Amazon vs. Authors United, Round 2

Last year, Authors United, a group of professional writers—by their own definition the most prestigious one ever assembled!—managed to write the very worst persuasive essay I’d ever seen.

This year, they’ve topped it. And because being concise with misinformation and disingenuous posturing is hard, there’s also a companion position paper of 24 pages.

Some of you are no doubt too busy to read all that, so once again, I’ll give you a quick rundown of the whole kerfuffle.


AUTHORS UNITED: America!

AMAZON: You again? We’re trying to work here.

AUTHORS UNITED: You’re a monopoly! And a monopsony!

AMAZON: If you’re a Prime member, we can get a dictionary to your house in two days. Better yet, we have them available for Kindle!

AUTHORS UNITED: You’re blocking the sale of books!

AMAZON: How’s that?

AUTHORS UNITED: Because you sell too many of the books!

AMAZON: …

AUTHORS UNITED: And you try to sell more of your own products than ours! And you don’t do ANYTHING to foster competition!

AMAZON: Business?

AUTHORS  UNITED: And if those poor pathetic self publishers don’t price their books how you say, you cut their royalties!

AMAZON: You mean, we cut them down to an only slightly higher percentage than you get all the time, instead of a way way higher one?

(INDIE AUTHORS: Please leave us out of this.)

AUTHORS UNITED: You have to do what we want, because culture! We are the only source of books and the only means of free expression!

AMAZON: Are not.

AUTHORS UNITED: FREE EXPRESSION!

AMAZON: We agree.

AUTHORS UNITED: The DOJ will hear about this!

AMAZON: We love those guys. Tell them we said hi.


Further reading:
Passive Guy provides some excellent legal commentary
Joe Konrath provides some excellent fisking

Edit-
Here’s the thing, and I said this last time I blogged mean about AU: I really don’t like blogging mean, honest I don’t. But I feel compelled to respond when they behave this badly, and so deliberately pursue their own self-interest while pretending to be motivated by nothing but altruism and apple pie and the children. It’s so disappointing to see in people I’ve read and enjoyed and in many cases, admired. And as you can see by this one paragraph, if I play it straight it just turns into a boring lecture.

The battle at Hardhome was good though, right?

MANY MAJOR SPOILERS for Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire!

It was the not-best of seasons, it was the arguably-worst of seasons. But there were a few bright moments, no? Okay, the one bright moment. Hardhome was, IMO, the best set piece Game of Thrones has ever done.The rest, though. Damn, you guys.

Here are my thoughts on the most controversial bits.

Sansa plugged into the Winterfell storyline
I would’ve done the same thing. Sansa is one of the show’s stars, and at this point in the book she’s babysitting the most annoying character George R. R. Martin has ever written. Meanwhile you’ve got a major storyline featuring a minor character the audience doesn’t know or care about. The swap was a no-brainer. That doesn’t mean it was executed well, though. So onward to…

Sansa’s rape
Well, once you’ve put her together with Ramsey, this sort of thing is pretty much inevitable, isn’t it? I don’t object to where the story went. I do object to some sloppy characterization. A great deal of screen time, going back to last season, was spent trying to convince us that we’ve got a new, badass Sansa, one who is going to be a player now. But in That Scene, and in fact most of the scenes leading up to it, she does nothing but tearfully submit to it all. I’m not victim-blaming, I’m writer-blaming. Imagine Margaery Tyrell in Sansa’s position and you’ll see what I mean. Tell me Margaery doesn’t immediately, expertly assess those psychos and begin trying to manipulate circumstances in her favor. (Whether she’d be successful or not is beside the point.) Because she has game. That’s what game looks like.

Shireen
The producers strongly implied that George told them this happens. So… Book-Stannis does this? “No more burnings” Stannis? “If I die, put my daughter on the iron throne” Stannis? Ok, but if that Stannis burns his only heir and brings the House of Baratheon to extinction, it’ll be because he’s sure beyond doubt that it’s the only way to save the realm he’s responsible for from immediate and certain destruction. That is the only way it fits his character, and if he does it for any other reason, I’ll happily call bullshit on George, too. Meanwhile, the show utterly failed to establish those sorts of stakes. The destruction of the realm is hundreds of miles away, neither certain nor immediate as yet. He’s not facing white walkers; he’s facing a few icicles and twenty of Ramsey Bolton’s undersecretaries. He’s not fighting for the realm; he’s fighting for Winterfell. This is a subtask of a subtask on the Save The Realm Gantt chart. Even in the kind of twisted mind where there’s a good reason to murder your daughter in an incredibly painful way, this is not that reason.

The Dorne plot line
Much as I appreciate the screen time for the always-hilarious Jerome Flynn, seriously, why is this here? It was a slowly moving story in an already way too slowly moving season, that accomplished almost nothing in the end. If the whole point was to kill Myrcella, just have a single, five minute scene in which Darkstar leaps out of the shadows, kills her with flair (but limited accuracy), and leaps back off screen again. No need to explain who he is or why he’s done it. He is of the night! That’s all people need to know.

For the watch
Kit Harington says he’s really dead. The producers say he’s really dead. He sure looked really dead. Eh. I still don’t think he’s dead. Certainly not before some big reveal about his mother. Jon Snow is endgame. Maybe not in the show, and maybe Show-Jon really is dead. If that’s the case, I’ll be okay, because at least he died without the whole pink letter and him behaving completely out of character leading up to it.

The scene in the fighting pit
While others are raging over poor Sansa and even poorer Shireen, this is the scene that really convinced me that Game of Thrones has lost it, possibly irretrievably. I’ve seldom seen anything so stupid on television, and I’m including reality TV in that. So you’ve got these horrible terrorists, right? So horrible they killed Ser Barristan! They butcher people randomly all over the arena. Just blood everywhere, no mercy for anyone. They close in on their prey. They’ve got her surrounded! There are dozens and dozens of them! They’re vicious! So they… come at her two at a time. Then when she flies off to reenact The Neverending Story, leaving the people who’ve just been defending her with their lives completely vulnerable, these fearsome, bloodthirsty terrorists… disperse. I just can’t even with this. And thanks, by the way, for ensuring that Limahl song was in my head for three days after. Seriously, I have to end the post here, because there are no words for this badness.

#YayIndie

I write for no deeper purpose than to entertain. My words are not going to be the catalyst for some great and meaningful change in a person’s life. But I still positively revel in the freedom to say exactly what I like, exactly how I like, without fear that an agent or editor would never let me get away with it, and without the need to revise toward the type of popular appeal a big publisher requires to make the math work these days.

So I can only imagine what this freedom means to people who are saying something inspired by a higher calling, that might otherwise be censored by the mainstream.

Now, given the realities of population distribution, odds are a fair number of those people are assholes whose idea of a higher calling sucks. We may not be better off for hearing what they have to say.

But we’re all better off for their having the freedom to say it.

What’s your Yay Indie thought today?

The devil’s due

Due on your Kindle, that is. See what I did there? Hee.

You can find both the Kindle and paperback editions of Peak of the Devil at Amazon even as I type.

The Kindle edition is on sale for 99¢–that’s 75% off regular price–through April 30 only.

Peak of the Devil will be available at other online retailers later in the week. Watch my sidebar and/or Bookshop page for links if you’re looking for it at iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd, or Inktera.

Thanks for checking it out!

Suckers

So here is the blurb for Suckers, by Z. Rider:

When worn-out musician Dan Ferry decides to take a shortcut back to the band’s hotel, he picks the wrong dark alley to go down. Within days of being attacked by a bat-like creature, he becomes consumed with the need to drink human blood.

Terrified of what will happen if he doesn’t get his fix–and terrified of what he’ll do to get it–he turns to his best friend and bandmate, Ray Ford, for help. But what the two don’t know as they try to keep Dan’s situation quiet is that the parasite driving Dan’s addiction has the potential to wipe out humankind.

You’ll note two key phrases there: need to drink blood and potential to wipe out humankind. That tells me it’s a vampire apocalypse novel. It takes serious balls to release a vampire apocalypse novel. The only way to write to a more saturated market would be to throw in some zombies. It’s a major challenge, and not for the faint of pen, to pull this off. Justin Cronin pulled it off. Z. Rider does, too.

I mention Cronin because sometimes Rider reminds me of him. Sometimes of Stephen King. Those are both big compliments in my world. But more importantly, she mostly doesn’t remind me of anyone. She owns this story. This story, despite having all the elements a horror story requires, is not one you’ve read before.

The bulk of the credit for that goes to the characters. Dan and Ray are interesting as individuals, but they’re even more interesting when taken together. Their relationship is a big part of the pull that keeps you turning pages when you should be doing laundry. As it’s burdened by greater and greater challenges, you want to know how much it can take. And you root for it not to fall apart.

This is a story about friendship, addiction, and then horrifying blood sucking gore. Don’t get me wrong, the horrifying blood sucking gore is quite horrifying. But it takes all three to make it work. This works very, very well.

And extra points for the mention of coffee regular. It’s been many years since I left New England, but that took me right back to my old morning commute. I don’t especially miss Boston. (Boston is great, but you know. We have sunshine and shrimp & grits here.) I don’t especially miss coffee. But I totally miss that delicious marble cruller. And also the years when eating a delicious marble cruller every day would have zero effect on my weight. Ah, youth.

And the point of that little aside is: it’s a great skill to take one detail like that and use it to evoke a setting so well. This is just good, solid writing.

Go read it.

My newsletter subscribers are more awesome than you

Because they got to read the first chapter of book two in the Lydia Trinket series, Peak of the Devil, last week. Now you can read it here and be awesome too. (Warning! Contains adult language. Reader discretion is advised.)

The Kindle edition of Peak of the Devil will be 99¢—that’s 75% off regular price—April 28-30 only. All editions, including print, will be widely available at major online retailers the last week in April.

Newsletter subscribers will get a release announcement, so you can both safeguard your awesomeness and make sure you don’t miss the sale by joining my mailing list.

And don’t forget that all eBook editions of Ghost in the Canteen have been permanently priced at 99¢, so as to be sure there are no barriers to entry into the series. If you aren’t awesome, I’m afraid you have nobody to blame but yourself.

And I think that’s about all the shameless self promotion we’ll be having around here, until I’ve got the cover to show you all.

Eleven Questions for: Marcia Meara

Marcia Meara is a native Floridian, living in the Orlando area with her husband of 29 years, two silly little dachshunds and four big, lazy cats. She’s fond of reading, gardening, hiking, canoeing, painting, and writing, not necessarily in that order. But her favorite thing in the world is spending time with her two grandchildren, ten-year-old Tabitha Faye, and twenty-month-old Kaelen Lake.

Her latest novel, A Boy Named Rabbit (Wake Robin Ridge #2) is now available at Amazon.

Q:
While writing: silence, music, or white noise?
A:
Silence. Absolute silence. When I’m wandering around in an alternate universe, scribbling down what I see my characters doing, any noise at all will pull me right out of that world, and bring everything to a screeching halt.

Q:
A Boy Named Rabbit deals with The Sight–have you ever had a premonition or psychic experience?
A:
Not really. I do have pretty good intuition about people and their motives or behavior. Of course, where it concerns men, I’ve often ignored it, which didn’t always work out well for me. But that’s a whole ‘nuther story! As for things like The Sight, mental telepathy, telekinesis, and precognition, I’ve never had any unusual experiences myself, nor seen anyone else experience any. However, I’m fascinated by what the human brain might be capable of that we just haven’t realized, yet. Since we only use a small percentage of our brainpower, it makes me wonder what we might be able to do if we ever find out what all those unused gray cells are there for.

Q:
Best beverage for writing?
A:
Earl Grey, hot. (Me and Jean-Luc Picard.)

Q:
Best beverage for not writing?
A:
Earl Grey, hot.

Q:
You’re an indie author. Did you consider going the traditional route? What made this the best model for you?
A:
Simple. I’m also a 70-year old indie author. It seemed to me that the long, drawn-out process of sending out manuscripts and receiving rejection letters over and over, ad nauseum, until (if you’re lucky) being accepted by a traditional publishing company was something best left to someone far younger than I. I don’t have decades in which to make this all happen. And I very much want to tell as many stories as I can in the years left to me. So for me, it was a no-brainer. Self-publishing, all the way. From concept, to draft, through editing, and then publishing, my first novel, Wake-Robin Ridge was “out there” in nine months. (And it definitely felt like giving birth, too.)

I did a lot of reading on the subject, and frankly, I think the traditional publishing industry has some built-in drawbacks for many writers. I don’t mean self-publishing is the answer for everyone, but it should certainly be carefully considered. Am I making millions? No. But I’m making a whole bunch more than I would be if I were still sitting around waiting for a publisher to decide to give my book a chance. And that works for me.

Q:
Rabbit is an endearing little boy who faces a lot of peril. What are your best tips for putting characters you love through pain and suffering? Are you sometimes tempted to go easier on them than the story demands?
A:
I don’t have a problem throwing trouble at my characters, because I believe in them, and their ability to overcome the odds—so I’m never tempted to go easier on them. I’d be more inclined to do the opposite, and make it even harder, I think. I often wonder when I’m done if it’s been difficult enough, or shocking enough, or scary enough to allow the character to prove his or her worth.

I can’t offer a lot of advice, because I seldom know when I start writing exactly how bad the situation might get. The folks in my tales usually tell me, and I write it down. I guess my only tip would be to have faith in your characters and trust that they can do the merely difficult with one hand tied behind their backs. The impossible might take a bit longer, but they can do that, too. Just turn ‘em loose, and they’ll surprise you.

Q:
What’s your favorite thing about publishing besides the writing?
A:
Seeing my book on the Amazon website or in print on my bookshelf. I’m still astounded when I realize I’ve written 3 novels and a book of poetry in less than 2 years. And people are reading them! (Okay, not the poetry, so much, but I wrote that one just for me, anyway, since poetry will never sell like a novel will.) Nothing beats the thrill I get when I open a box from the printer, and pick up that first copy of my latest book. Holy Moly! Reading good reviews is a close second.

Q:
Top three favorite fictional characters?
A:
Surely you meant 33, right? I mean, three? Oh, dear. Who to choose, who to choose…thinking…

Okay, Harry Dresden has to be my first choice, for far too many reasons to list here. Best. Wizard. Ever. Period! And his desire to do the right thing, no matter what it costs him personally has pulled me back for 17 books now.

Second choice is definitely Dorothy Gale who taught me to look for rainbows everywhere I go, and that the best way to kill a wicked witch is to drop a house on her. In fact, pretty much everything I know about life, I learned from her.

And tied for third, this motley crew: Odd Thomas from the wonderful series of the same name by Dean Koontz; Daniel Day-Lewis as Hawkeye in Last of the Mohicans; Inman from Charles Frazier’s beautifully profound novel, Cold Mountain; Ada, from the same book. Count Laszlo de Almasy a/k/a The English Patient; the Phantom of the Opera; Tybalt, King of Cats, and Toby Daye, who loves him; the assassin Sicarius from the Emperor’s Edge series…Oh, brother! Somebody STOP me! It’s possible I’ve mentioned more than three, here.

Q:
Is there a genre you don’t write in, but think you might like to one day?
A:
I really enjoy reading good urban fantasy, and I’d love to be able to create a believable world filled with remarkable creatures that roam the streets of our cities. I have no clue how my favorite UF authors do it. I’m in awe of writers like Jim Butcher, Ilona Andrews, Patricia Briggs, Rachel Caine, and Seanan McGuire, to name just a few. I can’t imagine writing the kinds of stories they write, but oh, how I’d love to! In the meantime, though, I’m pretty happy telling tales of romantic suspense, some of which do have some strange elements thrown in for fun.

Q:
You’ve just finished writing a book, or completed some other big milestone. What do you do to celebrate?
A:
Ummm…the happy dance around my chair? Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever done anything special, other than call or email friends and happily proclaim that it’s DONE! I’ve usually already got another story started, and I just sort of switch gears and move on with that one. Sorry to be so boring, but that’s about what happens. Oh, wait. I bought a new purse when I finished Rabbit. Does that count?

Q:
Best villain (books, movies, or TV)?
A:
Villain, with no “S” on the end? Ack. How can I do that? So many to choose from! Okay, here goes. I guess my favorite of all time would have to be Dracula. He’s the first really evil guy I remember reading about, many decades ago, and he still gives me shivers in every incarnation that comes along. (Look! Only one villain! How good am I?)


If you’re an indie author and you’re up for answering eleven questions, email me.

One Last Time

MAJOR SPOILERS for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, both movies and books.

CORRECTION: My apologies for getting the subtitle of the first movie wrong. What can I say, there were a few iterations during production, and I’m a forgetful old lady. That part’s been removed.

 

The subtitle for the second Hobbit movie made no sense. The Desolation of Smaug didn’t happen in that movie. But The Battle of Five Armies is aptly named. The battle is the movie. The whole movie.

It’s to Peter Jackson’s credit, then, that despite all that (great) action and all those (great) special effects, this was really a character movie. This is what I was missing from the second installment: it rang a little hollow, because it was just a bunch of action scenes mashed together without enough room for the actors to, you know, act and stuff.

That doesn’t happen here, and ultimately, it’s Jackson’s cast that carries this trilogy to a triumphant end. So I’m going to say nice things about them first, before I do any scolding.

Among some very stiff competition, Luke Evans and Richard Armitage were the standouts. Armitage played Thorin’s descent into madness beautifully. Sure, Thorin was a bit over the top, but if you haven’t come to expect that from Peter Jackson’s direction by now, you haven’t been paying attention. And it was the quiet moments, the flashes of the real Thorin coming through, that made the whole thing work. Armitage is what I always think of as a face actor; his performances are as much about his expression as the delivery of his lines. And when you can pull that off under all that hair and makeup, that’s saying something.

Luke Evans, on the other hand, actually manages to deliver a performance with restraint in a Peter Jackson movie, which is also saying something. He hits all the right notes with Bard, without ever crossing over into melodrama, and gives us an understated hero who despite his unlikely acrobatics and even more unlikely, for a fisherman, weapon skills, is completely believable.

And speaking of face actors, Dean O’Gorman is an unsung hero of these movies, because Aiden Turner’s Kili (also well played) gets all the spotlight in that brotherhood. But Dean O’Gorman? Is awesome. Peter Jackson is a great storytelller, and watching Fili and Kili growing from immature, innocent, plate-tossing goofballs into brave and battle-hardened men (or, well, grown dwarves) has been one of my favorite stories to watch.

The dwarves in the book aren’t really characters, except for Thorin (who himself only has one note, and that note is jerk). The others are largely indistinguishable from one another, a string of funny names. It’s quite an accomplishment for the writers and the cast that they managed to create thirteen actual, distinct, sympathetic people. I will never again read the Moria scene in Fellowship without tears, because Ken Stott made Balin real. Also a special round of applause for Graham McTavish, who succeeded in making me see Dwalin again, when I was pretty sure I’d only be able to think of him as Dougal from now on (and thus want to punch him).

It’s always, always a pleasure to see Ian McKellan and Cate Blanchett. I’d watch them read their grocery lists and be riveted the whole time. I can’t with this weird Gandalf-Galadriel thing, but still. Nice to see you guys!

And then we have Martin Freeman. Crikey. I really think this is the single best piece of casting across all six movies, and this performance right here is how you take a movie full of pointy elf ears and swords and dragons and make it real for people. And incidentally, while I got emotional several times, I did not cry until Bilbo started crying over Thorin’s body. (Then I cried the whole rest of the time.)

Okay, enough gushing. I have a bone to pick. There’s pretty much no point anymore in book comparisons. The Hobbit movies especially are more “inspired by” than “based on,” and that’s okay. Unlike a lot of other book fans, I like Tauriel just fine, and I like Evangeline Lilly in the role. But all that said, the worn-to-death star-crossed lovers routine is, frankly, a piss poor replacement for how Fili and Kili really die. It’s just one little line in the book:

Fili and Kili had fallen defending him with shield and body, for he was their mother’s elder brother.

But that image of them, fighting to the death over the mortally wounded Thorin, has stuck with me since I was seven years old. Because all that courage and loyalty and sacrifice make a tragic, fitting end to the House of Durin. And it’s so much more compelling than what we got.

I’ve expected to have my heart broken by their deaths since they first came to dinner at Bilbo’s. But, nope. I was properly shocked and dismayed by the abruptness of Fili’s, but Kili’s was so strongly telegraphed, and in such a cliched way, that when it finally came it was almost a relief. I was sorry they were dead, but the actual deaths did not make me cry. And they should have. That should have been one of the most memorable scenes in all six movies.

On a lighter note for the darkest of the Middle Earth movies, it’s clear to me that either Peter Jackson, or someone on his team, plays Word of Warcraft. First they put dwarves on rams. Then Beorn does a textbook bear bomb. Coincidence or conspiracy?

I’d like to end with a hat tip to the genius who came up with the “One Last Time” marketing campaign. Because I spent the last, I don’t know, maybe twenty minutes crying, and by the end it had nothing to do with the story and everything to do with my knowledge that we were leaving (movie) Middle Earth forever.

Only the rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were ever sold, and if memory serves, Christopher Tolkien has been very clear that he has no intention of selling the rights to any of Tolkien’s other work, ever. Peter Jackson already did some mining in the appendices of Lord of the Rings for the Hobbit movies, and I don’t think there’s much more story to be wrung out of the material he’s allowed to use.

Then again, “not much more” isn’t the same thing as “none,” is it? #OneMoreTime?

Unworthy people are picking what to read, you guys!

This is worth the read. But as always, out of respect for those of you who are, unlike me, spending your Friday productively, I’ll summarize:


The rabble are reading! And they’re reading whatever they want! This qualifies as an emergency, because books are for writers to read amongst themselves, and the unwashed masses must get off the writers’ lawns. But if they must peer through the window and beg, from out there on the lawn, they ought to at least have the decency to read what they’re told.


This isn’t the current trendy tsunami of crap tantrum, although Krystal does call it “a huge mistake” that “the prevailing mood welcomes fiction and poetry of every stripe, as long as the reading public champions it.”

But academics were hip to the tsunami of crap way before it became a thing. Their desire to be the sole arbiters of what does and does not qualify as great is old. Old, and also male, and white.

Yeah yeah I’m a smartass, but this is the problem I’ve always had with the attempt to define, and hold onto, a literary canon: you don’t get to.

Define it for yourself, sure. Scoff at the crap. I sure do. For the purposes of teaching or discussion or just good old fashioned snobbery, put together a working definition the group can agree on. Great. Go to it. But that’s not what we’re talking about, is it? Because the word canon implies official authority.

Well, guess what? There isn’t an authority. No, there really isn’t. No, you really aren’t it. I don’t care how expert, or smart, or educated, or well-intentioned you may be. Books are not yours. There is no individual or governing body that gets to tell the reading public what their “prevailing mood” ought to be. That’s because, and say it with me now:

Books are for everyone.

O Hai!

My apologies for my lack of attention to your blogs and such. I’m trying to catch up. I’ve been in and out of it, and I’m not going to whine too much, but man, the flu is BAD this year, peeps. It’s a lot like World of Warcraft, actually. Just when you think you’ve put it behind you for good, it sucks you back under.

As a result of my hermitizing (sure it’s a word) I haven’t even seen the last Hobbit movie yet. DON’T TELL ME. But I’ll be reviewing it here once I do.

I have been reading, but I never did finish Revival. I’m sure I will at some point. I like curling up with a good historical love story in the winter time, although I shy away from the erotica end of things, and that is all the rage in romance these days. I’ve read the first couple of Elizabeth Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series, and it’s pretty darn graphic, but enjoyable nonetheless because it’s a cool period and I like her weaving in of the gin trade in London. It adds meat to the story, but isn’t so preachy that I have to roll my eyes and go read something else. The books aren’t entirely historically accurate, but what historical romance is? At least these heroines are products of their time and conflicted about sex, which is a dimension I like.

I keep trying, and failing, to finish the second Outlander book too. I guess I’m showing a lack of commitment these days, but what can I say? Too many books, not enough time. Even the likes of Stephen King and Diana Gabaldon have to stay sharp and keep me interested, because I have so many other choices to move on to if they don’t.

Exception: George Martin, you don’t have to be sharp or interesting. Seriously, I promise, it’s okay. Just send them the draft. We don’t mind. Statistically speaking, I’m past the halfway point in my life now, and I need to know who Jon Snow’s mother is before I die.

Actually I take that back. You can take your time, George. If you don’t tell me soon, HBO will. But is that really how you want me to find out?

Astute readers will note that the cover for Ghost in the Canteen has changed. (Yes again, but only once since publication, so that makes it okay.) The change is populating around all the many nooks and crannies of Amazon and the interwebs that book covers live in, so it may be inconsistent for a bit. (For example, the Amazon widget in my sidebar is still showing the old one as of this writing.)

While working on the cover for Peak of the Devil, we decided on a slight change to the look and feel for the series as a whole. One of the challenges with dark snark is that it’s by nature contradictory. Conveying that it’s bloody and scary but in a totally funny way can be difficult, but I think the new look strikes that balance better.

Peak is moving along on schedule for a release the last week of April or first week in May. After that the remaining three books in the series will be coming along faster, three to four months apart.

Nonetheless, I want HBO to know that if they’d like to offer up some spoilers by buying the television rights and producing it faster than I do, that’s totally okay.