June 28

Next update POSTPONED UNTIL JULY 23

Chaos Born contest winner, appearance updates and The Scorched Earth preview!

A lot of good things have happened since my last update. The San Antonio Spurs are now NBA Champions again, and I was lucky enough to be there for game 5 of the Finals to watch it all in person! I’m going to get a bit nostalgic here, so feel free to skip the next paragraph if sports aren’t your thing. I’ve been a Spurs fan for 25 years, but living up in Canada I had to enjoy all their past championships on TV. When I moved down to Texas five years ago, it looked like I’d missed the window to see Tim Duncan (my all time favorite player) win it all. I was grateful for all the success the Spurs had over the years, and appreciative of all the enjoyment they’d given me as a fan. But I couldn’t help but rue the fact I’d finally moved close enough to see my favorite team in person AFTER their glory years were gone. But in drafting Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs were reenergized. Last year, I watched them beat Miami in game 5 live, but suffered through the agonizing game 6 and 7 losses on TV. It was a brutal, crushing defeat for fans and, of course, the team. But the Spurs, in an incredible tale of redemption and resilience, shook off the loss to become champions again, giving me a sports-fan memory I will treasure for the rest of my life. Thank you, Spurs! (Now, any chance you can go for the first ever franchise repeat titles? Go, Spurs, go!)

Okay, thanks for indulging me in that. Now I guess it’s time to talk about some writing related stuff. (I won’t even mention that my golf game is the best it’s ever been!) So let’s start by congratulating Ricardo, aka @THEUNDERWALLY on Twitter, for winning my Chaos Born Contest! Simply by Tweeting a picture of him holding a copy of Children of Fire, Ricardo has now won a signed, advance copy of The Scorched Earth! Way to go, Ricardo, and a big THANK YOU to everyone who entered!

Speaking of The Scorched Earth, we are less than two months away from the official US release. Click on the link for a copy of the US cover art; hopefully we’ll have the UK cover art soon. The two versions have very different styles; as an author it’s pretty cool to see how artists interpret my characters! (FYI – the German-language version of Children of Fire is coming out in July, and it has its own unique cover art, too!)

I’ve already posted quite a bit on all the steps needed to get a book ready for publication, but one thing I didn’t go into detail on was the audiobook recording process. All the Chaos Born audiobooks are being recorded by Brilliance, and narrated by Phil Gigante. The Scorched Earth is scheduled for a simultaneous release in all formats, so Phil and the audio crew are heading to the studio now to get it all down. My role as the author is to provide proper pronunciations for all the unfamiliar names, terms and made-up languages that inevitably populate fantasy fiction. I try to keep my names relatively simple and straight forward, but even so there are all sorts of things that can trip a narrator up.

For example, one of the new major characters I introduce in The Scorched Earth is Shalana, a warrior and Clan Chief from the Frozen East. So… how would you say “Shalana”? Does it have 3 consecutive short “a” sounds, making it rhyme with “banana”? Maybe the first two “a”s are long, and the last short? Nope, sorry. The first and last “a”s are schwa sounds, and the middle one is a long vowel – “Shuh-LAY-nuh”. Did I do that just to be confusing? No, not really. For me, that’s just how I say the name. I made it up because it “felt right” (that’s how most of my original names are created), and in my brain that was how it was pronounced. To make sure Shalana and the other names all come out right, Brilliance sends me a list of terms they are uncertain about, and I do my best to give them examples of how to say it the way I want. For the Scorched Earth, the pronunciation guide had 22 entries. That’s in addition to the 30+ entries for Children of Fire, many of which still appear. (Yes, I kill off more than my share of characters, but there’s always a few that survive from book to book.) Fortunately, Phil and the crew over at Brilliance are true professionals, and they’ve done a great job with my books.

I also have some exciting news for fans in the Austin area: I will be appearing at the Arboretum Barnes & Noble at 7pm on August 19 for a discussion and signing event to promote The Scorched Earth. Come on by if you’re around; I’ll be happy to chat, and I’ll gladly sign anything I’ve ever worked on: Star Wars, Mass Effect, BioWare games and of course Children of Fire and The Scorched Earth!

I’ve got a few other bits of news I want to share, but so far most of it isn’t official. Still hoping to get a map in The Scorched Earth, but it’s not 100% for sure. Hoping to make an appearance somewhere in Austin for Star Wars Reads Day this October, but my schedule is still up in the air. I’m going to be up in Canada visiting family and friends during San Diego Comic Con this year, and unfortunately I’m not going to make it to London for WorldCon either. However, there’s an excellent chance I will be in mainland Europe in early November for a special event. I can’t say anymore about it yet, though… you’ll just have to wait.

Finally, I did a podcast last week with Star Wars Bookworms; it should be going up online sometime next week. I’ll be sure to mention it on my Twitter feed when it does.

Okay, that’s about it. Now I’m off to Seattle to spend July 4th with friends (and escape the Texas heat). Next update, a sneak peek at The Scorched Earth, and hopefully we’ll have confirmations on some of those rumors and in-the-works things I mentioned earlier.

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