The Geomancer


5 Questions to a Great Story

As part of Wake County Public Libraries' Write On @ Your Library series, Vampire Empire authors Clay and Susan Griffith discuss five questions to create a great story.


The Making of The Creative Fire

Over at the collective artists blog, Muddy Colors, John Picacio talks about his inspiration for creating the cover for Brenda Cooper's The Creative Fire (Book One of Ruby's Song). He shows some classic paintings that inspired his piece, as well as rare glimpses into his pencils and early process pieces.

From John's piece:
"All of us are living in a fragile time for our fundamental rights, at least here in America. It seems our news and social feeds are filled with daily attacks on womens' rights. Revolutionary posters have always been rallying cries, and Lou and I felt like we might have a chance to evoke those here, as well as serve the novel's intentions. When I thought about who Ruby was, I thought of the 1940's image of Rosie the Riveter, as imagined by J. Howard Miller and Norman Rockwell (with genius inspiration from Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel). I thought of the grace of Sandro Botticelli's The Birth of Venus, along with Russian revolution posters, and Howard Chandler Christy's 'Fight or Buy Bonds' painting."


Pyr Podcast Roundtable

Today, episode 61 of Speculate: The Podcast for Writers, Readers and Fans, features a special roundtable podcast with Pyr editorial director Lou Anders, Pyr authors Brenda Cooper (The Creative Fire) and E.C. Myers (Fair Coin and Quantum Coin), and freelance copyeditor Gabrielle Harbowy. They say:

"We set a new record for single episode participation in this show with four distinguished guests: Brenda Cooper and E.C. Myers (authors of The Creative Fire and Quantum Coin, respectively), freelance editor Gabrielle Harbowy, and Pyr Books‘ editorial and art director Lou Anders speak for an hour on what has made Pyr such a successful speculative fiction imprint, where it’s been and where it’s going in the future. This wide ranging discussion also looks at the finer points of how good editors work with good authors, how important a good cover is to an equally good book, and what makes Dragon Con such a scary (and amazing!) event every year. Our shows normally don’t run this long, but we hope you’ll agree the extra discussion we got with all of these fine people was worth the extra time. If you like what you hear, don’t forget to check back next week when we’ll start a new series of shows on the work of Joe Abercrombie. Until then, thanks as always for listening, and please continue to spread the word about the show!"


Resetting Superheroes in a Steampunk World

Over at the Agony Column, Rick Kleffel reviews Andrew P. Mayer's entire trilogy, The Society of Steam, recently completed with the release of book three, Power Under Pressure. Rick says:

"What Mayer has managed in a quite tightly-written trilogy is to reset the superhero story in a steampunk world. These are both genres that feed on fun, that require adventure and reward the reader with a light-hearted look at the darkest of times. Mayer's prose has the feel of the time it is set in, but not so much as to be annoying... and his plotting and pacing keep things lively but not frantic. ....Mayer hits all the right notes; a touch of horror, some high-adventure, heroes and villains who deserve the elaborate contraptions that carry them across a Rube-Goldberg machine landscape, all at a pace that suggests a handcart on the way to hell."

And Andrew himself was recently a guest of the SF in SF reading series, where he read from the novel. Those who haven't yet experienced his mashup of steampunk and superheros can get a taste here or download the Agony Column Podcast on iTunes.


City of Ruins wins 2012 Endeavor Award

Kristine Kathryn Rusch's City of Ruinshas won the 2012 Endeavor Award. The Endeavour Award is given to a novel or single-author collection written by a Pacific Northwest writer and includes an honorarium of $1000.00 and an engraved glass plaque. The 2012 judges for the award were Gregory Benford, Lawrence M. Schoen, and Susan Shwartz. The winner was announced on November 2, 2012 at OryCon 34 in Portland OR.

The finalists were:
City of Ruins, Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Pyr)
River Marked, Patricia Briggs (Ace)
Anna Dressed in Blood, Kendare Blake (Tor)
When the Saints, Dave Duncan (Tor)
Robopocalypse, Daniel H. Wilson (Doubleday)

You can read Kristine's acceptance speech on her blog.

Congratulations to Kristine and all the nominees!

RT Book Reviews Nominations for Clay and Susan Griffiith

RT Book Reviews have announced their 2012 Reviewers' Choice Awards and Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith's The Kingmakers (Vampire Empire, Book 3) is on the shortlist for Steampunk Novel!


James Enge Marches Through the Black Gate

This week the SF Signal Podcast has an interview recorded live at WorldCon with John O'Neill, founder of Black Gate magazine, and two of the brightest feathers in his cap, Howard Andrew Jones and our own James Enge. Both sold stories early in their career to O'Neill and went on to sell novels based on those characters. James' of course, are the novels of Morlock Ambrosius, his sword and sorcery hero (the latest of which, A Guile of Dragons (A Tournament of Shadows, Book 1), just came out last month.

Podcast host Patrick Hester talks with the three about Middle Eastern culture and fantasy, Tolkien, European-centric fantasy, Sinbad, Disney movies, the history of Black Gate magazine, sword and sorcery, being a short story editor, critiquing, Worldcon and much, much more. It's well worth checking out - funny and informative as the best podcasts are.


A Fair Amount of Coin

Bookseller Ross Armstrong is a bookseller in Toronto at Indigo's Yorkdale Mall location at 3401 Dufferin St. in north Toronto. He recently popped up on the Fair Coin Facebook page, where he posted the following:
 "I have chosen your book to be my CEO 100 choice. If I can sell 100 copies in three months, I get a certificate and a $50 gift card. To date, I have sold 71 copies of your book, Fair Coin, with 5 weeks to go in the three months. In fact, this week I have sold 23 copies alone. The response had been very positive with many purchasers coming back and saying how much they liked the book. Looking forward to Quantum Coin."

We're grateful for booksellers like Ross, and thrilled so many people love this book. Meanwhile, if you are in the Toronto area, you might consider helping Ross get his certificate and gift card. 


The Blueprint for the Future of Genre Fiction

Yesterday,  Explorations, The BN SciFi and Fantasy blog called the Vampire Empire trilogy "nothing short of the blueprint for the future of genre fiction." Reviewer Paul Goat Allen went on to say that, "And as extraordinary as The Greyfriar and The Rift Walker were, The Kingmakers was arguably the strongest installment of them all: a terrifyingly believable – and brilliantly described –  apocalyptic setting; unforgettable, no, iconic characters; nonstop action and adventure; and, at the heart of it all, one of the most powerful love stories ever written. Clay and Susan Griffith's Vampire Empire trilogy will forever alter the way in which you perceive genre fiction."


Boing Boing calles Be My Enemy "Triumphant"

Over at Boing Boing, Cory Doctor has written a tremendously enthusiastic review of Ian McDonald's Be My Enemy, the follow-up to Planesrunner. Cory writes, "There's a lot more of what made Planesrunner great -- tremendous action scenes, cunning escapes, genius attacks on the ways that multidimensional travel might be weaponized, horrific glimpses of shadowy powers and sinister technologies, but Enemy also has more of what makes McDonald's adult fiction some of the best work I've ever read: a gifted ear for poesie that makes the English language sing, the unapologetic presumption of the reader's ability to understand what's going on without a lot of hand-holding, and a technological mysticism that never explicitly says when the literal stops and the fantasy starts"

Head over to Boing Boing for the full review, but also for a five chapter preview! 


Dragon*Con 2012

Lisa and Meghan erect the booth scaffolding.
This past Labor Day weekend, August 30th to September 3rd, was Dragon*Con, an event that has become the highlight of my convention year, and a show that's becoming like a giant family reunion where even the weird uncles are really cool. For the third year in a row, Pyr has exhibited at the show. We were back in the same spot in the Marriott Marquis Ballroom, in booth 709/711 (yes, we have a huge double booth).

The booth complete.
I got up early on Thursday and made the drive to Atlanta, where I was joined by two of parent-company Prometheus Books' employees, Meghan Quinn and Lisa Kay Michalski. Both Meghan and Lisa were embarking on -- not only their first Dragon*Con appearance -- but their first genre convention of any kind! We met in the morning and headed over to the Exhibit Hall to assemble the Pyr booth. We broke for lunch at the Metro Cafe Diner,  where we were joined by authors Sam Sykes, Clay Griffith, and Susan Griffith. Then all six of us went back and assembled the booth. That night saw us eating at (my personal favorite local restaurant, because it's a brewery) Max Lager's, and then out to the Marriott Marquis' High Velocity bar for a very late night. John Picacio, who was in town for just Thursday night to Saturday morning, joined us for the evening. We ended the night around 3am, plenty of time to rest up and still make my 11:30 am panel.
Meghan encounters Flying Spaghetti Monster

The panel in question was "Gimme a Break--Breaking in and Breaking Out." Like all Dragon*Con panels, it was well attended. The room had 120 chairs and there were at least another 20 folks standing along the back wall. More I couldn't see to count accurately were sitting in the aisles. Afterwards, I raced to the Exhibit Hall for the first day of sales.

Improvised Name Signage
2:30 pm was the Pyr Rising panel. I was up on stage with Philippa Ballantine, Andrew P. Mayer, Sam Sykes, K.D. McEntire, E.C. Myers, and (arriving directly from the airport without even checking into his hotel first) Jon Sprunk. The room had a live feed to the World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago, where we were able to see and interact with James Enge and Brenda Cooper. Thanks to the tech crew that made that link happen. It was wonderful to be able to speak to the World Con audience too and to get to see and talk with James and Brenda.

Nom nom nom.
Then it was back in the Exhibit Hall working the booth until 7pm. Followed by another dinner at Max Lager's and another night, this one out until 3:30 am, at High Velocity.  Somewhere in there was a heated and enjoyable discussion of why The Dark Knight Rises sucks (my position) or was brilliant (the opposing side) with comics artist and creator, Ted Naifeh. We found more common ground with discussions of the animated Batman incarnations, but the whole discussion was fun. It was also good to see Hugo-nominated Dan Dos Santos briefly that evening.

Todd Lockwood and Lisa Kay Michalski
Saturday I didn't have any panels, so it was a marathon all-day selling session. We had printed about a thousand Pyr Sampler books as freebies (Update: we printed 2,186!!!). They were GONE GONE GONE by noon. So too was John Picacio, who was in for the morning, then took off to (!) fly to World Con for the Hugo Awards, but at any time we had four or more authors in the booth with us. A special shout out to KD McEntire's husband Jake, who came to the rescue with a portable hotspot when ours went out! Jake saved our bacon. He also proved to be quite a salesman, which really was above and beyond the call. Meanwhile, the crowds at Dragon*Con have to be seen to be believed, and it's incredibly rewarding to see how many people love our books and look for us each year now. The fan interaction the con affords our staff and our authors is just incredible.

For dinner, I went with Sam Sykes, Lisa Kay Michalski, Meghan Quinn, and famous illustrator Todd Lockwood for pizza at Azio Downtown, then back to High Velocity again, where we met up with several of Lockwood's friends, for an evening that we cut short at 2:45 am. Or maybe it was 3am.
Saturday Night.

And what of our con newbies Lisa and Meghan? They were old pros by the second day, and both were fell in immediately with the vibe of the show. I'm so glad they took to it so well, had such fun working hard, and "got" what Dragon*Con was all about for us. You two are incredible! I hope you can come back next year! 

Steam Ensemble
Meanwhile, Sunday was another incredible day in the booth, followed by an 8:30 pm panel called "Editors and Agents Tell All," which was scheduled around the time the Hugo Ceremony in Chicago was starting up. (Apologies for all those nervous glances at my Twitter feed). The panel was just as packed as the previous and a lot of fun to do.

Then it was back to High Velocity, where I had no cell access, no bandwidth, no ability to IM or check Twitter. It was nerve racking, but finally my agent was able to get word to me that "You didn't win. Picacio did." And I was thrilled for my friend John Picacio, one of the top artists of our field, but now officially a Hugo-award winning illustrator!

Our Last Night
Sunday night was also the last time the gang was out together. It was a wonderful evening, and a somewhat emotional one as well. Dragon*Con is a marvelous show for us because we have a base of operations in the Pyr booth. We get to interact directly with our readers, by the hundreds, every day and see the effect of what we do has on people. It's a great show because of its attendees, who are all ages and ethnicities and genders, and who are all passionate about science fiction and fantasy in all its permutations. It's such a high energy show, where you work hard and play hard for five straight days. No one ever believes me until they come out--even if they believe me they don't believe me--and they come away enthralled. But what really makes this show is the Pyr family. Jon (and now wife Jenny), Sam, Andrew, Clay, Susan, Eugene, Katie, David, Cooper, Will, Lisa Meghan, Pip, Gabrielle--you are all wonderful.

A Dragon's Eye from Hunter and Fox
Monday Lisa, Meghan, Eugene, Clay, Susan, copyeditor Gabrielle Harbowy, and I worked the booth. We managed to sell out Eugene (EC Myer's) last copy of Fair Coinwithin a minute of his departure time for the airport. We also sold out books by Sam Sykes, Andrew P. Mayer, Justina Robson, Jon Sprunk, Dave Freer, KD McEntire, and others. What a show. Lisa and Meghan stayed right up until the Exhibit Hall closed, then took off to the airport.

When it ended, Lisa, Meghan, Clay, Susan, Gabrielle, and friends David Alaister Hayden, Cooper Chun, and Will Cockrell and I disassembled the booth and packaged all remaining stock in under an hour - a record! - and went out (sadly sans Gabrielle, who had other plans) to the Landmark Diner, which, since we ate there after take-down last year two, is I suppose a new tradition. And then it was time to say goodbye.

Stuffed Animal Gown
Deep thanks to Regina Kirby, Nancy Knight, Susan Phillips for great programming, and to all the con runners! It was an amazing con. I loved seeing everyone - old friends and new. Cons are made up of people and these people made the con! Emotional things were said, a lot of them late Sunday night, that are simply not for this blog, but I love these people and always will. Thank you all for making this weekend, this magical Brigadoon that calls us all together once a year, one of the best convention experiences ever.


Dragon*Con Schedule

This weekend is Dragon*Con (August 31 to September 3rd), in Atlanta, Georgia. As previously stated, Pyr will will be exhibiting in booth 709 in the Marriott Marquis Ballroom. On hand will be our authors Philippa Ballantine, Clay & Susan Griffith, Andrew P. Mayer, K.D. McEntire, E.C. Myers, Jon Sprunk, and Sam Sykes.
Meanwhile, Editorial Director Lou Anders will appear on the following panels:
Title: Gimme a Break--Breaking In and Breaking Out
Description: The pros talk about breaking in--selling your first book or story and breaking out--finding a bestseller audience.
Time: Fri 11:30 am Location: Embassy D-F - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Title: Pyr Rising
Description: Pyr Publishing presents its up & coming writers and selections.
Time: Fri 02:30 pm Location: Regency V - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Moderator / MC for panel
Title: Editors and Agents Tell All
Description: Here's a chance to learn direct from the horse', editor/agent's mouth how to sell your novels.
Time: Sun 08:30 pm Location: Embassy D-F - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)


Dragon*Con: Pyr Author Signing Schedule

Dragon*Con is next weekend, August 31 to September 3rd, in Atlanta, Georgia. We will be exhibiting in booth 709 in the Marriott Marquis Ballroom. On hand will be our authors Philippa Ballantine, Clay & Susan Griffith, Andrew P. Mayer, K.D. McEntire, E.C. Myers, Jon Sprunk, and Sam Sykes. Additionally, artist John Picacio will be around on Friday.

They'll be authors in and around the booth throughout the convention, but here is our signing schedule so you can be sure to get your books autographed at these times. Additionally, be sure to check out the "Pyr Rising" from 2:30 to 3:30 in the Hyatt Regency V room. We'll be showing lots of debut artwork and talking about our recent and forthcoming books.

Friday, August 31

2:30 – 3:30       Pyr Rising panel w/Lou Anders, Philippa Ballantine, K.D. McEntire, Sam Sykes, Jon Sprunk, and Andrew Mayer.  Location: Regency V – Hyatt
(LIZ- to fit master schedule signs you can cut all the participant names and just have time, panel name and location.)

4:00 pm – 4:45 pm        Artist JOHN PICACIO

4:00 – 5:00 pm              CLAY and SUSAN GRIFFITH

5:00 – 6:00 pm             K.D. McENTIRE

5:00 – 6:00 pm              SAM SYKES

Saturday, September 1

11:00 am - Noon           K.D. McENTIRE

11:00 am - Noon           JON SPRUNK

Noon – 1:00 pm            SAM SYKES
Noon – 1:00 pm            PHILIPPA BALLANTINE

1:00 – 2:00 pm             ANDREW MAYER

2:00 – 3:00 pm              CLAY and SUSAN GRIFFITH
3:00 – 4:00 pm              JON SPRUNK
4:00 – 5:00 pm              E.C. MYERS

5:00 – 6:00 pm  ANDREW MAYER

Sunday, September 2

11:00 am - Noon           SAM SYKES

11:00 am - Noon           JON SPRUNK

Noon – 1:00 pm            ANDREW MAYER

1:00 – 2:00 pm              K.D. McENTIRE
1:00 – 2:00 pm              E.C. MYERS

2:00 – 3:00 pm              CLAY and SUSAN GRIFFITH

4:00 – 5:00 pm             PHILIPPA BALLANTINE

Update: On Saturday from 1:00 – 3:00 pm, E.C. Myers is signing at the SFWA table and so will not be appearing in the Pyr booth at that time.


Video read-through of the Pyr Fall-Winter 2012-2013 catalog

Samuel Montgomery-Blinn, of the wonderful Bull Spec magazine, does a video read-through of the latest Pyr catalog. He gets excited about quite a few things, admits to needing to read a lot more, and bags on one cover. But we appreciate the love, the attention, and the opinions! Thanks, Sam.


A Guile of Dragons featured in Kirkus "Not-to-miss" list!

Kirkus Reviews has posted their "11 Not-to-miss Science Fiction and Fantasy books for August." Of some 150 books out this month, James Enge's A GUILE OF DRAGONS makes -- and tops -- this list. They say:
"Enge is not only a writer of fantasy, he's a devoted fan educated in its history and evolution. That's no more apparent than in his adventures of Morlock Ambrosius, a swordsman wandering a world rife with various magical disciplines. In A Guile of Dragons, Enge takes us back to show us the origins of his hero, as the Longest War—the war between dwarves and dragons presumed to have been over and done with—reignites with the return of the dragons."


Top Ten Westerns: 2012

Art by J. Seamas Gallagher
Booklist Online lists their "Top Ten Westerns: 2012" and Mike Resnick's The Doctor and the Kid: A Weird West Talemakes the list!

They have this to say:
"Veteran sf-fantasy author Resnick offers an enticing alternate-history western starring the consumptive dentist and reluctant shootist Doc Holliday. A mad and thoroughly entertaining mixture of steampunk and magic."


Why do epic fantasies always take place in monarchies, instead of democracies?

Cover art by Steve Stone
The latest Pyr newsletter, the Pyr-A-Zine, has an amazing Q&A with James Enge, discussing his just released novel, A Guile of Dragons (A Tournament of Shadows, Book 1), that is very worth checking out.

One of the interesting questions concerns the anarchic politic system of the Graith of Guardians, which lead to a discussion of why so many fantasy novels operate in monarchies. James answer is very interesting. You'll have to go to the newsletter for the full response, but he begins by saying, "There's a complaint about imaginary-world fantasy which is partly valid and partly nonsense. The complaint runs something like this: Always with the kings, and the dukes, and the princesses. Where's the pluralistic democracy? Do you fantasy people HATE FREEDOM? Personally, I love political freedom so much that someday I'm going to buy some for myself."

Meanwhile, an excerpt from the Q&A has sparked a very interesting debate in the comments section on io9, when they used the interview as a springboard to ask, "Why do epic fantasies always take place in monarchies, instead of democracies?"

So the newsletter, the io9 debate, and, of course, the book itself, are all well worth checking out! 


For Your Viewing Pleasure: A Guile of Dragons

Cover illustration (c) Steve Stone
Cover design by Jacqueline Nasso Cooke

It's dwarves versus dragons in this origin story for Enge's signature character, Morlock Ambrosius!Before history began, the dwarves of Thrymhaiam fought against the dragons as the Longest War raged in the deep roads beneath the Northhold. Now the dragons have returned, allied with the dead kings of Cor and backed by the masked gods of Fate and Chaos.
The dwarves are cut off from the Graith of Guardians in the south. Their defenders are taken prisoner or corrupted by dragonspells. The weight of guarding the Northhold now rests on the crooked shoulders of a traitor's son, Morlock syr Theorn (also called Ambrosius).
But his wounded mind has learned a dark secret in the hidden ways under the mountains. Regin and Fafnir were brothers, and the Longest War can never be over. . . .

"Morlock Ambrosius, son of Merlin Ambrosius and Nimue Viviana, roams the world of Makers, developed in Enge’s first trilogy (Blood of Ambrose, etc.), in this efficiently excellent epic fantasy. Morlock returns to the Whitethorn Mountains and the dwarfs of the Seven Clans under Thrymhaiam, who fostered him from infancy, and is placed under the charge of clueless Summoner Earno. The Ranga region has stopped shipping provisions to other areas of the Whitethorns, and Guardians have gone missing. Morlock and his foster father, clan elder Tyr syr Theorn, suspect foul play. Earno, on the other hand, assumes the son of traitor Merlin is concocting nefarious schemes. Enge’s engaging portrait of Morlock—who identifies much more as a tallish, less gray dwarf than as the son of a fabled mage—will have readers hunting down earlier books to learn more about the adventurer and his history." Publishers Weekly starred review

Coming in August


City of Ruins nominated for an Endeavor Award

The nominations for this year's Endeavour Award have been announced and Kristine Kathryn Rusch's and City of Ruins is one of the five finalists.

The Endeavor Award is given for a distinguished science fiction or fantasy book written by a Pacific Northwest author or authors and published in the previous year. It is named for H.M. Bark Endeavour, the ship of Northwest explorer Capt. James Cook. The award is announced annually at OryCon, held in Portland, Oregon. The next award will be presented at OryCon 34 (November 2012) for a book published during 2011. The award is accompanied by a grant of $1,000.

The other finalists are:

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake, Tor Books;
River Marked by Patricia Briggs, Ace Books;
Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson, Doubleday; and
When The Saints by Dave Duncan, Tor Books.

The judges for this year are; Gregory Benford, Lawrence M. Schoen, and Susan Shwartz.

Congratulations to all the nominees!


2012 Sunburst Awards

Cover art by Raymond Swanland
The nominees for the 2012 Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic have been announced. We are very excited to see that K.V. Johansen's Blackdog is a nominee in the adult category.

The Sunburst jury says this about the book: "Blackdog is everything high fantasy should be: a tale of wars among gods, demons and wizards that also works as an oddly compelling social-cultural coming-of-age novel. The Blackdog has, through a multitude of incarnations, protected the living goddess, Attalissa, who manifests in the world as a human. This time, over many years, she is driven away from her power-giving lake and grows up among the caravanserai of her new Blackdog, the caravan guard Holla-Sayan, and learns to be a more moral human/god. The characterizations of the young girl and her anguished, shape-shifting protector, as well as other gods, friends, and a demonic enemy, are profound & moving. This is a strongly imagined fantasy world, its peoples rendered with both wit and insight."

The Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic is a juried award to recognize stellar writing in two categories: adult and young adult. The awards are presented annually to Canadian writers with a speculative fiction novel or book-length collection of speculative fiction published any time during the previous calendar year. Named after the first novel by Phyllis Gotlieb (1926–2009), one of the first published authors of contemporary Canadian science fiction, the awards consist of a cash award of Cdn$1,000 and a medallion which incorporates a specially designed "Sunburst" logo. The winners receive their awards in the fall of every year.