Almost two weeks post-launch of Empire of the Goddess, and some great reviews have already come in, including this one from Publishers Weekly:
“Warner’s tale of a dystopian parallel Earth run by religious fanatics is quick-paced and intriguing … enough to keep fans of dystopian stories hooked.” (Read the whole review.)
The Audible link to the audiobook finally went up, plus a number of other vendors linked from the book page. They all supply short audio previews that don’t necessarily match what I sent them to use as the preview, so if you hunt around, you may find something you haven’t heard before. For instance, I was surprised to discover that Audiobooks Now has an incredibly long excerpt of Cursed by Christ available for free at this link. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear the deficiencies of my microphone rig at that time compared to what I used for Empire of the Goddess.
Speaking of audio engineering, I hope you caught that Audiobook Production Tips tutorial. There’s a lot I still need to learn, but if you’re an independent publisher looking to add an audio line, this may help you get started. Also check out the other Empire-related articles on story inspiration (this one and this one) and cover art.
Do you own a professional sound isolation booth? You do? What time can I come over?
That’s what I’ll be asking everyone the next time I narrate my own audiobook. It would go far more quickly and involve far less swearing at my pets. Of course, you wouldn’t then have nearly as much fun learning about the hell I went through with Cursed by Christ and Empire of the Goddess, now would you?
All this week, I’m highlighting interesting things about Empire of the Goddess. Check out the new editions.
Aha, I can’t fool you! You found me out. Your astute eye has detected an abnormality. In the back of your mind, Sesame Street is singing, “One of these things is not like the others.”
Let’s see: horror, horror, and what the hell is that. *
Two covers for the same novel? Just who am I trying to fool? Well, no one, actually. Empire of the Goddess is what you call a “cross-genre” novel. It has elements of both the horror and fantasy genres, and so I admit, in my Machiavellian calculations, that in my requests to the cover artist, I tried to appeal to both readerships. All I can say in my defense, Your Honor, is that both covers are truthful, and in fact they depict different scenes from the same story. They are not misleading.
That’s the what. Now let’s talk about the why.
I first sold Empire to a bona fide publisher who was not myself: my old friends at Thunderstorm Books. It’s always been important to me to acquire that external validation of quality from a gatekeeper, if possible. Thunderstorm, as usual, put out a great product: 52 hardcover copies, autographed by me and the artist they hired, Deena Warner, printed on the kind of paper that will probably outlive me.
Thunderstorm caters to horror collectors, and I knew they would like the novel, what with its elements such as human sacrifice and that really awful thing that happens to Thomas in chapter 3. So its cover, depicting the World War II memorial in Washington being used as a gallows, is something that appeals to them. (Thanks to Norman Prentiss for the cover art idea.)
But, like with Cursed by Christ, I wanted to perform the story, and Thunderstorm doesn’t sell audio. Hence the new self-published editions this summer. The fantasy-esque cover, depicting a pivotal scene at the Flat Rock Overlook in North Carolina, is only an effort to broaden the audience. I also edited the cover copy to better match it. I wish there was a more sinister motivation I could now confess to you for the change, but unfortunately, I only play at being sinister. I’m really just a geeky, middle-aged white dude.
However, you will be interested to learn that this time, instead of just an audio edition (yes, 10 hours of me blathering at you) and necessary eBook, I went whole hog by adding a paperback. The paperback presented a new challenge that went beyond ensuring each new chapter begins on a right-hand page: I needed a publisher’s logo for the bottom of the spine.
Of course, the publisher this time is me, so I’m trading as MW Publications. (Get it? The M is for Matthew, and the . . . yeah.) Deena and I discussed various logo ideas, and I liked those that entwined the letters M and W in interesting ways. I suggested putting the M over the W like mirrored mountain ranges, as a tribute to the Blue Ridge Mountains near our home. Deena came up with something better.
It’s still an M and W, but they’re entwined — as if they’re grappling. As if they’re Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners like our hero Thomas Dylan.
So if you see that logo up in your browser’s tab as you read this blog post, that’s why. Maybe one day, I’ll have it engraved on my tombstone and throw a Pharaoh party like my friend Keith Minnion.
Currently, MW Publications only carries my own titles, Empire of the Goddess, Cursed by Christ, and the new eBook editions of Dominoes in Time and Blood Born, but that may change down the road. Who knows? Only the Goddess Darwin.
* Yes, there are three covers here, and the title says “Two.” Verily, I am fucking with you.
Also see: Inspiration for Empire of the Goddess
The Horror Fiction Review’s new issue calls Cursed by Christ “a good read overall, historically interesting.” I’ll take it!
The audiobook and eBook are still available from Audible and other retailers!
Horror DNA has published a thoughtful and mostly positive review of Cursed by Christ. The reviewer said it has an “exciting breathless pace weaving an amazing tale full of mystery and some well-plotted out twists” but nevertheless found it slow in parts. Valid criticism! I’m glad someone finally gave this trunk novel some analysis. There are also some mixed reviews on Goodreads, but altogether it’s still managing almost 4 out of 5 stars.
While I’ve had high hopes for it, Cursed by Christ has always been my “learning” novel. It taught me how to write a novel during college, and lately it’s taught me how to self-produce an audiobook. It’s been a good experience.
This morning, I had a great time as a guest of Rockbridge County High School in Lexington, VA, where I gave a presentation about audiobook production. After all, audiobooks are about all I’ve been doing for the past year! Thanks to Dave Simms for setting it up. Here’s a snap Dave took of the class; I’m the guy at the end of the arrow:
I played them bloopers from the production of the Cursed by Christ and Empire of the Goddess audiobooks, and discussed what I’ve learned the hard way about best practices. One lucky
guinea pig student even got to use my audio rig to record some narration. Using a projector so they could see what I was doing, I showed them how to edit the narration in the Audacity sound program. Fun time all around.
Here’s a Larry King-esque collection of thoughts for today:
— The Traipse/WQSV Treasure Hunt begins in Staunton again next week. Last year, my family spent a lot of blood & sweat to win. (Writeup) Of course, we plan to win again this year. It was a lot of fun, and I hope fellow Stauntonites will give us some friendly competition.
— Cursed by Christ is doing surprisingly good sales-wise, despite it being my first self-published title. I’ll be a guest speaker at Rockbridge County High School on on Oct. 19, where I’ll share what I’ve learned about audiobook production. Do ya think Empire of the Goddess has a similar destiny?
— Brazilian Jiujitsu continues to teach me virtue in addition to the ability to choke someone unconscious. Recently, gratitude and humility have been on my mind. For instance, when someone beats you at something, it’s okay to congratulate your opponent on their success and ask them to teach you. “Ow, ow–tap! That was awesome! How did you do that?” All in the same breath, even. (Maybe without the “ow, ow” next time.) I offer this wisdom not only to fellow martial artists but to anyone in any context. Politicians, particularly.
And if you’ve ever had a good teacher, it’s okay to tell that person so. It’s okay to recognize they’ve enriched your life in some way. Teachers, on the other side of the table, can make that connection easier by not humiliating the person who has already humbled himself. The proper answer to, “Your support has meant so much to me,” or to any expression of friendship, is, “Thank you.” Nothing else.
The period for free listening of Cursed by Christ will end July 2nd. So check out the book information page to follow the links to YouTube, and hear what you’ve been missing. After that, the only way you’ll find it is through the various retailers or your public library.
Based on reader reactions, I feel I should point out something I’d assumed would be obvious. Cursed by Christ is a Southern Gothic horror novel set during the Civil War. Its title concerns the main character’s belief she is being punished. Whether she actually is or not is up to you, the reader, to figure out.
Some have wrongly assumed, without reading it, that this book is a commentary on their religion. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you’re really interested in my views on Christianity, then the next (as yet unannounced) novel coming out this year should be more thought provoking. If anything, Cursed by Christ is more an evaluation of the dehumanizing effects of racism, but whether it succeeds there is again up to you to decide.
Recording an audiobook ain’t easy! Here are bloopers from making the audiobook of CURSED BY CHRIST.