Monday, September 24, 2018

Finding a way

Sometimes life gets dark and it's easy to fall into a pit and wallow in that darkness.

Getting out can be tougher. When my wife Bonnie passed away after a rather long run of medical complications I had no desire to write to do anything.
It took me 8 years to look back on the work I was writing when she passed. I have since finished it.
I have a novel I started working on after she passed and it's not finished yet.
But since then I have written a lot of novels.

I forgive myself for not finishing the stories with painful memories attached. I'll get to them eventually.

But otherwise I'm with Jeffe. Writing is my escape. It was what kept me sane when my wife died on me. Want to read more of what I write then here's the link. I wrote a LOT about how my life was changed without here. It's really the longest stretch of non-fiction I ever did.



Sunday, September 23, 2018

Finding Motivation when Life Spirals Downward

The moon rises over the mesa at Ghost Ranch where Georgia O'Keeffe had her summer home. We went on a sunset horseback ride to see her house and the landscape she painted.

It was just extraordinary.

We also did a tour of her winter home and studio in Abiquiu. I've done this one before and love to do it every time I have an out-of-town visitor interested. Seeing where and how this prolific and fantastic artist lived and worked is an enormous education in examining life choices. She surrounded herself with beauty and - though she was a millionaire by that point in her life - Georgia lived a very minimalist and simple life.

All of her choices focused on making herself into a better artist.

Our topic this week at the SFF Seven is "Finding motivation when life spirals downward."

What I've discovered - for myself and from examples like Georgia O'Keeffe - is that the spiral of my life depends on my art, not the other way around. Writing provides an anchor and a ley line* for my life. The creativity is the wellspring of energy, writing is how I channel it, and that channeling provides the buffer and balance for everything else.

Sure, being able to produce art depends on having a life set up to be peaceful enough to do that, but for me - as Georgia did - that means constructing my life to put my work at the center. If my writing is going well, everything else goes well.

*the concept of a "ley line" is found in fantasy a lot and is like a river of magical energy

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Cover Reveal: TIMTUR A Badari Warriors #SciFi Romance Novel


Our topic of blurbs and covers is very timely this week since I’m ready to share my next release in the Badari Warriors series!

Since the events described in TIMTUR actually occur between books 2 and 3 in the numbered series, I decided to issue the novel under the IN THE STARS ROMANCE banner, which is comprised of a great group of fellow scifi romance authors.

The blurb:
Genetically engineered soldiers of the far future, the Badari were created by alien enemies to fight humans. But then the scientists kidnapped an entire human colony to use as subjects in twisted experiments…the Badari and the humans made common cause, rebelled and escaped the labs. Now they live side by side in a sanctuary valley protected by a powerful Artificial Intelligence, and wage unceasing war on the aliens. The luckiest Badari find their mates among the humans.

Far from her home in the human Sectors after the mass kidnapping, teacher Lily Garrison is making a niche for herself in the valley by running a school for the Badari young. Although she yearns for Timtur, the pack’s healer, another Badari male has his eye on her and won’t take no for an answer.

Timtur feels the weight and responsibility of being the pack’s only healer, constantly on call as the soldiers fight ferocious battles against the alien scientists and their troops. With scarcely a moment to himself, he’s drawn to the gentle Lily but worries he won’t be able to juggle his duties, his loyalty to the pack and a relationship with a human woman.

 When Lily’s stalker takes direct action to kidnap her and steal her from the safety of the valley, she’s forced to reach deep inside to find the strength to battle for her life. Timtur realizes too late how foolish he’s been to resist the bond with his fated mate and leads the rescue effort.

Before this situation can be resolved both will have to put their lives on the line and decide what really matters in a dangerous world ruled by the enemy.

Although this is the fifth book released in the Badari Warriors scifi romance series, the story of Timtur and Lily is a standalone and actually comes immediately after book two’s events. Always a satisfying Happy for Now ending for the hero and heroine, not a cliffhanger. Some overarching issues do remain unresolved in each book since this is an ongoing series but romance always wins the day in my novels!

The book is still in final edits, so this selection may be revised a bit by the time the book is released. The (first ever) excerpt: “I want you to go with me to the Alpha’s gathering tonight.” The Badari soldier stood much too close to her, crowding her against the desk.

Being alone with this aggressive young warrior in the office this late in the afternoon, gave her a bad feeling. No one was likely to come to her rescue. Lily tried to sidestep, and he put one arm out to keep her in place, boxed in between his massive body and the wall. “Thank you, but I’m already going with my sisters,” she said, trying to control her breathing. “And I’m expecting to meet a friend there.” She wished she’d followed her instincts and left the minute he stepped into the room but, at first, he’d said he wanted to talk about tutoring for the cubs. “I asked you before, Vattan, not to keep singling me out. I’m sure you’re a very nice person, but I’m not interested.”

“You should be. I’m the Generation 9 Alpha. I’ll be in charge of the packs and the valley someday, once Generation 8 dies off. Or I kill their Alpha in combat. Any human woman should be happy to have my attention.” He nuzzled her neck.

“Stop that!” Shocked, disgusted, she shoved at him but, since he outweighed her by easily two hundred pounds and had muscles like slabs of granite, her defensive gesture made no impression on him. “Please, leave me alone.” Her heart was racing and she felt like her legs could barely hold her up.

“You think I don’t know you have eyes for the healer?” Vattan gave a contemptuous snort, even as he pressed his body more closely to hers. “He’s weak. I could kill him easily in a dominance challenge.” The young alpha eyed her figure appreciatively. “But he’d never risk fighting me, even over you. You need a strong warrior to protect you on this planet.”

Trying to hold him at arm’s length, Lily debated whether to lie and say she would attend the party with Vattan. It might end this encounter, and then she could appeal to the settlement’s leader Aydarr, the alpha in charge of the pack, as soon as she was able to get away from her stalker. But the Badari could smell lies, or so it was said, and she was afraid to make Vattan angry.

Vattan reached out and snagged one of the long red strands of her hair with his talons, pulling her carefully controlled hair style into messy disarray. “So pretty. Like fire in the sunshine.”

Footsteps sounded outside, and she hoped for a rescue, although the encounter was bound to be embarrassing for her. She was terrified if no one interrupted him, Vattan was going to overpower her and assault her right here in the office.

A young cub burst into the room, clutching an armful of handhelds. “I’m sorry I’m late, Miss Lily.”

TIMTUR: The Teacher’s Alien Healer will be released across all major ebook seller sites on October 16th. At this time there is no pre-order - sorry!

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Internet Was Made for Cats


Yeah, you're not getting blurbs from me. Sorry. Some might argue that I'm not all that coherent at the best of times, but at the moment, I can't pretend to make any kind of sense at all. I'm running on sleep caught in 2 hour shifts because I'm unexpectedly a new mom.
 
Saturday morning, one of the colony caretakers called in a panic because someone had driven up in the middle of the night and dumped this litter of kittens at the colony. None of the other colony caretakers had the bandwidth to take on fostering the babies, so they landed in my lap.  

Yes. They're adorable and fluffy and cute. But they were in very serious condition when they got to me. They'd been without food and warmth for long enough, they'd started to shut down. It took concerted effort to bring three of the four back from the brink of death. The fourth kitten couldn't recover.


 We looked for another foster solution for these babies. I have two elderly females who I'd promised would get to have peaceful, kittenless retirements. One of those females is chronically ill. So I was doubly motivated to find another placement for the kittens. It was the Humane Society of Tampa Bay who sat me down and explained that in a complete reversal of what I'm accustomed to, it is the peak of kitten season in Florida. No one was going to take these kittens from me because all the inns are full to bursting. The only option I had was to take them to the Pinellas County shelter which cannot turn an animal away - the only problem is that they euthanize bottle babies seconds after they come through the door because that shelter simply doesn't have the man power to care for tiny kittens. That was a nope.  

And this is my plea. Consider fostering an animal for your local Humane Society or local shelter. It needn't be kittens. Any animal you foster still belongs to the shelter and the shelter handles all veterinary care. You provide food, love, walks and possibly a little training. What you don't see is that by taking that animal out of a shelter cage, the animal is automatically more adoptable (and not just by you if you foster fail.) You, as the foster care-giver, will provide SO much more information to potential adopters. The adopters know the animal knows how to behave in a home environment. You'll be able to answer temperament questions and relay funny or endearing stories about the foster critter that will draw adopters in. You'll also be clearing space for another animal in desperate need. By fostering one, you save two. At least. You don't need much. 

Here's my set up for the babies. A plastic bin with old towels, a pet heating pad (only covers one half of the bin, only turns on with an animal is on it, and only heats to 102.) More towels a stuffed animal as a cuddle buddy, and a cover to keep the AC from blowing on them. In a week, I'll need another solution, cause they're already starting to attempt jail breaks. But for now, these babies are easily portable. The first two days, they went with me wherever I went so I could feed them any 
time they squeaked. They're stable now and can be left for three of four hours at a time. 

Makes for some tough nights getting up to feed every three hours. But it's worth it. 


We're joking now that we're growing our own Halloween Decorations. And yes. I did name them Crow, Raven, and Corvid. You need only hear them to comprehend why. 

My elderly girls are deeply unimpressed and, in fact, we just had the vet in for Hatshepsut because she stopped eating. But no guilt trips, right? We have meds and I think we might be on our way to getting on track, my poor girl. I'd spare her this stress if I could, but no one else will take these kittens. And no way will they be turned over to a pound just to be killed for being little.

I guess the thing that stays with me is something the vet said after the first kitten died. 

He nodded while I cried and said, "You're doing what's right. Not what's easy." 

I hope that's true for these three little squeak-monsters (who are currently teething and VERY angry about that development.) It also strikes me as a really thought provoking way to approach writing. Do what's right. Not what's easy. I like it.

Anyone want a kitten? How about three??


Thursday, September 20, 2018

THE WAY OF THE SHIELD Is Coming

We're now less than two weeks away from the release of THE WAY OF THE SHIELD, the first book of The Maradaine Elite.  I'm excited to be introducing these characters and this new facet of the Maradaine saga to readers.
Dayne Heldrin always dreamed of being a member of the Tarian Order. In centuries past, the Elite Orders of Druthal were warriors that stood for order, justice, and the common people. But now, with constables, King's Marshals, and a standing army, there is little need for such organizations, and the Tarian Order is one of the last remnants of this ancient legacy. Nevertheless, Dayne trained his body and mind, learned the arts of defense and fighting, to become a candidate for the Tarian Order.
When a failed rescue puts Dayne at fault for injuring the child of a powerful family, his future with the Tarians is in jeopardy. The Parliament controls the purse strings for the Order, and Dayne has angered the wrong members of Parliament. He returns to the capital city of Maradaine in shame, ready to be cast out of the Order when the period of his candidacy ends.
Dayne finds Maradaine in turmoil, as revolutions and dark conspiracies brew around him, threatening members of Parliament and common people alike. Dayne is drawn into the uproar, desperate not to have one more death or injury on his conscience, but the Order wants him to stay out of the situation. The city threatens to tear itself apart, and Dayne must decide between his own future and his vow to always stand between the helpless and harm.
Of course, launching a new series means there will be more books, and as this book is coming out, I'm finalizing the draft of the next one, THE SHIELD OF THE PEOPLE.  What's that going to be about?  Here's my first pass at a blurb, though it will probably need some refinement:
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. As Druthal is electing their new Parliament, a dissident group called The Open Hand seeks to disrupt elections and spread their message of dissolving Druthal into independent kingdoms. Leading the Open Hand is a mysterious and charismatic man, Bishop Ret Issendel.
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, and their future in the Order is hazy. Drawn into the intrigue of the Open Hand and kept apart by dark powerful conspiracies that brew around them, Dayne and Jerinne must both fight for their own principles, and protect the will of the people as the election is thrown into chaos.
I've really been loving playing with these characters in this series. Less than two weeks, so pre-order THE WAY OF THE SHIELD now!
Goodreads Page for THE WAY OF THE SHIELDAvailable at AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieBound and more!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Blurbs, back cover copy, and pitches

So, um, I don't have anything coming out anytime soon.

Which doesn't mean I'm not writing, just that I'm not selling anything. Worse yet, I can't really share any of the pitches or proposals that are in the works because there is an outside chance that a decision-maker somewhere will like one of them and whee I will have a project (maybe even a contract) again.

So instead of sharing all this top-secret silliness, I'll pass along advice I've received about preparing hooks, pitches, blurbs, and back cover copy. Cuz guess what? All those marketing-copy bits are very similar.

1. Focus on the conflict. Distill it as succinctly as possible. Sherry Thomas "pitched" Twilight to my writing group once as something along the lines of "She loves him even though he could kill her. He loves her back, except he also thinks she's tasty." The thing that sells that story isn't the wish fulfillment or the sparkles. It's the "how are they ever gonna figure that one out?" question. Whether the author answers the initial question in a compelling way is fodder for another conversation. At pitch/blurb/back-cover-copy stage, you just need to raise the question.

2. However, don't use rhetorical questions. "Will they overcome their many and various compelling hurdles and find true love (or save the galaxy, or what-have-you)?" Well, yeah. Most likely they will. Asking me a question I already know the answer to isn't gonna make me buy a book.

3. If you're writing spec fic, put the deep world building front and center. This is tricky because you don't want to dump a bunch of author notes and back story in a pitch/blurb/back-cover-copy. But also, you don't want a reader to figure they're looking at just another epic fantasy or vampire romance or cozy mystery with cats and robots. Highlight the worldbuilding piece that makes your world unique.

4. Keep it brief.

5. If you're writing a romance, give the goal and conflict for each central-romance character, as well as the major conflict that's keeping them apart. (See tip 1.)

6. Match the tone/voice of the book. So, if you're writing a sarky, irreverent book, the marketing copy should match. If you're writing a thriller, sell it with that same choppy, chilling, rat-tat language. If you're writing an epic fantasy, the world is changed. You feel it in the water. You feel it in the earth. And so on.

Guess, before I head out, I should put a giant asterisk on this list of tips: I have never successfully done this kind of writing. My queries all received form responses. I would never have sold if my agent weren't a genius for this sort of thing. However! I have collected the above wisdom from a number of more accomplished writers, and I trust them.

Crossing fingers some of this sage advice will work for me. And for you.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Cover Copy: The Hanged Spy

Yay for Blurb Week! I love seeing the books Coming Soon to a shelf near me. Continuing the promo trend, here's the latest in the adventures of Bix, the Immortal Spy. THE HANGED SPY is slated to release during the winter holiday season.

THE HANGED SPY
The Immortal Spy: Book 4

The Hanged Spy upright encourages a new perspective.

For Bix and her team, stealing the build specs for a prototype Mid Worlds defense system is a high-risk mission they can’t refuse. The pantheons have dispatched their elite wet works unit to smite every researcher and facility associated with the project. Unfortunately, the gods have a head start, and Bix’s only clue to salvaging the data is a personalized Tarot card of the Hanged Man.

Illustrated by arcane magic, the card depicts an old Sage who’d trained her in the spy game. A Sage who’d repeatedly tried to kill her. A Sage who’d died in the throes of an op. Purportedly.

As deceptions multiply, the superpowers sworn to protect the Mids hamstring each other in the name of politics while a merciless foreign army invades yet another World. The pressure mounts for Bix to deliver the specs with all haste, but higher powers and hidden truths sideline her team and send her spiraling out of control. When one bad decision shatters the life she most treasures, no god, angel, dragon, or Fate is safe from Bix’s wrath.

The Hanged Spy reversed demands a sacrifice.


It's not quite ready for pre-order, but if you sign up for my newsletter at kakrantz.com, you'll be notified when it's available to purchase.

Monday, September 17, 2018

A blurb, you say....

Jeffe said, "This week at the SFF Seven we're sharing a blurb from our current work in progress or a blurb from an upcoming release. Serendipitously enough, for me they're one and the same at the moment."


Well, here are a few from my series TIDES OF WAR. The last book in the series THE GATES OF THE DEAD is coming out in January.

Here's the cover. Oh, heck, here are all three covers for the series because they are AMAZING and I love Alejandro Colucci's work 












And here are a few blurbs:

“Gripping, horrific, and unique, James Moore continues to be a winner, whatever genre he’s writing in. Well worth your time.”
– Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author of the InCryptid and Toby Daye series

“James A Moore is the new prince of grimdark fantasy. His work is full of dark philosophy and savage violence, desperate warriors and capricious gods. This is fantasy for people who like to wander nighttime forests and scream at the moon. Exhilarating as hell.”
– Christopher Golden, New York times bestselling author of Snowblind

“With The Last Sacrifice, James A. Moore has triumphed yet again, delivering a modern sword and sorcery tale to delight old and new fans of the genre.  With its intriguing premise, stellar cast of characters, and flavorful horror elements, this is damn good stuff.”
– Bookwraiths
“I love it. This is a story that turns the genre story arc on its head, mixes up the motives of heroes and villains, and muddies the waters of divine intervention. A fantastic, surprising start to a major new series.”
– Beauty in Ruins
The Last Sacrifice is a solid start to the sordid grim-dark tale documenting the end of a bleak violent world.”
– Smorgasbord Fantasia
“I found The Last Sacrifice to be highly engaging, magical with a distinct grimdark feel and the world herein is richly imagined and cleverly wrought and brought to life. I can’t wait to read the sequel and I am now also eager to check out the other works by this author. I highly recommend this book to all lovers of fantasy.”
– Cover 2 Cover
“Moore has laid the groundwork for a trilogy that promises to be loaded with terrifically grim fantasy storytelling. I might even call it epic. There is a lot of swift, merciless violence in this book, mingled with an undercurrent of very welcome, if very dark, humor. All of it together takes me back to what made me giddy about epic fantasy way back when. I’d say I’m happy to be back, but I’m not sure that’s quite the right word for a book packed with this much violent incident. Let’s say instead that I’m bloody satisfied.”
– Rich Rosell for the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog
“James A Moore throws in elements of horror, dark fantasy, low magic and some amazing world-building into this boiling mix that somehow seems to work. Spinning off the staid old genre story-lines into a new direction with this epic take on God versus Man, The Last Sacrifice is a solid start to the sordid grim-dark tale documenting the end of a bleak violent world.”
– Fantasy Smorgasbord
The Last Sacrifice is dark and violent with no punches pulled. The worldbuilding is epic in scope but focuses on a select few individuals to flesh out the story.” 4.5/5 stars
– San Franciso Book Review

Language Notes

Since time began, the Grakhul, immortal servants of the gods who choose who lives and who dies when it comes time to make sacrifices to their deities, have been seeking to keep the world in balance and the gods appeased. When they take the family of Brogan McTyre to offer as sacrifice, everything changes. Brogan heads off on a quest to save his family from the Grakhul. The decision this time is costlier than they expected, leading to Brogan and his kin being hunted as criminals and the gods seeking to punish those who've defied them.This product is manufactured on demand using CD-R recordable media. Amazon.com's standard return policy will apply.

About the Author

“Gripping, horrific, and unique, James Moore continues to be a winner, whatever genre he’s writing in. Well worth your time.”
– Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author of the InCryptid and Toby Daye series

“James A Moore is the new prince of grimdark fantasy. His work is full of dark philosophy and savage violence, desperate warriors and capricious gods. This is fantasy for people who like to wander nighttime forests and scream at the moon. Exhilarating as hell.”
– Christopher Golden, New York times bestselling author of Snowblind

“With The Last Sacrifice, James A. Moore has triumphed yet again, delivering a modern sword and sorcery tale to delight old and new fans of the genre.  With its intriguing premise, stellar cast of characters, and flavorful horror elements, this is damn good stuff.”
– Bookwraiths
“This was a very good read.”
– Purple Owl Reviews
“Epic fantasy at its best.”
– Amanda J Spedding
“Grimdark as fuck!  So in a word “’GREAT’”.
– The Blogin’ Hobgoblin
“I liked The Last Sacrifice a great deal.  I’ve always enjoyed Moore’s work and don’t see that changing anytime soon.  He just keeps getting better.  Check this one out and see.”
– Adventures Fantastic
“What’s Moore to say? People fighting Gods? Bring it! This is a great addition to James A. Moore’s line up.”
– The Book Plank
“I love it. This is a story that turns the genre story arc on its head, mixes up the motives of heroes and villains, and muddies the waters of divine intervention. A fantastic, surprising start to a major new series.”
– Beauty in Ruins
The Last Sacrifice is a solid start to the sordid grim-dark tale documenting the end of a bleak violent world.”
– Smorgasbord Fantasia
“I found The Last Sacrifice to be highly engaging, magical with a distinct grimdark feel and the world herein is richly imagined and cleverly wrought and brought to life. I can’t wait to read the sequel and I am now also eager to check out the other works by this author. I highly recommend this book to all lovers of fantasy.”
– Cover 2 Cover
“I’d recommend this and I’ll be keeping an eye out for the next one. More evil Grakhul/He-Kisshi action please Mr Moore!”
– Ribaldry’s Books
“I was just turning pages as fast as my eyes could devour the words.”
– On A Dark Stormy Review
“Moore has laid the groundwork for a trilogy that promises to be loaded with terrifically grim fantasy storytelling. I might even call it epic. There is a lot of swift, merciless violence in this book, mingled with an undercurrent of very welcome, if very dark, humor. All of it together takes me back to what made me giddy about epic fantasy way back when. I’d say I’m happy to be back, but I’m not sure that’s quite the right word for a book packed with this much violent incident. Let’s say instead that I’m bloody satisfied.”
– Rich Rosell for the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog
“Fast-paced fantasy that you simply can’t put down. Great action adventure.”
– Morpheus Tales
The Last Sacrifice is an enthralling fast-paced book with ass-kicking characters who could only grow stronger as the series progresses.”
– Zirev
“James A Moore throws in elements of horror, dark fantasy, low magic and some amazing world-building into this boiling mix that somehow seems to work. Spinning off the staid old genre story-lines into a new direction with this epic take on God versus Man, The Last Sacrifice is a solid start to the sordid grim-dark tale documenting the end of a bleak violent world.”
– Fantasy Smorgasbord
The Last Sacrifice will tickle the fancy of any fans of grimdark fantasy, with its large cast of characters and earth-shattering consequences.”
– The Warbler Books

“Fantasy lovers will enjoy this book, and while an emphasis on gritty storytelling and horror elements elevates this from more standard magical creatures or hocus-pocus, it is still an absolute page-turner.”
– LeftLion
The Last Sacrifice is dark and violent with no punches pulled. The worldbuilding is epic in scope but focuses on a select few individuals to flesh out the story.” 4.5/5 stars
– San Franciso Book Review