Tuesday, November 19, 2019

FENMERE JOB GIVEAWAY and Geeking out on all things Maradaine

Writing something huge and sprawling and multi-faceted, I'm always struck by something I heard Steven Brust say many years ago when I was still in BabyWriter mode and he was on a panel. "Every sequel we write is fanfic of ourselves."  Now, this was around 2007 or so, so this statement got a bit of pearl-clutching in the room. "Fanfic? Professional writers?" So he clarified and expanded his thought: "We are SO GEEKED OUT by the sandbox we built, we want to play more in it."

This is a thought I keep coming back to. That even as creators, we are also fans of the thing we make. We love it SO DAMN MUCH that we want to keep diving into it.  Sometimes I will have reactions to the work, my brain goes very, "BUT DO THIS THING", when said thing is not particularly useful or helpful to, you know, DOING THE WRITING. But yet my brain seizes upon it and wants it done. It took me a bit to realize that it was the part of my brain that REACTS like a fan. The same drive to, say, write fanfic, make fanart, edit fanvids, etc., was still a part of my overall fannish reaction. Even if it was a reaction to my own work.

This is all a longwinded way to say, "Sometimes I make fanart of Maradaine", and that's why this thing exists. And since I, like, CANNOT DRAW or such, my medium tends to be silhouettes contrasted on color. But still, I was driven to make this and now share it.
Along those lines: I've received ARCs of THE FENMERE JOB. So, in this spirit: I’ll send one or two to the artists behind any favorite Maradaine fan art in the next week. Share some with me!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

SHIELD OF THE PEOPLE and the rest of the year

Hello, Friends!  SHIELD OF THE PEOPLE is out! I am very excited.  Some review quotes:

"I love seing good-hearted characters who keep true to their moral centers even in a gritty world. Shield of the People is wonderfully emotionally complex while also barreling through fantastically-paced action. Highly recommend!"  -- Cass Morris, author of From Unseen Fire

"A series of violent rebel threats on the elections and the twisty machinations of both the Tarian Order and the Open Hand ensure enough action and intrigue for any fan of fantasy adventure. Series readers will delight in returning to the rich universe of Maradaine." - Publishers Weekly

"It has the top-notch characterisation and complex, believable world we’ve come to know and love, backed up by a strongly realised and compelling narrative. Go get it – you won’t regret it." - SF&F Reviews

I'm thrilled that this latest Maradaine adventure is hitting the world.  And next year, we'll have The Fenmere Job (Asti and Verci Rynax cross paths with the Thorn!) and People of the City (Dayne and Jerinne with the Thorn, Minox & Satrine, Asti & Verci!  Full madness).  Both of these books I am really proud of, and I hope it all lives up to the prediction in this review that Maradaine deserves serious consideration for the Best Series Hugo Award.

This weekend!  I will be at World Fantasy Con.  My schedule is here.  Come say hello.
After this, I'm switching gears and hunkering down to write Velocity of Revolutionmy dieselpunk motorcycles-and-insurrections novel in a latin-influenced secondary world. Very excited to get underway on this.

I hope, as always, to have more news to share soon.  I know I've been radio silent on this channel, but largely because of how busy things have been.  Back into the word mines for me.  Later.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Juggling Cats and Chainsaws

Folks, it has been a TIME for me the past few months.  In good ways, with the Good Kind of Busy, but still: A TIME.  And a big part of that is the cat-and-chainsaw juggling that is finishing the draft of PEOPLE OF THE CITY, where I have several plot threads from four different series converging and paying off, and that has been a huge thing, let me tell you.

I'm honestly so glad I'm using Scrivener for this.

One of the things that I LOVE about Scrivener is how painless it is to move scenes around. When you're juggling a bunch of converging plot lines it can be VERY helpful to try different orders of scenes for maximum impact.  Like, you plot it out in outline, figuring out all the What that needs to happen.  But then once it's written, and you've got a sense of the scenes, how they each rise and fall, the lengths of each one, the rhythm of the chapters, it's fun to play with how that works.  Do you group three disaster scenes together, so things fall-fall-fall in each bit through the chapter?  Or push the disaster of one plot line to the next chapter while bringing in the hope from another: fall-rise-fall. Which one is the best end-of-chapter kick?

Plus I can see the word count of each scene, each chapter, and get a sense of how shuffling the scenes around affects the pacing, keywords to show me which characters and threads I'm moving, how each plot thread is moving forward.

I can't imagine writing a novel like the one PEOPLE OF THE CITY is shaping into without these tools.  SO VERY HAPPY.

In other news: SHIELD OF THE PEOPLE comes out this month.  AND I'll be at New York Comic Con this weekend and World Fantasy Con next month.  So things are not slowing down.  Say hello if you can.  Wish me luck.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

ArmadilloCon 2019 Schedule

ArmadilloCon is this weekend!  I have quite the action-packed schedule.  I hope to see everyone there!  Come say hello, please!

Friday, August 2
7pm: ArmadilloCon 2019 Opening Ceremonies
Ballroom D, 7pm - 7:30pm
Track: Fandom
Type: Panel
Jennifer Juday (moderator), Patrice Caldwell, Dan Tolliver, Rebecca Roanhorse, Marshall Ryan Maresca, Moriba Jah, Martha Wells
Everyone should attend! This event kicks our 2019 convention into full swing. Afterwards, join us in the Lobby for Meet the Pros!

8pm: Crossover SF
Ballroom F
Track: Speculative Fiction Literature
Type: Panel
Rebecca Schwarz (moderator), Marshall Ryan Maresca, Jacob Weisman, Derek Austin Johnson, Thomas Wagner, Sanford Allen
Who owns science fiction? With the recent controversy over Ian McEwan as the latest “outsider” to proclaim that they are the first to write a common science fiction trope, the question arises: Is knowledge of the current state and history of the genre necessary to write something good or original? Should there even be a distinction between SFF and literary at all?

Saturday, August 3
10am: Game of Thrones
Ballroom E
Track: Media
Type: Panel
Marshall Ryan Maresca (moderator), Aaron de Orive, John Picacio, K. Tempest Bradford, Rie Sheridan Rose
That ending! That battle! The Starbucks cup! The deaths, the lives, the dragons. Our panelists talk Game of Thrones, and its groundbreaking impact on television.

11am: Author Reading: Toastmaster Marshall Ryan Maresca
Conference Center
Track: Readings
Type: Reading
Marshall Ryan Maresca (moderator)
Author Reading: Toastmaster Marshall Ryan Maresca

1pm: Missing Men
Southpark A
Track: Speculative Fiction Literature
Type: Panel
Marguerite Reed (moderator), C. J. Mills, Marshall Ryan Maresca, Ari Marmell, Jessica Reisman, Barbara Ann Wright
Where are the Strong but Vulnerable Male Characters?

2pm: Entropy: The Play
Conference Center
Track: Readings
Type: Drama
Marshall Ryan Maresca (moderator)
A play by Marshall Ryan Maresca. Do you want to see a ten-minute time loop play? Do you want to see a ten-minute time-loop play? Do you want to see… uh-oh.

3pm: Fannish Feud
Ballroom D
Track: Gaming
Type: Participatory Event
Mark Finn (moderator), Professor Griffin, A. T. Campbell, III, Dan Tolliver, Rebecca Roanhorse, Mikal Trimm, Marshall Ryan Maresca, Matthew B. Tepper, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Troyce Wilson
Fans vs. The Pros try to score points in ArmadillCon's long-running live action contest.

4pm: How to Build A Religion
Southpark A
Track: Writing, Editing & Publishing
Type: Panel
Matt Cardin (moderator), Gabrielle Faust, Marshall Ryan Maresca, Mark Finn, Jessica Reisman, Stina Leicht
Going beyond gods and demons and hells and magic spells. What are the possibilities in creating realistic belief systems?

Sunday, August 4
11am: The Myth of the Apolitical Novel
Ballroom D
Track: Speculative Fiction Literature
Type: Panel
Christopher Brown (moderator), Suyi Davies Okungbowa, K. Tempest Bradford, Marshall Ryan Maresca, Ari Marmell, Rebecca Schwarz
Science fiction has always been political; fantasy has been better at obscuring its political underpinnings. Why do some readers call for authors to stay out of politics, and what does that mandate really mean?

12pm: Food in Fantasy
Ballroom E
Track: Speculative Fiction Literature
Type: Panel
Michelle Muenzler (moderator), C. J. Mills, Amber Royer, Gabrielle Faust, Marshall Ryan Maresca, Amanda Downum
It’s not just Hobbit bread and second breakfasts. Our panelists talk food, recipes, and inspirations for their favorite meals in the books they write and the books they read. There may be samples.

1pm: Autographing - Sunday 1-2 PM
Dealers Room
Track: Readings
Type: Panel
Michael E. Marotta, Michael Wolff, Marshall Ryan Maresca
Autographing - Sunday 1-2 PM

Friday, July 26, 2019

ArmadilloCon, Shield of the People and Masochism

Hello dear friends,

How is July nearly over?  I'm losing track of the summer, and there is so much going on. 

For example, ArmadilloCon is just a week away.  I'm going to be the Toastmaster at this year's con, which is very exciting, as I get to make the Toastmaster speech, but that also means I have to write the Toastmaster speech.  I'm excited, though.  It's going to be a great event, with other Guests of Honor being Rebecca Roanhorse, Patrice Caldwell, Martha Wells, Moriba K. Jah and Dan Tolliver.  If you're in the central Texas area (or can get to it with little hardship), then come down to see us all, August 2nd-4th.

And if you are there, and you see me, there are two ways you can get one of these beautiful ARCs of SHIELD OF THE PEOPLE, months before it comes out on October 29th!  (Of course, you can always pre-order it.)

ARMADILLOCON METHOD #1: Come up to me in anything that could be considered a reasonable attempt at Maradaine Cosplay.  First person who does this will get an ARC.

ARMADILLOCON METHOD #2: Come up to me and recite the Tarian Oath, or at least a good faith attempt.  First person to swear their fealty to putting themselves between the innocent and harm will get an ARC.

"But Marshall," you say, "What about those of us who cannot make it to ArmadilloCon?"

Well, I've got up to three SHIELD OF THE PEOPLE ARCs to give away on line.  Post FAN ART of Maradaine-- anything that can reasonably called Fan Art-- to twitter with the hashtag #Maradaine by JULY 31st. 

I will send ARCs to the artists behind my TOP THREE PICKS.  If you are not Twitter-enabled, then email it directly to me, and I'll post it on Twitter on your behalf.

You would think that doing all this right now would be enough things to keep me busy, but, APPARENTLY NOT, because I've also started a podcast. 

I've teamed up with Alexandra Rowland (A CONSPIRACY OF TRUTHS) and Rowenna Miller (TORN, FRAY) and launched WORLDBUILDING FOR MASOCHISTS, where we talking about fantasy worldbuilding and doing the sort of deep-dive, well beneath the surface kind of worldbuilding.  It's available on iTunes and Spotify and most other places you get your podcasts.  We've released two episodes so far, and it comes out every other Wednesday.

That's all from this side of the screen.  Back to work, as there's so very much to do.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Seven Deadly Writing Sins

All right, if you want to WRITE BOOKS and GET THEM DONE, you've got to do the work.  There's no getting around that.  So, do the work, and avoid the Seven Deadly Sins:

SLOTH- Don't be lazy. Sit down, but in chair, and do the writing.
GLUTTONY- Don't try to shove EVERYTHING into a story.  Save some ideas for something else.
WRATH- Don't get angry and destroy the work you've done when it's coming out wrong.  Walk away, cool down, look at it fresh.
PRIDE- Take your critiques with humility and grace.  Seek out critique partners who will challenge you.
LUST- Avoid the lure of the New Shiny.  Work on the project you've got going on, get it DONE.
ENVY- Eyes on your own paper. Don't worry about what other writers are doing.
GREED- ... ummmm....

Greed's fine in this business, actually.  Go after whatever money they'll pay you.  You've earned it.   Don't work for free.  Or "exposure".  Or copies that you need to sell.  GET PAID.  Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

So what are you still here for?  Get down in those word mines, get to work.  I'll see you down there.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Juggling the cat herders of interwoven plots

So let's talk about plot weaving.
I'm working right now on the draft for People of the Citywhich is the culmination of Phase I of the Maradaine Saga, and... friends, it's a lot.
I mean, I've been the person who's been all "YES LET'S DO THIS" but bringing together the threads of four different series in a way that comes together in a single book that needs to be A. a solid story in its own right, B. the third Maradaine Elite novel and C. the twelfth Maradaine Saga novel that closes and caps and satisfies a bunch of storylines, while setting the stage for more things in Phase II and beyond.
It's a lot.
I've been saying it's like juggling a chainsaw, a flaming machete and a baby. 
However, this is what all those outlines have been for.  I've been working up to this moment, and I've known what this one was going to be about, and how the different elements were going to come together here to unite the plot lines into what the plot of this book needed to be about.  I knew what I needed to seed in the previous eleven books.  The work has been building to this.  Seven main characters from four different series coming together into a big event.

But that doesn't change the fact that it's A LOT.  And I'm more than a little scared I won't pull it off.  But I've done the work, laid the foundation, and I think I've got it.
Because I fought to do this, and wow, I'm really getting to do it.  That's incredible.
So mark your calendars for Fall 2020.  We're going to have something awesome.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Announcing Two More Projects for 2021

My friends, I've been a bit radio silent the past few weeks, but it's because THINGS HAVE BEEN AFOOT.

Some of those things involve just doing the work.  At any given time, I'm drafting one thing (currently, PEOPLE OF THE CITY), expecting or working edits on another thing (THE FENMEREJOB) and copy-edits/final proofs on yet another (SHIELD OF THE PEOPLE). And if you've been paying attention to my blather, you might recall that PEOPLE OF THE CITY will mark the end of Phase I of the full Maradaine Saga, but also that it's the last thing I've got currently announced, and if things go to schedule (things are currently on schedule), the drafting of that will be done later this year.

So, I needed to have something to do next.

WELL GUESS WHAT.  I can now tell you a bit about that.  I have signed contracts for two more novels with the wonderful people at DAW Books: THE VELOCITY OF REVOLUTION and A CONSTABULARY OF ONE.

First, what these books are NOT.  They are not Phase II of Maradaine.  And not because I don't have EVERY INTENTION AND PLAN for Phase II-- I do, and I hope I've earned some good faith about delivering books in a timely manner.  BUT, I also feel I need a bit of a palate cleanser before diving into Phase II.  But it is definitely on the agenda.

First, VELOCITY OF REVOLUTION.  This is going to be a standalone dieselpunk fantasy novel, in a brand-new secondary-world setting. In a post-war, post-colonization city, occupied by foreign administrators, rebellion is being sparked by a mysterious messiah figure, and an undercover cop of mixed heritage has to infiltrate the local cycle-racing rings to find his way to this leader.  


Second, A CONSTABULARY OF ONE.  This is not Maradaine, but it is set in the same world.  If you've read A PARLIAMENT OF BODIESthen you might have an idea of what this book is about.  Briefly, it follows one secondary character from the Maradaine Constabulary as she ends up stuck in a city on the other side of the world.  She'll have to navigate her way through the foreign culture, struggle to earn her way home, and fight for the new chosen family she forms there.

So, it's not part of the Maradaine Saga, strictly-- it's more or less standalone.  But with the comparisons of Maradaine to the MCU: This is the Guardians of the Galaxy of the world.

With both of these novels, I've set a new high bar for myself, taking on new challenges.  Both of them are going to be hard, but I think I'm ready.  I'm super excited about both of these books, which should be coming out in 2021.

(And then?  We'll get to Maradaine Phase II.  But let me get Phase I done first, and we'll talk.)

Back to work.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Con Appearances

Man, I love a good SFF-lit con.  I wish I could go to more, but any that involve travel, unless I'm invited as a guest of honor, is out of my own pocket, so... I have to make judicious choices.

Especially since the fan-run, SFF-lit con is... maybe not dying, but it's definitely in an "evolve or die" place right now.  I see some of them evolving, and I see some dying.  Which is a shame. I will go to the bigger media comic-con if it's feasible (I'm at Comicpalooza in a few weeks!), but I find them less than useful for novel writers.  It's the difference of an event with 800-1000 people, who are pretty much all into books, and an even with 50,000 people, but only a sliver are into books.

However, I definitely feel like my local fan-run, SFF-lit con is on the "evolve" side of the coin, and each year it's gotten stronger.  And that would be ArmadilloCon, and HOLY CATS check out who's the Toastmaster this year.  YES IT'S ME.  So if you were looking for an excuse to check out ArmadilloCon this year, here you go.

BUT if  you need more reason, check out the Writers' Workshop, which is a fabulous one-day intensive workshop. I highly recommend it for beginner SFF writers looking to improve their craft.

And if you've got a con and you want me to come? Invite me!  I'd love to come.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Harsh Rejection Stories

My story isn't technically a rejection story, but it's right up there.  It's as devastating. I was on one small, private on-line critique group.  The set-up was pretty casual: upload things to a shared folder, and then critiques are either A. sent via group email or B. also uploaded to the shared folder.  No specific timeline, just put it up and people will get to it or not.  Because of this system, I had some things up there that I wasn't actually seeking critique on anymore.  I hadn't taken them down, mostly because I wanted the other members of the group to be able to look at the whole body of work/larger plan if they were so inclined.
And then I got this on one manuscript.

I made it no further than page 5 before nearly chewing my left arm off in the frustration of knowing that a writer with a great imagination, a lot of drive, and most likely a wonderful story to tell hasn't bothered, after all these years of effort, to learn the basics of story crafting. To improve your writing, you need to, at the very least, read some well-crafted books and analyze the plotting, sentence structure, foreshadowing, and subtlety of the writers' works. No one is born knowing how to write or craft a story. Those are skills that take some effort to learn. You could be a great writer. If you don't put in some study time, all your efforts and talents are wasted.
Wow.  That's brutal, no?

That's the sort of critique that could send someone running for the hills.  Heck, that's not even a critique, that's a dressing down.  

Fortunately, I just laughed at it, and then promptly deleted myself from that group.
Because the manuscript in question was The Thorn of Dentonhill, which at that point had already netted me an agent and was out on submission.  And it was bought by my publisher just a few weeks after I got this.  I mean, what exactly was this person trying to accomplish with this critique?  I'm not sure.  But I feel like they were trying to just grind me down.

This business is tough, and you do not get handed anything and certainly don't deserve anything you don't earn-- you don't just get handed accolades and awards and film options-- but you need to keep pushing on as they try to grind you down.  Success could be right around the corner, and if you let them beat you-- you let a drubbing like that one up there break you-- you won't get there.

Don't let it grind you down.  Because every rejection and drubbing can be followed by that call.  Be ready for it.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Fueling Up for the next big thing

Friends, my whelm has been a bit over.  In the past two weeks, I've launched one book, sent in the copyedits for another, and finished the draft of yet another.  And now I'm starting the process of drafting what's going to be a Big One-- PEOPLE OF THE CITYwhich is technically a Maradaine Elite novel (i.e., starring Dayne and Jerinne), but in practice, this is the first Big Crossover.  And it's a LOT.
Right now I'm in that less-sexy, more data-driven part of things of making sure I have timelines and terms squared away, knowing I've got all the who's and what's and where's and when's locked down.  
This stuff requires fuel.

My big go-tos right now tend to be coffee in the morning and herbal teas in the afternoon and evening.  Add in apples, peanuts and granola, and I'm good to go.

And I'll need to be.  There's still a lot of work ahead.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

A PARLIAMENT OF BODIES is out in the world

All right, folks, A PARLIAMENT OF BODIES is out in the world, and I'm thrilled.  So far the reaction I've been seeing has been amazing, which is good, because I drop a few heartbreaking bombs in this book.  

And we had a great Book Release event.  Check it out!
If you've been following me on Instagram (and you should!), you saw I did a bunch of posts tagged #MaradaineMeals, with food from the books.  And since MULTIPLE people asked, yes, I'll be putting together proper recipes soon.
So go get your hands on A PARLIAMENT OF BODIES:
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound and more!

In the meantime, SHIELD OF THE PEOPLE should be next on your radar (October 29th, 2019, preorder now), and I'm about to send THE FENMERE JOB to my editor.  Time to get to work.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Gospel of Bad Advice

I was reminded the other day about all the “rules” people like to quote at us, as writers, of how we should (or more often, should not) be writing.  The “should not” is the crucial bit here, because far more often than not, these rules tend to be things not to do.  Which is all well and good, but I’ve noticed that rules that ought to be phrased “try to avoid too much…” or “be aware of…” become gospel from on high: THOU SHALT NOT. And the problem always comes when "here's a suggestion"-- especially when it's specific to a piece being critiqued-- becomes preached like it's universal gospel.

1. Thou shalt not use passive voice.  On the whole, this is sensible advice.  Passive voice tendsto make for weak writing. However, more often than not, I've seen the person giving it not know what passive voice actually is.  Here’s a hint: it is not when the gerund form of the verb is used (as in “the boys were walking down the street”.) Or anything to do with verb tense or helper verbs.  Here’s passive voice in a nutshell: when the object of the action is the subject of the sentence.  Take “the boys were walking down the street”.  What the subject?  The boys.  What’s the action?  Walking.    Who was walking?  The boys.  The subject is doing the action.  Active voice.  Passive voice would be, “The street was walked upon by the boys.”    Subject?  The street.  But the action is done by the boys.  Got it?  Good.

2. Thou shalt not use ‘to be’ in any form.  I’ve heard it said that using forms of ‘to be’ is “weak writing”.  But you know what’s really weak writing?  The kind of convoluted verbal cartwheels I’ve seen people use to avoid a simple “to be” sentence.  Sometimes it pays to be concise.

3. Thou shalt not use ‘said’.  I’m of the school of thought that ‘said’ is an invisible word.  People don’t get caught up in its repetition.  True, if you have a two-person conversation, their dialogue should be distinct enough that you don’t need to indicate the speaker at every line.  But when you do tag, ‘said’ is nice and innocuous.  I’d also rather tack an adverb onto ‘said’ every once in a while instead of having characters chortled, exclaimed, exuded, implied or, god forbid, ejaculated.  I do like, when appropriate, asked, answered, whispered, muttered, murmured and shouted.  But on the whole, said gets the job done.

4. Thou shalt not use adverbs.  Yes, sometimes adverbs can be over done, and using an adverb is used where a stronger verb would do a better job, but adverbs are a useful tool, and they are part of the language for a reason.

Here’s the thing: I’m against any rule that’s spoken of as an absolute, about keeping the tools locked in the box.  The words and tools are there, use them.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Fan groups, wikis and eligibility

So, a while back, I was chatting with an old friend who is far more business/marketing minded than I am capable of being, and he was talking about giving readers the opportunities tone more than fans, to "live" in Maradaine-- in the sense that there is more for them to engage in beyond the books. Partly that's encouraging things like fan art and fanfic (which: yes, especially fan art.) Partly that's merchandise. But largely it's about engagement and community.

I'm not entirely sure how to go about that, but I do know that some fans have been working on a Maradaine wiki, which is AMAZING. If you are interested in helping out with that project, I highly encourage it: https://the-maradaine-sequence.fandom.com/wiki/The_Maradaine_Sequence_Wiki
ALSO, since I've been asked, here's are my eligible works for this year's Hugo nominations, which are due on the 15th:
  • Best Novel: WAY OF THE SHIELD 
  • Best Series: MARADAINE (the whole saga, not any of the individual series)
  • Best Related Work: #BelgariadLive Read
All right, back into the word mines for me. No use having fans if I'm not putting out the work, right? Right.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Creative Focus, and the Playlists Behind Them

I've been a little radio silent the past few weeks, at least in terms of posting, because I've been chin-deep on a few things, both in terms of creative projects and other personal responsibilities. Nothing bad, mind you, just busy.

Two things have been my creative focus of late. One is finishing the draft of THE FENMERE JOB, the third Streets of Maradaine novel, and like all third novels in the Maradaine saga, there is a crossover element, which I'm sure you can suss out just from title alone. 

The other is more in the developmental stage, but let's just call it a Secret Project for now. But it will probably be a standalone thing to palate cleanse myself between Phase I and Phase II of the Maradaine Saga.

Both of these, I've got some inspirational music for, though I don't tend to go full-on curated playlists. Rather, I tend to find thematic material and throw it together and then, in process, figure out which stuff really works for me.

In the case of The Fenmere Job, I'm leaning toward film scores from films that evoke the same feeling I'm going for. Here's the spotify link for that one.

For The Secret Project, it's got a very different feel from the other stuff, and the playlist matches it. As you can see, it's largely focused on a specific artist. That might morph over time, though.

All right, back to the grind. Plenty to do over the next few days.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Backlist love for The Maradaine Constabulary Series

With A PARLIAMENT OF BODIEScoming out in just a few weeks, I think it's appropriate to look a bit at the backlist and what's led up to this book. Primarily, the first two books of the Maradaine Constabularyseries. Blending high fantasy, murder mystery and gritty urban magic, this series features Inspectors Satrine Rainey and Minox Welling, two detectives in the city constabulary who protect Maradaine from crime, both magical and mundane.

"A Murder of Mageswas another hit for me, a fantastic read from a new talent whose star continues to be on the rise."  - Bibliosanctum

Satrine Rainey: Former street rat. Ex-spy. Wife and mother who needs to make twenty crowns a week to support her daughters and infirm husband.  To earn that, she forges credentials and fakes her way into a posting as a constabulary Inspector.

Minox Welling: Brilliant Inspector. Uncircled Mage. Outcast of the stationhouse.  Partnered with Satrine because no one else will work with “the jinx".

Their first case together—the ritualized murder of a Circled mage—brings Satrine back to the streets she grew up on, and forces Minox to confront the politics of mage circles he’s avoided.  As more mages are found dead, Satrine must solve the crime before her secrets catch up with her, and before her partner ends up a target.

READ AN EXCERPTGoodreads Pagefor A MURDER OF MAGESAvailable at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBoundand more!

Maresca - An Import of Intrique
"Maresca offers something beyond the usual high fantasy fare, with a wealth of unique and well-rounded characters, a vivid setting, and complicatedly intertwined social issues that feel especially timely."  - Publishers Weekly

The neighborhood of the Little East is a collision of cultures, languages, and traditions, hidden away in the city of Maradaine. A set of streets to be avoided or ignored. When a foreign dignitary is murdered, solving the crime falls to the most unpopular inspectors in the Maradaine Constabulary: exposed fraud Satrine Rainey, and uncircled mage Minox Welling.

With a murder scene deliberately constructed to point blame toward the Little East, Rainey is forced to confront her former life, while Welling’s ignorance of his own power threatens to consume him. And these few city blocks threaten to erupt into citywide war unless the constabulary solves the case.

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBoundand more!

But it would be remiss to leave out novels in the other series that lead up to this one as well! The Imposters of Aventil features Satrine and Minox as they investigate the murder of a constable and the Thorn's involvement, and the events of that book echo into Parliament. Also, as the inspectors team up with Dayne Heldrin of the Tarian Order, it wouldn't hurt to check out The Way Of The Shieldas well. And there may be threads to Streets of Maradaine.

It wouldn't hurt to read them all. I mean, just to be safe.

Monday, February 11, 2019

PARLIAMENT OF BODIES, Boskone and other appearances

Hello, friends,

We're just six weeks away from the release of A PARLIAMENT OF BODIES, which I'm so excited to get into your hands.  I know people have been anxious for more of Satrine and Minox, PLUS you get more of Dayne and Jerinne.  (You have checked out WAY OF THE SHIELD already, yes?)  Well, even if you haven't, PARLIAMENT gives you a great introduction to them.   Publishers' Weekly says, of PARLIAMENT, "Maresca’s detailed worldbuilding and tightly plotted intrigue will entertain fans of suspenseful fantasy."

Also, this weekend I will be appearing at Boskone, which is one of my favorite conferences.  If you are in the Boston area this weekend, come check it out, come say hello.  Here's my schedule:

Kaffeeklatsch: Marshall Ryan Maresca
Format: Kaffeeklatsch
15 Feb 2019, Friday 18:00 - 18:50, Galleria - Kaffeeklatsch 2 (Westin)
Marshall Ryan Maresca
Booting the Reboot
Format: Panel
15 Feb 2019, Friday 20:00 - 20:50, Marina 3 (Westin)
Do we really need all of these reboots? Does the current reboot formula work for everything? And do all these retellings steal energies (and audiences) from new creations? Our participants discuss the good and bad of the reboots we love to hate.
Marshall Ryan Maresca (M), S L Huang, Robert Howard, Jennifer Pelland, Julia Rios (Fireside Magazine)
Hugo Award Recommendations (Dramatic)
Format: Panel
16 Feb 2019, Saturday 13:00 - 13:50, Marina 3 (Westin)
What's the greatest stuff you saw last year? Let’s (quickly) review and recommend 2018's best movies, TV shows, theatrical productions, and more in the worlds of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. If you're eligible to vote, feel free to take notes — your Hugo Awards nominations ballot is due in Dublin, Ireland soon.
Marshall Ryan Maresca , Bob Devney (M), Daniel M. Kimmel, Garen Daly (44th Boston Science Fiction Film Festival and Marathon), Deirdre Crimmins
Reading by Marshall Ryan Maresca
Format: Reading
16 Feb 2019, Saturday 15:00 - 15:25, Independence (Westin)
Marshall Ryan Maresca
If Only It Were Real
Format: Panel
16 Feb 2019, Saturday 20:00 - 20:50, Griffin (Westin)
What science fiction concept, other than space travel, would you most like to see realized? Flying cars? Matter replicators? Time travel? Why? What would be the impact on civilization of this wish fulfillment? Flying cars crashing into buildings, replicators putting manufacturers out of business, time travelers running wild, oh my!
Alan Brown (M), Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert, Marshall Ryan Maresca, Mary Anne Mohanraj (Speculative Literature Foundation), Karl Schroeder
How to Survive a Horror Story
Format: Panel
17 Feb 2019, Sunday 12:00 - 12:50, Marina 4 (Westin)
Who knows better than a horror writer how to survive a horror story? Join he fun and "lively" conversation as our panelists discuss scenarios from horror novels and films as if they themselves were characters within the scenes. Will their special authorial insights keep them safe? Will they split up to look for the cat? What are they willing to do to survive (relatively) intact? Who dies first? Who lives to tell the tale?
Marshall Ryan Maresca (M), Barry Lee Dejasu (New England Horror Writers), Nicholas Kaufmann, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert , Clarence Young (Zig Zag Claybourne)
Autographing: Bruce Coville, Craig Shaw Gardner, Mur Lafferty, Marshall Ryan Maresca
Format: Autographing
17 Feb 2019, Sunday 13:00 - 13:50, Galleria - Autographing (Westin)
Bruce Coville, Mur Lafferty, Craig Shaw Gardner, Marshall Ryan Maresca
Also, I will be at the Sunset Valley Barnes & Noble on TUESDAY, MARCH 26th (Release day!) at 7pm for a reading and signing event.  If you're in the greater Austin area, please come on out!

Thursday, February 7, 2019


I'm very excited that I finallyget to share the cover of the second Maradaine Elite novel, SHIELD OF THE PEOPLE. It's a gorgeous cover that highlights both Dayne and everyone's favorite Tarian Initiate, Jerinne Fendall.
Not only do we have a cover, but description and pre-order links! Go now so you can have it in your hands when it comes out on October 29th.

The second novel in the Maradaine Elite series blends fast-paced high fantasy and political intrigue, where Dayne and his compatriots get embroiled in a plot of dissident groups threatening to disrupt Parliamentary elections and throw Maradaine into chaos.

After stopping Tharek Pell and saving the Druth Parliament, Dayne Heldrin and Jerinne Fendall find themselves on the margins of the Tarian Order: lauded as heroes in public but scorned and ignored in private, their future in the Order hazy. Dayne is given an assignment that isolates him from the Order, and Jerinne is hazed and bullied at the bottom of the initiate rankings. 

But it’s a grand holiday week in the city of Maradaine, celebrating over two centuries of freedom and the foundation of the reunified modern nation, and with that comes parades, revelry… and protests and demonstrations. A dissident group called The Open Hand–and their mysterious, charismatic leader, Bishop Ret Issendel–seeks to disrupt the Parliament elections with their message of secession and dissolution.

Despite orders to stay out of the public eye, Dayne and Jerinne are drawn into the intrigue of the Open Hand and kept apart by dark powerful conspiracies that brew around them. Dayne and Jerinne must fight for their own principles, and protect the will of the people as the election is thrown into chaos.

"The Way of the Shield is at its best when they’re running around in the streets getting themselves beaten up by political subversives and the constabulary, and dealing with the consequences of their decisions. Maresca writes solid action scenes and has an eye for the believably absurd." —Locus

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound and more!

Who are your influences?

So, whenever that question pops up, I can't help but think of Jimmy Rabbit, trying vainly to hold auditions for the Hardest Working Soul Band in Dublin.
It's funny, because when I think about the books that influenced me, I'm kind of at a loss.  I mean, nothing that I read in my youth really matches what I write.  I cite Zilpha Keatly Snyder and David Eddings as influences, and it's true.  They both opened my idea of what fantasy could be, and more specifically what it didn't have to be.

That was important, because on some level I was always dissatisfied with the trappings of 'traditional' fantasy.  Even though Eddings fits in that category, it did it in a way that defied my earlier expectations.  Both Green-Sky and The Belgariad showed me that Fantasy didn't have to fit neatly into the genre boxes.

And of course, there's Watership Down, which is more myfantasy epic than any others. That book showed me a thousand different ways to make a different culture, different world, feel both comfortable and familiar while being alien and strange. It's just a gorgeous work.

Then there's the stuff outside of the genre boxes, which shaped how I looked at storytelling and world building. Something like, say, Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel was a huge influence on the way I looked at how societies grow and advance, and thus how world building works. 

I'm thrilled that nowadays there is such a wealth of fantasy nowadays that doesn't fit neatly into the boxes.  The stuff that's proliferating today is exactly the sort of thing I craved back in the day.  And I'm glad to be a part of that.  Because the stuff I'm writing is, to a large degree, the sort of thing I wanted to read back then.

Hopefully that will influence some writer of tomorrow.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Favorite characters to write

So, about two-and-a-half years ago, the question came up of "Who is your favorite character to write?" And, at the time, with An Import of Intrigue on the horizon, I answered Corrie Welling, because Corrie is so much fun to write.

And she still is.

Of course, so many characters are fun to write, and over the course of writing The Way of the Shield and now Shield of the People, I've really come to enjoy writing Jerinne Fendall, the young Initiate that Dayne takes under his wing. If things had taken a different path with my writing, I could see a YA-series centered around Jerinne. As is, she gets a lot of plot focus in both the Maradaine Elite books so far.

Which is why I had so much fun writing A Parliament of Bodies, because, as it is a Maradaine Constabulary novel, it features the fabulously foul-mouthed Corrie Welling, but since it crosses with the Maradaine Elite cast, it also has Jerinne Fendall.

Including a bit where Corrie and Jerinne work together.
If you've been following either series, I think you're going to love this book. Until it breaks your heart, which I'm told it might. Fair warning.

The city of Maradaine is vexed by the Gearbox Murders: a series of gruesome deaths orchestrated by a twisted mechanical genius. With no motive and no pattern, Inspectors Satrine Rainey and Minox Welling—the retired spy and untrained mage—are at a loss to find a meaningful lead in the case. At least, until the killer makes his most audacious exhibit yet: over a dozen victims in a clockwork deathtrap on the floor of the Druth Parliament.
The crime scene is a madhouse, and political forces conspire to grind their investigation to a halt. The King’s Marshals claim jurisdiction of the case, corruption in the Constabulary thwarts their efforts, and a special Inquest threatens to end Minox’s career completely. Their only ally is Dayne Heldrin, a provisional member of the Tarian Order, elite warriors trained in the art of protection. But Dayne’s connection to the Gearbox Murders casts suspicion on his motives, as he might be obsessed with a phantom figure he believes is responsible.
While Satrine and Minox struggle to stop the Gearbox from claiming even more victims, the grinding gears of injustice might keep them from ever solving these murders, and threaten to dismantle their partnership forever.

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound and more!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Worldbuilding vs. Timewasting

Here's my eternal struggle: finding that balance between the worldbuilding that is necessary for me to understand the world as a whole, and thus tell the story well, and the worldbuilding that is just me wasting time or procrastinating.

Part of that ties to the fact that I ended up doing a lot of worldbuilding well before I really got started with proper writing. My worldbuilding process for Maradaine was tied to the process of Learning How To Novel. And I definitely enjoy an in-depth worldbuild process. I'm fascinated by the idea of doing a deep, wide and thorough worldbuild without, necessarily, knowing what the novel is or is supposed to be. I like using that as a process of discovery.

Now, is that necessarily useful? Is it good for me to spend too much time worldbuilding. What does "too much" mean? I'm the wrong guy to answer that question, as I do adore going deep into the "too much".

Part of that is because, when I get stuck with the writing, I like to fiddle with maps. Thats a process that I find relaxing and engaging and creative, and let's me restore my juices and get back to the real writing work.

So, for some non-Maradaine projects, I'm trying to restrain myself to the worldbuilding I need for the story. We'll see if that works. It's a different kind of process, and I'm a little nervous about it, to be honest. So, we'll see.

But that does remind me, I've got some new maps to draw...

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Trying to play Moneyball with Book Promotion

The publishing business is pretty strange. There's plenty of money being made, tons of books being sold, and if you scratch the surface, you'll see that no one really understands what works and what doesn't.

For real, if you go to a bunch of writers-- successful ones!-- and ask, "How does one sell more books?" you tend to get a bunch of shrugs. You will get that occasional person who talks like a marketing guru, but more often than not, their advice is not particularly useful.

This is, in part, because the ground is always shifting, tragedy-of-the-commons style. If someone comes up with a Great New Way to promote books, soon TONS OF PEOPLE are all doing that same Great New Way, and it's just so much screaming into the hurricane.

There's also the factor that book promotion just feels like ugly business. None of us know what's right, but we do know when someone's doing it wrong, and it stands out. Badly. For example: book trailers. There was a period when everyone was trying them, and most of them were terrible. Mostly because they were made by people who didn't know the language of film or the language of commercials. Too long and used that time badly.

Is there some Great New Secret, some perfect formula to get readers interested, to get books in their hands? I don't think there is, but maybe-- as how the Moneyball idea changed baseball-- there's something out there that requires a line of thinking from a different industry completely. Maybe there is, and I don't have the mindset to see it.

I've got a friend who talks about books having "stickiness", that when someone reads it, they "stay" in the book. They want to live in there, think about it all the time, tell others about it. And, he thinks, if you get enough people to "stick" into a book, they create that natural marketing machine for you.
And maybe he's right? It's an interesting idea, but right now I don't know how one might implement it. So, for now, like everyone else in this business, we're throwing things against the wall and seeing what sticks.

(Which, for the record, is a stupid way to check if your pasta is done. Just eat it, that'll tell you. No need to throw it against the wall.)
(And maybe that's a metaphor for this whole endeavor.)

All right, back to work. Do good things, people.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

2019: Planning for the future

Man, this is an auspicious start to the new year, hmm? Late for the first blog post.

In my defense, the Christmas "break" screwed up my sense of what day it was. Part of the challenge of working from home, and essentially working every day, is "day of the week" tends to be less meaningful.

But this year I feel a need to up my game, in terms of organization, planning, and even taking down time. I certainly feel I could be more productive, use my time more efficiently, and I'm going to need that in the years to come.

Some goals for this year:
-Of things you'll be seeing, I've got A PARLIAMENT OF BODIES coming out on March 26th, and SHIELD OF THE PEOPLE in October. Both were quite challenging books to write, and I'm pretty pleased with what they do and how they move the Maradaine saga forward.
-In things I'm doing, there's the final edits on SHIELD, which should be done and turned in this month.
-On the drafting front, I'll be finishing THE FENMERE JOB (about halfway through the rough draft now) and THE PEOPLE OF THE CITY, which will close out Phase I of the Maradaine Saga.
-Along the lines of "closing out Phase I", a big part of the next year is organizing my plans for things I'll be writing once I finish PEOPLE, as well as some smaller projects, some non-Maradaine things, and more or less continuing to lay out impossible goals for myself because that's how I roll.

So that's what I've got on my plate. We'll see how I do.