That's right. Blood, sweat, and eight tear-stained drafts of Beggar's Rebellion later, the book has been picked as a finalist in Mark Lawrence's Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off contest, likely the biggest and most prestigious contest for indie fantasy authors around.
Emphasis on biggest. To be a finalist means I'm one of just ten authors chosen from a pool of 300. Getting this far means that the good folks at Fantasy Book Critic chose my book as the top of the thirty entries they got to read, and I wasn't at all sure that was going to happen despite having confidence in my book. So this feels great.
Especially in a publishing world where there aren't many objective standards--terrible books top the charts, excellent books tank in sales, and lots of us in the middle wonder if we just haven't gotten our break yet... or if we aren't ready for it even if it did happen.
Well TBH I'm still not sure I'm ready. But this certainly feels like a break of some kind--the top ten finalists from previous years of the SPFBO have lead me to some great reads, and no matter what happens here I know finaling this year will steer more people toward Beggar's Rebellion. Which, prizes and publications and profits aside, has always been the point of this: not just to write, but to be read.
And knowing that's happening? I feel like I've already won.
What is magic? I mean, what is it?
I've been thinking about this question a lot lately, as newer books get deeper into the magic of the Resonant Saga, and I spend my few idle fruit-season moments reading classic fantasy (the Wheel of Time ). I mean yeah, magic is people throwing fireballs or disappearing or whatever, but what is it? Where does it come from in these worlds that otherwise have gravity and thermodynamics and our other laws of physics?
The answers in my favorite novels growing up never felt good enough-- "they forged these cool rings using magic," or "some people are born magical," or even "the world itself is magic." I would still be left wondering why. Why was everything else basically the same, but some people could fly?
So when this itch to write fantasy grew from an idle tickle on a two-month-long bike ride to a raging mosquito bite in grad school, I realized part of that itch was knowing I could finally answer that question, in my own books at least.
Um, I can hear you saying, I still don't know where magic comes from in your books. From winter plants?
Yes... but no. Plants that grow in winter have lots of uai, the magic calorie needed to fuel resonances. That's where their magic comes from.
Mkay... but what's uai then?
Uai is the winter-food version of the starches and sugars we digest in regular sun-foods. Think of it like magical calories, powering resonances instead of muscles.
Yeah, but where does that come from?
Uai is what winter plants make out of the star's light. If you've read book three, you'll know that in the south (where Ayugen is) in wintertime, there's not much sunlight and a whole lot of starlight (imagine winter in Antactica, but in a binary star system where the dimmer star shines instead of darkness). Winter plants don't grow much in Worldsmouth (along the equator), so it's no surprise that people there don't have much cultural understanding or experience with resonances--they've got nothing to eat to get uai. The Achuri and other southern peoples, on the other hand, basically live on the stuff half the year . Which is too bad for them, because it tastes bad and it means their internal voices are a lot stronger than in the north.
OK, so winter plants make magic calories out of the dimmer star's light. so... the star is magic?
[clears throat] And here we get into spoiler territory. Yes, the star is magic... sort of...
And I have to leave it at that! But suffice it to say that the dimmer star, a binary twin in the Resonant Saga world, is their ultimate source of magic. Just like other stars offer other powers in my two unpublished series, The Cursed and The Deluge Chronicles. And there are reasons those stars are magical...
But enough of this spoilerific stuff! I get a lot of questions on how exactly the magic works in my books, so hopefully this made it a little clearer: it's stars. Magic Stars.
Sounds like a cereal my parents wouldn't let me eat.
[This post originally sent as an email to my newsletter group. For more like it, and a free Resonant Saga novella only available to subscribers, click here]
 And no, not in preparation for the Amazon series. Excited as I am for that, you don't read a series as long as WoT in preparation for anything. You read it as a kind of life achievement. And because one of your favorite authors finished it, in my case.
 Even if it tastes awful--again, see book three.
We were stoked to see Mateusz's wonderful cover make the top shelf in Mark Lawrence's Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off (aka the biggest contest for indie fantasy authors)--it's a top notch illustration. But to have the actual book chosen as a semi-finalist?
We're over the moon.
And, being highly competitive sorts, also crossing fingers that we make it to the finalist stage--the SPFBO is where I've found some of my favorite indie fantasy in recent years, and this reading list of the finalists from previous years is well worth a look if you need a new read.
So it's an honor! And our reviewer at Fantasy Book Critic had very nice things to say about the book, which we'll unabashedly just agree with him are true.
More updates to come! And no matter what happens with Beggar's Rebellion, you should follow this year's contest because the winners are sure to be good reads.
You've reached the electronic home of author Levi Jacobs. Cleverly hidden in this site are stories I've written, news about things I've published, excerpts from my novels, and dark secrets about my other life as an itinerant fruit salesman. Enjoy!
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