Stories and Spilled Tea is coming Aug. 27!

cover1Very excited to announce my first foray into true self-publishing — the collection Stories and Spilled Teacoming August 27 and available for pre-order now for the Amazon Kindle. And here’s the cover, which isn’t bad for an amateur like myself.

(To be fair, my amazingly talented daughter, Anna, did the art. I just managed the layout. Barely.)

So what’s in it? Pretty much everything I’ve had published, along with a couple of new pieces. Here’s the breakdown of stories inside:

  • “Form” (new)
  • “Confessions of an Interplanetary Art Fraud” (from Unidentified Funny Objects 4)
  • “On a Kansas Plain” (from Cthulhu Fhtagn!)
  • “Mind Flight” (from Geeky Giving)
  • “Crisis of Faith” (from Paizo’s Pathfinder web fiction series)
  • “1-800-DEATH-RAY” (new)
  • The Gravity of the Affair (a previously published Daedalus novella)

In addition, I’ve written essays about how these stories came to be, the challenges in writing them, and some thoughts about the publishing business as well — basically, a little color around my career thus far as a fiction-slinger. I hope that fellow scribes find a little use in there, in addition to enjoying the stories.

As this is my first self-published work, I should probably caveat a few things. I think I managed the editing and layout well — it looks clean in the preview tools — but do let me know if I screw it up. Also, the cover was designed by yours truly, and I totally get that it’s probably not as slick as many others. If this does well, maybe I’ll hire someone to clean it up, especially if there’s demand for a print version.

And yes, this is only available on Kindle at the moment. That was a tough call, honestly. I firmly believe in competition and wanting to see Amazon challenged in…well, all of the areas where it operates. But this is very much an experiment for me, and like it or not, Amazon makes it incredibly easy to use their platform — and potentially lucrative if you stay in their sandbox. So for now, it’s a Kindle Select offering. Again, if there’s demand beyond that, I’m all ears.

So thanks, everyone, for helping me have a career that makes a collection like this possible. Go give it a pre-order if you like, and tell your friends!

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A much belated update on things

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A little glimpse of what I’ve been up to since I last blogged. Y’all know this castle if you’re a fellow geek.

Hello, there! It is I, your very lackluster blogger, emerging from the wilds of Los Angeles and elsewhere to finally post something. It has been way too long, my friends, for which I apologize. So here’s an update on various and sundry things I’ve been up to.

Current work in progress: I’ve mentioned a book I’ve tentatively titled Big Dark, and the work on that continues. Without giving too much away, Big Dark is a very character-focused, straight science-fiction story set roughly 400 years in our future, at the dawn of faster-than-light travel and exoplanet exploration. And with that said, it’s probably the most emotional work I’ve attempted.

That said? It’s been slow going. For one, the work is challenging. Like, good challenging. I haven’t felt this way about a piece of writing since I first wrote The Daedalus Incident. For another, I took on a developmental edit this spring that, while a great gig and a nice bit of coin, took me away from the book. And the day job is more intense here than it was in New York — not longer hours, per se, but more intensely creative. So that bandwidth is lessened to a degree.

But the work continues. Note that I’m not under contract for this, so it’s highly unlikely you’ll see it before 2021. I need to write it, the inestimable Sara Megibow needs to give her notes, and then we gotta submit it to publishers.

Story collection: My last post here was about a short story collection, and that’s gone well. The title has changed to Stories and Spilled Tea, for reasons you’ll see when I do the cover reveal later on this week. It’ll include all of my previously published shorter works, including The Gravity of the Affair, my Daedalus novella, as well as two unpublished stories. It’ll also include essays on how those stories came to be, the creative process behind them and some publishing tidbits — the “spilled tea” of the title.

So that’ll be available for pre-order on Amazon very soon — if it’s not there already — and will launch on Tuesday, August 27. And that’s just in time for…

DragonCon!: Yes, I’m heading back to Atlanta! DragonCon is the one convention I really try not to miss each year. It’s a lot of fun, full of great fans, and invariably I fall in with a great group of fellow scribes. Once again, I’ll be doing a bunch of stuff with the Alternate and Historical Fiction track, and I’m hoping I’ll be on some of the writing track stuff as well. I’ll post a full schedule as the event gets closer, of course. If you’re heading to DragonCon over Labor Day weekend, I hope I see you there!

Life and travel: In general, I’m doing all right. It’s been a year this month since I moved to Los Angeles, and I have to say, I’ve adapted pretty well. There’s a good crew of local writers and geeks here, and my new role as a creative director at work is both challenging and rewarding. The kid is doing super well in school and has spent the summer doing an internship and making bank with some face painting work.

I’ve also traveled. I did my first solo trip in like 20 years, spending two weeks in Scotland to basically decompress and write loch-side. It was a resounding success, and not only did I make serious headway on Big Dark, but also saw so much of a really beautiful country and met some great people there.

And in about three weeks, Anna and I will be off to Spain for a week, which was a much more spontaneous thing. Kate was invited to a two-week writing workshop in Ireland, which meant Anna and I would be on our own. Now, I could just go to work and let her watch TV and freebase junk food (since her internship will be over by then), but that seemed less than productive. So I got on Kayak to see about some cheap flights somewhere fun, like maybe back east or something. Then I saw an eye-popping deal for Spain and pulled the trigger on that.

So that’s what’s up. I promise some more involved and informative updates on all of the above soon!

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So I’m thinking of doing a story collection and I want your thoughts. Yes, you!

As I’ve mentioned on the blog here before, I won’t have a new novel out in 2019. I’m working on one now, in point of fact, and the more it challenges me and kicks my ass, the more I love this book. But I’ll be lucky to have it written by summer. So 2019 is likely right out.

That said, I’m used to having a new something out in the world each year, even as I recognize just how privileged I am to even be able to say that. Six novels, one per year, since 2013 represents an immense amount of good fortune. But yes, I’ll really miss having new work out there.

Or will I?

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A belated welcome to 2019

I would love to sit here and say that I’ll be a better blogger in 2019, offering up far more interesting posts than last year. But I think we both know, reader, that this may not be the case. Regardless,  I do intend to at least try, and I’ll start with a bit of a roundup of what happened in 2018, and where things are presently.

Last year was pretty eventful, which is one reason I didn’t blog as much. As regular blog followers may remember, I took on a new role at work (yes, there’s a day job!). I’m now the marketing creative lead for my company’s biggest client segment, with annual sales measured in billions. In perfect honesty, I was rather content being a mere writer, but I can say that, after nine months in the job, I’m actually pretty good at it. Who knew? (My boss knew, of course. Or at least had an inkling.)

And in connection with that, we picked up and moved from New Jersey to Los Angeles. Just as the job has gone better than expected, I’ve found L.A. to be more amenable than I had thought it might be. It’s January and I’m typing this outside on a cool but lovely day, parked at one of my two go-to coffee shops in the area. My daughter is doing well at her new school, ninth-grade dramas notwithstanding, and Kate is absolutely loving it.

OK, so what about the writing? I mean, I figure that’s probably why y’all read this blog, what with the books and all. MJ-12: Endgame came out in September, thus wrapping up the MAJESTIC-12 trilogy. It received some great reviews and sold as well as trilogy third books can reasonably expect. I’m proud of the book and the series, and I hope folks enjoyed how things wrapped up.

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It’s Worldbuilders time! Bid on a critique (by me) on 25,000 words of your fictiony goodness.

It’s truly one of the best benefits of being a published author to be able to do stuff like this. Once again, I’m offering up a critique for auction to benefit Worldbuilders, one of the best charities around – and not just because it was founded by Pat Rothfuss and brings together so many great geeks. Though that helps.

For the fourth year running, I’m offering up a critique for bid, up to 25,000 words of your fiction. I’ll give it a good read and opine on everything I think might be useful, from the usual character/setting/plot stuff to word choice, voice, whatever jumps out at me. And I’m quite willing to entertain follow-up questions and generally make sure you get your money’s work. Because charity! Click here for my handy auction page. You have until Dec. 6 to bid.

For those of you who don’t know, the Worldbuilders campaign benefits Heifer International, an amazing charity that helps people become sustainable farmers all over the world. It answers a basic yet critical human need, and I’m incredibly fortunate to be able to help out.

If memory serves, my biggest single auction drew in about $450. Surely we can do better this year, right? RIGHT?

So if you’re in the market for some writing advice from a six-time published novelist (i.e., me), please consider putting in a bid. And if you’re not, well, go ahead and spread the word! Check out Worldbuilders’ other auctions, as well as the lottery and the store. Get signed books, swag, swords, jewelry, gaming dice, you name it.

All this stuff makes for great holiday gifts, by the way. (For real – one of my critiques was given as a gift to a teen writer who, as it happened, had some chops.) So get to clicking!

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What I did on my writing retreat, plus some new interviews

Arizona is hot. Like, it’s completely and utterly hot and unholy and I have no idea how people live there without spontaneously combusting on a regular basis. That said? The desert is beautiful and the nights are great, so I get it. To a point. So while I wouldn’t live there, I was happy to go to Scottsdale last weekend for a writing retreat sponsored by my agency, KT Literary.

And some writing got done! Not a lot, but I’ve been busy wrapping my head around a major change I needed to make on a project currently underway, and I cracked the case earlier this month on flights to and from DragonCon, then spent most of September getting the outline in order. (Y’all know how I like my outlines.) So while I was in Scottsdale, I managed to get this new version underway, and while I’m just getting warmed up, it’s already a better book than what I had going previously.

Of course, I was sick as a dog for much of the trip, having come down with a horrible cold/flu bug the night before I drove out there from L.A. So, strictly speaking, I wasn’t as productive as I’d hoped I’d be. But it’s a start, and I can build on that. Plus, I got some excellent one-on-one time with super-agent Sara Megibow, and quality socializing with my fellow KT Literary authors, who are a fine bunch you should be reading on the regular.

I also did a podcast while there! Michael Haspil, author of Graveyard Shift, also has a nifty storytelling podcast called Quantum Froth Dispatches, and he interviewed a number of us while we were hiding inside from the deathly rays and rageful heat of the day-star. You can listen in right here, if you like, or check it out on YouTube or Spotify. (Mike is still working to get the podcast up on iTunes, so hang tight there.) We had a great chat, so check it out and please buy his book while you’re at it.

Speaking of interviews, I’ve been remiss in blogging about this great interview I did with Michael Cook of Thoroughly Modern Reviewer. (There are a lot of Michaels in this blog post. Go figure.) Mr. Cook and I went deep on MJ-12: Endgame and the entire MAJESTIC-12 series, and he had some excellent questions. Fair warning: There are spoilers in there, so forewarned is forearmed. But do give it a read – Michael really did a spiffy job there.

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Review roundup: MJ-12: Endgame does not suck!

Any time I put out a new book, I’m a little hesitant to learn what people think of it, especially reviewers for whom I have a lot of respect. So it’s nice to know that the reviews on MJ-12: Endgame are pretty darn solid.

Note: Some of these reviews contain mild spoilers. Just saying.

Paul Weimer over at Skiffy & Fanty:

Fortunately, as in the vast majority of the first two novels, it is what is going on this side of the Vortex, the lives and problems and challenges of the Variants, and the exploration and investigation of the Cold War and its consequences and hidden facets, that make this story, this novel, this series sing. I come away from this series, which ends here, educated, entertained and enthused for what the pen of the author will bring next.

To be fair, Paul wasn’t super enthused about how the origins of the vortex and the Variants’ powers played out, and you know what? That’s perfectly awesome. Heck, he makes some great points. The fact that he’s looking forward to the next work is very much an honor, exactly because Paul’s discerning and is probably one of the most knowledgeable and widely-read reviewers in the genre today.

Here’s Michael Cook at Thoroughly Modern Reviewer:

Martinez has a gift for these kinds of stories. He has a gift for creating diverse, fully formed characters with captivating backstories. He has a gift for building compelling universes that readers want to spend time in. And he has a gift for crafting interesting, well-paced narratives. His stories are able to appeal to a number of people. This is a spy novel, a superhero novel, an action/adventure novel, and a political drama. He writes for such a broad audience and the characters are so varied and diverse that it’s easy for a reader to find someone in the story they can identify with. MJ-12: Endgame is just a really good time and a really good way to end this series.

I really can’t add anything to that one other than some blushing. Thanks, Michael.

And finally, fellow scribe Luther M. Siler:

My only complaint?  I want more, and while Martinez doesn’t exactly tie the universe up with a bow on it the ending makes it clear that while there is definitely space for future books in this universe they will take place in an entirely different status quo.  That said, this series is radically different in tone and genre from the Daedalus series, Mike’s previous trilogy, and I genuinely can’t wait to see what he’s got coming next. All available stars; would read again; you should go read now.

Again, nothing much more to add there except my thanks.

Finally, if you or someone you know has read Endgame, or any of my books, I’d deeply appreciate you taking a moment to put your reviews up on Amazon and Goodreads. Those reviews matter. They generate pageviews and put the books in front of more eyeballs, and make more clicks happen, and those clicks can turn into sales now and then. So yeah, you really can help your favorite writers make some bank, and whether it’s my work or someone else’s, please go forth and review!

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