Tag Archives: Stormdancer

Moar Loots

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If you’re just here to win the free Rothfuss books and don’t care about anything else, head to the bottom of the post. I’m not crying, honestly. I just have something in my eye.

For the uninitiated:

So my debut novel is coming out in… 23 days. 18 days if you live in the UK. If you live in Australia, you lucky dog, you can apparently head to a store and buy it right now.

Its name is STORMDANCER. Some professional book reviewer type people are of the belief it doesn’t suck, and have been busy telling everyone else it doesn’t suck. Which is truly awesome.

Strangely, I found a couple of authors who thought it didn’t suck either, and actually liked it enough to blurb it for me (a blurb is essentially an author being officially quoted about the lack of suck in another author’s book). Which is even more awesome. Like, weapons-grade awesome. Shot a man in Reno just to watch him die awesome.

Wait, that’s not awesome. Poor Reno guy…

Anyway, one of these deluded author types was Patrick Rothfuss, author of the NYT bestselling Kingkiller Chronicles. Sometime last year, Pat was nice enough to send me some signed loots to give away close to my launch – the logic being if you like Pat’s stuff, you might find yourself intrigued about a book he thought didn’t suck enough to be quoted on the cover as having said “THIS BOOK DOES NOT SUCK”.

Or something. Anyways, the free shit…

So, I’m giving away signed hardback copies of THE NAME OF THE WIND and THE WISE MAN’S FEAR. Not only are these puppies signed, they also contain 100% bonafide spoilers about book 3 of the Kingkiller Chronicles, scrawled in Pat’s own bardic script right next to his signature. Yes, you read that right. May the Flying Spaghetti Monster strike me dead of screaming syphilis if I speak a lie. SPOILERS.

What do you have to do to win this jizztasmagoric smorgasbord of pure nerdgasm?

It’s real easy. Some authors make you subscribe to FB pages or twitter feeds or blogs or name your first kid Kristoff (great name for a super villain – jus’ sayin’) and fuck all that noise. You’re either going to like the sound of my book, or you won’t. If you like the sound of it, maybe you’ll sub to my FB page or twitter or whatever. That’s all grand, thank you very much, buttons are up on the top right. If you’re just here for the free Rothfuss and STFU Jay, just tell us how to win, that’s all good too.

SO, to win, all you have to do is Tweet or FB about the giveaway.

Yes. To be in with a chance to win, you have to lessen your chances of actually winning by telling other people about the competition. That Kristoff, eh? What a fucking jerk.

If you tweet, make sure you tag it with the #stormdancer hashtag so I know you did it. Eg:

Author of #stormdancer, @misterkristoff is giving away signed copies of @Pat_Rothfuss’ KINGKILLER CHRONICLES here: http://www.misterkristoff.wordpress.com

Or something along those lines. Maybe something with a bit more oomph. I dunno, I’m not a writer, jesus…

…oh, wait…

If you FB about it, make sure you tag my FB page so I know you did it (you’ll have to Like the page to do so, this is FB’s rule not mine and it sucks, sorry. If the thought of being manipulated into Liking a page makes you want to stomp on babies, you can Unlike my page right after. Please don’t stomp any babies).

That’s it. Go forth and tweet. Or whatever. The winner will be drawn on Monday September 3rd. The winner will be chosen by the Random Number Generator Gods, so you may wish to butcher something small and fluffy in their names. The giveaway IS international.

No bribes accepted. Although if you promise to name your first kid Kristoff maybe we can work something out…

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STORMDANCER UK cover reveal

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In case y’all missed it, the 100% official cover for the UK edition of STORMDANCER got launched yesterday over at the TorUK blog.

<insert multiple exclamation marks here>

There’s also a reveal over at the Story Siren, along with an interview with Your’s Truly and a chance to win a signed copy of the UK hardback.

March like zombies, bitches!

All the links you need to pre-order (which would be lovely of you) can be found on the ABOUT STORMDANCER page.


Epicnessness

So, I’m getting into the business end of my first draft of Stormdancer 3. Yeah, I know book 1 isn’t even out yet. Deadlines is deadlines, people.

Interlude: I feel ridiculous saying ‘Stormdancer 2’ and ‘Stormdancer 3’. These books have names, and though I’m not allowed to reveal them yet, calling them ‘Stormdancer 2’ and ‘Stormdancer 3’ is like my parents referring to my younger siblings as ‘Jay 2’ and ‘Jay 3’. And my siblings are both GIRLS. It makes no sense. So enough of this. Enough I say!

From the remainder of this post, ‘Stormdancer 2’ will be referred to as ‘Albert ‘Danger’ Fantastic’ (Mr Fantastic to his peers, and ‘Danger’ is his middle name) and ‘Stormdancer 3’ will be hereby referred to only as ‘The Dude’.

So.

True to campfire rumor, The Dude has been far easier company than Mr Fantastic. Mr Fantastic is all about set up. You can have conflict, you can have minor resolution, you can have earth shattering revelations of the Empire Strikes Back variety (No, Darth Vader is not Yukiko’s father in case you were wondering) but in true man of mystery style, Mr Fantastic leaves  the big questions unanswered, and the big bad guy undefeated.  By comparison, all the pieces are on the board in The Dude, and my job as an author is to tie up the threads with some suitably crunchy action and gut-wrenching tragedy and make everybody cry at the end.

Yes, it is The Dude’s intention to make you cry. He’s mean like that.

I’m also finding The Dude comes with a metric shit-tonne (slightly less than a fuck-tonne, significantly more than a frack-tonne) of battles. And not Michael Jackson filmclip style battles, either, where hardened street thugs work out their differences with a dance-off. I’m talking Pelennor Plains style battles. Cities under siege. Fleets of sky-ships riddling each other with shuriken-thrower fire across storm-torn skies, armies clashing on stretches of ashen, dead earth while colossi of black iron and smoke so tall they blot out the sun crush legions underfoot and godDAMN it’s fun to write.

I’m not sure whether it’s because I’m possessed of XY chromosomes, but I like writing violence. I like building sand-castles made of words and then smashing them to pieces before the tide comes in to wash them away. And maybe my epic battles suck more than my mum/sister/significant female other when the navy is in town (this is the standard measurement of suck, or so the wonderful and well-balanced young gamer gentlemen in the League of Legends community would have me believe), but since I’m writing so damn many of them lately, and since it’s been a while since I wrote a ‘writing’ type article, I thought I’d share a few pointers on how I go about writing them here in this little microcosm of mine, which you can feel free to ignore or adopt as you see fit.

Hell, I gotta blog about something while we wait for cover reveals. So, awaaaaay we go:

Short introductions – In an epic battle, you’re dealing with thousands of people trying to murder the bejeezus out of thousands more. The armaments, formation, disposition, size, mood and personal hygiene of each of your combatants is something you can spend a lot of time on if you really want to. But I’m not sure many people care. You need your establishing text to describe the forces involved, but spending an enormous amount of time talking about the peculiar braiding on the collars of the elven archers cloaks, or how the pikemen from Southern Whosiwhatsit were descended from a race of sheep buggering madmen from the Upper Thingamabob… I’m not sure. Flavor text is good. Flavor text will help establish some color in the scene. But spend too much time on intros and you’re going to bore your reader stupid, particularly when they know most of these fellows are going to be decorating the sharp pointy things of your main protagonists soon. I’m not sure readers care much about the canon fodder.

Keep your wide shots to a minimum – Think about any showpiece battle you’ve seen on film – after initial introductions, the camera usually spends very little time following the movements of large bulks of troops. After we’re shown that, yes, that is an awful lot of Uruk-hai, and yes, those Riders of Rohan are proper fucked, the camera takes us up close and personal. It’s only in clutch points during the battle, when the tide swings one way or the other, that we’re given a wide view. Most of our time is spent medium/close up. Battles are visceral. Terrifying. If you find yourself using terms like ‘pincer movement’ or ‘flanking manoeuvre’ you’re shooting way too wide. Your audience is removed from the action. They need to be so close they’re worried a stray shot might take their head off. A guy in the thick of battle doesn’t know the enemy is performing a ‘pincer movement’. All he knows is that there’s another guy with a broadsword the size of a small tree trying to cleave him in twain.

Cleave him in twain – NEVER use this turn of phrase in an epic battle. Or in any other fashion, actually. There is a special circle in Wanker’s Hell for writers who do.

Carnage – People die in battle. And to be honest, they die in brutal, painful ways. Compare the melee in a film like Braveheart to a film like the Phantom Menace. Menace has these huge set-pieces with thousands upon thousands of figures all pew pew pewing at each other, all very visually impressive. Braveheart has a couple of hundred dudes swinging big sharpened chunks of metal. The difference? In Menace, the combatants are robots. In Braveheart, the combatants are big sacks of meat and blood. When someone gets hit, you feel it. You see the aftershocks. The camera gets little splashes of blood on it. Which battles are more spectacular? Which ones are you more heavily invested in? Which one will you be more excited reading? Battles are about crunching bones and spraying arteries and people screaming. They’re about the stink of blood and smoke and excrement (Fun fact! People void their bowels when they die!). They are noise and chaos and red, red krovy. PG’ing that shit isn’t going to work. Nobody will care.

Point of View – God’s eye is functional for establishing the ebb and flow – who is winning and who is losing. But as discussed above, it’s also impersonal. Epic battles are not about armies. They’re about the people inside them. And not necessarily the heroes leading the charge atop a disco unicorn, golden locks all blowing in the breeze and whatnot. Sometimes, sure, you want to see spectacular heroism and feats beyond the ken of mere mortals. But doing it too often gets boring quick. Try writing the battle from some grunt on the front line. Lord Richard of Gobblecock, last Scion of the great House of Withknobson wants to win this battle to claim the throne from the evil clutches of usurper King Tackleout (waheyyyy, pee-pee jokes!). But Garreth of Pigswill, some pressganged farmer with a wife and three kids to feed and the local Magistrate eying off his plot of land? He just wants to stay the fuck alive. Reading from his point of view, rather than the Lord atop his gleaming unicorn, will give your battles a different kind of gravity. And gravity is what you’re after.

Lastly, never, EVER use the phrase ‘Cleft in Twain’ – I know I said this already, but it’s so important I thought I should mention it twice.

Alright, I’m gonna go hang out with the Dude some more. See if he can make me cry, the big meanie.

Big ups.


A little piece of awesome

So when I finally got the cheque/check/however the hell you want to spell it for my STORMDANCER signing fee, most author folks I knew encouraged me to go out and buy myself something nice with some of the spondoolicks. This is reasonable logic given that:

1) These payments arrive with the same pace as everything else in the publishing industry, which as previously discussed, is fucking glacial quite slow. So when they do arrive, you should probably do something to mark the occasion.

2) You generally work like a Guchi wallet sweatshop child quite hard to finish your novel, find an agent, find a publisher, do your edits, dance the dance of social media, and all the other stuff authors have to do between hurling televisions out of hotel room windows and doing rails of Bolivian off booth babe boobies at San Diego Comic Con (I have my doubts anything remotely resembling this actually happens to famous author types, but I have to maintain some level of rockstar chic) so giving yourself a little reward after all that hard work might somehow make the months of lost sleep and peptic ulcers worthwhile.

3) What’s the point of having money if you never enjoy it? You can’t take it with you. Ask a fucking pharaoh.

So, long story short, I decided to commission a piece of artwork from an awesome illustrator whose work I’ve admired for a long time. For those of you who aren’t hopeless gorram nerds, Genzoman does a lot of work on trading card games and RPGs, and if you actually clicked on his gallery link above, you’d know he’s as awesome as discovering a crumpled $20 note in an old pair of jeans whilst cruising through the Jurassic rain forest in a time-travel hovercar with several scantily clad hotties of your preferred gender/orientation with the stereo cranked loud enough to cause an extinction level event.

So, without further ado, here’s Genzo’s illustration for STORMDANCER. Note, this isn’t a cover, and won’t actually be used anywhere in the book. It’s just a little gift from Jay to Jay to remind me “Hey, you’re really doing it, kid.”

Oh, and before I go practice my mad telly throwing skillz: All you UK folks, STORMDANCER is available for pre-order at the Book Depository!

Click to embiggen.


State of the World Address

The bride tells me it’s been a while since I did one of these, so here’s an update on where everything is at:

STORMDANCER – copy edits for the UK are done. Copy edits for the US aren’t (but tbh, there will be no differences other than spelling, you crazy yanquis with your missing ‘U’s and superfluous ‘I’s, eh?). Cover design is underway in the UK, I’ve seen roughs and I suspect this thing is going to stand out like the dog’s bollocks on shelves (Presuming said dog in question still has the requisite parts, of course. Sometimes I catch my dog staring all mournfully at the place where his bits used to be. Poor bastard…)

ANYWAYS, after wrangling in the dank stinky depths of stock photography for a while, it’s been decided we’re going to actually shoot ourselves a model (with a camera, not a gun, jesus…) to go on the background being assembled by our Mac master. The gal in question has been chosen, and her online portfolio is here. I think she’ll make a pretty goddamn awesome Yukiko. Wardrobe is currently being sourced, photoshoot is happening soon. I’ll be doing a big detailed post about the cover process a little later, and of course, I have a metric fuck-tonne of signed China Meiville books to give away when we launch our UK/Aus cover, courtesy of the awesome folks at Tor UK.

The US time lines are little more generous apparently, because I haven’t heard much in the way of covers from them. Such is life. If you aren’t good at waiting, don’t be a gorram author, is my advice.

I have a bunch of other stuff I want to reveal. A good buddy of mine created some awesome mons (we round-eyes call them logos) for the four clans of Shima and the Lotus Guild, but I think I’ll hold off on those until I have covers out in the big scary world.

I also have some cover blurbs from some very generous and awesome authors who are saying lots of cool things about the book. but I can’t show you those yet either 😛

Yeah, so much for telling you what happening…

If you wanna add STORMDANCER to your Goodreads lists and make me go all squirty in my gutty-wutts, click n’yah.

BOOK 2 – Book 2 has a title, but it’s not 100% official yet. Besides, I get the feeling that revealing its title should be some kind of… thing.  You know, with dancing girls and limos and ass-loads of blow or something.

I handed the manuscript into my editors at the end of January. It came in at 160k, which is 40k longer than STORMDANCER. There’s a lot more happening in this one, but I still get the feeling I’ll be asked to kill a few darlings. I don’t expect to hear anything back on it in terms of edits for months, so in the meantime…

(flawless segue)

Book 3 – Book 3 also has a title, but it’ll be a thing too. Probably next year. I’ve started writing it, and the first act is done. Much carnage. I feel like a kid who’s spent a day down at the beach building this enormous sand castle with spires and battlements and an elaborate, fully functional sewage system, and now the sun is setting and I’ve started to stomp up and down on it before the tide comes in.

I think I’ll be sad when I finish. Sad and terrified. Funny thing is, I’ll probably be finished writing the end of this story before most of you even start it.

It’s funny game, this.

Anyways, that’s where everything is at. Now stop saying I never tell you anything, mum.


11-11-11

So a few of you might know my birthday this year fell on 11-11-11. This is apparently some really auspicious number in numerology or the Mayan calendar or somesuch, and being born on it means I’m like the bastard lovechild of the Kwisatz Haderach and the goddamn Batman (I’m still waiting for my mail-order Fremen army and utility belt to arrive. Stupid UPS).

Anyways, I’d been thinking about getting a tattoo for about 10 years, but aside from my wedding, I’d not really undergone any event dramatic enough to paint my body for life over it. Folks get themselves inked for any number of reasons (‘Because I felt like it.” ‘Because I ❤ butterflies.’ ‘Because I’d smashed so much tequila and mescaline I thought I was jesus.’ ) but this was my first one, and being all virginal and whatnot, I wanted it to be ‘speshul’. So, I figure, I’ve got this Book Thing getting published next year, which will probably be the one of the coolest things I ever do (at least until the Fremen army arrives and I send them forth to commit bloody slaughter in my name) so I figure I’d immortalize The Book on my birthday this year, it being this auspicious date that allows me to look into the place no woman can look. Or something.

My lovely bride told me about an art project where people were supposed to do something creative/awesome/so cool it will make your girlfriend pregnant on 11-11-11 and send it into a Facebook page, but the page was one of those desperately sad ‘Social Media Marketing 101’ type deals that forces you to ‘Like’ the page before they even let you into the clubhouse and fuck that noise.

So, I’ma just post the pics up here, with various captions that will possibly amuse and/or astound.

The scene of the crime. This is Chapel Tattoo. They have gold leaf writing on their windows and very few prostitutes loitering out front, which makes them ten times classier than 90% of tattoo joints in Melbourne. Their ‘after tattoo care’ brochure advises you, amongst other things ‘Do not listen to self-proclaimed tattoo experts in bars or on the street for one month after you get your tattoo.’

I was sold.

This is the Dude Behind the Counter®. He told me his name, but I forgot it. I should let you know that, at this point, I was quite nervous about the whole ‘pain’ aspect of this deal. Having foolishly watched several You Tube videos of people completely losing their minds whilst being tattooed, I was under the impression this operation was going to sit on the Pain Threshold™ somewhere between ‘Squeezing Lemon Juice Into My Eye Whilst Someone Repeatedly Stomps on My Baby-Maker’ and ‘Being Strapped Into a Chair and Forced to Watch Jennifer Anniston RomComs Until My Eyes Flee Screaming From Their Bleeding Sockets’.

I was also plagued by the usual last minute fears. “You’re going to be stuck with this thing for the rest of your life.” “If you get this thing and the publishing industry collapses next year like you KNOW IT’S GOING TO, you’re going to look really silly aren’t you?” “You haven’t cried since you watched ET dying when you were 10, do you really want to risk your streak over something like this?”

You will note the small idols of various in-vogue deities next to the counter. I took their vacuum-molded presence as a bad sign. As if the owners were telling me ‘Dude, this tattoo is going to hurt so badly, you’ll rediscover your catholicism just so you can pray for mercy. And lo, sinner, thou shalt find NONE’.

This is my tattoo design. It was done by an incredibly talented Japanese calligrapher named Araki Miho from Ebisu Design. Yes, she does commissions. Having seen a wall full of her artwork, yes, her stuff is beautiful. Picture Kate Beckinsale and Liv Tyler making out naked in a swimming pool full of pristine First Edition issues of Detective Comics #27 and you’re in the ballpark.

The characters, top to bottom, are ‘Arashi’ (storm) ‘No’ (a pre-posessive) ‘Odori’ and ‘Ko’ (which together, make Dancer). So, Stormdancer. The red seal is for good luck.

For those of you wondering, yes, I made damn sure the tattoo didn’t actually say “I enjoy rough sex with sea-otters” or “Sad white boy who wishes he was Japanese”. Although before I had the tattoo done, my Japanese translator reliably informed me that, because kanji are pictograms and open to subtle interpretation, at a stretch, you could interpret this design as “Little girl who dances up a storm”.

“Hell with it,” I replied. “I’m 6’7. I can totally pull that off.”

This is Shane, my tattoo artist. Shane was a funny fellow. Not like Dylan Moran funny, mind you. More like “I bury the dismembered corpses of streetwalkers under my bungalow” funny.

He approached me in the foyer, looking like he’d just murdered somebody’s kitten. Don’t ask me how, but this dude gave off a vibe like he would just hate the fuck out of anything small and fluffy.

He held up my design and said “Is this yours?”
“Yep,” I said.
“Who put you onto me?” he asked.
I paused for a moment, unsure whether he was asking because he wanted to ruin the dentistry of whoever suggested he work on this ridiculous design. Not wanting to see the friend who recommended old Shane-o drinking liquefied Weet-Bix through a straw, I pointed to the Dude Behind the Counter®. “He said you could do it.”
“Ah, ok,” Shane said. “It’s just I don’t usually do this kind of artwork.”
“….” I replied.

NICE ONE, SHANE-O. WAY TO INSTIL CONFIDENCE, BUDDY.

This is my pasty, cracker whitebread arm, freshly shaved and awaiting the stencil. You will notice the photo is blurred – this is because I was trembling when I took it. Not because of the anticipated pain, mind you, but because the dude about to paint my body for life had just admitted “He doesn’t usually do this kind of artwork.”

This is the stencil on my arm. The tattoo people have this magic stuff they spray on your skin, then lay the stencil over the top, peel it away, and bam, all they have to do is trace the design. I was reminded of the scene in Chasing Amy where Jason Lee flips out when someone calls him a tracer. This made me giggle a bit. At the sound of my giggling, Shane looked up at me like, if it was within his power to do so, he would travel back in time and tear my grandfather’s scrotum from his body, just to stop him siring the man who would sire me.

I shut the hell up.

It begins. Shane lays me down on his operating table, asks “You ready?” and we’re off.

The pain is odd. It’s a combination of pressure and heat, like being burned, but with less edge to it. On a scale of 1 to 10 (one being a Hard Pinch, and ten being Locked in a Tiny Room With Justin Beiber Playing Over The PA Whilst a Large Hairy Man Named ‘T-Bone’ Teaches You The Subtle Art of Prison Love), I would rate it a solid 5.

Outline halfway done. The pain warbles between 5 and 6, somewhere between Having a Tooth Drilled and The Moment You Found Out Firefly Had Been Cancelled. The wrist is the most sensitive part, but it’s really not that bad. I scoff at those YouTube vids and wonder what the fuss is about. I tweet to this effect, and am reliably informed by a friend ‘Just wait. The fill is much worse’.

THANKS BUDDY!

Outline complete. My dad has a tattoo on his arm. Well, half a tattoo. It’s a heart with an arrow through it. He told me there was supposed to be a scroll around it, but it hurt so bad, he couldn’t finish it. Looking down at my arm, I consider texting him and calling him a stone-cold pussy, but then I remember he got his tatt done with a razor blade and the ink from a broken ball-point pen.

So yeah, I guess my dad is still pretty hard.

The fill. This does kinda hurt. Not as bad as having your ear hacked off with a straight razor while ‘Stuck in the Middle with You” plays in the background, more like an intermittent Chinese burn to the tune of Top 40 radio. But again, it’s not awful. I’m not saying it tickled – at no point during the procedure was I at risk of making happypants. On T-Bone’s Prison Sex scale, it rates a solid 6.5.

Aaaaand done. About an hour after we began, Shane-o pronounces me finished and hustles me out of his studio like he has more kittens to curb-stomp. This is actually a photo taken the following evening – I would’ve taken a photo at the end of the procedure, but my arm was wrapped in Glad Wrap and the Glad Wrap was slowly filling up with blood, which is probably a bit low-rent, even for this blog. In all honesty, the pain after the tatt was finished came close to topping the actual procedure – it felt like that time you went to the beach in your new bikini and got smashed on a 6-pack of alcopops to impress the boys and fell asleep in the sun and woke up to find your skin was the color of fire engines (don’t lie, you know you did it). When the Glad Wrap came off, my bride proclaimed the tattoo ‘sexy’ and I was all like ‘come over here and let me treat u rite, gurl’ and then was all ‘arrrrrg, jesus h christ don’t TOUCH IT’ when she breathed near it.

A couple of weeks later, it’s pretty much healed, and I must confess, for a gent who murders streetwalkers and ‘doesn’t usually do this kind of artwork’, my buddy Shane-o did an awesome job.

To prove it, I traveled back in time and took this photo of me flipping off a T-Rex, which I’m sure you’ll agree flies quite high on the Scale of Awesome.