There will be theories about whoever left this cookie here.
They’ll all be wrong.
So April’s shaping up to be quite the eventful month, book-wise.
As previously mentioned, I find out on April 16 whether or not I’m the winner of the Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author contest. (And as a friend of mine has said, whether I come out on top or not, I’ve already won.)
A specialty of author Jefferson Smith, ImmerseOrDie is a tough-but-fair challenge wherein Jeff starts reading an indie novel at the beginning of his daily 40-minute treadmill workout. He counts every “WTF” flaw that takes him out of the story. If he hits three WTFs before his session’s finished, he stops reading, marks the time of death, and shares the details of the patient’s demise in a post. Should the book go the 40-minute distance, he then puts it through a second round to see if he wants to read it to the end. The numbers are fairly brutal: at the time the bundle titles were chosen, only 13 of 114 books survived the treadmill round. And of those 13, only these eight made it to being fully read.
As for the bundle part of it, StoryBundle offers a themed collection of ebooks for whatever price the reader would like to pay. In addition, the customer determines the split between the authors and the site and can choose to have a percentage donated to charity as well.
Needless to say, I’m thrilled to be included in this bundle with the likes of Smith, Russ Linton, Christopher Ruz, Bryce Anderson, JS Morin, Christopher Wright, Richard Levesque, and Crash Bandicoot co-creator Andy Gavin. I’m nearly finished reading the books in the bundle and have enjoyed the hell out of all of them. It’s a collection of fresh voices and top-notch storytelling chops, and they’ve made my commute seems a whole lot shorter. I highly recommend all of them.
It really doesn’t get much better than this: I’m one of three finalists in the Soon to be Famous Illinois Author Project, which is sponsored by the state’s libraries. Of any contest in which I’ve entered The Journeyman, this one’s the most important to me.
I love libraries. I love librarians.
I was sponsored by librarian Stuart Griner and the Edgewater branch of the Chicago Public Library system. (Worth noting: Stuart agreed to take a look at my book only a week before the contest deadline, which I’d just found out about when I called, desperate, and he happened to be the one who picked up the phone.)
The judges are librarians, whose opinions top the importance hierarchy, as far as I’m concerned. (Little-kid me, headed to the check-out desk with Robert the Rose Horse and The Great Pie Robbery tucked under his arm, would have agreed way back when, too.)
They announce the winner at a reception at the Illinois Library Association‘s offices in Chicago on April 16.
Fingers crossed, please, anyone who’s willing. But even if this is as far as I make it, I’m truly honored to be included with the other finalists.
Just a few random updates.
First off, I’m very excited to finally have the print version of The Commons: Book 1: The Journeyman available. It’s currently on offer domestically from Amazon, but an international paper version is hot on its heels and should be ready in a week or two. Already, those who’ve seen it are asking about the little band of mysterious icons on the back cover, which are tossed in without any explanation.
Those are the handiwork of cover artist and designer Dan Fernandez, who’s done a beautiful job on the full book package. Each icon represents a different character, item, or aspect of the novel. Dan’s created some wondrous abstract art based on those, the first of which plays up the peacock (at the top of this post, full version here). I couldn’t be happier with Dan’s work, and I look forward to unveiling more of it in future posts.
Meanwhile, last week found me signing my first-ever autographed copy. A colleague of mine, Sheneen Landry, asked for it. Another colleague, Susan Hardy, captured the moment for posterity.
Having a print version in hand also allowed me to start peppering my neighborhood Little Free Libraries with copies, the first of which got dropped into a local box this past Saturday night. (I left a note on the inside cover asking my reader neighbors to keep it circulating and to drop me a line if they enjoyed it (and even if they didn’t).
Last, but not least, are a few recognition and review highlights. I’m proud to have received an indieBRAG medallion for The Journeyman, and I’m just as happy to see a couple of generous reviews from the links of blogger Jordan Binkerd and fellow fantasy author Kyra Dune. Reviews are the lifeblood of any authorial effort, so I freely admit I can’t get enough of them.
That is all, friends. Take care, and, as always, thank you for your support and attention.
I’ve been asked what I listen to when writing. It’s pretty much all ambient all the time, with a heavy emphasis on one of my favorite acts, Stars of the Lid. I discovered them years ago when living in L.A., and they’ve fueled my creativity ever since.
I plan on highlighting works from them and other favorites as I bump along with this blog—all of it perfect for getting your think on. And I’m starting with the phenomenal Tired Sounds since the first track on it, “Requiem for Dying Mothers,” is what Annie hears through one of the hallway doors when she first starts her quest to figure out where Zach has gone.
Enjoy (and for an alternate take on “Requiem,” SOTL did a wonderful live version in a show put together by WQXR).
Another day, another offering of treats-for-the-eyes Commons character artwork, this time from pal and lens ninja James Barnett (along with model Enrika Newbury). If you need a wedding or portrait photographer in Phoenix, Tempe, or Scottsdale, James is your man.
An interesting presentation of the addictive pinkies and the fugue state they put Annie in, says I.
Artist extraordinaire and Commoners pal Michael Visnov has been at it again, putting together more character concept sketches for The Commons: Book One: The Journeyman. After whipping up some beautiful renderings of Ken the mummy, he’s back with his take on Po. A couple are an experiment with a full-on David Carradine/Kwai Chang Caine/Kung Fu look (7 and 8), while others give Po a look all his own.
I’m partial to 3, 4, and 9. You?
I’ve been very happy with the generous and kind reviews The Commons 1: The Journeyman has been getting on Amazon and Goodreads, among other other places. But the folks at Awesome Indies have taken it to another level entirely, with one write-up that gave it “an extremely enthusiastic five stars” and another that called it “something truly extraordinary.”
Now they’ve got me dancing a little jig in my living room, having awarded the book a Seal of Excellence.
That is why we write.