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!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Now on Nook!

By popular demand (well, two requests, at least) my novels are now available on the Nook! Woo!

A big round of applause goes to Rick Fisher, a buddy of mine who happens to have a side business formatting ebooks. He helped me out with some extra polish on the dragon novels. If you're thinking of publishing your own ebooks and are looking for formattion help, check out http://www.e-qualitypress.us/ .

Saturday, January 22, 2011

New covers, V2

So, four different people have told me the original font I chose was too difficult to read. I've tweaked the font to something a little less busy. I also changed the dragon a lot for Dragonseed. The yellow dragon with the red patch on his nose and the green eyes was supposed to represent Hex after he's gotten his golden nano shell. But, it looked busy, so I made it a monochrome yellow, changed the eyes to black, then added a layer filter in photoshop to give it a metallic sheen. It's not quite in keeping with my original bold, flat color vision, but I think it better captures "gold." My final tweaks were to the Dragonforge cover, where I enlarged the figure a bit then added the same metallic sheen, less pronounced. This cover had the most black space in it, and I think the slight touch of depth helps the dragon stand out from the darkness.

Should these covers not boost sales, I suppose six months from now I'll try again. This is one of the great advantages of epublishing; it costs nothing to try different covers, marketing blurbs, etc.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Potential new Bitterwood trilogy ebook covers

I'm not thrilled with my current covers on the ebook editions of my Bitterwood trilogy. It's not that they are actively bad, I just don't know that they really catch the eye. I also think that ebooks present some challenges that are going to require some rethinking of what works as a book cover. On my Droid, I'm seeing covers smaller than my thumbnail on my bookshelf. Fine detail and small print just vanishes at this scale. And, even on Amazon, unless "see larger image" is clicked, the cover is seen at two or three inches high, or even less if it's being seen on a net book. On the flip side, people are starting to browse the web on wall-sized televisions. Trying to create a cover that looks good when it's 1 foot tall and 1 inch tall is a designer's nightmare.

Below are my new attempts at solving the problem. Simple, bold, high contrast images. I should probably make the text simpler, but part of me wonders if covers really even need text any more. Every reading device or software I've seen so far displays the title and author name in plain text immediately next to the cover image. For now, I'm using the text more as part of the design than with an intense concern for readability.

Thoughts? Comments?

Friday, January 14, 2011

State of Things Interview

Yesterday, I did my first ever in-studio radio interview, joining host Frank Stasio on the State of Things. I was nervous as hell, which is odd, since I speak to crowds at cons a half dozen time a year, and have been on the radio before. Of course, this was the first time I'd ever been on a radio show I actually listen too. For years, I've been listening to authors on the State of Things and thinking, "Why can't that be me on the radio?"

So, thanks to Jonah Knight releasing an album based on Nobody Gets the Girl, I finally had my chance to get on the air. Listening to the show last night, I thought it went pretty well. What I feared was directionless babbling spewing from my mouth actually proved to be a couple of interesting stories about writing the book. But, it's interesting just how completely on automatic pilot I was. When I went into the studio, I'd filled two pages of a notebook with snippets of things I wanted to make sure I worked into the conversation. Alas, I didn't even look at my notes once we were on air. The main thing I wish I'd worked in was a plug for my other books!

In any case, the appearance created the sales bump I'd been counting on, and by last night the e-book was reaching about 7,500 in the kindle store rankings, and going as high as 35 in the Graphic Novels, Superhero category (though, I know, it's not a graphic novel). Not bad for a seven year old book not backed by a major publisher.

If you want to hear Jonah and myself talking about the book and album, you can download the episode here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Jonah Knight's Album Now Available!

Jonah Knight is now streaming the six songs that compose the Nobody Gets the Girl soundrack on his website! Yay! I confess I may not be an objective judge, but I've been humming these tunes all week.

The six songs are:
I am Nobody
Free You All (a terrorist's lament)
No More Heroes
Hero with a Gun
The Ghost that Saves the Day

I keep going back and forth on favorites, but the lyrics sticking in my head tonight are from "No More Heroes:"

They burn the world until it all becomes the Gaza Strip
All the nations hope that someone else will deal with it
Without sacrifice your greatness is a dream
And when the tanks roll in, someone's gotta step up in between

There's no more heroes that I can see
So I guess it falls to me
Just another nobody
But it all comes down to me.

Very powerful lyrics tied to music that matches. Even if you haven't read the book, I promise you'll like, since the songs transcend the plot and characters and manage to illuminate the larger human condition, if I may be so bold. Check it out at jonahofthesea.com.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


What's interesting in the image above is what you don't see. This is my copyright page for Bitterwood, and about two thirds of the way down the page you see 10 9 8, etc., like a very slow text countdown of an unseen rocketship. What's significant is that the numbers 1, 2, and 3 are missing... meaning this is the 4th printing of Bitterwood! I've sold out my first three print runs! And, this is the first print run to be commissioned by the new owner of the Solaris imprint, Rebellion. I was worried that they might assume Bitterwood was at the end of it's economically viable life, that the cost of a further print run might exceed any profits to potentially be earned. I'm glad to see the calculations still swing my way. The vast majority of paperbacks in this world come and go on their first printing alone.

Next goal: Making that "4" disappear.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Nobody Gets the Girl News

At long last, Nobody Gets the Girl is coming to Kindle and other ebook formats. There's a version live on Amazon right now, but don't rush out to buy it. About an hour ago, I uploaded my latest revision and it may take a day or two to update. The changes were mostly minor; I had a missing space in one of my chapter titles that ran two words together, one paragraph had an extreneous quotation mark, and Cheryl had caught a half dozen typos that I've now corrected. Also, I've been in contact with Mur Lafferty, author of the superhero novel Playing for Keeps and arranged a chapter swap, so that I'm including a sample chapter from her book at the end of Nobody and she'll be including a sample chapter of my book at the end of PFK.

But, the real reason I'd like you to hold off buying the kindle version of Nobody is a bit more commercial. Next Thursday, January 13, I'm going to be talking about the book as a guest on The State of Things, a popular mid-day talk show on my local NPR station! This is a pretty cool thing on any number of levels, but the part of me that enjoys making money from my writing is most excited that I might have a few dozen people download the book from Amazon on Thursday. A few dozen downloads might now sound like much, but there's the real possibility it could shoot the book up into the top 100 Kindle downloads for that day, at least in science fiction. Getting high sales rankings boosts the visibility of the book, so if you plan to download the book, do so Thursday and you'll help me push the book as high as possible.

Multiplying these efforts is the fact that, the night before, on Wednesday, January 12, I'll be a guest at the Regulator Bookshop in Durham, helping promote the launch of Bull Spec #4, which is reprinting my Bitterwood prequel short story "Tornado of Sparks." So, between pitching the heck out of Nobody the night before and the radio appearance, I'm anticipating good things for Thursday.

Now, you may be wondering, how did a seven year old novel being republished to Kindle earn me a slot as a guest on a popular radio show? I've saved the most amazing news for last. Back in October, I met singer/songwriter Jonah Knight at Capclave. I instantly liked his work, and I apparently inspired him when I was talking about my books, since after the con he emailed me asking if I'd mind if he based some songs off of the superhero novel I'd talked about. I said sure, sent him the book and, LO! There are now songs, six of them, a veritable EP that will see release next week. I've had a sneak preview and the songs are awesome! I'd be a fan even if it didn't have lyrics like:

If you feel a chill
And there's no movement on your windowsill
That might be me
I am Nobody.

Jonah will have a link to the songs on his website by early next week. A novel with a soundtrack was apparently unusual enough to earn both Jonah and me slots on the State of Things, and hopefully elsewhere as well.

I'll be posting frequent updates between now and next Thursday to share more information about the e-book, Jonah's album, the Bull Spec signing, and, of course, the State of Things appearance. Stay tuned!