Welcome to my worlds!

I'm James Maxey, author of fantasy and science fiction. My novels include the science fantasy Bitterwood Saga (4 books) the Dragon Apocalypse Saga (4 books), the superhero novels Nobody Gets the Girl and Burn Baby Burn, the steampunk Oz sequel Bad Wizard, and my short story collection, There is No Wheel. In 2017, I'll be releasing a new superhero series, The Butterfly Cage. This website is focused exclusively on writing. At my second blog, Jawbone of an Ass, I ramble through any random topic that springs to mind, occasionally touching on religion and politics and other subjects polite people are sensible enough not to discuss in public.




Monday, October 9, 2017

Superhero Update, Audio Update

I've completed the prepublication draft of Cut Up Girl, the first book in my Butterfly Cage series of superhero novels. I'm currently working on chapter 16 of the sequel, Big Ape, which puts me somewhere in the middle of the second draft. Once I finish it, my goal is to release Cut Up Girl and Big Ape only a few weeks apart. My timing is still up in the air. I've had two releases already this year with Covenant and Jagged Gate. My current instinct is to wait until January to release the new books. There will also definitely be a third book in the series, and I've intentionally designed the world to be open-ended. There are easily dozens of stories I could tell built around the characters I introduce in the first two books.

That said, after this current superhero trilogy, I definitely plan to return to dragons, with a new trilogy set in the Bitterwood universe. The new trilogy is fleshing itself out in my mind more and more every day and when I do finally sit down to start writing I plan to keep an aggressive schedule. Stay tuned for updates!

In other news, in the last two weeks I've signed contracts for more audio books to be produced. For a long time Bitterwood lingered alone in my audio catalog, but it was joined over the summer by Greatshadow. Now, the second books of both series are in production, along with Nobody Gets the Girl. I'm confident that by this time next year I'll have nearly my full catalog available in audio, with the possible exceptions of Bad Wizard and my short story collections.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Jagged Gate is Open!


Tomorrow I'll be at NC Comicon Greensboro and will for the first time be selling paperback copies of the Jagged Gate. The book went live last weekend on CreateSpace, and should be available from any print retailer you search on the internet, and can also be ordered in bookstores. The ebook will remain exclusive to Amazon for the time being. I may eventually take it into a wider release, but short story collections don't seem to do much outside the Amazon ecosystem.

I'll be at the Regulator on Tuesday night doing a joint reading with author Mur Lafferty and Becca Gomez Farrell. I may decide to read something from this, but I only have ten minutes, and none of the stories could be finished in that time, and it feels weird to read half a story and stop. When I read for ten minutes of a novel, it's not as odd to be letting 99 percent of the book unread. Plus, I've been listening to the proof tracks of the audio edition of Dragonforge (more on this soon) and am leaning toward doing a reading from that. But, I probably will have copies of the Jagged Gate for sale unless I run out of them over the weekend. One can dream!

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Jagged Gate is coming!

It's still a month or two away from release, but this is a draft of the cover for my next book, a short story collection called The Jagged Gate. It will contain 10 of my published stories plus two never before published works. This is a book I probably wouldn't have put out if not for face to face contact with fans at conventions. Online, but current short story collection There is No Wheel is by far my worst selling book. But at conventions, Wheel is one of my better selling titles, and I frequently encounter people who've purchased the book previously who come back to tell me they want more! So, more is on the way.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Covenant is here! Rejoice!

At long last, Covenant is here! This is the third and likely final book in the rather loose trilogy of superhero novels that began with Nobody Gets the Girl. All three books really stand alone, though if you have read the earlier books then the political background of Covenant will make more sense. In the first book, in a battle between superheroes and supervillains, a major world city gets ground to dust by one of the heroes who loses control of her powers. Or, more precisely, loses control of her temper.

This leads to all superheroes being outlawed, not that there were hundreds or even dozens of them running around to start with. Three were active at the time of the destruction of the city, and by the time the law is passed one is dead and the other two are missing.

Things changed when two supervillains came out of hiding seven years later in Burn Baby Burn. These two villains are far too powerful for ordinary police to fight, so a team of superheroes presents themselves to the government volunteering to help. Unlike the previous superheroes, these heroes who claimed to work for the good of mankind but did so outside the law, the heroes seek to be authorized by the state to work as special deputies of law enforcement. They present themselves as a new type of superteam, taking the name Covenant to remind the world that they've make a promise to serve them.

Also reinforcing this is the fact that the most powerful member of the team operates under the code name of Servant. Servant is a devout Christian who thinks of his powers as a gift from the Lord and feels he has a moral obligation to use his powers to help anyone in need. But, he wouldn't be a protagonist in a James Maxey novel if he didn't have a least on dark secret. In this case, before he found the Lord, Servant was a notorious supervillain known as Ogre. If he reveals his past, he'll likely go to prison, and if he goes to prison, how can he use his powers as the Lord intended? His struggle to reconcile his past and his present provide most of his ongoing personal drama.

The most famous member of the team is App. He's the world's first open source superhero, able to download superpowers on demand into a teleportation belt that can take him apart and put him back together in new configurations. He's a social media superstar, young, funny, and having the time of his life as a superhero. Unfortunately, since he's not bulletproof, he does have a habit of getting killed on a lot of his missions. Which is no big deal, since the servers that house his data can just reboot him if they see he's been killed again. By the time the novel starts, he's been killed and rebooted ten times, and is starting to question whether he's even himself any more, or just a copy of a copy of a copy.

The newest member of the team is Steam-Dragon. She's an army vet who lost her legs in the middle-east, and to get past the VA wait list for new legs, she and her boyfriend used a 3d printer to just make new ones. Her talent for design and her access to advanced 3d printers capable of printing in carbon composites harder than steel lead to her designing a steam-punk inspired weaponized suit that looks like a dragon. She uses this suit to avenge her murdered boyfriend, then has to choose between joining the Covenant or going to prison for her vigilante actions. So, she's part of the team, but not necessarily joining with the best attitude.

Also new to the team is Chimpion. As her name implies, she's a chimpanzee, one of the super-intelligent Pangeans introduced in Burn Baby Burn. She's a martial arts expert who has joined the team to show the world that Pangeans can be trusted. Of course, she has a dark secret as well, but if you want to learn that you'll need to read the book, since it's kind of a major plot point.

Finally, there's Skyrider. She's living under the name Sarah Buchanan, but she used to be Sarah Knowbokov, the Thrill from Nobody Gets the Girl. She's one of the superheroes outlawed following the destruction of the city, and still public enemy number one, even though she really had nothing to do with the destruction. She came back under the new identity of Skyrider to help capture Sundancer in the second book, but she really wants nothing to do with being a superhero. She's happily married, living a quiet life in a small town where she's married to the deputy sheriff. Unfortunately, when she met him, she was living under an assumed name in was certain she'd put her old life behind her, so she never got around to mentioning to her husband that she could fly, and he still doesn't know that while he's at work she's suiting up and going out to fight crime with the Covenant. Now, she's finding it increasingly difficult to turn her back on her responsibilities as a superhero and having a harder and harder time coming up with excuses for why she sometimes goes missing at odd hours and often shows up covered in bruises. If she doesn't tell him the truth, it will likely destroy her marriage. Of course, if she tells him the truth, it will also destroy her marriage, she it will show how it was all built on a foundation of lies. Is there any way she can reconcile her two lives?

This is the first time in my superhero novels I really tackle the trope of the secret identity. In Sarah's case, I think I give her an excellent reason for wanting to have one, which gives me a real excuse to dig into the consequences of trying to live a double life that I don't think most comic books tackle any more. (Classic Spider-Man comics probably did the best job of exploring these themes, but these days superheroes seem to blurt out their secret identities to everyone they meet.)

Mike MEZ Phillips once again provided artwork for the new cover. It's not yet showing up on Amazon in the print edition but it should pop up there and at other retailers soon, and is now available as an ebook on Kindle here. I don't yet have the epub edition uploaded to other retailers, but I'll tackle that next week and it should be available almost everywhere by next weekend.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Covenant is Coming! New Cover Reveal: Burn Baby Burn

When I'm selling books at conventions, I get asked a lot what my favorite is of the books I've written. It's a little bit like being asked my favorite child, and there are days when I answer, "Greatshadow." But, there are even more days when I answer, "Burn Baby Burn."

Burn Baby Burn is a book that took me a long time to write and a short time to write. A long time, because I started thinking of it as soon as Nobody Gets the Girl saw print back in 2003. I plotted it out in my head, but when Phobos Books folded after the release of Nobody, it didn't make sense to write a sequel to a book that hadn't done well. So, I pushed it to the back of my mind, but I always kept thinking about it because there were stories I could tell about two supervillains that I couldn't really tackle with more traditional protagonists. Years later, ebooks became a thing thanks to Amazon, and I published an ebook edition of Nobody Gets the Girl. It sold really well, and suddenly I wished I'd gone ahead and written that sequel. So I did, banging out the first draft in the span of a week. To this day, it's the book that has changed the least from first draft to final draft. The story had gestated so long in my imagination it came out right the first time.

As for the story I wanted to tell that I couldn't tell with heroes, I wanted to write a love story. But the problem with most love stories is that they are about lovable people. The protagonists are usually witty, charming, good looking, and good-natured. So the underlying theme of most love stories is that love is a wonderful thing... if you're lovable. But what if you're not so lovable? What if you aren't even likable, kind of downright terrible, in fact? Does love have any power to change the lives of such people? Is it possible to find redemption in love no matter your past sins?

This is also the book where I deal most with the emotional turmoil of having a partner die slowly, knowing death is coming, and knowing there's nothing you can do to stop it. Which sounds like a pretty bleak theme, but if I have any words of wisdom at all to say on this subject, they wound up in this book. And despite the dark theme, this is a book that takes place in part on an island populated by talking chimpanzees. It's got a lot of humor and weirdness to sustain the reader through the darker moments. If you haven't read Burn Baby Burn, don't feel like you need to read Nobody Gets the Girl to understand it. The book stands alone despite being a sequel to the first book and a prequel to the third book. Grab your copy here!

And now, without further build up, the new cover by Mike MEZ Phillips!


Next up: Covenant!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Covenant is coming! New cover #1, Nobody Gets the Girl!


ebook cover

print covers
Next weekend at Supercon in Raleigh, I'll be launching my newest book Covenant. This is the third book in the superhero universe of my first published novel, Nobody Gets the Girl. I had never planned to write a third book in this world. I really thought that, after I wrote the sequel Burn Baby Burn, I was done with those characters. But, inspiration can come from the strangest places. This time, I was just listening to the radio and a Ben Harper song came on. It contains these lyrics:

my choice is what I choose to do
and if I'm causing no harm
it shouldn't bother you
your choice is who you choose to be
and if you're causin' no harm
then you're alright with me

This is a pretty good summation of a libertarian mindset, and for the most part my politics lean libertarian. Nobody Gets the Girl has a somewhat skeptical view of benevolent authoritarianism, the driving philosophy behind most politics that it's okay to wield power over others as long as you are doing it for a greater good. But for some reason, when I heard these lyrics the counterargument came into my mind. The problem with the "causing no harm" libertarian philosophy is that there are, in fact, billions of people who do harm either intentionally or unintentionally. There are outright criminals, people who will murder and steal, and there are people who cause harm while they are trying to do some good; coal miners, for example, have provided the power source that has enabled modern life. Their goal wasn't to tear down mountains, poison streams, and alter the atmosphere for the fun of it. So if you're doing no harm, you're alright by me is a convenient but ultimately useless moral position. Because what do you do if someone is causing harm? Is it enough to say, well, that's not my fault, I'm blameless? Or do you have an obligation to try to do something?

As it happens, I'd introduced a team of superheroes, the Covenant, while writing Burn Baby Burn, and Sarah Knowbokov, the Thrill from the first novel, was a team member. She'd ended the first book content to live a life that did no harm. Now, she was back in costume and fighting for good again. Why? Pondering the answer to this led me to the plot of Covenant.

When I thought the book was a duology, I commissioned covers from artist Jeremy Cavin that had Nobody Gets the Girl and Burn Baby Burn blend together into a single image. I hated letting those go, since they look great side by side when I'm selling them at conventions. Alas, now that I was going to put out a third book, I needed new covers for all three. Over the last few months, I've been posting different rough designs on Amazon, tweaking color, text, and layout. Once I finally found a design that people seemed to be clicking on, I worked with a local artist I met at NCComicon Oak City named Mike MEZ Phillips to produce the final, more polished cover. Later this week, I'll unveil the new Burn Baby Burn cover, then finally show off the Covenant! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Greatshadow: The Audiobook Now Available!

Buy the audiobook and I'll send you the first edition paperback free! Read on for details!

One of the things I keep getting asked at conventions is when will the Dragon Apocalypse books be available in audio. I had all audio rights to my books reverted back to me late in 2014, but then I was named the 2015 Piedmont Laureate and was too busy hosting events and teaching classes to worry about finding a narrator. Then I went into 2016 with the goal of writing three novels (Cinder, Big Ape, and Covenant) and worrying about audio rights was something that only rarely snuck into my consciousness. Finally, I slowed down enough to think in 2017 and remembered, oh, right, I should find narrators.

Perhaps this was fate instead of simple procrastination. (Yeah, let's go with fate.) When I put up Greatshadow, one of the first auditions I received was from a guy named Jake Urry. I'm American with a noticeable southern accent, and in my head I usually heard by books read in a similar voice. Jake Urry is British, and the second I heard him read the opening lines I knew that his was the perfect accent for the book. His performance is amazing, and once you hear it you'll agree he's captured the voice of Stagger in such a way that's it's impossible to imagine anyone doing it better.

Greatshadow is a challenging book for a narrator. It shifts gears between comedy and philosophical introspection in the span of a sentence. It requires great timing and a willingness to go over the top to deliver the jokes, then just as quickly fall back into a quiet, thoughtful musing. The range of voices is also challenging, especially when one of the characters is a shape shifter who goes through a variety of different bodies in the course of the tale. Oh, and another major character, No-Face, doesn't have lips, but still has a lot of lines. I can only imagine the look on Jake's face when he reached lines in the manuscript that read, "Ruhr. Ruh muguh, huh." Fortunately, he rose to the challenge. Jake delivers dragons, boa constrictors, ogres, pirates, priests, and faceless brutes, all with polish and flair.

Of course, you don't need to take my word for it. You can listen to an audio sample right now! Just click this link!

If you want to purchase the audiobook but are on the fence, I'll sweeten the deal. If you purchase the audiobook before June 9, 2017, email me at nobodynovelwriter(at)yahoo(dot)com with your mailing address and I'll send you an autographed copy of the original Greatshadow paperback first edition from Solaris. There are two terms and conditions: First, I'll need to limit this offer to the first twenty people who write me. The original paperbacks are no longer in print, so once I go through my current supply, I can't get anymore. Second, alas, due to the cost of mailing stuff internationally, I'll have to limit this to US readers.

A great book to listen to and a freebie. What more can you ask for?