Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The Staff of Serapis

The Staff of Serapis, a sixty-page crossover story featuring Annabeth Chase and Sadie Kane, is available starting Tuesday, April 8, in the back of the newly released US paperback edition of The Mark of Athena!

The story will be available in e-formats, with the cover above, on May 20. The e-format will also include the first sneak peek of The Blood of Olympus, and if you buy the version with the audio bundled in, you will get to hear me narrating.

Q. Why can't you release The Staff of Serapis as a single print book, rather than bundling it with Mark of Athena?

Because the story was written specifically to promote the paperback release of Mark of Athena. Also, printing and shipping a sixty-page story by itself would be prohibitively expensive. It would end up costing the same as the Mark of Athena paperback anyway, so you might as well get the whole bundle if you want it in print!

Q. Why do I have to buy the e-single of The Staff of Serapis to read the Blood of Olympus preview? 

The preview is included here first as an extra treat to thank you guys who bought The Staff of Serapis. The preview will be available for free, online, later in the summer.

Q. When is this story available in other countries?

I don't know! As always, I really only get information about the U.S. market. The story has been sold into most other markets, however, so you will see it eventually in one form or another. Ask your local bookseller, or the publisher in your country. They might have more information.

I hope you guys enjoy The Staff of Serapis!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Swim That Rock

You really need to read this.

On April 8, Swim That Rock comes out, a young adult book by John Rocco (who illustrates all my covers) and Jay Primiano. I got to read an advance copy of the novel some months ago. Honestly, I started reading it just as a favor to a friend. That lasted about a page. Then I was hooked and I devoured the manuscript just because I wanted to. The story is full of adventure, emotion, humor, great characters, heartbreaking dilemmas . . . well, pretty much anything you could want in a book.

Swim That Rock tells the story of fourteen-year-old Jake, whose dad was lost at sea, and whose family diner is on the verge of getting repossessed by loan sharks. Jake desperately needs to raise money to help his mom, but his options are slim. He can try to go 'quahogging,' hoping to bring in enough clams from Narragansett Bay to pay the bills, or he can join up with a shady mysterious character who has his own not-exactly-legal ways of making money, and who might know something about the death of Jake's father. That's the basic plot, but there is way more to the book. It's one of those you just *have* to read.

Be sure you pick up a copy on Tuesday, April 8. You won't regret it!

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Trip Through the MFA

Becky and I took a trip through the MFA Boston last night and ran into some old friends from Greek mythology. If you visit the museum, see if you can retrace my footsteps!

Odysseus and the gang escape from Polyphemus. Ya know, I would recommend being a little farther away before you start yelling insults at a Cyclops.

Automedon, the chariot driver for Achilles, tries to restrain Achilles' two immortal horses. The horses could tell the future, so they knew this would be their last ride. As a result, they weren't too happy about getting harnessed up. Pro tip, Automedon: if you're going to wrangle horses, put some clothes on.

Ceres appears before Jupiter and Juno, asking to borrow the big guy's lightning bolts so she can punish whoever kidnapped her daughter Proserpine. Jupiter has been working out. Dude has abs. Ceres seems to be having a bit of a wardrobe malfunction, but amazingly, Jupiter is managing not to look. Ceres is trying to maintain his attention by waving two flaming torches. I guess Jupiter is ADHD, like his kids.

Aurora, goddess of the dawn, triumphs over Nyx, the night goddess, who just wants a few more minutes of sleep under the covers. I hear you, Nyx. I hate cheerful morning goddesses, sprinkling rose petals in your face and singing and whatnot.

So here's Venus wearing very little, her son Cupid squatting at her feet. I'm not sure what Cupid is doing. I don't want to know. Notice in the background the swans pulling Venus's chariot. Everybody is looking at Cupid, like, "Seriously? You couldn't wait until we got home?"

The great musician Orpheus charms the animals with his music. Pretty sure Orpheus did not have hair like that. Also, violins were not invented in ancient Greece, yet there he is playing one. But that's okay, because he is singing to a camel and a llama, and that is EPIC.

King Agamemnon prepares to sacrifice his daughter, Iphigenia, to the goddess Artemis. Agamemnon angered Artemis by not giving her proper tributes. So naturally, that is his daughter's fault and she must die. Notice the executioner grabbing her arm and grinning like a psycho. Don't worry, though. In the end, the king sacrificed a deer rather than his daughter. Maybe he thought Artemis wouldn't notice the difference.

No way. Uh-uh. Nice try. This painting is supposed to be the goddess Minerva, but we all know that's actually Bacchus in drag. He was the god of cross-dressing, after all. And no, I'm not kidding about that.

This is a party invitation from 1755, inviting you to a boat race in London. According to the picture, Neptune himself will be the judge. See, he's dangling little gold medals over the water. I think this is an early example of what we call "false advertising." Good thing I got the StubHub guarantee.

Another party invitation from the 1700s, this invites you to a musical event. The pictures show the famous music contest between Apollo and the satyr Marsyas. Marysas was stupid to challenge the god, because Apollo skinned him alive after the contest. Me, I'm not sure I would accept an invitation to a musical event with these pictures on the tickets. I prefer not to be skinned alive after a night at the opera.

And finally, the sorceress Medea, looking very evil and scheming. Love the scowl. Love the knife. You can tell she's going to do something wicked and nasty and magical. We left this room very quickly. And yes, I know, DON'T BLINK!

So that was our night at the MFA. Crazy how much mythology we found, and this wasn't even the Ancient Greek section of the museum!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Two April Events

It's unusual that I do events in April, but there are two great 'dream teams' coming to my area, and I couldn't say no to joining them!


On April 6, I'll be joining Eoin Colfer, Jonathan Stroud and Ridley Pearson for "Mega-Awesome Adventures" sponsored by Wellesley Books. Check the link to buy tickets. Here's the lowdown from the bookstore's website:

Mark your calendars for April 6th as Wellesley Books presents best-selling young adult authors Eoin Colfer, Ridley Pearson, Jonathan Stroud and Rick Riordan in this exclusive Mega-Awesome Adventures author showcase! This event will be held at the Dana Hall School in their Waldo Auditorium (45 Dana Road, Wellesley)

This is a ticketed event. Tickets are now on sale. Tickets are $20 and include ONE book, pre-signed by the author of your choice, which must be selected at the time of ticket purchase from the following options: W.A.R.P: Reluctant Assassin (Colfer); Kingdom Keepers I: Disney After Dark (Pearson); Kingdom Keepers VII: The Insider (Pearson); Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase (Stroud); The Heroes of Olympus 1: The Lost Hero (Riordan); or The Heroes of Olympus 4: House of Hades (Riordan). The books will be available for pick-up at the event.

Please note:
Copies of each book are limited and available on a first come, first serve basis. Additional pre-signed copies by all of the authors can also be purchased the day of the event (while supplies last). Authors will not be personalizing any books purchased nor items attendees bring from home. Tickets can be purchased online (below), over the phone at (781) 431.1160, or in the store. For any additional questions, please contact Wellesley Books at (781) 431-1160.

On April 25, I'll be joining Brandon Mull, James Dashner, Jude Watson and Gordon Korman for an event in Stratham, New Hamsphire, sponsored by Scholastic Books and Water Street Books. This event is part of the Worlds Collide tour, which focused on Scholastic's multi-platform series, including The 39 Clues. Check the Scholastic site for more details.

Hope to see you at one of these awesome, mega-author events!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Rick's Recent Reads

 Especially when I'm busy writing, I find it's very important to read a lot! Below are some of my favorite recent finds:

King of Thorns, by Mark Lawrence

I think this is my favorite book in an excellent trilogy, because the odds are so severely against our anti-hero Jorg. The stakes are high and the plot twists are perfect. Having killed his uncle and secured a small kingdom in the mountains, young Jorg now faces a powerful, charismatic enemy – the Prince of Arrow – who seems destined to unite the Broken Empire. The action jumps back in forth in time, from the siege of Jorg’s capital to several years before, showing us how Jorg traveled the empire and gathered his resources to fight a seemingly impossible battle. We also see part of the story from the viewpoint of Katherine, the woman Jorg wants more than anyone, and the woman he is destined not to have. Though Jorg continues to be the most Machiavellian of protagonists, not hesitating to kill, maim or destroy if it serves his goals, we come to understand him more in this book, and it is impossible not to cheer for him. He is a refreshing, brutal wind, blowing away all the romantic trappings of high fantasy – chivalry, honor, good versus evil, and faith in a higher cause. Sometimes, when you see that white knight riding by with his armor gleaming and his smile flashing, you just want to pull him off his horse and punch him in the face for being too perfect. If you’ve ever had that feeling, Jorg is your man.

Emperor of Thorns, by Mark Lawrence.

A wonderful, surprising, and worthy ending to the Thorns trilogy. If you’ve followed Jorg Ancrath through the first two books, it shouldn’t shock you that Jorg does not give you the ending you might expect, but it’s an ending that makes perfect sense. As with the past two volumes, this book jumps around in time, from Jorg’s journey to the seat of the empire to vote for a new emperor, back to his earlier journeys through Hispania and Afrique in search of power and answers. Looming on the horizon is the Dead King, a mysterious force who has raised armies of the dead and bent powerful necromancers to his will. Eventually, Jorg will have to face both the Dead King and the other players in the internal struggle for the throne of the empire. How he manages this . . . well, let’s say he employs his typical Jorgian style and panache. There will be blood. It was hard to say goodbye to Jorg and his story, but I’m anxious to read Lawrence’s future books set in the Broken Empire. Highly recommended.

The Twelve, by Justin Cronin.

Cronin’s first book in this trilogy, The Passage, received a lot of buzz. The Twelve is the second. The trilogy tells the story of an engineered virus that creates a race of vampires – “Virals” – which almost wipe out humanity. The writing is strong, the characters are sympathetic, the post-apocalyptic world Cronin describes is terrifying and believable. The reader does have to have some patience, as Cronin tells the story in several parts that at first seem only loosely connected. Just when you are completely riveted in the story of the outbreak, he flashes forward seventy-nine years, where you have to learn to care about a whole new set of characters in an entirely different situation. If you can stick with it, though, the parts do create a satisfying coherent whole. I had a little trouble getting into the rhythm with The Passage, but found The Twelve a quick, compelling read, since I was now accustomed to Cronin’s narrative structure. I will certainly be anxious to see how he wraps up his trilogy in the third volume, due out later this year. If you like Stephen King’s The Stand, check out this series.

The Mortal Instruments: The City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare. 

Okay, so I’m far behind the curve on reading this, but I very much enjoyed my introduction to the world of nephilim, Shadowhunters and demons. Clare constructed a vivid, believable parallel world with great characters, punchy dialogue, and a winning mix of humor, pathos and action. I like her take on warlocks, vampires, and werewolves, and of course I’m a big fan or urban fantasy, where these fantastic elements mix into the regular gritty city life of New York. Clary Fray is a sympathetic protagonist, though I was equally drawn to the supporting cast. I especially like that the villains are believably three-dimensional. Even when you do not support them, you understand what motivates them. There is no easy black and white, good and evil dichotomy. I’ll be interested in seeing where the series goes from here, and what Clare does with her Victorian prequel series The Infernal Devices.

Half a King, by Joe Abercrombie. 

I’m a big fan of Abercrombie's stark gritty fantasy books for grown-ups. His fiction pulls no punches and takes no prisoners (unless those prisoners are later tortured and executed). So I was curious to see how he would approach the world of young adult fiction in Half a King. The answer: brilliantly. Abercrombie creates a fantasy world that is somewhat neo-Viking, set around the Shattered Sea (the Baltic and North Atlantic?) ages after the elves (21st Century man?) shattered god (Blew everything up?) and disappeared. Our protagonist, Yarvi the youngest son of the king of Gettland, was born with a deformed hand in a world that values only able-bodied warriors. He is prepared to spend his life in the Ministry, as a sort of combination priest/physician/royal advisor, but his plans are upended when his father and older brother are both killed in an ambush. Suddenly Yarvi must be king and avenge his family, but very few Gettlanders are prepared to have ‘half a king’ – a weakling with only one good hand. Without giving any spoilers, I can tell you that Yarvi will have to endure many hardships and many adventures before he can find his true destiny. As in all Abercrombie’s books, friends turn out to be enemies, enemies turn out to be friends; the line between good and evil is murky indeed; and nothing goes quite as we expect. Abercrombie also throws in his trademark dark humor and got me to laugh even during some grim scenes. With eye-popping plot twists and rollicking good action, Half a King is definitely a full adventure. I was lucky enough to read an advanced copy of the book. When it’s published in July, be sure to check it out!

The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch. 

Another great fantasy, this novel follows a talented rogue and conman, Locke Lamora, through his adventures in Camorr, a city loosely patterned after Venice, but set in a world where humans have built their society over the ruins of a much older race called the Eldren. Locke rises from an orphaned beggar to become one of the most wanted thieves in the city, and along the way makes some enemies in very high places – the Duke’s head of secret police, ‘the Spider,’ the capa of the city’s underworld (who doesn’t approve of targeting the city’s nobles) and a new player in town, the Gray King, who has his own deadly agenda, along with some unbeatable magic backup. Lynch’s world is so vivid and fully formed that the reader feels as if he’s been dropped into the crowded bazaar in an exotic city and left to find his way out. At first, this can be overwhelming. Everything is different: the days of the week, the gods, the geography, the slang. On top of this, Lynch jumps back and forth in time from Locke Lamora’s past to his present. I confess I got bogged down at the beginning and had to come back to this book several months later. But if you keep going, the payoff is well worth the effort. Give it a hundred pages, and you’ll be hooked. If you like intelligent funny dialogue, clever protagonists facing equally clever antagonists, and vivid original world building, Scott Lynch is your guy. When I got to the end, I immediately ordered the next two books in this series.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Staff of Serapis

As a Valentine's Day treat for my fans, I’m announcing a new short story, “The Staff of Serapis,” that will appear in the paperback of THE MARK OF ATHENA, publishing on April 8. In this adventure, Annabeth encounters more oddities in the subway than usual, including a two-headed monster and a younger blond girl who reminds her a little of herself. . . .

Yes, folks, this is the story you've asked for, in which Annabeth Chase teams up with Sadie Kane. Dang, it was fun to write the dialogue between those two! This story is a follow-up to "The Son of Sobek," in which Carter met Percy. Staff of Serapis is even longer, sixty pages, and I hope you like it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite!

"But what if I've already bought THE MARK OF ATHENA?" you ask. "Do I have to buy it again just to read this story?"

Well, the story will be released first in the paperback edition, since I wrote it specifically to promote the paperback's release, but fear not. Eventually there will be another way to get "The Staff of Serapis." Just as they did with "The Son of Sobek," Disney will be releasing "The Staff of Serapis" later on as an e-single and audio, read by yours truly. As soon as I have more information about the exact e-release date, I will let you know. As always, this information only applies to the US market, as that's the only country I get info for. I can't say if/when it will be available in other countries and other translations.

Now again, please be aware this is a SHORT STORY. In print, it runs a little over sixty pages, though it packs a lot of adventure into those pages. It's not a full novel, because I have been spending most of my time working on THE BLOOD OF OLYMPUS, and I know you don't want me taking more time away from that project than I absolutely have to! The e-single will be priced accordingly, and I hope you find the adventure worth it!

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Boston Globe Interview

If you missed it, here's a short interview with me that appeared in the Boston Globe.