Category Archives: Ghost in the Storm

Was GHOST IN THE RING the first GHOSTS book?

A reader emailed me this week:

“Really liked Ghost in the Ring! But the backstory for Caina seemed very detailed. Are there other books in the series?”

Why yes! Yes there are!

The very first book in the Caina series is CHILD OF THE GHOSTS. It’s free on all ebook stores, and it’s also a good long read – 100,000 words or about 5000 Kindle locations. It’s a complete story on its own, not a cliffhanger, and a good introduction to Caina and the world of the Empire of Nighmar.

After that, there are many more books. A complete list of THE GHOSTS and GHOST EXILE novels are below, in the proper reading order. The short stories are included in the list, but note that those are more like “bonus adventures” – you don’t need to read them to keep up with the main plot:

Child of the Ghosts
Ghost Aria (short story)
Blade of the Ghosts
Ghost in the Flames
Ghost Dagger (novella)
Ghost Light (short story)
Ghost in the Blood
The Fall of Kyrace (short story)
Ghost in the Storm
Ghost in the Stone
Ghost in the Forge
Ghost Claws (short story)
Ghost Omens (short story)
Ghost in the Ashes
Ghost in the Mask
Ghost Thorns (novella)
Ghost Undying (short story)
Ghost in the Surge
Ghost in the Cowl
Ghost Sword (short story)
Ghost in the Maze
Ghost Price (novella)
Ghost Relics (novella)
Ghost Vessel (short story)
Ghost in the Hunt
Ghost Keeper (novella)
Ghost Nails (novella)
Blood Artists (short story)
Bound To The Eye (short story)
Ghost in the Razor
Ghost Lock (short story)
Ghost in the Inferno
Ghost Mimic (novella)
Ghost Arts (short story)
Ghost in the Seal
Ghost Vigil (short story)
Ghost in the Throne
Ghost in the Pact
Ghost in the Winds
Ghost in the Ring

-JM

 

what book was that again?

Earlier, when I posted that I was working on FROSTBORN: THE HIGH LORDS, I meant to say I was working on FROSTBORN: THE FALSE KING.

This actually happens a lot, but I have no one but myself to blame, because I’m the man who wrote (on purpose!) books entitled GHOST IN THE STORM, GHOST IN THE STONE, GHOST IN THE SURGE, and GHOST IN THE SEAL, and I get them mixed up all the time.

Like, I’ll have a question like “what book did Caina meet Kylon and Sicarion for the first time?”, and then I’ll think that it was one of the books with an S in the title. GHOST IN THE STONE? No, that doesn’t sound quite right.

Thanks heaven File Explorer in Windows searches inside Word documents!

-JM

the complete reading order of THE GHOSTS & GHOST EXILE

Last week’s BookBub ad brought in a lot of new readers to THE GHOSTS series, which is pretty cool. A few people have asked on the proper order for reading the GHOSTS short stories, since the novels are all number and the short stories are not.

There really isn’t a proper order for the short stories, but here is the complete chronological order of all GHOSTS short stories and novels:

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

-JM

GHOST IN THE STORM review

Kyra Halland says some nice things about GHOST IN THE STORM and THE GHOSTS here. I’m glad she enjoyed them!

She also mentions THE WOLVES OF PARIS by Michael Wallace, which I actually read a few months ago. It’s about werewolves terrorizing Paris around 1450 AD or so, and was quite good. But these aren’t TWILIGHT style werewolves who walk around shirtless and pouting, oh no. These are the sort of werewolves with hideously bad breath because they don’t see the point of cleaning their teeth after eating someone’s innards. So it was quite a good supernatural thriller.

-JM

the order of DEMONSOULED, THE GHOSTS, THE THIRD SOUL, and THE TOWER OF ENDLESS WORLDS

Shay asks:

I’m trying to organise my books right now and wondered if you could update us with a list of the books and short stories/novellas in chronological order again?

Sure. Here are all the series in order, with the various short stories inserted where they would be chronologically:

THE GHOSTS:

#1 Child of the Ghosts

Ghost Aria (Short story)

#2 Ghost in the Flames

Ghost Dagger (novella)

#3 Ghost in the Blood

#4 Ghost in the Storm

#5 Ghost in the Stone

#6 Ghost in the Forge

Ghost Claws (short story)

Ghost Omens (short story)

#7 Ghost in the Ashes

#8 Ghost in the Mask

DEMONSOULED:

The Wandering Knight (short story)

The Tournament Knight (short story)

The Dragon’s Shadow (novella)

#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 THIRD sOUL

#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

(Omnibus One has 1-5, and Omnibus Two has 6-8.)

THE TOWER OF ENDLESS WORLDS

#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

-JM

The Old Demon vs. the Moroaica – who would win in a fight?

(Note that this post contains SPOILERS for the entire DEMONSOULED and THE GHOSTS series!)

You might recall that a while back I did a post on who would win in a fight, Mazael Cravenlock from DEMONSOULED or Caina Amalas from THE GHOSTS. Some recent discussion there has suggested an additional question about the villains of the respective series.

Who would win in a fight – the Old Demon from DEMONSOULED or the Moroaica from THE GHOSTS?

The Old Demon is the father of the Demonsouled, and over three thousand years old. He possesses all the powers of the Demonsouled – superior strength and speed, rapid healing, battle fury, shapechanging, and the ability to travel instantly through the shadows. Additionally, he knows more about magic than anyone else in his world, and can use his Demonsouled nature to augment his spells tremendously. However, he does have on serious weakness. Because he is fully half-demon, (the rest of the Demonsouled are some smaller fraction) he is partially bound by the laws of the spirit world, and therefore cannot harm or kill someone unless he is first attacked. He also has a love of cruelty that a clever opponent could exploit.

The Moroaica, unlike the Old Demon, is fully human. She is somewhere over two thousand years old (no one knows for sure, since she destroyed the civilization that produced her, along with most of their records), and has mastered necromancy and sorcery to a degree unmatched by anyone living in her world. Additionally, she is almost impossible to kill, since if her body is slain, her spirit can possess another one very quickly.

Both the Moroaica and the Old Demon prefer to avoid confrontation whenever possible, and usually work through emissaries, whether willing or unwitting. Any conflict between them would likely start that way, with both sending students and disciples after the other.

If it came to a direct fight, the Moroaica would likely start it. She would know that the Old Demon cannot attack her until she attacks him, so she would wait until she could strike with overwhelming advantage and kill him. The Old Demon is half-demon, but he is also half-human, which means he can be killed. Not easily, but he can be killed. Additionally, unlike the Moroaica, if he is killed he cannot claim a new body.

However, the Old Demon is completely aware of his weaknesses, and used to working around them. If he knew about the Moroaica’s plan to kill him, he would have a countermeasure prepared. And once the Moroaica attacked him, he would be free to strike back. Though he cannot permanently kill the Moroaica, he can trap her spirit within a particular body, as Ranarius tried to do in GHOST IN THE STONE, and proceed with his plans.

However, if the Moroaica was able to anticipate his countermeasures, she would find a way around them.

So I think the most likely outcome of a fight between the two would be long-term stalemate, fought through proxies and servants. But if they did come down to a direct confrontation, it would be a 50/50 chance either way.

-JM

Reader Question Day #69 – The order of THE GHOSTS novels and short stories

JB asks:

I am a huge fan of the ghost series… I was wondering what order do they go in? I have read all of the ones I could find on my kindle even the short stories. I am reading them again but I wanted to go in order from child of the ghosts to ghost in the ashes and I’m not sure where the short stories fit into the rest of the series. I can’t wait till ghost in the mask comes out…I feel like I have watched Caina grow up!!!

Thanks! I’m glad you liked them.

Officially, they should be read in this order:

#1 Child of the Ghosts
#2 Ghost Aria (though Ghost Aria actually takes place during CHILD OF THE GHOSTS)
#3 Ghost in the Flames
#4 Ghost Dagger
#5 Ghost in the Blood
#6 Ghost in the Storm
#7 Ghost in the Stone
#8 Ghost in the Forge
#9 Ghost Claws
#10 Ghost in the Ashes

LKM asks:

Do you write from an outline, or do you just make it up as you go?

A little bit of both. I always write an outline beforehand – usually about 3,000 words to describe the entire book. It’s pretty thorough, but I’m open to improvising if the story demands it.

A good example is Malaric in SOUL OF SORCERY and SOUL OF SKULLS. In the initial outline of of SOUL OF SORCERY, Malaric was simply the mercenary captain Lucan hired to bring him to Morvyrkrad, and then Lucan would betray him and leave him in Morvyrkrad once he had the Wraithaldr. But Malaric’s role expanded the minute I actually wrote him – first he became the assassin the Skulls sent to punish Molly Cravenlock for her betrayal, but Malaric decided his ambitions would be better served by following Lucan.

Which, of course, prompted the obvious question – what were Malaric’s ambitions? Why, to overthrow his father and his younger brothers, and claim the throne of Barellion for himself. So Malaric went from a minor character to one of the principal antagonists in SOUL OF SKULLS. Had I slavishly followed my original outline, that would not have happened.

Celia asks:

Your books rock! I love the ghost books. How did you come up with such an idea as the ghost books and all your other books.

Thanks! I’m glad you liked them. Here’s a longer essay from last year explaining where I got the idea for THE GHOSTS – as with so many things in life, it started with a rejection letter.

-JM

Reader Question Day #54 – THE GHOSTS, Sword & Sorceress, and writing advice

Danica asks:

Any chance you will release the stories that appear in the Sword & Sorceress books into a book of shorts?

Eventually the books will catch up to the short stories – at the end of the last book, Caina is twenty-one, and at the end of the last short story, she’s almost thirty. So eventually the events of the short stories will be incorporated into the books. But not for a few books yet. 🙂

Kenzie asks:

Also, I would almost think you a fan of comic books, for the way you create situations to transition from one to the next.

That’s interesting, because around 2010 (before I discovered ebooks) I played with the idea of starting a webcomic, and tried to teach myself to draw at least passably well. But the bald fact is I have absolutely aesthetic inclination whatsoever, and eventually gave it up as a bad idea. I think THE GHOSTS would transition well to a comic-book format. I have to admit that I sometimes see the characters in anime form in my head as I write.

Nicholas asks:

I am 13 and am wondering if you have any advise for a young fantasy writer.

Well, I would start by writing short stories or novellas. A novel’s a bit of an endurance run, and it takes practice to get up to it, like how you need to be able to run a mile before you can manage a 5k run.

When writing a story of any length (whether short story, novella, or novel), bear in mind that it needs to have four basic things: a protagonist (the hero or main character), a conflict, the method the protagonist takes to deal with his conflict, and a resolution. Now, the conflict can have an actual antagonist,  like a knight fighting an evil wizard, or it can be a situation, like a man stranded in the desert – in that case, the conflict is the man’s efforts to survive thirst and the sun. But the protagonist has to have a problem to solve.

Additionally, the protagonist must also take action to solve his problem. A story where the main character doesn’t do anything, but just sits around passively, is not interesting. This doesn’t mean the protagonist’s actions always have to be effective. Often a story can be made more interesting when the protagonist’s actions make the conflict even worse or result in unforeseen complications (like, the knight slays the evil wizard, but this breaks the spell the wizard had used to keep a rampaging dragon in check).

A good way to keep characters from becoming one-dimensional is to give them mutually incompatible desires. Real people often want to do two incompatible things at once – like a woman who wants to go her friend’s party but has to fill a late shift at work, or a man who wants to stay with his girlfriend but has a job offer in a distant city. In fact, the conflict between incompatible desires can often provide the necessary conflict for a story.

Finally, the ending of a story must, must provide emotional resolution to the conflict. It can be a sad ending, or a happy ending, or any sort of ending at all, but it must resolve the conflict. If it doesn’t, the reader will feel massively cheated.

Not every writer recommends this, but I think it’s best to write a complete outline before you start a story. Otherwise you’ll get a third of the way in and realize you don’t know what happens next, much like driving across the continental US, getting to Arkansas, and realizing you don’t have a map and don’t know where to go next. Outlining forces you do the hard work of planning the story before you start to write it.

This will sound dreadfully patronizing, but the bald fact is that it gets easier to write as you get older, because you’ve simply had more stuff happen to you. That said, it’s best to avoid writing thinly-veiled parallels of people you know in real life, since this is an excellent way to get sued or cause familial estrangements.

Write a lot, since the best way to get good at something is practice.

Also, if there’s a topic that interests you, don’t be afraid to write nonfiction.

-JM

the verisimilitude of violent women

Here’s an interesting post by thriller writer Seeley James about writing thriller novels with a female protagonist.

I’ve given a great deal of thought to the same topic in writing THE GHOSTS, in particular for the fight scenes involving Caina. She’s in excellent physical condition and very well-trained and experienced, but she’s not very large, and sheer muscle mass counts for quite a bit. And as the linked post points out, a heavyweight boxer facing an equally skilled lightweight boxer will almost always win. So Caina’s goal is to disable or kill an opponent as quickly as possible, preferably before the opponent even realizes her presence. Fighting fairly means something has gone horribly wrong.

(Note that the next paragraph has mild spoilers for the DEMONSOULED series.)

This turns up in DEMONSOULED as well, particularly with Molly Cravenlock. Her Demonsouled heritage gives her superhuman strength and speed, along with the ability to teleport over short distances at will. So she is a very effective fighter. But when she loses that ability to teleport, or meet someone with the power to match her, she’s in big trouble. At the end of SOUL OF DRAGONS, an opponent uses the Glamdaigyr to block her ability to teleport, and quickly overpowers her. Or at the end of SOUL OF SORCERY, when Malaric acquires Demonsouled powers, he is able to overpower her.

A lot has been written about the realism of women fighting in fantasy, but let us be honest here – if you are writing about magic and people with superhuman powers, you have ordered realism taken out back and shot. However, the trick for writing is not realism but verisimilitude. It doesn’t have to be realistic, just seem realistic. You want to write in such a way so that if one of your characters is a superpowered female fighter, the readers say “oh, that makes sense in the context of the story” instead of “WTF is the author smoking?” or, even worse, “WTF is the author smoking to make him lose all knowledge of physics and basic human biology?”

-JM