Yes, Still Writing

Word count: 105k.
Projected word count: 110k (I really really hope).
Is the book finished: stop asking.
Deadline: hoping to only miss it by a month, if I’m lucky.
Mood: even more stressed.

About the best that can be said at the moment is that at least the first number is going up faster than the second one.

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And Still Busy Writing

Word count: 100k.
Sections completed: 5, in theory.
Have I hit the projected word count for the book: yes.
Is the book finished: no.
Deadline: somewhere in the rear view mirror.
Mood: stressed.

Still inching along.

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PW Starred Review for Burned

With less than a month to go before the release of Burned, here’s a very complimentary starred review from Publishers Weekly!

The seventh Alex Verus novel (after Veiled) may be the best so far in a consistently outstanding urban fantasy series. Jacka ruthlessly rips away all the protections that London-based diviner mage Alex built against his former master, power-hungry Dark mage Richard Drakh. While trying to reverse a death sentence engineered by a grudge-holding mage on Britain’s Light Council, Alex is distracted by a fiery assassination attempt that destroys his home and livelihood . . . Alex has been reliably clever and resourceful while remaining independent of both Dark and Light cabals, but this novel shows him recognizing his own desperate vulnerability. The stakes suddenly are much higher for Alex and his friends, putting the complex, sympathetic central characters in real peril and rousing serious concern in readers. As the action gathers momentum, a dramatic series climax hovers on the horizon. Fans of Jim Butcher and Ben Aaronovich absolutely should not miss this deeply intelligent, morally complex, and action-packed series.

Work on Alex Verus #8 is still going;  don’t ask about the deadline.  More updates as I go.

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Burned Chapter 1 Online

Chapter 1 of Burned is now available!  You can read it here.

Only a month to go now – the book will be out on April 5th in the US, and April 7th in the UK.

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Still Busy Writing

Word count: 90k.
Sections completed: 4 and a bit.
Sections still to be completed: less than 1 (or at least I REALLY hope so).
Title: let’s finish the book first, okay?
Mood: very busy.
Deadline: way too close.

The saga continues . . .

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Burned First Review

A nice early review from Romantic Times.  It doesn’t seem to have made it online yet, so no link, but here’s an image file.  (Note: does contain some mild spoilers for Burned, but nothing you wouldn’t find out from reading the blurb.)


In other news, Alex Verus #8 is at 90,000 words and edging closer and closer to the finish line.  Still hoping to make the end of the month, but if I do miss it it probably won’t be by much.

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Ask Luna #60

From: Joseph

Dear Luna,

Just had a few questions regarding life magic.

1. Regarding life mages, I imagine they can affect animals just as well as humans. However, can they detect and manipulate other forms of life, like plants or even microbes? Could a life mage make a modern day equivalent of the Black Plague or on the flipside, create “super” plants for agricultural purposes? Is there a life mage equivalent of DC’s Poison Ivy out there?

2. Can life mages harvest life energy from animals just as much as humans? Their “touch of death” is supposed to transfer life energy from the target to them, which I imagine they could use to boost themselves, such as their own self-healing.

3. Can life mages affect their own neurological functions? I mean things like being able to react faster, process detailed information faster, being able to stay calm by dumping the appropriate neurotransmitters, etc? Could they potentially even resist a mind mage’s mental attacks or domination attempts using this ability?

4. Do we know anything to what extent life mages have control over genetic information? Could a life mage perform gene therapy, cure cancer, GIVE someone cancer, etc?

5. How does life magic and death magic interact? I know that other life mages can resist the whole life mage touch of death thing, like Anne did at one point. Can a life mage resist the non-kinetic portion of a death mage’s attacks, just the part that uses negative energy and vice versa, can a death mage prevent a life mage from draining them even on touch?

Thanks for being patient with me,


1. Yes, kind of, but it depends on the life mage. There’s a big gap between the ‘healer’ type mages, who specialise in putting bodies back together the way there were, and the ‘morpher’ ones who go in for changing them completely. There are Poison Ivy types, but they’re less common than the healers, as far as I know. Plus, the plant still has to work.

2. Yes, but it doesn’t work as well. Apparently there are some issues with taking the life energy of one species and draining it into a different one. Anne’s never told me exactly what happens if you try it, but I have the feeling it could be uncomfortable.

3. Kind of. They can mess with their body chemistry to affect their mood, but really high-level stuff like resisting mind magic would be out of their reach. Plus, since it’s basically the equivalent of self-medicating, you’d expect the same issues you get with heavy use of drugs.

4. I know Anne can’t cure cancer, because I’ve asked – her magic works by encouraging damaged tissue to regrow, and encouraging a bunch of cancerous tissue to grow more is exactly what you DON’T want to do. There are other life magic treatments that work better, but according to Anne it depends a lot on the patient. Though you’ll still have better odds than you would by going to a doctor.

5. Yes, kind of. It comes down to who’s better with their magic. Life mages are one of the only types that death mages are actually scared of, but then, death mages don’t have to worry so much about just being shot from a distance.

From: Holly

Hi Luna,
Was Alex still an apprentice when he left Richard? If so, how did he
graduate to becoming a full Mage?

This gets in to the whole can of worms about what exactly makes someone a ‘mage’. If you’re Light, then it’s all about permission. You sign up for your journeyman tests, you wait a while, and assuming the Council lets you take them, you pass and you have a ceremony and you’re officially a journeyman, congratulations, here’s your pointy hat.

If you’re a Dark mage, then it’s a lot simpler. You call yourself a mage, and that’s that. Yes, it really is that simple. Of course, if you only started learning magic last month and can barely make a light spell, then calling yourself a ‘mage’ is like some pimply-faced nerd calling himself ‘Panther’. You’ll either get laughed out of the room, or if you keep it up long enough to annoy the wrong person, you’ll get hurt.

You really only get problems when the two systems mix and you have Light mages that Dark mages don’t think count, and Dark mages that Light mages claim aren’t authorised. Usually Light and Dark mages deal with that particular problem by not talking to each other in the first place.

From: master of your fate

Hey Luna I get the feeling that Alex while skilled as a Seer has fully mastered his magic, so how would he rank himself as a Seer 10 being Helikaon an 1 being those phony tv psychics.

Also Helikaon said Alex is loud when path walks what does mean?

Alex would probably say he’s a 7 or so, though it depends on the sub-type. For example, Alex is pretty bad at auguries, but he’s great at combat divination. When it comes to defensive precognition, I’d guess he’s as good as Helikaon.

As for being loud when Alex path-walks, I have no clue. Doesn’t mean anything to me.

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Busy Writing

Word count:  80k.
Sections of Alex Verus #8 that have been completed:  4.
Sections of Alex Verus #8 still to be completed:  1.
Title decided:  no.
Mood:  busy.
Further bulletins as events warrant.

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Last Leg

We’re coming into the last month of Alex Verus #8, at least if everything goes to plan.  Currently the manuscript is at a touch under 80,000 words, so if I keep to schedule and the book ends up at a similar length to previous ones, we should be done by the end of February.  I’ll keep you posted.

The last month of the first draft is usually the toughest for each new book – it’s where I’m under the most deadline pressure and where I’m most worried about whether everything will line up right.  Everything usually works out in the end, but only once I actually get to the end, and I’ve got a pretty busy four weeks to navigate first.  Hopefully it’ll work itself out.

The release date for Burned is also drawing closer – it’s April 5th/April 7th, which means we’re at about the three month mark.  I’ll release the first chapter a couple of months in advance, as per usual, so expect it around the beginning of February.  I’m looking forward to reading the reviews for this one – I think you’ll like it!

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Ask Luna #59

From: MassMaster

Hey Luna how do hybrid mages come to be I thought you choose one discipline and that’s it.

That’s like saying ‘how do you choose to be medium height, everyone is supposed to be short or tall’.

You don’t choose a discipline. You find out what you are, you start learning, and at some point other mages will tell you what kind of mage you’re supposed to be. If you fit into one of the pre-existing boxes they’ll tell you that you’re a fill-in-the-blank mage. If you don’t, they’ll call you a hybrid. It’s just a name.

From: Todd

Dear Luna,

Sometimes I wonder if I am a Chance Adept with a strange manifestation of bad luck.

While I could point to vague instances in my day to day life which may or may not involve chance magic, I have been able to document, and confirm with friends, that there is something odd with my uncanny bad luck with tabletop games involving elements of chance. Most typically games which use dice. This manifestation has been so noticeable to my friends that they even call it “Todd Luck”.

Usually if I need to roll high to succeed in some aspect of the game, I will almost always roll low, and vice versa. One time I even rolled eighteen six-sided dice, needing to roll a three or higher and all of the dice rolled ones and twos. A lot of people have runs of bad luck though so I have to point to more unusual aspects as possible evidence.

Dice which I have handled or touched will roll badly for others for a short time too, and those which have been in my possession for a lengthy amount of time are nearly useless to anyone who tries to use them as they seem permanently imbued with bad luck.

For some reason purple dice are less susceptible to this effect – I do not know why other than the fact that it is my favorite color. Whether my decision for it to be my favorite color was a result of this effect, or the differing luck effect on them being a result of that preference I can not be sure.

Even more bizarrely, anyone sitting directly to my right also tends to suffer a heightened amount of bad luck in such games. My friends started placing an empty chair to my right to combat this effect, which has proven to be somewhat effective.

This effect manifests only when the dice roll matters – pretend rolls or trying to roll dice to test who rolls higher always ends with inconclusive results. It also becomes much stronger when I am rolling dice (or drawing cards) in direct opposition with another player, and even stronger still when money is at stake.

Needless to say it didn’t take long for me to completely give up trying to gamble, and I have had to hone my strategical skills in order to minimize the impact of dice on games that involve strategy, allowing me to win such games despite the dice. In that regard I can’t say it’s impact on my life as been entirely negative.

I feel like this effect has either weakened over the years, or I have subconsciously been able to restrain it to a certain degree, but I would be very interested in any tips you may have in regards to controlling chance magic and whether you think this could be evidence of weak magical talent (or curse).

Best regards,

Okay, that’s definitely one of the more unusual stories I’ve heard, but it does actually sound weirdly familiar. Did you get cursed by some very puritanical family member who really had a thing against gambling, or something? I suppose at least they didn’t have it in for you really badly, or they might have had it work on something worse than dice.

Assuming it’s a real thing and not just a case of selective memory, you could probably learn to control it. The thing about those kinds of curses is that to influence you, they have to be bound to you so closely that you pretty much always can eventually start influencing them back. The only problem is that curses and hexes kind of do what they do, so even if you did do that, all you’d realistically be able to accomplish would be to direct your bad luck at other people, and I don’t know if that’s really how you want to live your life. Plus it’d take months to years.

Or if that sounds like too much work, you could just get a job at casinos where you get paid to sit directly to the left of anyone who’s winning too much at the craps table.

From: MetroMaster

Hey luna I kinda have a a few big questions

1. With Morden now on the council how will that affect the magic community globally

2. How will his council position affect mages in the UK

1. Not much as far as I know, apart from the usual petitions and complaints and snippy comments from other countries.

2. Probably badly.

From: Andrew

Dear Luna, I have been musing over the vexities of gate magic, most particularly that of having to know in good detail the point of arrival. The implication being primarily that you can only safely gate to somewhere you have already either travelled to mundanely or been carried to by another agency. My question is, if I posted to you an intricately woven rug from somewhere else in the world, would that in itself be of sufficient knowledge to use safely as a gate focus?

Kind regards


Nope, it’d just be a pretty rug. If you want to gate to a location, you’re best off if you know it very well. There are a lot of ways to do that, but the simplest one is just to head over and spend a few hours studying the place.

The alternative is to use a gate focus, but a gate focus isn’t just some random piece of junk you pick up, it’s a specifically crafted magical item. From what I understand, having the item be tied to the location helps, but you’re still going to have to put in the hours to make it. And as part of the process, you’re going to have to tie the item to the location, so you’re still going to have to end up going there anyway. Bottom line: gates are a great time saver, but someone still has to get there the regular way first.

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