Cover Reveal: THE LAST KEY

The Last Key E-Book Cover

At long last, the much anticipated climax of the Actuator series draws near. It’s due to be released November 17th in e-book and sometime after that in paperback. If you haven’t been keeping up, you can find the rest of the books here.

THE ACTUATOR 4: THE LAST KEY

The Actuator, a machine capable of literally changing reality, was created to make a utopian paradise. Before it happened, a saboteur used it to transform the world into patches of every kind of genre fiction, scattering the keys necessary to put it back across the globe. Everyone alive found their lives radically altered, some living in fantasy realms with real magic and others in incomprehensible horrors. Thrown into chaos, people struggled against aliens, pirates, orcs, and vampires. Many died. Only a handful of people on the planet, called Machine Monks, even knew why it happened or how. Now they have to put it all back before humanity is destroyed.

Continuing their quest for the Actuator keys, the Machine Monks realize their cause is becoming hopeless. An army of half-machine men is rapidly spreading over the face of the earth, converting anybody they don’t kill to their cause. With superior numbers and technology, their leader will not stop until every living human is subdued and loyal to him.

Keeping the first key with him, preventing anybody from using the Actuator to change the world, the sociopath rampages. Even if they could get all the keys, the small group opposing the tyrant don’t know what to do when they get to the final one—a key they’ve never seen before. If they don’t find the answers fast, the world will be lost.

(Oh, and Happy Friday the 13th!)

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What’s in a name?

It’s been too long since I wrote a legit blog. Time is relentless in its march. Still, I want to talk about names. Really, I want to discuss made-up names and words of all kinds. Maybe the benefit of what I’ve learned will help you in your writing endeavors. If not, at least it should be interesting.

If you’ve been with me from the beginning, you probably remember the tragic first edition covers on my first two books. I’m embarrassed to show them now, but it makes a point. (Just to ease my mind, I’m putting the newer versions, too.)

 

 

To this day, the Space Balrogs won’t call my first book anything except, “The Cracide.” Which is what the title looks like on that initial cover. Since then, I’ve learned it’s best not to title a book after a made-up word at all. Not only because I get confusion by people who think the book is about killing God as some kind of anti-religious statement (which it isn’t, it’s about killing a Theocrat who claims to be God), but a lot of people aren’t attracted to the title at all because it inspires confusion more than curiosity.

I went to a book signing where Terry Brooks shocked the entire audience of fans by informing us that Shannara is pronounced Shan-uh-ruh, not Shuh-nar-ra. Every person there had been pronouncing it wrong for decades. I’m guessing after a lifetime of correcting people’s pronunciation of his title, he wishes he hadn’t used a made-up word in the title, too.

Exacting Essence isn’t much better. It sounds cool (to me), but nobody knows what it means. So again, it causes confusion instead of curiosity. So, by making bad decisions in the past, I’ve learned to title books using only common words people already know. It is much more likely to inspire them to want to learn about the book. Here are some better book titles.

 

Uniqueness in titles isn’t as important as getting the reader’s interest. Common words can make a really good title.

I think this has also affected how I think about made up words in the book as well. I have a few in Salvation, because it’s a straight up fantasy and monsters and towns need names. But even though there have to be made up words in it, I think I would advise authors to use as many common words and when they are made up, spell them in a way that’s easy to understand.

Schism is the name of the planet. An actuator is a legitimate machine part. The sense of something familiar being used in a new and “magical” way is more intriguing, I believe, than if I named the planet Blarghdorugh and the machine R.T.C.I. (Reality Transforming Computer Interface). There is a place for fancy made-up words, of course, but less is definitely more.

So what brought this up now? My work-in-progress involves me deciding what to call a city, the people in it, and various aspects of their culture. So I have been revisiting some of the wisdom I learned by past mistakes. The title will not be a word I make up. The city must be called something that sounds like a real city, named as real people would name one. And the characters will have names that are “futuristic” in the sense that they are names people might really use as a result of a real societal evolution… not Zaphanianna or some other nonsense that readers can’t pronounce. It’s unlikely that after people used the name Matthew for thousands of years it will suddenly disappear in 100 years and nobody will be giving it to newborns.

If I save just one author from making the same mistakes I did, this blog will have been worth the effort. 🙂

Chaos Chronicles Paperback

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Now available in paperback! The Actuator 3: Chaos Chronicles

This book includes amazing stories by 9 authors. It isn’t “optional” like the Borderlands Anthology, though. These stories are machine monks, separated from the main group, and their struggles after the saboteur comes back to wreak more havoc on the world. It’s part of the main story line, so you absolutely must read it before the series climax comes out later this year. If you are following the Actuator series and only want your books in paper, the time has finally arrived.

Read more about the series on my Actuator page or…

Get it now!

Actual Paper

The new and improved Actuator series Paperbacks are here! Not only do they have new covers, but the interior’s are updated. We moved a few things around and fixed the art in the anthology. If you have the e-book, the updated version should come to you automatically. But if you absolutely must have physical copies in your hands, you can order them now. Alternatively, you can come to LTUE or FanX and I’ll be signing them there.

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The Actuator: Fractured Earth

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The Actuator: Borderlands Anthology

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The Actuator 2: Return of the Saboteur

Coming Soon! The Actuator 3: Chaos Chronicles

Cover Reveal- The Actuator 3: Chaos Chronicles

Coming soon (like Monday, December 12 soon) to an Amazon near you!

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Yeah, it’s as good as the cover!

Evolution of a Cover

The Actuator 1- Fractured EarthIt’s amazing how things evolve over time. When the first Actuator book came out, this is what it looked like. I’ve always loved it, and it gets plenty of attention from people at signings. However, editing shortcomings required us to put out a new version of it within the first year. We added a fairy (Xenwyn) to distinguish it from the first edition.

actuator-1-ebook-coverThis cover served us well for a long time, but eventually my publisher wanted to rebrand the entire series. What they came up with next AMAZED me!

In a more classic sci-fi vein, and geared to better attract the gaming crowd as a LitRPG story, this new cover just blows me away. Here for the first time.

 

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Isn’t that stunning?!!! Here are the other two books in the series so far and their new covers.

Actuator 1-5 E-bookactuator-borderlands-e-book-cover

And book 2.

Actuator 2 Ebook Coveractuator-2-e-book-cover

All these beauties should be up on Amazon this Monday… or soon thereafter. 🙂

Free Story for Halloween

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Happy Halloween!

To celebrate, I have a new short story FREE right here for you. And if you prefer not to read it, you can watch me read it live with the Gangrene Band jamming in the background.

Or you can get the album FREE from Craig Nybo!

🙂

And if that’s not enough Halloween fun, go get Immortal Works Press’s premiere book by Jason King and Jon Grundvig for just 99 cents (this week only): Thomas Destiny!

Not enough awesome for you? Go read another short story for FREE on IW’s site.

Want more geeky goodness? Check out this podcast about Halloween Movies with Dungeon Crawlers Radio, that I just happened to be on.

I love Halloween!