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

Sarah Palin: Vampire Hunter meets Jason Cosmo!

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

By now you’ve seen the new cover art for Sarah Palin: Vampire Hunter, as imagined by Brian Denham. The new cover is already gracing the SPVH ebook at Smashwords.  I will also soon launch a Kindle version in the Amazon Kindle Store. But that’s not all! Jason Cosmo is coming along for the ride. (And so is the Hatchet Man)

Sarah Palin: Vampire Hunter

Sarah Palin: Vampire Hunter

As fun a story as SPVH is, I thought I should give Loyal Readers more bang for the buck. So I added three bonus stories to the Kindle ebook: the comedic horror short story Beginner’s Luck, the first six chapters of Hero Wanted, and the Jason Cosmo mini-novel Rainy Daze. All together, for the first time ever, in one ebook! It would cost about $8.00 to buy these ebooks separately, but I’m rolling them all into one for only $2.99.

This edition will be available (for now, at least) only at Amazon. It isn’t on sale yet because Amazon is still processing the file, but I wanted to give you a heads up and I will be sure to let you know when it goes live.

Stay tuned!

Best regards,

Dan McGirt

Sarah Palin: Vampire Hunter New Cover!

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

Here is the finished Sarah Palin: Vampire Hunter cover by Brian Denham. In celebration, get the ebook for only 99 cents through Halloween with this coupon code: JH95N.

Sarah Palin: Vampire Hunter

Sarah Palin: Vampire Hunter

Best regards,

Dan McGirt

Twinkle: Vampires My Way

Greetings, Loyal Reader:

Twinkle launched this week. The story has already received a few good reader reviews and is moving up the charts. For those who missed the previews, Twinkle is my take on the romantic vampire craze, offered as free ebook mini-novel. Here is the Smashwords blurb:

Twinkle. A small town with big secrets. Can Stella find eternal love with her vampire boyfriend Edmund? Will werewolf Jake’s own desire for Stella drive him to a fatal decision? Or will the arrival of a certain famous vampire slayer turn all their lives upside down? Twinkle is the vampire epic you’ve waited for—if you’ve already read all the other vampire epics. Enter Twinkle if you dare!

And here are a few Loyal Reader reviews:

“If you don’t mind a (not so) gentle poke at some of the current vamp romance hype, you’ll enjoy this story.”(Ommadawn)

“McGirt takes on a host of pop culture topics with the kid gloves left in their proper place: on the shelf. The angsty vampire genre receives a ten pound monkey wrench to the gut with hilarious results.” (MT Murphy. See full review on his blog.)

A hilarious romp through the “steamy underbrush” of current pop culture! Well done! (T. Shatzel)

So thank you to Loyal Readers who have tried Twinkle and to my kind reviewers. Now I’m back to work on NOBLE CAUSE!

Best regards,

Dan McGirt

Twinkle: new preview

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

My vampire mini-novel Twinkle launches March 1 on Smashwords. I’ve shared one scene over the last three days. Today I have a new preview. New scene. We join Stella running through the woods:

SMACK!
Stella slammed into a tree for the fifth or sixth time.
“Why are there so many trees in this forest!”
She hoped this wasn’t real, just another of her absurdly frequent and vivid nightmares. That had to be it!
This isn’t real! This isn’t real! This isn’t real!
But she kept running just in case.
Which way was the road? Was this the right trail? Which way was she running? Did it matter? She just had to get away, keep going until she woke up. Right?
Stella hit another tree, bounced off it, tipped over backward and slid down a steep incline.
“Let me help you up,” said a familiar voice.
“Where—where am I?” said Stella.
“Tresspassing on the Quixote reservation.”
“Jake? Is that you?”
The clouds parted and the moon revealed to Stella that it was indeed her childhood friend Jake. The muscular, dark-haired, bare-chested Quixote Indian teen wore sandals and a pair of cut-off jeans. He pulled Stella to her feet with effortless ease.
“What are you doing here, Stella?” he asked, flexing his biceps.
“I was out here with Edmund, my boyfriend, who is gorgeous and perfect and sparkly and dreamy.”
“Oh,” said Jake. He made the face one might make after stepping in something squishy.
“Yes, we were making out in a moonlit meadow, his full lips devouring mine, when—”
“I get it,” said Jake, curtly.
“No, I don’t think you understand. We were about to take our relationship to a new level and meld our bodies into—”
“Oh, for the love of—I get it, Stella! You and Edmund! Kissy-kissy, lovey-dovey, Oh, Edmund this! Edmund that! Edmund, Edmund, Edmund! Edmund is all you talk about every freaking Edmund minute of every freaking Edmund day! So you’re out here with Edmund. Awesome. I don’t need the details. Where is Mr. Awesome Sparklefingers anyway?”
“That’s what I’m trying to tell you. Edmund is—oh my gosh!
“Edmund is oh-my-gosh what?”
Stella dropped her voice to a whisper. “Jake, don’t move! There are like three humungous wolves standing right behind you!”
Jake rolled his eyes. “I know. I’m amazed you managed to notice them, though, seeing as none of them are Edmund!

I think that is about all I can give you for now without revealing too much of the plot ahead of time. Don’t you hate those movie trailers that give away the whole story? Well, I do too. So no spoilers. You’ll have to tune in on March 1 to find out what happened out in the Oregon woods, why Stella is running into trees in the dark, and what happens next in the mysterious town of Twinkle.

Best regards,

Dan McGirt

Twinkle: second excerpt

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

Below is the second excerpt from my vampire mini-epic Twinkle, coming March 1 as a free Smashwords ebook. Vampires my way!  If you haven’t read the first excerpt yet, go read that first. This picks up with the very next line:

“I dream about you when I sleep, except I don’t sleep. I just lie awake thinking about you. Or texting my friends about you. Sometimes, late at night, I update my Facebook profile to say how much I miss you and that I’m thinking about you. And then I write poems about you in my LiveJournal.”
“Yes, I’ve read some of those,” said Edmund. “You don’t pay attention in English class either, do you?”
“I can’t! Maybe I should set my LJ to private, but I don’t care. I don’t care, Edmund! I don’t care who knows how I feel because I want everyone to know how I feel about you because it’s how I feel about you and everyone should care.”
“About?”
“How I feel about you!”
“Right.”
“Oh, Edmund, you’re so sparkly and gorgeous and moody. I want to be with you forever!”
His tourmaline eyes flickered red. “Do you really mean that?”
“Yes. I want to spend every second with you until the end of time! I have this aching, longing, yearning, indescribable need to be with you that I can’t even describe.”
“I think you just did.”
“It fills me, Edmund! My need to be with you constantly, always, forever. It fills me up. It makes me ache and tingle and ties my stomach in a knot and sometimes I just throw up on myself because I love you so much!”
“A lovely image,” said Edmund. “But, listen, Stella—”
She knit her brow in confusion. “Listen? What does that mean?”
Edmund sighed. “It means you stop talking and I say something.” He cupped her face in his hands and stared deeply into her chocolate chip eyes. “It mean you use these cute ears of yours for once.”
“I record myself reading the poems I write about you and then I upload the recordings to my iPod and I listen to them while I curl up in a ball under the dining room table because I miss you so much.”
“Not what I meant. Stella, this is important. Do you really want to be with me forever? Do you even know what that means?”
“I do, Edmund,” she said breathlessly. “I do know.”

More to come …

Best regards,

Dan McGirt

 

Twinkle: new Dan McGirt mini-novel coming soon!

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

I’ve had little chance to update the Update in the new year.  For the last few weeks I’ve been feverisly penning–well, keyboarding–a new mini-novel.  It is not a Jason Cosmo tale, but what one might loosely call an urban (although not in an urban setting) fantasy vampire thriller mini-novel.  It is set in a rainy town in the Pacific Northwest, though not one named for an eating utensil. I call this little epic “Twinkle” — and I can assure you it’s not what you expect. At all.1

Twinkle will be released as a free ebook on Smashwords on March 1 — one week from today.

I suspended work on NOBLE CAUSE to write Twinkle. Why in the name of Rae would I do that? Well, the original idea for Twinkle came to my during a walk in the woods last fall. I’ve been noodling the notion ever since and when everything finally clicked in my head I decided I had to write it right away. Being a creative sort, I’m entitled to make these kinds of erratic, impulsive decisions from time to time. I believe the result will entertain you–so I hope you’ll indulge me this narrative detour. As soon as Twinkle hit the virtual stands I’ll be right back to work on NOBLE CAUSE–promise!

In the meantime, if you haven’t read the Jason Cosmo mini-novel Rainy Daze, it is also available on Smashwords. Please check it out!

Okay, back to work for me–I’ve got a deadline to meet! See you March 1 for the debut of Twinkle.

Best regards,

Dan McGirt

 

 

 

  1. Or maybe it is. My opinion on kissy-kissy vampire stories is a matter of public record. So set your expectations accordingly. []

Jason Cosmo Rainy Daze ebook now available

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

I have at last completed and published the Jason Cosmo mini-novel Rainy Daze, now available at Smashwords.  Going by SFWA Nebula rules yardstick, the 12,000+ word story clocks in as a “novelette.”  But that is a silly word, so I’m calling it a mini-novel from here on.

Rainy Daze is set between chapters 6 and 7 of Hero Wanted. You do not need to read Hero Wanted to enjoy Rainy Daze. If you do, you will get a few references that other readers don’t, but that’s about it. The story stands on its own (to the extent it stands at all!) in what we might call a ‘narrative gap” in the action of the novel.

It took me longer to write Rainy Daze than I expected. This was mainly due to interruptions, travel and other responsibilities. But it was also me struggling to keep the story under control. As I may have mentioned before, for me it is much easier to write a book than a short story–for the simple reason that once I get going on a story, it is hard to turn off my imagination. I keep throwing in new ideas, wanting to go off on tangents, adding new episodes, etc. The opposite of writer’s block.  (What would that be? Writer’s unblock? Writerrhea? Lovely.)

Writing a good short story takes, among all the other writing skills, discipline. In a compressed space of a few thousand words, economy matters. I am usually–at least when writing in the Jason Cosmo mode–more of a turn on the taps and let my imagination run wild writer. Hence my 12,000 word “short” story, which is really more a string of related incidents.  I could expand Rainy Daze into a full novel by expanding some of the scenes, adding a few more incidents, elaborating on more of the back story, etc. Instead, I was trying to wrestle it down to a manageable tale.  The effort only increases my respect for the masters of short form fiction.

But I’m not trying to win any prizes. My aim is simply to provide Loyal Readers with a good yarn and a few laughs. Rainy Daze depicts one day on the road between Darnk and Brythalia. If you’ve read the earlier excerpts I posted here, you know that much. What you don’t know is what kind of trouble Jason, Mercury, Sapphrina and Rubis get themselves into when they enter a mysterious cave. To find out … go read Rainy Daze!

Then let me know what you think.

Best regards,

Dan McGirt

Jason Cosmo Podcast Audiobook to Come

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

Just a quick update. Despite my best intentions, the conclusion of Rainy Daze remains unwritten. I have been sidetracked by other obligations and continue to be. I hope to see daylight and finish the story soon. I don’t think I’ll have time to squeeze in a Halloween story before Halloween either.

Once I do wrap up Rainy Daze it will be time for the final push on the manuscript of the next Jason Cosmo novel, Noble Cause. I pretty much suspended work on Noble Cause at the beginning of 2009 to focus on getting Hero Wanted finished, edited, produced and on sale now wherever fine fantasy novels are sold.  That doesn’t mean the story hasn’t been percolating in my head. I will probably do some significant revising once I get back to it. I’ll have to see how the existing text has aged these last few months.  My back of envelope calculation is to be ready for editing and proofreading by early next year (January/February) and looking at a summer release. I’ll keep you updated as those plans gel. This is, after all, the Jason Cosmo Update.

In the meantime, I’ve decided it is long past time I got on the podcast audiobook train. After studying the examples of podiobook pioneers like Scott Sigler and Seth Harwood, I’m convinced this is something I need to do. My plan will be to record the full text of Hero Wanted, as read by me, and release it in a series of free weekly podcasts. I am persuaded that this will help me connect with many more potential new Loyal Readers (or, Loyal Listeners, I guess they’ll be), perk up my print book sales, and have fun doing it.

Obviously that is two major projects on the horizon: write and publish Noble Cause, record and produce Hero Wanted. I do not know yet what the time frame for the podiobook will be. I just bought a pro-quality microphone and a copy of Podcasting For Dummies and I’ve got a good bit of learning to do before I launch that project in earnest.  For now, writing Noble Cause will be the first priority, but stay tuned!

Best regards,

Dan McGirt

Jason Cosmo in Rainy Daze, Part 2

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

Below is the next section of my Jason Cosmo novelette-in-progress, Rainy Daze.  Before you read this, you’ll want to back up to the previous post, and read Part 1.  And before you do that, you should buy Hero Wanted, the first volume of the Jason Cosmo series. (Or get the Hero Wanted ebook at Smashwords.) This story is set between chapters of Hero Wanted, specifically after Chapter 6 and somewhere between the lines of the first paragraph of Chapter 7. It isn’t strictly necessary to read the first 6 chapters of the book before you read Rainy Daze, but it may help.

***

Who blazed this trail and where it went, I did not know. Mercury didn’t know either, but the wizard led the way with resolute confidence. The path was steep and narrow and made more treacherous by the unending flow of water around the fetlocks of our steeds. Every ridge, gully and channel tracing down from the heights was awash with swift-flowing runoff. The river passed from sight as we picked our way between the hilltops, but its great roar contended with that of the storm.

Wind howled around us, flapping our cloaks, bending the trees and slapping at our faces with flying leaves and stinging raindrops. Terrible peals of thunder shook the ground and spooked the unhappy horses. Fearsome clouds blotted out the last remnants of sunshine, leaving our way to be lit by blasts of lightning that shot across the sky like tongues of white flame.

Never had I beheld such a tempest as this. The rains of Darnk were dull and monotonous. But this was like something out of the old stories, the myths of long ago. Had the golden chariot of Great Whoosh, God of Wind and Sky, overturned, spilling its cargo of thunderbolts across the clouds? Had Thunderhoof and Skysplitter, the ornery goats tasked with pulling the chariot, broken out of their pen and partaken of the fermented pomegranate whiskey that Freshlord, God of Fruits and Vegetables, kept in a clay jug behind his sacred tool shed?  Perhaps a massive cold front advancing through moist, warm air had triggered atmospheric instability leading to high intensity precipitation and an accumulation of charged particles released as a massive electric discharge that in turn superheated the air, resulting in the aerial shockwaves we perceived as thunder? I didn’t know. Yet whatever its causes, this was a downpour of legendary proportions. It could only portend ill.

I grew more uneasy with every step away from the river road. Darnkites were not by nature travelers. My homeland was so isolated from the rest of the Eleven Kingdoms that it didn’t even share a border with its nearest neighbor, Brythalia. Between the two realms lay this unclaimed wilderness of rocky hills and scrubby forest that now we crossed. All manner of beasts roamed the area—bear, goat, deer, boar, hobcat, and various fowl, including the noisome stinkbird.

But that wasn’t all.

Darnkites delighted to tell one another tall tales about the dangers beyond our borders. When we gathered in our drafty taverns or around the smoking dung fires at night, we spoke of the many fearsome creatures said to dwell in these strange hills beyond our stony pastures and familiar turnip fields. Gruffasaurs and grumpsnorts. The pearly-eyed horngrim and the irritable stumpthrower. Rock toads the size of small boulders. Bully beetles that would bore a hole in your skull while you slept and lay eggs in your brain. Bands of vicious goblins, brutal hobgoblins, and pretentious snobgoblins. The hairless boggins, who stole buttons in the night, and their magical cousins the frownies, who would gruntingly relieve themselves in any pair of boots carelessly left by the doorstep when the moon was full.

Nor were the supernatural terrors of the region limited to such third-class fairy folk. There were slithy troves here. Ghosts who drank blood. Scare hags. Phantom creepers. Free-range enchanted kettles that would cook anyone unwary enough to climb inside them. And the terrible, terrible Jib-Jab Man. Having heard these stories all my life, I had every reason to fear venturing cross country. Yes, it was possible that the monsters rumored to stalk these hills did not exist outside the alcohol-addled imagination of my countrymen. But maybe they did.

Maybe they did.

***

“What is that sound?” said Rubis.

“All is hear is wind and rain,” I said.

Night was near. Though we could not see the setting sun, the wet gloom grew gloomier.

“No, there is something more,” said Sapphrina. “There! Do you hear it?”

I did. Cutting through the storm came a distinct wailing cry. It rose and fell, then was gone. The sound was distant, but not distant enough.

“A raccoon,” I said.

“Raccoon?” said Rubis.

“That was no raccoon!” said Sapphrina.

“Could have been,” I insisted. “A scared raccoon stuck in a tree.”

“Are you serious?” said Sapphrina. “It sounded more like a lost soul.”

“Like the wail of the shanbee,” said Rubis, nodding.

“That’s it!” said Sapphrina. “The dreadful spirit whose mournful keening is heard when someone is about to die. How does the verse go?”

Beware the shanbee, ye who shan’t be,” quoted Rubis.

“Do you think so?” I said. I had not considered the possibility of encountering a shanbee.

“Much more likely than a raccoon,” said Sapphrina.

“Might be a lamia,” said Rubis. “Half-woman, half-beast. Devourer of men.”

“Only men?” I said.

Seeing the stricken look on my face, the twins laughed.

“Oh, Jason, we shan’t let the lamia have you!” said Sapphrina.

“We’re hardly done with your ourselves,” said Rubis. She licked her lips.

“But a shanbee could give us trouble,” said Sapphrina. She turned serious. “You don’t think it is one really, do you?”

“It is neither shanbee nor lamia,” said Mercury.

“How do you know?” I asked.

“Because I’ve heard both and that is neither. Now, hush, all of you!”

The cry came again through the wind. It was distinctly louder.

Merc frowned. “We need to find a defensible position, and fast.”

“Why?”

“Whatever is out there—it’s hunting us.”

TO BE CONTINUED … AT SMASHWORDS.COM

I think I’ll leave you with that cliffhanger for now. I haven’t quite finished writing this tale, but plan to do so in the coming days. When I finish, I will release it as a multi-format ebook at Smashwords. In the meantime, you can pop over there and read my two Jack Scarlet tales and my 2008 Halloween story, Beginner’s Luck, as well as the full text of Hero Wanted.  By the way, if you enjoy any of those stories, please 1) recommend them to a friend and 2) post a review at Smashwords.  (And if you hate the stories, please warn your friends … but give them the link, so they’ll know exactly what to avoid!)

Best regards,

Dan McGirt