Category Archives: Fantasy

Cold Hard Steele is here!

In case you hadn’t guessed based on all the changes to the rest of the site, Daggers & Steele two, Cold Hard Steele, is now available for purchase. Featuring frost mages, enchanted weaponry, a jaded mystery writer, and more, it’s a rollicking, snark-filled ride from the first jab all the way to the big reveal. Check out the bottom of the post for purchase links to the various vendors. Thanks everyone for your support! Hope you enjoy the newest book.

Cold Hard Steele

Ebook: Amazon | Apple | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Print: Amazon | Createspace

The World of Daggers & Steele

So Daggers & Steele 1, Red Hot Steele, continues to do great (more on that in an upcoming Three Month Author Introspective post). Success of course comes from sales, and with those sales, I’ve gotten a number of reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads. (Thanks for those, by the way!) I’ve even gotten some fan correspondence through Facebook and Twitter, which is awesome! Keep it coming, friends!

Of course, I’m also seeing that there are a few recurring questions regarding the world-building elements for Daggers & Steele. I’m not sure how many of my fans read my blog, but I figured I’d try to answer the three questions I’m seeing the most of.

1) So, um…what’s up with the world?

I’m seeing this a lot. Some fans are confused about whether Daggers & Steele takes place in a 1940’s-ish noir setting or a traditional medieval one. I think it’s somewhere in the middle. I picture New Welwic, the city in which the stories take place, to be the equivalent of an early to mid 1800’s New York, but that’s not a perfect comparison.

The world of Daggers & Steele is just at the cusp of the industrial revolution. There’s water power, and as I mention in Red Hot Steele, coal has recently been discovered, but the implications of being able to burn coal for energy haven’t been discovered yet. Things like steam power and electricity are just being discovered and haven’t been implemented yet (although you’ll see some of these new discoveries appear in book three of the series, so keep your eyes peeled).

Because of the presence of magic, some scientific and technological fields are less advanced than they were in our society at similar periods in history. Physics and chemistry aren’t quite as advanced as they were in our world in the mid 1800’s, but other things, like medicine, perhaps are a little more advanced. And some technologies haven’t been invented at all, which brings me to the next question…

2) Why aren’t there any guns in the world?

Honestly? Because I liked the idea of a world without them. That’s the honest truth. Yes, I know guns were invented in our world long before the mid 1800’s, which is my self-imposed historical analog. But this is a made up fantasy world, and I get to make the rules.

Now, I know there’s some technological advancements in the first Daggers & Steele novel, stuff related to gunpowder (no spoilers, here…) that would make you think that guns would have been invented, but as I said, technology has progressed differently in this world than in ours. I mean, honestly, the idea of using a controlled explosion to create a burst of pressure that’s used to propel a missile down a rifled tube at high velocity isn’t exactly trivial, no matter how much we take that for granted nowadays. And finally…

3) Wait…in our world, Technology X existed way before Technology Y, and in your world, Y exists but X doesn’t! Explain that.

I kind of already discussed this above, but yes, there are anachronisms in my work—if you think of it as trying to be historically accurate. But it’s not. I mean, there’s elves and trolls and magic. Daggers & Steele isn’t trying to be perfectly accurate to our world, because it doesn’t take place in our world.

I should note, however, that I’m not the biggest fan of world-building in general. I much prefer character- and plot-driven stories, so that’s what you tend to get with my books. If you find a blatant error related to world-building in any of my books, though, please share it with me over on my contact page. I love to hear from my fans, including when I get things wrong.

Hopefully, the answers I’ve posted here will help solve some of the questions you guys are having about Daggers & Steele. Book two, Cold Hard Steele, will be out very soon, so keep your eyes peeled.

Red Hot Steele Hits #1

I joked about it a few days ago, but I didn’t think it would happen. Not this fast. But it did.

Red Hot Steele hit #1 on Amazon’s Psychic Mysteries list.

I'm #1! I'm #1! The day this was posted anyway.
I’m #1! I’m #1! The day this was posted anyway.

This is exciting on so many levels, but I find it really amazing that the book is doing so well given that I’ve done zero publicity and marketing for it. Seriously. None. I told my friends on Facebook and Twitter about it, posted about it here on my blog, and told my real life, flesh-and-blood friends and family about it, and that’s it. No promotional sales on Bookbub, ENT, or the like. No ads on sites. No blog tours. No local or national media exposure (though that would be great—call me journalists!). Red Hot Steele has thrived off organic growth and landed at the top spot in one of its two main categories in less than two months.

Now, I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty of sales numbers or strategies—I’m saving those for my three month published author introspective in January—but I can offer a little insight into why I think Red Hot Steele has done so well.

1) I wrote a great book, one that’s exciting and funny and engrossing right off the bat. No modesty here. I did. And as much as people want to overlook this part of being a bestselling author, it’s the most important and the hardest part.

2) I got a great, and I mean fantastic, piece of cover art. It’s unique and eye catching, but it still fits the genre and theme of the book. Thanks Damon Za!

3) I wrote a really snazzy blurb. It makes you want to read the book—like, right now. This makes a difference. If your blurb is boring, chances are the book is boring, too.

And that’s it. Seriously. I didn’t necessarily believe it before I started, but if you write a great book with a great cover and a great blurb, people will find it and buy it. It might take a few days or a few years, but it will happen.

I can also offer another piece of advice to keep the party going. Write a great sequel—which I did. Cold Hard Steele will be available in January. Stay tuned.

Red Hot Steele Release Party Festivities

So as all of you who follow my blog know, my first two novels, Red Hot Steele and The Genesis Allegory, were released in the middle of last month. When some of my friends and neighbors learned that the date had finally arrived, of course they encouraged me to have a release party, and I was more than happy to oblige. Unfortunately, various factors conspired to make it so that we couldn’t have my release party until almost a month after the actual release of my books, but have it we did.

Now, I won’t bore you with the details: we ate, we drank, I sold some books. Fun was had by all. But I thought I’d do something a little different for both the party and this blog.

The fun thing for the party was that, in addition to snacks and a make your own pizza bar, we decided to do themed drinks based on the characters in Red Hot Steele: homicide detective Jake Daggers and his sexy, half-elf partner Shay Steele. Daggers is a surly, grizzled detective, so of course he likes whiskey sours, but he also has a thing about apricots, so we worked that into the drink as well. Steele, being an elf, is a bit more flowery and effeminate, so we concocted a drink for her out of pear and elderflower, but just like her, it’s got a bit of a kick, too.

The different thing for the blog is that I decided to turn my normally writing, science-fiction, fantasy, and heavy metal-based blog into a food blog (at least for a day). I thought it might be nice to branch out with my blog posts, and at the same time give my wife an opportunity to stretch her photography skills.

So, without further ado, gaze your peepers upon some of our delectable creations, and, in case you’re interested in the drinks, we’ve got the recipes available next to each. Full-sized photos are available upon clicking.

Fried chicken in a biscuit. My wife made 115 for a party with about 30 people, and almost all were gone by the end.
Fried chicken in a biscuit. My wife made 115 for a party with about 30 people, and almost all were gone by the end.
Mini spice cakes, with cardamom and powdered sugar. We thought this would be more interesting than brownies or cookies.
Mini spice cakes, with cardamom and powdered sugar. We thought this would be more interesting than brownies or cookies.
The Shay Steele Collins—flowery, effeminate, but delectable and with a decent kick.
The Shay Steele Collins—flowery, effeminate, but delectable and with a decent bite.

 

 

 

Recipe for the Shay Steele Pear Collins:

1.5 oz Gin

1 oz Pear Simple Syrup

0.5 oz Elderflower Liquor

0.5 oz Lemon Juice

Pear Simple Syrup: Peel and chop 4 pears. Combine with 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar.  Boil until sugar is dissolved and pears are soft.  Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.  Strain and discard solids.

 

 

 

 

The Jake Daggers Sour—it's got quite a kick, more from the lemon than the whiskey, though it is strong.
The Jake Daggers Sour—it’s got quite a kick, more from the lemon than the whiskey, though it is strong.

 

 

Recipe for the Jake Daggers Whiskey Sour:

2 oz Whiskey

2 oz Lemon Juice

2 oz Apricot Simple Syrup

Apricot Simple Syrup: Combine 1 jar apricot preserves and 1/2 cup water.  Boil until preserves are melted.  Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.

Red Hot Steele and The Genesis Allegory in all their real, physical, papery glory.
Red Hot Steele and The Genesis Allegory in all their real, physical, papery glory.

The One Month Published Author Introspective

Today officially marks one month since my books appeared for purchase in the Amazon store (just under for some of the other, slower vendors). One month! That’s both exciting and somewhat nerve-wracking, because it seems like I haven’t made nearly enough progress on my next project in that time, but I digress.

Given that I often hear about the thirty-day cliff (the point after release at which sales tend to drop precipitously for indie authors), I wanted to record both for myself and for other indie authors my journey in my first month of sales and then compare at the three month mark to see how things are going (which should line up almost perfectly with the release of book two in my Daggers & Steele series, Cold Hard Steele). I wanted to do a little bit of a pro and con style analysis, but that terminology doesn’t totally fit with the information I wanted to present.

So, without further ado, here are the indie publishing experiences that have excited me during my first month as a published author (pros) and those experiences that have been disappointing (cons).

Disappointment: The Launch

While my books went live on the various vendors anywhere from Thursday, Oct. 16th to Sunday Oct. 19th, I waited until Monday Oct. 20th to announce my books to the world on social media. Given the number of people who’d been supporting me on my journey, I’d expected to make a big splash and rocket up the new release charts, at least for a day. So imagine my dismay when I sold a grand total of three books on Oct. 20. Yeah… That wasn’t a fun day. However…

Excitement: Consistent Sales

My (somewhat) surprise hit, Red Hot Steele.
My (somewhat) surprise hit, Red Hot Steele.

One of the reasons I was upset was because I’d envisioned I’d sell some books to friends and family and then maybe some sales would trickle in here and there in perpetuity. I didn’t expect to see steady sales on my first two books, by me, a total unknown commodity. And yet, that’s exactly what’s happened. I’ve sold at least one copy of Red Hot Steele on Amazon Kindle every single day since release (which doesn’t account for paperbacks or other sales channels). So that’s nice. But even nicer has been…

Excitement: Growing Sales

Red Hot Steele has been picking up steam and doing better over time. In my first week, even with my launch and me promoting my books to everyone I know, I sold an average of 3.3 books per day on Kindle. In the past week, I’ve averaged 6.1 sales per day. That’s pretty dang cool. As much as I hoped my books would gain momentum over time, I didn’t expect it to start happening so soon, and I didn’t think it would happen until I had more novels for sale (at least 5 or so). I also didn’t expect…

Excitement: International Sales

I’ve sold books internationally, in the UK, Canada, and Europe. Not a ton, mind you, but some. And I know for a fact that all of those (with one possible exception), came from people I’ve never met and who had previously never heard of me. Of course, almost all the sales have been for Red Hot Steele, which leads me to…

Excitement/Disappointment: One-sided Sales

While Red Hot Steele has done great, The Genesis Allegory has languished. I’m not sure if I should be excited or disappointed by that, actually. On one side, it’s always disappointing to see that a book has only sold a few copies, but on the other side, it’s more or less what I expected. The Genesis Allegory doesn’t have the same mass market appeal that Red Hot Steele does. And the exciting thing, I guess, is that I really thought Red Hot Steele would appeal to a wide audience, and now that I see it’s selling well, it gives me confidence that I do have realistic expectations about my own work (ie. I’m not delusional about the quality of my own writing). This has been confirmed to me by…

Excitement: Positive Reviews

I’ve yet to receive a negative review for either book, but the response to Red Hot Steele in particular has been great. Nothing but five star reviews online and everyone who’s talked to me in person has told me they loved it. But…

Disappointment: Limited Reviews

All the reviews I’ve gotten online so far have been from people I know, despite my appeals in my book end matter for reviews. I’d hoped for some random ones by now. I also had hoped for more friends and family to leave me kind reviews after appealing to them on Facebook, etc., but I’m still holding out hope that many haven’t read the books yet and not that they’re too lazy to write me a few sentences. And finally, one last random point…

Excitement: Amazon Lists

Maybe one of the best reasons Red Hot Steele has done so well is that it’s managed to place on two key Amazon lists, Mystery>Supernatural>Witches & Wizards and Mystery>Supernatural>Psychics, for almost the entire time it’s been out. It hasn’t cracked the top twenty (to my knowledge), but it’s gotten oh so close a couple times (it’s #22 on the Witches & Wizards list as I speak). Seeing my novel up there, rubbing shoulders with some of the other heavy hitters in the field is uber, DOOPER exciting.

Why, yes, that is my book, Red Hot Steele, right next to Janet Evanovich’s Wicked Appetite.

So, I guess that’s about it. I don’t know if that’s helpful to anyone else or not, or if it really just turned into a long-winded pat on the back for myself, but I think it’ll be a helpful reminder to myself that success is possible. Maybe it’ll be a reminder for all of you aspiring authors out there, as well, and an impetus for you to keep writing.