Category Archives: World of the Ghosts

selling short stories: The Bone Orcs & The Skull Trees

Today let’s talk both about the FROSTBORN short stories and a bit about writing and selling short stories.

Everyone likes short stories, but they’re hard to sell, because while people like short stories, they much prefer to buy and read novels.

Myself, I write short stories for two reasons. One, I enjoy doing them. Two, they make useful bonuses for my new-release newsletter. When I release a new novel, I also give away a free copy of a tie-in short story to my newsletter subscribers via Smashwords coupon code. It’s a nice bonus for the newsletter, and usually a couple hundred people just buy the short story outright, which is also a nice bonus for the author. 🙂

That said, I’ve never figured out quite what to do with the short stories after the coupon code expires. They just sort of sit there and don’t really do anything. They’ll sell a few copies a month (my oldest bonus short story, GHOST ARIA, sold three copies in May), which is nice, but won’t do much else.

So I’ve tried various experiments to sell more of the short stories, or to use them as promotional materials for my novels. Here are some of the things I’ve tried that didn’t really work:

-Enrolling the short stories in Kindle Unlimited and giving away free copies.

-When Kindle Unlimited’s new pay-per-page structure came along, I tried the short stories in that, and it didn’t really work, either.

(As an aside, I decided to stop using Kindle Unlimited altogether. It means you can’t sell on Kobo and iTunes and Google and the other platforms, it’s too unstable, and there are never-ending stories of problems like this one. While KU has benefits at the moment the cons of KU definitely outweigh the pros.)

-Bundling the short stories together into anthology-style collections. I gave away a bunch of them with CLOAK GAMES: THIEF TRAP and CLOAK GAMES: FROST FEVER, but that was pretty much it.

Then I stumbled onto the one thing that has really worked – the fix-up novel. A fix-up novel is a novel that originated as a chain of related short stories that were then fused together into a single book. A lot of writers have done that – Stephen King, Poul Anderson, Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, William Faulkner, Jack Vance, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, and numerous others.

FROSTBORN: THE KNIGHT QUESTS is probably the most successful result of short stories I’ve done so far. Most of the FROSTBORN short stories are the origin stories of Ridmark’s companions (except for THE TRAITOR’S TALE, which has a lot of spoilers), and are combined in a frame story where the Warden of Urd Morlemoch lays out his plans.

So fix-up novels seem like a good long term idea, which led to another idea.

What if the short stories were designed to be joined together in a fix-up novel at the end? Usually the short stories are one-off tales – like, GHOST DAGGER doesn’t have much in common with GHOST THORNS. But what if they were designed to become a fix-up from the beginning?

The DEMONSOULED short stories would lend themselves well to that, since they’re all about a younger Mazael at Lord Malden’s court. After MASK OF SPELLS comes out, I’ll write one more story about Mazael as a young knight and combine it with the others to make a new fix-up novel, probably entitled SOUL OF KNIGHTS.

Also, I’m trying something new with the remaining five FROSTBORN short stories. They’ll all be about Ridmark’s journey into the Qazaluuskan Forest four years before FROSTBORN: THE GRAY KNIGHT, and in the end I’ll combine them into a fix-up novel called FROSTBORN: THE BONE QUEST.

It will be interesting to see how it does!

-JM

THE GHOSTS short stories

Occasionally I get asked the proper chronology for reading THE GHOSTS short stories alongside the novels. I always answer with the list at the end of the post (which I include here because I frequently get Google searches for it), but I did design the GHOSTS short stories to be read stand-alone, if necessary.

So which GHOSTS short stories to do I think make the best stand-alone adventures? A writer’s perspective on his own work is entirely subjective and often inaccurate, but I think these GHOSTS short stories make for the best stand-alone tales:

GHOST ARIA – A sixteen-year-old Caina Amalas has to solve a murder at the Grand Imperial Opera.

GHOST CLAWS – Caina’s mentor Halfdan decides whether or not he is going to kill Caina’s lover for the good of the Ghosts. I like this one for all the different contradictory stories Halfdan tells about his background.

GHOST THORNS – The son of a powerful magus comes to Caina for help. This would be the first time, but not the last, that a poet gets Caina into trouble.

BLOOD ARTISTS – A tale of Morgant the Razor, legendary assassin.

GHOST PRICE – Caina rents a room from a widow in Istarinmul and gets involved in the hunt for a lost treasure.

GHOST RELICS – Caina helps her friend Nerina the locksmith deal with a suspicious customer, and finds herself in the sights of a dangerous group of thieves.

GHOST NAILS – Someone tries to murder a noble at Damla’s coffee house, and she turns to her friend Caina to help save her livelihood.

I think GHOST ARIA, GHOST THORNS, GHOST RELICS, and GHOST NAILS would be my favorite of the stories, all told.

-JM

COMPLETE ORDER OF GHOSTS NOVELS & SHORT STORIES

Child of the Ghosts
Ghost Aria
Ghost in the Flames
Ghost Dagger
Ghost Light
Ghost in the Blood
The Fall of Kyrace
Ghost in the Storm
Ghost in the Stone
Ghost in the Forge
Ghost Claws
Ghost Omens
Ghost in the Ashes
Ghost in the Mask
Ghost Thorns
Ghost Undying
Ghost in the Surge
Ghost in the Cowl
Ghost Sword
Ghost in the Maze
Ghost Price
Ghost Relics
Ghost in the Hunt
Ghost Keeper
Ghost Nails
Blood Artists
Bound To The Eye
Ghost in the Razor
Ghost Lock
Ghost in the Inferno

Ghost Lock

I just finished writing GHOST LOCK, a short story I’ll give away for free to newsletter subscribers. The story is from the perspective from Claudia Aberon Dorius, which was fun to write, since she has a complicated (and entertaining) relationship with Caina.

To get GHOST LOCK for free when GHOST IN THE INFERNO comes out, sign up for my new-release newsletter at this link!

-JM

WORLD OF THE GHOSTS VOLUME ONE now available!

One of my writing goals for the year was to finally start putting together some collections of my short stories. WORLD OF THE GHOSTS VOLUME ONE, containing four short stories of THE GHOSTS, is now available! Links below:

BNTalesOfTheGhosts

Available at Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia,Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, Google Play, and Smashwords.

Christmas short story superswarm!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

I’m thankful and grateful for many things this year, and to celebrate the holiday, I’m giving away six short stories for free on Kindle for the next two days – GHOST ARIA, GHOST THORNS, THE ASSASSIN’S TALE, GHOST SWORD, GHOST PRICE, and GHOST RELICS. Links are below!

GHOST ARIA: Amazon.com, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia

GHOST THORNS: Amazon.comAmazon UKAmazon CanadaAmazon Australia

THE ASSASSIN’S TALE: Amazon.com, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia

GHOST SWORD: Amazon.com, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia

GHOST RELICS: Amazon.com, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia

GHOST PRICE: Amazon.com, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia

free GHOSTS short story: BLOOD ARTISTS

Here’s a little preview of GHOST IN THE RAZOR that takes place about one hundred and thirty years before Caina was born. In GHOST IN THE RAZOR, Caina is trying to find Morgant the Razor, legendary assassin. Yet what sort of man was Morgant? BLOOD ARTISTS will tell the tale, and is free on Amazon through 12/7. Links below!

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.ca

Amazon.com.au

-JM