Wednesday, May 21, 2014

News on the release of The Labyrinth of Flame

A lot of you have been waiting a long time for news about the release of the third and final book in my Shattered Sigil trilogy, The Labyrinth of Flame.  Ever since Night Shade Books (publisher of the first two novels) nearly went bankrupt last year and got bought out, I've had people asking about the book's status and my plans for release. Finally, I've got something to share.

On the advice of my agent, I've decided to put out The Labyrinth of Flame myself rather than seeking traditional publication for it.  This isn't for monetary reasons.  I'm lucky in having a day job that I love, so I don't care much about my royalty percentage or anything like that.  Ordinarily I'm all about traditional publishing, because I'd rather write (or skate, or ski, or climb mountains) than do book production.  But in this particular case, when my agent and I reviewed options, I ended up deciding that self-publication was the better path for Labyrinth.  Why?

1) I can get the book out to you faster.  Traditional publishing has long, looooong lead times.  This book's taken me long enough to write; I don't want you to have to wait another year or more to read it after I finish revising it.

2) I can make sure the look and quality of the book matches the first two.  I know those of you who buy physical books often prefer to have books in a series be a "matched set."  I've already talked to the cover artist for the first two novels (David Palumbo) and one of the previous cover designers (Martha Wade), and they are willing and able to do cover work for Labyrinth.  Similarly, I intend to hire an interior designer, editor, copyeditor, etc, so that the quality of this third book will be equal to the beautiful editions that Night Shade put out for the first two.

3) I plan on doing a Kickstarter to fund the production work, which means I can potentially offer all sorts of fun bonuses.  Related short stories! Interior art! Maps! (Not sure what a Kickstarter is?  Check out these examples from fellow authors Brad Beaulieu and Michael J. Sullivan.)

"Okay, okay," you may be saying.  "You're going to self-pub, I get it.  But WHEN?"

The plan: first and foremost, I've got to finish my revision. At my current rate of progress, I'm hoping to have the book done by summer's end.  Assuming that happens, I'll run a Kickstarter in the fall, probably mid-October.  Ebook versions of Labyrinth would be sent to backers as soon as the editing and file conversion process is complete - say, a month or so after the Kickstarter finishes.  Print editions will take a little longer to produce and ship.  (How long depends on printer scheduling, whether or not interior art is added, etc - but say on the order of 2-3 months after the Kickstarter finishes.)  After all the print copies are shipped, I will officially release the book on the various online retailer websites (Amazon, B&N, etc).

So. Sometime this winter, I hope you'll be enjoying the conclusion of Dev and Kiran's story at long last.  Oh gosh, I'm so excited about this book, you all.  If you get even half as much entertainment out of reading it as I have in writing it, that's all the success I could ever want as an author.

In the meantime, if you want to stay updated on the book's release - see the cover art when it's ready, get notified when the Kickstarter begins, stuff like that - be sure and shoot me an email at courtney (at) courtneyschafer (dot) com, and I'll put you on my Labyrinth of Flame mailing list.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Tainted City (a.k.a. Stadt der Magier) releases in Germany

Die Chroniken von Ninavel continues in Germany, hooray!  Today's the release date for Stadt der Magier ("City of Mages"), the German edition of The Tainted City.  Hope German readers enjoy it as much as they seem to have Die Blutmagier ("The Bloodmages") / The Whitefire Crossing.  I'll admit I have fun practicing my (rusty) German by reading the occasional blog reviews auf Deutsch that Google alerts sends to me.

In other news, Reddit's r/Fantasy forum put together a 225-book ranked list of "Under-read and under-rated fantasy", which also got featured on - and The Whitefire Crossing is #3.  Sweet!  Seriously, it's great to know that those who've read my book feel strongly that more people should read it. Whitefire is in some pretty stellar company there, too. If you're looking for great fantasy to read, the list is a terrific resource.  My own TBR pile has sure gotten a heck of a lot longer.

In other other news, I'll be making an announcement soon about plans for The Labyrinth of Flame's release (at long last!) - so stay tuned.  And now, back to revision I go...

Thursday, May 1, 2014

New Releases I'm Dying to Read, May 2014 Edition (plus, revision update!)

Labyrinth of Flame revision update: Between the need to address some behind-the-scenes business stuff plus running into a few scenes that needed a LOT of work, I didn't make as much forward progress in revision as I was hoping for in April.  That said, I'm nearly at 80K now, closing in on the halfway point, so progress was still made.  Also, the book now has a back-cover description, which I've put up on Labyrinth's Goodreads page and my website.  (Description is very spoilery for previous book Tainted City, but hopefully not very spoilery for Labyrinth!)

Haha, and in the classic authorial rite of passage, I noticed that the book already has two ratings, even though I'm not done writing it. A 4-star, and a 1-star.  The 4-star actually cracks me up the most.  Most times you see people either rating unreleased books as 5-star ("OMG I can't wait!") or 1-star ("The existence of further books in this series offends me.")  But when I see 2-4 star advance ratings, I can't help but wonder...does it mean, "I'm sort of excited about this book, but not really"?  Or did the person just poke the wrong part of their phone touchscreen?  Ah, the mysteries of authorhood that will never be answered....

And now, onward to the books I'm excited about in May:

1. Jeff Salyards's Veil of the Deserters (ebook release May 19, print release June 3)

I thought the first novel in Jeff Salyards's Bloodsounders Arc (Scourge of the Betrayer) was pretty darn great; needless to say, when offered the chance to read an ARC version of Veil, I didn't hesitate. I liked it just as much (maybe even more) than the Scourge, so I happily blurbed it: "Veil of the Deserters builds upon the promise of Scourge of the Betrayer, continuing Salyards's unique blend of gritty realism, brutal action, and thoughtful introspection even as the story deepens with a host of intriguing revelations.  If you've any taste for military fantasy, read these books."  I mean that last line, by the way, so don't miss out.  I myself will be heading for the bookstore to snag a hardback copy when release day comes.

2. Douglas Hulick's Sworn in Steel, release date May 6

This one I haven't read yet, but I've been waiting eagerly for it ever since finishing Hulick's debut novel Among Thieves way back in 2011.  I'm a sucker for a sardonic, streetwise first-person protagonist of dubious morality, and Hulick's protagonist Drothe is that in spades.  Can't wait to read his next adventure at long last!

3. Stephanie Saulter's Gemsigns, release date May 6

I've seen some glowing reviews of this one from bloggers whose taste often aligns with mine, so my interest is piqued. Looking forward to reading Saulter's take on genetically engineered humans and the ethics thereof.  

4. Merrie Haskell's The Castle Behind Thorns, release date May 27

I've heard great things about this middle grade reworking of Sleeping Beauty; I'll be interested to see how it compares to Helen Lowe's excellent Thornspell.  I love it when authors can take a seemingly familiar story and put their own unique spin on it such that the tale speaks in a whole different way to the reader.

Others releasing in May that I'm adding to the TBR pile: Trudi Canavan's Thief's Magic, Michael J. Martinez's The Enceladus Crisis, Brian McClellan's The Crimson Campaign, and Will McIntosh's Defenders.