Home Stretch

The first draft of Alex Verus #7 has just nudged up over 87,000 words.  Normally this would mean the book’s only a few thousand words or so from completion . . . except that I’ve got the feeling that this one’s going to be a little longer than usual.

On the plus side, that means you guys get a longer book.  On the minus side, there’s really no realistic chance that I’m going to hit my March 31st deadline (I’ve been a week or two behind schedule for months now, and while I haven’t gotten any further behind, I haven’t managed to close the gap either).  The book will definitely be done some time in April, but I don’t know exactly when.  But since the deadline was primarily a self-imposed one, it’s not really a huge deal.  I’ll just do what I can to get it done, hopefully by mid-April or so.  For now, I just need to work my way through the climax.

I’m looking forward to seeing the reactions when this one comes out.  It’s really quite different from the past ones.  Let’s hope you guys like it!

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Eastercon 3rd-6th April

I’m going to be going to the London Eastercon this year!  It’s on from 3-6 April at the Park Inn at Heathrow.  Schedules aren’t finalised but I should be on the ‘Watching the Detectives’ panel on the Monday 6th – everything else is up in the air.  Will post more when I have the details.

Jim Butcher’s also going to be there (and on the same panel), so I’m hopefully going to get to meet him for the first time, which is pretty exciting.  Other than that I’ll be wandering around on the Monday, so if you want to meet up, send me a message!

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Ask Luna #46

From: John D.

Dear Luna,

I know that Ariadne made your staff for dueling, but with your curse the way it is, do you have the ability to make a focus item for it (or Chance Magic in general)? Or is magical item design only for mages (as in, you need to be a full mage to have the ability to craft something)? For that matter, what kind of power does it take to make an Imbued Item? Obviously, again, Ariadne seems to have something in that range, but can any mage do it if they’re dedicated enough, is it dependent on power (or skill), or do Imbued Items from mages require something more to make real (i.e. a sacrifice)?

Thank you!

I dunno. Alex used to push me to try making one-shots, but I never really liked the idea. My new teacher seems to think I could do it, though. According to her it’s just a matter of practice.

But something like that focus whip that Arachne made would be a totally different story. That doesn’t just focus my curse – it adds a whole new ability. I think there are some mages who can do similar stuff, but from what I’ve been learning, Arachne’s kind of in a class by herself as far as that goes.

And yes, I’ve heard the same stories about needing sacrifices to make imbued items, but Arachne says that’s mostly rubbish.

From: A

So Luna,

I herd u liek mudkips.

Is it true?

Hey, 2008 called. They want their meme back.

From: jean martin

Hi luna,

heen reading your column since it started. I would like to know what type of mage Richard is

Yeah, so would we.

From: Zan

Hello Luna,

I hope your training is continuing without any serious mishap. Though, considering chance children have spectacularly bad days, it wouldn’t surprise me if you’ve had a few more than the average apprentice. My question is actually for Mage Verus, he’s a bit harder to get a hold of than yourself, so if you could pass it on, I’d be grateful. A few years ago, he had a run in with a particularly powerful entity during his… dealings with Mage Belthas. I was wondering if Verus had found out the entity’s name or any other information about her.

Wishing you luck,
Zan

Good question. I asked Alex about it once and he’s got . . . well, a theory. Or a name, anyway. He hasn’t told anyone, partly because it’d only cause trouble, partly because he doesn’t think anyone would believe him. I did wonder if he was right or not. If he is . . . well, it’s a strange feeling. Makes you feel very small.

Arachne would know, one way or another, but if Alex is right, it’d be a really personal question. He hasn’t asked, and so far I haven’t either.

And it’s nice of you to say, but I don’t need anyone to wish me luck. That’s one thing I’m never short of!

From: Alex

Hi Luna.

I was thinkng about Alex’s powers and I realised that his ability pool is really quite limited compared to other mages. Is this normal for some magic catagories? I ask because it really seems quite unfair for Alex to only have one trick, also wouldn’t this make diviners a lot more like time adepts than full blown mages?

Yeah, you’re not the first to think that. Or the second, or the third, or the thirtieth.

And you’re right, it’s not fair. Some mages get a whole slate of powers. Some adepts get just one ability that’s useful, or kind of useful, or maybe not useful at all. Some people only get the ability to sense magic. Some people don’t even get that. It’s just life, and it is what it is. You don’t get to pick the hand you’re dealt. All you can choose is how you play it.

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Alex Verus #7 – Release Date

I had been going to do an Ask Luna for this week, but I just got a bit of news that I decided I’d rather share instead.  We’ve got a tentative but probable release date for the as-yet-unfinished seventh book in the Alex Verus series – the current plan is that it’ll be released in the US and the UK in April 2016.

(Yes, that’s right, this is two books in the future.  The next Alex Verus book is Alex Verus #6, Veiled, and it’s coming out this August.  You plan a long way ahead in the publication business.  On the plus side, this is actually slightly earlier than I was expecting, which is good news from my point of view – means I’m more likely to get my edits faster, which means you guys will get the following book sooner, too!)

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Third Anniversary

FatedUSCover100As of today, it’ll have been almost exactly three years since the release of Fated.  For the last two years, I’ve done a post on or around March 1st looking back in retrospect, and I think I’m going to make it a regular tradition.  So, it’s now been three years since the Alex Verus series was released – how are things going?

Obviously, from the point of view of you guys, the most significant news is the part involving new books.  As far as that goes, 2014-2015 was much like the previous year.  Between March 1st 2014 and March 1st 2015, I released Hidden, finished, edited, and copyedited Veiled, and got most of the way through the as-yet-untitled first draft of Alex Verus #7.  (Which is currently 75% complete, and coming along nicely.  It should be done by early April, if all goes according to plan.)  So one book released, one finished, and another nearly finished.  The main difference between this year and the last has been that I’ve stepped up my production speed slightly.  This time last year, I was only about 30% of the way through Veiled.

But that’s really all just progress reports.  The big question is always: are the books doing well?  And are they doing well enough that there’ll be more of them?

As far as that goes, the real news for the past year has been my sales reports.  I did a post on this last year analysing my sales numbers, and they were good – in fact, very good.  Since then I’ve had another royalty statement which has continued the trend.  If you’re curious about how the advance-and-royalty model works, you can find a post I wrote on it here, but the short version is that I’m now getting a steady amount of income from the back sales of Fated, Cursed, and Taken.  Since I also get paid for the contracts for the new Alex Verus books that I sell to my publishers, this effectively means I’m getting two income streams instead of one.  It’s not enough to make me rich, but it’s enough for me to live on and continue to write full-time.  More importantly from a reader’s perspective, it means that the publishers are making a profit.  Which means that they’re going to be keen on buying more Alex Verus books, which means that I can keep on writing them and selling them, which means that you guys can keep reading them.

This year’s also been the year where I’ve worked out a fairly definite plan for the long-term story arc of the series.  I know what’s going to happen in the rest of Book #7, and I also have pretty clear plans for what’ll happen in Books #8 and #9.  From that point on it gets vague, but I know who the final antagonists are going to be, and I know what the endgame is going to look like.  I’m still guessing around 12ish books for the whole series, though don’t quote me on that.

So, as the year timer ticks around once again, things look good!  The new books are going well, the old books are selling well, and the future of the series looks rosy.  Let’s hope it stays that way!

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February Update

veiled_front mech.inddNow that I’ve finally worked through the backlog of Ask Luna questions, I figured it was about time for a news post.

Alex Verus #7 is still coming along, and is somewhere around 70% done.  I’m enjoying writing this one more than the last – I think it’s going to be good!  I’m hoping to finish around the beginning of April, after which it’ll go off to the editors.  Judging by past timescales, it should be coming out some time in mid-2016.

Copyedits on Veiled are done, and the book’s pretty much ready for publication!  There are still a few more touches to do, and after that the proofreading stage, but the manuscript sitting on my hard drive right now is basically the same as the one you guys will be reading in August.  (No, you don’t get to read it until then.  Sorry.  Best I can do is put up the first chapter in extract form around June.)

I’m planning to go to Eastercon this 3rd-6th of April.  Jim Butcher’s going to be there, and there are some tentative plans for some events, so fingers crossed!  More news as I get it.

Other than that, everything’s rolling along smoothly.  The third anniversary of the release of Fated is coming up on March 1st, so I’ll probably do a post in a week or so looking back over the past year.

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Trying to unsubscribe from Ticketmaster

(I don’t usually put personal stuff up on this blog, but decided this was amusing enough to share.  This is an edited but factual account of my online dealings with the ticket provider Ticketmaster.co.uk.)

- Attempt to book theatre performance: Woman in Black.
- To book seats for this production, you must register with Ticketmaster.co.uk.
- Register with Ticketmaster.
- Welcome to Ticketmaster! Now start reaping the benefits of your newly created My Ticketmaster account!

(one week later)

- You have received a new email from Ticketmaster: ‘Niki Minaj, Take That, Santana, and many more!’
- click link at bottom of email: Unsubscribe.
- Thank you, your email subscriptions list has been updated. Please allow 72 hours to process your request.

(one week later)

- You have received a new email from Ticketmaster: ‘NFL, Gareth Malone, BRIT awards!’
- click link at bottom of email: Unsubscribe.
- Thank you, your email subscriptions list has been updated. Please allow 72 hours to process your request.

(one week later)

- You have received a new email from from Ticketmaster: ’Top Gear Live, Niki Minaj, Gareth Malone, and many more!’
- click link at bottom of email: Unsubscribe.
- click link at bottom of email: Unsubscribe.
- click link at bottom of email: Unsubscribe.
- Thank you, your email subscriptions list has been updated. Please allow 72 hours to process your request.

(one week later)

- You have received a new email from from Ticketmaster: ’Buddy the Elf comes to London in Elf: The Musical!’
- Google search: ‘ticketmaster spam’
- First result on Google: ‘Bananas in the Falklands’.
- Login to Ticketmaster profile.
- Welcome to My Ticketmaster!
- Change registered email address to ‘stop_spamming_me_you_fuckers@ticketmaster.co.uk’.
- Error: That email address is already in use.
- Change registered email address to ’stop_sending_me_fucking_spam_mail@ticketmaster.co.uk’.
- New email address confirmed.

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Ask Luna #45

From: drizztmajere

Hey luna,
How are you? :) I saw you answer a question saying that mages today are stronger than they were in the past. How is that possible when you had mages that had the fate ability, created objects of power such as the fateweaver and darn near destroyed the world atleast 3 times over? Is it just an accumulation of XP gained through the teacher student system? Thank you

Yeah, that’s something a lot of students ask about. The answer our teachers give us is that a lot of Precursor stuff might look more impressive than modern stuff, but that doesn’t actually make it any more powerful or useful. The Pyramids might look fancy, but that doesn’t mean the ancient Egyptians were better at building stuff than we were.

Or that’s what we get told. I asked Arachne about it, and she said that while it’s true, it’s only half the story. Apparently a lot of the really impressive stuff made by mages in the past was done with outside help, ie nonhuman slave labour. Now that most of the magical creatures are dead, there isn’t so much low hanging fruit for mages to pick off, so they have to rely on their own strength and better training systems.

From: Nepene

Hiya Luna. Thanks for all your answers. I do enjoy learning more about the world of magic.

In honour of your name I wanted to ask a question- what’s the magical space industry like? Have there been any notable efforts to reach the moon or other planets with magic?

Also, in the same sort of line of questioning, are there any industrial mage companies that use mages to do business functions? I know secrecy is an issue, but still, magic is useful enough that I am curious if they got around that issue.

You’re welcome! Glad people like this stuff. I’ve been noticing I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately.

Yeah, you can go to the moon with magic, and other planets too. There was a project to do it some time back. Apparently they had to research some new spells (normal gate magic doesn’t do the job for whatever reason) but it worked. There are a couple of volunteer programs in America that do space exploration, and they’ve developed their own spell library and some special inventions.

And yeah, there are companies that use magic. Usually small ones rather than big ones. The usual pattern is that one mage will set up on their own, and hire a small staff, maybe a few sensitives or adepts. It’s actually really common among independent mages. Not all mages play the Light-Dark politics game, lots of them just spend their time making money and enjoying being rich.

From: Blake

Dear Luna along the line of my last question? the reason i was asking about how you felt during the fate weaver incident, is because that is the only time you able to influence your curse in such a way that changed the nature of your curse. I hold the understanding that your curse is a separate entity that is bound to you and your will,but what are the “odds” that you could manipulate a similarity in multiple locations. or influence your surroundings so that a gate could appear by chance?

second question is about Alex and Elsewhere. it’s my understanding that the link between Richard and Alex is how Richard found Alex in the shadow realm and was able to track him reliably. Is that also how Richard was able to gate in and out easily? and if so that would be handy for Alex to master Elsewhere to much better degree.

No, I’ve done it at other times too. Lots of times, actually. I can do blessings as well as curses now. The only problem is that I can’t make it work 100%. So most of the time if I try to do it then I can bring good luck . . . but every now and again it goes wrong and whatever I’m casting it on just gets a concentrated dose of my curse instead. And if they were in a situation that was bad enough that they needed good luck . . . see where that’s going? And that’s why you don’t see me try it on people. (As for making gates appear by chance – hasn’t happened yet.)

For the second question, I have no idea how Richard found Alex in Sagash’s place, or how he was able to get in and out. Pretty sure Alex doesn’t either. I guess the Elsewhere theory makes as much sense as any.

From: Jerry W.

Any idea when Alex Verus #6 will be out?

I don’t think you quite understand how this column works.

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Ask Luna #44

From: Bruce Donohue

Hello Luna. How is the reconstruction of the Shop coming along? Has there been some major new improvements in the living quarters?

I think Alex has mentioned that out of all you, that Anne is the most natural of cooks when you were all living together and you were the most accident prone, what cause Alex to have a CO2 canister near at hand? And since Alex is your sponser,has he ever tried to sign you up for cooking classes other than those to create salves, creams, potions etc?

Always wondered if in your apprenticeship classes if they teach you how to make magical items, armors etc…

What reconstruction? If you mean since that time those adepts blew it up, that was years ago.

And seriously, I wish people would shut up about that fire. It was ONE time. And oil frying is dangerous anyway. As for cooking classes . . . no! I’ve got stuff to do already, I’ve got better things to do with my free time then pretend to be Delia Smith.

From: NoOneWillEverKnow

Hi Luna,

Alex once mentioned he’d found fanfiction of himself on the internet when he googled his shop. He said there was all sorts of stuff but (regrettably) no slash. In your opinion what would be the most a) logical, b) illogical and c) interesting slash pairing for Alex?

The funniest would probably be either Alex with Variam or Alex with Cinder. I kind of want to find a copy of the Alex/Variam one just so I can send the link to Vari and watch him blow his top.

The most squicky one would probably be Alex and Richard. It reminds me of those girls who ship Harry with Voldemort. That’s just wrong.

From: teehee

Hi Luna,

Just wondering whether there are any mage special forces/commandos around? I imagine there are, do you know anything about how to become one or their training?

Yeah, they’re called the Order of the Shield. They’re one of the three Keeper orders. Vari’s master is a member. You pretty much become one the same way you would any other kind of Keeper – usually you join out of apprenticeship.

Vari might end up a member, actually. I’ve a feeling it would suit him.

From: teehee

Hi Luna,

Sorry to bug you again! Just a few random questions that i’ve had in the wee hours of the morning.

Are there any objects that can boost your own magical ability?

Can you see your own curse field or is more of a vague awareness?

Can you tell us more about dragons?

Item-wise, the best way to boost your own magical ability is a focus. They don’t directly boost your power – you still get the same amount of energy out that you’re putting in – but they can make your spells more efficient or give you more options.

I can’t exactly ‘see’ my curse field. Alex tells me that he actually sees it visually, as a silver-grey mist. It’s not like that for me, I don’t have magesight. But the more I’ve been training, the more I can sense it, just not with my eyes. It’s more like a sense of . . . menace, I guess? The air feels kind of tingly and heavy. And when I use my whip it’s like I can feel exactly where it’s going, even with my eyes closed.

Dragons are strange. The teachers in class tell us to stay away from them, that they’re dangerous. Alex has a different take on it, he just thinks they’re so different from us that it’s hard to understand them. The one thing everyone agrees is that they’re really, really powerful. There are legends of mages defeating dragons but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of it actually happening where there were witnesses.

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Veiled UK Cover Reveal

And to go along with the US cover, here’s the English version!  The UK edition of Veiled will be coming out within a few days of the US release, around August 6th.

VeiledUK300

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