One week until MJ-12: Shadows is out!

It’s been a busy summer, full of travel and work and writing the third MAJESTIC-12 novel, a trip to Wyoming for Launch Pad and, most recently, taking two 13-year-olds to see Lady Gaga in Queens. (The Storify here is mildly amusing, I’d like to think.)

So let’s kick autumn off in style with the release of MJ-12: Shadows next Tuesday! (OK, it’s still technically summer. Work with me.)

The second in a series seems to be a sweet spot for me. The groundwork and exposition is already laid, the plots can be furthered and character arcs…arced?…without worrying about aiming for the finish line quite yet. Plus, MJ-12: Shadows’ setting in 1949 Syria really lent itself to the MAJESTIC-12 concept. (More on that later…)

I’ve scattered some previews and such around the blog over the past few months. For your convenience, here’s everything on Shadows thus far:

There will be more, of course. I’ve got some guest posts, interviews and podcasts coming up in the weeks ahead, and likely more reviews as well. But hopefully this will get you started, along with the reminder that Shadows is available for pre-order. And if you haven’t caught up with the first novel in the series, MJ-12: Inception, the order links are below!

MJ-12: Shadows — Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Books-A-Million | Mysterious Galaxy

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

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Free speech, public discourse and tolerance in 2017

Yesterday, after watching the President’s abject moral failure to categorically denounce Nazism, racism and white supremacy as bad — which, really, should not have been a big ask — I went over to Trump Tower after work to let off some steam and shout at the gleaming black Isengard with my fellow Ents. Honestly, it felt great.

A gentleman on social media got into a discussion with me afterward regarding free speech and political discourse. Now, I don’t think he was a Trump supporter by any stretch, but he was passionate about free speech. The conversation was civil, but I pretty much ended it when I saw the rhetorical trap he was setting with regard to free speech, boiling it down to either for or against.

Obviously, it’s not as simple as that, and the argument goes well beyond whatever one can thumb-type on a bus. So I’m gonna unpack it here. Fair warning: politics and Nazis below. Skip if you’re understandably tired of it all.

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New review for MJ-12: Shadows with an awesome pull quote

…completely bananapants insane…

You know, I can live with that. Especially since Luther M. Siler, in his review of MJ-12: Shadows, meant this as a compliment, one among many he graciously wrote. The review was pretty darn positive, for which I am grateful and, if I’m being honest, relieved. It’s always weird to put a new book out there to see what people think, even a reviewer like Luther who’s been a fan of my stuff in the past. You just hope you don’t mess up all that goodwill, you know?

Here’s a bit more from what he had to say:

…we’ve got a great spy novel involving dueling world powers with superpowers against the specific setting of the CIA interfering with early independence movements in Syria and Lebanon, with a little stop in Kazakhstan along the way, and I’m not going to tell you what happened there because it counts as a spoiler if you don’t know the history.

Well, then. Luther also states that his favorite book of mine remains The Enceladus Crisis, but that MJ-12: Shadows may be the best one I’ve written. So yeah, that’s very cool. Thank you, Luther!

Oh, and the completely bananapants insane thing? There’s a spoiler involved if you want context on that. So click here to read the review, but You Have Been Spoiler Alerted. And as always, here are your handy pre-0rder links!

MJ-12: Shadows — Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Books-A-Million | Mysterious Galaxy

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A excerpt from MJ-12: Shadows, on shelves next month!

Where does the time go? Actually, I know damn well where it goes — a summer full of hard work, home improvements, family time and various other things. Oh, and writing the third MAJESTIC-12 book in between. (Ha.)

But the second book in that superpowered Cold War spy series, MJ-12: Shadows, is out September 5, and it’s high time I begin letting you folks know what the heck’s going on with it. To be fair, I did give you a sneak peek at some of the cool faux documents we ginned up again — click here if you missed it. And if you want the basic synopsis, here you go:

It’s 1949, and the Cold War is heating up across the world. Operating in the shadows, the Variants–once ordinary US citizens, but now imbued with strange paranormal abilities and corralled into covert service by the government’s top secret MAJESTIC-12 program–find themselves on the front lines of an international crisis.

In Syria, Variant agents have been sent to support a coup by a pro-American army officer. In Washington, a shocking suicide has them fighting for their very freedom. And at Area 51, the operation’s headquarters, the strange interspatial phenomenon which originally granted Variants their abilities has yielded disturbing discoveries.

All the while, dangerous figures flit among the shadows, and it’s unclear whether they are threatening to expose the Variants for what they are . . . or completely destroy them. Are they working for the Soviet Union, or something far worse?

In addition, there’s a couple of reviews up on Goodreads — including one from the gloriously talented Beth Cato (preorder Call of Fire now, it’s really good and it’s out next week). I’m expecting some reviews to land soonish, probably after everyone gets back from WorldCon in Helsinki, which I didn’t get to go to this year, sadly. So far, I’m pleased with what I’m hearing from the people who’ve read it, and there’s a decent consensus going that it could very well be better than the first one, MJ-12: Inception.

But hey, you should judge for yourself. So here’s an excerpt of MJ-12: Shadows to whet your appetite.

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Let’s talk about media leaks

The new, and supremely unqualified, White House communications honcho Anthony Scaramucci threw a public fit this week when some media types got hold of his financial disclosure form. He called it an unauthorized leak and saying he was gonna find out who did it and file charges.

Of course, this end up being a blinding display of ignorance and incompetence, as said form was already in the public domain. But this is what you get when you put a hedge fund manager in charge of political communications, rather like the result you’d get putting a mechanical engineer in charge of heart surgery. Just because you’re smart at one thing doesn’t mean you’re qualified to do something completely different.

As for the leaks coming out of the White House, Congress and the various executive branch departments…well, duh, what did you expect? Leaks happen. Leaks are currency, man. So long as people have agendas and/or axes to grind — and the Trump Administration is causing a run on grindstones all over town — there’s gonna be leaks.

And here’s the thing: In many cases, leaks aren’t bad in and of themselves. We wouldn’t have known about Watergate without leaks. Or Iraq’s lack of weapons of mass destruction. Yes, they can be weaponized to drag people down — ref. Clinton, William Jefferson, who of course should’ve kept it in his pants in the first place. And yes, on very rare occasion, leaks can cause real damage to American interests and lives.

But let’s be super clear. Those occasions are exceedingly rare, and the vast majority of responsible journalists will hold off on publishing leaked information if it impacts intelligence gathering, military operations, court proceedings, etc. There’s an entire system of informal exchanges that happen in these cases; for example. rumor has it The Washington Post is sitting on some great dirt on Trump and not publishing it at the request of special counsel Robert Mueller because it would screw up his investigation.

Now, I didn’t cover much of Washington back in my journalism days, but I did get leaks on the business beat. And I found that they tend to fall into three categories. Read on for some serious journalism wonkery!

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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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