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Get WANDER, the next Rucksack Universe adventure

Wander book cover - two black trees on a white background

Things are trucking along well for Wander. Over the past few weeks, I’ve set up ISBNs, done some other behind-the-scenes things, and am about to set up and start getting print copies (squee!). Are you ready for the next Rucksack Universe adventure?

Wander will be released in e-book and paperback on Oct. 19, 2018.

However… patrons can get Wander 2 weeks earlier, on Oct. 5. If you’d like to get Wander early and get other special access, stories, and more, head to my Patreon and become a patron today.

Become a patron

Pre-order the paperback

Reserve your signed & numbered paperback

Pre-order the e-book

Amazon Kindle

Kobo

Apple Books

Books2Read

Smashwords

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The key to Wander

Wander book cover - two black trees on a white backgroundYou would not believe some of the conversations that happen between editors and authors.

For a 264-page book, during the copy editing and proofing of Wander my editor and I went back and forth multiple times on about 250 words.

At question? The first couple of pages of the very first scene. I had edited it a fair bit, and he had also been working his editorial magic.

Now, though, we had realized something else. The text in question wasn’t just how the title character of Wander was being introduced. The text, said my editor, had to be just right—because it was the key to the entire book.

So we went back and forth. After, I believe, at least six iterations, we arrived at what we both considered just right. That passage is below.

Enjoy 🙂

Wander sat at the hostel’s computer. In the monitor’s reflection, dim and faint, as if staring out from another world, was a face that could be any face—male or female, young or old—with any shape, any skin shade, any hairstyle, anything whatsoever. The face of any traveler who has ever hit the road from any place that marked their first step. Wander had an anyoneness, an anywhereness that made Wander everyone in particular. An identity of all possibilities, as if the universe had split into infinite multiverses and anyone could set off on Wander’s journey.

Logging on, Wander wondered how many other people in the world had access to the internet but didn’t have a Facespace account. Or a Twitlinkpinstatoob+. Opening the daypack, Wander took out a small flip phone. A traveler on a nearby couch looked up from her bright-screened, too-big-for-the-hand Apsamgoo iGalixel and smirked.
“Trust me.” Wander’s not-too-high, not-too-low voice competed with the beeps and boops coming from the traveler’s phone. “Last thing I need is a data plan or unlimited messaging.”
The traveler shrugged. Instead of looking back at her phone, she stared at Wander. A wavy, wobbly silence passed between the two travelers. Wander could see the question forming in the traveler’s eyes. Are you a girl or a guy? A man or a woman?
Wander grinned and leaned forward, smoldering eyes narrow. “You’ll never know.”
The traveler’s gaze darted back down to her phone. Wander chuckled and returned to the computer.

Available worldwide Oct. 19, 2018

Patrons can get Wander Oct. 5

Become a Patron

Pre-order today

Signed & numbered paperbacks

E-book

Buy now from the Amazon Kindle Store

Buy now from Kobo

Get it on Apple Books

Wander on Books2Read

Buy from Smashwords

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The time and place of Wander

Wander book cover - two black trees on a white background

“Do you have a phone on you that I can use?” asked Wander. “Or maybe wifi?”

“Phones have cords and wires and are in buildings,” said Awen, “and I’m nobody’s wife.”

“Not wife. Wifi. Wireless. It’s for the internet.”

“Enter what net? Are you supposed to be fishing?”

“No… look, it’s 2018,” said Wander. “How could you not have seen a phone? I mean, yeah, mine is pretty antiquated, but it’s still a cell phone.”

“Two thousand eighteen?” said Awen. “That’s not the year. It’s AB 100.”

“One hundred? What the hell is A-B?”

– An excerpt from Wander

Part of the evolution of a story world is that you figure out a few things in advance, but mostly you learn as you go. Over the years as the world of the Rucksack Universe has expanded in my mind, I’ve figured out more of the past and the world’s status as we see it in the stories and off-screen.

A lot of the stories happen in what we would consider the past… but much of it isn’t our past. Wander is set in Ireland, but it’s not the Ireland we know. The Blast changed the course of the world. The Blast also happened in 1834. The other books you may have encountered so far take place in what for us would be the 1900s.

But here’s the thing. I knew that if I kept to the years we use, that would also bring in the history we know. If I set a book in, say, the 1930s, readers would likely automatically expect something about the Great Depression or World War II. The 1950s or 60s? Mad Men.

Meh.

Different world. Different history. Different stories.

So different years.

Just as we have different year counts for different eras (such as BC’s “Before Christ” or CE’s “Christian Era”), the world of the Rucksack Universe has AB—“After Blast.” 1835 in our world is year 0 AB in the world of my stories.

My hope in my stories is that we find new ways to look at the world and at each other. Tweaking time and place can help us get a new perspective. And in Wander, I’m doing that in ways beyond what I’ve done in any other Rucksack Universe story so far.

Wander comes out Oct. 19. You can become a patron and get it Oct. 5, reserve your signed and numbered paperback, or pre-order your e-book today.

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It’s here! The cover of Wander + pre-orders now available +

Wander book cover - two black trees on a white background

Yall’ve been so patient with me. It’s been two years since The Lotus and the Barley came out—the last book, it turns out, that I would write with a small child in a carrier on my back.

And… I’m tearing up. Ahem.

I now have a first-grader boy and a self-described “fixer girl.” But here we are… with, at long last, the cover for the next Rucksack Universe book, Wander.

I’m fortunate to work with a wonderful cover designer. She always does stellar work… but this one… wow, this really got me right in the soul, the heart, the feels.

There’s some story behind this cover, of course. I’ll be going into more of that behind-the-scenes dish over at my Patreon.

In the meantime…

Get Wander before the rest of the world

Wander comes out Oct. 19… but patrons can get e-books and signed, numbered copies of Wander on Oct. 5.

Become a patron today

Pre-order Wander today, get it Oct. 19

E-book pre-orders

The e-book edition of Wander is available for pre-order now, US$4.99. You won’t be charged until release day. On Oct. 19, the e-book will instantly download to your app or device so you can start reading right away! Pre-order at…

Amazon

Kobo

Apple Books

Smashwords

Paperback pre-orders

Reserve your limited edition signed and numbered trade paperback!

The first 100 copies of the trade paperback edition of Wander will be available signed and numbered, for $20 (includes the book and US shipping).

Closer to the release, I’ll confirm your reservation and we’ll make arrangements for payment and shipment. And remember, a signed and numbered edition of Wander is perfect for the holidays!

Reserve your copy now

(no upfront cost)

Need to catch up on the Rucksack Universe?

Don’t worry, Wander won’t spoiler any of the other four books, and none of them will spoiler Wander!

All titles available worldwide in e-book and trade paperback. Get caught up on the series now before Wander comes out Oct. 19:

The Martini of Destiny

Home Sweet Road

Forever the Road

The Lotus and the Barley

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Rucksack Universe update: Wander cover coming soon

In further exciting news, my cover designer had sent me mock-ups of what the Wander cover might look like. Chief Reader and I extensively reviewed and discussed the designs… and then I sent my designer the go-ahead.

Stay tuned: Soon you’ll be among the first to see the cover for Wander, the next Rucksack Universe book!

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Rucksack Universe update: Novel leads to short story

When your main character is ten thousand years old, sometimes one story can point you to another that you have to do up too.

While underway on drafting Wet, the seventh Rucksack Universe book, I had to veer onto a wee tangent for a bit. Wet deals with something from Rucksack’s past that comes to be a threat again, hundreds of years later. I loved thinking through the back story for all this, and as I was drafting the actual scenes, I kept thinking that the back story itself would make an interesting story.

So I decided to take some time to work up this story. It’s going to be called “The Forgotten City.” The draft is just about done, and soon I’ll be submitting it to short story markets. It’ll be a companion story for Wet as well.

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Rucksack Universe update: The Roving Fiddler

While at fiddle camp, I wasn’t working overall, but I continued to write every day. I also wanted to try out a slightly different project. I wanted to figure out a short story that might go with the fiddle camp, but also work in the Rucksack Universe.

So I figured out a story about Aisling, the Awen of Ireland, from when she was younger and wandering the world, determined not to be a prisoner of a destiny she’d been told. Aisling is musical, a fiddle virtuoso—so I started to figure out a story about her at a fiddle camp in Oregon, but where she also must confront something in her past.

I’m not happy with the ending yet, but otherwise the short story “The White Sign” is shaping up pretty well. And it’s leading to some other ideas for Aisling during her world-wandering, roving fiddler years…

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Announcing the release date for WANDER, the next Rucksack Universe novel

Wander - The next Rucksack Universe adventure awaits

The new can’t-miss Rucksack Universe prequel novel

Oct. 16, 1834

The explosion that comes to be known as The Blast burns across Ireland and England. The fires alter the course of history. A new era begins: “AB” or, “After Blast.”

Oct. 19, 1834

After failing at his most crucial moment, a burned and broken hero collapses into the void between living and dying, and is lost to the world he spent his life protecting.

Oct. 19, AB 100

A hundred years later, a wanderer falls between worlds. A wounded hero wakes. A guardian pursues a shadow covering all things in darkness. Their story is the story of Wander.

And on Fri., Oct. 19, 2018…

Wander will be released worldwide in e-book and trade paperback.

Follow the Black Road. A hostel in Morocco. The hills at the western edge of Ireland. The Irish Sea. A London rebuilding. The Black Cliffs of Dover at the southeastern edge of England. Wander will take you on an adventure like nothing you’ve encountered yet in the Rucksack Universe—or anywhere else.

This can’t-miss Rucksack Universe prequel novel sets in motion a speculative fiction series of myth, adventure, and intrigue. Library Journal says the series has “universe building reminiscent of Terry Pratchett,” and readers say they love the Rucksack Universe’s unique combination of “quirk, wit, travel, and magic.”

Wander
A Rucksack Universe Novel
Available worldwide Oct. 19 in e-book and trade paperback

Pre-orders and more details coming soon.

Get updates (and a free book)

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Rucksack Universe update: Wander nearly ready, new manuscript underway

Last week I did something I’m so excited to tell you about.

I signed off on the copy-edited manuscript of Wander.

Yup. That’s right. My copy editor and I had some final discussion about a few points, I made some last tweaks and polishes, then told him we were good to go.

What’s next? I’m giving the manuscript one final pass, then I’ll send Wander back to my editor for proofreading. He’ll make sure everything is spelled right/consistently, things are dotted and crossed the way they should be, line breaks and chapter breaks are good, all that sort of technical stuff.

Once I’ve processed his proofing, the manuscript will be locked. That means no changes (unless I find some wayward typo). No rewriting. No second-guessing.

No touch booky.

From there, Wander will go into publication mode, being prepped for e-book formats and paperback.

What does all this behind-the-scenes author/publisher geek-out stuff mean for you?

It means that I’ll shortly be telling you the release date for Wander.

Get ready!

P.S.: Over the weekend I also started drafting the next Rucksack Universe book, codenamed Wet. I’m a couple of scenes in so far. I’ll keep you posted.

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Sneak peek of Wander, the next Rucksack Universe book

Sneak peek of Wander, the next Rucksack Universe book


“How did you know it was my birthday?” asked Wander.

Sitting behind his desk at the front of the hostel, the elderly proprietor looked up from his computer and smiled. “Your passport,” he replied. “Twenty. A wonderful year. A time when many things may change.”

Wander smiled back. The past five years had been nothing but a time of change. Six months wandering South America, and another two years wandering Africa. Seven months in Ireland, a year in Russia. Indonesia in the morning, Australia at night. With no family or friends, birthdays had been just another day to check off the calendar. Now, at the southwestern coast of Morocco, the warm waters of the eastern Atlantic sent salt on the breeze, maybe a birthday could be something to look forward to after all.

Wander leaned forward. “So, what should I do on my birthday?”

“Ahh, now that is a good question.” The proprietor sat back in his chair. “Check your email and all those social thingies, then come back. I will tell you then.”

Logging on to the hostel’s computer, Wander wondered how many other people in the world had access to the internet but didn’t have a Facespace account. Or a Twitlinkpinstagramr+. Opening the daypack, Wander took out a small flip phone. A traveler on a couch looked up from their bright-screened, too-big-for-the-hand Apsamgoo iGalixel and smirked.

“Trust me,” said Wander over the beeps and boops coming from the traveler’s phone. “Last thing I need is a data plan or unlimited messaging.”

It had been a while since Wander had checked email—somewhere between Thailand and Morocco, but that time had been such a whirlwind Wander could hardly remember. Not that it mattered.

Zero messages.

Not that there was anyone who would be emailing. Or showing up for a surprise party. Or sending a card.

When your only friends were your backpack and the stretch of road currently under your feet, you learned not to make birthdays a big deal.

Still, that hadn’t been the only people. And for twenty, well, Wander couldn’t help but hope. There were people Wander had connected with over the years. Random wanderings together in a new city. Dormmates in a hostel room. The traveler in Galway, Ireland. When they met, Wander wondered what else could have happened between them. They’d exchanged info… that last touch of hand on hand had been so hard to let go… but now, on Wander’s birthday… nothing. Wander looked away. The screen must have been too bright. Of course that’s why Wander’s eyes eyes hurt all of a sudden.

There was always Paithoon in Chiang Mai too. Then again, thought Wander, maybe not hearing from Paithoon was a good thing.

With a sigh and a shrug, Wander logged off email, then the computer. Moving to the little table at the window of the hostel’s common room, Wander stared at the ocean. Blue rising. Whitecaps cresting, then falling. The dry air mingled with the sea spray, suffusing everything with the taste and scent of salt. The few days Wander had been here had been calm, refreshing—badly needed, especially after all that had happened in Thailand.

The memories stirred, the remembered dreams, the remembered past, hard won from five years of traveling and weeks of frustration and sleeplessness, trying to uncover Wander’s own forgotten history. Wander had been more than ready to move on. The southwestern coast of Morocco, staring out over the Atlantic, was as good as anywhere else, but those final moments in Chiang Mai still clung to Wander’s mind. A storm had come, a storm had passed, and now Wander was enjoying the calm. At least, it felt like the calm. But Wander knew a question cast a shadow even over the bright Moroccan morning: was the storm truly over, or was this the quiet eye—to be followed by more storm?

A tap on the shoulder made Wander turn.

The hostel proprietor smiled and held out a large envelope, bigger than a regular sheet of paper.

“What’s this?” asked Wander.

He shrugged and set it down. “Today’s mail,” he said as he went to answer the phone.

The side Wander saw was blank. Turning it over, there was no return address—not even a mailing address. Just “Wander,” written in a fine script with immaculate—and familiar—handwriting.

Wander opened the envelope and gasped.

The stiff, thick sheet inside was like Wander’s favorite painting, called “The Wanderer in the Fog.” In the painting, the figure held a walking stick, wore a black tailcoat, and stared out over mountains and valleys. This was similar, but different.

Running a fingertip over the surface of the art, the rough and smooth textures left no doubt that this was a painting. On a narrow outcropping sticking out from the edge of a rocky cliff, a figure stood before a sheer drop to a white-capped, gray-blue sea below. At the far edge of the sea, Wander could just make out a thin line, as if a new world lay just beyond. Despite the blue sky, shadow obscured the figure so much that Wander could not tell if it was a woman or a man. The black rock of the cliff didn’t look like it was in shadow though. It looked like it had been burned and charred. Below the cliff, a strange, shadowy light seemed to glow upward from somewhere unseen, somewhere down the cliff toward the sea. It enhanced an overarching conflict, as if the painting were caught between darkness and light. Calm seas had grown teeth, whipped into a growing frenzy as a storm blew in.

“The Wanderer” showed only one figure. And so did this painting—except in the foreground, at the left bottom corner.

Gloved in black leather, a left hand reached out toward the wanderer at the edge of the world.

Heart pounding, Wander turned the painting over and read:

No matter where you wander,

May you always find a

Happy Birthday

The Thai madwoman had signed her name. Wander smiled and let out a chuckle. It made no sense that the madwoman’s painting had gotten from Chiang Mai to this hostel in Morocco, but if anyone would have managed it, it would be her.

Beneath the message was a P.S.:

I dreamed recently, and at the last moment of the dream, this is what I saw. I don’t know how I knew it, and I don’t know where this is, but I knew this was you.

Wander stared at the calm seas outside the hostel’s window. The madwoman had to be wrong… but Wander knew better. Trembling a little, Wander tucked the painting back into the envelope.

“Happy birthday,” said the traveler sitting nearby, with a nod toward the card. “I couldn’t help but see.”

Wander shrugged. “I’m glad someone noticed.”

The sunlight coming through the window was warm, bright but soft. Wander had savored every moment so far, every bite of breakfast, every sensation, the touch of water on hands, the scent of tea. But the painting changed everything. A shadow hung over the sunny morning. Wander looked at the card again. A birthday could be a momentous day. A day where everything could change. A day where someone could make a decision that just might change everything.

Wander considered going back to the dorm room and putting the card in the big pack there, but decided against it. The card was a memento, a reminder of what the madwoman had helped Wander learn, there in Thailand, those lonely, hard weeks ago. The daypack always went with Wander—and so would the card.

Wander unzipped the daypack and put the card inside. By now, after all these years, the pack reminded Wander of a dog, though by now it was an old dog. It was the one thing Wander still had from then, from there, when as a teenager Wander had been left with nothing and so had left with nothing. Except for the backpack. The one constant in Wander’s life for the last five years.

With a sigh, Wander went back to the front desk. “So, what did you decide this traveler should do today?”

He smiled and leaned forward.

On a small piece of paper, he drew a map. He said nothing, only occasionally looked out the window, as if gauging something, checking something. Whenever he did, when he looked back the smile would be gone from his eyes, as if it had been taken by whatever he was looking for.

Or maybe he just wasn’t looking forward to cleaning up the puke in the upstairs bathroom.

Accepting the map with a thanks, Wander started to walk away.

“Wait,” said the proprietor. “What you got in the mail. Was it good news?”

Wander shrugged. “You tell me.” Reaching into the daypack, Wander handed him the painting.

He looked at it, saying nothing, staring and staring. He read the back. Then, at last, he looked at Wander.

“Well, this is interesting,” he said. “I indeed gave you one map, one option. But if you want, you could go here instead.”

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Hi.

Anthony St. Clair - Travel Fantasy Author / Craft Beer Writer / Business Copywriter

Author and copywriter Anthony St. Clair has specialized in online content since 2000, blogged since 2004 and is the author of the Rucksack Universe travel fantasy series.

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Rucksack Universe

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