Before the Landslide Brings Me Down

WarGod-600Before I get into anything else, I thought I’d mention that Beneath Ceaseless Skies just released their Seventh Anniversary Double Issue #183, with Rose Lemberg, Naim Kabir, I.L. Heisler, and Grace Seybold. Scott also reprinted “The Bride Doll” from Yamada Monogatari: Demon Hunter, so if you haven’t read any of that book yet, here’s a free way to get a taste.

Though the official release date is either the 22nd or the 13th (depending on whom you ask), Amazon is shipping real copies of Yamada Monogatari: The War God’s Son sort of…nowish. So if you’re looking for actual paper copies, there’s no more excuse. If you’re holding out for the Kindle/Nook editions, well, you’ll have to hold out a little longer. It’s unlikely they’ll be available before the official date which, whatever date you pick, is later this month.

The fact that I have a new book coming out touches on an online conversation on one of those sites that attempts to do an exhaustive listing of all new books about to hit the shelves. The point was made that, and I paraphrase, “there’s an almighty shitload of new books.” It’s true, and that’s not even counting the Indie and self-published stuff. Just from the publishers who license the rights to publish a book from an author that particular month. Publishing with a traditional publisher of whatever size is and remains difficult, and yet an awful lot of writers do manage it. So many that an awful lot of them do manage to get published every single month. It must be said, that some proportion of those awful lot of books really are awful. But most aren’t. A significant proportion of them, perhaps even the majority, are pretty good. Some are even damned good, but that might not be enough to save them.

For a reader, it’s pretty much like trying to judge the esthetic qualities of one snowflake over another in the middle of a friggin’ avalanche. It’s no wonder that many readers stick with writers they’re already familiar with, and eagerly await anything new from that set of writers. That doesn’t leave much room for happy discoveries, and yet who can really blame them, when the alternative is dealing with the avalanche?

Still, newer writers do get read, sometimes. Could be on the recommendation by a friend, or sheer accident. Perhaps the work was even enjoyed, and the reader makes a mental note to look for that writer again. Maybe. Equally likely they’ll just forget about it and go back to what they know. Most books go nowhere, either in building sales or readership. It’s no surprise that a great many writers publish for a few years and then just go silent. What’s more surprising is that more don’t do the same. In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t make that much difference, since there’s always a new batch of writers to come along.

The point, if there is one, is that it’s hard to get noticed. The Yamada series has done well, and frankly the publisher was just as surprised as I was. Not that either of us didn’t believe in the books, but because we both knew that any particular book getting any attention at all is such a long shot. So here’s a thought–If you’re inclined, maybe you can help the next new writer you come across. If you like their stuff, say so. Review it. Tell your friends, especially any with similar tastes in reading. If you want to see more books from that writer, let people know. And by “people” I’m not referring to the writer or even the publisher, especially, but rather to people who might want to know, whether they are aware of this fact or not. You’ll be encouraging more books of the sort you want to read, and writers will get paid to write them for you. Win win.

Otherwise, just watch all the snow fall down the mountain. After all, there will always be more where that came from.

Beneath Ceaseless Skies #150

Scott Andrews has published his 150th issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies today, including my own “The Manor of Lost Time.”   This from Scott’s own description of the issue:

BCS #150 is out today! A special double-issue, in honor of our 150th issue.

It includes “The Manor of Lost Time,” a story of demonic imprisonment by Richard Parks, author of the Lord Yamada tales, and “The Inked Many,” a novelette by Adam Callaway set in the Ars Lacuna world of strange ink and writings that has been featured in his many other BCS stories.

Plus “The Black Waters of Lethe,” a short piece of maddening isolation by Oliver Buckram, and “The Unborn God,” a tale of strange discovery and quest by returning BCS author Stephen Case.”

There’s lots more, including a giveaway of Brandon Sanderson’s hardcover novella “The Emperor’s Soul” (a Hugo winner) and a reprint of my “In the Palace of the Jade Lion” from issue #100. That’s become one of my favorites of my own stories, not that this should influence you or anything. And sometimes I think the characters in “The Manor of Lost Time” deserve their own book, but that’s further down the road. Regardless, check out the issue. Tthere’s a lot there for any lover of adventure fantasy.

Edited to Add: A couple of times lately I’ve gotten anonymous comments on the blog. Nothing abusive, and I know sometimes there are legitimate reasons for keeping your identity on the down-low. I don’t mind, and I’ll respond to those comments indirectly where appropriate. But I can’t clear anonymous posting for public display on this blog for obvious reasons. Thanks for your understanding.

Yamada Monogatari: Demon Hunter Giveaway

Final-CoverI’m breaking my relatively normal late week silence to announce that Scott Andrews at Beneath Ceaseless Skies Magazine is giving away two (2) signed copies of Yamada Monogatari: Demon Hunter. I’ve only signed three copies total and Scott’s giving away two of them. All you have to do for a chance to win the first copy is leave a comment on the Contest Page listing the title of your favorite Lord Yamada story, and why that’s your favorite. Scott has helpfully given links to all the Yamada stories that have appeared in BCS, so if you haven’t read any of them, you can correct that immediately for your chance to win. The second giveaway will be through a contest on Twitter. I’ll give details when there are any, but the first one will probably be the easiest to get in on.

Contest aside, BCS has rapidly become the premier venue for literate adventure fantasy, so if that’s your cup of tea, you’ll find a neverending pot brewing there. Check it out.

Word of Podcast

If you’re interested in the sf/f field in general, the SF Signal web site is probably already familiar to you. This week they’ve put up one of their regular podcasts, this time a panel discussion on the state of the Swords & Sorcery (S&S)subgenre and where the genre is at the moment, (Episode 108): 2012 Sword & Sorcery Mega Panel Part 1
.    Panelists were:

Lou Anders is the editor of Pyr Books, Scott Andrews is the editor of  Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Violette Malan and James Sutter are authors, Jaym Gates and Patrick Hester are the SF Signal podcast moderators. Besides being an interesting discussion in itself for anyone even remotely interested in the subject (and I’m looking forward to part 2), it was interesting to me personally because my name came up several times as a modern S&S author in connection with the Lord Yamada stories.

I can see it. For one thing, as subgenres go, S&S is pretty mecurial. Any subgenre that can encompass at various times Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, Fritz Leiber, C.L. Moore, Joanna Russ, G.R.R. Martin, and Michael Moorcock, has to be a bit of a moving target. For another, at various times in my development I was very deliberately writing S&S. For one thing, I went through an early phase where I didn’t read much else. For another, when I was first trying to break into the fantasy magazines (all maybe three of them at the time), S&S was in the ascendant, as hot or hotter than Steampunk is now. I wrote a fair bit of it, and apparently I still am.

I’ll grant you, I wasn’t thinking of Yamada as S&S when the series first came to me. I had him envisioned more as a Heian-era noire detective, sort of Sam Spade with a tachi. He quickly grew past that limited conception, and thank heavens for that, but the tone remained that of a generalist fantasy with mystery overtones. And yet the stories still easily fit under the S&S umbrella. I hadn’t thought of them that way, but it’s true, and perfectly fine with me.

Categories aside, I think this is the first time that my name and work has come up in a podcast that wasn’t a podcast of one of my own stories. Getting a reminder now and then that other people do read and like what you do doesn’t entirely suck.