The Secret Kings, Soul Cycle Book III: Now Available for Amazon Kindle

I’m pleased to announce the official release of the third thrilling volume in the award-winning Soul Cycle, The Secret Kings.

About The Secret Kings

 
Campbell Award finalist Brian Niemeier’s highly acclaimed Soul Cycle speeds toward its climax in the thrilling sequel to Dragon Award winner Souldancer, The Secret Kings.

The god of the Void is free. Aided by a Night Gen fleet, Shaiel’s fanatical Lawbringers spread his Will throughout the Middle Stratum and beyond.

Teg Cross, whose mercenary career took him to hell and back, finds the old world replaced by a new order on the brink of total war. A fateful meeting with a friend from his past sets him on a crusade to defy Shaiel’s rule.

Meanwhile, Nakvin strives to muster a last-ditch resistance in Avalon. But can worldly kings and queens stand against divine wrath?

The Secret Kings cover - clean

Thanks to my international team of publishing experts, including my lovely and talented editor L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright, my astounding cover artist Marcelo Orsi Blanco, and consummate professional formatters Jason and Marina Anderson from Polgarus Studio. This book wouldn’t exist in its current wonderful form without you.

Special thanks to all of my outstanding beta readers for helping me to polish the manuscript and get the book out the door by Christmas. We made it!

On the subject of early readers, initial reviews have been unanimously positive. Just because they’re beta readers, that doesn’t mean they’re sycophants. These guys have been some of my most rigorous and astute critics going back to Nethereal, so I’m inclined to trust their judgment.

To be completely honest with you, I wasn’t expecting quite this kind of response to The Secret Kings. I knew that the book was good, but I’d expected a reception on par with Souldancer, which is still my personal favorite entry in the series. SK is actually shaping up to be the fan favorite, which is fine by me. I work to please my readers, and if you guys are finding yourselves increasingly entertained by each new book I write, it means I’m succeeding at my job.

The Secret Kings - Front and Back Covers

On further reflection, it’s not surprising that this book resonates so well with audiences. There’s a nigh-universal hunger for good space opera, and The Secret Kings definitely fits that genre–even more so than Nethereal did. Compared to both of its predecessors, SK features more space battles, more fight scenes, and more overall action, all tightly wrapped into a little over 400 print pages.

The most common reader observation about The Secret Kings is that the previous two books in the Soul Cycle make more sense in light of the revelations it contains. That’s probably because SK ties together plot threads and character arcs from Nethereal and Souldancer in satisfying ways. In terms of things making more sense, it’s not that I didn’t give readers all the pieces in the prior two books; it’s that I’ve now provided categories that help frame the puzzle. As a result, the answers can be seen more clearly.

I’ve also provided sword fights, space werewolves, another kind of space werewolves, disintegration rays, space jellyfish, multiple flavors of teleportation, true friendship. long-awaited revenge, and even a touch of heartbreak. Because a little bitterness gives contrast and context to sweetness.

The Secret Kings, Soul Cycle Book III is available now from Amazon for Kindle. The trade paperback is currently undergoing review at Createspace and will be available any time now. I’ll update you as soon as the print version goes live.

In the meantime, please enjoy The Secret Kings with my heartfelt thanks.

For those who haven’t read the first two books in the Soul Cycle yet, I haven’t forgotten about you. Nethereal and Dragon Award winner Souldancer are both on sale now for $3.99 each.

Get all three exciting novels today and get ready for the fourth and final Soul Cycle book, which you’ll find a preview of in The Secret Kings.

Puppy of the Month Book Club!

A new online book club sets out to read and discuss Puppy titles.

sadboompup

Puppy of the Month Book Club says of their criteria.

So what makes a book a viable candidate for Puppy Of the Month?  Easy:

  • Any novel nominated by the Sad Puppies for a Hugo nomination
  • Any novel nominated by the Rabid Puppies for a Hugo nomination
  • Any work listed in Appendix N of Gary Gygax’s D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide
  • Any work published by Castalia House
  • Any work selected by a Contributor that isn’t shouted down by the rest of the contributors as an inappropriate selection

The only other criteria for selection is that the work has to be reasonably readable in two weeks, including shipping.  No 1,000 page magnum opuses.  Selected works should also be readily available, preferably through Gutenberg Project, Amazon.com, or one of the remaining major book chains.  Any work nominated that required multiple trips to boutique booksellers or ‘knowing a guy what knows a guy’ – if we can’t all find it we can’t all read it, and hence we can’t all discuss it.

Nethereal

For their first month, they are reading Nethereal by Dragon Award winning author, Brian Niemeier. Since this is a book I helped edit, I could not be more delighted.

You can find out more — or join in! — here.

Do writers need Education?

Brian Neimeier, who will soon be coming on board here at superversiveSF and who was recently published in Sci Phi Journal: Issue #3 has an interesting essay on the question of whether a professional writer should get a formal education in writing if they want to make a career out of it.

Have a read

I’ve come across a number of articles by professional authors that deal in part with how much, if any, formal education is required to write professionally. (Specifically, should aspiring authors take creative writing classes, pursue English degrees, attend writers’ workshops, etc.?)

The consensus seems to be: “Get educated enough to know proper grammar; then ditch academia and learn the rest by writing.”

This advice contradicts the message touted by the host of elders, media figures, and educators charged with guiding me during my formative years. I’ve always believed that their efforts were well-meant. I’ve since learned that they were wrong and my more experienced colleagues are right.

Like most writers, I displayed a love of reading from a young age. I produced my first crude short stories in grade school. By the time I started high school, the idea had dawned on me that I might pursue writing as a career.

My enthusiasm began to fade as I slogged through the advanced English curriculum. The creative writing class I elected to take smothered the feeble remnants of my aspirations.

I bet this sounds familiar: being forced to read dreary novels like The Scarlet Letter and The Catcher in the Rye by teachers who worship “literary” fiction and scoff at speculative fiction. That kind of environment was pretty disheartening to a kid who was then devouring the original series of Dune novels. The unstated yet clear message was that sci-fi and fantasy were for childish philistines.

Read the rest

Servile Art vs. Liberal Art

Brian Niemeir, Sci Phi Journal contributor has an intersting article up called Servile Art vs. Liberal Art about the value of different sorts of art, it is worth a read.

Taking a page from Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper, I argued that the value of writing is beyond material compensation.

I was somewhat surprised that other commenters found this claim controversial. On further reflection, my failure to clearly distinguish my position from that of groups like Authors United (who argued incoherently that books aren’t consumer goods), probably didn’t help the audience’s disposition.

To start again on the right foot, I agree that books are commodities subject to market forces. An equally vital observation is that writers don’t produce books; publishers do. (Some may object: “What about self-published writers?” Note the dual job description. When an indie writer writes, he’s a writer. When he publishes what he wrote, he’s a publisher.).

So the question at hand is, what’s the writing itself–the creative act–worth? As usual, Aristotle points the way to an answer. He distinguished between work done in service to something else–the servile arts, and activities performed for their own sake–the liberal arts.

Since servile work is all about utility, it’s pretty straightforward to appraise the results and compensate the worker accordingly. (If I produce a pair of shoes, my compensation should be based on the fair market price of shoes.)

But dispensing a just reward for art performed as its own end gets tricky. Oscar Wilde declared that art is useless. A Modernist filtering that statement through his utilitarian bias would conclude that art is therefore worthless. In fact, he’d have it backwards. There’s a good reason that wage slaves live for the weekend, and that industry keeps churning out labor-saving devices.

Read the rest