We have three winners who will be receiving a signed print copy of the new Avery Cates story, The Kendish Hit, and this is the story of how they won.
First of all, if you weren’t aware that I was giving away copies of the story, that’s probably because despite my incessant pleas and reminders, you haven’t signed up for my newsletter. Which is, frankly, inexplicable. Four times a year I’ll be sending out an email with news, secrets, embarrassing photos, and giveaways and other exclusive stuff. You can sign up over at the top right of this page, or go here. I suggest you do it right now, before you forget.
In the March 2017 newsletter I asked people to finish a line from the story itself:
“The Big Guy had an accent, something drastic that made every word sound like _________.”
In the actual story, the line ends “… it had been carved out of rocks.” I took all the entries and anonymized into a document, which I submitted to the Jeff Somers Rocks You Like an Email Hurricane Judging Committee, which is staffed by my wife The Duchess.
The Duchess takes everything she does very seriously, and so after a costume change and a snack she settled in to read through the entries, sifting through until she had found three she deemed acceptable for a variety of reasons. Here are the winners:
“… it had been carved out of rocks!” — A.L. Coan
The Duchess says: “I chose this one because they mimicked the Master.”
“… cliff faces falling into the ocean, taking that hospital of paraplegic nuns with them. His voice was what the stratification of the Burgess Shale, the Morrison Formation, and the Laramide Revolution would sound like if you recorded every sound during their deposition, scrunched that into a five-minute soundclip, and turned it into a black metal single. Every intake of breath was the collective screams of pterosaurs and anomalocarids still trapped somewhere below his larynx, begging for just one tracheotomy to let them see daylight again.” — Paul Riddell
The Duchess says: “This one was chosen for the simple, sheer amount of time it took to come up with something like that.”
“… he’d been drinking Black Saddle bourbon for 3 days straight” — John Patterson
The Duchess says: “This one wins because it shows he actually read the newsletter.”
So there you have it, folks: The winners of the March 2017 Newsletter Giveaway. Who will be next? You’d best sign up to be in the running. You never know when I’ll be giving away my credit card # or something; I do drink a lot.
Just a quick note to remind everyone that the new Avery Cates short story The Kendish Hit is officially available. For just 99 cents you get the title story, a prequel set long before the events of The Electric Church, plus several other Cates short stories that are variably available depending on how well you’ve been paying attention over the last few years. Here’s the cover copy:
In this prequel to “The Electric Church,” a young Avery Cates takes on his first job, meets someone who will be an old friend someday, and learns some hard lessons in the newly-formed System of Federated Nations.
Contains the previously-released Avery Cates stories “This Was Battle. This Was Joy,” “The Golden Badge,” “The Oldest Bastard on the Block,” “This Was Education,” “all orphans, at least,” and “The Sewer Rat.”
Enjoy! 99 cents for a digital copy, just $6 for a print book.
I’m not one to play along with all those memes about how 2016 was a terrible year and how ALL the celebrities we love are dying and all that. Time is a fundamental thread of the universe, but our perception of it is artificial and, to use a scientific term, bullshit. 2016 was a collection of moments, just like any other, arbitrarily assigned to a grouping so we can all type out jokes about who should die next.
Well, it’s going to be over soon, and if you’re the sort to assign some kind of significance to this purely superficial changeover, it’s as good a time as any to assess and reflect, and to look forward to the year to come.
NEXT YEAR IN SOMERS
Since you’re here and you read those first two paragraphs yet you’re still reading, I can safely assume you’re interested in the things I write. That’s troubling for you, frankly, but since we’re here, now, in this moment together let’s soldier on. What can you expect from me in 2017?
January 9, 2017: THE BOOM BANDS (Ustari Cycle #5)
The final novella in the most recent Ustari Cycle books drops from Gallery Books on 1/9/17. You can order it at the usual purveyors of eBooks: Amazon, B&N, Google, iTunes, Kobo. Here’s the description:
“For blood mages, the twenty-first century means hiding in the shadows, keeping society unaware of their incredible powers. The power-hungry sort plot quietly to manufacture tragedies bloody enough to give them the gas they need to cast monumental spells. Lem is a little lower down the ladder than that, bleeding nobody but himself, skating by on small Cantrips, cons, and charms.
Lately though, his days have taken a strange turn, always the same and yet minutely different. Since hooking up with this group that wants to utilize his uncanny ability to write and alter spells for their Big Heist, Lem’s constantly feeling like he’s forgetting something, like something is calling to him from the beyond. Perhaps most bizarre of all, his best friend Mags is nowhere to be found—and the police seem to want to help Lem locate him. The po-po being helpful to a Trickster like him? Now he knows something is up.”
No one asked me if using the word “po-po” was okay. It’s not. Such is the ways of marketing. Anyways, here’s a trailer for you:
January 10, 2017: MECH: AGE OF STEEL
The very next day, this fantastic anthology featuring one of my stories is set to go, though I’m not 100% sure of this release date. Here’s the description from the publisher:
“MECH: Age of Steel is a collection of 24 mecha-inspired short stories in the spirit of Pacific Rim, Macross, Transformers, Robotech, Gundam, Evangelion, and more. MECH features a vast array of tales featuring giant, human-piloted, robot war machines wreaking havoc in blasted cities, or on dystopian landscapes, or around space stations and asteroids against a cosmic backdrop, or wherever, you-name-it! MECH is anchored by authors such as Kevin J. Anderson, Ramez Naam, Jason Hough, Jeremy Robinson, and Jody Lynn Nye. This anthology features illustrations for every story and is the perfect companion to its sister title, Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters. So strap in. Activate your interface array. Let’s rock!”
That’s some august company. Here’s an essay I wrote about the inspiration for my story, “The Bonus Situation.”
March 1, 2017: THE KENDISH HIT: AN AVERY CATES SHORT STORY
What can I say? I love me some Avery Cates. Hopefully some of y’all still do, too, or else I’ll have a lot of digital copies of this one lying around. “The Kendish Hit” is a short story set about ten years before the events of The Electric Church. I haven’t set up the pre-orders yet because I’m incompetent (the cover shown here isn’t final-final, either), and I haven’t created a synopsis either. Most of that will be coming first week of January.
The story involves Avery’s first attempt to promote himself from street rat to Gunner—a promotion that puts him in touch with someone who will become a vital ally in times to come, and tests Avery’s commitment to his chosen profession. It rocks.
I’ll update this post when the pre-orders go live.
In August, another anthology bearing one of my stories will become reality. This year I worked with the awesome Stephen Blackmoore on a story in Urban Allies, which saw urban fantasy writers pair up their characters and universes; our story “Crossed Wires” was a lot of fun and stayed true to both our universes. Urban Enemies isn’t a collaborative anthology; my story “Nigsu Ga Tesgu” is all mine, and is part of the Ustari Cycle. Let’s just say if you’ve ever been curious about the inner life of Mika Renar, this story is for you.
Here’s the description of the anthology, coming from Gallery books:
“Villains have all the fun—everyone knows that—and this anthology takes you on a wild ride through the dark side! The top villains from sixteen urban fantasy series get their own stories—including the baddies of New York Times bestselling authors Jim Butcher, Kevin Hearne, Kelley Armstrong, Seanan McGuire, and Jonathan Maberry.
For every hero trying to save the world, there’s a villain trying to tear it all down.
In this can’t-miss anthology edited by Joseph Nassise (The Templar Chronicles), you get to plot world domination with the best of the evildoers we love to hate! This outstanding collection brings you stories told from the villains’ point of view, imparting a fresh and unique take on the evil masterminds, wicked witches, and infernal personalities that skulk in the pages of today’s most popular series.
The full anthology features stories by Jim Butcher (the Dresden Files), Kelley Armstrong (the Cainsville and Otherworld series), Seanan McGuire (October Daye), Kevin Hearne (The Iron Druid Chronicles), Jonathan Maberry (Joe Ledger), Lilith Saintcrow (Jill Kismet), Carrie Vaughn (Kitty Norville), Joseph Nassise (Templar Chronicles), C.E. Murphy (Walker Papers), Steven Savile (Glasstown), Caitlin Kittredge (the Hellhound Chronicles and the Black London series), Jeffrey Somers (The Ustari Cycle), Sam Witt (Pitchfork County), Craig Schaefer (Daniel Faust), Jon F. Merz (Lawson Vampire), and Diana Pharaoh Francis (Horngate Witches).”
I’m working on a few projects that might not actually show up in 2017, but I’m working on them, so I’ll vaguebook them a little here. One I can’t mention because the contract’s not signed—it’s a book, though not in a genre I’ve published in before. There should be an announcement of sort about that in January or February.
The other projects aren’t books, and also aren’t guaranteed to come off. If they do, you’ll definitely hear more. If they don’t, I will never mention them again, edit this post to remove this information, and pretend I have no idea what you’re talking about.
So that’s what I have cooking in 2017 (so far). Watch this space for further details.
Free Sewer Rats for Everyone Sounds Kind of Weird, Doesn’t It?
Friends, a few months ago I announced a brand-new, 100% free Avery Cates short story, The Sewer Rat. The story was sent out to everyone who was signed up for my ass-kicking newsletter at the time. Did you sign up for my ass-kicking newsletter? No? Then for god’s sake do so immediately. There’s a form on the sidebar of this wee blog, as well as a link on my main web page.
So, those lucky folks got to read the story months ago, but now I’m releasing it for free everywhere through Smashwords. Because I am awesome. Go on and grab it, and look for it to slowly trickle into all the usual storefronts as well.
As a reminder, this isn’t the first time I’ve released a free story through Smashwords; to promote my novel Chum I released the ass-kicking short story Up the Crazy through Smashwords a few years ago, and that story remains a pretty great value at $0. It’s a “lost chapter” that links the novel Chum to my first-ever published novel Lifers, as the stories share a universe and some minor characters. You should totally download and read that one as well.
Still, I can’t quit Avery. He’s just so much fun to write for, and it’s always intoxicating to have an excited reader base. So, I’m working on a new Avery Cates short: The Sewer Rat. Here’s a work-in-progress cover for it:
Now, this is just a short story, and while it fits into the continuity of the new Cates stories, it’s meant to be more or less standalone, meaning it’s not essential reading for continuity’s sake.
To read it, though, you’ll need to be one of two things: 1. Signed up for my newsletter, or 2. Friends with someone signed up for my newsletter.
Wait, Jeff Has a Newsletter?
Do I ever! You can sign up for it with the form on the right:
The newsletter is an informal affair where I’ll announce news, giveaways, and that sort of thing. It’s also where I’ll be sending out The Sewer Rat, a free Avery Cates short story, in July. If you want to read it, sign up for the newsletter and prepare to be amazed. Or start buttering up someone who’s already signed up.
The Omnibus edition, which is all six novellas combined into a standalone novel, is also available as an eBook for $6 on all platforms — as well as a print book through Amazon for $14 if you so desire. I wanted to keep that price down, but it proved impossible.
And that’s all she wrote! Or, all I wrote, for now at least. I’ll be taking a little break from Cates for a while, but I’ll get back to this new story eventually, in some form or another.
To everyone who bought these books, sent me encouraging notes, posted reviews, or otherwise showed love for Avery — thank you! I truly hope you’ve enjoyed these new works. Keep your comments and reviews and thoughts coming!
It’s tax season, which here in the Somers Compound buried deep under Hoboken (and we do mean buried, as the city removed the entrance/exit long ago) means that we’re slowly being crushed under 1099 forms and other tax documents (delivered via pneumatic tube). When you provide 45% of the Internet’s book-related Think Pieces, you accrue a lot of 1099s. Add on the statements from your agent, your DIY publishing endeavors, and your many Defense Department contracts for the Superweapons Based on Cats project, and it gets kind of cluttered.
Naturally, we’re aiming to make this year even more complex. Aside from writing even more book-related freelance articles to gain more of those precious 1099 forms, we also have a number of fresh, piping hot stories scheduled for 2016. This is all part of my plan to keep the pennies and nickels trickling in so I can fill the underground pool with filthy coins and swim around in them. Which is a lot harder to do than Scrooge McDuck makes it look.
So, here’s a breakdown of everything Somers coming at you this year, so you can plan accordingly and start polishing those nickels and pennies for me.
The experiment of writing a novel in novella-sized chunks was a lot of fun, but all great experiments must end, so I’ll be releasing Parts 5 & 6 (The Bey & The City Lord) as well as the omnibus edition containing all 6 parts, The Shattered Gears, on 2/15. I originally said they’d go up for pre-order on that date, but now I think I’ll just release ’em. I wanted to keep the print version of the omnibus to $6 or so, but as it turns out that was drunk talk, as the cheapest I can make it is $14.
There will be new additions to my other series, The Ustari Cycle, which began with 2014’s We Are Not Good People (technically, with 2013’s Trickster, but that became Part 1 of WANGP). I have four novellas/short stories scheduled for 2016 from this universe. Three of them will be published as eBooks from Pocket Star:
And one short story, Crossed Wires, is a collaboration with Stephen Blackmoore for the anthology Urban Allies, out in July, combining my Ustari Cycle characters with his Eric Carter universe in an explosive (and cuss-filled) adventure.
The Bonus Situation
Finally, a standalone short story of mine titled The Bonus Situation is scheduled to appear in Ragnarok Publications’ Mech: Age of Steel anthology. Technically, this is scheduled for January 2017, but what the heck. I’ve already typed all this, I’m not going to erase it now.
There you go: All the Somers fiction you can handle. Or not handle.
I’ve been sticking to a three-month schedule for these releases in order to give myself time to write each one (I’m doing this Full Pantser, writing as I go), but as I sit here I’ve finished sections Five and Six (The Bey and The City Lord).
Well, I say “pantsed” but to be fair I have sketched out brief summaries of twelve additional sections, which would comprise books two and three of this trilogy. And I mean sketched, these are thumbnails at best that just show a basic direction. I’d done the same for the first four, and things changed significantly as I merrily pantsed my way through it, but ultimately I’d say these have been a grand example of what I call plantsing, a hybrid approach to writing (I actually spoke about this and wrote an article about this for Writer’s Digest which will be coming out in 2016, watch the skies!).
There’s some proofin’ and other checking to do (never my strong suits — as I like to tell my editors, I’m more of a Big Idea sort of guy than a spellcheck kind of guy), but basically, the novel is done. In fact, here are the covers for Sections Five and Six:
Since they’re complete and ready to go, I’ve decided to accelerate the schedule a bit, so here’s what I’ll be doing:
February 15, 2016: Both The Bey and The City Lord will go on pre-sale, together, at the same time, for anyone who wants to order them.
February 15, 2016: I’ll also be putting The Shattered Gears Omnibus up for pre-order as an eBook and a print book available through Amazon. This is all six sections collected and formatted into a single novel. The goal is to price both as close to $6 as possible, so the cost will be equal whether you bought each section as they came out or bought the omnibus.
March 15, 2016: Everything goes live, I am an instant millionaire, I stop responding to your emails and texts and begin building a Bond Villain Lair somewhere in the Pacific.
Hey! I bought all six digital shorts, do I have to spend another $6 to get the nifty omnibus? Not for the digital version. If you have all six sections, there will be a mechanism for getting a free eBook of the omnibus. Unfortunately, no, there won’t be any way for me to send you a free print version.
When will Sections 7-18 (books Two and Three) be out? I don’t know. My approach and enthusiasm for the second and third books depends a bit on how everything settles out sales-wise for this one, and my schedule. I do plan to write these at some point, but am also kind of hoping that I’m so spectacularly busy being paid to write other things in 2016 I have to postpone them, so, frankly, we’ll see. On the other hand, if in the final analysis the first one does really well I’d have to move these up in priority. I’ll let y’all know.
So, there you have it, The Plan Going Forward. To everyone who has downloaded, read, and reviewed, these digital shorts: Thanks! I hope you’ve enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed writing them. Cheers!
As threatened, the fourth installment in my little novel experiment with Avery Cates, The Iron Island, is now available for preorder at Amazon, and will soon be live at the Kobo Store and Google Play (as always, Barnes and Noble will go live on December 15th, as they don’t really do pre-orders for the likes of me).
If you’ve read the first three in the series (The Shattered Gears, The Walled City, and The Pale) you know we left Avery with a bag over his head and on his way to the Iron Island against his will. The story picks up here shortly after as I observe Elmore Leonard’s rule about cutting out the boring bits.
Go on and pre-order if Kindle is your jam, and I’ll let you know as soon as other formats go live.
FULL NOVEL: A lot of folks have asked me if there are plans to collect the six short stories into a single volume and/or do a print version: Yes! After #5 (The Bey) and #6 (The City Lord) come out, I’ll be collecting all six into a single volume titled The Shattered Gears and putting out both a digital omnibus and a print version via Amazon’s Createspace. The price will be as close to $6 as possible so no one is penalized because of format choice.
If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask!
Hey there hi there ho – a reminder that the 4th installment of my experimental-oh-so-modern series of digital-only short stories starring Avery Cates, The Iron Island will be available for pre-order next Friday, 11/13 (it would have been the 15th, but Sundays are for napping). I’ll post a link when it’s live.
A trailer’s coming too! Watch the skies.
Finally, here’s the first two paragraphs to remind you that you love Avery.
1. criminal, cop-killer, legendary asshole
Stomach rolling, I contemplated vomiting in the bag cinched over my head and the impact on my reputation that would cause. My hands were still bound, though Herra had been kind enough to cut the hogtie so I could sit normally; I could picture her wide grin on that wrinkled, weather-burned face as she reached around me to cut the ties, saying “Honor system, Cates, we’re trusting you not to jump an’ drown yourself.”
She smelled like a corpse—they all did, unwashed bodies in clothes that had been sweated and pissed and slept in—but then so did I, probably. The one blessing of the world was that you could never smell yourself.