Friday, November 28, 2014

Season Two: Pursued is here!

And so it begins, season two. Months have passed since the confrontation with the sleepless Mint, and now Orgood is becoming more aggressive again in infecting the people on the streets and pursuing those who have already been infected. Can those in the Weave answer in kind, or will his targeting of them wipe them all out? Find out in Season Two: Pursued.

Episode 1, Lady Janshi's Acolyte is available now, from the publisher, and should eventually show up at all major online bookstores. And as a reminder, Musa now offers new titles for a discount during their first week for sale, if you buy directly from them. So jump on it to get the discounted price!

Spire City: Season Two, Pursued

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Amazing art!

I just saw these doodles over on Bored Panda, after someone shared it on Facebook. I don't feel I should post even a thumbnail of them on my blog, so you'll have to check out the link. A steampunked lion, a panda driven mad by monsters, a polar bear formed from/angered by factory smokestacks and advanced weapons and the skeletons of pollution-killed fish. And so much more.

All of them are very cool, but today I especially like Leopardville and the Nausicäa one. On this US Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for amazing creativity, wherever it can be found.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Everyone's invited!

In just two days, we'll be holding a pre-release Facebook event, where people can pre-order episode 1 directly from Musa and can win copies of the first season bundles (as well as gift cards).

I've always been somewhat leery of the blind, unsolicited invitations sent out scatter-shot among Facebook friends, so I'm avoiding that. Instead, I'm casting out the invitation here to everyone who wants it. We'll be chatting there on Facebook from 6pm-8pm EST on Friday, with steampunk and fantasy discussions and pictures and other cool stuff.

Joining me will be several of the other Darkside Codex writers as well as other fans, friends, etc. It should be a good time.

Come on by, anytime in there, and add your comments. And you'll be entered in a chance to win.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Guest blog giveaway: The Exile of Elindel by Carol Browne

A few weeks ago, Carol Browne was kind enough to host me on her blog, and now I have the chance to welcome her to Twigs & Brambles. Her fantasy novel The Exile of Elindel is published by Musa. You can learn more about it below, and comment to win your own free copy of the book! You have until Monday, November 17 at midnight, MST.

Carol Browne – The Exile of Elindel (Elwardain Chronicles I)

Elgiva, a young elf banished from Elvendom, must seek shelter among the Saxons as her only hope of surviving the coming winter.

Godwin, a Briton enslaved by the Saxons, is a man ignorant of his own inheritance and the secret of power he possesses.

A mysterious enemy, who will stop at nothing to wield absolute power over Elvendom, is about to make his move.

When destiny throws Elgiva and Godwin together, they embark upon the quest for the legendary Lorestone, the only thing that can save Elvendom from the evil that threatens to destroy it.

There is help to be found along the way from a petulant pony and a timid elf boy but, as the strength of their adversary grows, can Elgiva’s friends help her to find the Lorestone before it falls into the wrong hands?

Buy Links
Musa Publishing -
Barnes & Noble -

Author Bio
Carol Browne first appeared on the planet in 1954. She regards Crewe, Cheshire, as her home town and graduated from Nottingham University in 1976 with an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living in the Cambridgeshire countryside with her dog, Harry, and cockatiel, Sparky, when she’s not writing fiction, Carol spends her time as a housekeeper, proofreader, and ghost writer in order to pay the bills. Pagan and vegan, Carol believes it is time for a paradigm shift in our attitude to Mother Nature and hopes the days of speciesism are numbered.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Guest post: Milo James Fowler

Today I welcome Milo James Fowler to tell us something about his Musa-published novella Yakuza Territory, which comes out tomorrow.

So tell us about Yakuza Territory...and you may be tired of saying (or copy-and-pasting) the exact same answer to that question, so feel free to give the basic blurb, but tell us something different as well. What's unique about this novella that wouldn't be obvious from the blurb?

It's an action-packed story-within-a-story. If you can imagine Die Hard meets Assault on Precinct 13 but with gangsters and a killer robot, you're on the right track. Yakuza Territory delves into detective Charlie Madison's backstory and explains his ties to the Japanese mafia who've shown up in the previous two installments, Girl of Great Price and Immaterial Evidence.

Here's the official blurb:

A detective with no way out. A telepath with something to prove...

World-weary detective Charlie Madison has seen more than his share of war. When he stops by the 37th precinct late one night to check on his old friend Sergeant Douglass, the place is as quiet as a morgue. The last thing he expects to find: half a dozen Russian gunmen with a score to settle.

What starts out as a vicious Alamo-style battle soon evolves into something more sinister as Madison's past comes into play. Will his ties to a branch of the Japanese mafia be a help or a hindrance? And who is the strange man in holding? Why are the Russians determined to break him out?

Struggling to survive the night, one private eye must rely on his wits to solve a mystery where he's outnumbered, outgunned, and trapped inside a police station with a soulless killing machine.

Sounds like a lot of fun. Yakuza Territory is the third novella in this future noir setting. Is it important for readers to start with the first one, or do each stand alone as an entry point? And how do you get the balance between welcoming new readers and rewarding those who've already read the others so it doesn't feel like they're just reading the same thing again and again?

It's a balancing act, to be sure. Each story stands on its own. Girl of Great Price was actually published after Immaterial Evidence and worked as a prequel of sorts. Yakuza Territory picks up where Immaterial Evidence left off, but there's enough in Yakuza Territory for new readers to catch up. It's like any detective series that's episodic in nature. Each installment is a single case, but there's also an overarching mystery involving suprahumans with incredible abilities.

Your biography says you're a teacher by day. How does being a teacher affect your approach to writing? Do your students know about your writing, or is it a secret, second life?

My classroom is all about my students' writing. They know I'm a writer, but I don't often share my work with them. Teaching makes me a better writer; writing makes me a better teacher. I can tell my students straight out what editors expect to see, and I can share with them, from experience, the value of the revision process. Many of my former students are writers as well, and it's great to see them pursuing their dreams as I continue to pursue my own--during evenings, weekends, and summers off. Working only 9 months of the year is a great day job for any writer.

In several interviews I've seen you speak of Ray Bradbury as a hero and model for your writing. I can see his touch in the storytelling and prose, but the future noir setting doesn't necessarily call him to mind. Are there other writers or works that helped influence that aspect of the story?

The works of Philip K. Dick, Alastair Reynolds, Franz Kafka, and China Mieville have inspired my future noir stories. So have the old radio dramas Box 13 and Night Beat, not to mention the classic Philip Marlowe tales.

You've also mentioned Write 1 Sub 1 as a big part of your writing life, where you write a new story every week and submit something every week as well. How has that affected your writing approach? What advice do you have for other writers who might want to tackle something like that?

I've learned to write fast and edit slow, to churn words out and clean them up later. I've been on the monthly Write1Sub1 plan for the past three years; but back in 2011 when I wrote the first Charlie Madison novella, Girl of Great Price, I was turning out some of my best work. That year, while I was writing and submitting a new story every week, I penned the short stories that would eventually qualify me for SFWA membership. I think every writer should take a year and try it: 52 stories in 52 weeks. It's definitely doable.

And what's next for you?

I'm currently outlining the follow-up to Yakuza Territory, which will be called The Gifted Ones. It'll delve into the origin of the suprahumans who have appeared in the first three novellas. Judging by my pages of notes so far, it may stretch into novel-length territory, and it will include most of the characters from the first three installments. I can't wait to dive in and start drafting.

Bio: Milo James Fowler is a teacher by day and a speculative fictioneer by night. When he's not grading papers, he's imagining what the world might be like in a dozen alternate realities. He is an active SFWA member, and his work has appeared in more than 90 publications, including AE SciFi, Cosmos, Daily Science Fiction, Nature, Shimmer, and theWastelands 2 anthology.

Visit and join The Crew for updates about new releases as well as exclusive promotions.

Thanks, Milo. You can order Yakuza Territory from Musa and other online stores. Also be sure to visit the novella's Goodreads page.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

When a new idea strikes

Sometimes I think of new books or other projects as these huge peaks looming up in front of me for a long time, coming closer at the speed of a prairie schooner crossing eastern Colorado. I'll see it coming, ask myself if I'm ready to tackle it, make whatever preparations I need to do. I might draw a map. I might fill up notecards with character information. I might spend weeks or months brainstorming how these things fit together. I might make an outline (sometimes I do, sometimes not, but in the big spectrum of how much planning a story gets, I do tend to be more of a planner, at least enough to have an idea of the shape of the story I'm telling).

For awhile now, I've had a couple of ideas for stories that my son especially would like. Middle grade sort of books as I've paged through the books he races through. (And read some of them at the same time myself--we like to race each other with certain books, most recently with Lemony Snicket's Shouldn't You Be in School? He always wins. Maybe because he takes the book to bed with him and leaves it in his bed once he falls asleep...)

One of those two ideas was getting some of the usual planning treatment, and I was thinking of tackling it during NaNo this year. My thinking was that it would be the first in a longer series (since series are pretty much all he reads), with at least an idea for a handful of short-ish books. I really like the concept and some of the ideas I have for developing it as it goes, more SF than his usual fantasy, but I think he'd still enjoy it, and it'd be all set for my daughter in a couple of years as well. The other vague idea was just way in the back of my mind. For a writing exercise I once wrote the opening few hundred words of what could be a short story connected with that vague idea, but I wasn't enamored of that story start and didn't ever go back and finish it, and otherwise I had no plans for the idea.

Then suddenly about two months ago, the voice of the narrator popped into my head. The boy from the short story start I'd made, though most of the details were different. It was a scene with his dad and a younger sister, and I could hear him so perfectly. Did I really want to work on that then, though? Two months to NaNo, and I could use the daily word count posting to spur me to write it in a single month. Or even a couple of weeks, as Middle Grade books are often shorter. But I had that voice then. If I waited, I wasn't sure I would still have a good grasp of who he was and how he would tell it. So with very little planning, I started writing.

I finished the rough draft just before November. It's short for a novel (I had a lot of other commitments, including a lot of Spire City-related things), but feels a good length for the reading level. My son is anxious to be my first reader for it. So in another month or so, I'll give a quick read-through/light revision and see what he says. It could well be too easy for him. Or too advanced, even as good a reader as he is. I didn't let myself worry too much about that as I wrote.

The main thing, though, is that I just had to run with the idea while it was hot. If I had waited, could I have written the book? I'm sure I could have. It would have been different. Maybe better, but maybe worse. There are still going to be times for me when I wait on an idea, let it gather steam in my mind for months or years, plan and brainstorm and imagine for a long time before I ever write the first word. But with this one, it felt right to get it down now.

(And NaNo? There was no way I was ready to tackle another novel right away. So my focus this month is on writing short stories, something I love but recently don't do as much of as I'd prefer. Already wrote one flash piece, finished another story that was almost done, wrote a poem, and began a new short story. I'm not thinking I'll get 50k words written, as I have a lot of other commitments this month as well, but I'm hoping for at least several solid short stories and a few more good flash pieces as well.)