Monthly Archives: January 2013

Ask Me Anything Today

Well, almost anything… I hope the questions will be in good taste. I’m not quite the gentleman that Asim is, but I do try.

My reddit Ask Me Anything thread is live now, and can be found by clicking on this line of text. I hope you’ll drop by, and I hope you’ll help spread the word.

Things have been quiet on the site because I’m caught in a promotional loop, but I do have some interesting things going on I’d like to talk about, once I catch my breath.



Journeying To Reddit

As I mentioned a few days ago, I’ll be answering all sorts of questions about writing and the publishing word over at Reddit on Thursday night. You’ll be able to drop in and create questions throughout the day, and I’ll be answering them live starting around 7:30 or so.

The actual page isn’t created yet, so I can’t provide a link to it, but here’s the general link, which you can use until Thursday. You can see my name over in the sidebar to the right, and sooner or later by clicking that you’ll be able to access my page and Ask Me Anything.


Ask Me Anything

I don’t mean RIGHT NOW, but next Thursday, January 31st, when I’ll be over at Reddit most of the evening. I’ll provide a link and all that as the day comes closer. I hope I can count on interested folks to help spread the word.

In other news, a friendly reader noticed that the FB link on my page wasn’t working. It is now, so if you wish to see what nonsense I’m posting daily, you can now click it, friend me, and find out. I tend to post much more often on FB than I do here, or on Twitter. I’ll confess — I still haven’t really figured out how to use Twitter effectively.

I’ve decided against a big ConFusion recap. Short form is that it was a wonderful convention, and I’ll definitely be returning next year. Not only did I reconnect with author and editor friends and talk with some readers, I met some new people I am pleased now to name friends. I flew up to Detroit Thursday morning to spend most of the day with my good friend the talented John Hocking, then wandered around with him and Steve Haffner for a while until I sat down to watch Salidin Ahmed and a group of folks playing a long game of Talisman. Over the next few days there were any number of highlights — a fantastic chat with Patrick Rothfuss on the subject of pacing (well, mostly he was brilliant, and I was nodding), helping Myke Cole brainstorm some silly questions for a Sunday panel on stupid questions, receiving some sage advice from Peter Orullian, talking story structure with Doug Hulick, and  relaxing, chatting, and dining with fine folk like Saladin Ahmed, Mary Robinette Kowal, Violette Malan, Brad Beaulieu, Brian McClellan, Scott Andrews, Michael Thomas, Michael J. Deluca, Amy Sundberg, Patrick Tomlinson, Mike Underwood, the indefatigable Sam Sykes, and a whole lot of other people… but remember how I said this wasn’t going to be a huge recap? So I’ll stop.

Right — it’s late, so I’m going to sign off so I have lots of time to write come the morning, after a good long rest.


Seven Kings

The second book from the talented John Fultz was released in trade paperback just last week, and I wanted to call your attention to it. If you’re used to a sort of Tolkienized fantasy, Fultz’s work, laden with the wine of wizardry and high octane thrills distilled from vats once owned by Lord Dunsany and Clark Ashton Smith, is a rich and different sort of treat. Here’s the official blurb for Seven Kings:

In the jungles of Khyrei, an escaped slave seeks vengeance and finds the key to a savage revolution.

In the drought-stricken Stormlands, the Twin Kings argue the destiny of their kingdom: one walks the path of knowledge, the other treads the road to war.

Beyond the haunted mountains King Vireon confronts a plague of demons bent on destroying his family.

With intrigue, sorcery, and war, Seven Kings continues the towering fantasy epic that began with Seven Princes.

Get thee to a book store and grab a copy! You can try out a sample chapter over at Black Gate.

Evildoers Beware!

I have a spider bite on my hand. It may seem unrelated, but while everyone else in the house has come down with various coughs, colds, and even a stomach virus, I remain in perfect health. Coincidence? I think not. Nay, my conclusion is that I have been bitten by a RADIOACTIVE spider. Already I have developed a superhuman immune system. I expect other amazing powers to manifest very shortly. Frankly, I’m just glad I wasn’t bitten by a radioactive camel. Those things HURT, and besides, I’d only be able to go for days without water and spit incredible distances, which isn’t especially useful for crime fighting.

Guttering Candles

Some years ago I ended up with a book written by Harold Lamb containing a personal dedication to his mother. If you’re new to this site, or to me, you may not know that I spent some ten years or so tracking down Harold Lamb’s work and helping to bring it back to print. I happen to think he’s one of the greatest adventure writers these United States have ever seen, although he happens to remain pretty obscure.

Anyway, so there I was, looking at this dedication, which read something along the lines of “to my mother, who was so supportive of my first book, I present my tenth.” By the time that book came into my hands, Lamb, his mother, his wife, and his children were all dead, leaving none to come after. There were only the books, and me, holding this one, wondering how it had found its way here and thinking about the day he must have penned that note and presented it to her.

Lamb is gone, and so is almost all that mattered to him, and when I remember that moment I feel like I am sitting alone in a very large, dark room, near a single, guttering candle. But maybe that’s how all of us humans should feel a little more often, so we remember how precious is the light.

Authorial Voice, Scheduling, and a New Review

I wrote my most recent post about Guy le Strange’s book on ancient Baghdad in one long sustained burst, and upon revisiting just noticed that I use the phrase “by God” and “God alone knows.”

Those really aren’t regular parts of my speech pattern, but they are pretty common in most of my primary sources. Ibn Athir, for instance, seems to praise God every few sentences.  Apparently you really do begin to absorb the style of the books you read!

When I write Asim I strive to emulate the sound of these ancient writers, like ibn Jubayr and Usamah ibn Muquidh. But I don’t imitate them exactly. To the modern western ear so many mentions of religion distract from the narrative, and I would imagine that if I used them as often as Ibn Jubayr I might even be accused of trying to “force” the tone. Thus, while I mention God with some regularity in the Dabir and Asim stories, and  deliberately simulate the cadence and the fee of these ancient writers — adopting a slightly more formal sound — I keep away from precise duplication.

Ancient Baghdad’s Street Plan

When you’re researching you sometimes stumble onto books that seem to have been written just for you.

I’ve read a long shelf’s worth of interesting and sometimes wonderful texts about 8th century Arabia, both primary and secondary sources (and a whole lot of books about ancient history in the region). Yet one in particular was almost perfectly suited to what I was writing, and once I found it I had one of those Homer “doh” moments.

It had been mentioned in the bibliography of one of my early sources. I can only assume that I tried to look for it twelve or thirteen years ago and couldn’t find a copy, but it could be that I simply missed it.

The full title of the book is Baghdad During the Abbasid Caliphate from Contemporary Arabic and Persian Sources, and should tell you just how vital the book would be to anyone bringing a story to life in 8th century Baghdad. I wish that I’d had it at hand when I wrote The Desert of Souls. I assure you that I keep it close by as I draft The Maiden’s Eye, which takes place almost entirely within Baghdad itself over the course of a single week.

Author Sightings

On January 15th I’ll be driving to Terre Haute to talk to some ISU creative writing students about writing and the business thereof, and then, at 6:00, I’ll be signing copies of The Bones of the Old Ones at the Terre Haute Barnes and Noble. I suppose I could sign other items as well, if you really want. For instance, if you need a signed copy of Memory of Light, or always wanted a signature on your Land of the Lost costume, I’ll be happy to help out.

From January 18th to January 20th I’ll be at ConFusion up in sunny Dearborn Michigan. I attended ConFusion for the first time last year and it’s a great convention. The staff are personable and very well-organized. There’s a strong gaming track AND a strong writing track, and the panels are intimate. Also, there are a number of movers and shakers at ConFusion with whom it’s usually hard to rub elbows at larger cons.

Of Swords and Gorns

What strange times we’re living in. Just ten years ago there was a pronounced lack of sword-and-sorcery on the shelves. I’m sure some of my forum posts on this subject, lamenting the injustice of the situation, can still be found. Yet here we are in 2013 with a whole lot of popular book series now flavored with sword-and-sorcery sensibilities — the headlong pace, the gritty feel, the action sequences, all that. While my own work has more glitter than grit, it’s still sword-and-sorcery, and, better yet, it’s among those making end-of-year lists.

Last year, The Desert of Souls made the top ten of the Barnes and Noble SciFi and Fantasy Blogs Best Fantasy list; this year The Bones of the Old Ones got there as well! Here’s the 2011 list, and here’s the 2012 list. Great reading is to be found on both, even if you’re not into Arabian swashbuckling. It’s nice to be on there with a number of friends, including Saladin Ahmed and John Fultz!

With The Desert of Souls released in paperback in January of 2012, it qualified for a 2012 end of year list from noted reviewer Paul Weimer. And J.J.S Boyce, reviewer for The Green Man, Winnipeg Free Press, Blogcritics, and Sleeping Hedghog, selected The Bones of the Old Ones as the best new fantasy title of the year!

In other Jones-related news, a panel I was on at Chicon 7 (aka Worlcon 2012) was recorded for posterity and recently released online by Timothy Ward. In it, I sat down with four fine fellow authors (Louise Marley, Rachel Neumeier, Jack Skillingstead, Lynda Williams ORU) and talked about how to Write What you Don’t Know. My basic thesis is that if you want to write it but don’t know about it, go do the research — you’re not confined to writing about ONLY the things that you’ve experienced. For instance, say, grad school and creative writing programs. You can then color your writing with your own observations on the nature of man, the way people converse and interact, and all that. Other people have more clever things to say. Anyway, the recorded panel is here.