MHI and Hard Magic both up for Audie awards.

From the Audio Publisher’s Association, these are the awards for best audio books and performances for the year. I’ve got 3 nominations. Monster Hunter International (read by Oliver Wyman) and Hard Magic (read by Bronson Pinchot) are up for best paranormal, with my books taking 2 of the 5 nominations. And Bronson Pinchot has been nominated for best male performance for his work on Hard Magic.

Apparently my stuff translates into dramatic format really well. :)

On that same note, Spellbound is out on now.

The Burning Throne, Episode 15: Sword of Penance

Continued from: 

These events came from the same Writer Nerd Game Night as the last piece of fiction. Up first is an entry from Nick, whose character Zuko, along with Machio (Rob) had scouted ahead to the ruins of the High House of Light looking for the sword, while meanwhile the rest of us blundered into it in a nearby village.

Immediately after this entry, Rob’s characrter gets kidnapped by birds. I’ll catch you up later.

The second entry comes from Paul (Kuni Magatsu) in the aftermath of last week’s Duty & Faith. Paul copied one portion from the L5R wiki detailing the history of the cursed sword we’ve been tasked with finding and destroying.


“Thoughts over Tea” –  Paper Lantern Reflections

-Written by Togashi Shichiroji, now known as Fosuta Zuko at camp on the way to claim the Sword of Penance.

The formation of the Paper Lanterns has been something of a mystery to me.  I have given up the Way of the Fist, in lieu of the Life of the Blade.  Yet, I still have a clear connection and view of the Void.  In fact, perhaps it is clearer than ever before.  My black armor and katana, gifts from Isawa Fosuta, are beginning to feel comfortable, and their abyssal reflections remind me of the emptiness and fullness of the Void.  It is obvious to me that the Celestial Heavens are moving.  Events, such as the formation of the Paper Lanterns, the movement of the stars, the shifting emotions of the Void, point to changes larger than I can fathom.

I find myself reflecting on my companions.  My companions in the Paper Lanterns are varied, and while they all seem to be good men, there are few I would trust as I do Isawa Fosuta.  Perhaps it is because of the things I see in their eyes.

Tsuruchi Machio is my lone traveling companion in these mountains.  The quiet suits me.  It is my turn to take watch, and the night is silent.  He looks at me, well as he looks at everyone, without regard.  Eyes full of dispassion.  There is nothing holy or sacred to the man.  I often wonder if saving his life was the correct thing to do.  It set me on the true path to enlightenment, so it had to have happened, but it seems as if it was wasted effort.  The man has a death wish.  Of that there is no doubt.  Although, he seems to at least have a modicum of self-preservation, only kicking the hornet’s nest that houses the lazy or weak hornets.  If he does not curb his barbed tongue and curtail his violent actions there will be nothing I can do to protect him.  And I do wish to protect him.  For all the frustration, I feel an affinity with him.  He is an outsider, looked down on, and misunderstood.  I feel like of all of the men in the Paper Lanterns, he understands what it is to be human.

Hida Makoto, a warrior who’s equal I have never seen, looks at me with jealousy.  Eyes full of envy.  I was chosen by Ide Todo to act as the gunso to his Paper Lanterns.  To me, as with everything the Void touches, the choice has a duality of nature.  On one hand, the inspiring courtier can trust me, and knows me better than he thinks.  I have been with him longer than the Crab, and even throughout my search for Enlightenment-down whatever path that takes me-I would protect him with my life.  I do not need to speak the words for others to hear.  I need not that recognition.  I will, and do, show it in my actions.  I do not beg favors from the Unicorn, I simply follow him and learn from his example, do my best to keep him from harm.  However, I am inexperienced.  I do not know the ways of the military.  I am not sure exactly how to behave as a gunso.  I work better on my own, where all of my abilities can be put to use.  And a gunso should not be afraid.  They are courageous, and inspiring.  I refused to light a fire tonight because I am terrified of its touch.  How could the men under my command follow me if they knew that?  Is bravery and courage overcoming fear, or is it the absolute absence of it?  Perhaps I have much yet to learn from Makoto-san.  Though, we are not at the Kaiu Wall, I think his methods perhaps unnecessary at times.  Loyalty should be inspired, not forced.  Obedience through loyalty has changed the empire.  Obedience through force has destroyed lives.

The new Crab, Kuni Magatsu is severe man.  He looks at me questioningly.  Eyes full of suspicion.  Magatsu originally drew my admiration, and now I question his judgment.  His baseless suspicion angers me.  I have done the impossible for my traveling companions, multiple times, and yet they do not accept me as they do each other.  Todo, like Fosuta, has my unswerving loyalty, and yet the others look at me as though I do not belong.  Their ignorance is their own folly however.  If the Kuni wishes to be suspicious of me, he is welcome.  I know my goals, and my mission, and they are synonymous with the path of the Paper Lanterns.  They wish to destroy the Blade, I know they cannot, and are welcome to try.  When they fail, I will take the Blade to Fosuta who I believe will be able to handle the issue.

Kitsuki Tsuze is a constant reminder of who I once was.  He looks at me inquisitively as well.  Eyes full of questions.  I find it interesting he is the reason I left Dragon lands and fell into company with the men of the Paper Lanterns, but now he is the one I know least, and spend the least time with.  Perhaps it is because he is a reminder of my former life.  My former ignorance.  Tsuze-san, much in the fashion of the Dragon, throws propriety to the wind.  He speaks when we wants, and does what he wants.  Most just dismiss it as the “irrational behavior of the Dragon”, however I wonder if it is because the man’s intellect is so far beyond our own.  He has a mind beyond equal or compare.  He sees things that are inconsequential to the rest of us.  He sees patterns and life in the menial, much as I see the threads, and patterns in the Void.  He will be an asset to Todo, if he can overcome the Investigator stigma and learn to be an appropriate Rokugani

Ide Todo is a man of singular vision.  He looks at me with regard.  Eyes full of expectation.  His respect is something I value, and I will not fail him.  I will not make a mockery of the trust he has placed in me.  Fosuta saved my life, and has a tremendous presence.  I would follow him into the Shadowlands without hesitation.   Todo, while he does not command the same presence, and I do not owe him my life, has earned that same loyalty from me.  He has treated me as an equal at all times.  I understand  my folly in questioning his resolve before.  He may have an insignificant presence, but he has shown he can make the hard decisions and live with the consequences. 

The Paper Lanterns have a Celestial pull to them.  Our numbers are growing.  I can feel the gravity of our efforts.  I hope I can rise to the occasion and succeed as the gunso.  I spoke, privately, with a number of my soldiers before I left.  Their specific instructions should see them through my absence.

The sun rises and it is time to wake Machio and move.  I feel the press of time to get the Blade and back to the Paper Lanterns before dark.


From the Private Scrolls of Kuni Magatusu, Crab Clan Shugenja

We have the Shamesword of Penance locked in an iron and jade box provided by our fore-thinking and esteemed leader, Ide Todo. The sword, a wakizashi, was in the possession of the ronin, Nobu, the proclaimed leader of the Mountain Spirits. Nobu was twisted by the sword and the Shadowlands tainted medallion he wore. We learned all of this when we confronted him in his village after we found he was hiding objects of magic from us, which we thought could be artifacts looted from the High House of Light. After Nobu refused to meet with Ide Todo, insulting him greatly, Hida Makoto demanded that Nobu come out.

I wanted to burn Nobu’s hut down around him with the Fiery Wrath of the kami, but Ide Todo is much wiser than I in matters of negotiation, so Makoto knocked with his tetsubo.

Out came Nobu a moment later. I sensed the Shadowlands taint strongly upon Nobu and a battle commenced. Hida Makoto fought with him on the steps of the hut. The power of the Shamesword kept Nobu alive after a blow from Makoto-san should have left Nobu quivering and twitching on the ground.

The other ronin saw what Nobu had become when I used Jade Strike upon him and revealed him for what he truly was, a man tainted by the vile power of the Shadowlands. The ronin did not interfere, and if they had, their ghosts would have haunted the mountains forever. It is good they did not fight us, for Makoto would have had to kill whichever of them tried to stab me in the back as I punished them all with the Fury of Osano-Wo.

The battle continued and Nobu made his fatal mistake. He blasphemed the entire Emerald Empire and enraged the true spirits of the mountain. A very strong earth kami answered my prayer and crushed Nobu with a granite boulder infused with jade power. Hida Makoto finished Nobu and destroyed his amulet with repeated blows from his tetsubo empowered with hungry fire kami, who melted it down.

When Nobu lay dead, we took possession of the Shamesword of Penance.

Later that day, I traveled to a shrine dedicated to the mountain kami and offered sacrifices to all of the elemental spirits. Then I spoke with the conjoined spirit of the awakened kami within it and the dead samurai, Hitomi Akaui. The two spoke as one.

The sword was deceptive and spoke in circles. It desires to be reunited with its first wielder, Hiruma Todori, a great man to whom I have met on one occasion. The sword says it must be reunited with him if it is to be destroyed. I doubt this is the truth.

There is a part of me that wishes to pick up the sword and understand it completely, peering into the place where the soul of the samurai is trapped, but that road will only lead to great dishonor—and perhaps some understanding of how to destroy all of the Shameswords. The sword tried to tempt me, and I tempted it back. My scheme has failed for now. The course of action we will follow now will involve asking a wiser man than I what to do.

The sword has done what it was supposed to do, and shamed me, for I have failed Ide Todo and Hida Kenzan. It has not yet been destroyed.

The Kuni that I am is glad that the sword is still whole, for I will study it as closely as I dare. If I can discover how to destroy all of the Shameswords, a great blow will be landed against the darkness.

As I think of how to destroy this blade I have decided to write down the known history of the swords. I will try to remember the exact text of the scroll I studied several years ago.

It began like this . . .  

The Bloodswords were amongst the most terrible dark-artifacts ever created, and many maho-tsukai attempted to recreate the feat of Yajinden. It wasn’t until the 12th century when the madman, Kokujin succeeded in creating a new set of blades.

Kokujin’s plan was never fully understood, but somehow he used the legendary Anvil of Despair to forge several swords. Each crafted from the soul of a disgraced Dragon hero. Each blade contained a distilled version of the sins of the soul used. As with many cursed Nemuranai the blades seemed to have a malevolent will of their own, appearing to be able to move around under their own power and choosing their bearers. It might be possible that Kokujin chose their bearers, but this is unclear.

In 1159 Kokujin issued a challenge to the Dragon Clan, asking them to send their seven finest warriors to attempt and end their conflict once and for all. This was a trap designed to capture the seven, create more Bloodswords and free the First Oni so Kokujin could learn the true name of Fu Leng. The oni was defeated, as was Kokujin, but not before he could create three more Shameswords

The Blade of Penance was one of the first Shameswords to be created and was given to the Hiruma family daimyoHiruma Todori. Todori was given the option of taking the sword or leaving it for the Bloodspeakers to find. Not wanting to risk the cultist obtaining such a powerful nemuranai, Todori took up the sword. Later attempts at destroying it however proved fruitless. In desperation Todori turned to the Crab Clan Champion Hida Kuon for aid and was told to take the blade to the DragonTogashi Satsu explained to Todori the secrets of the blade and convinced him to leave it in the possession of the Dragon. Since then the Dragon have studied the blade, but have not found how to destroy it without also destroying the soul within it.”

I, Kuni Magatsu have no compunction about destroying the soul of the Dragon Clan samurai within the Shamesword of Penance. Hitomi Akaui has been dishonored and to redeem himself his soul may be the price, but if there is a way to destroy the sword and save his soul, I will consider it, though mercy is never to be given to those who are tainted by the Maho of the Bloodspeakers or the touch of the Shadowlands.


Coming next week, Ide Todo attempts to teach Hida Makoto how not to get totally murdered in court in Old Crab, New Tricks. 

Chroniques Du Grimnoir: Magie Brute

Here is the cover for the French translation of Hard Magic. I think it looks great.

Cover by award winning artist Vincent Chong


Spellbound audiobook coming soon

The audiobook for Spellbound will be available from on February 21st, read by Bronson Pinchot.

It is kind of surprising to me how well my books have done as audiobooks. For example, MHI is still in their top 20 bestsellers even after all this time:

So it is me, Stephen King and Steve Jobs, just kind of hanging out. Honestly, I blame the MH novels audio success on Oliver Wyman’s amazing narration. If you haven’t checked them out you really should. They are awesome.


I spent the last weekend at the 30th annual Life, The Universe, and Everything writing symposium. This year it was at Utah Valley University instead of its regular spot at BYU. I didn’t really notice much difference in the venue change except that this time the cafeteria had caffeinated beverages.

I’ve been a panelist at LTUE for the last four years. I always have a good time. LTUE is a great chance to for the writers to hang out with other writers, for aspiring writers to learn stuff, and for everybody to network. It is three days of panels, discussion, hanging out, and goofing off.

I mostly go for the goofing off.

So Thursday I did my big panel on Writing Action. I do this one every year. I kind of have a rep for being good at that topic for some reason. Go figure. I believe it went really well, and was very well attended. I normally also do a panel with Super Author John Brown about developing story ideas, but John couldn’t make it this year, so bummer. That one is always a blast.

But more importantly than teaching stuff is the goofing off. So Thursday night I went out to all you can eat sushi with a bunch of other writers. i.e. MonkeySlothCon II.  It was good to see many old friends. I ate too much sushi, then went back to the hotel and crashed into raw fish shock.

Speaking of the hotel, I stayed at the Super 8 in Provo. It was not Super. The room itself was okay. But the shower was awful. I travelled to 11 states last year. I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels in my life. This Super 8 didn’t just have the worst shower of any hotel, it had the worst shower IN AMERICA. The temperate started at 200 degrees Celsius, and then would randomly switch to the core of Europa. Burnfreezeburnfreezeburnfreeze. Don’t try to adjust it. That will just make it angry. Then it will burn, burn, burn, and as your skin is boiling off you think that you can live with this long enough to use soap, but then you get lathered up, it laughs and you have been deceived it pelts you with ice water. You can deal with one misery or the other, but MAKE UP YOUR FREAKING MIND!

Friday I was on several panels. I did one about how you do different types of magic systems in different types of fantasy novels. Then there was another one about marketing and how to do effective book signings. My last one of the day was about book bombs, at topic which I’ve developed a bit of a reputation for.

I want to talk about the book bomb panel. Book bombs are a relatively new phenomena. They are just another cool tool for marketing a book. Mine have been a bit more effective than most, with a couple of them being downright crazy. You guys know, you’ve been here for them. I told the audience during the panel to not come and ask me to do one for them, but I still got about twenty requests for book bombs.

The issue is that I can only do them so often. I figure about once a month, and any more than that I start to dilute their effectiveness. Next, they need to be books that I think that the Monster Hunter Nation would really like. I can’t just do them because I’m friends with the writer. One of the reasons you guys like my book bombs is because you trust my opinion enough to take a chance on a book. I knew that I was going to get a ton of requests, and it always makes me feel bad when I can’t do it, but it is what it is.

Also on Friday, Bob Defendi, man mountain of awesomeness, brought me this:

That is a 3×4 foot map of Rokugan, which is the fictional empire setting of Legend of the Five Rings. For those of you that have been reading the Friday serial, this is the place Writer Nerd Game Night plays in. Bob made this for his own personal use, and then printed an extra copy to give me as a gift. I’m getting this thing framed.  

Between panels I spent a lot of time hanging out in the hallway just talking with and answering questions for aspiring writers. I always enjoy that part. Many of these people feel like they are bugging the authors, but honestly I love helping out and sharing whatever knowledge I can.

I recorded an episode of the Writing Excuses podcast that day. It will be out in a couple of months and the topic is Writing GUNS. Before we started, Brandon Sanderson asked me if I could talk for about 5-7 minutes about things that writers get wrong about guns… Multiply that number by ten and I would just be getting warmed up. Overall I think the session went pretty good. The audiobook pick of the week was Spellbound, which will be available on on February 21st.

Okay, helpful writing stuff out of the way, back to the important business of goofing off. (don’t laugh, cons are about the only time I actually take time off) Friday night I went over to Howard Tayler’s house to play some Warmachine/Hordes. Howard even cooked steak. Jordan Sanderson, knowing that I’ve been building a miniature samurai themed army even brought me a couple very cool minis he’s found. Thanks, Jordo.

Then the best part of LTUE weekend, my Skorne army defeated Howard Tayler’s Trolls. Kevin was MVP and punched many trolls in their big blue faces. It was a lot of fun. (in the other game, Dan Wells Khador was defeated by Jordan Sanderson’s Cygnar. The night was a bloodbath of tiny painted men) 

In actuality, the only reason I didn’t get my ass kicked was because Howard’s friend Alan came over, and Alan knows how to play Skorne and offered me helpful advice every time I went to do something really stupid.

Saturday was a lazy day (which was good because all of that troll killing meant that I went to bed late). I didn’t have much scheduled as far as official con business until late in the afternoon, so I mostly hung out and shot the bull with people. But then I got drafted to play a game of Star Trek: Fleet Captains board game. I’m not a Trekkie, but it had strategy, combat, and little ships. I’m a sucker for little ships that fight. Me and Dave Butler were the Klingons and Dan Wells and Eric James Stone were the Federation. Four writers enter only two will leave. Let the death match commence!

I’ve played board games with Dave before, and I know that he’s one of those very analytical, super-strategic, good at winning types. Neither of us had played, and Dan Wells is also a hard core gamer (who had played), but I figured me and Dave could pull it off. But little did I realize that it isn’t just Nebula award winner author Eric James Stone that we were facing… It is Captain Eric James Stone of the USS Sutherland, Starfleet hero, and he got his Kirk on and whooped our Klingon asses. Curse you, Captain Stone, you magnificent bastard.

My last thing to do was a reading. However they scheduled my reading at the same time as Dan’s reading. Which meant that we’d have to compete against each other. Which extra sucks since many of the people there are fans of both of us. So we just combined it. I didn’t want Dan’s self esteem to get hurt when my room was way fuller. (on a serious note, Dan’s novel Partials is the next book bomb. He read from it, and it is awesome).

Once it was over I went to dinner with Paul Genesse and a bunch of friends. It was the second time I managed to eat Thai food in one day. Then I drove the two hours back to Yard Moose Mountain.

All in all, it was a really fun weekend.

Is there a lawyer in the house?

I ran into a friend this weekend and he told me about some legal troubles his family is going through. Without going into a lot of details, one of this guy’s kids was accused of something, and is in trouble with the law, has been tossed into juvy until the trial, and it sounds like a weird call on the part of one judge. The kid has a couple of serious disabilities. The accusation sounds fishy, with some odd holes in the accusation. Now of course I’m getting this information from the kid’s dad, who is biased, but if he is even half right about what’s happened, then this situation is messed up.

The issue is this family is not well off financially. They don’t have much money. They consulted with an attorney specializing in juvenile criminal issues, but that’s $250 an hour. So they are stuck with a public defender that doesn’t seem interested in talking to anybody.

So if there is a Utah attorney here that can do juvenile criminal justice, and would be willing to consult with this person, and possibly do some discounted or pro-bono work, please leave me your contact information and I will forward it on.

BOOK BOMB! IRON DRAGON series by Paul Genesse

Here we go again.  This book bomb is for my friend Paul Genesse, who is releasing the 3rd book in his Iron Dragon series of epic fantasy novels.

For those of you who don’t know about Book Bombs, I pick a book or an author that I really like, or who I think is really deserving of a boost, and then I tell you guys about it, and encourage you to all buy it on the same day, and also to tell your friends about it. This does a couple of things. It helps the writer move up in the stats on Amazon, which gets them more attention, which gets them more sales, and more potential fans. And hopefully, you will share this on your blog, facebook, and tell your friends, which will build up even more momentum. If we can get them onto a top 100 or top 20 list, then they will be seen by lots of potential readers.

Plus, it helps the writer make his house payments.

Our Book Bomb this time is for Book 3 of the Iron Dragon series, the Secret Empire. If you haven’t read book 1 and 2, I would really recommend picking those up also. The eBooks are very affordable. I believe Paul set it up so that you can jump right in on this one if you haven’t read the first. There are also hard copies available of all three.

I really enjoyed the first two books in the series. They are straight up, epic fantasy goodness. I let my older kids read them as there wasn’t anything too awful or nasty or anything like that, but I believe these were intended for adults.

Besides really liking the story, and being friends with Paul, the main reason I wanted to promote his work is because Paul is the perfect example of a good author that has been shafted by the publishing business.

Paul has published a ton of short stories. He’s edited anthologies of short stories. He’s probably one of the hardest working and sharpest marketers I’ve met in this business. My first ever panel at a Con was because I talked to Paul right before it started, and he found out that I was about to be published by Baen so he drug me up on stage. Paul’s a sharp guy who always goes out of his way to help aspiring writers, but despite all of that he got screwed.

He sold his Iron Dragon series to a small publishing house, which released book 1 and 2, which were by far the best selling fantasy books that house had. But before book 3 could come out, the publisher ran into financial trouble.

That is a writer’s nightmare. 

So Paul was stuck with a floundering publisher, and even though his books were some of their bestsellers, they couldn’t get their crap together enough to release the next one. I don’t really know the details. Time passed. Paul tried to get his rights back and he did, finally, but only after the momentum from the first two books had tapered off. Aspiring writers, you think it is hard to sell a book? Try selling a book that is #3 in a series when a different publishing house already put out the first two.

So now Paul is doing it himself. You can grab his eBooks on Amazon today, or if you are registered over on CreateSpace you can get them there for a little cheaper. (full disclosure, I believe Paul actually makes more off of CreateSpace, but I love seeing the stat boost on Amazon because it is bigger, most of you already shop there anyway, and when you order anything through the links on my webpage, I get a percentage of the sales to immediately blow on Hordes miniatures on Amazon) :)

As of right now:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,384 Paid in Kindle Store

And we will check back through the day.

EDIT:  Another fun fact about Paul Genesse. He’s a cardiac nurse. Which means he routinely deals with life or death freak outs and dying people while holding human organs in his hands, so he’s actually pretty chill on the whole publishing thing. The dude can handle stress.

EDIT 2:  Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,376 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store

More Paul Genesse Fun Facts. Paul and I once had a conversation with a ghost in an abandoned cemetary. It was very Scooby Doo of us.

EDIT 3:  Now that’s what I’m talking about:  Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,912 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)


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