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2017, Here We Come

Wow, so...2016 was something, huh?

In a year of losses, some distant and some close to home (Bowie, Cohen, my elderly cats), I can look back with some satisfaction at my professional life. One year ago today, the first Harmony Black novel debuted, and proved that my publisher's faith in a spin-off series was well founded. Subsequent months brought the first Harmony sequel; Queen of the Night, the conclusion of the Revanche Cycle (but not the last word for a few of its characters...); and The Castle Doctrine, Daniel Faust's sixth full-length adventure. This was my first year as a full time writer, and while the hours make my time in the corporate world look like a year-round vacation, I love the work.

So, my new year's message is one of thanks. I've only been able to do this because of your support, your readership, and that's something I think about every single time I sit down at the keyboard. I will never take that for granted, and I'll always strive to keep my promises to you: to keep improving my skills and learning, trying to make each book better than the last, to finish what I start, and to keep the stories flowing.

Here's what's coming down the pike: Glass Predator, the third Harmony novel, will be out on 3/28. They're printing the paperbacks now, the audiobook is being recorded, it's almost a done deal. I'm aiming to have the next Faust novel (tentatively titled Surface Tension, but that might change) out in May or June at the latest. Because I kinda have to wrap my plans around my publisher's timing and decisions (and certain business talks happening behind the scenes), I can't say much about the second half of 2017 just yet, except to say there will be at least one more book and probably two before the end of the year. Including, I dearly hope, the new super-secret trilogy I'll be telling you all about as soon as the time is right, which I'm incredibly excited about sharing.

The Daniel Faust TV series is still a solid maybe. Everything in Hollywood moves at the speed of molasses, doubly slow during the holidays, and there's nothing new to report on that front.

And I'd better get back to work. I hope this message finds you safe and sound, and with bright hopes for the year to come. We got through 2016. Whatever 2017 brings, we can get through that too. And with a little bit of luck and a little bit of courage, we can do it in style.

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A Status Update

Hey, everybody! Just poking my head out of my dark and foreboding Writing Cave to drop a quick status update. (Actually, it's a glass desk illuminated by colored LEDs, because my decorating tastes tend toward "James Bond villain" and nobody's around to stop me, but I digress.)

Glass Predator is done. Finished, edited, laid-out and ready to ship, and I believe Christina Traister is working on the audio version as we speak so it'll come out on the same day as the e-book and paperback, March 28.

Something I didn't foresee when I became a "hybrid" author (half indie, half traditionally-published) was how utterly weird the dance of deadlines and releases would become. For my indie stuff, I generally have to book time with my editor and cover designer half a year in advance (rightfully so, they're total pros and in high demand), so that gives me a fairly cemented schedule for the Faust books and side-projects. Meanwhile, my contracts with my publisher set milestones for handing in manuscripts, but the editing process is far less predictable, and the actual release date -- since they have to manage an entire stable of authors and set their plans way ahead of schedule -- may be months off from the completion date.

Long story short, it's an unpredictable situation that I just have to ride out while managing deadlines like a plate-spinner. Right now I'm hard at work on Cold Spectrum, the fourth Harmony book, even though it likely won't be out until the end of 2017. I have until New Year's Day for that, at which point -- finished or not -- I have to set it aside and get back to work on Surface Tension (the next Faust book), to make sure I have it ready for my editor on time. Meanwhile, every spare hour is being poured into the first book of the Secret Trilogy (not ready to officially spill the beans yet, but a couple of you have guessed what it's about), and that doesn't even have a release date yet because we're not sure if it's going to be picked up by my publisher or if I'll do it indie-style.

But what matters is when they officially come out, right? So here's the skinny: Glass Predator will be out on March 28, that's written in stone. It's looking like you'll get Surface Tension a couple of months after that, and then something around the end of 2017, though right now it's impossible to know whether it'll be Cold Spectrum, or the (currently untitled) eighth Faust novel, or the first book of the Secret Trilogy. In any event, There Will Be Books, or my editors will be very cross with me.

(I've worked hard to build a reputation for hitting my support team's deadlines. That might sound like a minor thing, but some writers...well, any time you're dealing with people in the arts, you run into flakes. Being a person of your word isn't just the right thing to do, it's good business practice.)

Oh, I have one other planned release for 2017 -- a short story in the Urban Enemies anthology, which I believe is out around March. It's the Harmony/Faust crossover I never expected to write, when Fontaine is hired to track down and capture the last four members of the Redemption Choir. The catch? He has to do it in twelve hours. Twelve hours of one very long, blood-soaked, Detroit night. This is a pretty big anthology -- Jim Butcher has a story in it -- so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it draws a lot of new readers who haven't heard of me yet. And also that my story doesn't suck. That's important, too. I get nervous about these things.

Beyond that, I'm taking a day off in late December to drive to Michigan and see Susannah Jones -- the voice actress for the Revanche Cycle audiobooks -- starring in the touring company of A Christmas Story: The Musical. Susannah is an all-around talent and a good friend, so if you get the chance to catch the show's tour, I highly recommend it.

And that's it for updates! I hope you're doing well as we slide into winter. For now, I'd better refill my coffee mug and get back to work.

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In Memoriam: Leonard Cohen

Yesterday I wrote the final scene of Sixty-Six Seconds, my contribution to next year's Urban Enemies anthology. It's a story about Fontaine, the demonic bounty hunter from the Harmony Black series, carrying out an impossible assignment: capturing four fugitive souls, the last members of the Redemption Choir, over the course of a single cold and rainy night in Detroit. Well, that's the plot. What it's about is a doomed and bitter romance, and a man divided between cynicism and love, making bad choices because it's all he knows how to do.

I listened to a lot of Leonard Cohen, writing this story. Music is a big part of my process; I use it for brainstorming, for outlining, for getting the feelings I'm trying to evoke into my head so I can attempt the alchemy of conveying it on paper. And this particular story was very So Long Marianne. A little Everybody Knows.

 I was listening to Cohen when I was told that he died.

That makes two of my musical heroes whom this year has taken. And that word, again and again. Taken, taken, taken. 2016 is a hungry monster and it feels like nothing will ever be right again. Some of our greatest voices and imaginations silenced, while the venal and small are rewarded.

But enough about that. I don't think Cohen would have wanted that kind of grief. He knew he was on his way out; he said as much, blunt as ever, in an interview after the release of his final album, You Want It Darker. Much like Bowie's Blackstar, it was an album composed and performed by a man who knew he was dying. His last words, his closing bow.

Cohen was a radical, a visionary who explored style and transformed himself (also like Bowie) again and again over the course of his fifty-year career. The beats changed but his talent for wordplay, his ability to weave words into evocative imagery, his emotional strength, never did. He had a skill for finding raw nerves. He sang of loss and of rage, of cynicism and hope, in a way few others could hope to match. He was a master of the business of breaking hearts.

And he reminded us of the beauty of broken things. Because, as he sang in Anthem, There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in.

Thank you, Mr. Cohen, for the music. Thank you for the inspiration. Thank you for your legacy; you are gone but the songs remain, and always will. And goodnight.

Now the crickets are singing, the vesper bells ringing
The cat's curled asleep in his chair
I'll go down to Bill's bar, I can make it that far
And I'll see if my friends are still there
Yes and here's to the few, who forgive what you do
And the fewer who don't even care
And the night comes on
It's very calm
I want to cross over, I want to go home
But she says, go back, go back to the world

-- "Night Comes On," Leonard Cohen

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A Small Request

Hey, all. Well, we made it to election day, and I've got a small request for my US readers. No, not "go vote." I mean, yes, I want you to go and vote but let's get real: nobody in this planet is gonna say, "Well, I was planning on staying home today, but now that some random fantasy writer asked me to, I'm off to the polls!". If you wouldn't do it for Nathan Fillion, you wouldn't do it for me.

(You should totally do it for Nathan Fillion, though. Castle was an awesome show. Go vote.)

No, I just wanted to say -- be careful? Look, there's been a lot of scary talk the past couple of months. People ranting about "second amendment solutions" and doing crazy stuff if their candidate doesn't win, and people with the media's ear stoking the fires of resentment. I'm not worried about some kind of mass uprising, that's just not gonna happen. But depending on how this election goes, there's a very good chance that tomorrow morning there's gonna be a few lone nuts out there, feeling angry and robbed and looking for somebody to take it out on.

I'm not telling you to lock yourself inside the hidden chamber you use for dark and otherworldly rituals (we all have one of those, right? That's a normal thing that normal people have), just be careful, keep your head on a swivel, and if a situation feels weird or dangerous, leave. Trust your intuition. It can save your life. I don't want to see any of you get hurt because you ended up at the wrong place and the wrong time with some whackjob who only knows how to express himself with violence. Stay smart, stay safe, and I'll see you on the other side of this mess.

Oh, and for my readers outside the US...sorry? I mean, really, I don't even know what to tell ya. Things have been a little weird here. We're working it out.

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Glass Predator is up for Pre-Order!

Well, gosh! The cover isn't even done yet, and we're still five months from launch, but Glass Predator (Harmony Black book three) is already up for pre-order at Amazon. And now I can share the official synopsis from my publisher:

"For Harmony Black, practicing witch and government agent, defeating criminal masterminds and eliminating supernatural threats are all in a day’s work. She’s ready to fight, as long as she can count on her partner, Jessie Temple; her team at off-the-books special FBI unit Vigilant Lock; and her magic. But her latest case threatens it all.

"A high-profile bank robbery reveals thieves with the same unnatural strength and turquoise eyes as Jessie, who was touched by the King of Wolves. Jessie becomes unstable, struggling with her inner Beast, and Harmony’s magic is threatened by unexpected interference. Even worse, the women uncover a secret their own handler may kill to protect, forcing Vigilant Lock to go off the grid.

"From the smoky back rooms of Washington, DC, inhabited by the crooked elite, to the astonishing high-rises of corrupt upper-crust Manhattan, Harmony and Jessie fight to uncover and halt a mass conspiracy threatening US soil in a race against time—and hell."

...yeah, we're gonna have some fun next year. And that's just the START of 2017.

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Happy Halloween, Friends!

Halloween is special.

It's always been my favorite day of the year. A day when the machinery of the universe breaks down, just a little bit, and there's strangeness to be found in odd nooks and crannies. A day when old rules bend and break. I'm not sure who originally said it, but I love the description of Halloween as the one day when you can be exactly who you want to be -- or you can be who you really are. Mask, or unmask: the choice is yours.

In a year fraught with loss and grief, the beloved dead aren't quite so far from us today. In a year of turbulence and anger, today brings a different flavor of chaos. Darkness that can be your companion, if you'll walk with it. Today is a day of facing fears and realizing...well, maybe there really wasn't that much to be afraid of, after all.

I always get a lot of writing done on Halloween. And even I, workaholic that I am, will be shutting the computer off at sunset to go and celebrate. Whether you're taking the kids trick-or-treating, heading out to a costume party, chilling at home with some horror movies, howling barbarous names of invocation over an ancient stone, or leaving offerings at a three-way crossroads, I hope you have a day filled with wonder, delight and illumination. Happy Halloween!

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New Anthology with a New Faust Short

So, this might be of interest. Full Metal Magic is a new short-story anthology featuring tales of urban fantasy from a number of authors, myself included, and it's out today. My contribution is called A Drive in the Country, and it's a glance back at an event from Daniel Faust's past. You know that one heist? The heist, the one that went tragically wrong, and drove a rift between Daniel and Nicky Agnelli? That's what it's all about -- that, and the consequences which have been waiting in the wings ever since.

Oh, best part? The anthology's only ninety-nine cents, having been envisioned as an urban fantasy sampler of sorts. Lots of good stuff in here, and new authors you just might like.

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A Harmonious Release Date

Harmony Black book three has an official release date! Looks like we're on target for a March 28th launch. Pre-orders should go up much sooner than that, once we're done with final copy-edits and the cover design, and I'll let you know when that goes live.

Incidentally, there's been a title change, as sometimes happens in publishing. For various behind-the-scenes reasons (nothing juicy, just marketing/series branding stuff), the book (which was originally going to be called House of Wolves) is now titled Glass Predator. (Book four, which I'm working on as we speak, is still tentatively titled Cold Spectrum -- I'll have more news on that in early 2017.)

Meanwhile, I'll be spending much of the coming winter focused on the first book of the new secret spin-off trilogy, which I'll be able to break my silence on very soon. Right now, suffice to say it's the biggest (in length and scope) story I've ever attempted, and the biggest challenge I've ever taken on as a writer. If I do this right -- if -- it'll be nightmarish and fairy-tale-esque and beautiful and terrible. If. I fear failure, but I'm more afraid of not trying.

Getting ready for a short trip to New York next week for some field research. Also, got an anonymous tip via email about some odd viral graffiti I should check out. I'm sure it'll be totally safe...

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A Word of Gratitude

Thanks to the magic of Facebook (specifically that random "hey, you posted this eight years ago, want to repost it for no particular reason?" feature), I've been reminded of an anniversary I would have otherwise missed entirely. One year ago, I put in my notice at my day job, resolving to take a chance and become a full-time writer.

It was the scariest thing I've ever done, hands down: the idea of leaving a steady, good-paying income to become a creative professional, living or dying on the strength of my writing career (literally), was nerve-wracking. Thankfully, a good friend helped push me over the cliff. And I leaped. And so far, I have not fallen.

It's not a cushy life. I traded eight-hour days behind a keyboard for twelve-hour days behind a keyboard, and weekends are generally not a thing for me. That said, I wouldn't trade it for the world. This is the dream I've had since I was a child, and I'm living it. And you are the reason why.

A writer is nothing without readers. You can create the most heartbreaking work of genius that the world has ever seen, and if nobody reads it, you might as well have locked it in a trunk. In the immortal words of Ice-T, "Guess who controls your destiny? Fans." Fans buy in and keep you afloat. They get the word out, and help other readers find you. A little positive word of mouth can be more powerful than a dozen advertisements.

I've been in this game for three hundred and sixty-five days, and that's three hundred and sixty-five ways I want to thank you. Because I am where I am, and going where I'm going, solely and one-hundred-percent because of your support. Thank you.

Now I've gotta buckle down and gear up for 2017. Lots of stories yet to be told, and the fun's just getting started.

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