Today on the 2015 Summer-of-Two-Releases Virtual Tour, I am posting over at Black Gate Magazine. This is a different sort of post for me. I have, thus far, avoided any comment on the Sad/Rabid Puppies-Hugo controversy, believing that I would be best off staying out of it. I write for both Tor Books and Baen Books, two publishers at the center of the matter, and I didn’t want to draw fire from either side. In this post, though, I break my silence. It’s time we recognized that we have far more in common with one another than not. It’s time for an end to this mess. Read the post here.
Today’s installment in the 2015 Summer-of-Two-Releases Virtual Tour is all about opening lines for a novel or story. In it, I break down the opening paragraphs of Dead Man’s Reach, the fourth book in the Thieftaker Chronicles (written as D. B. Jackson for Tor Books) which comes out next Tuesday, July 21. (Order your copy now!!) The post can be found at the Magical Words site, at this link. I hope you enjoy it.
Big day today. And because I’m at the AMAZING Antioch Writers’ Workshop, and our days are pretty full, I’m only now getting around to posting about it. My newest short story, written as David B. Coe in the Justis Fearsson universe, is out at the Baen.com web site. The story is called “New Moon Wolf,” and in terms of chronology it falls in between Spell Blind, the first book in the Case Files of Justis Fearsson (which came out in January) and the second book, His Father’s Eyes, which comes out on August 4. I love this story, and I hope you enjoy it, too.
And the 2015 Summer-of-Two-Releases Virtual Tour rolls on with a special appearance at the blog of my wonderful friend Alethea Kontis. My post, appropriately enough, is about friendship, the world of writing, and the unexpected benefits of the best perk offered by this crazy profession. Find it here.
Today’s installment on the 2015 Summer-of-Two-Releases Virtual Tour finds me at the Fantasy Book Critic blog site. My post compares and contrasts the approach I took in the two novels I have coming out over the next few weeks — Dead Man’s Reach (as D.B. Jackson) and His Father’s Eyes (as David B. Coe). It’s a post about character, point of view, and narrative — you know, writer stuff. You can find it here. I hope you enjoy it.
Today the 2015 Summer-of-Two-Releases Virtual Tour returns to Magical Words with a post about what it’s like to publish two series, under two different names, with two different publishers. We are a little under two weeks away from the July 21 release of Dead Man’s Reach, book 4 in the Thieftaker Chronicles, which I publish with Tor Books under the name D.B. Jackson. And we’re a little under a month away from the August 4 release of His Father’s Eyes, book 2 in The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, which I publish with Baen Books under my own name, David B. Coe. Hence the post, which you can find here. I hope you enjoy it.
Today, I begin my 2015 Summer-of-Two-Releases Virtual Tour, with a post at the Magical Words blog site. Dead Man’s Reach, the fourth and final volume of the Thieftaker Chronicles, will be released in nineteen days, on July 21. His Father’s Eyes, the second book in The Case Files of Justice Fearsson, drops two weeks after that, on August 4. This first post is about how different books fit into a series (or two . . .) in different ways. You can find the post here. I hope you enjoy it.
Yes, it’s that time of year again, when I start showing up at other people’s websites, talking about myself and my work. Also known as the blog tour! This year’s 2015 Summer of Two Releases Tour will begin later this week with a post at Magical Words, which is, in many ways, my “home” site. Over the next two months I’ll be visiting lots of sites — probably twenty or more, before all is said and done — and putting up more than thirty posts. The full schedule can be found here, and will be updated as needed. Hope to “see” lots of you along the way.
One of the first rules of writing etiquette — I mean really “How-to-be-an-Author 101” type stuff — is never respond to reviews. We have our say with the books and stories we write. Our readers get to comment on them in reviews, blogs, etc. And at that point we’re really best off keeping our virtual mouths shut. In fact, most of the time we’re better off not even reading our reviews. I know this. I understand the reasoning. I get it.
I just came within a hair’s breadth of violating that “Don’t respond” rule. Why? Because there are now two reviews of SPELL BLIND on Amazon that accuse me of “blatantly ripping off” the Harry Dresden books by Jim Butcher. I have, I assure you, done no such thing.
First of all, Jim Butcher is a friend, and I wouldn’t do that to a friend.
Second, with apologies to Jim, I’ve only read the first two Dresden books, and that was back in 2004.
Third, from what I know of the Dresden books, I have to say that the Justis Fearsson books are not really all that similar. They’re darker, the weremyste element of my series is quite different from Harry’s magic, and the plot lines of all three books in my series (SPELL BLIND is out, HIS FATHER’S EYES will be released in August, and SHADOW’S BLADE is written and in the early stages of production) are, from my perspective, pretty original.
So what has these reviewers so outraged? Well, they don’t like that my character is also a male private detective with magic. I wonder, if I had made my protagonist female, if they would have accused me of ripping off Faith Hunter or Patricia Briggs or Kim Harrison or any number of other incredibly talented and successful female authors, or if they’re just protective of Jim and Harry. I wonder as well if I had left out the magic, whether they would even have picked up the book.
One of them complains that I use “internal monologue.” So does every book with a first or close-third person point of view. ‘Nuff said.
They also don’t like the fact that a higher up in the Phoenix police force (my books are set in Phoenix; Dresden lives in Chicago, I believe) has it in for my main character. That, of course, is a trope that goes back well before the first Dresden book. It is, in fact, something that you find in nearly all great private eye stories. That’s what makes it a trope. Same with the friend on the police force. I don’t apologize for either of those devices — tropes are tropes for a reason. We authors use them, we play with them, we make them our own.
While we’re talking about tropes — the spirit guide who helps the magic wielder with his spell-work is one readers will find in almost any urban fantasy. Yes, Namid’skemu in my books falls into the category. He is really nothing like the talking skull I remember from the Dresden books, but his mere presence seems to be enough to tick these guys off. Again, I refer them to other authors who write in the genre. We all use this. I’m allowed to as well.
Magical serial murders? Jim was not the first to do this, and I am certainly neither the second nor the last. Another trope.
One of the reviewers objects to the fact that my hero’s mother died a mysterious death and that this is similar to Harry Dresden’s personal history. To be perfectly honest, if I was in his position, I might object to this, too. It is a striking similarity, one of which I was not aware until I read his review. If this is mentioned in one of those first two Dresden novels, it had not registered with me in a meaningful way. I swear it was not something I “copied” from Jim’s work. It’s probably too specific to call it a trope, but I will say that in fantasy novels of all stripes, it’s not at all uncommon for the protagonists to lose one parent or the other under mysterious circumstances. It’s a useful plot seed for later volumes. And I think that Jay’s relationship with his father, which is one of the strongest themes of the Fearsson books, sets it apart from Butcher’s work and that of others in the genre.
Look, I’ve been writing fantasy professionally, under two names, for nearly twenty years, publishing 16 novels — 18 by the end of this summer — earning a Crawford Award, excellent reviews, good enough sales to survive in a tough business, and the respect of my peers, which I value above all else. I would not rip off the work of a friend or a colleague. I don’t need to. I have plenty of good ideas on my own, thanks very much. Are there superficial similarities between my urban fantasy and other urban fantasies out there, including the Dresden Files? Perhaps. But read the books. Really read them. Jay Fearsson is very much my own creation. So are the characters surrounding him. So is my magic system.
If you don’t like the books, fine. I can live with that. If you like Jim’s more, also fine.
But don’t accuse me of plagiarism. Don’t impugn my professionalism and my integrity based upon your reading of one book. It’s not true and it’s not fair.
I have a new interview up — my good friend Diana Pharaoh Francis, a wonderful writer in her own right, asked me some questions about writing Spell Blind, the first book in my new series, the Case Files of Justis Fearsson.
I turned in a book today. Shadow’s Blade, the newly titled, third installment in The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, is out of my hands and with my editor at Baen Books. That’s kind of exciting. I read it through this week, and though I struggled with it when I was writing the first draft, I’m very happy with how it came out.
And, of course, at pretty much the same time I turned that book in, I received the galley proofs of Dead Man’s Reach, the fourth volume in the Thieftaker Chronicles, which I write as D.B. Jackson. So I know what I’ll be working on for at least the first part of next week.
After that, things get a little murkier, and far more intriguing. It’s time for me to start a new project. I have ideas, but nothing firm. Once those proofs are done, the brainstorming and worldbuilding and plot construction begins. I don’t know yet where it all will lead, but I’m eager to find out. Stay tuned. . . .