to visit a bookstore to do any of your holiday shopping, I just want to make note that you ought to be able to order One Man through Ingram.

I hope so, at least. That’s how it’s supposed to work.

Thanks very much to everyone who bought the book and everyone who has written an online review. Right now, the book is selling to people who already know and like my work, but spreading the word will help this book (and my backlist) reach a larger audience.

At which point I should just say: Happy Leftovers Day. As soon as I finish this, I’m having a turkey sandwich and a slice of apple pie for breakfast, then I’m heading out to work on The Iron Gate.