Follow up to my new cover art post


Over the weekend I posted the cover art to my next novel. Here you can see it without the text, here you can see the preliminary pencil sketch.

Hey you guys, it’s the artist’s web site. Check out the other work he’s done. Every link in the page opens in a new tab, which is a little bit something but check it out.

On my Facebook page, there are currently 140 people who “like” me. Basically, they’re there to keep up with what I’m doing.

Unfortunately, the link to the post about that cover art was only seen by 62 of those people. Less than half. If these folks who are interested in hearing about my books want to actually hear about them, I’m gonna have to pay.

I’m not the first to say this, but this is stupid. If you want to put in a “promote” button, promote beyond the people who are already on my “like” list. Not to the people who have already signed up.

More and more I’m thinking that I should disconnect from FB (as a writer, at least) so that people won’t think they’re getting the latest news when they’re not. I’m becoming increasing convinced that it’s better to have nothing to do with a social media company than to make do with defective service.

I mentioned in the blog post that KING KHAN will be “upbeat and family-friendly,” and right away someone asked me if that meant they could hand it to their seven-year-old.

That was a bit of a stumper. There’s nothing in the book I wouldn’t show to my 11yo, but seven? There are hopping vampires, dirty cops, and period-appropriate (I hope) racism. At one point the action goes to a Sunset Strip nightclub taking part in the Pansy Craze. There are a handful of lechers, an island populated with beautiful women where men are kept in cages, and one mostly-elided sex scene. There is punching. There is shooting. There is stabbing.

I don’t think there’s anything in the book a kid can’t read, but a seven-year-old kid? The only way to know would be for a parent or guardian to read the book first to judge for themselves. Maybe I’ll do what my friends at Jet City Improv do, and change “family-friendly” to “TV-clean.”

The cover for my next novel… revealed!


Here’s the cover art for my new novel:


It’s one of the stretch goals for this project, a series of novels based on the Spirit of the Century role-playing game.

WHO is that HUGE MYSTERIOUS FIGURE reaching for Professor Khan?

WHERE could he be climbing that would be such a STRANGE ARCHITECTURAL JUMBLE?

WHY in the heck is he dressed in a zoot suit?

Yes, it’s Professor Khan: scientific genius, Oxford professor, unacknowledged war hero, interplanetary warrior, and gorilla. He also gets a styling new outfit and an adventure that takes him from his beloved England all the way to the big studios of 1930’s Hollywood.

This was a fun book to write because it had to be upbeat and family-friendly. Who knew I had it in me?

I don’t have a release date yet, but when I do I’ll post it here.

Look at this piece of art


I ended up doing a fair bit of blogging over the weekend. Most of it was jokey, silly stuff, but not all. There’s at least one post about failing at writing.

I mention it because I know people like to read about my shame.

What I didn’t mention was that I turned in KING KHAN to Evil Hat. The first round of (minor) revisions have already come back and I’m working on those today.

In the meantime, I have something nice for you guys: My in-laws are artists, in case you didn’t know, and my sister-in-law has just started a tumblr for her work. Check out the first painting she’s showing there.

I have failed my book in the worst possible way


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.

What we talk about when we talk about gorillas who teach at Oxford


Over on the LiveJournal version of yesterday’s post, I had someone say they were surprised to hear that I was working on a project called KING KHAN. I thought, Have I not talked about this?

Let me give you a quick rundown on this project, what it is and what it will be.

Back in April, indie rpg company Evil Hat was having a pretty good run on a Kickstarter. They were trying to fund a trilogy of books based on their Spirit of the Century game, which is a pulp-adventure game with an emphasis on the 1920-30s, and it was doing well enough that they set some stretch goals. One of those was for me to write a book featuring a particular reader favorite character: Professor Khan, an intelligent gorilla who teaches at Oxford.

After some discussion, we decided that I was going to write a book that had Professor Khan visit Los Angeles in the studio era. There’s a mysterious death, a stolen weird-science maguffin, and lots of high-strangeness of the lightning gun/shrink beam/hopping ghost variety.

And it’s funny. At least, it’s supposed to be funny. There’s action, naturally, but I’m hoping the characters and situations will be amusing and uplifting. Did I mention that it stars a gorilla who teaches at Oxford?

Anyway, I’m nearly finished with the first draft (it’ll be a short book, probably 70K or less) and, after a polish, will send it off and get back to EPIC FINALE WITH NO DULL PARTS. No rest for the weary.

I write with Scrivener, too


Charles Stross blogged about writing a novel in Scrivener and I thought it was an interesting read. Okay, I skimmed the part where he talked about LaTeX because Jesus, what the hell is that even and I pretty much don’t need to know.

Anyway, he’s right about many things: there is no way to do the track changes thing that people use MSWord for. That means I either have to a) switch over to Scrivener to type out all the changes I want to accept in MSWord, or b) import the edited Word document into a new Scrivener project (or into the old project, which I haven’t done because .scriv files are already HUGE), or c) accept that the .scriv file will not be the most recent file.

I’ve been doing a) which is annoying but feels satisfying, too, like keeping a tidy desk.

Also, I don’t have the same issues with the compiling process. Yes, there’s a helluva learning curve. Yes, it’s annoying as hell. Still, with enough trial-and-error I was able to create a handful of very clean epub files, without any hand-coding at all.

The floating word count window? AWESOME. I seriously love it, especially the way I can set a due date for the draft and it will tell me how many words I have to do per day to make that goal. I can even go in and mark certain days of the week as non-writing days. That’s good. I wrote about that some time ago: You can see the progress bar in this screen cap post.

Something else I like is that I can import web pages into the research section. I can dl the Wikipedia page for “Pansy Craze” or “Samurai” then while I’m writing (my internet is always disabled when I write) I can easily

Finally, one thing Charlie doesn’t mention is one of my favorite things: Custom Meta-data. See, when I was writing the Twenty Palaces books, I drove myself to exhaustion trying to keep track of what Ray had in his pockets: Did he have money? How much? Did he still have a gun? Whose was it? Had he stolen a car? What make again?

It was crazy-making and involved a lot of tedious fact-checking back through the book. But! With Custom Meta-data I could easily make a line for “Money” and keep track. Or “Gun”

In Epic Fantasy With No Dull Parts, I used Custom Meta-data to keep track of the two protagonists’ time lines. (They diverge late in the book.) That’s the sort of thing that drove me to distraction in earlier work.

Anyway, Scrivener is way too complicated, but I just ignore all those complicated parts I don’t need, just the way I did with MSWord back in the day. Plus, I’ve figured out the search thing that used to make me nuts.

I’m still working on the first draft for King Khan, and I swear that progress bar thing is really helping my productivity (not to mention the easy access I have to the synopsis). Yesterday’s word count was 3.3K which is huge for me, and today’s was 4K, which is unthinkable. So, you know, pleased.

I Heard Back From My Agent Re: Epic Fantasy With No Dull Parts



She has notes for me (of course) but they are surprisingly light. And there’s no rush.

Can I just let out a huge PHEW! here? It’s sort of an odd book, and I’m glad she’s enthusiastic about it.

Now to work on King Khan so I can start Epic Fantasy With No Dull Parts 2.

Two Kickstarters at once


As I write this on 5pm PST on Tuesday, the Kickstarter for the Professor Khan novel (KING KHAN!) I’m planning to write, which needed to reach $25K to be funded, now has fewer than twelve hundred dollars to go.

And it turns out I had the details of the stretch goals wrong in yesterday’s post: Evil Hat has already committed to publishing a stand alone Spirit of the Century novel starring mystic detective Benjamin Hu, written by Brian Clevinger, creator of Atomic Robo comics. I can’t believe I left that out. A $10 pledge would get you an ebook of that novel, too, along with all the others.

Also, BoingBoing did a brief news article on the Mayan-themed anthology I’m in, and now that project has less than fourteen hundred dollars to make its funding goal.

Kickstarter is doing pretty well by me right now.

I’m going to write about a gorilla who teaches at Oxford (I hope!)


It’s true. I don’t know if you’ve been following Evil Hat’s Dinopacalypse Kickstarter, but they started with a goal of $5K and blew through that in no time. This is one company that’s really making Kickstarter work for them.

Anyway, the “stretch goals” (projects they’ll fund if they reach funding levels past their original ones) have been pretty cool. At $15K, they committed to a whole trilogy of Dinopacalypse books…

Wait, I haven’t described these books yet, have I? They’re set in the Spirit of the Century game universe, an early 20th century pulp adventure role playing game in which player-characters who protect the world from conqueror apes using technology from lost Atlantis, thwart the schemes of Doctor Scrooge to steal from the poor, destroy death rays, and otherwise take out mad scientists, world conquerors, and evil sorcerers.

The Dinopacalypse books are about Gorilla Khan, conqueror ape, taking over the world with the help of psychic dinosaurs. Beyond that, the stretch goal for $20K is an Amelia Stone novel–she’s a hero who battles monster gangsters in 1930’s Paris–written by C.E. Murphy herself.

And then there’s the $25K goal, which will get you a book written by me. Yep, if the Kickstarter hits that mark, I will write a pulp adventure novel about Professor Khan, a hyper-intelligent gorilla turned Oxford professor and disillusioned “son” of Gorilla Khan. It’ll be set primarily in Hollywood(land) of the time period, along with some fun pulpy stuff thrown in.

And if Evil Hat reaches its stretch goal of $30K, Stephen Blackmoore, the author of the zombie noir City of the Lost, is going to write KHAN OF MARS. I know.

You can read more about the supporter levels and what pledges get you what swag right here in Update #6. A $10 dollar pledge gets you ebooks for all the novels, but for physical books you should read through the various tiers. You can also see artwork, get cool wallpapers of dudes with jet packs shooting pteranodons, etc, etc. Did I mention that the Kickstarter is already above $22K as I write this? Fewer than three thousand dollars in pledges will get this sucker going.

Anyway, I still haven’t settled on a title for intelligent ape in Hollywood novel. KING KHAN? PROFESSOR KHAN TAKES HOLLYWOOD? I dunno. Maybe, after I finish A BLESSING OF MONSTERS and start working on this, I’ll hold a contest.

I know I’m not one to be all rah rah about the projects I’m working on, but this one is definitely exciting.