Category Archives: Travel

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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I’m heading to DragonCon! Here’s where I’ll be this weekend.

I skipped DragonCon last year, but I’m really happy to be heading back to Atlanta this week to bask in the assembled geekery. This’ll be my fourth DragonCon in five years, and it remains one of my all-time favorites.

I’ll be flying in tomorrow, and have the following events on my schedule:

  • Friday, 5 p.m. – signing at The Missing Volume. Booth 1201, Americasmart building 2. Still not sure if they’ll have MJ-12: Endgame on hand since it technically doesn’t come out until Tuesday, but they’ll have the rest of my work on hand, and I can get my hands on some copies beforehand, I’ll bring Endgame as well.
  • Friday, 8:30 p.m. – Panel: Ahoy, Mateys! Pirates in Popular Culture. Sheraton, Athens room. Just like it says on the tin. We’ll be talking about all kinds of scurrilous scalawags, from Treasure Island to Treasure Planet. 
  • Saturday, 5:30 p.m. – Panel: Practical Time Travel for the Storyteller. Sheraton, Athens room. Is time travel theoretically possible? Depends who you ask. Does it make for great stories? Absolutely. We’ll be talking about all kinds of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff and how stories make good — and occasionally bad — use of it.
  • Sunday, 4 p.m. – Panel: Oops, I Sold My Novel. Now What? Hyatt, Embassy CD room. Getting your first book deal is absolutely amazing. But it’s just the beginning. We’ll be talking about how to make that debut as successful as possible, and what could happen after that.
  • Sunday, 7 p.m. – Panel: The Secret History of Spies. Sheraton, Athens room. Gee, who could’ve thought of this panel? Yes, we’re talking spies throughout history, from Sun Tzu to modern day, and how they’ve affected spy fiction — and vice versa!
  • Monday, 11:30 a.m. – Panel: Winding Down the Clock: A Time Travel Story Hour. Sheraton, Athens room. Now, this is gonna be intriguing. Your panel of authors — tired, drained, possibly hung over — will be spinning a few steampunk yarns, and then we’ll wind down the convention altogether by swapping war stories.

That’s a nice full weekend, and I’m super grateful to Doctor Q and the Alternate History Track for continuing to embrace authors the way they do — and the Writing Track as well for thinking of me.

I’m sure I’ll be out and about doing other things during the weekend, and if I show up somewhere, I’ll probably post to Twitter, so be sure to follow me there. (Twitter also feeds to my author page on Facebook, so that’s just as good if you don’t tweet.) And I may be bringing some books to give away, so keep your eyes peeled on social media.

See you in Atlanta!

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Oh, hey. I’m moving to Los Angeles.

Yep, that’s a real thing right there. And you wonder why I’ve been slacking on the blog front this year. That’s a big reason why.

In about three weeks, I will be setting up house in Los Angeles, home of the Rams, movie stars, beach hipsters and some of the best and most creative cuisine around. (Yeah, that’s a real thing, too. Eating in L.A. is an absolute delight. Hugely underrated as a restaurant city.) I’m trading New Jersey for California, and it’s pretty exciting.

Why the move? Well, as some of you know, I do indeed have a day job, and the company is actually based in downtown Los Angeles. This year, they saw fit to promote me from senior writer to creative lead. That means I manage the creative aspects of our marketing efforts for a segment of our business. That segment is worth…well, a lot. I mean, it’s measured in billions of dollars in annual sales. And I’m leading a creative team tasked with figuring out what’s going to really work with that segment.

No pressure. None at all. 

Actually, I like the gig a lot. I’ve been in the role since March (another reason for the lack of blogging lately) and I’m rather pleased at how it’s going. We’ve had some wins. The team is coming together nicely. And when I’m finally out there with the rest of them — being just one of two people working out of our New York office presently — I think it’ll help even more.

The move is something we’ve been considering for years now, and between the new role and our daughter heading to high school in the fall, the timing was right. I’m proud to say that the kid got accepted to an exceptional high school arts program that’s going to give her opportunities I could only dream of growing up in Vermont. Plus, winter will become something that we now simply visit, rather than endure. I have friends and colleagues who will go skiing in the morning up in the mountains, and then end up on the beach in Santa Monica for dinner. This seems rather delightful and civilized.

What does this all mean for the writing career? In terms of my current work — nothing. MJ-12: Endgame is still coming out in September, and I’m still heading to DragonCon in Atlanta over Labor Day weekend to celebrate. Believe me, spending several days geeking out, meeting fans and reconnecting with my fellow scribes is gonna be heavenly after this move is over and done with.

As for the future? I have an anthology project out on submission right now with another author, someone for whom I have a deep and abiding respect and who’s just a lovely person all around. If that sells, then that’s the big next thing and I’ll be sure to tell you about it. I also have two different novel projects now in advanced stages of development and drafting, but I readily admit to not having worked much on either in recent weeks. At the moment, I feel it’s likely that, for the first time since my debut in 2013, next year will not see a novel from me.

And that’s OK! I’ve had more success as a novelist than I expected thus far, and I will continue to tilt at that windmill for the foreseeable future; I’m half Spanish, after all. The various projects I have going are all very different from both the Daedalus and MAJESTIC-12 books, and that’s a very good thing. Taking some time to get the next thing right is perfectly acceptable. And even without a book out in 2019, I do plan to try to hit a few more conventions next year. The Nebulas, for example, are right in Los Angeles next year, which is terribly convenient. I’d be remiss if I didn’t go.

In terms of the city itself, I know what I’m getting into. I’ve been at my company since late 2007, and I’ve visited L.A. at least thirty times over the past decade. I’ve explored the city and I know the neighborhoods pretty well at this point. And because I’ve worked there for as long as I have, I’m fortunate enough to have a network of friends already in place, which makes things a lot easier. I wouldn’t be moving if I didn’t have a generally high opinion of the place, heat and earthquakes notwithstanding.

I’ll miss the Northeast. Not Jersey, in particular, though I will miss my Jersey friends. But I’m a Vermont boy at heart, and I have family and friends in upstate New York and Vermont whom I’ll miss, though there will undoubtedly be visits. This really isn’t good-bye to the Northeast, but more of a see-you-later thing.

So there you go. By the end of July, I’ll be firmly entrenched in Los Angeles and probably writing poolside. (Our new apartment complex does indeed have a pool — three, in fact. I mean, why live in L.A. and not have ready access to a swimming pool? Seems barbaric not to.) I’ll do my best to blog more once I’m there, but over the next three weeks, things may get slightly crazed as we head west. If you’d like to keep track, I’d suggest Twitter or my author page on Facebook, as I’ll likely update those a bit more regularly.

See you in L.A.!

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Hello from World Fantasy 2017 in San Antonio!

A nice big Lone Star howdy to everyone at the World Fantasy Convention 2017 here in San Antonio! Got in yesterday, and have been playing tourist for much of today. But I have some things coming up that I want to get out there, so here goes:

  • I will be at the mass autograph session tonight at 8 p.m. in the Fiesta Paviliion here at the Wyndham Riverwalk. I know the good folks at Night Shade Books sent over a bunch of paperback copies of MJ-12: Inception to put in the swag bags, so I’ll happily sign them there.
  • Tomorrow at 8 p.m. in  Executive Salon 3 on the third floor, I’ll be doing a reading, most likely from MJ-12: ShadowsI also have a couple extra copies to give away for those attending.

Also worth noting: Larry Smith Booksellers now has signed paperbacks of all my books. They have the entire Daedalus trilogy as well as MJ-12: Inception and MJ-12: Shadows. So if you’ve not gotten a copy in your swag bag and miss out on freebies, please go visit them and pick ’em up. Larry himself is no longer with us, having passed away in January, but his legacy lives on in one of the finest booksellers on the conventions circuit. Please support this excellent seller!

Finally, I’m pleased as punch to report that the Night Shade Books Bundle over at Humble Bundle is doing really well — more than 3,000 bundles sold since Wednesday afternoon, roughly 48 hours. This is amazing and, dare I say it, humbling. The Daedalus Incident is one of the books available in the bundles, and the proceeds to go charity, so if you want a whole heap of great books, go check it out.

And if you’re at World Fantasy and have picked up a Humble Bundle, come find me at one of the events above and show me the receipts, so to speak. I have something special for the first person to do so. First come, first served.

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Heading to World Fantasy next month? Me too!

*comes up for air*

Yeah, it’s been busy, hence the dearth of blog goodness. Sorry about that. But I wanted to quickly note that I’m going to be at the World Fantasy Convention in San Antonio next month, and if you’re of a bookish and possibly traveling sort of person, you should totally check it out.

The convention takes place Nov. 2-5 at the Wyndham Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio. I’ll definitely be at the autograph session on Friday, Nov. 3 at 8 p.m., and I’ll be doing a reading of my own on Saturday, Nov. 4, also at 8 p.m. I’ll also be hanging out, checking in on other panels and readings and such, and most definitely finding good tacos and barbecue.

I’m told that Night Shade Books is sending some free copies of MJ-12: Inception to populate swag bags for convention attendees, and it’s highly likely I’ll be packing a few copies of MJ-12: Shadows to do a giveaway while there. Because free books are always good.

Hope to see you there!

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I’ll be at the SFWA Mass Autograph Signing in Pittsburgh this Friday

I’m heading to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Nebula Conference this weekend in Pittsburgh, and if you’re in the Pittsburgh area — or attending the weekend’s festivities or, frankly, just like road-tripping — there’s going to be a mass autograph signing this Friday evening, and I’ll be there with pen in hand.

The event starts at 8 p.m. at the Pittsburgh Marriott City Center’s Grand Ballroom, and it’ll likely go for a few hours, at the very least. You can expect most of the Nebula Award nominees will be on hand to sign their stuff, along with many others — click here for the details. I’m told there will indeed be books on hand for sale, including copies of the Daedalus trilogy in mass-market paperback and hardcover copies of MJ-12: InceptionOf course, you can feel free to bring your own, too.

And chances are, I’m likely to have some extra advance reader copies of MJ-12: Shadows to give away as well. Given that this one isn’t out until September, you’re getting your hands on it super-early (and with some typos, because it’s a pre-proof copy, which means it’s totally a collector’s item).

I haven’t been to the Nebulas since 2013, just before The Daedalus Incident came out. The event’s evolved considerably since then, with a lot of cool panels and information sessions. I’m still feeling like a newbie compared to some, so I’m planning on listening and learning as much as I can. And, of course, I’m looking forward to seeing my people again.

So if you’re going — for the whole conference or just for the signing — be sure to find me and say hello!

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A quick non-post

So basically I don’t have anything new to say, but I recognize that I’ve left the blog fallow for a week, and well, I feel somewhat obligated to at least say hello. Hi, there!

I’m crunching on the final revisions to MJ-12: Shadows, the sequel to this year’s MJ-12: Inception. You won’t get to see it until late next summer, of course. For whatever reason, this one was a tougher nut to crack, story wise. Or maybe it was just writing it on top of an unusually busy year for me. Hard to say. But I’m liking how it’s turning out. Hope you will too.

I’m also resisting the urge to work on something super-shiny that the Muse is incredibly excited about. Actually, she’s shrieking in my ears about it constantly, and I’m excited about it too. It only exists in about ten pages of notes at the moment. It’ll need to stay that way for a few more weeks yet. Shut up, Muse. I got stuff to do.

The whole election thing…yeah. Still sitting poorly with me, and it’s not like the incoming administration is inspiring confidence with its various gaffes and horrible appointments. If you’ve seen my Twitter feed, you’ve seen I’ve been more political of late. That’s not likely to change. As I explained to my kid, this is our time to stand up, just like the suffragists in the ’20s and the civil rights activists in the ’60s. And I’m gonna do that.

And otherwise? Planning a quiet Thanksgiving, then a work trip to Los Angeles in early December, followed by Christmas in a warm place with a beach. (Not Los Angeles, because who wants to vacation in a place you visit for work all the time?)

That’s where I’m at.

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