So yeah I totally forgot I set Stormbringer up to be free over the weekend at Amazon dot com. Which… oops.
But there’s still time! So if you wanna grab this book for the hot price of ZERO dollars and ZERO cents, now’s your chance!
Well, there’s something to tick off that I’ve had sitting on the todo list for, er, ahem. Years. I have finally compiled a page of my random short fiction. It’s taken me so long to get around to this, mostly because I kept telling myself I was going to To Something with these stories and then… never did. So, failing that, here they are.
Almost everything here counts as backstory to Liesmith, and scratches my Sigyn/Loki OTP itch. In rough chronological order, the stories are:
There are also two contemporary stories:
Of these, “Mothers” and “Blue Sky Mine” are probably my favorites.
Finally, “My friend Vic was a weird kid.” is the non-Wyrdverse story. I went through a phase about a year ago of obsessively reading
r/nosleep, and this story was the result. It was originally posted anonymously to that community, but the copy archived here is the slightly edited and cleaned version as opposed to the “I wrote this on my phone in one sitting then posted it straight away” version.
All-in-all, I think that’s something like 20k+ of free words to keep you amused so… enjoy!
Confused about the Naglfar? Never quite sure what a goði was?
Then never fear, dear reader! The Wyrdverse Glossary is (finally) here!
The glossary is a list of terms used in the Books of the Wyrd, Liesmith and Stormbringer. It previously appeared at the end of Stormbringer, but now it’s here, for all your delicious internet goodness!
For bonus points, it also features some super-badass illustrations from the mega-talented Neogeen. I will not lie: Neogeen was my number one monster design influence when writing the Books, so it was an amazing experience to work with her to bring characters like Lain and Hrímgrímnir (pictured above, and as seen in Stormbringer) to life.
What are the Books of the Wyrd, you ask? Why, they’re a post-Ragnarøkkr, Norse Mythology-inspired, queer urban fantasy, set in modern-day Australia and featuring more geeky pop-culture references than you can poke a stick at.
Queer? Geeky? Sound like your cup-of-tea-with-Tim-Tam-slams? Then you are in luck, my friend, because the first Book of the Wyrd, Liesmith, is on sale for 99c for a limited time only.
Not sure? Then no worries! Because an opening excerpt is available, as well as an extended outtake of one of the book’s chapters. Still not convinced? Well, here’s the beginning of the second book, Stormbringer, while you’re at it.
Seriously, though: Queer. Geeky. Australian. Urban fantasy. Oh, and there are anthropomorphic feathered dinosaurs. I mean, really. What more could you ask for?
So. Liesmith. 99c. Get it. Boom!
Messing around with drawing on the iPad. It’s Lain with a cricket bat. Because Reasons.
Incidentally, if you’re curious about what those Reasons are, Stormbringer is currently on sale for the low-low price of $1.03. Just in case you need more cricket-bat wielding anthropomorphic archaeopteryx gods in your life.
yellingintothevoid replied to your post “I’m back! (Belated post-NYCC ramblings.)”
To be honest, I kinda want to never become a Real Published Author ™ if I’m expected to do the whole con thing. Terrifying. Also, are there plans for actual physical purchasable editions of your books? ‘Cause I much prefer books over e-books.
“Expected” is a strong word, given that I volunteered to do it! And everyone was really lovely about everything: the people from PRH who made it all happen and held my noob hand through the process; the wonderful people who came to the signing; and the more experienced authors who offered advice and talked to me when I was the stranger in the room. It’s much easier than going to a con as a “non-professional” attendee in that regard, IMO, since there’s a bigger support network of people who really want to make everything run smoothly for you.
So it’s not that bad. Really, all I had to do was show up on time and smile and be polite. I think I mostly managed, heh.
Re. physical copies of the Wyrd books (Liesmith and Stormbringer); I get asked this a bit so, for reference, this is the Publishing Real Talk 101 time.
Basically, being able to get physical copies of the series printed hinges on exactly one thing, and that one thing is whether or not physical bookstores in the US will agree to stock the books on their shelves. (Note that, for the rest of this post, I’m talking about the US industry. Things work a little differently elsewhere, with the emphasis on “a little”. Most of this still applies in broad strokes, no matter where you are.)
That’s it. That’s the trick. Not just for me, but for every other traditionally published author out there. There’s a whole lot of history and backstory behind why this is the case (it’s the returns system), but the tl;dr is that the market for physical books–specifically, what kinds of physical books you can buy in a physical bookstore–is dictated not by what books publishers print, but what books the buyers for the big retailers will buy.
Here’s where we get to the ugly reality, because the ugly reality is that buyers for physical bookstores aren’t really interested in adult urban fantasy with queer PoC male leads. It sucks, but it’s true. Bookstores have finite shelf space, and they’re commercial entities who need to make money to survive. Making money means selling books, which means stocking books they know will sell. What books do retailers know will sell? Well, go to a bookstore and count what’s there: grimdark pseudo-medieval European epic fantasies; conservative military sci-fi; near-future sci-fi with plucky geekbro male leads; heterosexual female-lead paranormal romance. You get the idea. Write inside those constraints, and yeah, it’s very likely you’ll get a print run from your publisher, because it’s likely you’ll be picked up by a store buyer as something “new” in a niche they know sells. Write outside one of those, and, well. Things get harder, unless you have some kind of other hook in (e.g. you’re already famous from some other platform and thus come with a built-in audience).
Under those circumstances, the chances of Liesmith ever seeing a print release is pretty much nil.
So this answer isn’t entirely depressing, the next obvious question is so what’s to be done about it?
Well, easy: if you want more diverse titles to start getting print runs in physical stores, you have to start buying those titles from physical stores. And yes, I mean the ebooks. Which yes, you can do: here’s Liesmith at Barnes & Noble, for example. (No, Amazon doesn’t count for this, because, a) Amazon’s relationship to publishers is different to the traditional physical stores, and b) Amazon doesn’t share its sales data. So Amazon might know a niche is booming, but that doesn’t mean anyone else does… including the publishers. Amazon is the room’s elephant in the ebook space, but if you want to see things in print, you have to play the brick-and-mortar game.)
That’s really the only secret. If and when physical stores see a jump in demand for a particular book or a particular subgenre (i.e. diverse spec fic), then their buyers go to the publisher sales reps and ask the “what else do you have like this?” question. That’s when the sales reps bring out their back catalogue. And if the buyers see a title that’s ebook only, and want it for their physical stores, they’ll say so to the publisher, and that, dear readers, is how one breaks into the print market. I think a lot of people outside the industry think the ebook-to-print boundary is done on total sales volume (i.e. sell 100,000 ebooks, get a free print deal!), but it’s not. Total ebook sales can influence the end result, but the reality is it’s all on the buyers and what they think they can move from their shelves. Which is why both, a) you don’t see even some very popular subgenres in physical stores, and b) some ebook-only deals get expanded to print even without a sales history if a store rep shows interest.
Incidentally, none of this is a secret within the industry. We just tend, for whatever reason, not to talk about it too much to actual readers. Well, now I am. And now you know.
Tl;dr, if you want to see books with diverse leads stocked in physical bookstores (including mine!), you need to buy those books (and ebooks) from physical bookstores.
So hey. Are you in New York on 12 October? You wanna come meet a bunch of awesome authors, as well as yours truly? Then this is your bag, baby!
I just wanted to say, I stumbled across Liesmith a few weeks ago and I’m utterly hooked. I actually restricted myself to only reading during my commute so that I could have something before and after work to look forward to. I’m now halfway through Stormbringer and continue to be in love with these books, the characters, the stories, and how effortlessly so many elements blend together. I’ve been telling everyone I can to go read as well.
Aw, thank you so much! I’m really glad you’ve been enjoying them.
Science fiction is our attempt not just to learn from the past, but also to gain the benefit of hindsight for the present. To step outside of this time, and even our own species, and really look.
The vehicle for that gaze isn’t the starship Enterprise, or Voyager, or the Cardassian monstrosity re-badged as Deep Space Nine. Those are just settings. The real lens is the Outsider.
Spock was an Outsider. So was Data, and even Worf. Odo, and occasionally Quark. The Emergency Medical Hologram, and Tuvok, and from time to time, also B’Elanna Torres, and Seven of Nine. T’Pol and Phlox too. And those were just the regulars. We’d also have to mention the magnificent Q.
The Outsider is science fiction’s mirror for ourselves, who looks, listens, and implicitly judges. That judgement might be disdain (Q, certainly, and often Seven of Nine), puzzlement (Data, sometimes Worf), quiet vexation (all Vulcan characters), or something else entirely.
They watch, and they notice, and thus through their eyes they allow us to notice things that have been right in front of us all along. They bring things to light, sometimes by drawing attention to them, and sometimes by not understanding why there’s anything to draw attention to.
When we saw how unremarkable it was to have a woman (and an African American woman, at that) on the bridge, with a Russian alongside, it was because the Outsider failed to see any meaningful distinction between these various humans.
When we decried the ludicrousness of racial discrimination amongst aliens whose faces were sometimes white on the left side and black on the right, and sometimes the opposite, it was really the Outsider’s bemused eyes we were seeing though. The observer, whose quintessential alienness was just a thin veneer for the rationality and perspective we strive and yearn for.
In these imagined futures, the Outsider was the yardstick for our own progress. A way to measure it, and thus truly see it.
And progress brings hope.
–Matt Gemmell on sci-fi.
What Gemmell is talking about here is the reason I fell in love with SFF as a kid… and also why I can be quite disillusioned with it as an adult. Because this outwards-looking hopefulness has been replaced by inwards-looking defensiveness; ref. pretty much every single recent big budget comic-book style film about Aliens Are Bad Let’s Kill Them With Nukes, including, it must be said, the recent Star Trek reboots.
And, sorry, but I’m not here for that.
The idea of the Outsider who loves humanity for its follies but is also not part of–and thus free to judge and comment on–humanity is also why I fell in love with urban fantasy as a teenager. I’m talking 90s UF here, of the Interview With the Vampire and Sandman era. To alliterate for a moment, there’s a lot of Lestat in Liesmith‘s Lain. Lain, who isn’t human, doesn’t want to be human, and doesn’t have to play by human rules. He relies on us for his survival–as a god, he’s a kind of vampire of humanity’s collective unconscious–and will use us to his own ends, and our emotions and our fears and our dreams are transparent to him. He sits above us in the most literal sense–his office is in a big tower–but the minutia of our lives fascinates and enthralls him.
Lain is not paternalistically protective of humanity, a la Superman, but he is a seasoned and curious observer of us. He won’t save you from yourself but, if you want, he might take you out to coffee and listen while you unload your life’s story. As the narrator in the Wyrd books, Lain is the harbinger of change rather than the agent of it. To use Gemmell’s words, he is the Observer through which we see transformation in others; Sigmund in Liesmith, Þrúðr in Stormbringer, and Bich and Roxx in BAD MEME.
I occasionally read reviews of Liesmith that describe Lain as being incredibly human for a guy who’s essentially a seven foot tall anthropomorphic dinosaur. These, more than any other other reviews, are the ones that make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Because… yes. Yes, that. That’s the kind of Outsider I love and have tried to create in Lain; the Monstrous Other who’s more human than human by benefit of being outside humanity itself.1
Well, I mean. Most of the time. Lain’s also kinda a jackhole whose overly fond of other people’s dramatic irony and is super racist against dwarves, of all things. But no one’s perfect, right?