Long Live The Queen of Izmoroz

Hello all. I hope this finds you still healthy and well.

So far, Subtstack seems to be working fairly well for the newsletter. At least judging by responses, it seems to have made it to a lot more inboxes than in the past. Although apparently, I need to apologize…

In my last newsletter, I made some disparaging remarks regarding both Microsoft Word and Mail Chimp. I knew people use these services, of course. But I genuinely had no idea people actually liked them. I am passionate about my writing software, and try to support small and independent developers, primarily by volunteering as a beta tester. Developers quickly discover that having an epic fantasy novelist on your testing team is an excellent way to really put your writing software through its paces, and since I used to work in the tech industry, I like to think my bug reports are more helpful than not.

Anyway, it pains me to think that I offended someone who is just as passionate about their choice of a word processors, and I am deeply sorry for that. In the future, I will try to be less of an indie software snob.

Books

The Hacker’s Key is out in the wild. Since it’s my first middle grade novel, I’m still not sure how best to support the release. It doesn’t help that both school visits and book fairs are currently out. I have been talking with An Open Book Foundation about doing virtual school visits in the DC area, perhaps in December. But that’s all still tentative.

One More Page Books hosted a fun, if somewhat meandering livestream conversation between me and fellow author Diana Peterfreund, which you can view archived on Youtube. There was a lot of talk about bone churches…

Episode 14 of the Hope and Red podcast is out, which sees the triumphant return of Brigga Lin. During the course of writing the Empire of Storms trilogy, Brigga Lin somehow went from a supporting character to being essentially a third protagonist, sharing nearly as much page time in book 3 as Hope and Red and getting featured on the cover.

Speaking of covers, in the last newsletter I talked cryptically about the cover for book two of The Goddess War. Shortly after, my publisher posted the final cover. Take a look at this beautiful piece of art:

Ah, there she is: Galina Odoyevtseva Prozorova. I should probably say that The Queen of Izmoroz was not the original title for this book. Like Brigga Lin, Galina was a character who insisted on taking more pages than originally planned. Originally, she was meant only to be a minor love interest for Sebastian. But as I was writing the rough draft, she turned out to be so useful and so much fun to write that I kept expanding her role until it just made sense to give her the title in book 2.

I also wanted to mention that as of the time of this writing, the description that appears alongside the cover in most places (Amazon, B&N, etc) was accidentally released before I’d approved it. My editor is currently out on maternity leave, so my acting editor and I are trying to sort it all out. Apparently, correcting such things is not a simple process. In the mean time, while writing copy is by no means my specialty, I humbly offer my own description:

Sonya has freed Izmoroz. Her brother, the imperial wizard Sebastian, and the vicious Commander Vittorio have retreated to Aureum. But for how long?

Galina, a young noblewoman and Sebastian’s former betrothed, understands the precariousness of her war-torn country. Ineffectively ruled by a fledgling oligarchy, hosting a foreign army of undead, and dominated by the whims of a self-proclaimed servant of Death—what chance would they have if Empress Catarina returned with the full might of the imperial army? Plans must be formed, and sacrifices made…

Down in Aureum, Sebastian is stunned to learn that his beloved mentor Vittorio has infuriated the empress and been declared an enemy of the throne. Now without guidance, what will Sebastian do in an unfamiliar land surrounded by strangers coveting his power? Meanwhile, Sonya seeks guidance from the elder Rangers who live out in the tundra. But what she learns will shake her faith in the Goddess of Winter to its core.

The Queen of Izmoroz will be released April, 2021, and is available now for pre-order wherever fine books are sold.

Music

Switching it up from the dark, lush orchestral sounds of A Winged Victory of the Sullen, this time I’d like to recommend the stripped down alt-folk songs of Laura Jane Grace, which call to mind early Mountain Goats or perhaps Ani Difranco, with just a hint of…David Bowie, perhaps? Check it out:

And that’s it for now. Take care of yourself, and as my old friend Sam Mossler used to say, “Don’t take any guff from those swine.”

Talk soon,

_j