New Music – March 7, 2017

Few things in this world keep me sane better than music. Here’s a few new tracks that have come out in the last couple of days that I’m excited about.

Girlpool

I loved Girlpool’s first LP, When The World Was Small. It’s spare and simple and perfect. They’ve got a full band on their forthcoming second LP, Powerplant, but if the first single is any indication, they haven’t lost that earnest, spare sound:

alt-J (∆)

alt-J’s debut album, An Awesome Wave, was singular in its scope and vision. It was like nothing else and I loved it. Their second album, This Is All Yours was…well, not as impressive. Which isn’t to say it was bad by any means. There were a couple of really great tracks, but as a whole the album wasn’t as consistent. It felt like there might have been a little too much studio meddling, now that the band had made a name for themselves. We’ll have to wait and see what their next album, Relaxer brings later this year. Here’s hoping this first single is an indication of the whole album:

Diet Cig

When Diet Cig’s first EP dropped in 2015, my son and I immediately fell in love with it. It’s so much like the jangly grunge pop I grew up with in the early 90’s that it made me feel young again. Alas, it was only fives songs! But now, after two years of patiently waiting, their first full length is only a month away. They already released “Tummy Ache” last month, and now here’s another track from what I suspect might well be one of my favorite albums of the year.

Restless Drive

There was this book in college. One of those thick, hardbound, coffee table books that you leave out so that people you don’t really know all that well can page through them while you’re in the toilet or something. I think it was called The Book of Birthdays. Or maybe The Secret Language of Birthdays. I can’t remember exactly, and when I searched for it just now, the covers look equally familiar to me, perhaps because they are so similar to each other. Whichever it was, it told you what sort of person you were based on what day of the year you were born. As far as I can remember, it didn’t take year into account, which for some reason made its accuracy even more dubious to my mind.

So this was back in college, and one of my roommate’s friends had the book. My friend Gabe’s birthday was called “the day of Quixotic dreams”. Man, we got a lot of laughs with that one, mostly because there actually was something sort of tragically romantic about Gabe. Mine was “the day of restless drive.” I claimed not to have any understanding what it was talking about.

And yet, here I am making a brand new blog expressly for the purpose of having something to write every day even when I have nothing to write. I don’t like “not writing.” It makes me anxious and irritable, which is especially problematic while parenting. But right now I have so many projects already out there—so many things that I’m waiting on—that to add one more writing project to the mix would be a terrible, and possibly ridiculous, idea.

And so…a blog.

I haven’t had a proper blog in years. I’m not sure what I’ll put on here, but as the name implies, I want this to be fairly focused. It’s a play on the main character’s name in my Empire of Storms trilogy, of course. But the intent is a curated collection of things that keep me from falling into that deep well of despair on a daily basis. It won’t necessarily be pretty, or uplifting, or even comprehensible to anyone other than me. It’s just a space to work things out in my mind, and the idea that someone might stumble across it tends to sharpen my intent.

So here. Some bleak hope for me:

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas

Bane and Shadow cover and pre-order links!

The second book in the Empire of Storms trilogy will be out February 28th, 2017. This is the follow-up to last year’s Hope and Red, set in a fracturing empire spread across savage seas, where two young people from different cultures find common purpose.

Here is the jacket copy:

Red is being trained as a cold-blooded assassin by the biomancers. As he becomes increasingly embroiled in palace politics, he learns that even life among the nobility can be deadly.

While terrorizing imperial ships as the pirate Dire Bane, Hope stumbles onto a biomancer plot of such horrifying scope that it makes even the massacre of her childhood village seem small in comparison.

With the biomancers tightening their grip of fear over the empire, Hope and Red struggle to fill their new roles and responsibilities, but the cost will be greater than any of them realize.

Guest post round-up

Well, Hope and Red is out in the world now! Here’s a round-up of guest posts I did on various blogs:

This is one of the reasons why I don’t have a true blog of my own. Because I’d have nothing to write when these came around.

HOPE AND RED Gets Starred Review from Publishers Weekly!

Here’s what they say:

YA author Skovron builds on his strengths in his first book for adults, diving deep into the lives of two, gruesomely orphaned children in an Earthsea-like island realm. The land is ruled by a degenerate imperium whose amoral face is the biomancers—part scientist and part sorcerer—who operate with utter impunity for ends of their own. Bleak Hope is the sole survivor of a village destroyed by a biomancer. She’s raised by the leader of a sect of warrior monks who give her all the skills she will need to wreak vengeance. Red, son of a chemical-addicted artist and a prostitute, hitches his star to Sadie the Goat, who mentors him into becoming the greatest thief in the stews of New Laven. When the adolescents emerge from their apprenticeships, they launch their adult voyages. Skovron’s eye for characterization and situations is exceptional, raising this from a fun ninja and pirate mash-up to a compelling coming-of-age yarn that genuinely merits a multivolume treatment.

I’m not sure I need to add anything to that 🙂

Hope and Red on the B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Hope and Red made the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of June 2016 on the Barnes and Noble SF&F Blog. Here’s what it says:

Skovron’s first foray into adult fiction is an unexpected ride into a richly-imagined fictional world. On an island realm ruled by amoral and self-interested Biomancers—men and women skilled in a powerful combination of magic and science—two children from vastly different backgrounds come of age. Bleak Hope survives the destruction of her village by a biomancer and is trained by a group of warrior priests for revenge. Red is the son of drug addicts and prostitutes, trained to be the greatest thief the world has ever known. That their fates are intertwined is a given, but Skovron’s briskly-paced story doesn’t skimp on the world-building—and thank goodness, because it’s quite a world.

Pre-order now!

Download the first two chapters of HOPE & RED for free!

That’s right! No email sign-up or weird DRM, just some sweet PDF, multi-platform goodness:

Now, of course, if you do sign up for my mailing list, you’ll have early access to chapters 3 and 4 as well (see what I did there?)

And if you enjoy these chapters, why not preorder from one of these fine retailers?

Hope and Red will be out NEXT MONTH! Weee!