Today is the release day for my second djinn novel, Master and Apprentice. And this is the internet. These things are seemingly unrelated, but I'm about to relate them.
Lots of folks (myself included) like to check out new-to-them books in a bookstore, so they can pick up a copy of a potential read, leaf through it, maybe read a few pages and decide whether or not to buy it. Sadly, you can't pick up the internet and leaf through it. So I'd like to present this simulated visit to a bookstore, and let you decide whether you're interested in this particular novel.
For the purposes of this simulation, you have decided to employ the infamous Page 69 Test. Yes, you have. Trust me on this.
You walk into a bookstore, and you see that cover there.
(You say to yourself, my, what an intriguing cover! That guy is hot! [or if your tastes run that way: that chick is hot! Or: that wolf is hot!] You pick up the book, and notice that while the cover itself has a nice, matte finish, the title square is nice and glossy. You spend several minutes running your thumb over the glossy title square, noticing the way your thumb slides across the surface and kind of skips off the edge onto the surrounding matte finish. This is fun. Several people are giving you strange looks.
You turn the book over and realize that the logline in the rectangle at the top of the back cover is also glossy, while the rest of the back cover is matte finish. You are amazed that you know what the term "matte finish" means, and wonder if perhaps you've been spending too much time reading book production blogs.
The book feels nice in your hands. A lovely mass market paperback -- not too thin, not too fat. Just right.)
While you're looking at the back cover, you read the blurb:
A DEADLY CULT. AN UNBREAKABLE CURSE. THE RULES ARE SIMPLE: LEARN TO KILL ... OR DIE.
Luck has never been on Gavyn Donatti's side. Anyone else with magic abilities inherited from a distant genie relative would have it made, but not Donatti, descendant of a cranky, shape-shifting genie named Ian. The prince of a murdered kingdom, consumed with revenge and driven by an unbreakable curse, Ian is determined to hunt down and destroy every last one of his enemies in the power-hungry snake clan-at any cost, including his life. Or Donatti's.
Obsessed by his own rage, Ian has never really taught Donatti how to use his abilities. So when a powerful cult of magic-users captures Ian's wife, the princess Akila, and then Ian himself, Donatti is left alone to take on dozens of half-djinn and their mysterious leader with designs on world domination.
Facing an impossible mission, Donatti is forced to turn to an enemy for help-one who claims to know how to unlock his true potential. Trusting a snake might be the last mistake Donatti ever makes-but if he doesn't learn to wield the power inside him, everyone will pay the ultimate price.
You think to yourself: Cults, royalty, magic, shifters ... well, I wouldn't kick this book out of bed for eating crackers. And then you think: what's that even mean, anyway? Who eats crackers in bed?)
Since you're intrigued by the blurb (you are intrigued, aren't you?) you decide that you should probably read a little to make sure the author has, in fact, grasped the English language. You open the book and read the first page:
They tell me flying is safer than driving. Every day, millions of people take to the skies and fail to crash and die. Maybe that's true when flying involves spending hours being delayed in an airport, eating bad airline food, and hoping the person who bought the seat next to yours has showered some time in the past week. Maybe it's safer being surrounded by an experienced, professional pilot and crew, a bunch of lifesaving devices, and decades of engineering precision.
But when flying means riding piggyback on an airborne djinn who isn't very good at it, and who might be cranky enough not to notice--or care--if you fall off and drop a thousand feet to your death, it's safer to swim in a pool full of hungry sharks. When I fly, nobody offers me peanuts or a watered-down drink. I don't even get a lousy seatbelt.
"Ian, we've been up here an hour," I shouted. "Where's this damned cave?"
"You said that the last three times I asked."
"Then stop asking, thief."
So that works for you. Finally, you thumb through the book to find Page 69:
Ian pointed down between his feet. "I can see the road."
"Oh." I glanced over and looked through the rust-edged hole in the passenger side floor at the dust gray asphalt rushing by. "Er...we should be fine. The floor's not important."
"Indeed." Ian slid back in the seat and tried to tuck his legs under him. It didn't work, so he settled for propping them on the dash. "I believe I would have preferred walking."
I decided not to let him bait me. The road dipped ahead, so I slowed to 20 and puttered down a steep incline that looked like it'd never end. "So, what's the plan now-hit the next town and find a mirror?"
Ian offered a weary nod. His eyes fluttered closed. "Wake me when we arrive."
Great. I thought about protesting. If I had to stay awake, he should too. But it made sense to let him rest. I still had some juice left, and if whoever was chasing us managed to catch up, we'd need everything we could get.
Toward the bottom of the incline, the blasted rock on the mountain side of the road gradually gave way to more trees. Twilight's shadow distorted them, made them a fairy tale woods that no self-respecting girl with a basket would be caught dead in. I flipped the headlights on against the gathering gloom, and wasn't surprised that only one lit up. The road leveled out a little, so I walked the protesting truck up to 40 and held it there. Much faster and it'd probably shake itself apart. I pitied whoever owned this wreck, and not just because I'd stolen it.
Something vibrated against my leg, and I finally realized it was my phone and not the truck. I fished it out. The thing must've taken a hit at some point, probably during my tumble down the tree. A crack split the screen and spiderwebbed in a corner. The display flashed on and off, but between flashes I made out the incoming number. Jazz. I thumbed the green button and said, "Don't worry."
Now you need to know what Jazz says, and why Donatti, who's supposed to be retired, has stolen a truck, and whether or not Donatti and Ian are about to hit a moose (here's a hint: yes, they are). So you bring the book to the front counter and purchase it.
While you walk out to the parking lot, you surreptitiously stroke the little glossy square on the cover a few times -- but you leave it in the bag, so no one thinks you're a weirdo.
Win a copy of Master of None, the first book in the djinn series. That way you won't have sequel-reading fear. Or, if you've already read Master of None, you can win a copy of Master and Apprentice.
I'm excited. Are you excited?
To enter, leave a comment and tell me if you'd want to read this book based on the Page 69 Test. Let me know if you'd want to win Master of None or Master and Apprentice, and don't forget your email address. My friend Random will choose a winner -- the contest is open through April 3, because that's my next official post day here on the League. So enter now, and tell your friends!