For Those Who Don’t Subscribe to Publisher’s Weekly

It turns out that if you get a starred review, PW offers you a nice price on an ad touting the fact. And here is the ad Baen is taking out in the 2/27 issue of PW.

I risk being premature if I tell stories about all the rejections WITCHY EYE got before becoming a huge success, because, you know, the huge success part isn’t there yet. But I’m getting great feedback from early readers and reviewers, and selling out everywhere the book goes on sale early, so . . . I’ll take a chance.

In some big ways, WITCHY EYE is the song of my heart. It’s the book in which I really unwind and pull no punches, to tell a fantasy story like I think fantasy stories should be told. It’s also my love poem to the old, weird America that still lies underneath all the plastic and the glitz. And it was hard to get it published.

My first agent dropped me because of WITCHY EYE. Emailed me a Dear John note, copying his lawyer, saying he just didn’t have the time to deal with this huge book. Another agent who had offered to represent me and Emily (my wife) both emailed and withdrew her offer after I showed her WITCHY EYE. So when I got on board with WordFire Press, and had a clear shot to publish it, I thought about it long and hard . . .

And chose not to. WordFire is great, and they publish several of my things, but in my gut, I knew it was not the right home for the series. So I held on to it, and worked with my agent (Deborah Warren of East / West Literary) to come up with a strategy to sell it.

That strategy involved me personally meeting editors at WorldCon, leveraging the WordFire platform and my existing small-press books as well as the then-forthcoming Knopf book (THE KIDNAP PLOT). That is to say, the plan was to leverage to six years of labor I’d already put into building a network and community and an asset consisting of an existing body of speculative fiction work.

So at WorldCon 2015 (Sasquan), I reconnected with Toni Weisskopf of Baen, whom I’d first met at WorldCon 2011 (Renovation). And she was on the list of editors Deborah submitted to. I had in fact already sent Toni the manuscript, in February 2012, but now we had been in contact for a few years, and she’d seen me in action and heard more about me second-hand from people in my network.

And in February 2016 — four years after my first agent dumped me over the book, and four years after I first showed it to Toni — she made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

So I am THRILLED to be with Baen. I am DELIGHTED that WITCHY EYE is getting the reviews and attention it’s getting so far, and I’m committed to continuing to push it.

And if you are carrying around a 200,000-word epic fantasy in your own soul, I have to tell you, tactically speaking, you are putting your feet on an uphill road. But my heart is with you; carry on!

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Chibis for you! @LTUESymposium #witchyeye

I won’t make Life, the Universe, and Everything (LTUE) this year. I’ll be across the country, at Pensacon in Florida, selling WITCHY EYE for the first time, alongside THE KIDNAP PLOT and my WordFire Press books.

But I don’t want to leave out my Utah friends, so I have chibi stickers for you. These are Witchy Eye chibis, 2″ vinyl stickers of some of the main characters in my flintlock epic fantasy, created by David Young Art and Design. The picture to the right here is the chibi of Calvin Calhoun, cattle rustler, corn reader, brand new Freemason, would-be lover, and aspiring hell of a fellow. There are also chibis of Sarah Penn, Bad Bill, Thalanes, and Obadiah Dogsbody. And you can have them for free!

Here’s how you get the Witchy Eye chibis:

  1. Take a photo of yourself with the Witchy Eye ad inside the LTUE program and one of the Space Balrogs (Bob Defendi, Holli Andersen, James Wymore, David West, or Jason King)
  2. Share the photo on social media
  3. Hashtag the photo #witchyeye and tag EITHER @baenbooks OR @spacebalrogs (or both, if you like)
  4. The Space Balrog will give you a chibi

One chibi of each type per person.

If the Balrogs run out of chibis, don’t worry. I will offer an opportunity in the near future for you to complete your set.

Enjoy the con!

Posted in Art | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Witchy Eye Spring Tour

WITCHY EYE is available everywhere on March 7. In select places and times, it’ll be available even sooner!

Here are my upcoming appearances selling and talking about WITCHY EYE:

February 2-4  *  SUPERSTARS OF WRITING  *  Colorado Springs

February 17-19  *  PENSACON  *  Pensacola

March 2-5  *  EMERALD CITY COMIC CON  *  Seattle

March 6  *  AMA on reddit  *  /r/books

March 15 *  Fantasy Author of the Day  *  /r/fantasy

March 17-18  *  FANX  *  Salt Lake

April 11  *  Author Link Series  *  Provo Public Library

 

Posted in News | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Too Many Letters

“Think of it this way. For you, this animal is a horse.” Jake leaned forward to pat his mount’s shoulder. “When you say it, it’s like that, horse. When you write it, you write H-O-R-S-E.”

“You mean horsey, Jake. Horse does not need an E on the end of it. Too many letters in writing is an extravagance, especially in a military man.”

Posted in Writing Sample | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Good Advice (a few lines from my WIP)

“A sedan.” Hop nodded again. “She does not touch the ground. And she has others with her, and they look harmless.”

“Call no man harmless until he is dead,” Bill said. “My education ended early, but I believe I remember that much of Aristotle.”

“Aristotle, or perhaps Attila the Hun.” Cathy smiled. She was too old for Calvin—who was in love with Sarah, anyway—but she wasn’t too old to notice, especially when she smiled.

“I’ll take good advice where I can get it,” Bill growled.

Posted in Quotation | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Tribes

I am reading (and enjoying the hell out of) Deirdre McCloskey’s Bourgeois Virtues. That book and its arguments are much bigger than this tiny blog post, but a minor point in the book (the alleged fragmentation of modern, that is to say bourgeois-town based-capitalist-liberal, society) triggered for me a point of curiosity.
I know that I belong to many communities (let’s call them tribes). Can I count them? What are they?
I majored in Near Eastern Studies and stopped taking math after Algebra 2, but hey, I’m a child of the Enlightenment, so for discussion’s sake, I’ll define a tribe by the presence of two characteristics:
  1. A tribe is a group of 10 or more people, all known to me, and most of whom know each other.
  2. A tribe has regular (not necessarily constant) and current communication.
  3. I’ve left out tribes too big for all members to know each other (residents in the State of Utah, American citizens, members of the New York Bar).
Pretty scientific, n’est ce pas?
Okay, so here’s my best list of the tribes to which I currently belong, more or less in the order in which they occurred to me:
  1. The Butler family (my dad’s side)
  2. The Lindow family (my mom’s)
  3. The Sorenson family (Emily’s mom’s side)
  4. The Holsingers (Emily’s dad’s side)
  5. My congregation and neighborhood (I live in a place where those are basically synonymous)
  6. Graduates of Timpview High School
  7. Graduates of NYU Law
  8. Past and present employees of Clifford Chance
  9. Past and present employees of Micron
  10. The Numonyx team
  11. Acumen Learning
  12. Baen
  13. WordFire Press
  14. The Utah writing scene
  15. The Colorado (Front Range) writing scene
  16. Italy Milan LDS Mission missionaries
  17. My (unnamed) boardgaming community in Treasure Valley
  18. The Story Monkeys and their families
  19. The Space Balrogs and their families
  20. The Utah-centered filk music scene
  21. Aldershot Ward
There are probably other tribes, but that’s a good start. Is that fragmentation? Maybe. Several things strike me. First, though I regard myself as shy and an introvert, my life has been enriched by many communities, large and small. Second, the people who have had my back when I needed it have come from a surprising array of these different tribes. Third, I’ve passed through some very large institutions that have left almost zero social footprint on me (my undergraduate college, for instance). Fourth, for all the features of social media that go immediately into my “hate” column, I have to acknowledge that social media has made it very easy for me to stay in contact with these, my fellow-tribespeople.
All of which, I guess, a propos of nothing in particular. But if you’re in one of my tribes — thanks.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

A New World Obsession

I’m neck-deep in the WITCHY EYE setting and stories, and wanted to share this quote from the book (it’s in the POV of Obadiah Dogsbody, rough English factotum to a Yankee wizard-priest):

The Tarock was a New World obsession, something the old Lightning Bishop had borrowed from the Florentines or the French (before Bonaparte imposed his Caliphate and ended such occult frivolities) and fiddled with to fit it to the land of the Chesapeake Bay and the Mississippi River. It was effeminate, the kind of thing women did for entertainment behind closed doors. No self-respecting Englishman could take seriously any purported attempt at divination that didn’t involve the death of at least one animal.

WITCHY EYE: coming in March.

Posted in Quotation, Writing Sample | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Bookshelf: The State of the Disunion

512md6yidal-_sx331_bo1204203200_Michael R. Collings is a gifted critic, academic, editor, novelist, and poet. In 2016, he’s really doubled down on poetry, producing multiple volumes of sonets (his word) on various subjects.

His most recent collection bears a title suggesting the poems are political in nature. This is partially true, in that many of the poems apparently contain his personal, real-time response to political issues raised or events that took place in the 2016 presidential campaign, such as “Real Men,” which I take as a kind of reaction to off-color comments made in the past by Donald Trump, and “On the Deplorable Word.” Others take aim at our political culture — e.g., “Celebrities” and “Religious Right.”

But the poems transcend the ephemeral events that have given rise to them. Especially in such sonets as “Math and Rulers,” we get the diamond-hard and sparkling reaction of the poet’s soul, the poet as Eternal Being, to the flotsam in the swirling eddies of time around him. So while THE STATE OF THE DISUNION chronicles the gaps between the poet and some of his fellow-citizens, in the end it creates a self-portrait, a unity out of a series of apparently granular and disparate but ultimately connected images, a collage of a man with a great heart, unafraid to call it as he sees it.

Posted in Bookshelf | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Why Writing Is Awesome

Writing is hard. You work alone in a closet, you struggle with doubt and fear, and then when you produce a book, no matter how good it is, someone feels obligated and entitled to beat you up for it.

And then once in a while, amazing things happen. Like you meet Luca Sabotino (and his dad, Eric), and Luca reads your book, and reaches out to tell you what he thought about it.

Luca, thank you. I’m thrilled to be your friend.

luca-letter-to-mr-butler

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Great Fabrications

And I know this mystery, that sinners will alter and copy the words of truth, and pervert many and lie and invent great fabrications, and write books in their own names.

1 Enoch 104:10

Posted in Quotation | Tagged | Leave a comment