Welcome!

Welcome to the website of Jonathan Moeller!

I am the author of THE GHOSTS, DEMONSOULED, FROSTBORN, THE TOWER OF ENDLESS WORLDS, and THE THIRD SOUL series of fantasy novels.

Check out my free booksCHILD OF THE GHOSTS, DEMONSOULED, THE TOWER OF ENDLESS WORLDS, FROSTBORN: THE FIRST QUEST, and THE TESTING.

You can email me at jmcontact at jonathanmoeller.com, and follow me at Facebook and also at Twitter. Be sure to sign up for my new release newsletter to receive free bonus stories!

If you are looking for the reading order of my series, keep scrolling down!

THE GHOSTS SERIES:

  1. CHILD OF THE GHOSTS
  2. GHOST IN THE FLAMES
  3. GHOST IN THE BLOOD
  4. GHOST IN THE STORM
  5. GHOST IN THE STONE
  6. GHOST IN THE FORGE
  7. GHOST IN THE ASHES
  8. GHOST IN THE MASK
  9. GHOST IN THE SURGE

THE GHOST EXILE SERIES

  1. GHOST IN THE COWL
  2. GHOST IN THE MAZE
  3. GHOST IN THE HUNT

THE DEMONSOULED SERIES

  1. DEMONSOULED
  2. SOUL OF TYRANTS
  3. SOUL OF SERPENTS
  4. SOUL OF DRAGONS
  5. SOUL OF SORCERY
  6. SOUL OF SKULLS
  7. SOUL OF SWORDS

THE FROSTBORN SERIES

  1. FROSTBORN: THE GRAY KNIGHT
  2. FROSTBORN: THE EIGHTFOLD KNIFE
  3. FROSTBORN: THE UNDYING WIZARD
  4. FROSTBORN: THE MASTER THIEF
  5. FROSTBORN: THE IRON TOWER
  6. FROSTBORN: THE DARK WARDEN

THE THIRD SOUL SERIES

  1. THE TESTING
  2. THE ASSASSINS
  3. THE BLOOD SHAMAN
  4. THE HIGH DEMON
  5. THE BURNING CHILD
  6. THE OUTLAW ADEPT
  7. THE BLACK PALADIN
  8. THE TOMB OF BALIGANT

THE TOWER OF ENDLESS WORLDS SERIES

  1. THE TOWER OF ENDLESS WORLDS
  2. A KNIGHT OF THE SACRED BLADE
  3. A WIZARD OF THE WHITE COUNCIL
  4. THE DESTROYER OF WORLDS

Are Science Fiction And Fantasy Dying?

Software

This Publishers’ Weekly report claims that science fiction and fantasy readership is in the process of declining, with fewer books being purchased every year.

The problem with this report is that it only tracks sales of traditionally published books, and a small subset of traditionally published books at that. It doesn’t track self-published books like mine. Even then, the data sources in the report tend not to be 100% accurate. There are lots and lots of science fiction and fantasy books being written, bought, and read right now, but since they’re self-published the “official” sources don’t notice them. (A good explanation of the phenomenon is here.)

An example may illustrate the point.

In the early 1990s, if you walked into a Best Buy you would see rows and rows of shelves of PC games in colorful cardboard boxes. In 2015, if you walk into a Best Buy, you’ll see maybe one shelf of PC games (mostly various Blizzard titles) in small plastic boxes. The logical conclusion is that PC gaming is in the process of dying…but that overlooks Steam and GOG.com and other online platforms that handle most of the sales of computer games. Once you factor in Steam and GOG, you realize that PC gaming is exploding! And if you count tablets and smartphones as computers, then computer gaming has never been bigger.

The same thing is happening with science fiction and fantasy books. When I typed this post, I looked at the top 20 books for Epic Fantasy on Amazon and the top 20 books for Science Fiction on Amazon US. Of the top 20 Epic Fantasy books, nine of them were self-published, and of the top 20 Science Fiction books, ten of them were self-published. (And I suspect a bunch of the other publishers are actually LLCs or S-corporations created by self-publishers for tax reasons.)

So science fiction and fantasy are doing well, and they’re doing a lot better than they did in the care of traditional publishers. I don’t think the large publishers were actually in a conspiracy to eliminate reading as a form of recreation in the English-speaking world, but they certainly acted as if they were.

-JM

GHOST EXILE – Sicarion vs. the Red Huntress vs. the Balarigar

Note that today’s post has !!!SPOILERS!!! for the entirety of THE GHOSTS to date.

A couple of questions came up in email about GHOST IN THE RAZOR, so let’s answer them here!

“I really like Kalgri the Red Huntress as a villain and glad she is coming back. Who would win in a fight, her or Sicarion?” 

Sicarion is an extremely capable and dangerous assassin, and not too proud to withdraw if a fight doesn’t look like it’s going to go his way. In addition, he is a sorcerer and a necromancer of middling skill, so he can both use sorcery in a fight, and then employ necromancy to repair wounds to himself after the battle.

The Red Huntress, by contrast, is an insane murder juggernaut.

In a straight fight, Kalgri would probably win. Sicarion would assume that she is a sorceress, and use his favorite tactic against sorcerers – a spell that produces a sphere of shadows around him that disrupts spells. Kalgri, however, is not a sorcerer, since all her superhuman abilities stem from the Voice, the nagataaru within her. The nagataaru would not be affected by the spell, and Kalgri would walk right through it.

This assumes that it’s a straight fight, and neither Kalgri nor Sicarion like straight fights. If Kalgri had time to prepare, she would almost certainly come with a plan to kill Sicarion. Her first plan to kill Caina, after all, failed only due to sheer dumb luck.

If Sicarion had time to prepare, he likely would come up with an effective trap or ambush for Kalgri. That said, it would still be an extremely risky venture, and Sicarion would try to avoid fighting her at all if possible, or (better yet) manipulate someone else into fighting her for him.

“Does Caina believe that she is really the Balarigar?”

She doesn’t. She thinks the entirety of it is a myth that as been misapplied to her and distorted by rumor, and doesn’t think that she has been chosen by gods, God, or destiny to kill demons and evil sorcerers. She thinks the “Balarigar” is a legend that started in Marsis and sort of accreted around her over the following years. In truth, she is rather irritated by it, since it makes it harder for her to disappear when necessary.

That said, she is completely willing to use the legend to her advantage when necessary.

-JM

Writing Goals For 2015

Now that it’s almost February, I suppose I should decide on what writing goals I want to accomplish in 2015!

-Write 800,000 to 900,000 new words.

I would like to do one million words in a year, but realistically I don’t think it’s possible at the moment. 800,000 to 900,000 a year seems to be the current sweet spot.

-Write three new GHOST EXILE books.

-Write three new FROSTBORN books.

-Write one new tech book: WINDOWS 10: 101 TIPS  & TRICKS.

-Write MASK OF DRAGONS.

-Start bundling short stories into four-pack omnibus editions. For a while I dithered about doing omnibus editions of short stories, but I could never get the covers right. Then I saw that some other writers were doing omnibus editions by shrinking the covers of four books down to 400 x 600 pixel images and then combining them to form the usual 1600 x 2400 image. When I saw that, a light went on. So I’ll start making omnibus short story editions later in this year.

-Get up to at least 30 of my books available in print. Right now I’m at 19.

So those are my writing goals for 2015. It will be interesting to revisit in January 2016 and see how many of them I reached!

-JM

Bestselling Books Of 2014

I had a spare moment, so I tallied up my total books sold in 2014, and then worked out the percentages of the individual series.

The Ghosts & Ghost Exile: 36% of the total.

Computer Beginner’s Guides: 20% of the total.

Frostborn: 18% of the total.

Demonsouled: 12% of the total.

The Third Soul: 3% of the total.

The Tower of Endless Worlds: 1.5% of the total.

My bestselling fiction book was FROSTBORN: THE GRAY KNIGHT, and my bestselling nonfiction book was THE LINUX COMMAND LINE BEGINNER’S GUIDE. My second-bestselling fiction book was GHOST IN THE FLAMES (exactly 101 fewer copies than FROSTBORN: THE GRAY KNIGHT), and my second-bestselling nonfiction book was WINDOWS 8.1: 101 TIPS & TRICKS.

Thanks everyone! It is amusing in hindsight that in 2010 I decided to stop writing novels after CHILD OF THE GHOSTS. Clearly I cannot see the future. :)

-JM

another FROSTBORN: THE GORGON SPIRIT update (Frostborn #7)

Now on Chapter 10 of 24 of FROSTBORN: THE GORGON SPIRIT, at about 46,000 words. I think the rough draft will wind up at about 100,000 to 120,000 words, but we’ll see. Gauging a book’s final length while you’re writing it is more of an art than a science. :)

Let’s have a short excerpt!

“We have a problem,” said Gavin.

No one seemed to notice. How would Ridmark have handled this? Gavin considered for a moment, then drew a deep breath.

“Shut up and stop talking!” he roared at the top of his lungs.

Morigna and Arandar both whirled to face him, Arandar lifting Heartwarden and Morigna her staff. The others looked astonished. Gavin supposed that he did not shout all that often, now that he thought about it.

“Shut up and stop talking?” said Jager. “That’s redundant, you know.”

-JM

GHOST IN THE RAZOR Questions & Answers

Note that this post CONTAINS SPOILERS for GHOST IN THE RAZOR and numerous other GHOSTS books.

A reader has several questions about GHOST IN THE RAZOR.

“I wanted to ask when is your next book coming out. Can you betray something that will happen in it?”

The next GHOST EXILE book I’m writing is GHOST IN THE INFERNO, which I hope to start writing in March (when FROSTBORN: THE GORGON SPIRIT is finished). So if all goes well I’ll have GHOST IN THE INFERNO out sometime around Memorial Day.

In GHOST IN THE INFERNO, Caina and her allies will try to break into the Inferno, the hellish fortress where the Immortals are made and trained.

“I can’t wait and I really, really, really want to know what will happen with Kylon.  I don’t know why, but when I read your books, I keep thinking he will get killed around every corner!”

Thanks! I was quite surprised at how popular he has been. When I wrote GHOST IN THE STORM (Kylon’s first appearance) back in 2012, I intended him to be a one-off character. But then I got a lot of emails asking “when is Kylon coming back?” So I brought him back for GHOST IN THE FORGE, got even more emails about Kylon, so then I brought him back in GHOST IN THE MASK…and here we are three years later and I’m still writing about Kylon. :)

“1. What are daevagoths?”

Normal humans twisted into insane monsters by alchemical sorcery, equipped with absolutely lethal venom in their stingers. The Alchemists typically use them as guard dogs.

“2. How are they made?”

Alchemical sorcery. Think a lot of vats and vile elixirs and madness-inducing transformations, that kind of thing.

“3. What do they look like?”

Dog-sized spiders with human heads and scorpion tails. Their heads are hairless and gray, and their eyes and blood glow with a pale blue light.

“4. How do you spell the word? daevegoths? deavagoths?”

Daevagoth.

“5. What is Ulvan? (master trader, sorcerer…I know WHAT he is I just don’t know how it’s called)…(Ulvan and the others, in what category are they in? Did I say guess right? Master sorcerers or traders or else?)”

Ulvan is a Master Slaver of the Brotherhood of Slavers of Istarinmul. The Master Slavers wear cowls of black leather as formal, ceremonial garb (similar to how certain legal officials in Britain wear black robes and white wigs when in court), and so the Master Slavers are informally known as the “cowled masters”.

The Brotherhood of Slavers is the only organization that has the legal right to sell slaves in Istarinmul. (Even when people sell slaves to each other, the Brotherhood is technically supposed to record the sale and receive a cut, though transactions often happen under the table.) Because of that, the Brotherhood is richer and more powerful than many nobles, the way a modern international corporation is sometimes richer than smaller national governments. Callatas hired the Brotherhood to supply him with the thousands of slaves he needed to murder to create wraithblood, so they became even wealthier and more powerful.

That said, by the time of GHOST IN THE RAZOR Caina has spent a year and a half harassing the Brotherhood and disrupting their operations, and the Brotherhood is in a lot of political and financial trouble. They are having a very difficult time finding new slaves, and so the price of slaves have skyrocketed. This in turn is disrupting Istarinmul’s economy and ticked off Grand Master Callatas, which has made the Brotherhood desperate. They’re legally forbidden from kidnapping Istarish citizens to sell as slaves, but the Brotherhood has been kidnapping Istarish peasants to meet the demand for slaves. That in turn has seriously angered a lot of powerful rural Istarish nobles.

So Caina hasn’t fully realized it yet (Morgant and Nasser have, though), but she has been pushing Istarinmul towards a major civil war…and there is your hint for what might happen in GHOST IN THE INFERNO. :)

-JM

Kindle Unlimited For Self-Publishers, The Final Month

December of 2014 was the final month of my three month experiment with Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s subscription service for ebooks. In October I started an experiment where I put 19 of my older short stories into the Kindle Unlimited subscription program. My goal was to have at least 34 Kindle Unlimited borrows, since that would match the sales I lost by removing the short stories from non-Amazon sales platforms, assuming the rate that Amazon pays for borrows stays above $1. For October the rate Amazon paid per borrow was $1.33, in November it was $1.39, and for December it was $1.43. I suspect Amazon will boost up the payment around the holidays and let it drop a bit in non-peak months, but we’ll see whether that’s right or not.

In October, the first month of the experiment, I had 49 borrows. In November, 61 borrows, and in December, 62 total. Now that the experiment is over, I’m phasing my short stories out of Kindle Unlimited, and making them available on Barnes & Noble and iBooks and the other sites.

So, after three months and 172 borrows, what conclusions have I learned?

-I think Kindle Unlimited would be most valuable to a writer who’s just starting out. Like, if you have two or three books and are working to find visibility for them. The free days of KDP Select and the ability for people to borrow out your book would definitely help with visibility. For someone like me, with as many books as I have (FROSTBORN: THE GORGON SPIRIT is going to be novel #36), I think it makes more sense to have the books spread across as many platforms as possible. If you have four or five books and have them all on Amazon, you’re not losing out on that many non-Amazon sales, objectively speaking. If you have thirty-six books (and 20+ short stories and 9 technical books) the non-Amazon sales really add up over time. Conversely, if I wanted to start, say, a pen name to write romance novels or political thrillers or something, Kindle Unlimited would be a good way to kick it off. (Not that I’m planning to – I barely have enough time to write books under my own name!)

-Another option might be to rotate an older series into Kindle Unlimited for a boost. I haven’t tried this so I don’t know how it would work, but movie and TV companies do this all the time – movies and TV series appear on Netflix and then disappear again after a while.

-Finally, if you have a nonfiction topic that would primarily be of interest to people in the US and the UK, Kindle Unlimited might make a good home for it, since KU is still primarily popular on Amazon US and Amazon UK. Like, a book on US Congressional elections would work on Kindle Unlimited, since that would be a topic mostly of interest to US readers. Whereas for my books about Linux, I’ve never even considered putting them in Kindle Unlimited because Linux is used worldwide. In fact, on iBooks and Google Play a large part of my sales to countries where English is not the primary language are my books on Linux.

So, that is my opinion of Kindle Unlimited. Feel free to share your experiences with it below, whether as a reader or as a writer (or both).

-JM

FROSTBORN: THE GORGON SPIRIT progress (Frostborn #7 update)

Some determined person has been searching for “frostborn #7″ on my website every day for the last week, so I thought it was time to share a progress update.

I’m current on Chapter 4 of 24. Chapter 1 and 2 were a bit longer than usual, 8,000 and 5,000 words respectively, so they took longer to write. I’m hoping to have the book out in March, and the main point-of-view characters in this one will be Ridmark, Gavin, and Calliande.

Now let’s have an excerpt:

“I would say they were kobold tracks,” said Morigna, “but they are far too large. Kobolds stand three or four feet tall. Whatever left those tracks, to judge from their stride, was at least eight or nine feet tall.”

“You have a good eye,” said Ridmark, his own eyes moving back and forth over the trees.

“Calliande is right about you,” said Morigna.

That startled him so much that he almost stopped. “You and Calliande never agree about anything.”

“She says you keep secrets out of habit,” said Morigna, “and that you would rather make a point in a dramatic fashion that explain something. Like the marsh gas near Moraime. Or that carnivorous plant in the Torn Hills. Or…”

-JM

my 11 favorite GHOSTS scenes of 2014

Note that this post has SPOILERS for the entirety of THE GHOSTS books to date!

In 2014 I wrote three complete GHOSTS novels – GHOST IN THE COWL, GHOST IN THE MAZE, and GHOST IN THE HUNT, along with the first draft of GHOST IN THE RAZOR.

As I mentioned with the FROSTBORN post, some scenes are more fun to write than others. Of course, this often has no bearing whatsoever on which scenes the readers enjoy most. On multiple occasions, I’ve heard something that I threw in or changed at the last minute was a reader’s favorite scene or line in the book, whereas no one notices something I planned to put in for months. It is always amusing to see how it shakes out, and THE GHOSTS books are no different.

That said, now that GHOST IN THE RAZOR has been out for a week, here are the 11 GHOSTS scenes that I enjoyed writing the most in 2014:

11.) Caina, Damla, and the lice in GHOST IN THE COWL.

10.) Caina bluffing her way into joining the circus in GHOST IN THE COWL.

9.) Caina terrorizing Ulvan and the other Master Slavers in GHOST IN THE COWL.

8.) The destruction of the Widow’s Tower in GHOST IN THE COWL.

7.) Pretty much any time Nerina Strake says something.

6.) Caina’s and Nasser’s escape from Grand Master Callatas’s Maze through the netherworld in GHOST IN THE MAZE.

5.) Caina realizing who the gladiator is in GHOST IN THE RAZOR.

4.) Nerina attempting to ask Caina how to seduce the gladiator in GHOST IN THE RAZOR.

3.) Caina realizing that she had miscalculated and that Kalgri had been hunting her, not Martin Dorius, all along in GHOST IN THE HUNT.

2.) Caina’ s confrontation with The Sifter in the laboratory of the Craven’s Tower in GHOST IN THE RAZOR.

1.) Caina’s final fight with Kalgri in Silent Ash Temple in GHOST IN THE HUNT.

-JM

the writing goals of 2014

Last year, I wrote a post detailing my writing goals for 2014. Let’s look back and see how many of them I met!

“At least two or three more THE GHOSTS books.”

Success! GHOST IN THE COWL, GHOST IN THE MAZE, and GHOST IN THE HUNT, and I wrote the rough draft of GHOST IN THE RAZOR.

“At least two or three more FROSTBORN books.”

Success! FROSTBORN: THE MASTER THIEF, FROSTBORN: THE IRON TOWER, and FROSTBORN: THE DARK WARDEN. I also wrote the second half of FROSTBORN: THE UNDYING WIZARD in January of 2014.

“Return to DEMONSOULED. I’ve been bashing my head against the wall for a year trying to figure out what to do next, but I think I have it at last. More on that later.”

Success! I wrote MASK OF SWORDS and published it at the end of November 2014.

“Return to THE THIRD SOUL.”

Did not do this one, alas. I think writing three series simultaneously might be too much even for me.

“In 2012 I wrote 530,000 words, and in 2013 I wrote 863,000 new words. So in 2014, I’d like to see if I can push that up to one million words. This might not be doable, but I shall like to try. (Of course, reaching the first four goals will help with this. Synergy!”

I almost did it. In 2014, I wrote about 930,000 new words.

“A tech book. I didn’t write any new tech books in 2013, but I would like to do one. My new website, Computer Beginner’s Guides, should help with that.”

Success! I wrote WINDOWS 8.1: 101 TIPS AND TRICKS and UBUNTU: 101 TIPS AND TRICKS

“6 books available in print by the holidays of 2014. I’ve found it’s best not to think of them as “print books”, but as “holiday gift editions”. So, I hope to have 16 of my books available as “holiday gift editions” by the holidays of 2014.”

Success! 19 of my books are available in print right now.

“I’m hoping to get another book in the Top 100 for Epic Fantasy, since GHOST IN THE FLAMES & GHOST IN THE BLOOD made it into the Top 100 on Thanksgiving Day.”

-I didn’t do that one. I changed tactics, instead, and decided it was better to have my books sitting higher in a less trafficked Amazon bestseller list than lower on more popular one. It’s better to have a book that’s #5 on a less visible list than at #79 in the more competitive ones. Not too many people scroll down to #79.

“I hope to reach 1,000 total subscribers for my New Release Newsletter. Subscribe here!

Success! The mailing list is at 1,320 subscribers as of this writing.

“Sell a thousand copies of a one book in an individual month.”

Success! I did that a couple times, most notably with FROSTBORN: THE DARK WARDEN, which sold over 1,200 copies its first month.

“Have more books available on Google Play. I’ve heard rumblings that Google Play is growing as a market for ebooks, which makes sense, as there are something like a billion Android phones floating around out there.”

Success! Most of my books are available on Google Play, and I’ve been selling about 200 copies a month there. And I’ve learned all kinds of things about foreign currency. I had no idea that the currency of South Africa was called the “rand”, or that Sweden was not on the euro.

So, all in all, I’d say 2014 was a pretty successful writing year. Later this week I’ll lay out my goals for 2015.

-JM