Freefalling into Fall – More News from Sloan Acres

Crumbs, it’s been a while since I’ve updated Ye Olde Blogge. And there’s been stuff, man.

First of all, Summer is officially over, and I have zero clue where the Hell it went! I blinked and missed it, basically. Alas. I’ve kept busy this summer with several things including:

  • starting karate classes with the family
  • a merger at my day job, which came with a new office
  • coordinating the homebrew competition at the local county fair
  • lots and lots of writing

One of the highlights of my summer was attending the Mid-Atlantic Fiction Writer’s Institute Conference in Hagerstown, MD.

A wild Sloan appears...

A wild Sloan appears…

What a gem of a conference this was! I sat on two panels and co-hosted a seminar on Paranormal and Urban Fantasy. The keynote speaker was the estimable Tess Gerritsen. The panels were lively and diverse, and the signing event afterwards was the best I’ve ever experienced! I actually sold out all my copies of The Curse Merchant.

Speaking of signing events, I had the pleasure of joining Jen Estes at the Winchester Book Gallery for a book signing in the lovely burg of Winchester, VA.

A wild Estes appears...

A wild Estes appears…

What a lovely book store it was, too! If you’re in the area, I highly recommend taking a few hours to walk the streets of Winchester.

Okay, so, writing news!

Last time I emerged from the salt mines, I announced that my horror/western YEA THOUGH I WALK was signed with Curiosity Quills Press. I wrote that novel in the back-half of 2014. Since that time, I haven’t been idle! I’m happy to report that THE CURSE MANDATE, book 3 of the Dark Choir series, is now complete, and in the hands of beta-readers for a good shaking-down. It’s… well, it’s a big book. Many of my readers have been asking for more world-building in the Dark Choir series, and they will receive that in SPADES! It’s twisty, it’s turny, it’s full of ups and downs and more than one oblique slant directly into the Byzantine world of hermetic turf wars. Add to it some Brad Meltzer-esque conspiracy theory, and you’ll be ready for Curse Mandate.

Having wrapped up that project, I have an opportunity to dust off one of the projects in my bullpen. I’ve chosen to pick up one of my independent projects, an upmarket science fiction novel with the working title HINDSIGHT. Not knowing how the flow into a completely new genre would work, I’m happy to find that I’ve hammered out 6600 words in two days. I think this one’s gonna take, you guys!

That’s enough from me for now. Keep your eyes peeled for further announcements regarding a short story submission of mine, a book festival I’ll have to drive a day-and-a-half to attend, and an online Fantasy Con which requires significantly less travel…

Cover Reveal – FIND ME IF YOU DARE by Vicki Leigh

Quick break from my fabulous self… I wanted to share a cover reveal for one of my book cover cousins, Vicki Leigh. Like me, she benefits from the horror-oeuvre genius of Conzpiracy Digital Arts. She’s also a fantastic person and has great taste in acquiring authors. *cough* Courtney Sloan *cough*

The second book of Vicki Leigh’s Dreamcatcher series is coming out October 23rd (hey, that’s one day before my birthday!), and the aforementioned genius of Conzpiracy Digital Arts has hammered out one skull-smashing cover for it! Are you ready for this? Because I’m not.

Here it is, anyway…

FMIYD Cover LGjpgWant to know more? Here’s the blurb:

They may have won the first battle, but the Apocalypse has just begun.

Five weeks have passed since the battle that left Rome and Columbus in ruins. Sheltered in the hidden city of Caelum, Daniel and Kayla train alongside over one hundred Magus and Protectors, hoping that their unified ranks will be enough to take down their greatest threat yet: Richard, his followers, and his horde of Nightmares. Then a fallen comrade is returned to Caelum with a message carved into his chest and a note referencing the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and Daniel knows their time for training is over.

Finally understanding Richard’s plans for Kayla and the three other Magus born on Halloween, Daniel and the rest of Caelum’s volunteers scout the U.S. in a desperate attempt to stop their enemy before he can unleash his first Horseman. But when massive attacks claim thousands of lives, people all over the world begin to fall ill—including those Daniel and Kayla care about the most.

With the Horseman of Pestilence released, Daniel knows it’s time to step aside and let Kayla take the lead. Only she has the power to rival her father’s. But when Richard’s plot turns out to be darker than they imagined, their fight is met with more death and destruction—and an enemy who might be unbeatable, after all.

Still not enough, you greedy little rapscallions? Well you’re in luck, because Vicki’s holding a giveaway on her Tumblr page. Up for grabs:

  • 20 copies of CATCH ME WHEN I FALL (Book One of the Dreamcatcher Series)
  • a signed copy of CITY LOVE by Susane Colasanti
  • a The Vampire Diaries wall poster of Damon Salvatore
  • a copy of SHADOW STUDY by Maria V. Snyder
  • 5 handmade dream catchers
  • a poster of the SORCERER HEIR series, signed by Cinda Chima
  • 2 posters of the cover of DOON, signed by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon.
  • a poster of the cover of DAMSEL DISTRESSED, signed by Kelsey Macke
  • a poster of Melissa Lander’s ALIENATED cover

So, y’know… go jump all over that!

Big News from the Sloan Salt Mines

Happy summer, everyone! I’m sitting on a deck on a Delaware beach watching the waves and ships lining up to make their way into the Delaware Bay. I spent Father’s Day in the surf on a boogie board and drinking Dogfish Head beers. Not… y’know, not at the same time. That would be irresponsible. It’s too easy to spill beer that way.

I might have taken a tour of Dogfish Head Brewery. So...much...pipe...

I might have taken a tour of Dogfish Head Brewery. So…much…pipe…

I have news for all of you Fistful Faithful… As many of you know, I spent several months at the end of 2014 writing a standalone novel while The Curse Servant approached its publication. Well, turns out the book was a winner, and it was just picked up by Curiosity Quills! You can expect to see Yea Though I Walk next summer from CQ.

Today’s Publisher’s Lunch Daily Deal entry:

JP Sloan’s YEA THOUGH I WALK, in which a Union Army deserter seeks redemption by defending a mining town in the Wyoming Territory caught between a corrupt land baron with undead minions, and an army of ravenous Wendigo on a tear for human flesh, to Alisa Gus at Curiosity Quills Press, for publication in Summer 2016 (world).

So, if vampires vs wendigo vs cowboys sounds like your bag, keep your eyes open next summer!

In other news, the third Dark Choir novel, The Curse Mandate, is underway, roughly 64K words deep into its first draft. I’m definitely waltzing into Brad Meltzer’s dance floor with this book!

Personal appearance notes:

I’ll be sitting on three panels during the Mid-Atlantic Fiction Writer’s Institute’s annual conference in Hagerstown, August 7-9. Check out the info here.

I’ll also be joining Jen Estes at the Winchester Book Gallery on August 1, 11am – 2pm, for a joint book signing. Swing by scenic Winchester, VA for a ripping tour of the Shenandoah back slopes!

And finally, for the Faithful in the Deep South, I’ll be appearing at the Louisiana Book Festival this year, October 31st. Come by and say hi before you hit the streets for tricking and/or treating.

Alright, the beach is calling again… I’ll have to obey its eldritch allure and summon Father Lying Deep. Take care and see you soon!

Writing Mama(s and Papas) Blog Hop

Today I’m contributing to the Writing Mama Blog Hop, curated by the inimitable Sharon Bayliss, whose December People series is burning up the Amazon charts at the moment (see what I did there?).

I’m a parent. Yeah, that’s a heavy thing. Kids, man. They have to eat, sleep, and learn to read and perform higher mathematics. It’s our job as parents to make sure that happens with minimum injury. We’re occasionally successful, but the price every parent pays to keep their children on the path clear of natural selection is the most precious commodity we possess. And that commodity is time.

Which sucks when you’re trying to foster a career as a full-time writer. It’s hard enough making a living writing full-time. I know I can’t cut it just yet. Bills are too big, and it’s not just me I’m trying to support. So I have to work harder to get my books out if I ever plan to quit the day job and fulfill my passion. More like a life plan, really. But it’s not the money that presents the greatest obstacle as a writing parent. As I said, time is an enormous drain.

As a writer, I have to create a far more rigid schedule. I can no longer write on whim. The morning is utterly consumed with getting ready for work, packing the boy’s lunch and making him breakfast, getting him out the door in time for me to leave. Then there’s the day job, which is necessary at the moment. That kills the lion’s share of my creative window, which for me is late a.m. into the early afternoon. Then it’s another hour-long commute home (thanks so much, crappy economy) and the boy’s already at home doing homework. Thus begins dinner-making, exercise, karate and other extra-curricular activities. And if I want to be a parent who is more “present” than “absent”, some quality goofing-off time with the family.

The boy’s in bed by 8:30pm, which leaves me my golden period of time to squeeze in as much word count as I can before either my brain completely goes numb, or the pull to spend time with the wife intervenes. This is basically one hour per day. That’s not much. It’s not as much as I want.

But them’s the breaks when you’re a parent. The child is priority. The family is a very close second. And society pressure is such that men must work full-time at the expense of all avocations. It is certainly frowned upon when a man announces he’s quitting work to pursue [insert hair-brained scheme here]. It’s the stuff of sitcoms, and has been the rocks upon which many dreams have been dashed.

I’m not here to complain about my life… but if you’re an author and a parent, particularly a father working full-time while trying to convert a career into writing, you might take comfort to know that your frustrations are shared. The only way to crank out quality writing in this intense time-squeeze?

1) Keep your belly-fire stoked. If you constantly crave the writing process, the need to spin that yarn, the inexorable siren call of that completed first draft… then you’ll find a way to get your butt in the seat at the end of the day.

2) Kill the Mood Fairy. Your writing can no longer be dictated by mood. You have a small window to create, and thus your muse must punch her clock on your schedule. Be vicious. Ruthless. Unforgiving. It’s your time… guard it with your life.

3) Keep your family happy. You’ll need complete support from the spouse and the children. Otherwise they’ll find benign yet corrosive means of undermining your writing drive. They’ll want you to come watch TV, spend all weekend with them, manage to insinuate that you can always put it off until later. You can, technically… but procrastination has a vicious kind of momentum that’s hard to reverse.

Sometimes they tempt me with beer, because they know my weaknesses!

Sometimes they tempt me with beer, because they know my weaknesses!

Best of luck, comrades, with balancing your family life and your need to write. There’s no magic wand yet that I’ve found. I am lucky in a way that most others don’t share. My wife is also a novelist, and we tend to share our Word Count Power Hours. We appreciate goading one another toward writing. It’s a lifehack, I’ll admit. AND IT’S ALL MINE! HA HA HA HA!!!

This is a Blog Hop!

Spring has Sprung… well, it’s slithering out of its coil anyway…

Ehrmegerd! Ert’s Sprerngterm!

At least in theory. We’ve finally reached manageable temperatures outside, and I spent the weekend mostly out in it. Which is nice, because I’ve fostered a mild degree of Cabin Fever this winter. I needed to soak in the sunlight, and Nature obliged. To a point. It was still blustery and cold, wind slicing through my outer layers to ravage me like Nordic invaders rampaging across the fjords.

Sunday, at least, was mild, warm, sunny… perfect time for a brew day!

Nothing like a little liquid sunshine out of the mash tun!

Nothing like a little liquid sunshine out of the mash tun!

I took advantage of the weather to hammer out a double-batch of an American Wheat recipe. I’ll be adding some fresh ginger and grated lime zest in secondary to create what I hope will be a nice summer-sipping beer for the Frederick Beer Week‘s anchor event, the Beerfest at Stillpoint Farm. My homebrew club sets up a tent, and we pour tasting samples of various homebrews for event goers. It’s a great time (when it’s not raining).

Brewing is good for my soul, especially when I’m given the opportunity to shake off the gray blanket of winter and breathe in a little pollen fresh air.

...and by "breathe in" I mean "drink heavily."

…and by “breathe in” I mean “drink heavily.”

That right there is my last brew… a marzen I made in early January. That was a bitter cold day… gray, snow still on the ground. It’s nice to revisit the fruits of labor months down the road. That said… I’m also getting into the spirit of Spring by setting up an expansion to our vegetable garden. We’re still waiting for the threat of frost to pass, but soon we’ll be building our soil with our compost (hey, that spent brewday grain has to go somewhere!), and set up our pollinator garden.

We added a quaint little fence, because our German Shepherd is kind of a dick.

We added a quaint little fence, because our German Shepherd is kind of a dick.

So I wish all of you a warm and welcome Spring, great success in the projects you’re sowing, and a merciful hand when the tempestuous cascade of allergies storms inside your respective sinuses.

Current Landscape of The Dark Choir Series

Hail, compatriots!

Now that the crazy-busy swirl of activity surrounding the release of The Curse Servant has subsided (a little bit), I wanted to check in and update you on the progress of things in general.

First of all, my latest manuscript, Yea Though I Walk, is now on submission. We shall see how that goes. I’m hoping it goes well, because I’m very proud of that novel. It’s my most ambitious yet!

In the meantime, I’m up to my elbows in Book 3 of the Dark Choir series, The Curse Mandate. Due to some unexpected cowboy axe-hacking, I’m back down to 35,000 words. But things are progressing well, and it’s causing me to ruminate.

Some of the early reviews from The Curse Servant have echoed the following desires:

– to see more magical system at work… theory, rules, etc.

– to learn more about the Presidium… its history, its daily workings, etc.

– to watch Dorian delve deeper into the dark underbelly of his world.

After reviewing the past 35K words of the current manuscript, I’m happy to report that each of these line items has already been covered! We’re digging into the real mechanics of the magical system Dorian operates, well, more or less outside of. And for the Presidium/Illuminati/Trilateral Commission fans, this book is ALL about the Presidium!

The Dark Choir series is intended to be a six-book series comprised of two “trilogies”: The Curse Trilogy outlining Dorian Lake’s descent into darkness, with the Dark Trilogy following his struggle to claw his way back into the light. Thus, as The Curse Mandate marks his arrival to the low point of the series, the tone is growing darker and darker. Also, the snarky tone Dorian so exemplified during the first two books, I’ve noticed, has begun to mature. That’s to be expected, of course, when a character demonstrates long-term development. When all six books are wrapped up, I’m hoping the reader will look back on Curse Merchant and say “Aw, remember when Dorian used to shoot his mouth off like that?”

The Curse Mandate is much broader in scope… lots more world building (such as it is in urban fantasy), with the lens focused out to a wider geography. Also, it’s proving to share a bit of DNA with the likes of Brad Meltzer and his American histori-spiracy subgenre.

In real life, I’m in the middle of two book signing events in Washington, DC. I’m hoping to add another in the Frederick, MD area shortly afterwards. In August I’ll be appearing on two panels during the Mid-Atlantic Fiction Writer’s Institute Conference in Hagerstown. And, of course, this year’s Frederick Beer Week frivolity will absorb a tremendous amount of my attention when it hits the ground. For the record, I’ll be brewing a Ginger Lime Wheat beer for the closing festival at Stillpoint Farm. That could go very well, or very… the other direction.

I hope to see one or two hundred of you at one of my signings soon… keep reading!

THE CURSE SERVANT – Release Day Blitz

Today is the day, me hearties! THE CURSE SERVANT is now available for purchase and download! Today’s a busy day in the social media jungle… I have several guest posts and interviews scattered about the blogosphere. Here’s a quick and handy list for your centralized viewing pleasure. Click HERE for to check it out on Amazon. Or HERE for Barnes & Noble.


Guest Post: “The Plot Calling the Kettle Black, Crafting a Better Beer and/or Novel” at Sophia Kimble’s blog.

Guest Post: “The Human Soul in Urban Fantasy” at Mythical Books.

Guest Post: “A Dorian Lake Playist… of sorts” at Illusions of Intimacy.

Guest Post: “Six Mistakes on My Path to Publication” at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.

Guest Post: “Hex Peddling in the Age of Entitlement, an Interview with Dorian Lake” at Fangtastic Books.

Author Interview at Urban Fantasy Investigations.

Author Interview at Shut Up & Read.

Author Interview at Deb Sanders. <– This is a particularly good one, btw.

Author Interview at Roxanne Rhoads.

Help spread the word, folks… and if you’re new to the series, you can pick up The Curse Merchant at Amazon, B&N, and Kobo.