Items in this update:
1. Augum, Bridget and Leera news.
2. Audiobook contract signed for Fury of a Rising Dragon series.
3. I interview AC Cobble, author of the bestselling fantasy series Benjamin Ashwood.
Item 1: Augum, Bridget and Leera news.
I’ve been getting a lot of emails asking when Honor’s Price (Fury of a Rising Dragon, book two) will be ready. Well, I finally have some news on that front. I finished the first draft of the book and the first edit round. It’s now entered the deeper editing stages, which will be compromised of approximately six more additional rounds of editing before it will be ready. So we’re looking a late summer-ish launch.
It’s a big book, almost as big as Legend (The Arinthian Line, book five), and is packed full of action, drama and plot. Augum, Bridget and Leera discover ancient secrets about Arcaners while facing a Canterran cult, assassins, and the Von Edgeworth line. There’s a turning-sixteen womanhood ceremony for a certain someone, numerous personal trials for the trio, a frank encounter between Augum and Jez, new spells, and loads more.
Item 2: I signed an audiobook contract with Tantor for the Fury of a Rising Dragon series.
I’m excited to announce that Fury of a Rising Dragon will become an audiobook series! I’ll announce who the narrator will be on my author Facebook page shortly. As to The Arinthian Line, I’m in talks with Grammy winner Stefan Rudnicki to finish the series, so keep your fingers crossed (Audiobooks are notoriously expensive projects and I write long books, so no guarantees yet).
Item 3: I’m trying something different: an interview with an author some of you may have already heard about :) Away we go!
I’d like to welcome AC Cobble, the author of Benjamin Ashwood, to this edition of “Milk Crate Interviews with Sever Bronny.” AC, there’s your milk crate (mind the dust and piles of half-read books) and I’ll take my seat on mine after this awkward pause.
All right, isn’t this fun? My wife works with me in my author career and is super supportive (she set up the milk crates for this interview. You might find her lurking about the place munching on granola bars, Kindle in hand). I also have a cat named Buddha. She’s a small loaf with big eyes and likes to wander about the place like a princess. Any pets, kids, dolphins on your end? Wife? Husband?
Hi Sever, thanks for having me! I’m married to a wonderful wife who … well … initially said no to me becoming a full-time author. She came around though! She has an open mind, if not an initial faith in my ability to tell a good yarn. To be fair to her, my last creative endeavor was painting. It ended in a lot of brainstorming and a still-blank canvass, which she’d bought me for my birthday 6 years ago (someday, someday). We have three children, all boys, ages 8 months to 5 years. Now that I work from home, taking time out of the day to deal with the fighting, crying, and people yelling for food is a wonderful reminder of what my corporate life used to be like. It’s like I never left! My wife has a dog, which after 10 years of dating and marriage has still not accepted me. Maybe the nightly battle where the dog “forgets” she has her own bed in our room and doesn’t need to be in my spot is just a friendly joke? Every night I get a look from the dog that says, “I would prefer it if you died”. Ah, what else? I’m from Tennessee originally but live in Houston, TX now. I love to travel but have very few hobbies outside of writing and the family.
You mentioned you lived a “corporate life.” What exactly does that mean? Any parts of that life you miss? What do you love most about being a fulltime author?
Before making the jump to the book business, I worked for a massive, global corporation (think top 5 in the world). My days were filled with the normal things at any place like that – meetings & e-mail. There were plenty of the stereotypical people and politics that you can imagine going on, which I don’t miss a second of. But there were also some really awesome people who I keep in touch with still (had a few over for dinner this weekend!). I also really enjoyed my final role at the company. I was something like an internal consultant. I traveled about 25% of the time, worked from home 74%, and went to my local office 1%… That was pretty cool – and helps explain how I held a full-time job and wrote a couple of novels. I role allowed me to travel all over the world. I worked in 8 different countries. I saw some really amazing places that I never would have seen otherwise, and a lot of those influences made it into my books.
What’s best about being a full-time author? Freedom. You’re the captain and crew of your own ship, and you can sail where ever you please. I imagine many people who own their own businesses feel the same way, but as Authors, we don’t keep a storefront, we don’t have hours we’re open, we don’t have clients we go visit. What we do, is entirely up to us. That is an amazing feeling.
You’ve written a story in the same genre as me which makes me feel like we’re kindred spirits (come here, buddy! *awkward hug*). What made you so badly want to write coming of age fantasy? What initially inspired Benjamin Ashwood?
Nothing better than meeting another author and doing the handshake, fist-bump, hug dance! Somehow, that always ends up with me gently punching people. I’m ready for the union to proscribe a standard greeting we can use when we emerge, pale faced and blinking, from the writing caves.
Oh, you asked a question…
I was inspired by the books I grew up reading. Robert Jordan, JRR Tolkien, David Eddings, those guys. I love the way all of their stories start, and that’s how I started my tale. A young boy leaves his small village on an adventure. It really spoke to a younger me, and it still does today. It’s the sense that you don’t know what will happen next, but anything is possible. It’s one of the times a fantasy trope connects really solidly with my real life experience. Sometimes, I feel like I hewed too close to those books in the beginning of Benjamin Ashwood, but it’s intended as an homage to the stories I love. As you read deeper in my series, the themes and plots diverge wildly from the books I grew up with. I started on the shoulders of those giants, but the core of the story takes the expectation from those tales and turns it on its head. In real life, I don’t think heroes are Chosen Ones, and I wanted to write a story about that.
What challenges you these days?
In addition to writing my Benjamin Ashwood series, I’ve started a small press called Cobble Publishing. I have 3 other authors under my banner and we’re in production with several of their books! Juggling that along with my own work is a logistical nightmare, but it’s the kind of challenge I really enjoy. At heart, I’m still the business guy I was before I began writing, and I love that part of publishing.
In the creative space, one thing that is tough for me is keeping it fresh. I’m writing my 5th Benjamin Ashwood book, and like the others, there are fights, magic, and all of that great stuff. How is a fight in Book 5 different and more exciting than one in Book 1? That’s the challenge. I want to keep raising the bar for myself and delivering ever more exciting scenes to my readers. It has really pushed me to innovate and expand my writing. I mean, how many ways can you hit a guy with a sword? We’ll find out…
What’s coming up next for you that you’re excited about?
You ready for this? I just released a Boxset for my first 3 Benjamin Ashwood books. On April 17th, I have a debut YA Fantasy from one of my authors, Tanya Schofield, titled “Awaken: Melody’s Song Book 1”. On May 8th, another author, Thomas Webb, has a Steampunk Alternate history called “Stalemate: Clockwerk Thriller Book 1”. I’ll sneak a small collection of Benjamin Ashwood short stories out there sometime in May as well, then on June 5th, “Burning Tower: Benjamin Ashwood Book 5” hits the shelves! Oh, did I mention that there’s a German language version of Benjamin Ashwood Book 1 in the works, hopefully arriving in June? July, we’ll release a currently untitled epic fantasy from author Mark E Lacy. That covers the next 4 months…
Whew. I told you there were some logistics involved!
Finally, I’m doing some early groundwork for a brand new series that I hope to unveil in late 2019. The amount of world building and character development I’m doing is far more than I’ve done before, but if this works, it will really pay off for readers (um, I hope).
That’s a lot on your plate, are you not worried it will take away from your writing energy?
I’ve found that having something else going on really helps keep the creative juices flowing. This began as a hobby for me, a way to relax from the stress of the job, new kids, etc. Writing is my down time, and it relaxes me. When I’ve tried to ramp up and go full bore, I burn out pretty quickly. Very rarely have I been able to sit down and write for a full day. When I have managed it, I needed several days off to recover. So, maybe because it’s how I got my start, I tend to write in bursts of 2-3 hours then switch gears and focus on something else. The great thing about starting a small press is that “something else” keeps me engaged in the industry. I love books, being around books, writers, and every aspect of this process. It’s all fun to me, and it keeps me busy while those creative juices recharge.
You and I are extremely lucky to do what we do full-time. I occasionally dole out advice to budding writers who dream of becoming full-time authors. What advice would you give to those who wish to make this a full-time living?
I completely agree – we are extremely lucky. I tell people that being a writer is exactly as awesome as you imagine it to be. Being an Author (caps) is an easier job for me than Every Other Job I’ve Ever Had. It pays better, too. Seriously. There cannot be a better job than this! But, as Cypress Hill once said, “It’s a fun job, but it’s still a job.”
Yes, you get to do all of the awesome creative stuff. And yes, you are your own boss. It’s completely true, you can work anywhere in the world, at any time. Literally everyone you meet will be jealous. You make up stuff and write it down for a living! But, you also have to do the icky parts of the job. This is your business – you should treat it like a business. You have to market, you have to do book keeping, you have to negotiate, you have to invest in your product, and you have to hold yourself accountable for getting it done! More so than anything else, like a business, you have to serve your customer. Everyone telling you to “write only for yourself” is, in my mind, doing you a huge disservice. It’s not to say you can’t write what you love – see earlier about my influences – but if you want to sell what you’ve written, someone has to want to read it. At the end of the day, the job of the writer is pleasing the reader, not themselves.
They’ve made you walk the plank. What was your crime, and any parting final words for humanity?
Ha, I love this question! Because it’s easy for me to answer… I’ve been in the rum barrel.
In fact, the rum barrel is now more like – just a barrel. So, the rest of you scurvy scallywags are going to be high and dry for the rest of this Caribbean cruise. Up until this exact moment, my trip was quite pleasant. Now, let me raise my tankard with the last of the grog, and share a little wisdom with you:
“In life, with few exceptions, you only achieve what you strive to accomplish. No one wins the lottery without buying a ticket. No one becomes a rock star without putting in countless hours of practice. No one writes a book without pounding out the words. Life isn’t always fair. When you try your best, you still may not reach your goal. But I’m willing to bet everything I have – you’ll never get there until you do try. Study, effort, work – those are your lottery tickets. Being a full-time author (and rum thief), it feels like I hit the lottery. The truth is, I put in the work. I earned it. I DID IT. Whatever your dream, DO IT. Start. That is the only way you can get there.”
Now, I’ll turn up the grog, scream to the heavens, “I regret nothing!”, slip, bang my head on the plank, and fall limply into the water where I’m brutally consumed by vicious sharks and mutant sea turtles. Let’s be honest, there are worse ways to go…
Thank you, AC Cobble — and my readers have brought you up a few times, so it’s been a real pleasure getting to know you both here and behind the scenes :)
AC Cobble is the Amazon bestselling fantasy action & adventure author of the Benjamin Ashwood series.