Category Archives: Travel

A new review of MJ-12: Inception, plus a guest post

img_6681I’m deeply humbled and gratified by the newest review of MJ-12: Inception from Tracey (aka TrinityTwo) over at the Qwillery. Here’s the bit that knocked me over and made me do a bit of a Kermit flail:

Martinez is truly a gifted writer in that MJ-12: Inception has a distinct and utterly different flavor than his previous series. Although I only know about organizations like the CIA from books, movies and literature, his portrayal of the inner workings of government programs seems authentic. I enjoyed reading the confidential reports written from the perspective of top officials in the CIA. Martinez, a master at genre blending, has created an exciting new series by mixing a pinch of James Bond to a dash of the X-Men and then combining that with a dose of politics and old-fashioned cloak and dagger espionage.

Dude. That’s pretty swell, as they might say in 1948. You can read the whole review here, along with a guest post I wrote about my approach to writing a brand-new series.

I’m writing this in the cafe at Borderlands Books in San Francisco, which explains the rather meta image attached to this post. It’s also another lovely excuse to remind you that Borderlands is pretty much the only game online right now to get a signed copy of MJ-12: Inception, and they also have the Daedalus trilogy books in stock with my scrawl on them. Click here to get started!

Here’s something to look forward to: I recorded a Ditch Diggers podcast today, which should land online over the next few days. It was incredibly fun, and hosts Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace are the absolute best. I’ll ping everyone when it hits, but in the meantime, there are far worse ways to spend your time than checking out past episodes, which include conversations with fantastic humans like Fran Wilde, Kameron Hurley and Chuck Wendig.

I’m heading home Saturday, and really looking forward to that. San Francisco is lovely. Borderlands is amazing. DragonCon was its usual fantastic awesomeness. But you know, I’m good with the travel for a bit. Thank you all yet again for all the love and support you’ve shown MJ-12: Inception. It really matters and you’re all awesome.

*falls asleep in the middle of Borderlands Cafe*

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Learn the secrets of my BBQ sauce recipe

Yeah, there’s a headline I’ve never written before! But it’s true.

I’ve been playing with BBQ sauce recipes for years now, starting off with a basic recipe — equal parts ketchup, mustard, molasses and apple cider vinegar —  refining and playing with it ever since. And today on Fran Wilde’s Book Bites, you get to enjoy the results of all that experimentation.

This sauce isn’t as thick as the stuff you buy in the stores, but store-bought uses thickeners and chemicals and corn syrup and all kinds of awful. If you’re a BBQ purist, you can use this sauce as a mop during smoking, then set it on top of the firebox to simmer and thicken throughout the day. (And if the words “mop” and “firebox” aren’t in your BBQ lexicon, well…that’s OK.)

My thanks to the luminous and crazy-talented Fran Wilde for having me on her Book Bites blog. She’s totally aces and you need to be reading her award-winning books, y’all. Plus, she’s a great human to hang out with at a con.

Speaking of cons, this is my last full day at DragonCon, which has been the usual excellent experience. There’s only a handful of copies of MJ-12: Inception left at the booksellers in the vendor hall, so get thee hence or wait until Tuesday when it hits bookstores. Of course, if you wait, those copies won’t be signed. Just saying.

Finally, here’s your regular reminder about Tuesday’s launch-day reading/signing at Borderlands Books in San Francisco at 6 p.m. If you’re in the area, come on by and say hello!

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I’ll be at Borderlands Books in San Francisco one week from today!

MJ-12-newcoverBorderlands Books is awesome. Seriously, it’s one of the very best bookstores I’ve ever visited. Alan and Jude are fantastic people, and the staff is frighteningly knowledgeable and yet completely friendly and accessible. My wife did an article about their sponsorship model last summer, and I’m glad to report they’re still going strong.

So when I say I’m excited to launch MJ-12: Inception with a little reading and signing there, you know I mean it.

MJ-12: Inception launches next Tuesday, Sept. 6, in hardcover, and I’ll be at Borderlands starting at 6 p.m. to do stuff. If there’s a big audience, I’ll do a formal reading and Q&A, and if we’re small but mighty, I’ll do the same…with less formality? Whatever. I’ll bring beer. It’ll be fun. If you’re in the Bay Area, I totally hope to see you there.

And if you can’t make it, well, I’ll be signing whatever they have on hand, and you can give ’em a call and have them ship a signed copy directly to you. They’re awesome like that.

Also, if you’re in the Bay Area, or even if you’re not and just like the idea of helping out fantastic SF/F bookstores, I strongly urge you to consider becoming a Borderlands sponsor. You’ll be supporting a key piece of the SF/F community — not just in San Francisco, but throughout the country.

One more note: the Goodreads giveaway of MJ-12: Inception wraps up tomorrow night at midnight. So if you haven’t signed up yet, do it!

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DragonCon is next week! Here’s what I’m up to there.

The-New-Dragon-Con-LogoUPDATED 9/1

This’ll be the third straight year I’ve done DragonCon, which is quite a lot of fun and you should go if you can. It’s an exuberantly geeky crowd, focused on the joy of whatever brings them joy. Gotta love it.

DragonCon will be one of the very first places you can pick up a copy of MJ-12: Inception, by the way. I’ll have a handful of copies on hand for giveaways, in case you don’t win the Goodreads giveaway, but the best thing you can do is head to the vendor hall. The booksellers there should have some on hand, but given that this is the weekend before launch, I expect supplies to be limited. Get there early.

And without further ado, here’s my schedule of stuff. Unlike the past several years, the Alternate History Track will be at the AmericasMart convention center, so don’t go looking for me at the Westin, unless it’s at the bar.  Continue reading

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Check out the Cuba Writers Program reading this Monday in New York

If you follow this blog, you generally like good writing, right? Of course you do! So here’s a great opportunity to attend a super-cool reading by attendees of the inaugural Cuba Writers Program this coming Monday in New York City.

The reading features Cuba Writers Program instructors and students, including Alden Jones, Donna Bolding, John Hill, Beatrice Hill, V. Hansmann and Katrina Woznicki. (Full disclosure: Katrina is my wife. She’s also a far better writer than I am.) They’ll be reading from their work, some of which came out of the program itself. And no doubt they’ll talk about the great program they had down in Cuba this past May.

The reading is Monday, Aug. 22, at 6 p.m. at the Cornelia Street Cafe, which is at (unsurprisingly) 23 Cornelia St. in New York City, right by the West 4th subway station in the West Village. I’m told it’s a very cool space, and I’m looking forward to all the great writing and everyone talking about their experiences in Cuba.

So come out and support these great writers, have a snack, be entertained, feed your brain. See you there!

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Pilgrimage: The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles

I’ve been in my current day job now for nearly nine years. In addition to the gig’s intellectual challenges, sturdy rewards and lovely people, it’s allowed me to visit Los Angeles at least…heck, 25 times or so? See, the New York office is actually the satellite, while the mothership is in the City of Angels. Hence the travel and the sturdy flow of frequent flier miles.

So here I am yet again, this time for a week and a half. My wife is with me (the child being at camp) and there are plans afoot. L.A. is a great city for warmth, sun, beaches and sightseeing. (The less said about traffic and smog, the better.) The food scene here is phenomenal — super creative, far less pretentious than New York, and surprisingly affordable. There are many fine craft breweries.

And there’s The Last Bookstore. I’m ashamed to say that I hadn’t visited until today. This has been belatedly but duly rectified; it’s one of the coolest independent bookstores I’ve ever seen. Want proof? Here you go.

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First off, it’s huge. The building used to be an old bank, so they have a couple of vaults and lots of smaller rooms in addition to this cavernous affair. The stage is perfect for readings and panels, and there are a few chairs around — though, to be fair, they don’t like folks loitering all day. They’re right in downtown L.A., so I get that.

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Book sculptures! Paper art! The second floor in particular is a warren of very cool little nooks and crannies and oddities like the ones above.

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And this bad boy towers above all of it. Someone put a lot of love into this store. There’s a massive collection of vintage, used and new books across every genre imaginable. You want self-help? YA? Biography? Classics? SF/F? Lit fic? It’s all there. Well, mostly all there. I suppose I could get nitpicky about authors of more recent vintage — they have the big names in most categories, but less so midlisters. But their used book selection more than makes up for it. I saw dozens of novels I read when I was a kid. It was a total memory lane thing.

So. The Last Bookstore is in downtown Los Angeles on 5th and Spring. It’s worth braving the city’s notorious traffic to spend an hour in book-lover bliss. I’m glad I went, and you should go too.

 

 

In other news, I’m happy to report that, as per usual, I crunched on a whole heap of words on my flight over here, and that the second MAJESTIC-12 book is coming along swimmingly. There was one particular historical event that really spurred the entire concept behind the book, and today was the day where I got to write my version of it. It’s one of those “you can’t make this stuff up” events, and I hope I did it justice.

All right. I’m off to find a good taco and a beer. Viva Los Angeles.

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It’s time for Phoenix Comicon! Here’s where I’ll be!

I had a blast at last year’s Phoenix Comicon, and I’m really looking forward to this year. I’ve got a lot of cool stuff going on, and if you’re going to be there, I hope you’ll get a chance to say hi.

Here’s my schedule of events for this year, which is also on my fancy-pants guest page. Chances are, I’ll have an ARC of MJ-12: Inception on me at any one of these, so keep an eye open for giveaways!

Panel/Event Schedule

Tonight, 7 p.m. — Elevengeddon at the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale! I’ll be joined by something like 19 other authors for a mega-SF/F signing spectacle at one of the best independent bookstores in the country. Here’s the event listing and address. It’s the ultimate SF/F convergence. BE THERE.

Thursday, 1:30 p.m. — Trope Talks: Comedy Relief, North 128B. This panel will discuss the role of the comedic sidekick in stories, and how they’re more than just the funny guy in the room. With Scott Sigler and Yvonne Navarro.

Friday, 3 p.m —  Building a Believable World: The Deets, North 129A. Let’s drill down into worldbuilding with some pretty awesome authors, including Bradley Beaulieu, Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Shannon Messenger and Victoria V.E. Schwab.

Friday, 6 p.m. — The Lighter Side of Sci-Fi, North 128A. Why so serious? This panel takes a look at more optimistic views of the genre. With Alexandra Olivia, Greg van Eekhout, Howard Tayler, Jody Lynn Nye and Suzanne Young.

Saturday, 10:30 a.m. — Crossing the Streams: Genre Splicing, North 128A. Obviously, this is kind of my sweet spot. Let’s put genres in a blender and see what happens. With Adam Christopher, Aprilynne Pike, Neo Edmund and Yvonne Navarro.

Saturday, 4 p.m. — Bioskeletons, Neurotransmitters, Synthesia: Medical Science in Sci-Fi, North 127C. Let’s talk about futuristic medicine in a panel organized by the fantastic folks at Geeky Giving!

Saturday, 6 p.m. — Drinks with Authors, North 120. Come see authors in their natural habitat, i.e. near the bar. This informal hangout is one of my favorite things, and there will be raffles to benefit Kids Need to Read. Come say hi, drink drinks and maybe win something — all for a great cause.

Sunday, 1:30 p.m. — World Building: Are We Still Talking About This? An interesting take on world-building with this panel; we’re being asked when it gets to be too much, or when it matters less. With Greg van Eekhout, John Peck/Jack Heckel and Sarah Remy.

Signing Schedule

And in addition to all these fun panels, I’ll be doing signings at the con as well. A bunch in fact. To wit:

Thursday, 3 p.m. — Signing Lounge, North 127AB. There’s a lounge? Are there drinks? I’m hanging out with Becky Chambers, Jamie Wyman, Jason Hough, Michael Kogge, Patrick Hemstreet, Sarah Remy and Yvonne Navarro.

Thursday, 6 p.m. — Exhibitor Hall Signing. There’s also the signings in the big hall, too. With Becky Chambers, Greg van Eekhout, Jason Hough, Michael Kogge, Patrick Hemstreet and Sarah Remy.

Friday, noon — Exhibitor Hall Signing. Once more, with feeling! With Alexandra Olivia, Austin Aslan, Michael Kogge and Shannon Messenger.

Friday, 4:30 p.m. — Signing Lounge, North 127AB. Lounging about, apparently, with Bradley Beaulieu, Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Holly Jennings, Jason Hough, Michael Kogge, Shannon Messenger and Weston Ochse.

Saturday, noon — Signing Lounge, North 127AB. At this point, we’ll probably be crooning ’70s lounge music. And we’ll be doing it with Aprilynne Pike, Bradley Beaulieu, Christina Henry, Leanna Renee Hieber, Neo Edmund, Patrick Hemstreet, Sam Sykes, Sarah Remy and Victoria V.E. Schwab.

Saturday, 1:30 p.m. — Exhibitor Hall Signing. Really, you will not want for signing opportunities. With Alexandra Olivia, Neo Edmund and Jason Hough (who will likely be quite sick of me by this point).

Sunday, noon — Exhibitor Hall Signing. This will be your last chance to get something signed by me. Not that you haven’t had ample opportunity. With Alexandra Olivia, Alyssa Wong (whose short stories are amazing and wonderful), the incomparable Kevin Hearne and Patrick Hemstreet (who will also be sick of me by this point).

So yeah. Seriously, if you’re having trouble finding me, you’re obviously slacking something fierce.

You can also follow me on Twitter to see what I’m up to and, perchance, have another crack at free books. I’ll have the aforementioned MJ-12: Inception ARCs, but also a couple sets of the Daedalus trilogy to give away, and I’ll have a ton of bookmarkts for you too. Because I’m nice like that.

Hope to see you in Phoenix!

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Hanging out in the Bahamas this week 

Are the Bahamas part of the Caribbean? I mean, the Caribbean Sea is nowhere near here, but the islands seem to embrace a certain Caribbean-ness, maybe? Or maybe that’s my ignorant lensing. Whatever.

I’m in the Bahamas this week, and it’s perfect no matter what.

We’re well off the beaten path, far from the hustle and bustle of Nassau and Freeport. We rented a cottage on the water and have a nice dock and some kayaks and everything. See?


  
Yeah, this works.

In terms of writing, I’ll be doing some work on the second MAJESTIC-12 book, and possibly a short story as well. I also have an article to write for a magazine to coincide with the launch of MJ-12: Inception in September.

But heck, I’m on vacation. So maybe I won’t get much done. And that is perfectly OK.

Now…where did the rum go?

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Two years later, Iceland still inspires

DSCF1050It’s been nearly two years since I visited Iceland, and out of all the places I’ve traveled, there’s something about it that stuck with me — so much so that the country itself has now shown up in my writing.

Back in April 2014, my wife Kate participated in the inaugural Iceland Writers Retreat, which is pretty fantastic in terms of writing workshops; folks like Susan Orlean and Andrew Evans were among the writers imparting wisdom. Now, this was Kate’s thing — my daughter and I went along for the ride because, hey, Iceland! Why not, right?

The cool thing was that we all got to participate in the cultural parts of the retreat — pretty much everything except the writing workshops themselves. So yes, we met the president of Iceland at a state reception at Bessastadir. We went on a tour of nearby landmarks and got a pretty great rundown on the nation’s history. We listed to Iceland’s foremost working author, Sjón, give a reading in the house of Haldór Laxness, Iceland’s Nobel laureate in literature.

When Kate was in her workshops, my kid and I explored. There were old Cold War bunkers set into the hillside overlooking the hotel and airstrip that led to hours of exploration. We explored a lot of Reykjavik, which is probably the most picturesque capital I’ve visited. There were world-famous Icelandic hot dogs, many tales of Vikings, architecture old and new, and super-friendly people. You know the snow that sort of floats about on Game of Thrones when they’re doing scenes at or beyond the Wall? I stood in that snow. I put a lot of fun stuff on Twitter.

And everywhere we went, we were reminded of Iceland’s love of the written word. The Icelandic sagas were, in many ways, some of the world’s first novels. There’s a literary history there that’s the pride of the Icelandic people; President Ólafur Ragnar Grimsson went on for 20 minutes at the reception talking about his country’s literature — off the cuff, no notes, I might add.

I also wrote parts of The Venusian Gambit there, and found the environment particularly conducive to getting the work done. Now, two years later, I’m telling stories featuring Iceland.

My Geeky Giving story, “Mind Flight,” is largely set at an air base in Iceland and the protagonist, Rós Ragnarsdóttir, hails from there. Rós is a fighter pilot and one of the last defenders of Earth against the alien invaders called the Housh. In order to be effective against Housh technology, Rós has been given nanotech implants in her brain that allow her to control her fighter jet with her mind — the jet, essentially, becomes her body. But when the Housh come up with a new weapon against these fighters, Rós finds herself turning into a threat against her own people and her homeland.

I felt that the quiet strength and resiliency of Icelanders was a perfect fit for the story, and Rós as a character just kind of came to me, almost fully formed. She’s descended from Vikings, after all, so she’s already a bad-ass. And I thought Iceland itself — not as frigid and unwelcoming a geography as you might think, but pretty remote and not exactly balmy — was a fine place to set one of the last redoubts of humanity.

(I should note here that you can get “Mind Flight,” as well as stories from A.C. Wise, Robert Lowell Russell and Jeff Somers, for just $5, the proceeds of which benefit the Barrow Neurological Foundation. Click here to donate and get reading.)

IMG_3123And then there’s MJ-12: Inception, my paranormal Cold War spy-fi thriller coming out in hardcover this September. From the moment we discovered the decaying bunkers on Öskjuhlíð hill, I just sort of knew that Reykjavik would be in the book somehow. It’s not a huge chapter, but it was pretty fun. In fact, since I’m talking about it, here’s the first few paragraphs of that chapter, just because I can:

Brennivin was a beautiful, horrible thing.

Passed off to tourists as a kind of homemade liqueur with birch and licorice flavors, it was marketed as something that little Viking grandparents would have in little glasses before an early bedtime under the Northern Lights.

But among themselves, local Icelanders called it the “Black Death,” which was very typical of their dark-but-good natured humor. Brennivin went down with all the grace and subtlety as strong vodka.

The fisherman at the bar on Laugavegur Street was already several shots deep by 6 p.m.—although that wasn’t particularly noteworthy given that the sun was already down. In the few short months he’d been working on the Reykjavik waterfront, he’d become a regular, and one that his fellow patrons had grown to tolerate. He wasn’t from around there, and never would be; Iceland was a small country, you were either from Iceland, or you’d always be from somewhere else.

It didn’t hurt, though, that he had a biting wit, and an eagerness to smooth over ruffled feathers with alcohol. After the Black Death, it just didn’t seem all that important, and so the outsider grew to suit many of the locals just fine. They were fishermen and dockworkers, laborers and tradesmen, all hard workers who drank just as hard and smelled vaguely of salt and crud at the end of the day anyways.

The fisherman knew where he stood, and he’d worked hard to earn the locals’ respect, even if it was a rather begrudging one. So he was irritated, this particular evening, when two military men entered the bar. It wasn’t the first time the British and Americans ventured into local establishments like this one, but most saw the woolen-clad fishermen—and the distinct lack of women—and turned right around, or stayed for a single drink if they were feeling particularly polite or brave. It didn’t feel like these two were going to do either.

Yeah, I think it’s fair to say that the place rubbed off on me a bit. So thanks, Iceland. Have a shot of brennivin on me.

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Winter break has arrived, and I am outta here

Hey, look! A trail I will never, ever ski.

So the kid is out for the week and, to my very great surprise, I have more than enough vacation days to make the three-day weekend into a week-long excursion. Thus, we’re heading for the hills — the Adirondacks to be precise.

I have a post ready to go on something kind of cool I expect to happen later this week, but otherwise you won’t see much here. If you want to see what I’m up to, I suggest Twitter (as I tend to tweet a lot more when I travel) and Untappd (my beer app, and I tend to enjoy more beer whilst on vacation).

While I’m skiing and enjoying the company of family and friends, I’ll remind you that Operation: DAEDALUS is still in effect. In short, please review The Daedalus Incident on Amazon, Goodreads, B&N, etc., and tell your social media peeps on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, et. al., that the mass-market paperback is coming March 15 to a fine bookseller near you.

The more you review and use your social media superpowers, the greater the chance you have to win a signed copy of The Daedalus Incident paperback as well as one of the very first advance copies of MJ-12: Inception.

Contest runs until March 15, so get reviewing, posting, tweeting, pinning and…whatever other sites do. Peaching? Whatever. It’s greatly appreciated! And hey, here’s a handy graphic you can use for your social media accounts. Easy peasy!

TDI-ad

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