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Sep. 22nd, 2014 @ 05:00 am It’s not the end of the world, it only feels like it.

Originally published at J.A. Pitts. You can comment here or there.

Me_Central_ParkI’ve been sitting on this news for a while now, not knowing how to bring it here.  I’ve discussed it one on one, face to face with some folks, but here I am to tell it to all of you who visit here.

Tor dropped my series.

As the title here says, it’s not the end of the world.  I’ve already written the next two books so there is more Sarah coming. How/Where is still to be determined.

But before we talk about that I want to clear the air about a few things.

I get emails from fans who love this series.  I know there are people out there who love Sarah and Katie as much as I do.  I get it, I feel it.
It’s not about the characters or the stories.  It’s not the books.
Look, they’ve won awards.

Spectrum Award Nominee for Best Novel, Black Blade Blue, 2011
Finalist for Compton Crook Award, Black Blade Blues, 2011
Spectrum Award for Best Novel, Honeyed Words, 2012
American Library Association: Over the Rainbow book list.  Black Blade Blues, 2011
American Library Association: Over the Rainbow book list.  Honeyed Words, 2012

So that’s not the issue.  I know these books have broken some new ground out there.  To tell the truth it’s a numbers game.  The books just did not sell enough to keep the publisher happy.  They are a for-profit company and at the end of the day it all comes down to the total number of units sold.

Honeyed Words didn’t sell as well as Black Blade Blues.  Forged in Fire sold better in hard back, but not as well in trade.  They won’t be putting a mass market out for Forged because they believe that the ebooks are replacing mass market.  Not something I agree with, but no one asked my opinion.

I love my editor.  She’s top notch.  This is just one of those things that happen to writers and books, no matter how much folks love them.

As I told a friend of mine, this is me leveling up as a writer.  Now I have that achievement unlocked: dropped series.  What I need to do is write the next thing and move on.

Writing this makes me feel like I’ve let all of you down.  I know I’ve been pretty devastated by this.  When you are a new writer and dreaming of your first sale the thought of having a series dropped isn’t even something you can conceive of.  But I took it personally which shut me down for a while.  I’ve been on auto pilot for too long and I’m fixing that situation.  I’ve decided to start a new series and am deep into the outlining phase.  Not sure when I’ll start shopping the new one, but I’m anxious to finish writing it.

There are some short stories out in the world, looking for homes.  I’ve written several this year, which is good.  Keeps my feet wet in story.  But I need to get back on the horse and finish a new book.

Stay tuned for news of that.  It’s just a matter of time.

And for the next two Sarah books, I’m in conversation with one of the industry’s superstars to get some professional advice on whether or not I should launch a Kickstarter for the new Sarah Book and self-publish it.  I’ll post, of course, as soon as I figure something out.

Feel free to let me know what you think about the Kickstarter idea, or anything else, for that matter.

This is just a thing.  I’ll get past it.  There is more story swimming in my head than I could write in three life-times.   Right now I’m going to play in a new one for a bit, see how the world gels around me.

It’s time.

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May. 23rd, 2014 @ 09:59 am Miscon 2014

Originally published at J.A. Pitts. You can comment here or there.

I’m in sunny Missoula, Montana for the awesome convention: Miscon.  If you happen to be in the area and want to find me, here’s my schedule.


  • Fri 2:00 – 2:50 PM, Being a Published Author . . ., Great Hall (Upstairs)
  • Break Fri 2:50 – Fri 4:00
  • Fri 4:00 – 4:50 PM, Writers’ Workshop Meet and Greet, Containment Room (Upstairs)
  • Break Fri 4:50 – Sat 11:00
  • Sat 11:00 – 12:50 PM, Writers’ Workshop Great Hall, Great Hall (Upstairs)
  • Break Sat 12:50 – Sun 10:00
  • Sun 10:00 – 10:50 AM, Author Book Signing, Containment Room (Upstairs)
  • Break Sun 10:50 – Sun 2:00
  • Sun 2:00 – 2:50 PM, The Skinny on Being Skinny, Upstairs 2 (Upstairs Programming 2)
  • Break Sun 2:50 – Sun 4:00
  • Sun 4:00 – 4:50 PM, Reading: J.A. Pitts, Upstairs 3 (Upstairs Programming 3)
  • Break Sun 4:50 – Sun 6:00
  • Sun 6:00 – 7:50 PM, Evolution of a Writing Career, Upstairs 3 (Upstairs Programming 3)
  • Break Sun 7:50 – Mon 11:00
  • Mon 11:00 – 11:50 AM, Monday Morning Coffee Klatch (Hour 2), The Tent (2)
  • Mon Noon – 12:50 PM, Morality In The End Times, Great Hall (Upstairs)
  • Break Mon 12:50 – Mon 2:00
  • Mon 2:00 – 2:50 PM, Transitioning Through Time: Scene vs Summary, Containment Room (Upstairs)
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Mar. 23rd, 2014 @ 04:20 pm Saving Throws and story

Originally published at J.A. Pitts. You can comment here or there.

Back when I was a young pup, we got the three white book box set of D&D.  Actually, my buddy Ed Smith got it.  Todd Downing and I were just brought over to play.  We did not understand those rules at all but we were very excited. Role playing just didn’t make any sense to us yet.  We thought that the point was to make a map with different symbols on them and as we walked along the map, we’d fight whatever monster was represented by that symbol.  The world was shiny then.  We were in 7th grade and had all just read the Lord of the Rings, The Dark is Rising, and Dune.

We wanted to experience story in a new way, beyond anything we’d ever dreamed.  And this game did not disappoint.  Oh, we meandered around a while, trying to understand Chainmail, figuring that maybe we needed miniatures to understand D&D.  But that just proved to make things even more confusing

Eventually we worked out the basic concepts and things got even more fun.  We were a creative lot, making up stories about wizarding apprentices who became hunch backed because they were turned into an eraser as a punishment then used to fix a magic scroll by the absent minded wizard.  That one had us laughing so hard we thought we were going to throw up.  We designed deadly dungeons that no one could survive and found out just how hard they were to play.  We began to haunt gaming stores and buying anything we could from places like TSR and Judges Guild and buying magazines like The Dungeoneer and Dragon.

We were progressing through junior high and by ninth grade had a free period each day.  Like recess but we were much too mature for recess.  We started spending our free class in the biology teacher’s room where we could play games as long as we were not too rambunctious.  Oh, we were true Kentucky nerds, living on Mt. Dew and Ho Hos, rolling dice and snickering every time we made a saving throw or killed a kobold.  We were living the dream.

Then the biology teacher mentioned to us that her brother was moving to the area for his wife to go to school, and that he played that game as well.  She asked if we’d be interested in meeting him and we were all over that.  A grown-up who understood the magic of this new world.  How could we not?

We arranged to meet in one of the meeting rooms at the public library.  We could get there by bike and it was a public place, after all.  There was much excitement when we met Merle Davenport.  He had played the game in Ann Arbor, MI with the likes of Jennell Jaquays and the folks at Judges Guild.  Merle had even written some articles for The Dungeoneer.  We were in awe.

Merle helped us roll up some characters and showed us the newly published first hardback of D&D rules: The Monster Manual.  I remember holding that book in my hands, mesmerized by the art work, carefully turning the pages and seeing the wealth of knowledge hidden inside.

We gamed with Merle a few times over the year, but soon enough he moved away.   Other gamers came into our life and we kept digging into new stories, building new characters and delving into the worlds of our imagination.  Those were magical years, formative years in the way of story and adventure.

I still have that character sheet 30+ years later.  I was a ranger who stole a baby Manticore, hoping to raise it as my own.  The mother nearly did us in, but we prevailed.

We grew older, brought in new friends, evolved as humans (slightly).  There are many lessons from those days, but this one bears remembering.

As my good friend Ted Huffman learned — when you are facing a door with a skull glyph on it, I don’t care how good a thief you are, there is a chance you’ll fail your saving throw and the whole party is screwed.

“He broke the glyph upon the door, he failed his save, a fucking four”

From the sixth grave of Van Judas, thief extraordinaire

Also dead that campaign: Englase, the Samurai  (me) and Shardik the wizard (Ed Smith).  The GM was Tony Howard.

Those were spectacular days — moments that shaped my view of the world.

Every story I write, every character I bring to life have a beginning in those raucous days of running from skeletons and cutting purses.  Life has always been a grand adventure and story will make it always so for me.

About this Entry
Mar. 1st, 2014 @ 01:08 pm Writing in a (mostly) undisclosed location.

Originally published at J.A. Pitts. You can comment here or there.

StHelens_Hotel_20140301Synopsis for the new series is coming along swimmingly.  Can’t wait to get this off my plate and over to the agent extraordinaire so I can start drafting.

The publishing world continues to baffle me, so word on the next Sarah book is still pending, but my agent is working her magic.

The project I’m working on now is a brand new trilogy set in the near future with genetics and government conspiracy, bloggers, vampires, mutants and general mayhem and chaos.   Working title for the series is: The Breaking.  Book 1 is Revelation.  These will be longer than the Sarah books, but I hope just as enjoyable.

As things roll along, I’ll update information about this and any other thing of interest.

Be happy, read good books, share the love.




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Jan. 18th, 2014 @ 09:07 am Rare opportunity for writers

Originally published at J.A. Pitts. You can comment here or there.

My good friend Peter Orullian has arranged for an amazing writers workshop where I’ll be one of the authors teaching/supporting.

This is in conjunction with Pat Rothfuss and Worldbuilders, all in support of Heifer International

Check it out.  You know you want to spend the day with some awesome writers. :)


Go bid on this and do something nice for yourself while helping a great cause.

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Nov. 24th, 2013 @ 08:25 pm Interviewed over on Outer Alliance Podcast

Originally published at J.A. Pitts. You can comment here or there.

I really enjoyed this interview.  Good questions and Julia is a total kick.  Had a great time.  You should check it out.

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Oct. 4th, 2013 @ 06:00 am Short Story Collection available for pre-order.

Originally published at J.A. Pitts. You can comment here or there.

While Thursday I mentioned my first ever e-novelette, Bones of my Father is available for purchase.  Today I bring you even more news.

For those with a little more patience, you can wait until November and get the full collection containing this and 13 other stories.  In it you will find the original short story that launched the Black Blade Blues series, as well as two unpublished stories set in the Sarah Beauhall world.  One featuring Katie and Sarah, and another set in Japan.

There are also 9 other previously published stories, Bones of my Father, and the never before seen Luck Muscle.

Publishers Weekly said some nice things, including: “The 14 short works of science fiction and fantasy show that Pitts is comfortable with a wide range of settings; as ordinary as the soundstage of “Black Blade Blues” (linked to Pitts’s Sarah Beauhall books) and exotic as the alien world of “Towfish Blues,” as fantastic as the fairy kingdom of “Mushroom Clouds and Fairy Rings” and as familiar as the university campus of “Three Chords and the Truth.”  … Pitts often turns to art and romance, those most human of activities, to anchor the stories.”

This collection is available for pre-order  (available in e-book as well as trade paperback) at Fairwood press today.   We will be launching officially at Orycon on Saturday, November 9th along with The Diamond Deep by Brenda Cooper as well as the anthology Raygun Chronicles edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt.

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Oct. 3rd, 2013 @ 06:00 am Bones of my Father e-novellete for sale

Originally published at J.A. Pitts. You can comment here or there.

For those who’ve been writing me wanting to see more of my writing, I give you my first e-novelette.  You can go buy this right now.

I’m releasing this in conjunction with Fairwood Press.  You can purchase it at traditional sites such as Amazon and Baen Books.  The artwork is by the fabulous Mark Ferrari.

Interested in seeing what I can do with a post-apocalypse setting?  Give it a try.



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Sep. 19th, 2013 @ 06:00 am Lady Like Book Club reviews Black Blade Blues

Originally published at J.A. Pitts. You can comment here or there.

BBB_MMPBIt’s been a weird summer. Lots of day job crazy, some scattered writing projects and a good solid revision on book 4 in the Sarah Beauhall series.

About a six weeks ago, while I was teaching at the Cascades Writers Workshop one of my fans pointed me to a really cool podcast which just happened to be featuring Black Blade Blues.

I got back to my room, called the family and was about to crawl into bed, way past my normal bedtime, when I remembered the podcast. I clicked over to it and found myself totally enthralled with these women. It’s >>>>> Lady Like Book Club, episode 15  <<<<<

Even though it was really late I listened to the whole thing It’s funny and sweet and says nice things about my first published novel. They really liked it. I had no idea they were talking about the book, I’d never heard of them before, and suddenly I want to get to know them. I want to meet these intelligent, funny irreverent women who have such a great time building a podcast. It is obviously something they love.

Check them out. I’m thinking you’re gonna love them as well.

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Aug. 27th, 2013 @ 06:40 am My Lonestarcon schedule

Originally published at J.A. Pitts. You can comment here or there.

Well, I’m in San Antonio wrapping up some time with the family before they flee back to the sane weather in the Pacific Northwest, and I continue here in the land of hot and humid. This little trip has been interesting. Always good to reconnect with family and honestly not spend too much time dealing with my day job for a while. I love my job, but getting away every now and again is a good thing to do.

Starting Thursday, this vacation evolves into Worldcon – Lonestarcon. The third time San Antonio has hosted World Science Fiction convention. I’m looking forward to seeing folks I know, and meeting new people along the way. My last Worldcon was in Reno and it was also HOT. I’m beginning to think we should maybe support the Helsinki bid for one of the upcoming Worldcons, if for no other reason than to balance the temperature. :)

Okay, here’s my schedule. If you want to meet me, here’s where I’ll be. Stop me and chat a bit if you see me around. Never fear, I’ll let you know if I’m jammed, but I love to meet people.

Writers Workshop F

Friday 13:00 – 15:00

Alex Shvartsman, John Pitts
Food in Science Fiction and/or Fantasy

Saturday 12:00 – 13:00

From soylent green, to vat-grown protein, to descriptions of lavish meals in Game of Thrones, food is depicted in many forms in science fiction and fantasy. Our panellists discuss the role of food in world-building. There may even be recipes, although probably not for soylent green.

Chris O’Halloran (M), Liz Argall, Fran Wilde, John Pitts
The Impact of SF on Economies and Scientific Development

Sunday 18:00 – 19:00

The SF Community regards either itself or the literature as having had some impact on the larger world. We dare ask: Have we really?

Sam Scheiner (M), Yasser Bahjatt, Clifford (Kip) McMurray, John Pitts

Autographing: Elizabeth Bear, Gabriele de Cuir, EIleen Gunn, John Pitts

Monday 10:00 – 11:00

Eileen Gunn, Gabrielle de Cuir, Elizabeth Bear, John Pitts

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