Category Archives: The Ghosts

a 10k day

Yesterday was a successful writing day, because I wrote 10,000 words of FROSTBORN: THE SHADOW PRISON.

I write relatively fast, but even for me, 10k days are extremely rare. Everything has to go just right in Real Life – no computer problems, no home maintenance tasks, my brain has to be firing on all cylinders, and so forth, but yesterday was one of those days.

In fact, the last time I hit a 10k day was November 30th, 2014, when I wrote 10,000 words of GHOST IN THE RAZOR in a single day. It was right after Thanksgiving, and I was snowed in with nothing else to do, so I just kept going and going on GHOST IN THE RAZOR. I think the section I wrote was the part where Caina and Kylon reunite under the Ring of Cyrica and run into their old friends from the Kindred.

Some people really like that scene, so I think it worked out. 🙂

-JM

a short GHOST IN THE RING excerpt

Yesterday a reader on Facebook asked when I was starting GHOST IN THE RING.

Actually, I already did! It’s my side project while I work on FROSTBORN: THE SHADOW PRISON, and once FROSTBORN: THE SHADOW PRISON is done, GHOST IN THE RING will become my main project.

Let’s have a short excerpt!

“That sword,” said the magus. “That’s an Iramisian valikon. Where did you get it? Did you find it here?”

“No,” said Kylon. 

“Where did you find it, then?” said the magus. He didn’t seem afraid, only fascinated. “Those weapons are legendary. There are only a few left in the world. All the rest were destroyed when the Alchemists burned Iramis.”

“My wife gave it to me,” said Kylon.

The magus snorted. “Clearly a woman of exquisite taste.”

-JM

what will GHOST IN THE RING be about?

Been working on GHOST IN THE RING on the side while spending most of my time on FROSTBORN: THE SHADOW PRISON, and I finished Chapter 1 today.

Related to that, intrpeid reader Bret asks:

And perhaps I’m slightly worried. Ghosts Exile was soooo good and ended soooo strongly, that I’m having trouble imagining how you’re possibly gonna match the quality and excitement of those books.

Well, here are six short previews of what GHOST IN THE RING will be about.

1.) Caina’s mother’s family. Caina’s mother was actually the youngest daughter of a family that’s like a cross between a sorcerous Mafia and the Death Eaters.

2.) What does Caina do now? Hard to be a spy when you’re famous.

3.) A ring, a dagger, a sword, an amulet, and a crown.

4.) The Umbarian Order.

5.) Some neutrals support the Empire, and some support the Umbarian Order.

6.) Sometimes history is like looking at an old, dusty skeleton. You look at it and think it’s dead, but then you poke at it and the skeleton sits up and reaches for your throat, and you realize that history isn’t quite as dead as you think. Some characters in GHOST NIGHT will learn that the hard way. 🙂

-JM

THE GHOSTS reader Q&A

I want to start working on both FROSTBORN: THE SHADOW PRISON and GHOST IN THE RING on Monday if all goes well, so it’s an excellent time for a reader Q& A about THE GHOSTS series!

“I haven’t noticed any female alchemists in the books so my question is this, are there any female alchemists or are females not allowed to join?”

No. The College of Alchemists of Istarinmul doesn’t allow women to join.

Anticipating the follow-up question, of the sorcerous organizations in Caina’s world, the Imperial Magisterium (and the Umbarian Order) has female members, and the Brothers and Sisters of the Words of Lore of Iramis (the loremasters) had both male and female members. The Ashbringers of the Saddai had both men and women, and in ancient Maat, sorcery was the province of the priesthoods, and men and women had their own priesthoods, though only men became Great Necromancers.

The Anshani flat-out kill any women who display sorcerous talent, though they’re the only nation that does it as a matter of law.

As for the Kyracians, next question!

“Storm dancers and singers: Are the roles of dancers and singers based on gender?”

For the Kyracian stormdancers and stormsingers, men and women can both become stormsingers, while only men become stormdancers. Usually, men with weaker sorcerous talent become stormdancers, because they can use their spells to augment themselves in battle with great effect.

“What really life countries are each of the book countries modeled after? I am pretty sure that Maat is Egypt, and I read somewhere that the Empire is based on Rome.”

Caina’s Empire is vaguely based on what I think the Western Roman Empire might have been like if 1.) it had sorcerers, and 2.) it survived to the Renaissance era. Maat is what ancient Egypt might have been like if it was run by crazy Great Necromancers. The Caers are a lot like the various Celtic groups after they were forcibly Romanized, and the Kyracians are based on ancient Greece.

“In the first series there is a reference to the swords used by Valikarions. And Caina has a weaker form of the gifts of the Valikarions thoughout the series. Did you already plan on making Caina one of them even when writing the first series?”

Ha, long story. I didn’t initially plan on making Caina a valikarion at all. In the first version of the GHOST EXILE outline, Caina’s love interest was a valikarion who dedicated his life to defending Annarah, and then would fall for Caina once he met her. He was the one who would do all the valikarion-related things when Caina needed them.

However, because of overwhelming reader demand, I decided to bring Kylon back as Caina’s love interest, which necessitating changing the plot. I think it worked out for the best – it really let me elevate both Cassander Nilas and the Huntress in their roles as secondary villains, where they both served magnificently.

-JM

FROSTBORN & THE GHOSTS questions

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post about the cover image of FROSTBORN: THE DRAGON KNIGHT, here are answers to some questions:

-The cover was done by Clarissa Yeo of Yocla Designs. She does good work!

-If all goes well, FROSTBORN: THE DRAGON KNIGHT will come out in March. (Bear in mind that “in March” includes up to 11:59 PM on March 31st, technically.)

-In March, I will finish writing CLOAK GAMES: TOMB HOWL. That should come out in April.

-In April, I’m going to start writing the final FROSTBORN book and GHOST IN THE RING. If all goes well, the last FROSTBORN book will come out in May, and GHOST IN THE RING will come out in June/July.

That’s the plan for the next couple of months, barring weather, health, Real Life, etc.

Thanks for reading! More books soon. 🙂

-JM

FROSTBORN: THE DRAGON KNIGHT progress update

Now on Chapter 9 of 26 of FROSTBORN: THE DRAGON KNIGHT!

I limited all previous FROSTBORN books to 24 chapters, because one of the dangers when writing a really long epic fantasy is the temptation to meander into endless sideplots. I do think storytelling is like passing semis on the freeway – best to to it as quickly as possible without any dawdling! So keeping the books at 24 chapters helped keep the focus on the essential story and prevent digressions.

That said, I think the most important part of the story is the ending. It’s like the punchline of a joke in that it validates everything that came before, so it’s really important to get the ending right. So the last two books in the FROSTBORN series will be as long as they need to be, however long that happens to be.

I did that for the GHOST EXILE series, and it worked out pretty well. I kept the first 6 books between 22 and 24 chapters each. GHOST IN THE THRONE (#7) jumped up to 26 chapters,  GHOST IN THE PACT (#8) did 25 chapters, and the ninth and final book GHOST IN THE WINDS weighed in at 33 chapters. It was also the longest book I had written in three years, but that was okay, because it was the end of the series, and it is extremely important to get the ending right!

-JM

more on ebook sales 2016, THE GHOSTS

More data from 2016’s ebook sales.

FROSTBORN was my bestselling series at 66% of my sales, but THE GHOSTS and GHOST EXILE came in second with 12.2% of the total.

The bestselling GHOSTS book was GHOST EXILE OMNIBUS ONE, since it was on sale for a while this summer. The bestselling individual GHOSTS book was GHOST IN THE PACT. I did like that it was the bestselling one, since the scene in the middle of book when Caina and Callatas have their argument was one of my favorite ones to write in 2016.

The bestselling book from the original THE GHOSTS series was, oddly enough, GHOST IN THE ASHES. At least, I though it was odd because GHOST IN THE ASHES is Book 7 of 9, right in the middle of the series. Usually it’s the earlier books or the later ones that sell the best.

It’s exciting to review this data as I plan for GHOST IN THE RING later this year. 🙂

-JM

 

GHOST EXILE series now in print

I am pleased to report that the entire GHOST EXILE series is now available in paperback format. Links and ISBN information are here at my paperback page. 

It is amusing to see how the books in the bottom row of the picture get progressively thicker the closer it gets to the end of the series. 🙂

-JM

Happy New Year and GHOST IN THE RING preview

Happy New Year!

To celebrate the New Year, I’ve got two preview scenes from GHOST IN THE RING, the first book of the new GHOST NIGHT series, which will come out in mid-2017.

The first scene:

He had heard the rumors about Caina Amalas, of course, the stories about the Balarigar and the Umbarians and Istarinmul, but he knew such stories were always exaggerated in the telling.

So he was not sure what to expect when he met the woman in the flesh.

Perhaps she would be a scowling broad-shouldered ox of a woman, the sort of woman who would be mistaken for a man at the first or even third glance. Certainly, that fit some of the tales about the terrible bloodthirsty Balarigar. Or maybe she would be a woman of stunning beauty, capable of beguiling the men around her into doing whatever she wished.

To his mild surprise, she was neither.

Caina Amalas was a young woman of average height and lean build. She was pretty, certainly, but her mouth was too thin and her features too sharp for her to be exceptionally beautiful. Frankly, he could not decide if she looked like a Szaldic peasant girl or a Nighmarian noblewoman, but certainly, she had the eyes of a noblewoman. They were large and blue and very, very cold, and did not blink as she met his gaze.

That was the first indication that there might be something odd about her. Few people could meet his gaze any longer. Most of his own men could no longer do it.

They stared at each other in silence for a moment.

“How old were you,” said Caina in High Nighmarian at last, “when you killed your father?”

He blinked in surprise, a little flicker of alarm going through him.

Perhaps some of those rumors were true.

The second scene:

“This is not your country. These are not your people. You have no business here.” The nobleman leaned forward, a glimmer of yellow fire in his eyes. “Go home with your lives while I still permit it, and never return.”

Caina stared at him without blinking, and for a first time, a glimmer of doubt went over his face.

“You’re right,” she said. “This is not my country, and these are not my people. But I promise you one thing. If you lay a finger upon that girl, I shall give to you what I do best.”

The nobleman sneered. “And what is that?”

Caina smiled. “Ruin.”

Finally, I quoted this bit from MASK OF DRAGONS at the start of 2016, and it certainly was an excellent preview of the year!

“A good plan,” said Riothamus.
 
Molly snorted. “Something will go wrong.”
 
“Something always does,” said Mazael.
 
His daughter rolled her eyes. “Profound as ever, father.”
Let’s hope for a good 2017! Happy New Year, everyone!
-JM