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!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

February Events-Signed Books Available.

I've got a couple of appearances coming up in February. First, next Monday, Feb 4, at 6pm Mountain Time I'll be a guest on Dungeon Crawlers Radio. You can find out more about the show and stream old episodes here. I've been listening to some of their archived episodes and can assure you they are full of geeky goodness.

My next convention appearance will be Mysticon in Roanoke, VA, the weekend of Feb 22-24. I don't have my final schedule yet, but this is going to be a pretty crazy con with big guests like Orson Scott Card and Peter Davidson. Read more about this here.

Finally, I just recorded a reading for Gail Z. Martin's Ghost in the Machine podcast. I'm not certain yet of the date this will be scheduled, but I'll let you know as soon as I know. You can find out more about Gail's podcast here.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

War Upon the Heavens! First draft finished!

After racing through the first 50,000 words in November, December was distraction central, between car problems and multiple plumbing issues at our rental house, not to mention that every third night we were supposed to go to some holiday party or event. I kind of stopped counting, but I think I came in well shy of 20,000 words for the month. Things were more normal in January, but the last few weeks I've been trying to figure out the closing chapters. You know the expression "painting yourself into a corner?" The last chapters of a novel feel very much like this. In the opening chapters, it's easy to put words on the page because everything is new and fresh and the possibilities are endless. But, by the last four or five chapters, the possibilities shrink. You might think that having fewer options about what you need to be writing would increase productivity, but for me, this is the point in the process where writing stops feeling like creation and starts feeling like work. On every page, I confront choices I made earlier in the novel and have to decide if I'm going to write as if what's already written is canon, or whether it's time to go with a new idea. If I make choose the latter, that means big chunks of what I already have on paper are going to have to be tossed out in the next draft. I sometimes feel like the more I write, the more I'm unwriting.

Enough whining. I'm done! The first draft is 99028 words long, spread out over 21 chapters. I'm currently calling the novel "War Upon the Heavens," since that's a newspaper headline that Dorothy writes when she's breaking the story that the US is building a fleet of airships. But, it may be a bit melodramatic even for me. Fortunately, I have time to hunt for more inspiration.

The biggest challenges I anticipate in the next draft is that the balance of scenes set in Kansas versus scenes set in Oz feel off to me. Right now, it takes a full third of the book before the characters make it to Oz, and it's the middle of the novel before they actually arrive anyplace a person with only casual familiarity to Oz might recognize. Trying to figure out what to cut from the opening is going to be tough, though. I'll probably have to solve it by beefing up the second half, so that the Kansas chapters are only a quarter of the novel.

My other big, big, big challenge is giving Dorothy a more satisfying emotional story arc. Right now, a major driver of her actions is a thirst for revenge, a functional but not terribly complex motivation. She doesn't really grow emotionally over the course of the book. I have a little "moral of the story" wrap up at the end where she finds a little happiness, but it feels tacked on at the moment. I know what I'm going to aim for in the next draft, but weaving it into the plot in a way that doesn't hurt the momentum of the story or muddy the clarity of her motivations is going to be tricky.

I'm going to take a little time away from this project before I start the second draft. My next project is to do a final edit on "Empire of Angels," the Bitterwood prequel novel. My goal is to really hit that hard in the coming week. It's vaguely possible I can actually finish it in a week. All I'm doing is reading it out loud and making sentence level changes, but it's been years since I've touched the book, and it's difficult to know how much I'll be able to resist additional tinkering.

Once that's done, I'm still deciding what my next priority will be. Tackling the next draft of the Oz novel is something I'd like to do sooner rather than later. But, I also have another superhero novel, The Adventures of Cut-Up Girl, that I'm really, really eager to get to. So, I might go ahead and write the first draft of that, then return to Oz after a few months. It's possible that the intervening time will help me approach the next draft feeling fresher. But, it's also possible that I might lose momentum. It's a tough choice. I guess I'll do an update here when I figure it out.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Download Bitterwood for free!

There's a few big news items on the Bitterwood front.

First, I'm working with the extremely talented Dave Thompson to produce Bitterwood as an audio book. I listened to the first segments today and I'm thrilled with Dave's reading. It's still going to be several weeks before the audio book is ready, but when it is it will be distributed through Audible, Amazon, and I-Tunes. I will, of course, publish further announcements as the release draws closer.

Second, the cover above is one I created myself, since when I first started ebook publishing I was unsure of whether or not I'd make enough money to justify paying for the rights to the paperback cover. The book did pretty well, however, and I would have made my money back many times over. However, since the book was selling with my DIY cover, I still didn't see a reason to pay for the rights on the original cover. However, that's going to change when the audio book comes out. To give it the best possible chance of success, I'll be shelling out the dough to place that cover on the audio edition.

And, as long as I'm opening my wallet for that, I'm also going to pay to use the cover on a new ebook edition of Bitterwood. But not just any old edition: I'm going to put together an omnibus edition of the entire Dragon Age collection: Bitterwood, Dragonforge, Dragonseed, and the prequel short story "Tornado of Sparks." And, as an added bonus, this collection will also include the never before seen fourth Bitterwood novel, Empire of Angels. I wrote Empire of Angels after I wrote Bitterwood, but before I wrote Dragonforge and Dragonseed. Set a thousand years before the events of Bitterwood, it tells the story of the first dragon to escape into the wild as human civilization begins to collapse following the rise of Atlantis. I was never able to interest a publisher in it, mainly because it's kind of short, not even 70,000 words long. As an early novel, I was also still learning how to plot, so the story's structure is a bit more linear than what I would craft today. But, it tells the origins of Hezekiah, Jazz, Gabriel (the angel from Dragonforge), the dragons, and the city of Atlantis, so it should be of great interest to serious Bitterwood fans. I plan to release this at the same time the audio book comes available.

To whet the appetite for the audio book and the Complete Bitterwood, I've decided to try something a little radical: Today, I made Bitterwood completely free to download at Smashwords. If I could, I would change the price at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, but they don't allow me to set the price to free. It's possible they will price match Kobo or Apple once the free price filters through from Smashwords to those distributors, but there's no guarantee. I know some authors who get Amazon to price match quickly, but others have their price set at free on other channels and never get Amazon to budge.

But, even if  you use Kindle, no sweat! You can download the mobi file from Smashwords. In fact, you can download the novel as mobi, epub, pdf, or even just read it directly in your browser, all completely free! Just click here. Spread the word! The price is never going to be better than this!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Tornado of Sparks now available on Nook!

Nook readers, I'm pleased to announce the Nook publication of Tornado of Sparks! This is a prequel to Bitterwood, a short story set 15 years before the main plot of the first book. It's the tale of the wizard dragon Vendevorex when he first comes to the court of Albekizan. His mysterious powers are tested when he is ordered to kill a family of human trespassers. The repercussions of the events shown in this story echo throughout the Bitterwood Trilogy.

The story is downloadable right now, though when I checked earlier the cover still wasn't showing on the website. Hopefully that will synch up soon.

I intend to get the story onto other ebook platforms as well, though nothing else is quite as easy to use as the Kindle and Nook publishing platforms and sometimes take a while to show up. If you want to read this story and aren't using Kindle or Nook, drop me a line.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Witchbreaker Giveaway on Goodreads, Signing at Purple Crow, Illogicon

Three bits of Witchbreaker news: First, there's currently a giveaway going on at Goodreads. The drawing ends tomorrow at midnight, so act fast. Click this link to be taken to the entry page.

Next, Purple Crow Books in Hillsborough has graciously agreed to host a signing for Witchbreaker. It's scheduled for January 29th at 7:00pm. There will be dragon cookies! Purple Crow Books is a great little independent bookstore that really showcases local authors, so I'm tickled to finally have a formal signing there.

Finally, I should also mention that I'll be a guest at Illogicon in Raleigh next weekend, January 11-13. I'm on about six panels and have a reading on Saturday, so I won't be terribly hard to find if you come to the con. Last year's Illogicon was great, with excellent turnout for a first year con. If you feel a deep-seated need to come hang out with a bunch of geeky smart people (and who doesn't?), this con will be the place to be next weekend.