Monthly Archives: June 2009

Thanks to The Wertzone, I came across this post by Daniel Abraham detailing his next project, which won’t be published by Tor Books (his previous publisher), but rather by Orbit Books.

“Now It Can Be Told.

Bad news first: The new project didn’t get picked up by Tor. That’s a bummer, because I really liked working with those guys, and I’ll miss them. But the economy’s in the crapper, and apparently they’re being very bottom-line conscious, and the Long Price books — despite great reviews and all — didn’t move as many copies as they had hoped. I’m not happy about it, but I respect that it’s business.

Too bad Tor feels that way, but I suppose if the books didn’t move enough units, they’re in their right not to pick up his next project. Still, it would have been nice if they had given him a better shot by, say, actually getting his novels onto store shelves? I don’t know about elsewhere, but it was very hard to find any of the Long Price Quartet without resorting to the Internet.

Good news next: My agent shopped the new proposal around, and we got a fair amount of interest from other publishers, with the upshot that Orbit (my UK publisher) bought world rights to the new series in what the trade papers are calling “a good deal.” One thing I thought was particularly interesting: there’s a clause in it that dock’s a fair percentage of my advance if I don’t turn the books in on time. So just be aware that the guys at Orbit have got all y’all’s back.

No big delays (one hopes) is always good, but Abraham seems pretty consistent in his writing anyway. It’s more interesting to find out that Tor didn’t have a similar clause in their original contract with Abraham. In any case, Orbit is a good publisher and will, hopefully, put more stock in Abraham’s work than Tor did.

But the new project — The Dagger and the Coin — starts up next year. It’s a very different project from the Long Price books. I’m not using the same jump between books I did with Long Price. The magic system’s totally different (and I love the hell out of it). The pace is faster. I’m very conscious of the influences I’m cultivating going into it — Walter Tevis, Alexandre Dumas, Tolkien, J. Michael Straczynski, Joss Whedon, GRRM, Friedrich Reck-Malleczewen, Dorothy Dunnett, Tim Parks — and I’m trying to take the things that I love about each one of them and make a stew out of it. It’s set right at the friction point between the medieval period and the renaissance, so we’ve got knights and kings, but we also have merchant houses and finance. There’s some magic of the understated magic. There’s political intrigue. There’s a girl who was raised as the ward of a Medici-style bank, there’s a high nobleman who’s gotten himself and his family in over his head, there’s an emotionally scarred mercenary captain straight out of Dumas.

The point of it all is to make a book that reads to me now the way that the Belgariad did when I was 16. I’m going to be swimming in everything I think is cool for the next year. I’m *really* looking forward to it.”

Though I haven’t read The Long Price Quartet (which I’ll rectify this summer now that the final volume has been released), I’m already getting a little hot and bothered about the way Abraham’s describing this next project. I’ve heard a few times around the ‘net that the reason some people haven’t read Abraham’s first work is that it just doesn’t sound interesting enough to them. I can’t imagine they’ll be saying the same about The Dagger and the Coin.

Blood of Ambrose by James Enge

Blood of Ambrose

AuthorJames Enge

Pages: 401
Publisher: Pyr
Release Date: April 21, 2009
ISBN-10: 1591027365
ISBN-13: 978-1591027362

You know when you’re reading a novel, and you can pick out the author’s favourite word? Well, James Enge, the author of Blood of Ambrose, loves the word ‘crooked’ – it shows up on every second page, describes a good chunk of the characters in the novel and also happens to be the most accurate descriptor of the novel itself.

Blood of Ambrose is, if nothing else, a crooked novel and a crooked read.

Enge’s prose is nice – easily readable, lots of charm and irreverent wit – but it’s his storytelling and uneven characterization that fails. Enge made a name for himself as a writer of short fiction, and it shows big time in the episodic nature of Blood of Ambrose. Whereas a short story can successfully be written without much of a road plan, it’s much harder to accomplish with a full on novel, and the result here is a mess of plot points and characters that fail to coalesce into a story with any kind of satisfying flow. It never once felt like Enge had any sort of control over the plot, instead he just stumbles along, trying to find it as he goes.
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Larry, of OF Blog of the Fallen, sparked a bit of debate the other day when he grumbled about blogs trending towards promotional giveaways and other easy-way-out content that leads to pageviews, but not necessarily to intelligent content. In essence, Larry’s annoyed that more and more blogs seem to be losing their voice, and replacing it with that of the publishers who send them free books.

From his post, title When do you ever stop whoring yourself out?:

Lately, I’ve been a bit…disinterested…in following quite a few blogs. This isn’t about 1 or 2 or even a handful of blogs, but more about some that are in my blogroll, others that are not. At times, I find myself wanting to take on the role of the reader, of the person who receives book suggestions rather than providing all sorts of info on the books old and new worth reading. But too often, I’m not finding that when I’m browsing through a couple dozen blogs a day.

Instead, I’m finding more and more space devoted to this contest or that giveaway. For a few blogs, that is virtually all of their content. They don’t ever say much of anything about the books being pimped out. When a review is written, too often it feels rather vague and as if the punches were pulled back some. Just this sense of CYA, I guess.

Realistically, this is both a problem and, at the same time, not a problem. Sure, it sucks that some blogs are little more than extensions of the PR departments of various publishers, but at the same time, the beautiful thing about the web is that poor content is easy to ignore. Joe Sherry, in the first reply to Larry’s post, sums it up pretty well:

The promotional blog is something that is pretty well designed to make me stop following / reading it.

I use Google Reader to browse most of the blogs I read. It’s great, it syncs with my iPod and makes keeping up with near 100 blogs rather painless. It’s also great, because I can skip all the shit content that’s thrown at me, if I so desire. I’ve got a pretty good system worked out that invovles clicking through to the blogs that post good content and forgetting about the stuff I don’t care about. Rather than damning poor content, I prefer to reward good content.
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Hah! Just noticed this on Amazon:

The Law of Nines by Terry Goodkind

Turning twenty-seven may be terrifying for some, but for Alex, a struggling artist living in the midwestern United States, it is cataclysmic. Inheriting a huge expanse of land should have made him a rich and happy man; but something about this birthday, his name, and the beautiful woman whose life he just saved, has suddenly made him—and everyone he loves—into a target. A target for extreme and uncompromising violence . . . In Alex, Terry Goodkind brings to life a modern hero in a whole new kind of high-octane thriller.

Looks like Goodkind is bringing his lust for ‘extreme and uncompromising violence‘ to another genre. At least he can legitimately say he’s not writing Fantasy anymore. My guess is that he’ll try to tell us that The Law of Nines isn’t a thriller, but rather an allegory for learning how to love oneself, and that it should be filed in the ‘Self Help’ section at bookstores across the country.

Let’s be honest, though. I’ll probably give it a go, just out of sick curiousity.

The first three volumes of Daniel Abraham‘s Long Price Quartet were graced with some bloody good cover art. And, well… it looks like the fourth (and final) volume can make the same claim.

The Price of Spring by Daniel Abraham

Pretty nice, eh? Though in the same style as the earlier covers, it’s somewhat missing the art-deconess of the earlier covers, though that might change once I’m actually holding the things in my hands. Also, it’s much, much better than the atrocious omnibus editions coming from Orbit Books.

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the publication of this final volume, so I can finally jump into the Long Price Quartet, which comes highly recommended.