Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Mask of Tamrel now available for free at the following reputable distributors!

In a world of plummeting oil prices and ever-devaluing concepts of currency, it gives me exceedingly great pleasure to announce that The Mask of Tamrel is now available for free across the length and breadth of this strange techno-psychic projection called the Internet! You can follow the links below for free downloads, or even pop over to Wattpad and read it sans the pesky transference of bytes:

The Mask of Tamrel free on Nook!

The Mask of Tamrel free on Smashwords!

The Mask of Tamrel free on Kobo!

The Mask of Tamrel free on Wattpad!

Once again, thanks to everyone for the continued support. Viva la fantasy!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Marketing: The Author's Strange Double-Life

Wanted to offer the curious a few updates on my quest to properly market The Magistricide. Self-publishing, it seems, is not the instantaneous pot of gold that it is often advertised to be...thankfully this comes as little surprise to me. I was expecting strenuous work and years of self-promotion before (if ever) striking my collective audience. As I have been numinously advised by both my editor and various self-publishing websites, the important thing to do is to continue working. This I am ready and able to do. Of course, the ideal situation would include me eventually being supported by my art (sounds like such a pipe dream, but it shouldn't); in quest of this I've worked on a range of self-promotion, submitting my book to online review journals, hosting giveaways, taking out freebooksy features, trying to sink into communities on goodreads, fiddling with search terms and backcopy and author bio etc. The permutations of self promotion are many, and they can take up a good many hours. I'm currently working on submitting free files of Tamrel to all prominent ebook hosting sites on the internet; with any luck the right people will find it, download it, enjoy it, tell their friends. The overwhelmingly positive response I've gotten to The Mask of Tamrel has been both humbling and reinforcing. I am confident that it is, if nothing else, an entertaining read.

So how have all these methods panned out? I submitted Tamrel to several hundred online review journals and received only two responses in the affirmative. To date neither of the journals have written reviews. I hate to say that this mode is a dead end, but the vast number of sites were either closed due to overwhelming submissions or carried a disclaimer saying that their backlogs were massive and nigh-indigestible. So who knows? Perhaps a year from now a bunch of reviews will suddenly pop up; all you can do is sow the seeds.

As for giveaways and freebooksy ads, I can't recommend them highly enough. Most of the copies of The Mask of Tamrel that I've moved in the last half-year have been dispensed for free, and it has proven a solid means of both sharing my work and building up reviews, though BE WARNED: this process occurs like gum running from a tree. Patience is definitely required, and not letting the review-trickle get you down is a major part of surviving creatively. I'm excited that The Mask of Tamrel will soon be available for free across a wide spectrum of distribution channels, accompanied by a series of freebooksy ads - freebooksy is a great way to put your work in the limelight and share thousands of copies in a mere matter of days. Again, can't recommend their services highly enough, though their ads do come with the not-inconsiderable expense of $100 each.

As for goodreads, I'll be honest. I've often found cultivating connections in online communities a somewhat daunting affair. The site could definitely work as a potent promotion tool for the writer willing to put in the time and energy (read other author's books and review them, forge a collective, find various groups that reflect your interests and post often), but generally if I'm writing I'm either working on a book or this blog. I have undertaken to read some of the fantasy currently getting self-published, and was surprised and pleased by the quality. There is definitely a churning genre market in existence, and it seems that authors intent on writing fantasy not concerned with urban environments, vampires or Harry Potteresque tropes are finding a vibrant home in the self-publishing world. This is heartening, and I maintain hope that a bunch of us will eventually band together and form an intellectual commune of the fantastic and bizarre, though I unfortunately lack HP Lovecraft's networking ability. So goodreads = definitely good, but its usefulness varies depending on your personality type and time constraints.

As for tinkering with backcopy, author bio, keywords etc...it all seems so open to interpretation that I'm never certain if I'm advancing my cause or shooting myself in the foot. Should I use 'wizard,' 'dystopia,' 'magic,' what? Does the backcopy tell too much or too little, or is it just the right level of enticing? What the heck constitutes a 'relateable' author bio, anyways? All these things swirl in my head, and it took me several months of modifications before I arrived at backcopy that pleased me. All I can say is that shifting up your approaches and mutating seems to be a viable course, though who knows? The thing that you're altering might be the thing that would have connected you to your audience. In the utterly subjective realm of such things, the artist can only be precise and beguiling. Whether the artist's idea of precise and beguiling manages to arouse any kind of mass interest, well.....again, it's a subjective world always.

One final thing I can strongly suggest: get physical copies of your book in any bookstore near you. Have an author signing. Carry around business cards and dispense them. Talk to people and try to get a story about yourself in the paper. Interest is interest, whether local or in some remote village in Belgium. Keep in mind that people do truly love physical objects, despite the constant mournful tolling of the bells marking the death of the printed page. If all else fails, dress up as a high elf, drop acid and attack cars with a broadsword. It worked for a guy in Portland and it can work for you.

High Elf, High on Acid, Attacks Woman's BMW With a Sword!

Friday, December 5, 2014

the fate of a retired writer
in the sun
skin blistered with the accumulation of accomplishments
the liver shot, the eye turned gray
the hair a metallic halo
declaring perpetual sainthood -
what strange gods has that atrophied
tongue tasted?
What ecstasies the withered body
sampled in the catacombs of cell
and sentence?
Surely the retired writer has descended
to the deep grottos
where the mysteries of the flesh
and spirit are celebrated
smelled the burning stench of herbs
and seen the mutating shadows
of the gods at war & play -

This goes without saying.

But the particular archaic vintage
of the wine consumed
and the particular orifices delved
in the sacral grove
and the certain stone upon which the sacrifices
were slaughtered
to summon the ghosts of past and future
The flail of the knife and the
sprig of the blessed tree
all of these
all of these
were different.
Are different.

So sit there, aging husk.
Your diseased bones reek of light.
You stare at the sea, the dun earth,
the wild circumnavigation of seasons
& humanity's unbounded sway -
you taste and you glut on the taste
for the transmission is done
for the retired writer sitting
in the sun.

Copyright Scott J. Couturier 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ursula K. LeGuin's Call to Arms

Ursula K. LeGuin's acceptance speech at the 65th National Book Awards, November 19th 2014.

Her clarion call is a stirring one. The clampdown of fear and the degradation of art in American society go hand-in-hand with the decay of the society itself - they create each other, increasingly fearmongering reality feeding into art which in turn casts the 'real world' in its image ("We need artists who remember freedom," says LeGuin). Creating art is a materialist exercise insofar as physical processes are involved, but its essence is extradimensional; thus capitalism and the materialist episteme in which we live can do little to inform it beyond providing a raw substance from which to transmute. It's true that great art twists the horrors and calamities of 'reality' into beautiful forms. Horror is the fuel for the divine work, but art must be allowed to work with that fuel. If Political Correctness or Religious Mindedness or Marketing Concerns impede our ability to express truly, the resultant transmission will be tainted. It's the job of artists to plot the course of our mutation, to extend the lattice on which the vine of humanity will grow. Obsession (fearful, egoist, wealth) with the material present leaves the future unformed, concern with accessibility and profit over substance leaves our creations cold and half-animated. We do not write for the corporations, for those too weak or single-minded to embrace new visions, for tongue-clucking professors and academics, or for our mothers. We write for the future.

Thank you Ursula for accepting this award on behalf of all the writers of fantasy and science fiction. I trembled when you mentioned hope.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Writing for Fun and Vaguely Potential Profit: A Reminiscence

It's November here in the desert, which means (thankfully) mostly sunny skies and moderate temperatures during the daytime and cold, bitter nights (it's plummeted well blow thirty several times in the last week, mostly on account of ye olde polar vortex). There are short, blustery days ahead, and the ever deepening chill to anticipate...the desert is indeed quiet and Cleveland is definitely cold, but recent nighttime temps have shown little difference between Las Cruces and the sparkling gem of Ohio.

Not that I'm complaining, understand. Born and raised in northern Michigan, I'm on very personal terms with the concept of coldness. However, it is very interesting that I migrated south just prior to last year's hellacious winter (a psychic understanding, perhaps?). I'm overwhelmingly grateful to live in the desert, even more so following the petrifying images coming out of Buffalo. If it snows here it will be a light dusting, readily dispelled by midday; still, I worry about the cacti. Several years ago a heavy frost fell in and around Cruces, killing off a fair number of the native plantlife. Going for a walk in the desert today one is constantly straying across rotten cactus husks. I'm hoping the temps modulate upwards and spare me the horror of experiencing a plant apocalypse firsthand.

With the advancing of the Dark Time I've been allowing myself to experience and savor a personal transmutation, a dying and rebirth if you will. Primarily driven by the recent publication of The Mask of Tamrel and its sequel, In the House of Madame Heretia, I've suddenly found myself in a bold new world where the book I valiantly endeavored to write for eight years (and that mutated into two books along the way) is now wholly and completely done. Never again will I need to contemplate the fiddly details of Kelrob and Jacobson's meeting and mutual evaluation; never again will I need to lay awake nights wondering 'what will happen if I fail at this, if I die before it's complete, etc etc' downwards into black waters and strange self-loathing. Yes, I'm being quite direct here, I suppose; Harlan Ellison has a lot to do with it. His blatantly direct soul-scouring introductions to his books have led me to fall in love with him as readily as his fiction.

Tamrel floundered many times over the course of its creation. There were many influential factors in this, amongst them a failed decade-long relationship, the insistence of my college professors that genre was a debased and self-indulgent mode of writing, the crushing weight of a succession of soul-deadening jobs, frequent bouts with obsessive anxiety, a failure to find and connect with other writers working in similar veins, and (perhaps most importantly) frequent visitations by the cackling demons of doubt. Indeed, the book would have languished forever if I hadn't forcefully expelled many of the negative restrictive aspects of my life and changed paradigms.

The result of this was The Mask of Tamrel, a near-200,000 word novel that was re-forged into two novels. I drew on none of my pre-existing writings, taking the characters of Kelrob and Jacobson and launching them on a completely fresh and re-envisioned adventure that shared many elements with the efforts of old. The tumultuous nature of my daily life became encompassed in their trials and tribulations: fresh friendships and soul bondings, sudden enemies and relocation, travel and loss (I had a succession of four cats die over the writing of the book). Overall I immersed myself in dozens of new writers and musicians, plunging deep into the primality of art. Lovecraft in particular disassembled and reconfigured my DNA, tantalizing me with his frequent integration of occult knowledge and interdimensionality. Michael Moorcock has also had a strong influence; I've read 15 of his books in the last year, hope to improve that number in the coming. The concept of truly high fantasy, fantasy that breathes the heady perfume of Faery, fantasy that trips dimensions and transcends levels of consciousness, guiding one through twisting phantasmogoric alleyways to the very steps of Chapel Perilous...!

Now, at the end of 2014, I look back on a year of strenuous work. The books have been written, the characters crafted. Much of the more frustrating labor came in the form of learning how to promote myself, a process I still engage with daily. The market, after all, is only partly a science; there have been mass fluctuations in the ebook trade in the last year, and these fluctuations seem likely to continue. My only surefire approach is to continue writing diligently. I'm hoping to crank out two new books in 2015, the third book in The Magistricide and a standalone vampire novel that emerged from the shadows roughly a week ago and has been strenuously demanding my attention. I find myself fascinated by the darker aspects of fantasy, and hope to plumb ever-deeper into the strange and arcane in future releases.

So here I am, on a cold night, November 20th 2014. The New Year promises and threatens. I'm not really a nonfiction writer by nature, but I've decided to try and record my ongoing self-publishing odyssey on this site. So far survival seems to depend on dealing with clashing high-and-lows: the joy at seeing one's work in print, the ongoing quest to find a receptive audience. I've been working to wield the resultant energies creatively.

                                                          Peace, y'all!

Friday, November 7, 2014

In the House of Madame Heretia to be released November 11th! (Also free giveaway of The Mask of Tamrel tomorrow, Nov. 8th)

My gods. November. It creeps up on one, squeezing from the pores and orifices of the universe, the long lost month between October and December. The season is of particular note in the Chihuahuan Desert, as the nights are chill but the days still temperate; all the plantlife from the previous year (much of it having sprung up in the last two months) is browning, the small purple and golden flowers turning to dried paper and pulsating about in the wind. I had originally intended for the second book in the Magistricide, In the House of Madame Heretia, to be published in late September, but there was clearly more work to do. October brought further uncertainty, further revision, and it wasn't until the early morning of October 31st that the final adjustments, twists, adornments, profanities, inflammations, and sacred lights were added. The result is a book that I am proud to have written. In it, Kelrob, Jacobson and Nuir experience massive transformation, up to and including death; temptation is plumbed, betrayal explored, hallowed blasphemies summoned (though the relative success of these summonings remains up to the individual reader). Ultimately the tale of Tamrel is brought to close. No, I never intended to release In the House of Madame Heretia in November, but it is a November book, quite literally in setting, but also energetically, a 'lost time' that must be trekked to reach the deep cold of Yule and the New Year's blossoming regeneration. I hope you will all join me in making the voyage.

Ceremony thus expended with, it gives me incredibly vast amounts of pleasure to announce the official release of In the House of Madame Heretia: Vol II of The Magistricide on November 11th, 2014! You can head over to Amazon at the link below and preorder the kindle version for $4.99:

Preorder In the House of Madame Heretia, officially available November 11th!

The book will also be available in physical form on the 11th, for those who still prefer the scent and texture of paper (must admit I am one of these). Once again thank you all for your continued support, please read and review!

PS: Also, there's a giveaway tomorrow (November 8th) of The Mask of Tamrel. You can get the book by clicking on the link below the banner. Enjoy!

Monday, September 15, 2014

In The House of Madame Heretia and Beyond

Greetings all! Been a good long while since I posted on here, so a few pertinent updates:

First off, the giveaway was a great success. Yet another huge thanks to everyone who downloaded The Mask of Tamrel and to everyone who helped me spread the word.

The second volume of The Magistricide, In the House of Madame Heretia, is an atom's-breadth from completion - just have to read through the proof copy and make some final niggling adjustments. Thanks to my editor Heather Shaw for her valiant work, including the cover art below:

The book will be out in early October; I'll let you all know when a specific date is set! As for when the third volume of The Magistricide can be expected, I'm taking a brief break from the series to write up a sword-n-sorcery novel that's been bopping around in my brain. The First Book of Kreegor deals with an aging, impotent warlord who has recently retired from a life of glory and fate. With his faithful talking steed Fire Hoof, he flees to an isolated island on an accursed continent, only to find fresh unwoven destinies awaiting him. Will be writing the book through the autumn; too early to project a release date. Kelrob and Jacobson's third adventure is simmering on the back burner, with an aimed release in late 2015.

 Onward, tally ho, and many other Medieval ejaculations beside,


Friday, July 11, 2014

Blissfully blinded by the loping of Pan
twister of the cankerous root and
evoker of too-steady loins -
Come up shrieking, angels and devils of light!
The path is illumined by the lasting spheres
of kindled vision and apotheosis -
The ores of hell flow in my tangled veins.
Who cares for the scorched wing
or the well-trimmed ego?
Burst forth both laughing and weeping
and the bedrock of Far Arden
will crack beneath your tread.

-To awake from the dream is to stride in glorious awareness through the landscape of waking nightmare. Sweet wakefulness, torment and progenitor! The eyes that never flutter will be perpetually speared on burning iron rods.-

Copyright Scott J. Couturier 2014

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Free Giveaway of The Mask of Tamrel - July 20th to July 24th!

Greetings all! It delights me to announce that, from July 20th to July 24th, the 'Mask of Tamrel' is going to be absolutely, utterly, 100% free on Kindle. If you know anyone who you think would enjoy a dark/epic fantasy romp, please let them know - also taking out a Booksy ad to spread the word.

A colossal thanks to everyone who has already read 'Tamrel' and provided their insights; the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Work on 'In the House of Madame Heretia' is nearing completion - currently on the final read-through/edit. Expect the second volume of The Magistricide in late September or early October, in correspondence with the flaming of the leaves and the crow's plutonian flight.

Peace with the exception of generative conflagration,

~Scott J. Couturier

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Judas Dangled

Judas dangled from his root
blood distending from his mouth
and pondered the complexities of fate -

Man dying for god and god dying for man
Immortal blood coursing in mortal veins
our every action is cursed -

The marble domes we erect for the dead
act as incubi for the coming birth -

The meaning is obscured because
The meaning must be obscured.

The final fundament of reality
cannot be preserved in a solution of formaldehyde.

The mind strays beyond the array of reality
and retrieves visions that manifest in waking life -

the base of sorcery
and poetry
and science
are one

The wand wiggles in desperate anticipation
of uncouth minds and froggish throats
to voice the crack in deception
until their gullets are ceremonially slit -

sacrifices to false order
garbed in glistening samite -

O you prophets and puppets
of old
come out from your vestibules
and twitch in the eternal dance
weave in my glands a song of stars
and transport flesh beyond flesh
to return with the flush of Faery.

Copyright Scott J. Couturier 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Mask of Tamrel: Dark Fantasy and Beyond

As reader responses to the Mask of Tamrel have been trickling in (thanks all who have read it and provided their insights and interpretations) one thing seems quite clear: it's readily classifiable as dark fantasy. Some people have been disturbed by aspects of the work, which is incredibly gratifying; the author is in many ways a humble beast, and any emotion or vision I can stir is a vast compliment. I can say this: Thevin in a bleak world, teetering on the verge of transformation or demise. Its people are controlled like petty chattel. Currents of destruction are gathering, disruptions in the spiraling order. This will be explored more in The House of Madame Heretia, the second book in the series; betrayals and alliances are made, and the darkness gathers. Kelrob's world continues to crumble so that it may be rebuilt. I will say no more.

I find the interplay between darkness and divinity to be a very generative inspiration. My reading veers towards horror to fantasy to science-fiction to magical realism and back around the bend; what we assimilate gets ground up inside of us, gets recombined and reinterpreted and retransmitted. The concepts for the Magistricide came to me in segments over years - the worldbuilding caught up with the conceptualizations, which themselves evolved as the framework of Thevin solidified. Kelrob and Jacobson, characters that I'd first developed at 13, suddenly had a long, arduous adventure ahead of them, in which much was broken down and either lost or remade. It got me to thinking about narratives of degeneration and regeneration, of which Tolkien was exceedingly fond; I remember reading the final lines of The Silmarillion for the first time and having to digest them (don't worry, no major spoilers):

"Here ends the SILMARILLION. If it has passed from the high and the beautiful to darkness and ruin, that was of old the fate of Arda Marred; and if any change shall come and the Marring be amended, Manwë and Varda may know; but they have not revealed it, and it is not declared in the dooms of Mandos."

The decline and stagnation of cultures, the loss of craft, the decent into degeneracy of a fair race are all classic fantastical tropes, and intrigue the human imagination.  We feel ourselves to come from fairer times and finer ages, aspire to reattain the wisdom lost in the Library of Alexandria and mourn the fate of the crumbling papyrus scrolls sealed in the ash of Vesuvius. We are bound on an evolution that encompasses the deepest and most 'primitive' of mystical wisdoms, and so we seek in the past what he strive to manifest in the future. This is where fantasy and science-fiction come into play: the fantasist wields symbols and speaks in riddles, constantly beckoning the reader forward into an unending mutation of possibility. Things are extrapolated, things are warped, things are bent out of all discernible shape and recombined into images simultaneously familiar and foreign. In the process, reality (if we may so favorably term waking consciousness) is also changed; the power of visions to impact everyday life is reflected in every object crafted, in every flight of fancy that transports us away from the harsh practicalities of life. We long for escape from the cage of the NOW, of the HERE, long to shed our flesh wholesale and inhabit other worlds and other people. And always, it seems, something lost must be regained, or defeated, or revered, or banished from the world forever. Decay and darkness allow light and hope, but always the promise of evolution implies eventual devolution - without monstrous gods and black magicians and spirits thirsting for human blood we would have no work for our heroes, who are certainly often hard put by. Overcoming Entropy is another recurring theme of fantasy, though constant Order is also often the villain. Good can become evil and evil good in a flash.

What does all this mean? It means a good book is a reality-transformer. It means we yearn for times lost and times to come. It means we are fascinated by the stirrings in the dark as well as the all-consuming wholesomeness of the light. The Mask of Tamrel is a dark book; I made it that way. It is also, I hope, shot through with light. Things are going to get bumpy in the next book, and bumpier still beyond that, but I'm delighted that I get to share the teeth-jarring ride with all those who are reading along. Kelrob and Jacobson have much more to do, as do I. Please join us on the journey.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Book Signing - June 7th at Horizon books from 4-6 PM!

Hey all! Made it to Traverse City...slight update on the book signing. Due to various logistical errors, the signing will be happening at Horizon books on June 7th from 4 to 6, NOT from 2 to 4. Also, the signing will be held in front of the store, as a structural pillar collapsed several days ago and parts of the building have been deemed unsound. Yay! Looking incredibly forward to seeing everyone there...wear a hard-hat if you have one.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Blankeanism concerto for Flageolet and Spinrel

I feel every bullet entering every body-
every shattered tine of heart bleeding beneath the soldier's tread

What is art? This variation
in the microscopic macroscopic
this vacillation of the lighthouse soul

The faeries in the garden titter and do not fret
for their time will come again and again.

The slender phallus of an arrow-shaft gliding through flesh and organ
the soldiers lie in untidy heaps
and the world weeps, and beats its breast,
but where is the scion of justice?
Where is the justly-won prize?
Rotting flesh yields to the hunger of flies
and the sky is darkened from east to west.

What cataclysm will end us?
Strange plagues awakened from arctic ice
or specially prepared by some winsome government
a gradual poisoning by nuclear waste
and flooding
a sudden act of self-destructive zeal
rockets arching like tender buds
to greet the sun of fusion?

O petty beautiful beings
these human chattel
rammed through meat-grinders
and soaked in angelic vision
the frail bread of Christ touches my lips
and I am made unholy

What is the beast and why do his horns number seven?

The steps leading to the temple of wisdom
are seven in number
the steps and stages
are quantified for the solidification
of a revelatory framework
We build our own conceptual stairways
to the gods

But is this too obvious?
Symbols fade in opiate smoke
and become the indistinct caricature of demons.
The wings of the angels intersect
with the brining-pits of hell
Hell is pickling
Hell is preservation
True base crawling wretched whimpering uncouth unsound Hell
Is the clinging to things long after they decay.

We lie with the corpse of ancient ideas
Mouth maggots, tongue the dead
and venerate embalmed mysteries.
The cocoon is ripe with corruption.
The squirming potential writhes and dies
to yield blessed fruit.

We are more than we seem.
More than we say.
More than we know.
More than we believe.
More than we conceive.
More than we fear.

We are legion. Lesion. The maggot imbues purification. The energy of the apocalypse is merely another tool. The wielding hand determines intent. 

Copyright Scott J. Couturier 2014

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Another Day, Another Tireless Investigation

Hey all!

have just concluded a long, informative day promoting the book. I've been sending out review requests to various online magazines - it seems there is a thriving culture based around the reviewing and sharing of ebooks, and while you risk negative reviews (many of the sites go out of the way to state their incredibly high standards, I suspect as a means of weeding out authors who are uncertain or embarrassed by their work) a review is a review, the necessary element to ACTUALLY selling your product. I was fortunate enough to stumble across Indie SF Reviews and The Indie Book review, both great resources for figuring out where to send your work for review. Here are the links:

Indie SF Reviewers

The Indie Book Reviewers List

Check them out if you happen to be an up-and-coming self-published author of any stripe. Also, today I made my first foray into goodreads, and am overwhelmed by the communities I've found there. There are entire groups dedicated to helping each other with promotion, places to post links to your book, and (most importantly) a sympathetic gathering of like-minded writers all bent on that most daunting of tasks: self-publishing your work and finding a means of making it both visible and profitable. I'm definitely a newb (not the greatest adapter to new internet mediums of social interaction) but I can tell I'll be spending a great deal of time over there. Check it out if you are an aspiring author, or if you just love books so much you can't stand it.

Next promotion is still pending: keep an eye here. Thanks and blessings on all!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Giveaways, Reviews, and A Tremendous Thank-You

Greetings all,

Just wanted to extend a huge thank-you to everyone involved in the May 18th giveaway. It was a great success, and I'm currently awed to think of my work being read on small electronic tablets around the globe. Thank you, friends, for radiating the word out to the remotest corners of this interconnected Earth! There's going to be another grander giveaway early next month: four days of free downloads and a Freebooksy ad. Once all the details are concretized I'll post them here and begin sounding the claxons!

Please, if you read the book and it delights (or confounds) you in any way, leave a review on Amazon. Tell the world what you think, the good and the bad. Create a discourse, ramble, praise, vent your spleen, whatever your inclination may be, but please review! I am willing to write books the rest of my life; if people are willing to read them all the better. Reviews = visibility in the howling echo-chamber that is Amazon.

One more time, thank you all. Keep an eye on this space for further updates and random pluckings from the Abyss.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Mask of Tamrel now available on Kindle - free giveaway on May 18th!

Greetings all,

After a few minor delays The Mask of Tamrel is now available on Kindle. Price of the book is currently $2.99, but there will be a free giveaway on May 18th (tell your friends, your enemies, your dog and cat)!

The Mask of Tamrel - Buy it now on Kindle or get it for free on May 18th!

An immense thanks to everyone who has ordered a hard copy from Amazon. I can now say, for the very first time in my life, that I have been paid for writing, and the feeling is unreal. Creating a work of art and presenting it to the wider human race is an act of intense trust, and many authors have kept their own work from entering circulation rather than risk the possibility of their efforts being either ignored or derided. Overcoming the fear of rejection and having an innate faith in your work (which very well could be mocked, dismissed, and/or ignored) are both key elements - so much great art has been either created for the drawer (many Soviet-era novels were written to be published in the future rather than the present, with the result that many great authors died before seeing their life's work recognized in any way) or is completely overlooked in the present only to have impact in the distant future. H.P. Lovecraft died in 1937 at the age of 46, impoverished and so stung by amalgamated rejection that he had ceased submitting his work for publication. Over seventy years later, his writing has manifested in our deepest subconscious (from which it sprang) and established a living mythology, to the extent that many people are in doubt as to whether the Necronomicon (or any of the other fiendish texts described by Lovecraft) actually exists.  We cannot know the true outcome of an act of creativity; gambling with monstrous success and monstrous failure is part of the game. What truly matters is that we manifest art regardless, allowing our expression to occur without the fear of judgement (which can neuter a work of art like nothing else).

So again, thank you all. A book is an interpretive object: everyone who reads it perceives a different thing, is differently stimulated or repelled by it. I hope that your personal experience of reading The Mask of Tamrel is fun and transportative (supposedly a made-up word, but I enjoy made-up words and would point out that all words were made-up before we had the wherewithal to to codify them in dictionaries). Kelrob and Jacobson are wonderful companions, and walking with them these last years has been infinitely rewarding to me. I have seen strange lands and visions, listened to many stories by many crackling firesides, and recorded it all to the best of my ability. Please come join me - but more importantly them - on the quest.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Mask of Tamrel - available today!

 The Mask of Tamrel emerges! Unfortunately there were a few kinks getting the ebook out (aren't there always a few kinks?) and it won't be available until Monday, but the print copy is now on sale at Amazon.

 The Mask of Tamrel - Available on Amazon!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Mask of Tamrel coming May 10th; Book signing at Horizon Books in Traverse City on June 7th

Greetings all! Just yesterday I completed my final run-through of The Mask of Tamrel, checking for any last-minute formatting errors and like. Everything is set and ready for the release...excessive thanks to my editor Heather Shaw, for her tireless work and the incredible map she drew up. Thevin is now real, and the adventure is set to begin. I'd also like to thank my friends who participated in the editing process; a word to all potential self-publishers. I can't stress enough how important it is for multiple people to read your text with an eye peeled for spelling and formatting errors. Every individual who read the book noted different errors, and their collective perception went into the final draft. Also included in the book are the first two chapters from the second novel in the Magistricide, In the House of Madame Heretia - currently working on the final draft, which will be seeing release in early September. The third book has been taking inchoate form in my head...in my first post on this site I referred to the series as a tetralogy, but it could very well blossom into a five-or-six book series, depending upon whence the narrative chooses to go. I stand by humbly prepared to journey with Kelrob and Jacobson into the depths of the abyss or to whatever paradisial height their quest may reach; you can join them by checking out The Mask of Tamrel, which will be simultaneously available on this site and on Amazon.com come May 10th.

On June 7th I'll be in my hometown of Traverse City MI signing copies of Mask at Horizon books from 2-4 PM. Looking forward to seeing plenty of old friends and a plethora of new faces. Please stop by for a copy of the book or simply to say 'hello!'

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Release date for the Mask of Tamrel - May 10th

Just finished reading the book proper from cover to cover, correction pen in hand. Text will go through the final modifications over the next three days, get sent off, and begin its migration into the collective consciousness! Thank you all for following me on this odyssey, the book now has a confirmed release date of May 10th. Keep an eye on this site and/or like Scott J. Couturier on Facebook for further updates.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Book Update and a Bowing to the Ancestors

 Greetings all!

Book is currently in the final processes of revision. Have some good friends reading and pointing out all the minor spelling-and-formatting problems, of which there are a fair amount. I've been reading about the tendency of self-published books to contain spelling errors and bad formatting, and want to make 'Tamrel' as flawless as possible. It's not just anal retentiveness - I understand completely how a bad typo can jettison you out of a book. When I was younger I read a huge chunk of the Dragonlance canon (no shame, Raistlin and Caramon were very formative characters for me). When Wizards of the Coast bought out TSR, suddenly all the new books were riddled with errors, at least a typo every five pages; this, combined with the fact that the world was becoming less and less interesting, led me out of my delightful crap-fantasy rut on to other frontiers. Hopefully the final version of Tamrel will be free of any error save what you think of the story, which is entirely up to you. I've done my best.

In short: if you're self-publishing be sure things are spelled right and arranged without formatting disruption. Trust me, your readers will appreciate it. To give you an idea of the errors you can expect there's a whole half-page sentence jump in my proof copy, some italics that got un-italicised, other breaks and jumps in the middle of sentences, and (taking the physical copy into consideration) pages printed too close to the spine for easy readability.

Over the last three years I've been delving into the unjustifiably dusty corners of genre fiction, and have found wealth beyond imagining. When I was younger I found it difficult, as many people do, to break through the lowest-common-denominator crust of art (though thankfully I did find Madeleine L'Engle and Ursula K. LeGuin, two very formative presences in my early psyche). Three years ago I started reading H.P. Lovecraft, and was completely devoured by The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. More exploration followed: Theodore Sturgeon with all his lovely twists and vagaries, Michael Moorcock the Indefatigable, whose multi-dimensional breadth continues to be a dazzling inspiration, the non-Dune work of Frank Herbert, which is vivid and often feverish, raw and achingly loving. There's a whole slew of folk I know theoretically, but not practically: I've been collecting books by Dunsany and Eddison and George MacDonald. Only two weeks ago I stumbled across the existence of James Branch Cabell, and am currently reading his 1929 novel Figures of Earth. Philip K. Dick rests on the bookshelf, beckoning and cackling with maniacal revelation. I have long worshiped at the altar of Tolkien, but feel that his particular expression of the fantastic became a little too iron-clad amongst his many followers and venerants. Delving into the pre-Tolkien vein, getting back to the seminal visions of the great lost fantasists has been a overwhelming experience, and I find my mind getting blown and expanded on a daily basis. For anyone out there who loves fantasy/science fiction, go spend some time with the great sages of the craft. They love you, and they have much to teach.

And now to end with a quote, from a letter by John Keats.

"I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.......This pursued through volumes would perhaps take us no further than this, that with a great poet the sense of Beauty overcomes every other consideration, or rather obliterates all consideration."

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

When I Was Born

When I was born I was
That the old gods were dead
That no mystery beat in the molecule
That the medium of space was clotted
           with formaldehyde

And I tried to believe
because their truths seemed singular
though their words were often fearful
and I sacrificed the gods at the cost of God
and sought to sunder the altar
           of my being.

The deaths were many
as were the births -
the placenta eternally sloughing
to yield some rough beast -

Bestial, base, reason's antithesis
is the reason for reason
and the dross is sacred
for it harbors the seed.

My slain gods rose singing
from the altar-stone
and I was cloaked in the blood
of their slaughter -

The primest fruit is rotten.

Hell and High Heaven
nurse their savage war.

Babylon swims in the tide
         of our semen
But the clay is crumbling fast.

Copyright Scott J. Couturier 2014

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Self-Publishing - Why?

When I was coming of age in the 90's I was constantly working at my craft. I wrote and wrote and read and read, all the while wondering exactly how I was supposed to make a living by stringing words together. The prospects were seemingly bleak - gone were the days of pulp magazines, when a 'genre' writer could make a modest half-living publishing short fiction while simultaneously honing their skills. I went to several publishing seminars in my teenage years, came away far more defeated than enlightened. The publishing industry, it seemed, had ossified - the old publishing houses were massive, bloated beasts, far more interested in cultivating their staid stable of authors than taking risks on up-and-coming writers. I found myself with an unquenchable desire to write and no apparent means of even attempting to make a living doing what I loved. So I did what every respectable wannabe writer does: I went to college. Eventually I earned a degree in Creative Writing and English Lit, but found myself no closer to actually publishing anything. In fact, the fruit had begun to wither on the vine, and for the first time since I was five years old I began conceptualizing a future for myself that did not involve writing.

I had many close friends that were aspiring writers. They spent massive amounts of effort learning how to navigate the industry, mastered the means of submission, and collected rejection letters by the score. What came to my ultimate attention was this: when you send out a manuscript it will be rejected. If you are incandescently lucky the rejection will include suggestions of modifications to the story, which, if made, might sway them to consider publishing your work. Then you enter into the indentured servitude of publishing: 5% royalties, little control over packaging and cover art, etc. To have a skill, a passion, a desire in this world that has no seeming outlet has the potentiality of driving you either insane or plunging you into crushing depression. I chose the latter course, but never stopped writing, even as I considered seeking out and finding some kind of respectable career. I couldn't stop. Woven into my genetic stratum is the need to tell stories. I worked on accepting this, even as I surrendered any thought of a book of mine seeing the light of day.

The fresh new millennium came in due course. I began working on the Magistricide in 2005. Kelrob and Jacobson came to me when I was thirteen, and I still have reams of old adventure stories starring the duo. I wanted them to have a true transformative narrative, wanted them to rattle around each other like dice in a cup. The story and worldbuilding went through numerous overarching changes - as I labored things became increasingly clear, and I read many formative works that are certainly not taught in college. I found Theodore Sturgeon, H.P. Lovecraft, and Tom Robbins, among many others. My perspective on what fantasy could achieve expanded beyond the classical post-Tolkienic norm, and I found myself writing in an entirely new and self-expressive mode. And still there seemed no outlet, no conclusion to the process that resulted in people reading my book and actually possibly paying me for it.

Enter self-publishing. It's still a new market, or at least new in its current digital incarnation. I became aware that many aspiring authors were finding ready, hungry readers via the eBook market, and that many of them were actually able to make a living through consistent output and promotion. I began investigating the possibilities, was shocked at what I found: the old, petrified, inflexible standards of the formal publishing industry were fading away, displaced by a new marketplace where absolute self-expression and artistic control were not only possible, but the norm. I started writing with renewed vigor and hope, daring to believe that there was actually a receptive platform for my efforts. The final version of The Mask of Tamrel reflects this newfound vigor: I was once again a creature with purpose, who had (for the first time in my life) a potential marketplace to engage with.

Now, the words have been written, refined, inscribed on tablets of metaphoric steel. I am a writer, have always been a writer, and hope to find a means of making a living doing the one thing I love above all else. Actually completing The Mask of Tamrel and putting it forth is the first step on my refurbished creative path: I have three other books in the wings not including the completing of the Magistricide. How successful the book will be, whether or not I've actually stumbled on a means of making money for performing my inherent function, has yet to be seen: it seems that self-publishing rewards industriousness, and that the author willing to put in the time and energy can actually find financial reward at the end of the long-flickering rainbow. I would strongly urge potential writers to consider self-publishing as not only a valid career path, but as a new paradigm which is quickly subsuming the old modes and restrictions of legacy publishing. eBooks have opened a bold new frontier which is strangely similar to the old pulp publications of the 30's-40's-50's-60's - they make up a sizable bulk of current bestsellers, and allow the author to actually receive the majority of their royalties. As for myself, I am only beginning to tread the path, but the actuality of my book being distributed, read, discussed, and enjoyed overwhelms me. I hope this is the beginning of a lifelong journey, one that I have been preparing for since I first comprehended the meaning of words.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Mask of Tamrel - The first in an epic fantasy tetralogy coming in March to reading tablets near you

'The Mask of Tamrel' is a story of a decadent country under constant siege from without. A vicious, speechless race known as Aks batter themselves against the magical barriers protecting the land of Thevin, and have done so for over two-thousand years. The Barrier is maintained by the Isdori, a multi-faceted order of magic-users (magisters) who wield rings of chromox, a luminous azure metal that allows the wearer to command the elements. Chromox is the key to magic, and the secrets of its forging are known to only one being - a god-in-flesh known as the Gyre Itself. Behind the Gyre's shielding magic two-thousand years of stagnation have produced a world of harsh class divides - rival city states and guild-lords stage opulent wars to settle their disputes, drawing their soldiers from the rural classes, or nithings, who live subsistence realities in sharp contrast to the civilized trappings of the city-states. Our heroes (if such they could be termed) are a young magister and outcast prodigy named Kelrob Kael-Pellin and a disillusioned ex-mercenary and drunkard named Jacobson. They meet in a ramshackle inn at the edge of the Umberwood, a dense forest where some vestiges of disorder still linger, and forge the first links of a friendship that will ultimately remake the whole of their world. A haunted mask that possesses unwilling hosts is the third player in the triumvirate - Tamrel, bard of old, sower of destruction and rebirth, whose songs drive men mad with freedom. 'The Mask of Tamrel' is the first in a series of books called The Magistricide, or The Killing of the Teacher. The second book, 'In the House of Madame Heretia,' is almost complete and should be following 'Mask' in about four months - so the path goes onward, and I tread it with joy. Look here for further updates and the official release date, coming soon!