Knight Training – A James Gentry Novella Coming Soon!

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Happy to announce the James Gentry novella is complete, which was written at the request of several fans asking for a story where James is more developed and in the lead. This is entirely from his perspective, and will act as a bridge between books 1 and 2 of The Adventures Of Baron Von Monocle. It’s a buddy-knight story of male bonding and camaraderie amidst a war–and potentially a traitor!

The story will be available first to Patreon supporters which will function as my May short story. You can sign up here and get this and other great short stories from me every month for a mere $3: http://www.patreon.com/jondelarroz . Patreon helps me to produce content and keep the blog running as well as all the other creative projects I do, so I really appreciate anyone kicking in. Even at just $1/month it’s a nice help. Please subscribe today!

Otherwise, the story will be available on Amazon sometime this summer. Probably only on e-book for now. The second full Von Monocle book, The Blood Of Giants, will also be available this summer.

If you want to catch up on For Steam And Country, my award nominated book (make sure to go vote for it!), you can do so here. It’s even available on audio.

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For Steam And Country Is Award Nominated!

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Just a few days before the release of my next book, The Stars Entwined, I’m very honored to receive my first award nomination for For Steam And Country yesterday for the CLFA Book Of The Year Award. This Award is among 1700+ members and there was fierce competition as there were so many good books that came out in 2017.  This award really means a lot.

The audiobook just came out a couple weeks ago, and this book has just steadily sold well since last June to stellar reader reviews (almost to 100!). I think it’s a testament to the writing that there’s not one one or two star review — even with the amount of angry haters who harass me on a daily basis. It’s all been positive.

Book Two is being edited, and I think blows book 1 away. The couple of folk who have read it for feedback have told me you’ll be extremely satisfied with this outing. I’ve finished a side novella featuring James Gentry through first draft (Which will probably appear on patreon soon/first) and as you see on the side bar here, book 3 is about 25% written, so this will have a nice series to it by the middle of the year. Very much worth checking out now if you haven’t already.

It’s gonna be a great year, and we’re just getting started!

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Review: Balanced On The Blade’s Edge By Lindsay Buroker

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I’m always on the lookout for quality steampunk fantasy I saw Lindsay Buroker’ss name on several different top lists on Amazon for several months and so I’ve been meaning to check her out for a while. Balanced on the Blades Edge was (and is) free on Amazon the first book in the Dragon Blood series so it seemed good time.
The book starts out with a sorceress who awakens deep within the mines that have been turned into a prison after a 300 year slumber. She meets a fellow by the name of ridge who is removed from his assignment as an airship pilot to be the warden of the prison mines. The sorceress Sardelle is bonded with what’s called a soul blade which is also hidden trapped within the mines she is trying to get to the soul blade and win the affections of the warden while trying to survive a culture that burns it withes somewhat Puritan style.
As Ridge gains control over the mines enemies are attacking via an airship. The enemy has a sorcerer aboard who is trying to get at the soul bode. they attacked several times and Sardelle and Ridge have to defend against it. What follows is two parts romance and one part action through the rest of the story.
I really love Lindsay‘s writing style. While Ridge can come off somewhat cocky and almost a romantic version of Han Solo he still ends up pretty likable throughout the story and Sardelle really carries her weight within the story. The enemies have good and clear motivations characters are well defined all around.
At first I thought the world building was a little bit lite but it’s very similar to the way I unfold my worlds with my writing and it gains depth as the story goes along and necessitates it.
Pacing wise, I thought it was very well done. I found myself wanting more of the book and not wanting to put it down. It had great airship action, romance was very exciting ,and I find myself genuinely caring for the characters and wanting more at the end of it.
The world and book overall had a fantasy feel to it more than steam punk as the focus was more on magic then on technical gadgets. I still found that this is one of the most enjoyable steam punk worlds I’ve had the pleasure of reading so far.
Overall, this book was fantastic. I am excited to get to the next installment in the series and look forward to reading more. It’s about everything I want out of steampunk fantasy.
10/10
If you like my taste in fiction, you might like the fiction I write. Check out For Steam And Country today!
 
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For Steam And Country Now Available On Audio

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Happy to have out my first audiobook, read by the wonderful narrator, Katie Wright. She did a great job and now you can listen to For Steam And Country on audio! 

Book 2 is with editorial and I’ve just started writing book 3. Hopefully I’ll have book 2 to you around summertime, and depending on book 3 it may not be that long after that. There will also be a James Novella titled “Knight Training” which I’ll have for everyone about the time of book 2.

Here’s the link again for the book and audio option (just click audio). 

Or on Audible here.

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Introducing The Jon Del Arroz Collection

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I’m very pleased to announce my partnership with CryptoFashion to create some awesome swag to go along with my epic books. We’re working on producing a number of different designs, which will be trickling in through the first couple weeks of  the year. I’ll try to point them out as they go live.

The first item we have is a t-shirt with the Crest of Malaky, the symbol of the Grand Risladnian Army in my hit steampunk novel, For Steam And Country.

These turned out awesome, and I’m sure it’ll be a popular item especially as more books come out. On that front, I’m about two scenes from finishing the first draft of Von Monocle 2, which I should wrap up this week.

I’ve also had a number of requests for posters of the book cover, which CryptoFashion also is generously putting into production. I’m excited to see this cover art in a bigger form myself.

As I said, there’ll be more to come. I am actually working with someone right now to create a map of Rislandia — another item many readers have requested. Naturally these would make for a great poster-sized item as well as having for a book insert. I’m hoping it’ll be ready in the next couple months.

For now, enjoy these items!  This is a big step career wise. If you would have asked me a year ago if I thought I’d have a company licensing my work for merchandise, I would have laughed and said I wish! Well, wishes come true with hard work and great products. Thank you everyone for making the book successful enough to catch their eye. I’m still not tired of winning and can’t wait  to win even more in 2018.

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Cool Cosplay!

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This Halloween I was quite happy to learn I had the first cosplay (to my knowledge) based on my book. A reader sent me this picture of a dapper young gentleman:

Dressed as the astounding and magnificent Baron Theodore Von Monocle. I’d say he did an excellent job, a nigh perfect job of recreating the Baron’s look. Now it’s got me thinking about doing a Young Baron prequel series… hmm…

But that’ll have to come later.

‘For now, I’m hard at work on Zaira’s second adventure, Von Monocle 2. I’m about a third of the way drafting the book at 32,000 words right now for #NaNoWriMo, and it’s coming along quite well. I anticipate finishing the draft in December and having it for release sometime next year.

For now, you can check out book one here and maybe get inspired for your own cosplay. I’d love to see some folk try out the Wyranth soldier uniforms.

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The Book 20 Years In The Making

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Last night I finished up my edits on what will be the first in what I hope will be many space opera / military SF novels set in this particular universe. It’s titled The Stars Entwined and follows an Internal Affairs investigator for humanity’s Interplanetary Navy as he navigates a powder keg of a political situation with the neighboring alien Aryshans, and a parallel story of an Aryshan Commander who has her doubts about war with humanity being a good option for her people. As their lives cross path, the war escalates to new heights. These characters really shine for me, and I hope they will for you too!

In Jan-Feb I first-drafted a second novel which overlaps with this one, which I’ll hopefully get edited and ready for you all mid-next year so you can see other angles of The Aryshan Wars. Needless to say, I’m very excited about bringing you a space opera with 100% my own world-building, and keeping in the rich tradition I’ve created in bringing fun novels through Rescue Run and For Steam And Country.  

As the blog title says, The Stars Entwined has been in the making for about 20 years. It’s the first book I ever wrote, which started in a high school English class when I wrote down the opening volleys of what would have been one Admiral Conley’s perspective (you’ll hear about him in the book) in fighting a war against an alien species. That assignment sparked my imagination where I began writing. Over the next several years, I wrote in spurts, pinning down the origins of the conflict and how the war escalated. I don’t have the original paper with Admiral Conley’s epic battle anymore (and I would probably cringe if I saw it!). My story ended up with a completely different cast of characters, with a completely new angle on interstellar war which hopefully will be fresh for you when you read!

I finished my first draft of this book, which at the time I had titled These That Twice Befell, a line from an Emily Dickenson poem. I liked the poem and the line, but as a title, didn’t feel quite sci-fi enough for me. The poem is:

My life closed twice before its close—
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me

So huge, so hopeless to conceive
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.

The poem still fits the theme a little bit as you’ll see when you read the book. The book really has a lot of internal death and rebirth of the characters as their preconceived notions of their worlds and who they are get turned upside down.

I redrafted the book a second time in 2014-2015, still not quite there in terms of honing my work. At the time, I called the book Starcrossed — which felt a little better for sci-fi, but there’s a zillion books titled that. I set the book aside when I started writing for Doomtown: Reloaded, which eventually led into my Star Realms novel. For the time, I set aside my own worlds and works to focus on the game-related material. I learned a ton about writing in those years and pushed myself to the next level.

With Star Realms being such a huge success, nominated for multiple awards and having so many amazing reviews, I knew I wanted to stick with Mil SF/Space Opera as my primary genre for writing. Both because I grew up reading mostly this genre, but also because my fans already were acquainted with my writing in the genre. For The Stars Entwined, I definitely drew heavily on my influences: Babylon 5, Deep Space 9, Lois Bujold, Elizabeth Moon, and Sharon Lee. If you’re into their work, I know this will appeal to you, and hopefully I was able to come across in the same tradition.

After my game work was complete, I saw people finding me online and beginning to read the blog and my books regularly. I had a choice to make to try to get work out faster — did I rewrite what would become The Stars Entwined, or did I try to release a Steampunk book I’d drafted as well. For Steam And Country was much closer to being a complete, finished work. It needed a lot less overhauling than my space opera did to be worthy of your read. I knew I needed to get something out a little faster than working on The Stars Entwined would allow, and so I chose For Steam And Country, nervous about releasing a more YA Steampunk with my audience.

When I finished the book, I immediately started work on The Stars Entwined, which I retitled it during its third major overhaul around May this year — and I actually wrote most of it from scratch. I threw out almost all of the prose from the first iterations. The overall scenes changed by about 30% of the book, which is unusual for me as I usually have the plot points worked out very tightly by the time it gets out of outline form (I work hard on my outlines, which I’m doing for Von Monocle 2 right now!). I may one day show the first draft of this to let everyone compare but it was a ton of work to get this done over the summer.

While I was doing that, For Steam And Country ended up being a bigger hit than my first book. It’s a great problem to have, but I do have the issue now where people are waiting for a sequel on my Steampunk, and now I’m about to release yet another first book for a series. I didn’t plan it that way, but the cards fell as they did based on what I had ready.  At the time I was releasing my Steampunk, The Stars Entwined was my priority to get done. I wasn’t sure a steampunk would resonate with my crowd at all, and I wanted to wait and see before committing to a series there, especially as For Steam And Country works very well as a standalone. For those readers, fear not, I’ll be spending NaNoWriMo getting book 2 of Baron Von Monocle written for you with lots of updates on its progress on this blog. I did get a little bit distracted by my Deus Vult In Space concept, which I wrote because I had to get that out of my system when I had the idea, so I apologize for the delay there, but hopefully you’ll forgive me that one digression. 🙂  That book is going to be a ton of fun.

I finished this draft of The Stars Entwined in early August, and did a clean up pass on it during that month. It’s been with my editor since then, and I just completed fixing the notes he gave to me. I’m extremely excited to get this into your hands. It’s in proofreading and cover art design right now. I haven’t decided when to release it yet — it largely depends on those efforts and their timing.

But there’s a lot of stories to the background of this book, how it developed, and how it changed. I’ll share as much as I can with you in the coming months so you can see the process of how this evolved into the fun space opera story it is for you to read.

Right now the books release schedule is probably going to be this:

  1. The Stars Entwined
  2. Reach For The Stars (Overlaps with The Stars Entwined, needs an edit)
  3. Baron Von Monocle 2 / Deus Vult – depends on which is going to be faster/easier to edit as to which is first.
  4. Alt-Hero 1
  5. Alt-Hero 2

As I’ve committed to co-write those Alt-Hero books, I may need some time before I return to these universes. It all depends on speed and also my co-writer Vox Day’s schedule in working on those. But it’s going to be an awesome 2018 at the very least. I’m about one year being in this business, and it’s been phenomenal. I’m really grateful you’re reading and giving me time to do a few series (it helps from keeping things from getting stale on my end!)

That’s all for now. I could ramble about all this for hours, and I might on periscope at some point so stay tuned for in depth looks!

If you’re liking my releases so far, have you checked out my novella, Gravity Of The Game? It’s being talked about for Hugo consideration for best novella by many people. Read it now here! 

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Steampunk Review: Tainted by Morgan Busse

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Tainted is a Steampunk novel set in a Victorian-style fantasy world that doesn’t feel all too different from most London settings. Kat is mostly alone—with a dead mother and a mad scientist father who spends all his time away from her, on his projects, and she’s left raised by paid staff, a woman who ends up a relation to the other main character, who is a detective become bounty hunter after his life goes wrong.

Morgan Busse does about as excellent a job as possible as setting up sympathetic characters. Both are put into situations where they’re hurting immensely through betrayal within the first few chapters, a trick that the master of sci-fi, Lois McMaster Bujold oft uses in her books, a formula to put characters through the worst possible situations from their perspective and see what happens when they come out the other side. When writers do that, it makes it very easy to latch on and go through the rest of books, and Busse succeeded in this.

The story is billed as a Frankenstein redone steampunk, and there are some of those elements there, but this reads much more like a romance-fantasy than a horror novel, so I think it’s better to go in with those expectations. Kat goes to what basically amounts to a mad science school, and has these strange powers she can’t explain that she tries not to use because it makes her feel as if she’s losing a part of her soul. Stephen spends early chapters moping, but he eventually decides to help Kat in her quest to figure out what’s going on with her.

It eventually comes to a climax that is hard to put down in the last hundred pages as the pace picks up and the stakes keep getting raised. There’s romance, betrayal, and a cool mad science laboratory with Frankenstein-style experiments that I wish I’d seen a lot more of earlier in the book, as this is where the world becomes compelling. Naturally there’s an airship captain because it’s steampunk, and the set up there does play a useful part to the story. Busse does an excellent job with the Chekov’s gun and making sure everything ties in, and is foreshadowed ahead of time.

A couple of criticisms of the book are that it uses the standard “no women are allowed into _____” trope where it didn’t really seem to have much use to the story. It’d be nice to not see that in every book out there, but it’s what we have in the market currently. After the first couple chapters, this part of the storyline goes away almost completely so it doesn’t negatively impact the book too much.

Second, this is done by a Christian publisher and it falls into the small trap where the characters stop and pray every few chapters as if to remind a reader it’s a Christian book. World city, however, is set in a fantasy world, and the religion and who/what they’re praying to isn’t well defined, and doesn’t seem to impact the story. Again this is minor, as it happens periodically but doesn’t overwhelm the story, but might be something to look out for.

Minor elements that didn’t hurt my enjoyment of the story too much.

Overall this is a fine first steampunk outing. Fun characters, a well-paced story that’s on the run and doesn’t stop. The writing style is light and easy to read, good for a fantasy/steampunk set up. The heroes are heroes reluctantly, and the villains are certainly villains. The last third of the book is where it really shines after the set up. Tainted does not completely resolve, but is set up for a book 2 so be aware of that as well. It was a pretty natural stopping point for the story, however, and I did enjoy enough that I will read the second in the series.

https://www.amazon.com/Tainted-Soul-Chronicles-Book-1-ebook/dp/B01BTHEUWQ

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For Steam And Country – Now on Kindle Unlimited

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I had a great conversation with my publisher today and with the exciting news about the Dragon Award nomination for Star Realms: Rescue Run, we agreed it’d be a great thing to run a promotion for my other novel, For Steam And Country. If you haven’t checked it out, go do so! It’s extremely well reviewed and free!
https://www.amazon.com/Steam-Country-Adventures-Baron-Monocle-ebook/dp/B071JNR9HB

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