Greetings and Salutations!

Welcome to the longest-running* yet least-read** blog on the internet! Here you'll find me writing about all the things that I write about, which strikes me, just now, as somewhat recursive. In any case, enjoy :)

* not true ** probably true

Sunday, May 20, 2018

An update on updates: Everything is updated.

Hi all,

Well, I've just spent a week plus updating everything in the Amra Thetys and Skinwalker series. Most of it is cosmetic; Making sure fonts and such match across series.

But.

There were a couple of bugs in Amra #4, one missing word in Amra #3, one very wrong word in Prayers in Steel (No, Michael, a humerus is not generally found in the the leg), and, uh, more than a couple of typos in Unclean Strength.

Yes, I am wearing the Cone of Shame as I type this. No, I'm not gonna take a selfie.

The good news is, there's a way for everyone with a kindle to download the updates, if you'd like. I'm just going to post the link to the article from How To Geek, since they explain it better than I can:

https://www.howtogeek.com/tips/how-to-get-the-latest-version-of-your-kindle-books-including-ours/

In other news, there's a really nice review of Trouble's Braids up at Perfectly Tolerable - and it's her first time reading a self-published book! Also, lots of Felicia Day gifs, which is awesome.

Well, there ya go. I need to get cracking on Amra #5, so this Come of Shame has to come off. It's really hard to see the screen.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Amra Amra Amra

I've all but finished reformatting every book I ever wrote, and in some cases have given them new covers. All the Amra stuff is done, and now I'm working through the Skin Walker books. It has taken, uh, a long time. Days and days. I even added them to Google Play/Google Books.

For someone as technologically challenged and finicky-stuff averse as me, it has been a trial.

BUT, that means, starting tomorrow, I can get stuck back in to Amra #5.

Amra #1 is a svelte 64k words.
Amra #2 is quite a bit heftier at 73k words.
Amra #3 is 67k words.
Amra #4 is the longest, at 76k words.

So far, I've got 5,024 words written for Amra #5. That's basically the first chapter and bits and bobs of later scenes. I'll try and check in weekly to update the word count and complain about random things/talk nonsense, and post snippets of the non-spoilery type.

How long will Amra #5 be? I won't know until it's done, but it will likely fall between 65-80k words.

When will it be finished? I'm shooting for about four months, but no guarantees.

Okay, I need to eat lunch before I get hangry. Good talk.

Friday, April 27, 2018

The Skin Walker War series: Epic Fantasy or Sword & Sorcery?


I’ve been thinking a lot about this question, as the release date for An Unclean Strength draws nearer. You see, there’s a definite worry that I’ll be ‘damned if I do, damned if I don’t’ because of the way I am approaching the writing of this series. Some epic fantasy readers will undoubtedly be disappointed that these books are not the door-stoppers that dominate the genre. Some Sword & Sorcery fans will be irritated at the time I take to explore certain themes and events that feature neither swords nor sorcery, nor any action at all, on occasion.

The dividing line between epic fantasy and S&S is fairly blurred. But if you look at the typical conventions of the two sub-genres, here’s what you would probably come up with:

  • Epic fantasy is grand in its scale, and epic stories might well span across centuries and thousands of miles. Sword & Sorcery stories are generally tighter in focus, both in time and space.
  • Epic fantasy tends to have multiple point of view characters, while S&S stories generally stick to one.
  • Epic fantasy generally deals with world altering, or even world-ending consequences, while S&S very often focuses on smaller events that may make no great difference to the wider world

Based on these comparisons, the Skin Walker War pretty clearly falls into the epic fantasy category.

But there are other differences between the two sub-genres that are also important, that deal with non-plot related concerns and conventions. One of the biggest is length, which is directly related to pace.

Sword & Sorcery is the action thriller of fantasy. It was born in the pulps, and has never left them, tonally speaking. Fans of S&S enjoy the sub-genre not least because it is packed with action, with conflict, with flashing swords and, yes, deadly sorcery. For a real fan of S&S, many of the epic fantasy books out there are truly, honestly, slow and dull.

Epic fantasy readers like that magic and stabby stuff as well, don’t get me wrong. Just as Sword & Sorcery readers are not averse to an intricate plot woven through their action. The difference, to my mind, has always been about two things: emphasis and immersion.

I’ll give you an example: JV Jones’s A Sword of Shadows series features some of the best culture building I have ever read, especially in regard to Jones’s clansmen. When I spend time with, say, Clan Bludd, I don’t feel bored or impatient even if the most violent thing to happen is snarling dogs. I am immersed. I care.

In contrast, I will happily skip any feast in Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. I do not care what anyone eats, or how it was prepared. It adds nothing to my reading experience, and I am impatient to move on to something I do care about.

What I have attempted to do with this series is take out all the feasts, as it were, but leave the snarling dogs.

I love S&S, but often am dissatisfied with it because it is often skeletal – there is action, but not enough in the way of deeper characterization or world building. We too often end up with stick figures, caricatures, fighting over stakes we care nothing about.

I love epic fantasy, but am often frustrated when I come upon multiple pages that do not advance the plot, or the characterization, or world building – do not advance anything, really, except the page count. It’s like buying a bag of potato chips, to discover when you open it that half the contents are air.

So to answer to the question – is this new series epic fantasy or sword and sorcery? – I would have to say I’m trying to make it both. I’m trying to give readers what’s best about both sub-genres, and leave the less salubrious bits out.

Whether I am succeeding or not is up to the readers to decide.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Fair warning?

So the first half of An Unclean Strength is kinda slow, for those familiar with my writing style. I'm feeling unreasonably antsy about that, but it needs to set up a lot of stuff for the slaughter-fest that is the second half of the book, and the bonkers annihilation-level stuff in book three. I'm hoping people don't mind.

Oh, and uh, spoiler alert, I guess?



Friday, March 23, 2018

An Unclean Strength

Wow, three months already? I am... not good at posting. Or keeping track of time.

Anyway, I'm here to let you know that the sequel to Prayers in Steel is currently available for pre-order, and will release on May 9th. Prayers has seen quite good sales, and some lovely reviews, and I'm working hard to not disappoint when it comes to An Unclean Strength. It's available at all the usual suspects, should you care to place a pre-order.


In other news, the Amra Thetys series has gained a fair few new readers as well, so I have been informed that it would be a good idea for me to let folks know when book 5 might be coming out. I am committed to finishing it this year, but I can't be more specific than that. Oh, if you'd like to read the description, it's up at Goodreads now, though.


Okay, back to work for me. Good talk.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Skin Walker War

Hello all you beautiful people.

2017 has been a long, hard road, both personally and in general, but it has also been a year marked by firsts. For me, it was the first time I've ever earned a degree, so I can't say 2017 was all bad.

I also want to try something new, writing-wise, and I thought maybe you'd like to join in on that.

I'll be launching a new series soon, as you might already know. But before I put the first book up for sale, I thought I'd allow people to take a look at an uncorrected, advance copy for free:




Now in order to make this manageable for me, I'm going to put in a few guidelines:


  • You'll get a pdf copy (also offering kindle and epub files would get pretty hairy for me)
  • I can't offer any tech support: the only thing I have going for me, where technology is concerned, is the fact that I have opposable thumbs
  • Only Prayers in Steel, the first book, is ready at the moment. The rest will follow. I'll let you know when, don't worry. If things go well, I might do the same deal for the other two books. 
  • You're under no obligation to leave reviews, though of course you're welcome to
  • You're under no obligation to tell all your friends and family about this awesome new book, but I can't stop you if you choose to
  • Let's not upload these to any pirate sites, hmmm-kay?
  • If you would like an advance copy, you'll need to email me at mcclungmike@yahoo.com with the subject line GIMME. I'll reply with a pdf attachment of the book
  • If you're not subscribed to my newsletter and would like to be, be sure to mention that. 
  • If you're not subscribed to my newsletter and don't want to be, there's no need to say anything -- I wouldn't add you without your permission
  • I'm gonna put a deadline of Christmas Eve on this, because I hope to have the book available for sale before the new year
...and that's it! 

I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday season, and meet the new year refreshed and full of hope.

mm


Saturday, December 02, 2017

Welcome, December

I am sitting at a coffee shop in Da Nang, Vietnam. It's a gray sky, blustery, with a thin drizzle coming down -- just enough to make the roads slick and put that squinty-eyed frown of distaste on everybody's face. You know the one I mean.

I'm going through revisions for Prayers in Steel (this blog post is my reward for finishing up a chapter that's taken me two and a half days). I'm drinking iced coffee and smoking a cigarette. I tried to quit yesterday, and made everybody hate me, so I'm gonna have to rethink my approach on that one. Cold turkey is hard when you have to be human around humans. I have to quit, one way or another. Just.. not today.

But about those revisions, about that book:

Prayers in Steel was originally conceived as a series of novellas. It was my attempt at serialized fiction. I did publish it, or rather two episodes of it, in an earlier and far different form (Blood Tempered and Weaving Steel, for the curious). The sales were dismal, and the story (as much as I liked and still like it) had problems -- the biggest problems being I've never told a big, multiple point of view story before, and that I was trying to tell an epic story in a sword and sorcery fashion.

You see, sword and sorcery as a sub-genre does not linger; it rushes through the plot all fire and fury and blood. (If you've read my Amra Thetys, series, that's sword and sorcery, tempered with a healthy dose of noir detective sensibilities.) I've been writing this sort of story for years, and so whenever I stop to smell the roses in a story, I feel like I'm cheating.

Epic fantasy is different. Multiple points of view are different.

I am in the process of revising in order to let the reader stop and smell the roses, so to speak. It's really hard, people. When you get into a writing groove, when you develop a style, it takes real effort to do something different and new. I hope, once it's finished, you find the effort worth it, because I really like these characters, and their world. As messed up as they are, and it is.

This will be a trilogy - Prayers in Steel, An Unclean Strength, and Armor of Faith. I'll keep you updated.