I’m exhausted after a great weekend at MarsCon. Tomorrow I leave Williamsburg to do a few stock signings in North Carolina and then two bookstore events later in the week: a signing at the Books-A-Million in Gastonia, North Carolina on Tuesday (4-6) and then a signing at the BooKnack in Rock Hill, South Carolina with Faith Hunter on Wednesday (5:30-8:00). I’ll be signing copies of Spell Blind, the first book in my new series from Baen, The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, and also copies of my Thieftaker books (Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, and A Plunder of Souls) which I write as D.B. Jackson. Hope to see many of you along the way.
I have arrived in Williamsburg, Virginia for MarsCon 25, which begins tomorrow. I was literary Guest of Honor at MarsCon back in 2013, or maybe it was 2012. Whichever it was, I had a great time here, and when the folks who run the convention decided to invite back some of their former GoHs for this silver anniversary con, I was delighted to accept. Some of my favorite people will be here this weekend, and I’m looking forward to catching up with them, as well as meeting some new folks.
I spent the day driving from Richmond to the Virginia Beach-Hampton Roads-Newport News-Norfolk area, where I stopped in at several bookstores to sign stock. This after a wonderful signing last night with Bishop O’Connell at the fabulous Fountain Bookstore in downtown Richmond. The stock signings I did today went well — every store I visited had multiple copies of Spell Blind as well as copies of my Thieftaker books. And all the staff workers I met were friendly and professional.
The drive east from Richmond was beautiful. This entire area was hit by an ice storm yesterday, and this morning, with the sun struggling to break through a blanket of high clouds, the trees lining the highway were still glazed, so that their branches seemed to glow in the silver light. Gorgeous. Later, nearer to the ocean, I saw a Bald Eagle circling over the road, and then a Peregrine Falcon diving for pigeons just outside of Norfolk.
A good day, and, I’m sure, the prelude to a great weekend.
My friend Joshua Palmatier (aka Benjamin Tate) has interviewed me about the release of Spell Blind, the first book in the Case Files of Justis Fearsson. We talk about pseudonyms, urban fantasy, and character development, and, of course, we do so with panache. So check it out. You can find the interview here.
So I’m about to begin a small signing tour, and I’m hoping to run into some of you along the way.
My first stop will be this coming Wednesday night, January 14, at 6:30 pm. I’ll be appearing with Bishop O’Connell at Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia, which happens to be one of my favorite bookstores in the world. Here are details on the event. Apparently, Bishop and I will be making your fantasies come true. As the announcement says, come restrictions may apply . . .
I will spend the weekend in Williamsburg, Virginia as a returning Writer Guest of Honor at MarsCon. It should be a great convention.
On Tuesday, January 20, I’ll be signing from 4:00-6:00 at the Books-A-Million in Gastonia, North Carolina. The folks at the Gastonia BAM have always been incredibly supportive of my work, and I look forward to spending some time with them again.
On Wednesday, January 21, from 5:30-8:00, my wonderful friend Faith Hunter and I will be signing at the BooKnack in Rock Hill, South Carolina. This is another of my favorite bookstores, and when Faith and I get together for an event it is always a hoot.
Finally, on Friday, January 30, from noon to 2:00, I will be signing books at the University of the South Bookstore in Sewanee, Tennessee. This is my home town bookstore, and my signings here are always well-attended and lots of fun.
Today I have a post up at the website of my good friend Mary Robinette Kowal, as part of her “My Favorite Bit” feature. As I note in the opening, I have done several “Favorite Bit” posts in the past as my various Thieftaker novels have come out. Today’s post is about Spell Blind, the first book in the Case Files of Justis Fearsson, which came out earlier this week, and it discusses the twisted, even tortured history of the book as it went through rewrites and re-imaginings. I hope you enjoy the post, which can be found here.
Today is release day for Spell Blind, the first book in my new contemporary urban fantasy from Baen Books, the Case Files of Justis Fearsson. This release has been a long time in coming, and I really could not be happier to see the book in print.
To mark the occasion, I have a post up at Magical Words called “Release Day and Defining Success.” It’s about taking satisfaction in our writing achievements while also remaining ambitious and pursuing ever-greater goals. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you will go out, buy a copy of Spell Blind, and enjoy that, too. Thanks!
Spell Blind, Book I in the Case Files of Justis Fearsson, my new contemporary urban fantasy series from Baen, will be released tomorrow in hardcover! I’m very excited, and I hope you are, too. Here, for your enjoyment and enticement, is the last in my series of teasers from the book. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing them with you.
I made my way to the Z-ster, Antoine’s laughter still ringing in my
ears. I had been preparing myself all day, planning what I’d do if I felt
the Blind Angel Killer’s power again. But like an idiot, I allowed the
kid to throw me off balance.
And so, when the red sorcerer suddenly had me in his sights again,
I was utterly unprepared. I tried to ward myself, knowing as I did that anything I came up with he could defeat, knowing as well what he was trying to do with these teasing encounters. But I made the effort anyway.
The feeling was much more vivid this time. I knew he was close.
Too close. I turned a quick circle, but I also knew that I wouldn’t be
able to find him. The hairs on my neck and arms stood on end and
my skin grew cold, as if I was in shadow and the rest of the city was in brilliant sunlight. If he had wanted to kill me in that moment, he could have, though I would have put up a fight.
But he was toying with me. For a split second, I thought I could
hear laughter. Not ’Toine’s, though I heard that, too. This was deeper,
more menacing, more elusive. I turned again, trying to pinpoint where it was coming from. But it was everywhere. Around me, above me, below me. It was in my freaking head.
You’re mine now, I thought I heard someone say.
And then it was gone. The laughter ceased, the sun shone on my
face and arms, a warm wind touched my skin.
Three times. Once outside of Robby Sommer’s place, once outside
of Robo’s in Tempe, and now here, in front of Antoine Mirdoux’s
house. Was there a connection there, something linking the three of
them to one another and to this sorcerer with the blood-red magic? Or was it mere chance, the random choices of this bastard who was
I should have been concentrating on those questions, trying to
figure out what Robby, Robo’s, and Antoine had in common with the
Blind Angel victims.
But all I could think was that he’d done this to me three times now.
He’d touched my mind with his magic; he’d tested my defenses and
seen how I would respond to an attack, how I would ward myself.
There’s power in numbers. He knew me now. I was his. And the
next time, if he chose to attack, there would be precious little I could
do about it.
Spell Blind, the first novel in my new series from Baen Books, The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, will be released the day after tomorrow. And in the meantime, here, for your enjoyment, is another teaser.
By the time I headed for the Z-ster, night had fallen and the moon
was up. It was well past a quarter full and bone white in a velvet sky.
And though we were still several days away from the full, I could
already feel it tugging at my mind, bending my thoughts, making me
shiver in spite of the warm air.
Describing the phasings to someone who wasn’t a weremyste was
like trying to describe color to someone who had been born blind.
Words weren’t adequate. The closest I’d heard anyone come to
getting it right was something my dad told me not long after my
mom died. We weren’t getting along at the time, and his grip on
reality, which had already become tenuous before Mom’s death, was
slipping fast. But what he told me then in anger still rang true to this
“It’s like somebody reaches a hand into your stinkin’ brain,” he
said, “and swirls it around, making a mess of everything. The thoughts are still there—your sense of who you are and how the people around you fit into your life—but they’re scrambled. There’s no order, no time or space or story line. The boundaries disappear. Love and hate, rage and joy, fear and comfort—you can’t tell anymore where one ends and the next begins. And the worst part is, you know it’s happened—you know that it all made sense a short while before, and that now it’s gone. And there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.”
That was how it felt to me every time. You’d think after a couple
of hundred phasings—three days a month for half a lifetime—I’d get
used to it, or find some way to fight my way through. But each one
feels like the first. I’ve tried to brace myself, waiting for moonrise the
way I would a shot at a doctor’s office. It doesn’t do a damn bit of
good. As soon as the full moon appears on the horizon, I feel those
boundaries my dad talked about being sucked out of my mind.
That was the tug I felt now, with the moon shining down on me.
It wouldn’t happen until the end of the week, but already it was
reaching for me, testing my defenses and finding them as weak as
The vision began as a thin gray swirl, like a wisp of smoke
embedded in the glass. Another appeared, and a third. Soon there
were a least a dozen of them chasing one another across the mirror,
reminding me of children skating on a frozen pond. The center of the
image began to glow, faintly at first, then brighter, until I could make
out the oranges and blacks and pale yellows of embers in a dying fire. And then a hand emerged from the cinders. It might have been dark red, the color of blood, but it was silhouetted against that burning glow. It wasn’t taloned or deformed. It appeared to be a normal hand, long-fingered perhaps, but ordinary except for its color. Still, I knew immediately that it was . . . wrong; that it didn’t belong here. For one thing, those wisps of gray smoke acted as though they were afraid of it. They kept as far from the hand as possible; when it moved, they did as well, matching its motion so as to keep their distance.
This continued for a while, the threads of smoke and the hand
gliding over the embers, until suddenly the hand seized the strands of gray, capturing all of them in one lightning quick sweep across the
mirror. The hand gripped them, the wisps of smoke appearing to
writhe in its grasp. When at last the dark fingers opened again, what
was left of the gray strands scattered like ash. And when those
remnants touched the embers, they flared so brilliantly that I had to
shield my eyes. By the time I looked at the mirror again, the image
was gone. All that was left was the inverted reflection of my office.
The runemyste was watching me.
“What the hell was that, Namid?”
“What did you see?”
“You know perfectly well what I saw. You always know. What did
“What do you think it meant?”
I shoved the mirror off my lap and stood too quickly; my vision
“Damn you, Namid! Can’t you answer a simple question? Just
“This is as much a part of your training as the summoning of that
image. Scrying is more than seeing. Scrying is understanding what
I hated it when he was right.
This was what made scrying so frustrating. The images came to me
easily. Even Namid, who was a miser when it came to compliments,
had once told me that the visions I summoned from my scrying stone
were unusually vivid. Interpreting them, though, was another matter. Scryings were never clear or unambiguous. Rather they were shadows, portents, hints at the future. Frankly, they were a pain in the butt.
“I don’t know,” I said, beginning to pace the room. “That hand
I halted, surprised by the response. This was as close to a hint as he
was ever likely to offer.
“Why, Namid? What does the hand mean?”
Before he could answer, the phone rang. Neither of us moved, and
it rang again.
A cold prickling on the back of my neck—premonition, or instinct
honed by years on the force—made me pull out my weapon. I eased
toward the door, holding the pistol in front of me. I also released the
spell, felt the warding settle over me like a blanket. I reached the door, stepped past it so that I could swing it open and enter the garage in one quick motion. That was the plan, anyway. I had forgotten about that vanishing money from Jessie’s account and the possibility that she was with a myste. Stupid of me. And nearly fatal.
As soon as I flung the door open, I sensed the spell. It wasn’t
particularly strong, but it was an assailing spell—an attack—and
whoever cast it had aimed it at me. I braced myself, hoped the warding would hold. It did, but the spell—it felt like an impact attack, meant, no doubt, to seem like I had been hit with a two-by-four—was strong enough to stagger me and to make the doorway shake. By the time I was moving forward again, I could hear footsteps retreating toward the front of the garage.
I followed, Glock ready, the power for a second spell already
building inside me. This time I planned to cast an assailing spell of my
own. I hate it when people use magic against me; makes me want to
I hadn’t taken five steps, before I slowed, then halted. The smell
would have been enough to get my attention—feces, urine, vomit,
sweat, fear, desperation—there could have been a body rotting in here.
It was hard to tell.
But what I saw was every bit as bad. Worse, really. At least twenty
college-age kids lay sprawled over the filthy cement floor, most of
them unconscious. At least half of them were emaciated, their cheeks sunken, as if they’d been prisoners in this hell-hole for months. Others—the newcomers, most likely—might have been marginally healthier. But all of them wore stained, tattered clothing; all of them looked like they hadn’t bathed in weeks or longer.
I spotted Jessie Tyler right away, but I couldn’t help wondering
how many of these other kids didn’t have anyone searching for them.
I heard a loud crash at the front of the shop. Another glance at
Jessie convinced me she wasn’t going anywhere. I eased forward,
gripping my weapon with both hands, considering what spell I ought
to use. Assailing spells worked best with a precise target. I didn’t have one, at least not yet, and I didn’t want to hurt one of those kids.
Unfortunately, the myste I was stalking didn’t have my scruples.
Again, I felt the spell as soon as he cast it—the air was electric with
magic. I sensed the heat before I saw the wave of flame rolling toward me. I backpedaled, scared, but also unwilling to ward myself and leave the kids to roast. Fire spells are rudimentary magic, but this myste, whoever he was, had poured serious power into this one.
The temperature in the garage jumped twenty degrees. The skin on my face and hands flushed, like I’d been sitting way too close to a
The flames were almost on top of me when I cast my spell. Three
elements, because that was how spells worked: the kids and myself,
the fire, and a wall of magic in between. I recited the elements to
myself three times, allowing the magic to build inside me. On the third repetition, I released it, the way I would a held breath.
The barrier winked into view and then shuddered as the attack
hit it. But like my earlier warding, it held. That wall of flame passed
over without burning any of us. There was nothing I could do,
though, to keep the guy’s magic from setting everything else in the
garage on fire.