Happy New Year, Loyal Readers!

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

I hope that you rang in the New Year in style and have great things ahead in 2011! I simply want to take a moment to thank all the Loyal Readers who bought my books and stories in 2010, who posted kind reviews at Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, Goodreads, etc; and who took time to tweet, email, or otherwise let me know that you enjoyed my work. I love to tell stories. I love to entertain and amuse people. So it always makes my day when I hear from a Loyal Reader that you liked something I wrote.

Of course, I know what many of you would like is for me to write faster! (And, perhaps, better). Noble Cause is very obviously way behind schedule. My plan to release that book in 2010 were derailed various non-writing time commitments, as well as self-inflicted delays, such as the month or so I spent writing Sarah Palin: Vampire Hunter and the month or so I spent on the Caladon Falls role-playing game project. For those who have been patiently waiting for the new book, I apologize for getting sidetracked. I’m back on the case, and will have Noble Cause done and published by spring.

Aside from the aforementioned SPVH and Caladon Falls, 2010 also saw my world audiodrama debut at The Dramapod, which was at least non-awful enough that they invited me back for a dramatic reading of my horror-comedy short story Beginner’s Luck as part of The Dramapod Halloween special. The Dramapod gang produces some really fun material and if you enjoy audiostories, you should definitely check out their catalog.

Also in 2010, I quietly released the original Jason Cosmo Non-Trilogy as free Smashwords ebooks. This is a limited time Smashwords exclusive, so if you haven’t jumped over to grab Jason Cosmo, Royal Chaos, or Dirty Work do it soon! I’ve secured rights to re-use the original Richard Hescox cover art for the ebooks. As soon as the new covers are done, the Non-Trilogy ebook titles will go on sale at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Sony, Apple and other ebook retailers, priced at $2.99.  So get ’em while they’re free! (And if you’d care to post a review of the Non-Trilogy at Smashwords, I would greatly appreciate it.)

Speaking of ebooks, through the end of 201o my 9 ebook titles have 16,584 downloads (free + sales) at Smashwords alone, with just shy of 40,000 total downloads/sales when other retailers are included. Those numbers include far more free downloads than sales, since I gave away the Hero Wanted ebook for one full year. Whether you bought or read if for free–thanks for reading!

And if you bought, thanks again!

What’s ahead for 2011? I can only tell you my plans. Chances are, some of these won’t happen and I’ll think of new projects as I go. But here is my working list:

  • Release Noble Cause: this is definite. This will happen.
  • Re-release Jason Cosmo, Royal Chaos, Dirty Work ebooks with new covers. Also coming soon.
  • Another Jason Cosmo mini-novel (cf. Rainy Daze)
  • Revised version Royal Chaos: Book 3 in the relaunched series, after Noble Cause.
  • Boltblaster: At long last!
  • Sarah Palin Vampire Hunter II: because you demanded it!
  • Maybe a few other non-Jason Cosmo stories, for variety’s sake.

Less definite, but I’d like to do:

  • Hero Wanted podcast/bookcast: I love what authors like Seth Harwood and Scott Sigler are doing, serial podcasting entire books. But as I learned recording Beginner’s Luck, it is hard work and time-consuming. I want to do it, but this won’t be a top priority.

That’s what I have on the drawing board for you in the year ahead, Loyal Readers! Thank you again for all your support and encouragement. I hope your own plans for 2011 are even bigger and better than mine!

Best regards,

Dan McGirt

Caladon Falls: Milltown Irregulars Character Profiles by Dan McGirt

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

I want to point interested Loyal Readers to the character profiles I provided for Savage Mojo’s Caladon Falls fantasy RPG campaign setting. I described the basic setup of Caladon Falls in an earlier post. My small contributions to this product were in two categories–the mini-scenes I mentioned last post, and a set of pre-gen character profiles–which you can download free right now at Savage Mojo.

The premise of the Caladon Falls campaign is that the player characters are the Milltown Irregulars, a ragtag band of hastily assembled militia auxiliaries sent on various critical–and increasingly dangerous–missions as the invasion of Caladon by evil forces progresses. While you can roll your own characters (are RPG characters still “rolled” or is it all “build with points” now?) Savage Mojo also provides a group of pre-made characters you can choose from.

My assignment was to create names, personalities and back stories for each of these characters, including some explanation of how and why they all happened to be in the little nowhere settlement of Milltown at just the right–or wrong–time. This is what distracted me from Noble Cause for a month or two this past summer. It was fun, but time-consuming!

The Milltown Irregulars (click to enlarge)

For inspiration I was given the group portrait (click image to enlarge) that illustrates this post, and plentiful background on the setting and major plot points of the campaign. Within a few hundred words apiece, I tried to give each character an interesting personal story and a compelling reason to be in Milltown and to get involved once the action starts.  Because it is a dark campaign, most of the Irregulars have some degree of a painful past. I also tried to think of the dynamics of the group as a whole and to plant seeds that could set up conflicts, friendships, and perhaps even romance among the characters as the campaign progresses–depending on how the players play it.

Going left to right, here is the Milltown Irregulars starting line-up:

  • Larin (aka Gregard), House Spy: That doesn’t mean he’s a real estate agent. He’s an agent in the employ of one of the noble houses that rule the kingdom of Caladon
  • Gris, Hunter: A loner and explorer more at home in the wilderness than in towns. And a peerless tracker of evil-doers.
  • Isolde, Archer: Local girl made good. Matchless with a bow. Also, hates matches.
  • Tyrnan, Mercenary: Loves to fight. Has issues with authority. Should be a fine addition to the army!
  • Aloic, Crusader: He’s a man on a mission. Don’t get in his way.
  • Nym, Knight: A young knight with his head in the clouds.
  • Raelyn, Enchanter:  She’s the best worker of magic in a thousand generations. Just ask her.
  • Kayth, Protector: Someone has to heal all these people. But harm his brother Nym and he’ll take you apart.
  • Eiohna, Druid: A free spirit. Truly out of this world. (And my personal favorite.)

I enjoyed the exercise and the chance to let my imagination run wild in someone else’s sandbox. Again, you can see for yourself how it turned out by downloading the free Caladon Falls Milltown Irregulars pdf at Savage Mojo. Even if you don’t plan to buy Caladon Falls, check out the cool characters. You might just change your mind and decide to buy the campaign book too (which is the only way you’ll be able to read my aforementioned mini-scenes!)

Best regards,

Dan McGirt

Jason Cosmo Non-Trilogy Ebooks

[UPDATE  10/24/10:  All three Non-Trilogy titles are now available at Smashwords:  Jason Cosmo, Royal Chaos, Dirty Work]

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

Several Loyal Readers have expressed interest in reading the original Jason Cosmo novels — aka the Non-Trilogy — as e-books.  Your wish is my command!  I recently had the paperback editions of Jason Cosmo (1989), Royal Chaos (1990) and Dirty Work (1993) scanned by the good folks at Blue Leaf Book Scanning since I lacked electronic versions of the final as-published texts. I’ve begun the process of cleaning up the files and hope to have all three titles available as ebooks in the near future.

This undertaking is separate from my relaunch of the series, which began with Hero Wanted and will continue with Noble Cause. I realize reissuing the original versions while also publishing new versions may confuse some people, but I don’t think that is any reason to not make the original versions available for those Loyal Readers who are interested.

I am only editing Jason Cosmo, Royal Chaos, and Dirty Work for typos, spelling, and formatting errors that showed up in the published versions. I am not otherwise changing the text. So, for instance, the Jason Cosmo ebook will not include the revisions and extra scenes and chapters included in the Hero Wanted.  If you’ve read Hero Wanted, there would be no particular reason to read Jason Cosmo — unless you’re interested in seeing what the first version was like.

Anyway, that is the plan. I’m happy to take questions.

Best regards,

Dan McGirt

Dan McGirt World Audiodrama Debut at The Drama Pod

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

Today I am pleased — and more than a bit terrified — to announce the Dan McGirt world audiodrama acting debut in an episode of Off the Cuff produced by The Drama Pod.

Loyal Reader Tim Heffernan and the gang at The Drama Pod, based in Australia, have dedicated themselves to “the resurrection of radio drama.” I know what you’re thinking — wouldn’t they need to resurrect radio first? As it turns out, no — thanks to the magic of the Internet, which functions like a super radio tower with a broadcast range of infinity, you can hear their radio drama without a radio!

The Drama Pod have produced quite a few clever and entertaining audiodramas you can hear at their website or download to your mp3 player — all for free!  Most are fairly short listens — perfect for your commute. My personal favorites so far are The List and The Game Show (which you should listen to in that order).

One of their ongoing shows is Off the Cuff, in which unsuspecting guests are asked to star in a production without the benefit of a script — instead making up your lines as you go along. At the risk of permanent damage to The Drama Pod’s sterling record of success, Tim recently invited me to be a guest victim star on OTC. Thanks to Tim and the rest of the talented cast (or should I say, the talented rest of the cast) I had great fun recording my show. (I even got my own theme song out of it!) I hope you’ll enjoy it too.

You can hear the results for yourself at The Drama Pod — and let me know if I should stick to the writing!

Best regards,

Dan McGirt

Jason Cosmo: Noble Cause Cover Story

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

The cover for Jason Cosmo: Noble Cause is here at last. The gorgeously absurd and absurdly gorgeous illustration, once again, is by award-winning artist Richard Hescox, with cover design by Kris Tobiassen. They did a great job! I’ll let the picture speak for itself. You’ll have to read the book to get the full story, but what you see depicted here is our hero Jason Cosmo and the lovely twins Sapphrina and Rubis. And a very large bear.

Noble Cause (2010) by Dan McGirt

Noble Cause (2010)

Alas, we had to trim the picture a little to fit the dimensions of a book cover.

Since I don’t want Richard Hescox’s great work to go to waste, here is a peek at the full image before it was edited for the book cover:

Cover art for Jason Cosmo: Noble Cause by Richard Hescox

Jason Cosmo: Noble Cause Copyright 2010 Richard Hescox

I hope you enjoy this cover as much as I do.  Stay tuned for Noble Cause!

Best regards,

Dan McGirt

Hero Wanted ebook, soon no longer a free book

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

On July 18, 2009, I uploaded the Jason Cosmo: HERO WANTED to Smashwords as a free ebook. My initial intention was to offer the ebook as a free download only until the HERO WANTED print edition was released in August 2009. The goal was twofold:

  • A thank you to long-suffering, infinitely patient Loyal Readers who had been waiting for another Jason Cosmo adventure since 1993
  • Make it easy and painless for potential new readers to try Jason Cosmo.

For many and various reasons, I delayed charging for the HERO WANTED ebook. But the time is soon approaching when the free ride will end, as all good things must. Specifically, I’ll be adding a price tag on July 18, 2010, the one-year anniversary of the ebook release.

What does this mean for you, Loyal Reader? It means if you haven’t downloaded the free HERO WANTED ebook, what are you waiting for? You’ve had a whole year and now you’ve got one week left to get it for free!

(As for why I’m suddenly going to start charging for the ebook, the less said the better, but it involves a slight misunderstanding with the Russian mob and an unpleasant chap named Bruno. I really don’t want to talk about it.)

This does not mean I won’t be offering other fiction for free in the future–I definitely will be. In fact, I’ve got several free stories available right now:

And you can sample the first two chapters of the forthcoming Jason Cosmo sequel, NOBLE CAUSE here on JasonCosmo.com.

But if you haven’t yet grabbed the HERO WANTED ebook, do it now!

Best regards,

Dan McGirt

Jason Cosmo: Noble Cause Progress Report

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

A quick progress report on the next Jason Cosmo title, Noble Cause.  I am still banging away at the manuscript. Ace artist Richard Hescox is sketching ideas for the cover that I hope to see soon. I expect he’ll finish painting the cover by end of June.  Shortly thereafter, I’ll debut the cover here at the Jason Cosmo Update. In the meantime, the text will go through editing.  I haven’t set a release date yet.  August would be the very soonest, but it may be later, depending how the pieces come together.

I also have on my to-do list recording a “bookcast” audio version of Hero Wanted. I hope to get in the studio soon for that!

Yes, as usual, I’m making it all up as I go along!

Best regards,

Dan McGirt

Jason Cosmo: Noble Cause preview, part 6

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

Continuing our preview of NOBLE CAUSE, Chapter 1. If you missed the earlier episodes, start with part 1 and follow the links. All caught up? Here we go:

Malik’s speed startled me yet again. Swifter than a diving falcon, he closed the distance between us. With one hand he reached over my shoulder to grab my chin and yank my head back. With the other he sliced a serrated knife across my throat.

The serrations made popping noises as they broke off against my neck guard like the teeth of a cheap comb. I pivoted and smashed Malik with my shield, slamming him to the ground. I pinned him with a foot to the chest.

“That was eight blades!” I said, pressing Overwhelm’s point to his throat.
“You’re a cheater!”

“Am not!”

“Styling yourself Malik of the Seven Blades when you in fact have eight is, at the very least, disingenuous.”

“I was named for my Uncle Aktar.”

“Uncle Aktar?”

“Aktar of the Seven Blades.”

“Fine. So is this still to the death or have you reconsidered?

“I have reconsidered. If it is all the same to you.”

“It is. But I want to be sure you understand you’ve had your turn. Come at me with a ninth blade and these violent gentlemen so patiently waiting their turns are well within their rights to take you out.”

“I am done. Truly.”

“Better luck next time.” I helped him up. “Merc?”

“Nicely done,” said the wizard.

Continue to part 7.

Best regards,
Dan McGirt

Jason Cosmo: Noble Cause preview, part 5

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

Continuing our preview of NOBLE CAUSE. First read parts 1, 2, 3, and 4. The action continues now:

Malik’s sword bent in two. Though my enchanted armor, a hauberk and pants-of-mail combo, lacked a proper legendary name, it too was a relic of the Mighty Champion, bestowed upon me by The Gods. Made of miraculum, it was light and comfortable as silk pajamas, yet impervious to any weapon I had thus far encountered in my brief heroic career.

Even so, Malik’s hit would leave a bruise.

Malik jabbed his hooked dagger into my side. The knife broke.

That would also bruise.

“You’re Malik of the Four Blades now,” I said.

In reply, he snapped his arms in a peculiar motion. A pair of punching knives slid from his sleeves. These resembled brass knuckles with four-inch blades attached. Malik feinted, ducked, and again got past my guard. This time he went low, aiming a jab at my thigh followed by a slam punch to the crotch.

I winced more at the thought of the low blow than from any actual pain. The Cosmosuit protected my more sensitive bits as well as it did the rest of my body. The punching knives snapped like stale toast against a brick.

Angry now, I advanced with a furious flurry of thrusts and slashes. Had even half of my blows connected, pieces of Malik’s head and limbs would have flown in six different directions. His quickness saved him. Dodging and tumbling, Malik avoided my onslaught, culminating his evasive maneuvers with a standing reverse somersault. From mid-air he launched a pair of throwing stars at me. I raised my shield to deflect the razory projectiles. One embedded itself in a tree. The other whizzed past the head of a waiting fighter, severing his ear.

“Are we done, Malik of the Broken Blades?” I said. “Or must this still be to the death?”

Malik glared at me, but made no move to attack.

“Done, then.” I turned to Merc. “Who’s next?”

Go to part 6!

Best regards,
Dan McGirt

Jason Cosmo: Noble Cause preview

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

Just to prove I haven’t totally abandoned Jason Cosmo to make a career of flogging Sarah Palin: Vampire Hunter, here is the most current version of the opening lines of NOBLE CAUSE. That said, I’ve revisited Chapter 1 dozens of times, so this could all change before publication, and probably will!

The big warrior twirled a battle ax around his head like it was a fly swatter—and me the fly. His long red hair was done in Malravian war braids, knotted around bits of metal and bone. This was the new fashion among Carathan street brawlers. Equally trendy was his brass-studded red and black designer cuirass from the Militas Pro collection. My own helm and coat of mail were no-brand hand-me-downs, as was my sword, but they served me well enough.

“Jason Cosmo, you die this day or my name is not Kyril the Red!” bellowed the ax-wielding fashion plate. His lovingly oiled biceps glistened in the morning sun.

“And if I refuse to die?” said I. “What then is your name?”

“Er, I think it would still be Kyril, wouldn’t it?”

“You tell me. But get back on line, Kyril, or not Kyril, or whatever you decide. We start at seven, no sooner.”

The other waiting killers laughed. Kyril sputtered. His face went as red as his armor. But he lowered his weapon.

“This is madness,” said Mercury Boltblaster. “I’m called reckless, but to invite your own murder? You’ve lost your mind.”

“I don’t invite my murder,” I said, clapping my friend on the shoulder. “I only try to make it less inconvenient for all concerned.”

“Thoughtful of you,” said the dusky-skinned wizard. “But your courtesy is misdirected. This is a gruesome lot.”

Mercury slid his mirrored sunshades down his nose and cast a gimlet eye over the gallery of rogues gathered at the dueling field near the duck pond in Pantheon Park. Each of them was eager to spill my blood.

The rogues, not the ducks.

“I find a bit of thoughtfulness goes a long way,” I said. “They’re going to try and kill me whether I cooperate or not. This way, they know where and when to find me, I know where and when the attack is coming, we don’t bother other people, and we can all better plan our day.”

With HERO WANTED, I was only touching up an opening scene I wrote 20 years prior. This is all new and I want to start NOBLE CAUSE with a bang. Does this grab you? Does it make you want to read on? (If so, read part 2 now!)

Best regards,
Dan McGirt