The Doctor, Confederate, and the echoes of history

Well, the culture wars sure came home to roost this week, didn’t they? One step forward, one step back.

First, forward! The 13th Doctor — the time- and dimension-hopping, body-regenerating protagonist of Doctor Who — is going to be a woman, and it’s damn well about time. Pun intended. Women, of course, make up slightly half of the human race, after all, and I think it’s safe to say that Gallifreyan Time Lords (and Ladies!) are similarly proportional in gender, lest there be a shortage of little Time Lords/Ladies. So the fact that it took the 14th iteration of the Doctor (there was a War Doctor between #8 and #9) to get a woman is a statistical outlier, to say the least.

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Communications fail

No, I’m not talking about this blog, which hasn’t been updated in a good long while, sad to say. Between travel and work and getting MJ-12: Endgame off the ground — plus preparing for the launch of MJ-12: Shadows  in September — it’s been rather busy.

Plus, there have been distractions. I know I’m not the only writer grotesquely entranced by the insanity coming out of Washington, from TrumpCare to climate change denial to God-knows-what. But the train wreck that never ceases to amaze me is the utter lack of sensible communications from the White House.

In short — the font of self-inflicted damage is amazing. And so easily avoided, too.

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Back for now, off again soon

Yes, it’s been a week since I returned from the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop — during which time I turned 45, had a very full week of work, and then did up some Father’s Day fun. So there’s some catching up to do, for sure. Here we go.

Launch Pad was, in short, amazing. Mike Brotherton and Christian Ready assembled an amazing bunch of writers to head to the University of Wyoming and get a crash course on astronomy for a week. We learned everything from planetary science to cosmology, star formation to colliding galaxies. I came out with some great ideas around exoplanets that have been added to the (neverending and exponentially increasing) to-write list. Just an amazing week.

If you’re an established science fiction writer, I cannot recommend Launch Pad highly enough. Just be sure to hydrate and take it easy at altitude for the first few days. (I hit the gym Monday morning and spent the rest of the day with a massive headache. Learn from my errors.)

For those who haven’t yet read MJ-12: Inception, the good folks at Skyhorse Publishing — home to my imprint, Night Shade Books — are running a giveaway over on Goodreads. You have until Saturday to enter for your chance to win one of five free copies. Go forth and enter!

I’ll be in Los Angeles for work starting this Saturday and all through next week, so apologies in advance if I don’t keep up on the blogging. But definitely keep an eye out on Twitter, which has become my more immediate go-to for news and such. I imagine I might hit up a few bookstores here in New York, as well as in L.A., to sign the new MJ-12: Inception paperbacks, so definitely keep an eye out for that if you want one!

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Some news bits from Wyoming and beyond

I’m enjoying the heck out of the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop here in Laramie, Wyo. Seriously, it’s been amazing and educational and I’ve met some incredible writers on top of it all. Not to mention that I’ve been developing this really cool story idea all this week, which I probably shouldn’t tell you about quite yet. All in all, a very worthy and awesome program, and I’m grateful as heck to be here.

But while my head’s been in the (Magellanic) clouds, there’s been a few things that I should belatedly link to. So here you go.

First, I was a guest on the excellent Writer’s Digest Guide to Literary Agents blog, wherein I discussed the five things being a journalist taught me about writing fiction. For those new to the blog, I spent the first 15 years of my post-collegiate career as a journalist, most notably for The Associated Press in Albany, N.Y., Seattle and New York. (If you read carefully, you’ll probably find this blog follows the AP Stylebook very closely, because that stuff’s burned into my DNA at this point.) And while there’s a world of difference between journalism and fiction, I still rely on some of my journalism tools in my books. So if you’re game, check it out.

I also saw a neat little listicle out this week on The Portalist — “10 Space-tacular Books Like The Martian” — that featured The Daedalus Incident alongside books by H.G. Wells, Ray Bradbury, Kim Stanley Robinson and Greg Bear, among others. That is not at all shabby. And being here at Launch Pad this week, I can now say that I got the bulk of the hard SF science right in the Daedalus books, so I’m pretty proud of that.

Tonight we head up to the WIRO telescope, and tomorrow is our last full day here. I’ll probably do a post next week all about Launch Pad, but for now, suffice it to say that if you’re an science fiction writer, you really need to apply next year, because it is made of awesome.

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MJ-12: Inception out in paperback today!

Greetings from Wyoming! I’m about to embark on the second day of the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop here at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, and so far it’s been pretty incredible. But while we’re all busy here contemplating the vastness of the universe, I still have a book out today here on Earth, and I’m pretty stoked about it.

MJ-12: Inception hits shelves in mass-market paperback today, and I hope it’ll introduce the Cold War espionage adventures of the Variants to even more people. The paperback edition also has an excerpt from MJ-12: Shadows, out in September, tucked in the back. The ebook price at Amazon has dropped considerably with the new edition, and I expect other ebook vendors to follow suit soon, if they haven’t already.

I’m grateful to the folks at Night Shade Books for getting this one out there in mass-market. I know hardcover can be tough for some folks to swing, especially for a new series. We’ll also be issuing MJ-12: Shadows in mass-market right out of the gate, because when you think spy thrillers — superpowers or not — you tend to think paperback. And as much as the hardcover was super pretty and excellent, getting the books into readers’ hands is more important.

That said, I’m very grateful to all the folks who bought and read MJ-12: Inception in hardcover, and doubly so if you’ve taken the time to leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads or wherever. That stuff helps a lot, believe it or not. And if you haven’t left a review or rating yet, please consider doing so. It matters.

All right, then. Back to astronomy! Enjoy the paperback!

MJ-12: Inception  Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBoundBooks-A-Million Mysterious Galaxy

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Heading to Wyoming to gaze at the stars and learn a whole bunch

May was a particularly busy month, with trips to Pittsburgh for the Nebulas and Richmond, Va., for vacation — and, of course, work and writing and all that jazz. June is starting off on a very different note — I’m heading to the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop!

Getting accepted to the workshop was incredibly cool. It’s designed for established science fiction writers to get a crash-course in astronomy and space sciences, and our schedule looks amazing. We’ll be talking about planetary formation, various types of stars, galaxies, dark matter…you name it. And we’ll also be talking about how we might apply our newfound knowledge in stories.

Oh, and we get to go check out the Wyoming Infrared Observatory (WIRO), a 2.3 meter telescope, seen above. This is real-deal science, y’all. Not bad for an English and government major.

I’ve talked to past Launch Pad attendees, and they had nothing but excellent things to say about it. I’m honored to have been chosen to go, and I’ll be among quite a diverse and accomplished group of scribes. There will likely be beer at some point.

It remains an open question as to whether I’m going to blog much during the week, but you can bet I’ll be doing my thing on Twitter, so if you want to follow my antics, I’d try there first.

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Guest Post: Matthew W. Quinn on The Thing in the Woods, the Great Recession and economics

I met Matthew W. Quinn last year at DragonCon, where he attended one my panels on the various flavors of publishing: traditional, self, hybrid, wooden ink-block…you get the idea. Anyway, he has a book coming out, a nifty bit of teen horror called The Thing in the Woods, and it promises to be quite the page-turner.

James R. Tuck even has a warning on the cover: “Turn the lights on before you read this, it’s a scary one!” Have you met James? Really wonderful guy — also big and strapping and unlikely to scare easily. Ergo, that’s a heck of an endorsement.

But as it happens, The Thing in the Woods has roots in something real-world scary: the Great Recession, the craptastic economic collapse of 2008-2009. Here’s Matthew to tell us more about it:  Continue reading

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