Category Archives: Ghost in the Winds

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

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

Kalgri and the Voice

I don’t usually watch a lot of TV, but because of all the traveling I’ve had to do this summer, I’ve been watching more than usual.

As readers of GHOST EXILE know, one of the main villains of the series is a creature called the Voice, a malevolent spirit housed in the brain of an equally malevolent assassin named Kalgri. So I was watching TV, and I was highly amused to learn that there is in fact a TV show called “The Voice”.  This “The Voice” has nothing to do with assassins, but is in fact a musical competition show, where singers compete for the approval of judges seated upon red thrones.

It is nothing like Kalgri and the Voice from GHOST EXILE.

Though it is amusing to imagine what would happen if Kalgri appeared on the show. Grim, but nonetheless amusing. 🙂

-JM

GHOST IN THE WINDS spoiler discussion thread

A few people have asked for a spoiler discussion thread for GHOST IN THE WINDS, so here it is! Share your thoughts about GHOST IN THE WINDS below.

I’ll also mention some of my favorite scenes from the book.

MASSIVE SPOILERS FOLLOW!

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In no particular order, my favorite scenes.

1.) I liked Caina, Annarah, and Morgant’s scenes together, both in WINDS and PACTS. Annarah usually takes the side of Caina’s conscience, and Morgant the side of her ruthelessnes.

2.) Whenever Kylon and Mazyan teamed up. I always listened to some Two Steps From Hell for that part. I also liked how Kylon didn’t completely realize how much everyone in the rebel army respected him for beating Master Alchemist Rhataban in single combat. Rhataban had a towering (and mostly deserved) reputation, and Kylon beat him with half the rebel army looking on.

3.) Speaking of Mazyan, Sulaman’s masquerading as a poet was inspired by the old story of Harun al-Raschid wandering the streets in disguise to see to the welfare of his subjects. Harun did it out of choice. Sulaman out of necessity. When he told Caina in GHOST IN THE COWL that if it was within his power he would reward her, he was telling the truth.

4.) Several people emailed how creepy they found Callatas’s lust for Caina after the Elixir Rejuvenata, which pleased me, because I wrote that deliberately. I wanted to make Callatas even more unsettling than he already was, and that was a good way to do it.

5.) Speaking of Callatas, he was a fun villain to write over the series, because he was such a dynamic Big Bad, and he was so dynamic because he made several serious mistakes. Callatas was a very human villain, because he made a lot of errors and he shot himself in the foot from time to time. His biggest mistake was not realizing that Kharnaces had set a trap for him, but his second mistake was both mishandling and underestimating Cassander Nilas, which almost (literally) blew up in his face. I liked writing the scenes in GHOST IN THE PACT and GHOST IN THE WINDS where Callatas had to admit to himself (if no one else) the extent of the problems his arrogance had created for him.

Callatas screwed up, but he never, ever gave up, no matter how serious the setback.

Though when he screwed up, Kalgri was right there to point it out. Repeatedly. And at great length.

6.) Speaking of Cassander, he wasn’t in GHOST IN THE WINDS, but he was one of my favorite villains in the series. He basically shoved aside Callatas as Big Bad in GHOST IN THE SEAL and GHOST IN THE THRONE, and he almost won. His largest mistake was trusting Kalgri. He didn’t trust her very much, but even that little bit of trust was enough to bite him.

7.) Speaking of Kalgri, she was also a fun villain to write, because she was so horribly rational. Her enemies (and allies) liked to call her a madwoman, but both Cassander and Caina grasped the essential truth about her. The Red Huntress was sane to a frightening degree, and most of the time made her decisions based upon clear, remorseless logic. Kalgri didn’t care about anything except 1.) her own survival, and 2.) killing as many people as possible. Everything she did proceeded logically from those two objectives, and when she did make mistakes (like losing her temper and fighting Caina hand-to-hand at Silent Ash Temple instead of withdrawing) she learned from them and did not make the mistake again. Or when she almost murdered Damla’s sons for the amusement of it, only to refrain when she realized that killing them might put her at unacceptable risk.

What really made Kalgri dangerous was not the Voice, but her iron self-discipline and her unwavering patience.

Kalgri was almost the most clever person in the books, but unfortunately for her, Samnirdamnus was even cleverer.

8.) Kalgri’s final scene was influenced by Ungoliant from THE SILMARILLION. After I wrote GHOST IN THE RAZOR, a  perceptive reader pointed out that Grand Master Callatas and the Red Huntress had a relationship a lot like Morgoth and Ungoliant from Tolkien’s masterwork. So Kalgri’s final scene was inspired by the fate of Ungoliant from THE SILMARILLION, where in the final madness of her insatiable hunger, Ungoliant devours herself.

9.) Samnirdamnus’s long game to defeat Callatas and Kotuluk Iblis and free the Court of the Azure Sovereign. He had been playing the game for a very, very long time, and he had been waiting just as long for someone like Caina to come along, a mortal to whom he could entrust his power at the final critical moment.

And it all came together. For the stars will go out before a Knight of Wind and Air relents in his duty. Caina has been a spy for her entire adult life, but the length of time Samnirdamnus has been a spy can only be measured using chronological terms commonly employed in astronomy.

10.) I liked the final scene with Caina and the Padishah, when the Padishah orders Caina to execute him and save Istarinmul. That was probably the single most noble thing Nahas Tarshahzon did in his life, and he got his revenge on Callatas at the same time. To paraphrase the first Sherlock Holmes story, retribution, though slow in coming, had overtaken Callatas at last.

It was fun to finally write that scene, because the Padishah was first mentioned in GHOST IN THE STORM, and he’s been missing since GHOST IN THE SURGE or so. So it was neat to finally find out what happened to him.

11.) The return of Iramis. That was seriously a neat scene to write. Poor Annarah! She knew the truth the entire time, but she could never tell anyone, because if Callatas ever realized his mistake, he could rectify his mistake with ease and destroy Iramis in truth. As Morgant said, the best liar in GHOST EXILE was the most honest woman of them all.

12.) The end when Sulaman dismisses the charges against Caina and calls for witnesses to speak for her.

13) Finally, I really did like the final scene where Caina comes back and Kylon is waiting for her in the House of Agabyzus.

I admit I hadn’t decided if I was going to keep Caina and Kylon together right up until I actually wrote the end of the book. Originally I was going to have Kylon go back to New Kyre, since he would have thought it his duty. Yet when I wrote GHOST IN THE PACT, I realized that Kylon was still furious at the Surge over Thalastre, and he couldn’t let that go. Additionally, he had seen too much in Istarinmul, and while he had once accepted slavery as part of the natural order of mankind (as indeed almost all pagan societies did on Earth), he couldn’t tolerate it any more.

Additionally, killing Kylon or breaking him up with Caina would have been too similar to the ending of GHOST IN THE SURGE.

And that line in GHOST IN THE PACT when Caina promises to wait for him at the House of Agabyzus! According to the Kindle, that was the most highlighted line in GHOST IN THE PACT. That just begged for payoff. The Iron Laws of Storytelling demanded that Kylon ask Caina to marry him in the House of Agabyzus.

14.) One last thing. A few people have asked what the new GHOST NIGHT series will be about, and this is all I’ll say until I start writing it in mid-2017:

Laeria Scorneus Amalas was not an only child. Not even remotely, and her family would make a sorcery-using Mafia clan look like the Brady Bunch.

-JM

ebook return rates

Recently I was asked if I have problems with returns on ebooks sold by Amazon. Amazon lets people return ebook purchases for any reason with (I think) 7 days. This is sometimes a cause for concern for writers, since they fear people are buying their book, reading it, and then returning it.

I don’t really worry about it. Frankly if someone is unhappy with one of my books, I would prefer that they be able to return it. There are people who do the “read and return” thing, but they’re a tiny minority. The more likely explanations for people returning a book are:

-They bought it by accident – it’s easy to buy ebooks by accident on Amazon.

-Their kid/girlfriend/boyfriend/dog got a hold of their phone and bought it by accident.

-They bought the book, realized that they couldn’t really afford it, and returned it. For many people $3.99 is money they can’t spare.

-They started reading the book, decided they hated it, and returned it rather than finish it.

All of these are good reasons to return an ebook. I think it’s better in the long run for a site to have a generous return policy, since it’s more likely to bring repeat business, and Amazon does eventually delete the accounts of serial returners.

That said, what are my return rates actually like?

On Amazon US in August, FROSTBORN OMNIBUS ONE had a return rate of 0.003%, and GHOST IN THE WINDS had a return rate of 1%. At that level, it isn’t really a problem.

-JM

Caina vs. Callatas – personal loathing

One of the fun things about writing GHOST IN THE WINDS was that Caina and Callatas had such a level of personal contempt for each other, as especially shown in Chapter 17 of GHOST IN THE PACT.

I don’t think Caina had that with manyof her previous foes. She hated Maglarion, of course, and by the end she came to hate Sicarion as much as she had hated Maglarion. Caina also hated the Red Huntress, but she was also frightened of the Red Huntress, and its hard to feel contempt for someone who terrifies you.

With the Moroaica, by the end Caina felt a twisted sort of respect, mostly because their backgrounds were very similar. The Moroaica was on a centuries-long rampage of revenge, and Caina could understand that on some level.

But Maglarion and Sicarion and Kalgri were all looking out for themselves, without any pretensions to virtue. Callatas, though, insisted that he was making a better world, that he was doing not only the necessary thing but the right thing, and furthermore felt the need to justify himself at length. This absolutely disgusted Caina. Callatas, for his part, thought Caina was an archaism, a fool clinging to an old world, and was infuriated that she couldn’t understand that he was doing the right thing (or so he thought). That meant they couldn’t stand each other on a personal level.

So as a writer, writing their scenes together was great fun! 🙂

-JM

GHOST IN THE WINDS now available!

BNGhostInTheWinds

Amazon US, Amazon UKAmazon CanadaAmazon GermanyAmazon AustraliaBarnes & Noble, KoboGoogle PlayiTunes, and Smashwords.

The Apotheosis has come at last, and it will shatter the world.

CAINA is trapped in the ruins of an ancient necromancer’s tomb. Unless she escapes the lethal trap, there will be no one to stop Grand Master Callatas from unleashing the Apotheosis.

KYLON is desperate to save Caina’s life. The deadly Red Huntress is coming for Caina, and only by the sacrifice of his own life can Kylon save Caina from the Huntress’s blade.

Or the Red Huntress might simply kill them both.

CALLATAS is ready to call the Apotheosis and create a new humanity to replace the old.

Of course, the old humanity will have to die first…every last man, woman, and child.

And he will start with Caina Amalas.

the end of GHOST EXILE

GHOST IN THE WINDS is almost ready, and I confess to excitement.

It’s been three years and nine books, and over a million words written (if you include the twelve short stories). I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the series – on the treadmill, while driving, while walking, and when actually sitting down to work on it.

After all that, we are about to come to the end of GHOST EXILE at last. It is a peculiar feeling, but a good one. I am fortunate. Not every writer gets to experience that!

It’s been quite a journey. Thanks for coming along to the end!

-JM

GHOST IN THE WINDS length & table of contents

Let’s have a look at the table of contents from GHOST IN THE WINDS!

GhostInTheWindsTOC

It looks like GHOST IN THE WINDS will weigh in at 5878 Kindle locations long. On the Nook it will come to 314 pages long on Nook. Kobo calculates pages a little differently, but I think it will be around 400 pages on Kobo.

Google Play and iBooks page count is based on the screen size of your Android or iOS device.

-JM