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The Empire is Ascendant: EMPIRE ASCENDANT Blog Tour 2015

It’s that time of year again, folks: when I write you a bloody, epic madcap of a book and flood your local bookery blogs with rants, interviews, and articles about all things strange.

As ever, I’ll be updating this post with links each week as they go live so you can catch up on what you may have missed. There are quite a few podcast appearances not listed here, as they often go up as soon as they are edited, and sometimes there are delays, so circle back after they air – I’ll update the post with links.

Stay frosty, folks.

EMPIRE ASCENDANT, sequel to the Gemmell-and-Locus-Award nominated THE MIRROR EMPIRE, is out October 6th.



9/29: Memes Launch! Countdown!

9/30: Rocket Talk #1: Reviewing Books We Don’t All Agree On Because We Are Not a Hivemind

Last Day of Goodreads Giveaway!

10/1Jista Quiz and Character Quiz!

10/2Nerds of a Feather Interview

10/4: Booktuber Interview, Live! 


10/5: Interview up at


Absolute Zero: The Temperature at Which Authors Give Up;

Interview at Bullspec Magazine

Exploring a Multiplicity of Fictional Worlds;  Barnes and Noble Book Blog

10/7: REDDIT AMA. Be there or be… not there. And miss out on being cool.

The Big Idea; Scalzi’s Place

GrimTidings Podcast Interview

Beer Lounges for Writers (Pants Optional);

Word Nerds Interview

10/8:  When Worlds Collide; My Favorite Bit

Midnight in Karachi Podcast with the Marvelous Mahvesh

Other Suns: Reading, Championing, and Remembering Writers from the Margins; Bibliophilia

You Can’t Write About THAT; Uncanny Magazine

10/9: Interview at Cartesian

Writing Distinctive (and Divisive! Characters) ; My Bookish Ways


10/10: Live Event! Dispatches From the Future: Science Fiction and the Future; Dayton Metro Library



10/12: Language and Worldbuilding; Bibliotrophic

Through the Looking Glass: Recommending Fantasy Novels to Readers; Carnegie Stout Public Library Blog

Dead Men Tell No Tales: On Being an Aspiring Writer in the Digital Age ; SFF Chronicles

10/13The Cake is a Lie: Why Happy Endings Don’t Always Mean Winning;Fantasy Faction

When the Enemy Wears Your Face: Our Obsession with Doppelgangers; Wag the Fox

Interview at Fantasy Literature

10/14:  8 Fantasy Novels Every Writer Should Read;Books Without Any Pictures

Interview at SFF World

10/15Looking Back or Leaping Forward: The Evolving Fantasy Prose Style; Might Thor JRS

10/16: How to Build Great Fictional Cultures; BR Sanders


10/19: What Comes After Dystopia? Dark Matter Zine

10/20: The Empire Strikes Back: Writing that Tricky Second Book; Beauty in Ruins

Interview up at A Fantastical Librarian

10/21: 5 Things Every Writer Should Know About Book Marketing; Bryon Quertemous

Where Does the World Come From? Writing Influences; If These Books Could Talk

Rocket Talk with Matt Wallace


10/22: Book Tour Roundup/What’s Next?



How Book Titles Turn Browsers into Readers

There’s no “rule” for book titles. Not a single one. They aren’t copyrighted, so you can call your book whatever you want. Call it WAR AND PEACE or WIZARDS OF EARTHSEA or THE CLOUD ATLAS or whatever. You can do what you like.

Got that out of your system?

Now let’s get to work.

Titles are easy for folks to confuse. Ask the guy who wrote this THE CLOUD ATLAS how many more sales he got when this THE CLOUD ATLAS got a movie deal. Not a bad problem to have! But when you have two midlist books BOTH called SWORDSPINNER, all you’re going to end up doing is frustrating and confusing people. We live in a world of lazy instant communication, of the one-click purchase, of Google and Twitter hashtags and all the rest.

I don’t want to sift through 8,000 books called NOVEL to find yours (if you’re famous already, this post isn’t really for you. People buy a Stephen King book because it’s by Stephen King. He can call a book MADAME BOVARY if he wants. You might have more trouble. Here’s why).

There’s no other book called GOD’S WAR, which is nice, but there are plenty of INFIDELs and plenty of RAPTUREs. Worse, when I titled these books this way it left a lot of readers thinking they were Christian religious fiction (the covers help dispel that, but in casual conversation or status updates all they’ll hear/see is the title).

UK covers bel dame

Yes, really.

The titles were perfectly resonant for the works, but didn’t help those books find their audience. In fact, those titles actively turned people away. Titles tell us all sorts of things, just like covers. And like covers, it’s not about making a title literal. It’s about telling readers what kind of book you’re selling.

Ever since the mess of titling I experienced with my first trilogy, I’ve been spending a lot more time thinking about titles. I want titles that are unique and easy for me to track during my marketing efforts. I want titles that are easy to remember, easy to spell, and easy to plug into a social media update. As I learned when I wanted to tweet about the movie “Edge of Tomorrow” a meaningless, overly long title wasn’t any fun to share with people. I called it “Live. Die. Repeat.” instead, as did many others. And lo, by the time the DVD of the film came out, that’s the title the marketing folks were using for the film. It was evocative of the type of work it was, it said something, it was easy to type up and easy to track. It didn’t sound like a James Bond movie, but an actual science fiction film.

What genre are you writing? What genre does your title evoke?

When it came to titling THE MIRROR EMPIRE, I went through about a bazillion titles. THE DRAGON’S WAR. THE MIRROR WAR. Here was the list I sent my agent:

• Shade Empire
• Shade War
• Dusk of Empire
• By the Bloody Gate
• The Blood Conjurer
• The Shade Ward
• Dark Ward Rising/ Shadow Ward Rising


TheMirrorEmpire-144dpi-forrevealIt was my agent who suggested THE MIRROR EMPIRE, which I loved. Because it said what the book was: fantasy (see: empire) and implied the central conceit of the book (parallel universes invading). We also passed it through the Amazon machine, ensuring that no other book had the same title.

For the sequel, we went round and round again, with DARK STAR RISING and DARK STAR ASCENDANT. But I felt that both of those felt like SF titles (see: “Star” anything). We settled on EMPIRE ASCENDANT, which I have since had some reservations about, as most people can’t spell ASCENDANT correctly the first time (I sure can’t) and it makes it difficult to search for. It passed the Amazon test, though – it’s the only book with that title.

We went through a similar round-robin with THE STARS ARE LEGION, which started out being called, LEGION which is bad in so many ways. There are a billion other books called LEGION. It also didn’t code as any type of genre. It could be anything from historical fiction to fantasy.

I wanted something that included “Legion” but that coded SF, which was tough. I threw around some ideas with my editor and agent that included:

• Legion Born
• Lord of the Legion
• Legion Bound
• Blood of the Legion
• Legion Among the Stars

Once again, it was my agent who put all the pieces together and suggested THE STARS ARE LEGION, which gives us the SF “Stars” and the word “Legion” which was integral to a title, for me. And, once again: it passes the Amazon search test. There’s no other book with the title, currently.

I’d like to say that choosing a title makes no difference, but to be frank: no fantasy reader confuses THE MIRROR EMPIRE with religious fiction or a cozy mystery novel and says, “That’s not for me.”

Titles can turn casual readers off. I had people turn up their noses at GOD’S WAR for years, thinking it was not something for them, until there were enough people they knew telling them to try it that they finally gave in despite their reservations. It’s far easier to convince people to read THE MIRROR EMPIRE, let me tell you.

If I had to go back in time, I’d make it clearer that the GOD’S WAR books were SF, or an SF/Fantasy mashup, right there in the titles. There were certainly other things that contributed to their rather poor showing (lots of publisher issues), but what I’ve learned since then is that this business is tough enough that you can’t afford to slip up in even one aspect of it. Every single thing has to be perfect to position the book at its best. We’re all competing for readers’ time and attention, and if you can’t capture it, you’re lost.

I remember thinking, the week after the Hugos when THE MIRROR EMPIRE came out, that I’d done everything I could think of right. My publisher, Angry Robot, had done everything right – from cover to table placement to positioning to pitching the book to booksellers. We had done the absolute best we could for that book at every step of the way. If it failed, then it was just a bad book, or maybe the market just wasn’t ready for it. But every single part of the process I could control – from words to title to cover to promo – I had done to the absolute best of my ability. So if it failed, then, OK, it would fail, but I could sleep easy knowing I’d done everything I could.

This is a hell of a business. It’s competitive because it’s so noisy. There are roughly 300 traditionally published books coming out every month just in SFF, depending on the month. There are video games. There are movies. There’s TV. There’s board games. There’s sports. There are a million other ways that human beings have to entertain themselves, and our work somehow has to pop to the head of the line.

I don’t like the idea that there’s something I can control that I didn’t consider. Something I let slip. So I pay a great deal of attention to my titles; the same amount of attention I pay to the other words I put on the page. People ask all the time if it makes any difference and I want to shout, “It takes an hour of your time. Who cares? Wouldn’t you rather go to sleep every night knowing you did everything right? Knowing you gave the book you’ve been working on for years a good sendoff, coding it for the right audiences?”

I do. And I have. And I’ll continue to work toward launching books even more successfully in the future. Because this is a long game. And I have miles to go yet.



The End is Here: What Happens After MIRROR EMPIRE?

Today ends the 5-week whirlwind that was the dedicated promotion period I gave over to THE MIRROR EMPIRE.

How am I still standing?

Well, I didn’t give myself much choice.

There was no possibility of failure, here.



In about five weeks I did:

  • 30 posts
  • 9 podcasts
  • 5 radio gigs
  • 4 blog/magazine interviews
  • 2 events
  • 1 web TV appearance

Now I have no interest in speaking to any humans for at least three months. Which is a good thing because the sequel to THE MIRROR EMPIRE, EMPIRE ASCENDANT, is due in February. That’s a pretty hard date at this point because I have other things in the hopper that will be due after that, which I hope to be able to announce before the end of the year. With things at my publisher still up in the air, there are some things undecided, but it turns out that a couple of Hugo wins and really strong sales for MIRROR EMPIRE have opened up a lot more opportunities for me, which is fantastic.

So hopefully more on that later.

Aside from announcements and sharing of various things I’ve already recorded during this period, I plan to have a pretty low profile online until the end of the year, too. I’ll be checking Twitter twice a day on weekdays to make sure nothing explodes, but if you have a request that’s urgent, I recommend contacting to get what you need sorted.


Updates (or, non-updates) on Subjects Frequently Asked About

Audio Book

Tonight I’ll be recording pronunciations for the audio book of THE MIRROR EMPIRE. I’ve approved a narrator, so that’s in the works. I hope to announce that release in a few weeks.

Foreign Rights


Lots of interest, hoping something comes of some of them. Again, with things in flux at my publisher, I’m not holding my breath on any of this.

Google Play/iBooks Availability

Yes, well, nobody is perfect. See the publisher-in-flux note above.

Indie Book Store/Amazon Availability for Print Books

Yes, we already need a reprint! (yay) There will be slight delay. (boo!) Details here. 

Worldbreaker 3 Release Date

See publisher-in-flux note above. Hoping to have news about that soon, but again: you’ll get blue in the face holding your breath. Patience, grasshoppers.

What is your next project?

See notes above about pending announcements. Much of publishing is “hurry up and wait.”

Story of my life.


As ever: Keep buying books! Keep talking about the books! Keep sharing them! This ensures I get to write more books…. and you get to read them.

It’s a win-win.

MIRROR EMPIRE is out! Buy from B&N & Get Second Book… FREE

Yes, you read that right. We’ll be giving out up to 250 free digital ARCS (that’s Advance Reader Copies) to anyone who buys THE MIRROR EMPIRE from a physical Barnes and Noble location from August 26th-September 8th. You’ll be emailed your free digital copy of EMPIRE ASCENDANT BEFORE the book is available for general release – at the same time as general reviewers. 

That’s fine, you say, but what do I get NOW?

Well, for buying a physical copy of MIRROR EMPIRE from Barnes & Noble from August 26th-September 8th you will ALSO receive a free signed bookplate sent to the snail mail address you provide to us. This bookplate, in fact (only, you know, signed!):

Bookplate final

How to get your FREE bookplate and FREE Advance Reader Copy of EMPIRE ASCENDANT:


b&n promo

Questions? Here’s Why We’re Running this Promo

Q: What’s the difference between an Advance Reader Copy and the final version of the book?

A: Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) are not-quite-final versions of the text. They’ll likely be missing a map and updated glossary, and will have some typos that we haven’t caught yet. These typically only go out to approved reviewers, but I had so many fans ask for them with MIRROR EMPIRE that I felt it’d be fun to send them to super fans early as part of this deal.

Q: What the hell is a bookplate?

A: It’s a sticker you can put in the front pages of the book that contains my signature. That way it’s like I signed your book even though we were never in the same room! It’s like magic.

Q: I already ordered a copy of THE MIRROR EMPIRE somewhere else/I don’t live near a Barnes and Noble. Do I have to buy a copy of THE MIRROR EMPIRE from Barnes and Noble to get my free reader copy and bookplate?

A: Yes, you need to buy a physical copy of the book from Barnes and Noble. Buy one for a friend (or have them buy one for you!) and just take a picture of it (or have them take a pic) with the receipt! Generosity!

Q: My Barnes and Noble doesn’t have/is out of THE MIRROR EMPIRE but I still want the ARC and bookplate! What should I do?

A: Go up to the counter and order it directly from the bookstore. I realize this is annoyingly old school, but that’s why we’re offering the next book free if you go through with this. Physical bookstore orders are that important.

Q: I only read digital books/I don’t like Barnes and Noble. Why do I have to buy a physical copy from Barnes and Noble?

A: Barnes and Noble placed a not-bad order for my books (a couple thousand). To be frank, my third book did not sell well in physical form, and it’s made it difficult to convince booksellers to place big orders for my books (and been a sticking point in getting publishers to pick up new work from me).

Angry Robot has paid for table placement for THE MIRROR EMPIRE from August 26th-September 8th at Barnes and Noble. If we can prove to Barnes and Noble that there is demand for this book, they will order more. Larger orders for this book means larger orders for the next book, and can help me avoid the dreaded low-order death spiral so many authors get caught in. Trust me. This is a big deal. I could seriously use your support here, and I’m looking to sweeten this deal in whatever way I can.

Thanks to everyone! I look forward to sending you your bookplates and ARCs!

Remember: send your receipt and snail mail address toXXX during the August 26th-September 8th giveaway window.

The Little Book that Flew Away: Fly, Fly Little Book

Tomorrow is the official release day for THE MIRROR EMPIRE, my fourth published novel and the first in a new epic fantasy series.

Folks always want to know how you feel on book launch day, and the thing is, you know, I can tell you that on the *eve* of book launch day, I feel resigned. Not in a bad way, mind. But I’m content knowing that we all did the best we could to put out a great book.

Thanks go to my agent, Hannah Bowman, for helping me yank this thing into shape with a full burn down and rewrite. Thanks also for talking me down from cliffs and providing a measure of sanity in the chaos that is the writing life, where one can often get so stuck in a feedback loop that seeing outside of it is difficult.

Angry Robot Books has been a fabulous partner throughout this whole process. It was wonderful to work with a great team of book folks who, to be frank, knew what the fuck they were doing. Thanks to Lee Harris, Marc Gascoigne, my editor Amanda Rutter, and fabulous PR and marketing work from Michael Underwood and Caroline Lambe. Some miracles were achieved, let me tell you.


Thanks to cover artist Richard Anderson (and Marc Gascoigne again, for managing this process so smoothly all I had to do the whole time was be like “YES!!”) for an amazing cover that was just right for the tone of this work, and made it super easy for all of us to sell this book. Thank you to Steff J. Worthington for stepping in to swiftly create a beautiful map for the book. Thanks to my copyeditor, Richard Shealy, for bearing with me through all the made-up plants and people. And many, many thanks to my assistant, Danielle Horn Beale, for managing the massive wiki and inputting round after round of extensive copy changes.

And, of course, thanks to my spouse for tireless support and plot checkups during this strange rollercoaster of a ride. It was not easy to pick up after my last series and move on, with all the entanglements and sorrow, but we’ve done it, and I’m super happy to be moving on to more pleasant entanglements.

Thanks forever and ever to all the fans of my work: the book bloggers, the passionate convention goers, the booksellers, the forum posters, the book club members, the readers, readers, readers for spreading the word about my prior work and this work. Without folks clambering for more, and sharing it with their friends, it’s just me yelling alone on the internet.

As you can see above, there’s a lot of work from a lot of people that goes into making a traditionally published book. I didn’t just bang a typewriter with my forehead and slap the resulting words onto the internet. Whatever happens with THE MIRROR EMPIRE – whether it sells 3 copies or 3,000 or 30,000 or 300,000 – I know that we put together the best book we could put together at this point in our careers.

What happens after you position a book the best you can, and promote it as best you can, is that you have to let it go. It either connects with readers or it doesn’t. It either swims or it sinks (or just circles around awkwardly treading water, which is what happens to most books). This is where hard work ends and luck kicks in.

So good luck, little book. We’re all rooting for you.


MIRROR EMPIRE Blog Tour is Upon Us: Here’s What to Expect

So, I have this little book about blood mages, satellite magic, flesh eating plants, and the end of the world  called… THE MIRROR EMPIRE.

In celebration of the massive launch of this massive new epic fantasy series, a bunch of folks have been kind enough to host me at their places over the next four weeks. If you’re someone I owe content to, do take a look at the list below and forgive me if your post ends up getting sent the night before. It’s going to be a wild ride!

Here’s where you can find me:


Week of 8/18

8/19 “On Invisibility and Assumptions: Finding Distance in Writing About Chronic Illness” Hosted by SF Signal: Special Needs in Strange Worlds

8/21 “Gender, Family, Nookie: The Speculative Frontier” Hosted at Ladybusiness

8/22 “Tea, Bodies and Business: Remaking the Hero Archetype” Hosted by Escape Artists

Week of 8/25

8/25 “What We Didn’t See: Power, Protest, Story”  Hosted by A Dribble of Ink

8/26 “My Favorite Bit: These Aren’t Your Typical Ents” Hosted by Mary Robinette Kowal

8/26 Barnes & Noble Promo Begins! Find out How to Get EMPIRE ASCENDANT (book 2 of the Worldbreaker saga) FREE! Hosted here at

8/27  “Thundercats Ho: 5 Things I Learned When I Stopped Worrying About Genre” Hosted by SF Signal

8/28 “The Big Idea: When the Enemy’s Face is Yours” Hosted by John Scalzi

8/28 “Forgotten Future: The Stories We’re Missing” Hosted by Staffer’s Book Review

8/28 “Building Fantastic Cultures: Beyond Dwarves and Elves” Hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow

8/29 “Creative Creatures: Not Your Typical Houseplants” Hosted by The Quillery


Week of 9/1

9/1  Tough Cookies: On Dealing with Criticism” Hosted by the Waystone Owl Reviews

9/2 “Not My Country: 5 Things I Learned About Worldbuilding from Traveling Abroad” Hosted by Violin in a Void

9/2 “My Superpower” Hosted by Skiffy and Fanty

9/3 Interviewwith at Fantasy Faction

9/3 “Beyond He-Man and She-ra: Writing Non-Binary Characters”Hosted by D. Franklin

9/4 Reddit AMA! (UK release day)

9/4 “There is No Genre, Only Story” Hosted by SFF World 

Week of 9/8

9/8 “My Murder Board, Let Me Show You It: Plotting an Epic Fantasy” Hosted by Bristol Book Blog

9/9 “The Epic POV: How Many Characters is Too Many?” Hosted by Brian Staveley

9/9 “Drink Me: The Hotel Horror Story, and Where Ideas Come From” Hosted by Charlie Stross

9/10 “Anavha’s Lament: Gender Expectations for Male Characters” Hosted by Matthew Scott Baker

9/10 “Surviving the Game: Writing as Business” Hosted by Chuck Wendig

9/11 “Do you LIKE the sun? The content Casino vs. the Long Game” Hosted by Charlie Stross

9/11 “Making the Familiar Extraordinary: 5 Tips for Creating Worlds We’ve Never Seen” Hosted by Books, Bones, Buffy

9/12 “Bug Magic & Satellite Mages: Writing Magic Systems that Stand Out” Hosted by Poisoned Rationality


Week of 9/15

9/15 “Deconstructing Raisa: How I Built the World of The Mirror Empire” Hosted by My Bookish Ways

9/16 “Why I Stopped Writing About White People” Hosted by Far Beyond Reality

9/17 “On Making People Care: Storytelling in Fiction vs Marketing” Hosted by A Fantastical Librarian

9/18 The Writer Who Struggled to Read: On What Makes a Writer” Hosted by Barnes&Noble Book Blog

9/18 “Cultivating Wonder: Robert Jackson Bennett’s City of Stairs” Hosted by

9/19 “The Story Behind the Story: Mirroring an Empire” Hosted by Upcoming4Me



And then it’s….


(i.e. writing EMPIRE ASCENDANT)


How People Really Talk: Language and Signaling Difference

So just last week I happened across this video by Daniel José Older about why we shouldn’t italicize words in other languages while writing in English. If you have yet to see it, enjoy it here for the first time:

I laughed my ass off watching this, because anyone who’s actually known people who speak more than one language will recognize that how people talk in real life – the fluidity of language between English and Spanish, or English and Hindi or English and Zulu, or Zulu and Spanish, or any other combination thereof – is indeed exactly as Daniel describes. There’s no Pause for Effect. There’s no: AND NOW I AM SPEAKING FRENCH.

My grandmother was French, and moved between languages often. She did not wait to speak French until she was eating a baguette and wearing a beret(!). The same with my dad, my uncle, my aunts, my cousins – those who spoke French conversationally or fluently would flit back and forth when chatting with my grandmother without too much thought. It was just how everyone talked.

What I found interesting was the wrapper put around this conversation as it applies to how we offset these “foreign” languages in English text. The italics actually drew more attention to the words, it… othered them. When in fact, moving between and among two or more languages isn’t weird or other at all – it’s just how people talk.

Though folks may not think this is a huge deal – to italicize or not italicize – if you look at it in the context of othering, and how we normalize certain patterns of speech, and certain types of behaviors, it actually means a great deal. It signals that *this is something not like the rest.* Funny enough, words we’ve wholly adopted into English – like resume, faux pas, adobe, armada, schadenfreude – get a pass on the italics. So who decides when a word has been subsumed into the English borg collective and is no longer othered? Certainly not those who seamlessly move between languages every day.

I got my final copies of MIRROR EMPIRE a few days after watching this video, and as I flipped through it, I realized one of the last changes I made between submission and ARCs was that I got rid of all the italics on the various made-up words. There are three major languages in the book, and folks move between and among them quite often. The first few drafts of the book, I italicised all the words from one particular culture, but then not the other two, as the folks in those two cultures moved between these languages more often, and I started to wonder… who was considering which language other? Should I be italicizing all the Dhai words in the chapters from a Saiduan POV and the Saiduan words in chapters from Dhai POV or italicizing Dorinah words in a Dhai POV or… or…

It became a horrible inconsistent mess. The more appropriate thing to do, when I’m working with folks who are fluent in at least two or all three of these languages, is to just pull out the italics all together. It simply made more sense. Language is language, and they use all of.

Offsetting words implies there is one Standard. There is One True Common Tongue. But the truth is… there isn’t One True Language. There’s not Universal Common. Not in real life, and not in much fiction, either. Offsetting words which are “other” sets up reader expectations that there is one way, one real language, and that it’s your dominant culture, the dominant culture of your “hero” that decides that. But there is no One True Culture, either. And if our goal is to have more diverse, and interesting stories, we need to shed the trappings of our own preconceptions about what’s “normal” and what’s other and how we speak about that.

MIRROR EMPIRE FAQ: Audible, iTunes, Drop Dates, Hugos etc.

Welcome to August! With THE MIRROR EMPIRE dropping on August 26th (eeeeeeee) I wanted to do a quick roundup post of some questions I’ve been getting about the book. If you start asking me these things in online venues from here on out, expect to be re-routed here!

Q: Will there be an audio version of THE MIRROR EMPIRE?

A: Yes! Audible has bought rights to the book in a not-bad deal (I’m excited to earn out my advance as fast as possible). I sent them a list of preferred narrators, but as with anything, who knows who they’ll choose. I’m told the audio version should drop within a few weeks of the general release. Audio takes some time to produce.

Q: Will there be foreign versions of THE MIRROR EMPIRE?

A: There has been some interest. When I know, you’ll know.

Q: Will there be a movie deal for THE MIRROR EMPIRE?

A: People have asked to read it. But as you all know, that means nothing in H-wood. If you want a movie deal, my best advice is to buy as many books as possible to show there’s a strong fan base for such a thing. As ever.

Q: I can’t pre-order MIRROR EMPIRE on iTunes or Kobo! When can I order it from these venues?

A: It’s available on Kobo now!  Sorry for the delay on iBooks. This is something the distributor, Random House, handles, and it’s just not up yet. The most important platforms go up first. The others get in line. It’ll get there!

TheMirrorEmpire-144dpi-forrevealQ: I’ve read in a lot of early reviews that without a map or glossary, it can be confusing to keep track of all the countries and characters in THE MIRROR EMPIRE, like with the WHEEL OF TIME series. Is there a map and glossary in MIRROR EMPIRE?

A: Hell-to-the-yes. There is a map and nice fat glossary in the final. Scroll down to see a color version of the final map that appears in the book.

Q: THE MIRROR EMPIRE comes out August 26th in the U.S. What about the UK release?

A: It will come out in the UK on September 4th.

Q: You said the ARC version of MIRROR EMPIRE is different than the final. HOW DIFFERENT, HURLEY? You’re not going to make me BUY a copy, are you?

A: Aside from obvious copyediting changes, I make better use of that third-gender pronoun later in the book. I also have slightly different endings for my Roh and Ahkio plot arcs. If you’ll be upset reading the second book because I say something happened a tad differently for Roh and Ahkio than you remember, it likely won’t hurt to spend the $6.49 on the ebook to double check. That’s half the price of buying a movie on Amazon Instant (and cheaper than renting most movies these days, honestly).

Q: How important are reviews? If I want to review your book, should I put it up now or wait until release date?

A: YES!  Best thing to do if you liked MIRROR EMPIRE, of course, is to do the thing passionate readers always do – tell every fricking person you know how much you love it. Review it. Post about it. Rant about it. Sing about it. Whatever.

Q: I hear you are writing a lot of guest posts related to this book’s release. Why aren’t you doing one for my blog?

A: Well. Did you ask? All booked! I’ll be doing this again next September, tho. Never fear.

Q: We are getting pretty sick of hearing about this book. What can we do to make you stop talking about it?

A: I will stop talking about it when I sell 30,000+ copies, or on September 19th, whichever comes first.

(will add to this list as I get more questions in coming days)Grania (1)MIRROR EMPIRE map by Steff J. Worthington



Mapping the Days of Our Lives: MIRROR EMPIRE Map & Giveaway

(if you’re only here for the giveaway, here’s the details: To enter to win a full-color, wall-sized map of what appears in MIRROR EMPIRE, signed by the author, simply reply to this post on Facebook, Google Plus, or @tweet the same to me @kameronhurley with tag #mirrorempire and let me know your favorite fantasy map, yours or someone else’s!)


I rant a lot about how writing and publishing are hard. Boo-hoo. Whine whine.

I get caught up in that churn a lot, because this is my life now, and it’s often hard to see outside the present. But sometimes it’s good to take a step back and look at how far you’ve come. Because you know what? Not everybody who says at twelve, “I’m going to be a writer. Just you wait. You’ll see them in book stores. I’m going to write big epic shit that knocks your socks off” ever actually does that.

In truth, for a variety of reasons, most don’t.

Because life is hard, writing and publishing are hard.

But sometimes, yes, sometimes – some of us make it.

THE MIRROR EMPIRE was the second book I tried to sell, right before GOD’S WAR. It was very long, and very much a travelogue, at about 200,000 words. But the primary conceit was there – I knew who they were fighting. And the primary characters were there – I knew who the novel needed to be about.

I’d been writing in the world that would become the snarling flesh-eating plant infested satellite-magic infused one in THE MIRROR EMPIRE since I was twelve. Yes, really – just look at the maps. I drew up maps for the first few short stories I wrote there – tales of trolls’ hair and dragons’ gold and scullery maids who turned out to be princesses and twin stable boys who were really princes. It was all very juvenile, all very much based on the sort of high fantasy Tolkien-rip-offs I’d been exposed to growing up.

The earliest map I could dig up of the island where everything took place, Grania, was this one – an old map my mom saw fit to frame after I headed off to college. I think I was fourteen or fifteen when I drew it:


My map obsession continued throughout my teens. I lived in the middle of nowhere, so writing and craft projects pretty much filled my free time. Eventually, I decided Grania was just a little island in a much, much bigger world, and drew a world map to prove it (still hanging in my parents’ dining room):


(Grania is the thumb-sized square at the tip of that big tundra-slathered continent in the Western hemisphere). This early map shows the world is called “Ruusu.” Over the ensuing years, I decided that sounded too much like “Russia.” So I changed it to Raisa. And that’s what stuck.

I wrote a total of seven novels set in this world, the last of which would end up forming the backbone of what was to be THE MIRROR EMPIRE. But none of them clicked with anyone. I wrote an eighth novel set in a proto-Nyx desert world, and that didn’t sell either. I rewrote the proto-MIRROR book again, and tried to sell it again, with no luck… again.

That’s when I shifted gears and wrote GOD’S WAR, my ninth book and first published novel.

I learned a lot writing GOD’S WAR, INFIDEL and RAPTURE. And what I learned helped me approach the original story idea I had – an epic fantasy about an invading horde that turned out to be… well. Themselves (more on this during release week for my Big Idea post).

That idea remained, and the core ideas behind the characters, the living temples. But the rest got burned down and rebuilt with a lot of editing help from my agent, for the sake of the massive and intricate plot I wanted to wrap around these people. The world also got burned down and reimagined. My lackluster pseudo-medieval setting, the stuff of teen churn, became a contaminated jungle of flesh-eating plants, matriarchal societies, empires on the tundra, and giant bears and dogs that served as mounts. All the sudden there was vegetarianism, and ritualistic cannibalism, and blood magic, and an entire system of powerful sorcerers whose magic waxed and waned depending on what stars were in the sky.

It all got rebuilt.

All but the map.

Because this was, at core, still the planet I built.

The names changed, but the geography was the same. When I got asked to give the cartographer for Angry Robot a map, I had plenty to choose from. Eventually, the view I chose was from this map, made when I was 17 or 18, because it would fit right for the format of the first book, and contained all the areas where the first book of action took place:


All of the place names had to be updated, of course. Back in the day, these relied heavily on European-influenced naming schemes. But I’d moved on. So this is what I sent to AR, expertly “designed” in… Microsoft Powerpoint (heh heh):

map image

The trickiest part of the map process was, naturally, the satellites. They’re the bodies in the sky whose powers folks call on to perform feats of magic. They are… well, read and find out what they are, but portraying them on the map was important to me. As I re-read the book the final time for the page proofs pass, I realized just how necessary it was to show these somewhere.

When I got the final map back from the cartographer, in B&W for the book and in color for all other uses, I admit I was a little teary-eyed.

This has been a long road, for this little book. It took me a long time to gain the skill I needed to tell it correctly, and I’m still not convinced I was totally ready. But I’m proud of what me and this incredible team of folks – my agent, spouse, assistant, and the entire staff at AR – came together to make. I could not have made it just this way on my own, and I thank everybody for helping me get this far.

“I’m going to be a writer. Just you wait.”

And so I am.

Here’s the final map for THE MIRROR EMPIRE, created by artist and cartographer Steff J. Worthington:

Grania (1)

Now you can enter to win your own full color wall MIRROR EMPIRE map of Grania, in Western Raisa, expertly modeled here by Angry Robot editor Lee Harris, and signed by me:



To enter, simply reply to this post on Facebook, Google Plus, or @tweet the same to me @kameronhurley with tag #mirrorempire and let me know your favorite fantasy map, yours or someone else’s!

Winner drawn tonight at 8:00 pm CST (9:00 pm EST), as I’ll be on the road most the day!

THE MIRROR EMPIRE is out August 26th. You can pre-order it now.


7 Reasons to Pre-Order The Mirror Empire

Why pre-order an epic fantasy coming out in August! So far away, right? Oh, you mean what other reasons….

Besides blood mages, sentient trees, living swords??




Here’s seven MORE great reasons:

 1)      This cover:




2)      This review: 


Read it.

3)      This excerpt:


Read the rest

4) All these excited people:

praise pics


5) More pre-orders means more bookstore pre-orders (think thousands, not hundreds), increasing likelihood you’ll see this: 

stack shelves


6) Because one of the acquiring team at the publisher threatened to get in a knife-fight over it: 

knife fight


7) Because even authors who weren’t part of acquisition team seem to like it!: 




Bonus:  Because life is too short to read the same old dudebro epic fantasy novel over and over again.