MouseGuardtheBlackAxe9593_fFrom Mouseguard.net:

Mouse Guard returns for its third volume: the Black Axe. This prequel set in 1115, fulfils the promise the wise oldfur Celanawe made to tell Lieam of the day his paw first touched the Black Axe. The arrival of distant kin takes Celanawe on an adventure that will carry him across the sea to uncharted waters and lands all while unraveling the legend of Farrer, the blacksmith who forged the mythic axe.

In the previous volume, Mouse Guard: Winter 1152, Petersen takes us all over the world of these sentient mice, above and belowground, through twisting weasel tunnels and soaring hollow trees. In this followup collection of six issues, the artist takes us back in time, with an ever greater adventure.

Celanawe, pronounced khel-an-awe, Guardmouse extraordinaire, is tasked by his order’s commander to follow the instructions of his elder kinmouse. With no little trepidation they set out, and are beset at every side from the very beginning by all manner of obstacles. A rollicking sea-journey, a giant fox, and even the savage and noble ferrets they encounter seek to bar their way, but they will not be denied in their quest to retrieve the Axe.

Once again Petersen shows his commitment to storytelling excellence, alongside his entrancing and captivating artwork. He even had me singing along with the poem crafted during their long journey home. I was reminded of the adventuresome nature of Pirates of the Caribbean while reading this, and found myself drawn into the world not only by the art and writing, but the details, the world-building, every part of it that worked so well together.

IMG_1818[1]If you’ve read the other books, you’ll be perfectly happy with this – it’s more of the great work we’ve come to expect from Petersen. If you haven’t bought your copy yet, why the heck not? Get it today!

A Fancy Dinner Party

Posted: August 26, 2014 by Jason Kristopher in Everything Else

A Fancy Dinner Party features one of my favorite short stories that I’ve written, The Art of Steaming. My friend A. K. Klemm reviewed the book, Grey Gecko’s first short story anthology.

Here is my interview with Steven P Locklin

Posted: August 21, 2014 by Jason Kristopher in Everything Else

My friend and fellow Gecko Steven P. Locklin got interviewed about his novel “Beneath Hallowed Ground” and its upcoming sequel. Check it out!

Mouse Guard: Winter 1152

From MouseGuard.net:

In the Winter of 1152, the Guard face a food and supply shortage threatening the lives of many through a cold and icy season. Serving as diplomats Saxon, Kenzie, Lieam, and Sadie, led by Celanawe, traverse the snow blanketed territories to improve relations between cities and the Guard. This is a winter not every Guard may survive.

I’ve been a fan of comics as far back as I can remember. To date, I’ve collected nearly 2,600 comics. That’s not a lot, by most collectors standards, but it fills about 13 longboxes in my closet, so I’m gonna say it’s a pretty big collection.

My oldest comic is a copy of Classics Illustrated: The Corsican Brothers #20 ( [HRN62] for the comic nerds), but I didn’t collect that until I was in my late 20s. It’s also the one that’s worth the most, at least theoretically. But the ones with the most intrinsic value to me are the ones I had growing up, which are… somewhat worse for the wear.

How was I to know that one of these might be worth a lot someday (spoiler: none of them would be, especially after mom got to them and wrote my name on them). But the fifty or so comics I had lit a fire of imagination in me from a very young age, and I’ve been a big fan ever since. Naturally, that led me to comic conventions, where the comic creator is king – with the notable exception of San Diego’s Comic-Con International and a few others. I’m always eager to walk around and check out the great new work by up and coming artists, so when I passed David Petersen’s booth at Comicpalooza 2014, I was immediately enthralled by the quality of his work.

1900380_10152087269150583_8779619439876380281_oThe production value on these hardcovers is nothing short of astounding – hundreds of high-quality pages with even higher-quality art, and the story… I’d never even heard of MouseGuard before I arrived at Comicpalooza, and yet within hours of picking up these books I’d already devoured them. I even managed to snag a bit of art to hang on the wall, too.

What amazed me most about the books wasn’t just the phenomenal artwork, as you can see from the picture here and on the cover, but also the story itself. Often with comics, the story takes a backseat of sorts to the artwork, which is only natural for a mostly visual medium such as comics. Still, every so often, the story is told with a lot of talent, wit, and vision. Now-defunct Crossgen Comics was able to do that across not just several issues, but across titles, spanning their entire line.

The story of Mouse Guard is that of sentient mice on an Earth-like world where humans never evolved. Mice became intelligent and created their own civilization, with everything that entails, including enemies (weasels, owls, and various other animals). In this book, Winter 1152, six issues of the comic are collected to tell us of the fight of the mice to save what remains of their society, decimated by sickness and treachery. Every bit as complex as any fantasy novel I’ve read (except perhaps Wheel of Time and Game of Thrones), Mouse Guard brings us into a world so far removed from what we’re used to that it could easily be alien, but with a deft touch, Petersen makes these furry new friends of ours relatable.

IMG_1815[1]Winter 1152 is about strength through adversity, not just in terms of the weather, or illness, but of moral strength, courage in the face of overwhelming odds, and fighting for what’s right in a world of chaos, betrayal, and evil. With wonderful art, a great story, and excellent production value, this book is well worth adding to your collection.

Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 is available from Archaia Entertainment on Amazon.com and other booksellers.

I’ve independently verified the veracity of this email. It’s legitimate, and from KDP Support at Amazon. This email was received by Grey Gecko around midnight last night. This is the email in its entirety, with no edits, emphasis, or other changes made by me.

Constructive commentary is welcome. Bashing of either side of this dispute by anyone will get you banned (not that I have a big group of commenters, anyway, just saying so we’re clear). Also, it’s worth noting that if you go to the site linked at the bottom of the letter (readersunited.com), there are a bunch of links for additional reading about this situation.


Dear KDP Author,

Just ahead of World War II, there was a radical invention that shook the foundations of book publishing. It was the paperback book. This was a time when movie tickets cost 10 or 20 cents, and books cost $2.50. The new paperback cost 25 cents – it was ten times cheaper. Readers loved the paperback and millions of copies were sold in just the first year.

With it being so inexpensive and with so many more people able to afford to buy and read books, you would think the literary establishment of the day would have celebrated the invention of the paperback, yes? Nope. Instead, they dug in and circled the wagons. They believed low cost paperbacks would destroy literary culture and harm the industry (not to mention their own bank accounts). Many bookstores refused to stock them, and the early paperback publishers had to use unconventional methods of distribution – places like newsstands and drugstores. The famous author George Orwell came out publicly and said about the new paperback format, if “publishers had any sense, they would combine against them and suppress them.” Yes, George Orwell was suggesting collusion.

Well… history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

Fast forward to today, and it’s the e-book’s turn to be opposed by the literary establishment. Amazon and Hachette – a big US publisher and part of a $10 billion media conglomerate – are in the middle of a business dispute about e-books. We want lower e-book prices. Hachette does not. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there’s no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out of stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market – e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can and should be less expensive.

Perhaps channeling Orwell’s decades old suggestion, Hachette has already been caught illegally colluding with its competitors to raise e-book prices. So far those parties have paid $166 million in penalties and restitution. Colluding with its competitors to raise prices wasn’t only illegal, it was also highly disrespectful to Hachette’s readers.

The fact is many established incumbents in the industry have taken the position that lower e-book prices will “devalue books” and hurt “Arts and Letters.” They’re wrong. Just as paperbacks did not destroy book culture despite being ten times cheaper, neither will e-books. On the contrary, paperbacks ended up rejuvenating the book industry and making it stronger. The same will happen with e-books.

Many inside the echo-chamber of the industry often draw the box too small. They think books only compete against books. But in reality, books compete against mobile games, television, movies, Facebook, blogs, free news sites and more. If we want a healthy reading culture, we have to work hard to be sure books actually are competitive against these other media types, and a big part of that is working hard to make books less expensive.

Moreover, e-books are highly price elastic. This means that when the price goes down, customers buy much more. We’ve quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles. For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same e-book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000. The important thing to note here is that the lower price is good for all parties involved: the customer is paying 33% less and the author is getting a royalty check 16% larger and being read by an audience that’s 74% larger. The pie is simply bigger.

But when a thing has been done a certain way for a long time, resisting change can be a reflexive instinct, and the powerful interests of the status quo are hard to move. It was never in George Orwell’s interest to suppress paperback books – he was wrong about that.

And despite what some would have you believe, authors are not united on this issue. When the Authors Guild recently wrote on this, they titled their post: “Amazon-Hachette Debate Yields Diverse Opinions Among Authors” (the comments to this post are worth a read).  A petition started by another group of authors and aimed at Hachette, titled “Stop Fighting Low Prices and Fair Wages,” garnered over 7,600 signatures.  And there are myriad articles and posts, by authors and readers alike, supporting us in our effort to keep prices low and build a healthy reading culture. Author David Gaughran’s recent interview is another piece worth reading.

We recognize that writers reasonably want to be left out of a dispute between large companies. Some have suggested that we “just talk.” We tried that. Hachette spent three months stonewalling and only grudgingly began to even acknowledge our concerns when we took action to reduce sales of their titles in our store. Since then Amazon has made three separate offers to Hachette to take authors out of the middle. We first suggested that we (Amazon and Hachette) jointly make author royalties whole during the term of the dispute. Then we suggested that authors receive 100% of all sales of their titles until this dispute is resolved. Then we suggested that we would return to normal business operations if Amazon and Hachette’s normal share of revenue went to a literacy charity. But Hachette, and their parent company Lagardere, have quickly and repeatedly dismissed these offers even though e-books represent 1% of their revenues and they could easily agree to do so. They believe they get leverage from keeping their authors in the middle.

We will never give up our fight for reasonable e-book prices. We know making books more affordable is good for book culture. We’d like your help. Please email Hachette and copy us.

Hachette CEO, Michael Pietsch: Michael.Pietsch@hbgusa.com

Copy us at: readers-united@amazon.com

Please consider including these points:

– We have noted your illegal collusion. Please stop working so hard to overcharge for ebooks. They can and should be less expensive.
– Lowering e-book prices will help – not hurt – the reading culture, just like paperbacks did.
– Stop using your authors as leverage and accept one of Amazon’s offers to take them out of the middle.
– Especially if you’re an author yourself: Remind them that authors are not united on this issue.

Thanks for your support.

The Amazon Books Team

P.S. You can also find this letter at www.readersunited.com

My friend Nathalie messaged me, asking, as a published author (thank you, thank you, you’re too kind), if I could help her out with this absolutely insane scavenger hunt she is taking part in. The rules? Quite simple, really:

“Get a previously published Sci-Fi author [that’s me!] to write an original story (140 words max) about Misha, the Queen of England and an Elopus.” Misha is Misha Collins, wacky actor who started said scavenger hunt, and the Elopus is an elephant/octopus… And it need to be done in 24hrs.

G.I.S.H.W.H.E.S. (Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen) was created by actor Misha Collins and some other folks. Here’s more about it:

GISHWHES, obviously, is an acronym: The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen. GISHWHES is difficult to pronounce and even more difficult to explain. It truly is the greatest scavenger hunt the world has ever seen. In 2012 it shattered two Guinness World Records: one for the largest scavenger hunt ever, with more than 14,000 participants from 69 countries and the second, for the most pledges to commit a Random Act of Kindness. We accomplished over 93,000 pledges in 94 countries! Last year we broke two more Guinness World Records: (1) the longest chain of safety pins – over 43,000 safety pins  creating a chain almost 2 kilometers long; and (2) we achieved the most hugs worldwide in 1 week – 108,121!  Read more…

It’s insane, right? I’m not weird for thinking that. No, not weird. So when Nathalie asked me to help out, I was a little reticent. Mainly because I normally have a hundred times the number of words to work with that she was asking for. And yet… there was this little voice that said, “Oh come on – you call yourself a writer. It’s just 140 words!”

Yes, voice, 140 words about an elopus, Misha Collins, and the Queen of Bloody England! But you’re right; if I can write nearly 500,000 words of zombie nonsense (plus one or two other things), I can certainly do this. So here, for my fans and readers (both of you), I present, in it’s entire 129-word length (take THAT, voice! HA!)…


 

The Grand Sacrifice of Misha Collins, or,
How I Learned to Hate Space-going Elopuses

The Elopus stared at the vidscreen as it slurped up its final Earth meal, tentacles dripping red.

“My dear Queen,” the vocoder said, translating its thoughts automatically. “I can’t stay any longer. What you ask is impossible.”

“Surely there must be some arrangement…” said the aged woman. Her country’s insignia – a piece of blue fabric divided by lines of red and white – waved in a window behind her.

“Our High Priest has ordered the invasion. It cannot be stopped. Even for delicacies such as this – what is it? A ‘Misha Collins?’ Quite tasty.”

It slurped the last of the blood and bone off the deck, retracting the tentacles into its trunk. It reached to switch off the screen as it glared at her. “Prepare yourselves, Majesty. The fleet comes.”

Interview with Leo King

Posted: August 4, 2014 by Jason Kristopher in Authors, Everything Else, Grey Gecko Press
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My friend (and fellow Gecko) Leo King got interviewed over at Anakalian Whims.

“The Dying of the Light: End” FREE on Amazon

Posted: August 1, 2014 by Jason Kristopher in My Work
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With a little help from my friends, my first book, The Dying of the Light: End, is now free on Amazon* (and everywhere else, except Nook, and hopefully there soon!).

“I didn’t see Rebecca die the second time.” "The Dying of the Light: End" Cover

The United States military hides a secret: the completely real existence of one-bite-and-you’re-dead zombies. An elite Special Forces unit has known they exist for over a hundred years, and has been quietly and expertly keeping the monsters at bay… until now.

The sole survivor of the massacre at Fall Creek joins this elite unit to combat the single greatest threat our world has ever known. Even as victories over the walkers mount, true evil still lurks in the hearts of men, and at the last, only a brave few may survive.

A character-driven story similar to The Walking Dead on AMC, The Dying of the Light: End was a Top 5 Finalist in Kindle Book Review’s “Best Indie Books of 2012” competition. The sequel, Interval, is now available.

I’m very excited that this book is now free, mainly because that means more folks get to read it – and hopefully get hooked (what can I say, I’ve got bills too!).

Share the good news with your friends by posting/emailing/tweeting the link below. It’ll take anyone to the correct Amazon page for their location (UK, Mexico, Japan) so they can download the book: http://smarturl.it/0t9ttr

If you’ve read the book – especially if you liked it – please remember to leave a review! It’s the best way to support indie authors and small press.

 

*  As of this writing, the title is free in the US, UK, and Canada. I expect the rest of the Amazon ‘stores’ to drop their prices very soon as the price change trickles down. Please let me know if you see it go free in one of the other countries, and I’ll update this post.

An Interview with Benjamin Card

Posted: July 30, 2014 by Jason Kristopher in Authors
Tags: , ,

My buddy and fellow Grey Gecko Press author Benjamin Card got an interview over at “Authors Interviews.”

Help Make My First Book Free on Kindle

Posted: July 24, 2014 by Jason Kristopher in My Work
Tags: , ,

There’s a problem with having my book available in so many places on the web – it reduces the control I have over some of the factors that go into selling the book. Chief among those is the price.

To wit: I can’t make my book free on Kindle. At least, not without some help.

Amazon only lets you price your ebook for free five days out of every 90, and then only if your book is in their Kindle Select program. And, you guessed it, to get in that program, you have to only sell on Kindle. Naturally, I didn’t want to limit my readership in that way, so I’m out of luck…

… or maybe not. As with many things in life, there’s a workaround for this, too. Authors who have their books listed on SmashWords have reported being able to set their ebook price at $0.00 there, with Amazon price-matching their title to free “at some point later.” That ‘later’ point can be days, weeks, or months away – or it may never come. So some enterprising folks have come up with a secondary workaround to that workaround: reporting the lower price to Amazon.

The Workaround

If you go to my first book’s Amazon page, about halfway down the page, at the bottom of the product details section, you’ll see this:

Untitled

See that link I outlined? That’s how you can help me make the book free.

When you click that link, a window pops up that looks like this (once you click “Website (Online)” that is):

Untitled2

This handy-dandy window allows you to report a lower price (in this case, free) on the same title at another vendor. All you have to do is fill it out and click “Submit feedback” – that’s it. If you’d like to help me out, here’s the info to fill in (you can use either URL, or both, if you like my work enough to submit it twice!):

URL: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/end-2https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-dying-of-the-light-end/id460825919?mt=11
Price ($): 0
Shipping cost ($): 0
Date of the price: Just leave it – it’ll be the current date by default.

 

Hit “Submit feedback” and Amazon will now know about the lower price. Who knows if they’ll price match it or not, but this is the only way to know we’ve done all we can.

Why Free = Good

Think about how you found out about my book, or any of the others you’ve read recently. Chances are, a friend – be it a Facebook Friend or otherwise – mentioned it to you, said they enjoyed it, and recommended it. Maybe you read a good review, or maybe you just stumbled upon it by happenstance.

If you weren’t actively looking for it, would you buy a book by an author you hadn’t read that was priced at $2.99? What about $3.99? or $4.99? Even a 99-cent book might seem too much, given the number of ‘authors’ releasing so-called books on the marketplace.

But free… well, that’s a whole different ballgame, isn’t it? That’s just a little bit of your time, and not any of your money. And if you liked the book – or better yet, full-on loved it – then hey, you hit the bibliographical lottery, didn’t you? Oh, and the author has another book in the series… and some short stories, and… well, you get the idea.

Free = Good for authors you’ve not read yet. And I want as many people to read my book as possible. If you have the time to help me out with the links above, great. If not, please share the link to the book on Amazon:

http://smarturl.it/0t9ttr

Remember – the more people see it, the faster I can write the final book in the trilogy!