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), numerous superhero novels including Nobody Gets the Girl and the Lawless series, the steampunk Oz sequel Bad Wizard, and my short story collections, There is No Wheel and Jagged Gate. 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. If you'd like to get monthly updates on new releases, as well as preview chapters and free short stories, join my newsletter!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fan Art! Reviews! Typos!

It's been a busy few weeks for me. I've been immersed in the third book of the Bitterwood trilogy, Dragonseed. I'm racing the clock to finish my second draft in time to have a little wiggle room in writing my third draft before I'm slated to turn this in to Solaris. Things are going well, though one of my wise-readers, Laurel Amberdine, pointed out a typo in Chapter 17 that may be one of the funnier things I've ever written. The chapter ends with some of my characters running for thier lives after they escape the dragons hunting them by swimming a river in the dead of night in mid winter. They are in danger of freezing to death, so they have to keep moving. I summed up their plight with this sparkly jewel of wisdom:
"Stopping for even a minute to catch their deaths would be fatal."

I'm thinking of turning it into a tee-shirt...

On to business: I have reviews! Meg Stout in her live journal review notes, "There was a lot of slip-sliding on the viscous gore of various disemboweled dead individuals." I'm going to take it as a compliment. At the blog Book Thoughts, the unnamed reviewer notes, "it was refreshing to see a twist on a tired and true dragon story." Suanne Warr at Tales from the Raven says, "All in all a good read, and one I can highly recommend." (In the interest of full disclosure, Suanne is one of my wise-readers on Dragonseed. She had an insightful review of Bitterwood last year and shortly after I met her at a con. I'm delighted to now have her as part of Team Dragon.) Matt at Any Random Day reviews both Bitterwood and Dragonforge and says: "James Maxey kicks ass and you need to go buy both of his Fantasy Novels. You will not regret it." I swear, no money was paid for this testimonial.

One last review that's worth noting. In this week's Rhino Times in Greensboro, the reviewer reads Dragonforge, (which I sent him free) then immediately orders Bitterwood off of Amazon and reviews it as well: "It's a book that feels like fantasy but is, at core, smart science fiction. It feels like -- and is -- a magnificent hero story in the tradition of David Farland (The Golden Queen) or Mike Resnick (Santiago). But it is also deeply personal character fiction that explores complicated relationships amid corrupt societies.

There is certainly room for more books in the series -- but each volume so far gives a satisfying closure. There's no need to wait for the series to be complete.
You still have time to read these books before the summer ends. So why are you still reading this column?"

The name of this reviewer? Orson Scott Card.

It's so difficult to type that name without three or four exclamation marks behind it.

Oh, what the heck. Orson Scott Card!!!! Yeah, four feels about right. You can read his full review at his website.

Now, on to the pictures: So far, I've had three people take me up on the free books for fan art offer. I'm pleased to say I have some talented artists among my readers. We'll start with Giovanni Quinteros, who sent in a drawing of Graxen (as well as a few variants I may post eventually). Since it's obvious he's read Dragonforge, Giovanni will get a copy of the Dragonseed manuscript once I finish it. (There may be a signed copy of Dragonforge in the package as well.)

Next, we have a very Batmanish/manga Bitterwood from Lee Dixon, who'll recieve a copy of Dragonforge for his effort:

We'll wrap up with the most unusual medium so far--an inkpen tattoo of a rather buff Jandra by Chris Coe. No word as to what body part the art was drawn on, or whose skin provided the canvas. They probably deserve a book too!

Hopefully this fan art will inspire further contributions. Don't be shy! Grab your mouse, your notebooks, and/or your loved ones and make some art!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tornado of Sparks

Solaris has just made available for free a download of my short story "Tornado of Sparks." This tale is a prequel to both Bitterwood and Dragonforge. It tells the story of how the dragon Vendevorex came to adopt the human infant Jandra. The story is perhaps a mild spoiler for a major plot point in Bitterwood, when Jandra learns the truth of her origins after having the truth concealed for fifteen years. On the other hand, knowing the secret in advance I think can add to the tension of the book, since you'll know something about the character of Jandra that she doesn't. The story also reveals which on-going member of the human cast is secretly related to her--again, I think that knowing this when she doesn't only adds to your ability to empathise with her longing to find her true family.

As a reminder, the fan art exchange is still open! Send me a drawing or sketch of a character from Bitterwood, and I'll send you a free copy of Dragonforge. This offer is good for the first ten peices of art I recieve, and will remain open until I give away those ten books. After a week, I've recieved only one drawing; hopefully the rest of you are still sharpening your pencils.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Dragon Art... and a new giveaway!

During the Dragonforge give-away contest, the vast majority of the submission were poems, but I did get some art as well. The first is from Nancy Fulda, a work she calls "Heatwave."

I really like the dragon's mouth in Nancy's drawing. The lips look like the dragon is either preparing to blow smoke rings, or as if it's in the middle of saying a particularly clever pun.

Tysha Dawson sent me a link to her webpage full of dragon art. She said I could use any art I found there as long as I acknowledged her copyright. I was particularly drawn to the following image (copyright 2008 Tysha Dawson).

The reason I like this image is that it really has some strong similarities to the way I imagine the character of Graxen the Gray in Dragonforge. A mutant sky-dragon borne gray instead of blue, Graxen is an outcast, ostricized by other members of his race, fated by orders of the Matriarch never to mate. One of the major threads of Dragonforge is a tale of forbidden love as Graxen's heart is captured by a beautiful valkryie (a female warrior dragon) who shows him unexpected kindness when they first meet. There are differences between the dragon depicted and the Bitterwood/Dragonforge dragons. My dragons don't have horns, and their ears are just flat disks a few inches past the back of their jaws. They have three fingers at the upper joint of their wings. Other details match perfectly, however. I do imagine the wing scales of my dragons strongly resembling feathers, and I do imagine that they have manes of these feathery scales running along their necks and spine. For a more detailed drawings of how I imagine my dragons, so my post at my old Bitterwood blog, Building a Better Dragon.

Which leads me to announce a new Dragonforge Giveaway. I've set aside ten free copies of Dragonforge for anyone who will send me fan art of their favorite character (or characters) from Bitterwood. Any characters are fine, but I'd love to see how you imagine the human characters of Bitterwood, Jandra, Pet, or Zeeky, or dragon characters like the wizard dragon Vendevorex or the hunter dragon Zanzeroth. Even a sketch of Poocher, the pig, will earn a book. This isn't a contest: If you send me artwork and I use it, I'll be paying you with a free copy of the book. Unlike my giveaway of review copies, I'll mail you a copy wherever you live, even if you're in Antartica for the next six months stuck at some research facility. By sending me the art, you'll be agreeing that I can post them to my blog, or other internet forums like the Solaris chat boards or the Amazon customer images area. This offer is good until I give away ten copies, whether that takes a month or a year. I'll also give away a copy if it's a character from Dragonforge, though I understand that if you have a copy of the book already, the prospect of a freebie of Dragonforge isn't as enticing. So, I have a special reward if you send in artwork of a Dragonforge character like Burke or Graxen and don't want another copy of the book: Once I finish the third book of the series, Dragonseed, I'll print out a copy and mail it to you. Since it costs more to mail a manuscript than a paperback, I'll limit this offer to three readers, but, again, I'll mail these to you anywhere.

Just email your jpegs or gifs to nobodynovelwriter@yahoo.com. There are no size restrictions on the artwork--I can size them down in Photoshop if need be. They can be color or black and white. Now... start drawing!