Hey everyone! With May on its way out, I figured it was a time for a recap of the month–trips, dinners, concerts, and more–along with the ever-important updates on my next few books and audiobooks. So, let’s get started!
The Sisters of Mercy
After a relatively quiet1 first half of the month, things kicked into high gear with a The Sisters of Mercy concert here in Las Vegas. My angel-wife2 is a huge Sisters fan and had never gotten to see them live, so when we learned they were coming for their first US tour in 15 years AND would be in Vegas, we had to see them. And we did!
Unfortunately, the sound was way off at the venue (the Brooklyn Bowl), and the lead singer’s voice, which is already a very low, kind of gravelly growl, was largely inaudible. Which is, as you might imagine, a bit of a problem in a live concert. The band was great otherwise, the energy was good, the music was strong, but yeah… we left the concert feeling disheartened. This was a bucket list item for my wife and to have it turn out the way it did was deeply unfortunate.
Thankfully, we were able to make everything right a mere six days later via an impromptu and unplanned trip to Seattle (see below).
The morning after the concert, we drove down to San Diego for a work trip and to see old friends. A little known fact about San Diego3 is that May Gray is not just a saying. It was cold and overcast for most of the time we were there, but thankfully, the city is beautiful in any weather.
We revisited a local vineyard (inland, where it was sunny), ate some great food, had drinks at the Tipsy Crow from the John books, and most importantly of all, spent time catching up with people we hadn’t seen in a year or more. It’s been five years now since we left San Diego, and the city doesn’t quite feel like home anymore to me, but we love visiting!
We drove back up to Las Vegas, took one day to recover here, and then flew on to Seattle. You see, in the wee hours of the night after the concert in Vegas, I’d bought tickets to a second The Sisters of Mercy show, this one up in the Emerald City, and we were not going to miss it for the world.
While in Seattle, we tried a tasting menu at Lark (very good), wandered about Pike Place Market (very crowded), and played a guessing game trying to determine who else might be in town for the concert (answer: pretty much anyone wearing black). Then, it was time for the concert: The Sisters of Mercy, round two. This time, everything went flawlessly. The sound was perfect, the lighting was great, the band was on fire, the crowd was super into it, the energy was off the charts… it was honestly everything my angel-wife had been hoping for the first time, and totally worth the trip.
And now, I can say I’ve been to Seattle, even if it was a whirlwind trip for a concert that we hadn’t planned for even a week earlier!
Anniversaries and China/Japan/Korea, by way of Las Vegas
To cap off a busy second half of the month, we came back to Vegas just in time for our 26th Anniversary. People are always shocked my angel-wife has been married 26 years on account of her looking so young. They are far less surprised I’ve been married for 26 years, for… reasons… I guess? We’d originally planned to go to Mizumi, here in Vegas, for our anniversary dinner, but found out it would be closed for the next few months for renovation.
Thankfully, the head chef of Mizumi, Min Kim, decided to open a popup restaurant at the Wynn in the interim. We made reservations for opening night, and it was fabulous. A lot more casual than Mizumi, but lively and fun, with incredible food (some items from the Mizumi menu, some that I think were new). The whole experience was incredible, and just another reminder of how fortunate we are to live in Las Vegas!
So, does all of this mean I retired (again) to become a foodie concert reviewer?
Not yet, but I kind of get why you’re asking.
Amazingly, I did get some writing done in the middle of all of our travels and parties, and A Dead Man’s Favor is coming along nicely, with John and the rest of the cast proving to be as fun to write as ever. Due to increasingly creative threats from a few of my readers, I even made sure that Bill and Jee Sun would get some page time. In fact, John is about to embark on a night-time boating expedition with the demigod and his ageless ward. Given the people involved and John’s chronic sea sickness, it will no doubt be a disaster.
There’s still a lot to write on the book, but it’s going well, and I am on track to deliver it to beta readers for feedback and edits prior to its September release date. Pre-orders are steadily ticking up, and while we’re a long, long, long way from One Tin Soldier’s numbers, I think there’s a good chance we’ll pass The Italian Screwjob’s numbers before release.
My push to complete Speaker of Tongues by May fared about as well as one of John’s plans, which is to say, not at all. I ended up rewriting the first ~7 chapters instead4 and while the book is in much better shape as a result, it’s also no closer to being finished. So, I’ve opted to continue working on that one over the weekends while I spend my weekdays on ADMF. I’ve never written two books concurrently before, but so far, I don’t hate it! I’m really enjoying the LitRPG aspects, and I think the extra time/thought is doing the story and world a lot of good.
As soon as ADMF goes out to beta readers, I’ll switch back to working on SoT full time. I’ve mostly abandoned my ideas about releasing it on Vella first 5, and am torn between releasing it as soon as it’s done or waiting to release it until the sequels are written too. Rapid release is often the name of the game in the genre, but I do like building up a reader base first. More on that in the latter half of the year!
And then there’s The Shadows We Cast, book one in the new post-Break series, which will ideally (but not definitively) be released sometime around the end of the year. And yes, I think that’s the first time I’ve officially shared the title. At some point, I might even share the cover!
“But Chris,” I can hear you ask, “didn’t you also promise a sequel to The Queen of Smiles?”
To which I reply: “Slow your roll, imaginary reader! But also… yes.”
The sequel to The Queen of Smiles will tentatively be titled The Queen of the Road, but as I said in my last post, it’s looking like a 2024 sort of thing. I’ve written much of the ending already (in my head, at least), and I think the adventures of Her Majesty and Two-Feathers as they journey down south to see a certain someone should be great. There were a number of events and plot threads I ended up cutting from QoS that are now just waiting to be leveraged in the sequel. And that book will set up the last in the trilogy, The Queen of Everything, in which Her Majesty’s new role as a literal queen will be put to the test. I’m as excited to find out what happens as you are!
And speaking of The Queen of Smiles, the audiobook recording continues! My sainted narrator, Joe, just dropped the next two hours of recordings, and I’ll be reviewing them this weekend and next week, so I can give whatever feedback he needs6. As ever, I’ll let you know once the audiobook has been submitted to ACX for approval!
Last but not least, I’ve mentioned plans to make my paperbacks available outside of Amazon7, and those plans continue. I’ll need to resize some of my covers–paper quality differs between on demand printers, which means paper thickness differs, which means spine width also differs–but I’m looking into getting that done this summer. It should make it easier for those of you who want to see my books in local libraries, as well as in other stores8.
What I’ve Been Reading:
Full disclosure: Scott Burtness, aka ScottyB, aka that dude rocking out SO HARD on karaoke, is a friend. He’s insanely nice and effortlessly (and quite possibly unintentionally) one of the coolest people in any room he finds himself walking into.
He’s also a hell of an author, which is why I’m featuring a book of his as this month’s recommendation. You may have read his Monsters in the Midwest series9, but I’m here to talk about An Oracle Walks into a Bar, the first book in The Misadventures of a Paranormal Post-Relationship Personal Effects Repossession Specialist. And yeah, I’m deeply, deeply jealous that none of my books have titles longer than six words. One day, Tullbane. One day!
Scott writes some really strong prose–nuanced and layered while still being super readable–and this is a fun, fascinating series starter set squarely in the urban fantasy genre but bringing a lot of new and interesting ideas to the mix. But you don’t have to take my word for it… just check out the blurb:
When a horoscope-writing oracle hires shapeshifter August Shade to repo her magic eyeball, he knows the job is going to suck. One, he hates horoscopes. Two, he hates people that read horoscopes. Three, she hasn’t even lost her eyeball… yet.
August Shade has found his niche. The cynical shapeshifter knows all too well that most relationships don’t last. He also knows that after a messy breakup, most people–human or otherwise–just want two things: their stuff, and to never see their ex again. For a reasonable fee, August can help. He’s a post-relationship personal effects repossession specialist. Satisfaction not guaranteed, but at least you’ll have your favorite whatever back.
Vilde Tank has found her destiny. Guided by her horoscopes, the huldra hires August to reclaim an unusual book. It reveals the secret of the Zodiac’s thirteenth sign, bestows its reader with the power to write their own future, and is currently in the possession of her vampire ex-lover.
Clarissa Steyer has found her calling. The oracle writes horoscopes for the local paper. Her celestial predictions help keep the world spinning. Now August is in all of her visions and the world might be coming to an end. She knows that the shapeshifter can change into a lot of things, but can he change the future?
Plagued by the oracle’s horoscopes, haunted by a dark past, and grappling with his penchant for making bad decisions, the only sure thing about August’s future is that it looks short.
I really enjoyed this one, and I hope you will too. Even better? There’s a sequel: A Scarecrow Wins an Award. And even better than that? The third and final book in the trilogy, A Siren Sings Her Heart Out, is releasing this June. Three books. One shapeshifting Repo man. Humor, romance, despair, and more supernatural critters than you can shake a half-full beer stein at. What are you waiting for?
And that’s it for now! Until next time, stay safe, have fun, and keep reading!
If you’ve read this far, you’ve got gumption, kid. In fact, you’re just the kind of person that would make an awesome subscriber to my newsletter. Come join the fun!
And by fun, I mean “be alerted when new books are available.” If this site’s blog posts are my monthly, in-depth, fact-heavy shareholders’ reports, the newsletters are my far-less-frequent, carefully crafted pseudo-tweets, skipping all the nitty gritty to tell you what you actually want to know: what’s new and how you can get it.
I promise I will never spam you… because spamming takes effort, and I am way, way too busy for that.
- If productive!
- Blessed be her name!
- Which I think I called out in one of the John books
- Changing the starting point, ditching the prologue, and tightening up a lot of the mechanics.
- I’m not sure the ROI is there, honestly.
- Not much, honestly… dude’s a total pro.
- For those of you who’d prefer to shop elsewhere!
- Although in the latter case, it would still mostly be online stores; it’s rare for even individual brick & mortar shops to allocate shelf space for indie authors without the author sweet-talking them into doing so.
- First book: Wisconsin Vamp!