I'm very excited to have a beautiful new cover for Ghosts of Heiland, the first part of Heir of Scars I.
Adria is at a turning point as the series begins, and Vanessa Bettencourt captures the feeling of isolation, even other-worldliness so well here.
I am hard at work on new Heir of Scars projects, as well. Watch out for some exciting announcements in the coming weeks!
Crossroads and Crossed Swords is now available for Kindle. Check out a preview on the left.
This is a very exciting part of the storylines began in Spires and Mountains -- or in Book I, for Adria...
The Imperial throne of Somana remains empty. While the heir's family plot to maintain their power, forces within and beyond the city plot against them.
In the wake of his victory, Kirlin Gerard is stripped of his titles and cast into the underworld of the Imperial arena to live or die by his skills, his will, and the fickle whims of the Somanan elite.
The Aesidhe tribes of Heiland must make a choice in the face of an even greater threat. Do they at last begin the Long Retreat the elders have long spoken of? Mateko, Shisha, and Duke Preinon Watelomoksho must offer the counsel, the wisdom, and the arms of the Runners, to whatever fate remains them.
And as Adria Idonea walks a strange land, hunted by assassins, she makes a discovery that will cast her history as an Aesidhe against her future as the Heir of Heiland.
"I was absolutely captivated . . . I am a traditional archer, bow hunter, and an avid naturalist. I found it very difficult to put this book down and stayed up way too late several nights. I finished the book exactly one week after starting it and was left wanting more. I spent the majority of my days thinking about Adria and imagining life among the Aesidhe. Not once did my enthusiasm drop, even the least, through the entire book from the very first word to the last."
- Amazon Reviewer
The Complete Edition of Heir of Scars I is now available in Paperback and Kindle Editions, expanded and with cool extras.
Day Three: The Remainders
Okay, let's lead with the video montage. Vanessa took quite a lot of pictures, and her compilation and commentary (not to mention the cosplayers themselves) deserve top billing.
We finally started an mailing list. Yes, we knew we should have one from day one, and a couple of helpful exhibitors reiterated it very insistently, but since the app I made for it hadn't worked out for two days in a row, it wasn't until the third that we regressed to "pen and ink" era data gathering technology.
We started with only seven books, a little guiltily, since these copies were set aside for friends and family who have probably shunned us by the time you read this. Still, we had plenty of prints left (though some of the favorites were sold out by now), and bookmarks and flyers for the Kindle and Amazon paperbacks.
Sunday was, hm... odd.
We encountered our first actual fan in person. No one at the show had read the Kindle versions, so they were all new to the series. Bryan, however, bought a paperback on Saturday, and started reading it overnight. When he visited our booth on Sunday, he was very excited to re-meet us. He stopped a passerby to take a picture of the three of us, and we talked for awhile about the book itself.
I'm afraid I was a little overwhelmed and probably sounded a little awkward. We'd spent the weekend trying to get people to read the back of the book, maybe even the inside, and now someone, well... had. As a bonus, Bryan looks a good deal like Preinon in his younger days.
Our friend, fellow author, and documentarian Joel Clark stopped by with his fabulous children (...or was that Saturday...?). Check out his Jack Staples Intermediate series.
Chip was another fantastic visitor. He zeroed in on a portrait of Adria, set it down in front of us, and said, "I... am so... drawn to her eyes." He talked for awhile about his artist friend, who always drew the eyes last. Vanessa starts there and works outwards. Chip is a baker, and not only bought the Adria print, but also gave us some of his homemade cookies. Chocolate chip, of course.
We were a little tired by then, but people were engaged in new ways, and we seemed to sell a wider variety of things. Artwork that had gone unnoticed was noticed. A mother and daughter played tic-tac-toe with our gray and white wolves. Vanessa's bronze necklaces attracted attention.
We went around to other booths more, met other artists and authors and vendors. Joseph Bellofatto, in three minutes at his excellent booth, told me about a dozen other possible conventions to attend in a year's time. I should have recorded him.
By the time the evening air raid sirens went off, which oddly represented nothing more than the burger vendor closing its gate and not a flight to the bomb shelters, we were saturated, and left standing with only one lonely and slightly marred copy of the Heir of Scars paperback.
My original idea for this was to keep track of the positive things we learned selling at the convention, so I think I'll close with that.
What we learned:
Okay... that doesn't capture the full experience of our first con, but it was a lot for us to absorb, and we're anxious to try again soon. Know a good convention in your area for a fantasy author and artist team? Let us know...
-Jacob and Vanessa
Day Two: Learning Hyperbola
Saturday was the day in very many ways. It was longer by hours, but went so much faster. There were periods where no one stopped to look at anything on our table, but then suddenly we would have several turning back to point at one of Vanessa's wolf prints, which then gave us the opportunity to talk about the book.
We learned quickly what worked and what didn't, and got the rhythm down between us.
"It's an epic fantasy with a strong female lead... take a look at the back and see what you think..."
That was the best lead in. Simple, and it hit the two biggest factors that people will like (or not) in the novels. Cause... they could feel how heavy it was when they picked it up.
"Yeah, it's 600 pages," and we'd point to the flyer. "I started publishing it as individual ebook novellas, then put them all together into a single paperback. I didn't know how big it would actually be until I opened the box. Waaaay heavier than the Kindle versions."
(And later I'd find out how much it would cost me to ship a single copy!)
Vanessa turned out to be a great salesperson. When the art drew them in, she'd explain the legend of the White Wolf Woman from the novel, and how it inspired the paintings for some of the covers and other attached artwork.
The art often drew them in first, and then I'd explain, "Vanessa made such a great cover. I just did the 600 pages of filler in the middle to give her some room on the book spine."
Lots of obstacles on Saturday. The WiFi connection was terrible, so we had to take cash for nearly every transaction, though Jackson in the next booth was cool enough to let us use his once or twice.
Sometimes the crowds were thick enough that people passing couldn't even see our displays, so Vanessa started taking a LOT more pictures of the cosplayers, which were, well, probably half the people passing by. I'll put a couple of pictures here, but Vanessa made a great video compilation of them I'll put in Part 3.
(Yes, the one on the right could pretty much pass for Adria. --->)
We really had an amazing time, and everyone we interacted with was very positive in every way.
We sold books. Lots more books. Lowered expectations on day one gradually rose as the stack lowered.
"Can you sign it?"
"Um... sure." Crap, I thought. We forgot to sign them yesterday.
I made a little saying for the readers, and... Vanessa drew cartoons of them on the title page. She wins again.
I developed an app specifically for the event, but it didn't quite work out. You can see it above, just under my goatee.
The idea is that on the first page you can pick an Aesidhe name (that's the culture that Adria joins in the novels), a tribe, and a spirit animal. In the second page, it builds a little character sheet for you, and if you enter your email address, I'll send a little story with that character as the basis.
But... the first person who tried it didn't really get what was going on, and the buttons were a bit too small. I'll revise it for later shows and put it on the site once it's ready. So... close, but not quite enough.
<--And OMG Carrie Fisher stopped by!
Actually, this guy was obviously about the coolest dad in the world, and we really enjoyed speaking with him and his daughter(s).
There were so many good conversations, and I wish we had names and pictured for them all. If you were at our booth and feel inclined, please let us know and we'll connect...
By the end of Saturday, the books were gone, and a fair number of prints and bookmarks. We would have only seven copies left of our (lowered expectations) initial order for Sunday...
Day One: What was the Plan?
Keep expectations low. That was the plan. Measured. Cautiously optimistic at best. Just a couple of boxes of the new Heir of Scars I paperback as centerpiece, flyers and business cards, plus maybe a couple of things that Vanessa decided to make, like a tic-tac-toe game of white and grey wolves.
And a few bronze necklaces with spirit animal pictures.
Oh, plus a few dozen art prints of cover art, and forty-one different styles of bookmarks with novel quotations on the back.
Okay, Vanessa kind of went all out. I'm probably forgetting something.
A 2x4 banner.
Anyway, we took an Uber in since we had too much to carry on the Metro without dramatically increasing the risk of getting caught by the doors. Our Grateful Dead-head driver was less excited by the convention than by the fact that I am a writer and Vanessa is Portuguese, and he spent quite some time trying to remember the name of the movie where the writer falls in love with his Portuguese housekeeper and....... finally he realized it was a sub-plot from Love, Actually, and for the next two minutes showed us an extended preview on his phone.
BTW, he's absolutely moving to Canada if Trump wins.
A brisk and heavily encumbered walk and we make it to the entrance, then are led to walk back along the same path we just took, only just inside the building instead of along the sidewalk, arriving at almost the exact point of dis-Uberment.
The floor of the Con was just like the parents' basement of our geekhood dreams, only several blocks long and several storied high. Even only halfway mantled (dis-dismantled?), it was already impressive. Most of the larger exhibitors had set up on the prior day, leaving Artist Alley the primary barren wasteland we'd soon call home.
Booth N12 was, of course, 3/4 of the way back across the hall, making me very glad I packed a replacement shirt and deodorant.
Vanessa and I went to work quickly, and we took much of the hour to set up our 8x2 table (sorry Vanessa, that's feet not meters). I was very glad Vanessa had designed a layout and that we practiced setup beforehand. I'd have probably spent two of the three days just trying out permutations.
We ended up with great booth neighbors. Chris Allen (ArtofCristos) on our left had some pretty stellar prints of his interpretations of Black Panther, Kylo Ren, TMNT...
On our right Jackson (@arkrevner) had a very nice mix of anime inspired and vibrant original pieces.
It was good our expectations were not stratospheric on Friday. Our goal was not so much to sell at the con, but to get our names and the series out there. We sold a couple of copies on Friday with freebie bookmarks and felt pretty good. It was very cool just to make some connections, chat with people, and maybe the best little surprise was someone asking Vanessa to draw a wolf for her in a sketchbook she was taking around to different artists to make a collection.
"How much do I ask?" Vanessa wondered.
"I have no idea..." I not-too-helpfully answered.
She undercharged in the end, but considering how fast V can sketch, it was a very respectable hourly wage, and the woman was very pleased with original wolf that will remain the very first page of her collection.
Okay, it wasn't much compared to many of the vendors and exhibitors, but we were pretty excited as we wandered back home again, and very much hopeful that Saturday would have a lot more action.
Author Jacob Falling and Artist Vanessa Bettencourt will be celebrating the paperback release of Heir of Scars I at AwesomeCon in Washington DC on June 3-5, 2016.
Come find us in the Artist Alley in booth N12. We would love to see you there!
Here is a little hint at the future of the Heir of Scars... and the past...
“Every time I read one of the books from this series I think the Author can not possibly pull me further in or move me more with his words . . . He has opened up a world that I would truly
love to be a part of. Introduced me to a people that I would find joy and happiness to be with.”
From the Amazon Reviews...
“I love books that pull you into their pages without remorse for what you leave behind. This is one of those books.”
"An air of mystery and intrigue drawing the reader into a world almost familiar.”
"Allow yourself to be fully immersed into the life and the world the Author creates . . . I can't imagine what reading the whole series will do to me.”
From the Amazon Reviews...
“On the edge of my seat with every page.”
“Jacob Falling has clearly developed a three-dimensional world in his imagination and is able to masterfully convert it to paper for a reader.”
“Again the Author has surpassed my expectations in this book . . . a well rounded and full adventure that you won't want to miss . . . You feel as if you are watching a movie within your mind . . . Amazing how immersed you become in this story.”