Free Prequel Story

A while ago, I wrote a story taking place 800 years before Shoreseeker called “Voices of Wind and Stone.” It won an award from the Writers of the Future contest, and I’ve been wanting to put it out, but first I wanted to put an extra coat of polish on it and figure out the best way to get it into your hands.

Cover design by yours truly.

I decided the best way was to make it available for free for subscribers to my new newsletter. Stylistically, it’s a bit different from Shoreseeker in that it’s written in first-person, but I think it still fits well with the novel. It’s one of the best things I’ve written, second only to Shoreseeker, so I hope you’ll check it out. Of course, I think you’ll be interested in my newsletter as well, and I’m planning on putting in content that readers of my stories will find interesting. I also plan on sending more updates through it than I have been through the blog, which has been … lean, to put it delicately (sorry about that).

Here’s the link. Thanks for checking it out, and when you finish it, make sure to leave a rating/review over on its Goodreads page. Much appreciated!

Shoreseeker Promo: How’s It Going?

It’s going very well! In fact, I’ve seen a remarkable response from the UK, where it’s #3 in two categories, Dark Fantasy and Low Fantasy, as well as # 17 in Epic Fantasy:

It seems to be picking up steam on the US Kindle store, as well, cracking the top 100 in a couple categories. It’s still free for a couple more days, so if you haven’t picked up your copy, you can here. And as always, share this link with your friends so they can get one, too!

Featured

Shoreseeker, Free for the Holidays!

For the first and possibly last time ever, I’m making the Kindle version of Shoreseeker completely free worldwide. The free promotion runs for five days, from December 25th to December 29th.

Many of you reading this have already purchased Shoreseeker in some form. If you didn’t get the Kindle version before, now you can at absolutely no cost to you. Even if you don’t normally read Kindle books, downloading Shoreseeker will give it a much-appreciated boost, and you will always have it from now on.

If you already got the Kindle version, you can always share the free promotion with your friends if you think they might like the book.

As always, I hope you enjoy it if you’re reading it for the first time, and I hope you have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

P.S. Here’s the link to the Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07XCWYRW7/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_LZNJDbZH09VJK

Shoreseeker: International Bestseller?

The launch of Shoreseeker one month ago was, by my humble standards, a success. A lot of people showed their support, and even people whom I haven’t seen in years surprised me with pictures of them holding their freshly-printed paperback copies of the book. I was floored–and honored–by the number of people eager to get their hands on my debut novel. So, first of all, I’d like to thank everyone who helped out with the launch, from those who bought a copy, to those who reviewed it, to those who sent me a kind message or gave one of my posts a boost. Thank you so much.

One of the challenges all authors, or really anyone with a product to sell, faces is the fact that only people who have heard of you or your product will buy it. It should surprise no one that authors with a large social media following have an easier time marketing their book simply because more people know about it. So now that the people who know about my book have had a chance to buy it, my next task is to expand the pool of people who know about my book.

But one of the surprising things was learning who had already found out about my book. Shoreseeker is enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, which, for those of you not familiar with it, is Amazon’s book subscription program, kind of like Netflix for ebooks. One of the features for authors is that it tells you when someone from one of Amazon’s different markets (for example, the US) reads pages from your book through the program.

Through this, I’ve seen that people from all over the world, from the UK, Germany, Australia, and Japan, are reading Shoreseeker. Since I don’t know anyone from some of these places, that meant somehow people were finding out about the book without me telling them. Which, of course, is beyond awesome. And the best part is, the read-pages count goes up over time. This means that the more someone reads of Shoreseeker, the more they want to read it (though this is slightly guesswork on my part, since Amazon, with a laudable respect for privacy, doesn’t even tell how many people are reading it from a given market, much less who they are).

And this was just the beginning!

So, there’s great news all around. But that wasn’t even the best news.

On a lark, I checked my Amazon ranking in Japan ten days after release and saw this:

That’s right. Shoreseeker was the number one epic fantasy in the country, beating out A Game of Thrones and The Hobbit a mere day after The Hobbit‘s anniversary. Furthermore, it wasn’t merely beating other Kindle books. It was beating every book in every format.

I may have crazy-laughed for a couple minutes.

In a private Facebook group for aspiring writers as well as seasoned pros, I joked that this must make my book an international bestseller. The unanimous response was that it’s no joke. Japan, while a small market, is still its own overseas market, and Shoreseeker was the bestselling epic fantasy in it. Thus making it an international bestseller.

So there you have it. An epic launch for an epic book. I’m going to try to keep the momentum going, as well as continue work on book 2, Drawingpath (which is shaping up very nicely). Thanks again for all your support for helping Shoreseeker‘s release be what it was.

Paperbacks!

Great news! We have Shoreseeker paperbacks over at Amazon! Here’s a peak at the proof copy I received to give you an idea what to expect:

When I published my first stories back in 2012, a lot of people wanted to be able to read a physical copy. Ebooks were still fairly new at the time and didn’t have the popularity they do now. At the time, I was still new to publishing and had only published a handful of short stories and novellas, and by the time I had enough for a collection, I decided to focus my effort on a new project. Many potential fans, the ones who preferred paper books, never got a chance to read my work.

In the end, it was for the best. While I like my early work, I knew my writing had a ways to go before it would have enough appeal among fantasy fans to warrant a paperback. When I put one out, I wanted to show people something truly special. So, while I honed my craft, I built a world and characters that I wanted everyone to read about. I created Shoreseeker.

Releasing this book in paperback is a big moment for me as a writer. But ultimately, I hope it’s a big moment for you as a reader, since you are the reason Shoreseeker exists at all.

Enjoy the book, and once you finish it, consider dropping a review on Amazon or Goodreads or both!

I’m Feeling Confident

My debut novel Shoreseeker drops tomorrow, and I’m feeling very confident about it. To show you why, let me share with you some of the feedback I’ve gotten from people who have read early and current versions of it.

The first time I showed chapters of Shoreseeker to my writing group, the Tokyo Writers Workshop, the chapters featured a side character named Penellia, a middle-aged scholar and magic user traveling through the woods with her less-than-sensible assistant, Stem. The two of them discover disturbing news and soon run into trouble.

One member of the group, who only showed up the one time to check it out, came up to me after the meeting. She said, “You know, I haven’t been interested in fantasy since the Pern books came out when I was a teenager. But reading your chapters makes me want to get into fantasy again.”

I stammered out a thank-you and said goodbye, never to see her again.

Even though they were rough, early chapters about a side character, they managed to interest a total stranger enough to make them want to read fantasy again. I realized, then, that I might have something special with this book.

Fast-forward several months. Another member of the group, this time a regular, said to me before one of our meetings, “Brandon, every month I have to read your submission twice. Once to critique it, and then a second time because I was too busy enjoying it to critique it the first time.” Like most of the TWW writers, she doesn’t read fantasy.

Here’s another, more recent one. This member is more of a literary writer, though his work has some fantastical elements to it. After reading a chapter about one of my younger characters, this exchange happened:

Him: You’re not marketing your book as YA, are you?

Me: Well, it’s not really appropriate for kids.

Him: Good. Because your prose is too excellent. It would be wasted on children.

Me: *silently wipes tear from cheek*

(While I appreciate the sentiment, I do disagree with it. I specifically wrote Shoreseeker so that anyone can enjoy the writing. Content-wise, however, yeah. Not for kids.)

One final example. I recently joined a second group called the Tokyo Fantasy Writers. Some of the members are also members of TWW, but one isn’t, and he had never read anything from Shoreseeker. I gave him the complete manuscript to read. At the next meeting, he said, “I read your book in four hours. And I feel bad that I didn’t pay you for the privilege.”

Because I have received such wonderful feedback throughout Shoreseeker‘s creation, I have put my all into its publication. I hired one of the best cover artists in the industry to do my cover art. And I believe that Shoreseeker has a chance to become a breakout hit.

But if you haven’t read the book and you don’t know the people in these writing groups, this is all just me talking. I want you to decide for yourself if the book is as good as I say it is. That’s why I’m setting the book at the lowest possible price on Amazon for a limited time, and also why I’m enrolling it in Kindle Unlimited, where members can it read it for free. If you’re not yet convinced, check out the sample. I’m confident that if you give the book a chance, you will love it.

Shoreseeker will be available on Amazon in both Kindle version and paperback.

Kickstarter Coming Soon!

With the release of The Birth of Maelstrom: Ghosthand‘s demo just around the corner, I have decided that the best way to get the game into people’s hands is with a Kickstarter campaign.

For those of you just hearing about it, Ghosthand is a JRPG-style indie game that I have been developing for some time now. Completion always seemed like a far way off, but now that I have a working demo that gives players a good idea of what the final game will look like, I can now say with confidence that the game will be finished next year. Getting a game out there takes more than just hard work, though. It takes money, and that’s where Kickstarter comes in.

The first part of the dynamic title menu. Dynamic, because it changes into…

… this! Having a title screen that changes and foreshadows the game’s mood is just one of the many unique aspects of this game. The title song, Soldiers of Ghosthand, reflects this change.

One of the challenges in this world of indie publishing, for both games and novels, is distinguishing yourself from a very crowded field. Most of the time I spent getting Ghosthand where it is now was spend on crafting its identity, giving it a different feel than other games of this kind. One place where I put my stamp was with the game’s music, which you can hear down below. Giving the game its personality took work, but the kind of experience you will get will be unlike everything else out there.

One reason it’s different is because it’s not merely a game, but part of a greater world that crosses different media. I’m calling it The World of Farshores.

I’ve been writing successfully for a while now, having won a couple of awards from the Writers of the Future contest and getting three of my short stories published in anthologies alongside amazing authors such as Brandon Sanderson, David Farland, and Todd McCaffrey. So, in addition to The Birth of Maelstrom game series (with Ghosthand as the first installment), I will release The Farshores Saga series of novels alongside it.

While many other worlds like Warcraft, Forgotten Realms, and the like have crossed media in the same way, they often start out as one thing and get translated into something else, usually by a new creator with a different vision.

With The World of Farshores, I’ve taken a different approach. Both the five-game series and the five-book series will be developed together and released in an alternating schedule.

The Kickstarter rewards will reflect this. While the game will be the main focus of the campaign, the first novel in the series, called Shoreseeker, will be one of the backer rewards. By backing the game, you could read the book in ebook or paperback before it’s released anywhere else. In addition to the game’s demo, I will have a sample of the book available.

I will post more updates as the campaign nears. Your support will go a long way to making this a reality, so I hope you will support it when it starts!

What I’ve Been Up To

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, but I wanted to let you know that I have been busy. Shoreseeker, the first book of the Farshores Saga, is looking for a home right now, and while I’ve been searching for an agent, I’ve also been hard at work on Shoreseeker’s younger sibling Drawingpath.

Feedback from my writing groups on the new book has been very promising (and helpful). One of the group’s veterans even told me that it includes the best writing of mine she’s seen yet.

That’s what’s been happening on the writing side. But as I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve got another project in the works: a video game.

Writing a novel is a very specialized task. While there are many aspects to that task, it is really focused: type words on a page to tell a story. That’s it. If you have that skill, you’ve basically got everything you need to write a novel.

Unlike writing a novel, making a video game requires a whole range of skills, from art to programming to composing music. Traditionally, each of these tasks was assigned a single person or team.

But if you’re completely mad, you might think you can do them all yourself. Such is the life of a solo indie game developer.

Here is a taste of what I’ve developed so far:

One of the skills I’ve learned since starting this project was composing music. That song, called “Soldiers of Ghosthand,” was written by me specifically for the title menu (which is now fully functional, a whole design challenge in itself). Most people when they play this game will probably just hit that start button and not even listen to the song or see the atmosphere changes at all. And that’s fine. But I’m one of those players who likes to find the tiny details that gives a game its character, and I’ve added plenty of details like that in my game for just that kind of player.

A playable demo for The Birth of Maelstrom: Ghosthand is coming soon. For updates as they occur, follow me here:

Twitter – Hearthsflame Studios

Facebook – Hearthsflame Studios

 

 

At Long Last

Finished Manuscript

After four years of finger cramps, brain cramps, and … uh, well, just those two kinds of cramps, I have in my hands a (nearly) finished version of my epic fantasy novel, Shoreseeker. Coming in at 174,000 words, it’s fairly long for a novel, but not so bad for epic fantasy.

I know what you’re thinking. Four years is a long time to write a novel, especially if that novel is part of a series. If we apply this same rate to the other four books in the Farshores Saga, we’re looking at sixteen more years until the series is complete, not including the year or two it takes to actually publish a book. That’s longer than it took to publish the first five books in A Song of Ice and Fire!

Of course, that’s not what I’m suggesting you expect. A lot goes into that first novel; once it’s done, much of the development work (world-building, character-building, etc.) is finished. Not only that, but I haven’t just been working on the first novel in the series. Here is everything Farshores-related I’ve done so far:

  • general series plot outline and worldbuilding
  • detailed book 2 outline, 2nd revision
  • 40,000 words of book 2, first draft
  • book 3 prologue and epilogue
  • book 5 prologue and final scene (no epilogue planned for that one)
  • detailed outlines for every game in the 5-game prequel RPG series
  • programming, design, and other development for the first game
  • rough outlines for 2 additional standalone non-RPG games

All of that took me four years. Not too bad, if I say so myself.

As you can see, I big chunk of work has already been done on book two, which I’m currently calling Drawingpath. This book has the advantage of being a more streamlined story, so once I go full-tilt on this one, it’ll take much less time than the first book did.

I’m beyond excited about what I have planned for the series in the future, but for now, Shoreseeker is where I’m focusing all my effort. After going through it from start to finish one last time and properly formatting it for submission, I’ll be tossing it out of the nest. Let’s hope it has wings.

Project B

Now that I’ve explained that Super Secret Project B is a JRPG-style video game based in the world of the Farshores Saga, I can no longer really call it super secret. It’s only kind of secret. And by the end of this post, nothing about it will be a secret.

When I first started developing the game as a serious production, I had intended it as a prelude to the series, explaining where the sheggam came from, as well as providing backstory for some of the main characters while introducing new ones and advancing its own self-contained story. At some point, I realized that in order for the game to achieve its maximal impact, it would have to be released after the final book in the Farshores Saga. That way, it wouldn’t answer any questions before the reader has had a chance to raise them.

However, this made me nervous for a couple of related reasons. First, that’s a long damn time to wait. I’m not that patient, and I’m proud of the work I’ve done with the game so far and I can’t wait to finish it and get it out there. Second, I had intended the Farshores Saga to be longer than a trilogy, and at that point, somewhat open-ended in terms of length. I didn’t know if it would be six books or twelve books. It could be a great many years before the world saw a tie-in video game. I didn’t want that idea to eventually fall by the wayside because I was too busy with the novels. They’re both important to me, perhaps equally so. I didn’t want to sacrifice one to the other.

Then one night, an idea came to me. Why did it have to be just one game? Couldn’t I break the game up into small pieces, more digestible for me and its potential players? So that’s what I decided to do. Production suddenly didn’t seem so daunting, and completing the first game seemed a much more reasonable goal. And I know that once I finish one, making the rest would be a downhill effort. Only one question remained: how many games?

I decided that I would tie the number of games to the number of novels, and release each game after a novel. I began to plan out the entire arc of the games, breaking them up when I thought it was appropriate. I soon realized that with the length of story I wanted to tell in the games that there would be five of them.

And that’s how I came up with the length of the Farshores Saga. Five games, so five novels.

It was good to set that limit for myself. It’s one of the reasons I have planned so far ahead in the novel series; the limit gave me structure to work with. I knew how much time I needed to accomplish a certain story goal, and that put constraints on what I could do with the story. Plotting it became a lot easier. There are a lot of details to work out still, particularly in the later books, but I know where I need to go.

As for the games, well… the main quest is entirely plotted out for all five games. It’s done. Written in shorthand in a notebook, but done. All that remains is implementation and adding side quests for flavor and depth. That’s still a lot of work, most of the work actually, but I’ll never wonder where the games need to go. That roadmap is finished.

So what about implementation? I’ve been working on the first game for a while now, and I can already tell you that the beginning is completely playable. I recently made significant changes to the gameplay and art style, but they were worth the time to do. I’m in the process of making it better, but a good chunk of the game is done. If I were to put a number to it, I’d say 30%. The one thing that can slow me down is getting too excited and adding things it doesn’t need.

Initially, when I envisioned it as a single game, I called it The Birth of Maelstrom (what the name means, I’ll leave you to wonder until book 5 😉 ). This hasn’t changed, but that’s now the name of the series instead, with each installment getting a number and a subtitle.

The titles are, tentatively, as follows:

I – Ghosthand

II – High Tyrant’s Sword

III – Memory Orbs

IV – God Seed

V – Eternity Thorn

And while each series will stand on its own completely, they will also work together, shining light on mysteries in each and enriching the world of Farshores. For example, at the end of Ghosthand, we learn what the sheggam really are and where they come from, a question that is only answered in part in the novel series. Yet, it isn’t information given solely to please fans of the novels; the information is actually an essential aspect of the overall plot of the game series. And even though each series shines a little light on the other, it doesn’t do so in a way that spoils anything or ruins any surprises. I hate spoilers as much as anyone, so I was very careful to construct everything in a way that avoids them.

Maelstrom follows Jurin, a young Sword Patterner and captain of a specialized mercenary group called Ghosthand. They’re in pursuit of a terrorist group called Atarax, who is planning to embroil the world in war in a misguided attempt to bring world peace.

The games will differ from the novels in a number of different ways. Most importantly, tone. Maelstrom will be quite a bit lighter than Farshores, especially in the beginning. This was a conscious decision. I wanted someone who was familiar with Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest to play Maelstrom and come away feeling enriched, not disturbed. And while there is a lot of fighting in the game, there isn’t the same level of violence that will be a major part of Farshores. Somewhat paradoxically, though, Maelstrom will be the tragedy of the two, since it details the events leading up to the sheggam scourge that nearly destroys the world (even though that particular event doesn’t actually happen in the games). As the release of both gets closer, I’m going to stress this difference so fans of one aren’t too surprised or disappointed in the other. That said, while the tone and level of violence will be different, the level of storytelling will be the same in both. Maelstrom isn’t dumbed down at all, just filtered for content appropriate to the medium.

In my post To Indie or Not to Indie, I mentioned that I intended to take a hybrid approach to my writing career, with a mix of traditional and indie publishing. Maelstrom will be the indie part of that. My plan is to release the games on PC and Mac through Steam, as well as through the Apple Store and Google Play Store, a few months after each novel is released. I hope that this release schedule will keep the Farshores world fresh in the minds of fans and draw fans of one series into the other while they wait. I’m really excited to show both to the world, and I hope you’ll be there when it happens. Thanks for reading and let me know what you think in the comments!