Kojiki has a Cover

After too long away, I’m back to show you the cover for my debut novel, Kojiki, available Aug. 2 in the US and Aug 4 in the UK. Look for it pretty much everywhere you buy your books. Click here to read the first chapter or visit fantasy-faction.com.

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Thanks to my publisher Angry Robot Books and fantastic cover artist Thomas Walker.

 

When a Reader Says THIS, It Reminds You Why You Write

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Last year, a blogger approached me for a review copy of my debut novel, Kojiki. She gave it glowing marks; she also gave it to a friend she thought would like it. That friend not only liked it; she RAVED about it. So, when Torii came out–a short story prequel to Kojiki–I made sure this person knew about it. Here’s what she had to say:

“I finished it and felt bad for wanting so much more. But there again, that’s the sign of a good book, and well developed characters you feel like you know personally and want to share in their story and what happens to them down the line.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, and felt my heart break when Botua died… the feeling of horror from Vissyus in his child-like state, replete with unheard of power, yet too broken to wield it properly and ending up hurting those he loves… Lon-Shan risking all for the job of a hero, all of it… and the entire thing wrapping up being this big massive thing that went totally awry that the big man didn’t want his people to find out about through history, so instead… made up something more palatable and noble, so they wouldn’t fear what lurked in the future. Oh, and the formation of the barrier by his own guardian, the entire thing was so epic…

I truly can’t say anything that will encompass how it makes me feel to be put back into a world that delights me this much. And, I was going to enshrine that book you sent me, but I felt like it would have been wrong in so many ways because something that good NEEDS to be shared until it’s pages are lovingly worn, the spine has multiple lines down the center, despite everyone being careful as they read it… I borrow it to everyone I can, and stress to them the importance of giving it back. It’s easily one of my most precious possessions, and I have few of those

You didn’t disappoint, but I didn’t figure you would.”

My reaction to these words was a mixture of awe and humility! Oh, and Torii is available from musapublishing.com as a FREE download. It’ll show up soon on other retailers too. Look for it!

Hollywood, you really should cancel the apocalypse.

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(Pacific Rim. From Empire Magazine)

Okay, maybe not cancel it entirely but either tone it down or spread it out. I read somewhere that moviegoers are suffering from apocalypse fatigue. I don’t remember who wrote it, but I think it’s the best way to explain the problems so many high-profile, big-budget movies are having this summer. Just last week, my 10-year-old son asked me to find him a movie. I rattled off a list that I thought he’d love–all big, FX- filled actioners. He shook his head and said he wanted to see something funny.

Now I realize this is just one kid on one random day, but I think it speaks volumes about what’s happening at the box office. My son likes COOL movies. He liked Pacific Rim, but it wasn’t his first choice for that night’s movie; it was mine. He loved the Dark Knight movies and the Avengers, and I still couldn’t get him anywhere near Man of Steel. I think he’s just had enough.

I chalk it up to supply and demand. An over supply of summer extravaganzas is taking its toll. On everyone. Even I’m not wowed like I used to be. The FX that used to take my breath away are becoming too common. FX-driven movies are coming out one per week now, and the market just can’t support it. How could it, when the costs to take a family to the movies is through the roof. People need to decide where they’ll spend their money, which means, what?–a couple of movies over the summer. Max?
So what then? What happens to the glut of over-expensive movies competing for a finite audience. It’s no surprise movies that cost over $100 million to make are struggling to break even. I don’t think there’s enough money to go around, and even if there was at one time, today it’s spread to thin.
Maybe that’s why movies released during traditionally down times do so well. The Hunger Games in March, etc. Times have changed since Titanic hit theaters, but James Cameron released Avatar at the same time of the year–Christmas. Naturally, we’re seeing more ‘tent-pole’ movies coming out between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I’ll bet it won’t be long before those releases start to struggle as much as the summer ones.
Supply and demand. Ain’t it a b*tch. The marketer in me says Hollywood should damn conventional wisdom and give me a release date without competition for a week or two on either side. The summer’s more risk than reward.  Those Star Wars days are over, folks. Look at those years and compare the number of films released. Not many big, must-not-fail films. Before you go ahead and hit that comment button, I haven’t forgotten the importance of the films’ quality. That’ll have to wait for another post.

I Can Haiku. Can You?

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The other night, my son told me his class had to write a haiku. He shared a few from his fellow students, all incredibly creative–one, that I previously quoted here turned out to be floating around the web for quite some time–Doh! I’ll have to let my son know. It’ll make a nice lesson. It’s REALLY easy for students to get busted nowadays 🙂

Anyway, back to the Haiku. I loved that my son’s class was learning about them. Not long ago, Haiku saved me from a frustrating bout of writer’s block.  Writers always get stuck at one point or another, often more than one. For me, it happened with the notoriously difficult-to-tell backstory.  I’d made all the cliche rookie mistakes: too much backstory too soon, tell don’t show, interrupting the story’s flow. Yadda, Yadda, Yadda.

I just couldn’t figure out why Kojiki’s backstory gave me such a hard time. It wasn’t because I needed to write it, I already had–it’s just that I didn’t know how to integrate it into the story’s narrative. I decided, for a few key scenes, to use the characters’ powers–it IS fantasy–as a vehicle for them to share their memories.  It turned out to work fairly well, but I didn’t want to overuse it.  I knew I needed something else, a little variety to keep the narrative fresh.  While the ultimate solution works really well, it doesn’t reflect the crazy path I took to find it.

Remember now, I wanted Kojiki to be a big, heroic epic. An emotional roller-coaster for the characters. It had to be serious and grim. Never in my wildest dreams did I think one of the crassest, most juvenile shows on TV would help me out. That show was Beavis and Butthead.  Yes, you read that correctly. Beavis and Butthead. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit the show often has me in stitches. If you never been a 14-year-old boy, you won’t get it. If you have, then you’ve lived it.

The episode in question had the little delinquents learning about the ‘ancient Japanese art of haiku’.  Needless to say, their haiku were ridiculous. Funny–but ridiculous.

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Halfway through Beavis’s numbingly stupid yet hilarious haiku, I started messing around with haiku in my head. They were just as stupid. Then, something incredible happened.  Inspiration. I realized a haiku would make the perfect delineator for Kojiki’s past and present.  Instead of cueing the reader with the bland ‘The Distant Past’, which I still used by the way, I opened each backstory scene with a haiku.  The reader would know, whenever he/she came across the haiku, we were going to backstory.  I made sure I kept those particular backstory scenes in concurrent chapters to avoid confusion, and viola! Bob’s your uncle.

A little research on haiku courtesy of Google, and I was back in business. I already knew about the format, I just needed to learn more about form. Most haiku have an ethereal feel to them. Like mist on a mountain. I had to go through a couple of versions, but I am pleased with the result. In the end, Kojiki has three haiku, the first of which I’ll use to close this post:

A woman hungers 

Spring turns into winter snow

Winter brings the fire

The moral of the story here, inspiration can come from the strangest places. Keep your eyes and your mind open, and sooner or later, it’ll come.

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Kojiki Availability Update

Kojiki is now available at Amazon.

Kindle users. You can buy Kojiki for your Kindle at Musa Publishing’s site. Go here and select the prc file. An EPUB file is also available at Musa if you have a different e-reader.

http://musapublishing.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=6&products_id=569

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Kojiki is available now for the nook at Barnes and Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/kojiki-keith-yatsuhashi/1046517716?ean=2940016489902

B&B

Tomorrow

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Seirin waited for them to move away before ordering the attack. She raised her hand and stepped back as Roarke’s thoughts swept into the basin. His power burrowed into the Earth. The ground along the shore tore free with a loud crack. Whole sections pulled away from the land, dragging soil and ocean into a fissure that stretched for miles. Water met magma and rocketed back to the surface as pressurized steam.

Vissyus’s volcano responded with a thunderous explosion. Towering flames roared into the morning sky. Wind carried the horrific echoes of land collapsing, of liquefying rock and air igniting.

Seirin’s gaze fixed on the volcano’s ruined crown. A burning sphere lifted out of it, a sun-fire orb, intensely bright and hot enough to melt the caldera to its roots. Two smaller orbs followed Vissyus into the sky, blazing red to his left, arctic blue to his right.

Fire raced from the dying island, leaping over the cracked shoreline and dropping onto the plains like firebombs. The earth withered and the seas boiled. Fiyorok landed in a flash of red-and-gold light. Akuan followed several hundred yards to the south, coating the ground with ice. Guarded mountains fell, the pools Seirin protected turned to vapor…

Kojiki.  Available tomorrow wherever e-books are sold.

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Kojiki–Fourth and Final Excerpt

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I close out my Kojiki preview at the edge of its climactic battle. Enjoy. Tweet it. Share. And by all means, check out the book next Friday.

Yui knelt on the tatami mats of her father’s study, Matsuda’s staff cradled in her hands. She came back to the room shortly after Vissyus reappeared, watching as long as she could before emotion overcame her. Tears still spilled from her eyes. Tokyo was as much her home as this castle. It was part of her, and now it burned. Why did her father have to take so much from its people in order to save them? Maybe surviving would be enough for them.

It wasn’t for her.

Her Searching transported her to the heart of the city. Shinjuku’s proud skyscrapers were a pile of ash, Tokyo Tower now little more than twisted metal. She ghosted down Chuo Dori. Ginza Station had disappeared beneath a toppled building. The intersection where she’d lost Keiko was a tangle of melted wire, soot, and shattered neon tubes. The acrid scent of charred wood and chemical fires blended with the coppery tang of blood. Their monks did their best, but she never expected them to save everyone. Her father tried to hide that from her, and now she understood why.

She felt their Spirits—lifetimes and memories forever lost to the world. A battle wasn’t some game; she understood that now. The ruined city was proof enough for her. So much destruction with so little effort. What would happen when Vissyus unleashed his full power?

Shivering, she hugged Matsuda’s staff and lowered her head. Where was his strength when she needed it?

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Kojiki is out April 19 on ebook. You can pre-order it now directly from MusaPublishing.com. Coming next Friday to Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble and other e-book sellers.