Zack Jackson & The Hives of Valtra is now available in three additional stores: Smashwords, Kobo, and DriveThruFiction. This means if you don’t have a Kindle, you can get the third Zack Jackson novel for your e-reader now, too! It also means that it should have moved through the distribution network and be available for order in most bookstores. If you’ve been waiting for Zack to be available on platforms other than Kindle, your ship has come in!
While I was at Gen Con, I met an impressive young artist, Lily Yang. Her portfolio impressed me so much, I decided to commission her to do the covers for my next three fantasy novels. I’m currently working on the first of three books that continues the story of Pancras and the drak twins, Kale and Delilah from my previous fantasy duology, The Foundation of Drak-Anor. I also commissioned her to do some character art for me that I can use in promotional materials. You can see the first such commission to the right.
The new trilogy is tentatively titled: The Necromancer’s Tale and will consist of three volumes: Malediction, Lament, and Salvation. The titles are still works-in-progress and may change as I continue writing.
Gen Con was successful for me and I sold through all but two or three of the remaining copies of The Foundation of Drak-Anor Gen Con-exclusive hardcover omnibus. Once these hardcovers are gone, I do not plan to produce more of them, although the individual books, Wings of Twilight and Iron Fist of the Oroqs will still be available in paperback and for e-readers.
I also have an announcement to make regarding the third book in the Zack Jackson series, but I will save that for a separate post.
Next week, I will be at Gen Con. On August 14 – 17, I will staff my table on Author’s Avenue (table AA) whenever the Dealer Hall is open. I will have copies of all five of my novels, as well as a limited number of copies of Sojourn: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction. I also still have copies of the Gen Con Exclusive Omnibus Edition of The Foundation of Drak-Anor (21 copies to be exact). Once these book are gone, I’m not going to print more! The Foundation of Drak-Anor collects Wings of Twilight and Iron Fist of the Oroqs into a single volume. I will also have free Galactic Confederation Junior Ranger patches for everyone who buys a Zack Jackson novel!
One thing I will be doing at Gen Con is free giveaways. That’s right; you can get a copy of Wings of Twilight for free, if you’re lucky… Watch my twitter feed (@hccummings or @jedisoth) or the hashtag #GenCon for giveaway times. I’m only giving away one book per day, and you’ll need to speak the secret passphrase to get a chance to roll my four Vesuvian Lava Fate dice (yes, they’re really carved out of lava from Mt. Vesuvius). If you beat my roll, you win a book! Four plusses wins the hardcover Omnibus edition (subject to availability–a tie means we throw out that roll and roll again) and earns another lucky person a chance to win Wings of Twilight.
If I’m going to sell and sign books at a gaming convention, I may as well make a game out of it, right?
Thanks to the support of readers like you, I was chosen as an Honoree in Nuvo’s Reader’s Choice 2014 Best of Indy — Best Local Author! I was beaten by John Green and Dan Wakefield, both of whom have their own Wikipedia pages, so I don’t think I did too badly at all. Thank you all so much for your support.
Don’t forget I have a book signing coming up at the Breadloaf Book Shop in Lake Geneva, WI next Saturday, August 2nd from 1pm – 4pm. If you’re local to the area, or just passing through, I hope to see you there.
I’ll also have a table at Gen Con in the Dealer’s Hall on Author’s Avenue. Gen Con run from August 14th – 17th and I will be there all four days. In addition to having copies of all of my books available to purchase, I’ll have freebies and giveaways!
I was interviewed this weekend by the fine folks at UnderDiscussion: The UnderGopher Podcast. We talked about Zack Jackson, my other novels, and gaming. Of course, since I’m bad at off-the-cuff things, I forgot to bring up a few points about the Zack Jackson series that I knew I should talk about.
I spoke about how part of my inspiration for Zack Jackson was Star Trek and the optimistic view of the future it has. I wanted to write about a future I felt was cool and would actually want to live in. A big part of the Zack Jackson universe is the wide-spread acceptance of, well, just about everything. I make an effort to show how diverse and interesting life and people are, and if a character doesn’t understand or is just being exposed to something for the first time, I use it as an opportunity for character growth. I’ve found that to refrain from beating readers over the head with a message of acceptance and diversity, the best thing to do is just mention such things briefly and have the characters accept it without a word, as though it is the most natural thing. After all, diversity is natural and we should be accepting of it because that is the way things should be.
The third book in the Zack Jackson series, Zack Jackson & The Hives of Valtra is now available on Amazon! You can purchase it for your Kindle for $3.99. The print version is $13.99, and if you buy the print version from CreateSpace or Amazon, you receive the Kindle version free.
The Zack Jackson series follows a 43rd-century student as he joins the Junior Rangers (think Boy/Girl Scouts in space), learns about Earth’s place in the greater galactic community, and explores the diversity and dangers of the universe. This volume follows him as he goes on a trip to one of his friend’s home world, the jungle world, Valtra. Even as his friends’ lives seem to fall apart around him, Zack learns not everything is as it seems, even on founding worlds of the Galactic Confederation. Helpless though he feels to help his friends with there personal problems, that doesn’t stop him from poking around ancient ruins and discovering an old adversary’s interest in Valtra.
Zack Jackson & The Hives of Valtra will be available for Kindle e-readers on Friday, May 30th! The print version will be available to order through Amazon or CreateSpace as soon as I get all the files approved; it might be on or before May 30th depending on how long CreateSpace’s queue is. It will follow in other formats on August 27th, after the Kindle exclusivity period ends.
From the back cover:
Life can be complicated even while on school break, especially when one is nearly a hundred light-years from Earth.
After a challenging freshman year at the prestigious Cytherean Academy on Venus, Zack Jackson is excited to embark on the Junior Ranger trip to his friend’s home world, the alien jungle world of Valtra. As he explores high-tech arcologies, ancient ruins, and makes friends with species from across the galaxy, Zack encounters clothes-eating insects, oppressive bureaucrats, and natives with bad PR. Yet, despite his excitement, he feels helpless as the lives of his friends unravel before him when they receive bad news from home.
Dire tidings can’t disrupt the Junior Ranger trip, though, and while he and his friends explore abandoned ruins, an unexpected discovery brings an old adversary into Zack’s life once more, and he uncovers the secrets hidden – in the hives of Valtra.
Zack Jackson & The Hives of Valtra is the third novel in the Zack Jackson series of science-fiction stories for all ages.
The Zack Jackson Series includes
Zack Jackson & The Cult of Athos
Zack Jackson & The Cytherean Academy
Zack Jackson & The Hives of Valtra
This week, my interview is with Laura K. Anderson, author of “Foresight” and one of the editors of the anthology.
1. Where did you get the idea for your story?
It was actually a question I wanted to explore: Do we have any inherent legal right to our future? It was a discussion I had with my husband one day. After all, if someone can see our future and take it for their own, how many lawsuits will there be? I didn’t fully explore the idea in “Foresight” because that was a lot about exploring the world and learning about the drug, though.
2. Do you plan to write more stories in that setting or with those characters?
Possibly. I’m not entirely sure yet. I really like the setting, and I want to actually examine the idea of people having a legal right to their future. I’m not sure I’ll use the same characters, but I will probably use the setting.
3. What was the appeal of Sojourn for you?
Working with the community. My primary role in Sojourn was as editorial director, and my love of the Fear the Boot community was what prompted me to get involved in with Sojourn.
4. What was your favorite part about writing for the Sojourn anthology?
I have to choose a favorite part? Ryan was a fantastic editor who offered some great advice. But more than anything I had fun using my knowledge and skills to help the authors. Freelance editing is a part-time job for me because my favorite part about editing is working with authors who have no idea what they’re doing. I like it so much because I’m helping them learn about writing, learn about editing, and learn how this whole business works.
5. Did you learn anything while writing your story, if so, what?
I learned that I really enjoy science fiction. I used to think about science fiction and kind of grumble about it, imagining space ships and aliens. But I realized that science fiction encompasses more than space opera and that I could find things about science fiction that I enjoyed writing.
6. Is there any trivia or behind-the-scenes information about your story you would like to share?
The earliest drafts of this story were actually written for a class I was taking on writing science fiction. It was such a struggle for me, because I typically wrote only fantasy. This was a huge learning experience for me.
7. What was the biggest influence on your story?
Philip K. Dick. He’s my favorite science fiction writer, and he’s one of the authors who made me realize just how much I actually love science fiction. His stories are very different from my own, but he really helped influence my ideas of what science fiction is.
8. Is there anything else you would like to talk about?
Write for us! I can promise you, there is something exciting about holding that book in your hands for the first time and seeing this thing that you helped create.
Gen Con event registration opened this past Sunday. Since I didn’t submit any events, you won’t find my name in the event catalog. You can find me at Gen Con, however, because I have a table on Author’s Avenue. I will be in the Dealer Hall from open to close all four days (unless I’m on a food run). I do have to leave early on Friday to do some work for the ENnie Awards, but otherwise I’ll be at my table selling and signing books all weekend! Table assignments haven’t been set yet, but once I know exactly which table I’m at, I’ll let everyone know.
In addition to having shiny new copies of Zack Jackson & The Hives of Valtra, I will also have official EAC Division Junior Ranger patches. I can’t sell them at Gen Con because of merchandise restrictions on Author’s Avenue, but any one who purchased one or more Zack Jackson books will get one free! I will also have copies of Sojourn: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction for sale.