Dämoren News and Writing Updates

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Dämoren‘s reception has been outstanding.  I’m amazed at how well everyone has been receiving it.

It spent the past week and a half in three of the Top 100 Amazon categories for Urban and Paranormal Fantasy. It also broke the 1,000th sale mark in 23 days. That’s fantastic! Thank you, everyone.

Reviews and Interviews

The BiblioSanctum said, “Rest assured Dämoren will satisfy all your needs in the action and thrills department, but what I was most impressed with was the world building and unique body of lore Skorkowsky has created, which offered a fresh new take on the angel/demon mythos.”

Self Publisher’s Showcase said, “That Mr. Skorkowsky’s debut release is so utterly consuming, leads me to believe that before too long bookshelves across the globe will be accosting and brutalizing their owners if his name does not reside on their shelves…”

I also recently recorded a podcast interview with Adventures in Scifi Publishing along with some more of the Ragnarok Publications Team. I’ll let you know when that’s edited and released.

Signing Event

I’m also extremely happy to announce that I will signing books at Area 51 Games and Collectibles in Grapevine Texas on Saturday May 10th. If you’re in the DFW area, please come by and check it out.

Writing

On the writing front, everything has been going great.  Jason Waltz of Rogue Blades Entertainment sent me the final cover sketches for Sea Of Quills and I’ll be honest, it is going to look fantastic.  Artist Didier Normand is incredibly talented and I can’t wait to see the final painting.

Hounacier is still coming along.  I’ve broken the 35,000-word mark and things are speeding up.  I’m very pleased with how it’s coming together. 

Lastly, I’ve finally gotten around to making a Valducan Series page on Facebook.  Please drop by and give it a ‘Like’.

That’s all for now.  Thank you for all your support, everyone.

-Seth

Journey of The Black Raven

 

The upcoming release of Mountain of Daggers is a dream come true.  A dream I once feared would never happen.  But like it’s titular hero, it has overcome all obstacles.  In honor of its release, I wanted to share the Black Raven’s journey.

The Black Raven started with a little short story I penned.  Birth of the Black Raven follows a sailor\pickpocket named Ahren who is framed for murder by a nobleman.  Trapped in a foreign city, injured, and unable to speak the language, he finds himself under the care of a crime lord.  Ahren manages a level of vengeance, but the cost is that he’s pressed into the service of the Tyenee, an international crime syndicate.  I intentionally left an open ending to the story, and swore I would never continue it as a series (obviously, I was wrong).

A year or more later, I went to Venice.  While there, I was inspired to write a thieving story, and the Black Raven was the perfect hero for it.  The story would take place years after the first, and Ahren would now be a master thief.  Race for the Night Ruby is still one of my favorite Black Raven adventures.  After it was completed, I had no choice but to continue the series.  I was hooked.

Porvov300dpi4x6My plan was to publish a series of adventures in various fantasy magazines, and anthologies, then eventually publishing a collection.  I submitted Birth of the Black Raven to a few different magazines, but no one wanted it.  Eventually, I submitted it to Flashing Swords Magazine.  The editor, Crystalwizard, sent me a message saying that she loved it, but the open ending (the one that I thought was brilliant) would just leave the reader feeling unfulfilled.  She suggested I either change the ending or write a series.  I told her that I had a series planned and had six stories already.  Intrigued, she requested the second story.  I did, and she sent me a contract almost immediately.  The Porvov Switch was published in Flashing Swords #9 in 2008.  MikO’s illustration of Ahren wasn’t exactly true to how I imagined him, but that didn’t change the joy of seeing my first character illustration.

Reluctant Assassin-color

Flashing Swords purchased six stories total.  The second, The Reluctant Assassin, was the featured story for Flashing Swords #11.  I got to work with artist Johnney Perkins for both the cover and interior picture.  That was a real treat.

Crystalwizard introduced me to editor Jason Waltz to discuss publishing a Black Raven collection after all six stories had hit print.  Things were moving so much faster than I had dreamed, and I was fervently writing out new adventures to fill the collection.

FS12After Flashing Swords #11, the magazine sold to Daverana Enterprises.  After a slow start, issue #12 came out 4 months late.  The interior was poorly laid out, and it wasn’t marketed very well.  Even my contributor’s copy incorrectly has Issue #10 printed on the cover.  That issue contained Race for the Night Ruby, and I was terribly disappointed that my cherished story had such a bad run.

Flashing Swords #13 looked pretty good.  Ahren’s adventure, The Ferrymaster’s Toll, was to be the featured story.  Sadly, Flashing Swords went under before it hit print.  It was a good magazine.  I’ll miss it.

However, I do have a proof image of the cover that never was.  flashswordscovermockup13

Meanwhile, Jason and I continued to plan for our Black Raven Collection under Rogue Blades Entertainment.  I had 13 stories, and we’d decided on the collection’s title.  We chose Mountain of Daggers, which is the symbol stamped on the medallions of the Tyenee. I’d also sold a 14th adventure, The Second Gift, to the Time in a Bottle Anthology.  

Then, at Dragon Con, Jason met with the editor of a large publisher that was interested in a sword and sorcery rogue. Because the larger publisher would be a better opportunity for me, he selflessly pitched Mountain of Daggers to the editor (earning himself my sincere loyalty and gratitude) and they were interested. We sent the editor the first story, they liked it and requested the full manuscript.  Things looked promising.

Two years later, they still hadn’t made a decision on it.  Frustrated, I withdrew the submission at the 24-month mark.  Rogue Blades still wanted it, but said it would be a while before print.  So again, The Black Raven waited.

 And eventually it happened. Jason Waltz sent me a message saying that Rogue Blades was ready to roll with it. We decided that instead of just a single book of 90,000 words, to add the additional Black Raven stories I’d written in the meantime, and divide it into two collections of 70,000 words each.

The joy in seeing Didier Normand’s cover art for Mountain of Daggers was incredible. After four years, I didn’t believe I’d ever see it come.

Mountain Cover 1st Dr

We’ve already reviewed the concept sketches for the second collection, Sea of Quills, and it looks even better than the first.  I can’t wait to see the final version of it.

One of the first lessons I learned in the publishing industry is to be patient.  My very first short story took 30 months from the day it sold to the day it printed.  It’s just the nature of the beast, and I never hesitate to warn other authors that patience isn’t a virtue, it’s essential.

The Black Raven’s journey isn’t a story of setbacks and defeats.  It’s a story of publishing.  Sometimes things move in a whirlwind and the author is racing to keep up to meet deadlines, but most often it’s waiting.  For any new authors out there, please remember that.  Be patient.  It will happen, but it can take time.

-Seth

 

Story Inspirations – The Doge’s Palace

Every writer can name specific things they’ve seen, or read, that eventually appeared in one of their stories, either as a central plot-point or just atmosphere.  For me, the one place that held the most kernels of inspiration was the Doge’s Palace in Venice Italy.

I first visited it during my Honeymoon in 2006.  My wife and I were to take an all-day walking tour of the city.  It started extremely early one cold February morning, and we were on time in getting to the starting point.  Then, half-way there, we realized we’d left the tickets back at our hotel.  In a frenzy, we rushed back, grabbed the tickets, then ran across town to where the tour was (not an easy task, since there are no direct paths anywhere in Venice).  We missed the tour by five minutes.

Since we were up, we decided to make the most of it, and wandered into the Doge’s Palace.  We figured it would be two, maybe three hours, then we’d explore somewhere else.

We spent nearly the whole day there.

Later, many of the things I saw ended up in my fantasy stories.   Most I hadn’t taken pictures of at the time, but when we returned again in 2012, I made sure to snag some shots of the things that directly inspired me.

Mouth of TruthMouth of Truth:  Once upon a time, Venetians could denounce criminals by writing the lawbreaker’s name and crime on a note, then slipping it through the open mouth of this carved face.  Think of it as the original ‘Police Tip Line’.  I used a similar device in my story, ‘The Porvov Switch‘.  In it, I referred to the Mouth of Truth by a much less romantic name:  The Rat Hole.

 

 

 

 

 

Trapped BoxTrapped Box:  This nasty little box appears like any other casket for money or treasure.  However, the treasure this box holds is DEATH.  When opened, it fires 4 bullets simultaneously, two out the front, one out of the left and right sides.  I used a similar device in my story, ‘Race of the Night Ruby‘.

 

 

 

Trapped KeyTrapped Key:  The picture really doesn’t capture the mechanism involved, but the idea is quite devious.  The key is a trap.  When used, a button at the tip fires a spring-loaded spike out through the shaft and into the user’s hand.  Not enough to kill anyone, but definitely enough to ruin someone’s day and to identify who stole your key ring.  I used a similar device in ‘The Ferrymaster’s Toll‘.

 

 

 

 

Prison HallPrison Window:  There is a prison linked to the Doge’s Palace (which is a lot like having Gitmo being a wing of the White House), and while touring it, I saw these windows along the halls that peered into the different cells.  Normally, in TV and movies, cell windows are either set into the door, or look outside (where our hero inevitably befriends a bird or stares up at the moon).  These windows allow guards to easily observe what was going on inside the cells (useful for determining if the prisoner is hiding beside the door with a shank, waiting for you to open it).  In ‘The Raven’s Cage‘ I used a cell window like these as a central point.

 

 Prison Graffiti 2 Prison Graffiti 1Prison Graffiti:  With nothing much to do , prisoners would carve very elaborate graffiti in their cell walls.  Some of it is actually quite impressive.  Like most graffiti today, there are quite a lot of penises.  I made mention of the abundant graffiti in ‘The Raven’s Cage‘ as a way to add atmosphere.

 

 

  There were of course many other things that caught my interest at the palace, several of which will appear in future stories.  But as of now, a single missed tour led me to a place that I can identify four different stories that benefited from our forgetfulness.

-Seth

It All Comes Together.

I’ve been writing fiction for several years now. My modest collection of magazines and anthologies fill the shadowboxes on the wall behind me as I write this. They are my trophies, my little reminders that no matter what happens, I published those.

Writing is exciting and maddening all at once. I’ve had brushes with contracts that never happened. I’ve sold stories that ended up never seeing print because publishers went under. I’ve had far more rejection letters than I’d like to admit. Eventually, frustration led me to nearly stop writing. I feared those glossy covers hanging on my wall were all I’d ever have.

My wife loves to tell me that it’ll happen when it’s supposed to.

In May of 2013 I spoke with several authors who all told me that I really needed to get a website for when that big sale happens. I really didn’t heed their warnings.

Then, in December of 2013, everything happened at once. Ragnarok Publications signed my urban fantasy novel, DÄMOREN. The next week Rogue Blades Entertainment not only signed my Black Raven sword and sorcery collection MOUNTAIN OF DAGGERS, but also signed for a second collection, SEA OF QUILLS.

I’d gone from having no book deals to three in a week’s time…. and I still didn’t have a website.

My wife always said that it will happen when it’s supposed to. And as 2013 draws to a close, I can’t help but concede that she was right.

I love you, Kayci.

Here’s to the future.