Hey! *blows dust off blog* Wow, I still have this thing? Huh. Who knew?
Well, I can’t think of a better way to kick off returning from a long hiatus over here than by letting somebody else do all the work… I mean, giving some space to an amazing and awesome writer.
And so today I’ve got Leanna Renee Hieber author of THE ETERNA FILES, her new gaslamp fantasy series, the first of which just came out. She’s here to talk a little about what you can do when things don’t quite go your way.
When your worst nightmare happens, write anyway
It was 2008 and I’d just signed a 2 book contract with a small New York publisher with good mass market distribution, with those fabled “books of my heart” – the novels I’d been slaving away over for nearly a decade. I had “made it!”. The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, a Gaslamp Fantasy set in a ghostly, mythic, atmospheric London in 1888, and it’s sequel, sold well, garnered acclaim, hit Barnes & Noble bestseller lists, won some awards, and then by 2011 my books were going out of print and the publisher going bankrupt. It wasn’t just many thousands of dollars I was owed in royalties and ancillary payments that was demoralizing, or the battle for the rights to return, but just the simple daunting reality of the school of hard knocks when it hits not only you in your wallet but your creative babies right in their innocent faces.
There was such a period of turmoil and soul-searching after this freefall, and until the first books in the series are reissued, I will not be fully healed from the trauma of a career held hostage and a series left incomplete. I field regular questions about when the fourth Strangely Beautiful book will be out because Amazon seems unwilling to take down the ISBN listing. Every time I have to explain the situation it’s a knife. But every time I’m also so grateful someone wants to read that 4th novel.
The ordeal taught me what to do and what not to do in the future. Perhaps most importantly; yes, invest in your career but not more than your budget can truly handle, this mistake cost me debt on top of money owed that I would never see, regardless of the fact I felt it was wise to invest further in a series that was selling well out of the gate, my debut novel went into 4 print runs. On the ‘to do’ side, it was and remains incredibly wise to maintain and foster industry connections; to be able to make lateral or hopefully upward moves. Thankfully a Dorchester editor had moved to Sourcebooks and acquired me for their YA line with another Gaslamp Fantasy series.
On the ‘to do’ side, it was and remains incredibly wise to maintain and foster industry connections; to be able to make lateral or hopefully upward moves. Thankfully a Dorchester editor had moved to Sourcebooks and acquired me for their YA line with another Gaslamp Fantasy series.
Another important aspect is not tamping down on the pain, the rage, the frustrations of what happened but to just keep writing through it, toxic though those negative energies are. If ups and downs in the industry can stop you writing entirely, then it means giving over your muse to a non-creative entity that is out of your control and has no opinion or value of your quality of writing, good or bad. And just because a business went under and the value of my work went from successful series to thin air, I couldn’t take that on as my responsibility. Part of me, growing up in a country that doesn’t have state-supported art as a backbone of cultural identity, thought, “well, that’s what I get for trying to follow my dreams, I should have done something more practical.” No. That a business failed doesn’t mean I did, I had to rally myself time and again.
It is true I started writing for the love of writing, with no sense of commerce or career about it. I had to get back to that as a reset button. But, after having become a professional author, I wasn’t going to give up on writing as a career. Writing is my job. It isn’t a hobby. Art isn’t superfluous, a luxury, something to cut when purse strings tighten. It isn’t free, no one is entitled to an artist’s products, it is as legitimate a profession as any that exists, careers and callings that have been around as long as civilization, far longer than most of the types of “real” jobs in the modern workforce. Mindset is everything.
I am very lucky in that a fortuitous meeting at a convention where I was a featured guest author led to my being signed with Tor for my Eterna Files series as well as the revised, author preferred editions of the Strangely Beautiful books, including that never before published 4th book. But it wasn’t just luck. It was because I was present. I stayed in the game. I kept writing. I kept trying. I hurt and I seethed with frustration but I kept that toxicity away from my characters. I refused to become a hateful or jaded person despite the hard knocks.
I appreciate writing and the privilege of a book contract as much as ever, and the importance of staying relevant with new material. I’m thrilled THE ETERNA FILES, extending my Gothic, Gaslamp Fantasy settings into an expanded universe where all of my worlds collide and characters cross over, is a culmination of everything I’ve done up until this point. Nothing has been wasted, much has been learned, but I do hope I’ll have better luck this time around. So far, so good. But that good has a lot to do with whether readers continue to support the industry of writing. I hope you will. If not my book, someone else’s book. Hug an author, actor, artist or creative professional today. Thank them for creating. Their art gives the world transcendence; and it often has been through hell and high water just to get to you, to make your day magical.
So, as author Sam Sykes would say, “Buy My Book.” (But I’ll put a please in. “Please buy my book.”) Thank you and may this encourage any struggling artist to keep making art, no matter their setbacks or circumstances.
Crime fiction aficionados! I will be at Bouchercon in Long Beach this November! Doing stuff! And things!
Mostly hanging out at the bar.
Here’s where I’ll be!
Thursday, November 13th
1:00pm – Murder Most Ghostly and Paranormal (Regency B)
Just a guess here, but I think we’re talking about ghosts and murder and stuff?
5:30pm – Noir at the Bar: Author Readings (Regency C)
YES! WE ARE ACTUALLY FUCKING DOING THIS.
Eric Beetner and I will be emceeing, probably reading. We’ll announce the actual list of readers soon, but so far we’ve got OVER TWENTY READERS lined up for this thing. AND WE’RE GIVING AWAY BOOKS.
YES. GIVING AWAY BOOKS. AS IN FREE
So, you know, be there.
I’ll be floating around the con on other days, too, but those are the days you can be sure to find me.
My latest novel, BROKEN SOULS, is out today. Everybody do the Snoopy Dance. If you are so inclined I would love it if you would pick up a copy.
It shares a birthday with Delilah S. Dawson’s SERVANTS OF THE STORM, Kat Richardson’s final installment of her long-running Greywalker series REVENANT and Lev Grossman’s THE MAGICIAN’S LAND. I’m sure it shares a birthday with lots of other books, too.
There are, after all, 299 SF/F books coming out in August, not counting self-published releases.
There’s Karina Cooper’s ENGRAVED (8/11) Jaye Wells’ CURSED MOON (8/12), Richard Kadrey’s THE GETAWAY GOD (8/26), Kameron Hurley’s THE MIRROR EMPIRE (8/26), John Scalzi’s LOCK IN (8/26), John Hornor Jacobs’ THE INCORRUPTIBLES (8/14), Dana Fredsti’s PLAGUE WORLD (8/26), Ann Aguirre’s HAVOC (8/26), and many, many more.
This is awesome.
I’ve heard some people comment that that’s too many books. That authors will be lost in a tidal wave of so many releases, as though we were all competing against each other. It’s easy to see why people might think that. They’re used to the way movies or television work. When you see a movie you sit in the theater for two hours and you consume that experience. You buy the ticket, you see the movie. One directly leads into the other. That first week is crucial.
But books are not like movies. If we don’t crack our first day box-office nut we’re not going to be relegated to a two week run at some grindhouse theater where the floors are sticky with questionable fluids. Though an opening week is undoubtedly good for business, books are neither bought, nor experienced that way.
When you buy a book, you don’t necessarily read it right away. Sometimes it goes onto a To-Be-Read pile or sits in an archive on your Kindle to get to later. Or maybe you don’t hear about the book until a friend mentions it and it’s been out for a year. Try that with a movie and you might never get a chance to see it. Maybe it’s some art-house flick that doesn’t get a DVD release, or it’s a huge seller that they don’t want to release to a streaming site like Netflix.
A book doesn’t suddenly become inaccessible simply because it didn’t earn out in the first two days. There are options to get a book now that didn’t exist twenty years ago.
If there’s any competition going on it’s with everything that takes your attention. Books, sure, but also movies, videogames, the baby screaming in the other room, the day job, getting the kids to school, sleep. You know, LIFE. We’ve only got so much time in a day and it’s a precious commodity.
Now I think BROKEN SOULS is a pretty good book and it’s already getting some good reviews, I know that it may not be for you. It’s noir. It’s dark and violent. There’s a lot of swearing. If you decide to take a chance on it know that I am grateful and thankful for your time and attention. I hope it’s a book that’s worthy of those things.
But if it’s not your bag, maybe check out some of the titles up top, instead. I’ve heard excellent things about all of them and I’m sure you’ll find something you like.
Not only am I giving away copies of BROKEN SOULS, looks like my publisher is doing it, too. They just put up another Goodreads giveaway for 16 copies ARCs.
So if you want to up your chances you can enter for mine (details here) and up your chances by entering the one at Goodreads.
Also, if you happen to be going to San Diego Comic Con at the end of July Mysterious Galaxy will be selling copies early at their booth and I’ll even sign ‘em when I’m there Friday and Sunday!
But even with all those option, wouldn’t you rather get one for free?
I’m giving away 5 copies of Broken Souls. Signed, natch. How do you enter? Easy. Follow me on Twitter at @sblackmoore and from July 15th to July 25th hit me up saying you want to win a copy and use the hashtag #BrokenSouls.
That last bit’s important. Because that’s how I’m keeping track of everybody who enters. On the 25th I’ll pick five names out of a fez and send that puppy to you TOUT FRIGGIN’ SUITE.
Oh, one more thing. This is good for North America only. Sorry, folks, but international shipping breaks the bank.
So hit me up. I got some necromancy goodness here that want to find a good home.
Oh, also, if you want BROKEN SOULS and you haven’t read DEAD THINGS, let me know. Because I got copies of that lying around, too and if you win I’ll send you both of ‘em.
‘Cause I’m a giver.
BROKEN SOULS comes out in less than a month. *cue panic* But if you’re going to San Diego Comic Con you can get copy before it officially comes out.
BE ONE OF THE COOL KIDS! BE THE ENVY OF YOUR FRIENDS! FLAUNT IT AT YOUR FRIENDS, NEIGHBORS, PETS!
All you have to do is go to the Mysterious Galaxy Booth #1119 where they will be selling copies!
And if you want it signed, you can catch me at a couple of places at the con.
Coming up with creative ways to commit mayhem and murder is the lifeblood of these talented thriller authors. A fatal chimera virus; hybridized bioengineered parasites; murderous microchips; lethal electric stimuli; deathstrike via satellite targeting-how many ways can you kill someone? Top thriller authors Tobias Buckell (Hurricane Fever), Alex Hughes (Marked), M. A. Lawson (Rosarito Beach), Stephen Blackmoore (Broken Souls), Gregg Hurwitz (Don’t Look Back), and moderator Jeff Ayers (Long Overdue) discuss the art of delivering deadly thrills. But don’t worry too much. A little light reading never killed anyone.
Afterward I’ll be signing books with these fine, upstanding gentlemen and did I mention you can get a copy of BROKEN SOULS before it comes out? What? I did? Oh, okay.
Sunday, July 27th, 2:00pm – Signing at the Mysterious Galaxy Booth #1119
Can’t get enough of me? THEN COME ON BY AND I’LL MAKE EYE CONTACT AND EVERYTHING!
I’ll be signing at the MG booth from 2:00 to 3:00. You’ll know my by the blank, soulless gaze as I stare at the chaos around me, driven mad by the gibbering of thousands of fans. Other people’s fans. Probably Kevin Hearne’s, or Joe Hill’s or Jim Butcher’s.
But let’s be clear on one thing. My fans are the sexiest.
What? You want more? WHAT THE HELL DO I NEED TO DO TO APPEASE YOU PEOPLE? FINE.
Friday, August 15th at 7:00 I’ll be back in San Diego at Mysterious Galaxy at 7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd #302, San Diego, CA 92111. I’ll be signing, surprise! copies of BROKEN SOULS, DEAD THINGS, other people’s books, butt cheeks, whatever you want. Just not checks. Unless they’re somebody else’s checks. I’ll sign those.
Hope to see some of you out there.
So a while back Monsieur Chuck Wendig, Master of The Beard, wrote a book for Abaddon Books titled UNCLEAN SPIRITS kicking off their Gods And Monsters series in which the gods have come to Earth and are fucking with the little folk.
The third in the series, coming out in December, is MYTHBREAKER. By me.
TA-DA! We have a cover.
As a child Louie had conversations with “invisible friends” and could see patterns in the world no one else could see.
In other times he would have been a prophet – someone to make people believe in the gods.
But he grew out of the visions and into a life in the underworld as a drug runner.
Now thirty-five and burnt out, he’s had enough. With access to the mob’s money he plans to go out in a big way. Only he can’t. A broken down car, a missed flight; it’s bad enough being hunted by the mob, but now the gods – kicked out of the Heavens – need someone to tell their stories, and they aren’t letting go.
Caught between two warring factions of gods and the mob Louie hatches a plan to get out, if it doesn’t get him killed first.
Man, I do like me that cover.
And that somebody would be RT Book Reviews.
“Blackmoore’s bottomless imagination concocts some truly twisted, weird, bloody and deviously clever stuff in this latest novel, featuring his acerbic necromancer, Eric Carter.”
Four and a half stars, baby. And a Top Pick for August.
I don’t know where to start. It’s all a blur. From getting onto a flight at LAX to getting home four days later? Five days? I can’t remember.
Sometime last Wednesday I went into Bat Country. I’m not sure I got out again.
Chuck Wendig and Kevin Hearne taking me out into the desert, a giant spider erupting from the ground to tell me secrets, dark whispers on the wind until it turns into Delilah Dawson weaving a spell that will trap the souls of the unwary. What she does with them I do not know. I cannot know. These are the Damned whose names have been turned to dust. She tears into them with the fervor of a starving hobo.
Blood. So much blood. A car made of bone and sinew and flesh. It runs on bile and flame. Sam Sykes at the wheel, his steely eyes staring into a land of dust that only he can see. He guides us through a hell of our own making. A cackling Lela Gwenn whips a herd of half-naked Abercrombie & Fitch models until their desiccated skin flays in the desert sun, falls to the ground to feed the snakes that chase us.
But mostly there is pain.
Brian McClellan gloats over a mummified dog’s head dipped in gold. It tells us the Secrets Of The Winds, its sapphire eyes twinkle and when Brian speaks it is the voice of the dog’s head. Is he the dog or is the dog him? Are we all the dog? Are none of us? Brian gloats. Brian judges. Brian tears through a cake of madness and despair.
There are tacos. So many tacos. Tacos to make the world weep. Tacos to end the universe. We consume the tacos and they consume us.
These are some goddamn good tacos. These are the Tacos of God.
Jaye Wells is a fiery goddess, dispensing wisdom and lies. Lies that are truths. Lies that are the meanings in hidden places, in the spaces in between. She speaks and the world burns.
Leanna Renee Hieber proves her bonafides by tearing through a man’s jugular and drinking deep his blood. It pours into the streets, washes us all in its red sea. A baptism of blood and pain. She is The Legit Vampire.
Jason Hough, Django Wexler, and Wesley Chu are the Three Smiling Deaths, their teeth flashing neon, their eyes gray static. When they speak there is a sound of distant radios as heard on deserted highways. Songs that no sane man was meant to hear, a mad piping on the midnight air. They sweep through the streets of Phoenix, leaving dread and a feral madness in their wake. Wes flexes his muscles and thousands die, Django sets his Bone Hounds upon the people laughing at each rendered corpse. Jason is the Lord of Lightning, arcs of electrified death bursting from his fingers.
Mike Underwood tells me he knows an escape. A way through the mindless horde. But like the others he is nothing more than a face of the Devil. I escape but at a cost. I lose a hand and part of my left foot.
Myke Cole attempts to rescue us from this pit. He is valiant. He is prepared. But not even he can save us. It is too late. We are too far gone. We leave his body in the desert, knowing that not even the vultures can truly kill him. He will rise again. I can only hope that I am far from this blasted land before he comes for my head. I can still see his feral grin, his crazed eyes. He is a man of honor, but honor means nothing in this wasted world.
We are lost.
I carve an X on my forehead to ward my mind from the madness that engulfs us. Instead of blood only dust appears. It blows away on superheated winds. There is a distant memory of panels. Of magic dark and profound. Of mad cities and pits of tar. These spells run deep. They go by the ancient laws that no one can break, or according to the mysteries that no one can decipher.
I think I have murdered a man for their churros.
Jamie Wyman, Olivia Kelly and Kristin Sullivan tear through the crowds like vengeful wraiths. They consume all who come near with their fiery retribution. They are the Unmakers Of Dreams, The Dread Valkyries, The Claws of Death. There is nothing to do but run.
There is more. So much more. So many left behind. So many dead. So many I cannot remember. It is too much.
Escape. Blessed escape. The lizard people taunt me, the snakes laugh. The spiders and coyotes and saguaro grasp at me trying to hold me back. I fly away on wings of fire and gasoline, in a metal prison. Some day I will return. I MUST return.
That is this place’s curse. That is its joy. That I will come back is inevitable. That I will leave some part of myself behind a given.
There is nothing else.
There is only Phoenix.