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, February 27, 2013

A Calvacade of Covers!

Yesterday, I mentioned that I was going to release Dawn of Dragons, the novel set 1000 years before Bitterwood, as it's own title. Today, I'm giving you a sneak peak at the cover:

Of course, this is also going to be part of the Complete Bitterwood Collection, which will include 4 novels, a short story, and an essay. For that, I've purchased the rights to use the original Bitterwood cover artwork. Currently, that cover looks like this:

Alas, I can't afford the rights to the cover for other editions of the book. My wife hates my current Bitterwood ebook covers, so I've been trying out some new designs and this is one she approves of:

Thoughts? Comments?

Wise readers needed

I'm currently on the second draft of my Oz novel,  Title To Be Determined. Snappy title, no? I was calling it War Upon the Heavens, but that seems pretentious. Currently my top candidate is Bad Wizard but I'm not completely thrilled with that. There's something flippant about it to my ear. A Very Bad Wizard, perhaps? But that seems heavyhanded. Sigh. I have faith the name will eventually come to me. The last novel I really struggled to give a title to was Nobody Gets the Girl, and that worked out okay.

This story is set ten years after the original novel. I skip all the Oz sequels; in my book, Dorothy and the Wizard (Oscar Diggs is his real name) have both returned to earth. Diggs has become a charismatic politician who has swiftly risen to become Secretary of War under Teddy Roosevelt. Dorothy is a muck-raking reporter bent on exposing Diggs as a fraud and a humbug, having learned of his true nature when she asked him for help as an eleven year old and he sent her off to die rather than revealing his secret. In his position as Secretary of War, Diggs is overseeing the construction of a fleet of airships. Roosevelt thinks they will be used to project American power overseas; Diggs' true intentions are to use the airships to return to Oz and take back the throne of the Emerald City. Lion, Tin Man, and Scarecrow all have major roles. The original Toto has passed away, but there's now a Toto Two. And Dorothy shares her protagonist duties with a hairy carnival aeronaut known as the Flying Monkey. Lot's of in-jokes, though the story isn't as overtly humorous as Greatshadow. The emphasis is on action and exploring how their pasts have changed all the characters.

If you'd like to read this second draft, I'll be sending out 6-10 chapters a week starting late next week. I'd like feedback on all the chapters I send out within two weeks. I'm not looking for any type of line editing. All I need at this stage is reaction to the overall stories. Do you understand the characters? Do you care about them? Does the plot flow naturally? Are there things that confuse you? What expectations am I creating as the story rolls along? At this drafting stage, there will be lots of typos and ugly sentences, but there's no point in suggesting line level changes since I could chop just about any given page on the way to the third draft.

If you're interested in reading, drop me a line at nobodynovelwriter(at)yahoo.com. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bitterwood Audio Update

Over the last two weeks, I've been listening to Dave Thompson's amazing reading of Bitterwood. This wasn't an easy book to bring to audio. I have a cast with a couple of dozen named characters with speaking parts, ranging from a 10 year old human girl to a 100 year old sun dragon to a 1000 year old Biblical prophet. Dave floored me with his ability to create subtle differences between all the various characters. He really captures the bluster of Albekizan, the ghostly growl of Bitterwood, and the intellectualism of Vendevorex. And wait until you hear his Blasphet! Holy cow! Exactly the right touch of creepy, over-the-top villainy without losing Blasphet's underlying dark humor.

We've uploaded the files to ACX and now have to wait out their approval process, which can take a few weeks. I'm keeping my fingers crossed they approve it quickly.

I've posted the cover above. I paid award-winning artist Michael Komark for the rights to use the original cover artwork. I altered the type to make it fit the required square format. I'm pretty pleased with the final result, and really hope that the cover will make it stand out among the new releases when it's available.

I've also shelled out the dough to use the same cover art for the Bitterwood omnibus edition. Tomorrow, I'll post an update on that. I finished editing Dawn of Dragons, over the weekend (it was a busy weekend). Dawn of Dragons is the new title of the Bitterwood prequel formerly known as Empire of Angels. I had originally planned to include the book only as part of the omnibus edition, but I felt like that would be a little unfair to all the readers who've already paid for the first three books, so I've decided to go ahead and release the novel as a standalone as well. I also plan to eventually release a print edition, though that might have to wait until I finish my Oz novel and my next superhero novel.

Tomorrow, I'll post the covers for Dawn of Dragons and the omnibus edition.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Dungeon Crawlers Radio

This week, I was a guest on Dungeon Crawlers Radio. This is a weekly hour long show featuring SF and Fantasy games, movies, comic, books, and other geeky interests. It was a lot of fun talking about my days playing AD&D and my comic book addiction, plus a curious little diversion to discuss Pride and Prejudice. I may have also mentioned my own books a time or two as well. If you'd like to listen to the interview, you can find the episode by following this link.

Monday, February 4, 2013

A return to classics

Being a writer as changed the way I read. When I was young, I devoured books visually. I would scan my eyes along a page of text and the meaning would flow into my mind. I didn't really have an intervening step where I would "hear" the words represented on the page. As a result, I was a very efficient reader, easily going through five to ten books in a week. 

But when I actually started writing, my style of reading actually held me back. As the written word to me was merely a visual code, my writing has no music to it, no real flow or rhythm. It wasn't until I started reading my work out loud during my editing process that I reconnected the audible portion of writing in my own work. Now, it's second nature for me to hear the words I'm writing. A side effect of this is that I now also hear books I'm reading, and this is a much slower process of going through a book than my old habits. A book that I might have devoured in an afternoon now takes me a week or two to get through. There are advantages to this... I've discovered some of the beauty of good writing that had previously been lost to me. The downside is, I can't fit as many books into a year as I'd like. 

This year, I've made a decision to devote the whole year to reading old classics that I've somehow missed reading up until now. So far, I've read Pride and Prejudice, The Time Machine, and the Island of Dr. Moreau. Now, I've started in on Tarzan of the Apes. If the book isn't at least a century old, it probably won't make it onto my list for the year. 

I kind of feel guilty that I'm ignoring novels coming out this year. After all, many of them are by other writers who are my friends. And, there's something to be said for the importance of a writer understanding what work is being published currently. But, I turn 49 this year. Do I really want to turn 50 and say I've never read  Frankenstein? Or Wuthering Heights? It's not as if I have no foundation among classics. I could list a hundred important books I have read. But, the number of important books I haven't read far outnumbers those I have. Of course, this will still be true even if I somehow recovered my old five novel a week speed. Still, it's a worthwhile project. I'll post my progress as the year proceeds.