School's out for summer at last, which means some family trips, a lot of time at the pool, and probably less writing time, at least on the weeks that I have the boys. As much as I detest the humid, swampy heat of DC, I always seem to enjoy summer, probably because of the more open schedule. During the school year, it always seems like we're dashing from place to place, trying to fit in homework and school activities and orchestra rehearsals and occasional book events. But during the summer, if we have one thing scheduled that day, it's something to look forward to, and we always manage to find plenty of others stuff to fill the rest of the time.
I'm only talking about the weeks that I have the boys, of course. My solo bachelor weeks are pretty much business as usual. After all, I just promised my editor that I'd have a first draft of Empire of Storms Book 3 to her by November. The only difference on solo weeks in the summer is that I tend to write downstairs at the dinner table, close to the AC unit and the giant jug of green tea chilling in the fridge.
My publicist passed along some great reviews and even a blurb from a well known epic fantasy author!
Here is a starred review from Publisher's Weekly:
YA author Skovron builds on his strengths in his first book for adults, diving deep into the lives of two, gruesomely orphaned children in an Earthsea-like island realm. The land is ruled by a degenerate imperium whose amoral face is the biomancers—part scientist and part sorcerer—who operate with utter impunity for ends of their own. Bleak Hope is the sole survivor of a village destroyed by a biomancer. She’s raised by the leader of a sect of warrior monks who give her all the skills she will need to wreak vengeance. Red, son of a chemical-addicted artist and a prostitute, hitches his star to Sadie the Goat, who mentors him into becoming the greatest thief in the stews of New Laven. When the adolescents emerge from their apprenticeships, they launch their adult voyages. Skovron’s eye for characterization and situations is exceptional, raising this from a fun ninja and pirate mash-up to a compelling coming-of-age yarn that genuinely merits a multivolume treatment.
Here's another great review from Library Journal:
Bleak Hope, the only survivor of her village’s massacre by the emperor’s mysti- cal biomancers, is taken in and secretly trained by a Venchen warrior monk. Hope learns skills that will help her in her quest for vengeance. Another orphan, Red, is fostered by one of the biggest names in the criminal underworld. With the tools of a thief and a con artist, Red searches for power and the next thrilling con with his friends. When their worlds collide, Red and Hope join forces to hunt the biomancer that destroyed her home; in the process they uncover a secret that could destroy his. VERDICT YA author Skovron (Struts & Frets) makes his adult fantasy debut with this engaging series starter. His skillfully developed world, filled with swords and magic, is a perfect foil for his dynamic characters.
And lastly, Sam Sykes, author of The City Stained Red said:
Furious where it needs to be, deceptively tender where it can get away with it, adventurous all around; Hope and Red is the childhood hero's journey through a drug trip. The good kind.
Sam and I met at ConFusion in January. I was feeling a bit daunted by the world of "grown up" SF&F, and he took me under his wing for the first day. So that's two I owe him now.
I haven't done this bit in a while, mostly because I'm still slogging through that deep dive Samurai Legends book. It's been tremendously helpful and informative, but it's massive, and a lot less entertaining than I'd hoped. To balance it out, I've been catching up on a ton of graphic novels and comic collections. Sex Criminials by Fraction and Zdarsky is as charming, honest, and funny as everyone says. Wicked+Divine by Gillen and Mckelvie also lives up to the hype. Along with Saga, Pretty Deadly, and Rocket Girl, Image Comics is really publishing some great work these days.
Which reminds me, I've decided to try out Comixology's new "Unlimited" subscription service. For about $6 a month, they offer a huge selection of comics you can download and read at no extra cost. The "catch", so to speak, is that neither of the big two publishers, Marvel or DC, are participating. So no Batman, Spiderman, X-men, etc. But what's interesting is that this has allowed the boys and I to discover a lot of great titles from other comics publishers we might otherwise have passed over. Frankly, I've been able to find so much stuff that I hardly miss the big two at all.
That said, I have been re-reading all of DC Comic's old Lucifer collections because I'm currently on a campaign to convince Holly Black that I'm the natural choice as successor for the title when she's ready to move on. I'll let you know if she falls for it--er, I mean, sees the obvious reasoning in it.
I never miss this one, though, do I? That's because there is always so much great music out there! This week I want to share a band I heard about on Bob Boilen's All Songs Considered called Let's Eat Grandma. Apologies to all the grandmothers who get this newsletter (including my mother), but it is a pretty striking title. And the dark quirkiness it suggests absolutely comes through in the music. Now, these girls look like they can't be more than sixteen, but so was Lorde. Hopefully they'll stick around. Their first album, I, Gemini, just came out last week, and here's one of my favorite tracks:
And that's it for now. Next week is launch week, which might mean I'll have tons of stuff to say, or maybe nothing at all. Or maybe just no time to say it. Regardless, I'm looking forward to my launch party next Tuesday at One More Page books in Arlington. It's at 7pm and there will be wine and chocolate, so if you're in the general area, please stop by! And if you haven't preordered your copy of Hope and Red, now would be an excellent time to do so :)