A visit to Amazon Books

The Garden State Plaza is the mall in my area. It’s a gargantuan cathedral to retail excess, chock full of boutiques and anchor stores and really expensive crap most normal people could never afford. I mean, I’m not dropping a grand on a watch, y’all. Or a suit. Or anything, really.

Since the Borders chain went out of business in late 2010, this massive mall didn’t have a bookstore. There are a couple Barnes & Nobles in the area, and a few indies, but not at this joint. At least, not until Amazon opened up a brick-and-mortar outlet a little while ago.

Now, I most certainly urge folks to buy my books from local independent retailers, but let’s face it — Amazon is Amazon. They have something like half the print book market and two-thirds of the e-book market in their pocket. As an author, Amazon’s been good to me. So on a recent trip to said mall — I have a 13-year-old daughter, so the mall is a thing — we stopped in at Amazon Books, holiday gift card in hand.

Here are my impressions.

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A less-than-fond farewell to 2017

I know I’m not the first one to say this, of course — 2017 was not fun, and for many people, that’s a monumental understatement. Personally, professionally, culturally, politically…this year was a godforsaken mess. I’m far less inclined to toast the year that was, but I’m quite ready to embrace the one coming down the pike, and I hope you are too.

So let’s start with the elephant in the room, which would be Trump and his coterie of destructive buffoons. I’m not going to go into his policies, or the rapacious GOP’s attempts to create a permanent, uneducated American underclass to serve the top 1%. But I know full well that the very presence of this looming threat to American values and democracy, and the utter barrage of weaponized fake outrage and falsehoods, has taken its toll on so many of us, myself included.

Now, let’s be quite clear in that I’m a straight, married, white male, so when I say “taken its toll,” the bill for me is extremely light compared to women, people of color, folks with chronic physical and/or mental conditions, our LBGTQ+ friends, etc. In fact, it feels slightly disingenuous to be bitching about things when my family and I are doing well, and may even see a tax cut next year.

But while my toll is far less, it’s there. 2017 has messed with my head. In so many areas of my life, I found myself waiting for something, waiting for change. Yes, I ramped up my contributions and I joined a protest at Trump Tower and I spoke out and all that good stuff. But the rest of it was kind of living in a defensive crouch in the corner, trying to go about my business and waiting, hoping, praying for the support to help all of us turn a corner.

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A semi-spoiler-free take on The Last Jedi

I walked out of Star Wars: The Last Jedi last night grinning ear to ear. It is a fun, epic film. It has so many nods to the characters we know and love. The visuals are stunning, the acting great, the humor is amazing and on point, and yet there’s tragedy as well. I think euphoric might be too strong a word, but it’s in the thesaurus neighborhood.

Then I thought about writing this now-traditional review for the blog. And in the light of day, the flaws show — and in a way that they didn’t for The Force Awakens or Rogue One. I think these are flaws of ambition, because there is a lot going on in The Last Jedi, and Rian Johnson is trying to do things we haven’t seen before. When he succeeds, he does so amazingly well. When he falls short, it can be obvious and distracting.

I don’t think I can post anything without putting in some spoilers here, but if you’ve read up on the film — features, reviews, etc. — then I think you’ll be OK. But if you’re determined to have a spoiler-free zone, stop here and just know that it’s worth your movie-going dollars if you’re a Star Wars fan, and that you’ll have a blast.   Continue reading

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Some great indie bookstores for all your holiday shopping needs

Last year, I ran a blog post highlighting a number of independent bookstores around the country that I’ve enjoyed and carry my work. With the holidays nearly upon us, I thought I’d re-run this piece and update it a bit, because independent bookstores are awesome.

Now, chances are your local bookseller won’t be on this list, because these are the stores that I’ve personally enjoyed and have carried my stuff. So if you’re not near any of these, hustle on over to IndieBound and find your local independent bookstore there.

So without further ado, here’s some great indie stores, along with links to my books. Because if you’re going to shop at these, I’d obviously greatly appreciate it if you considered my work as well. You know, they make great gifts.

Borderlands Books (San Francisco): This is absolutely my favorite bookstore in the world, run by wonderful people who love science fiction, fantasy, horror and mysteries. They are immensely knowledgeable about their wares and super friendly to boot. They also have signed copies of all my books, and take orders over the phone as well as online. If you’re in San Francisco, the cafe is the perfect hang-out spot in the Mission District.

Websitecatalog | MJ-12: Inception | MJ-12: Shadows | The Daedalus Incident The Enceladus Crisis The Venusian Gambit 

Mysterious Galaxy (San Diego): Another haven for SF/F books, and a fine one at that. Great, friendly staff and a brand new space filled to the brim with books. Yes, they ship around the country do Kobo ebooks, and they were also the supplier for Phoenix Comicon the past few years so you may find them at West Coast cons, as well. I’ve signed books for them in the past, but don’t know how many are left — best to check with them.

WebsitecatalogMJ-12: Inception | MJ-12: Shadows | The Daedalus Incident The Enceladus Crisis The Venusian Gambit Geeky Giving 

The Missing Volume (online and cons): This travelling bookstore hits up many of the major geek conventions in the South and on the East Coast, and has a sturdy online shop as well. They have a huge stock of signed books, including some of mine. Signed books are awesome gifts for super SF/F fans, by the way, though you knew that already.

WebsitecatalogMJ-12: Inception | The Daedalus Incident The Enceladus Crisis The Venusian Gambit  

Powell’s (Portland, Ore.): What more can you say about a bookstore that takes up an entire city block? And has three other outlets in the Portland area as well? And basically has every book under the sun? And they happen to be in one of the best craft beer towns in the country, which is yet another reason to visit. Well, that and they made the Daedalus trilogy a staff pick, which means I love them so much, now and always.

WebsitecatalogMJ-12: Inception | MJ-12: Shadows | The Daedalus Incident The Enceladus Crisis The Venusian Gambit 

The Poisoned Pen (Scottsdale, Ariz.): A lovely, charming all-purpose bookstore in the heart of Scottsdale with a great and very patient staff. How patient? They’ve hosted Kevin Hearne’s Elevengeddon mega-signing over the past couple years, which I very much enjoyed being part of. They have many signed books (possibly including one or two of mine), but best to reach out to them and see if they have what you want.

WebsitecatalogMJ-12: Inception | MJ-12: Shadows | The Daedalus Incident The Enceladus Crisis The Venusian Gambit Geeky Giving 

The Twig (San Antonio, Texas): Speaking of Kevin, this is where I first met him — we sat together at a WorldCon signing thing back in 2013. Another vibrant indie in the heart of the city, and the staff are really dedicated to helping folks find great books. They also sell Kobo ebooks, but if you want ’em to get credit for the sale, sign up for your account at the link on their site.

WebsitecatalogMJ-12: Inception | MJ-12: Shadows | The Daedalus Incident The Enceladus Crisis The Venusian Gambit Geeky Giving 

Boulder Book Store (Boulder, Colo.): This huge, multi-level store used to be an opera house or some such, and it’s right in the heart of beautiful Boulder, which is also home to many find craft breweries. (Just saying.) It’s the perfect store to get lost in for a few hours. And yes, they have Kobo ebooks too.

WebsitecatalogMJ-12: Inception | MJ-12: Shadows | The Daedalus Incident The Enceladus Crisis The Venusian Gambit Geeky Giving 

Phoenix Books (Burlington, Rutland, Essex and Chester, Vt.): I love Vermont, and the folks at Phoenix are quickly becoming the go-to bookstore for the entire state. The downtown Burlington store has a great staff and a fine selection of books of all genres. Plus, you can’t go wrong visiting downtown Burlington.

WebsitecatalogMJ-12: Inception | MJ-12: Shadows | The Daedalus Incident The Enceladus Crisis The Venusian Gambit 

Singularity & Co. (Brooklyn): Whoa. This place is a SF/F fan’s dream shop, stacked to the rafters with new, used and vintage genre books (and more than a few toys and knick-knacks, too). They sell a bunch of cool geeky swag online, and they have a used-book subscription service. If you’re looking for a particular book, best to drop ’em an email or just visit the shop.



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Support Worldbuilders! And let’s talk about beer at r/Fantasy today!

I’ve been involved with Worldbuilders now for…four years? Something like that. It’s an incredible charity that’s raised millions of dollars for Heifer International. And each year I offer up, among other things, a critique of your writing. This year, my critique is part of the Worldbuilders lottery, which means your $10 donation gives you a chance to win said critique, along with many other fantastic prizes.

Here’s the details on what I’m offering. Just click on the nice big DONATE button at the top right of the page to enter. And don’t be afraid to go for it — I’ve seen just about everything over the past four years, including a couple stories that pleasantly surprised me with their craft. Whether you’re starting out or just want another set of eyes, I’d be happy to help. And again, it goes to a great cause.

To help celebrate Worldbuilders, I’m participating in a “Ask You Anything” event over at Reddit’s r/Fantasy subreddit today. This is an opportunity for authors to ask YOU, the readers, what’s on your mind. And since this is me, I’m asking about beer and books. Here’s the thread — come say hello!


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Less than 24 hours to go to get the Night Shade Books Humble Bundle with The Daedalus Incident

Really excited to see that the Night Shade Books Humble Bundle has sold more than 8,000 bundles — that’s a lot of money for charity. And if you haven’t gotten it yet, you have less than a day to do so.

The premise is simple — for at least $1, you get six books, including The Daedalus Incident. Pay $8 or more to unlock another seven titles. Pay $15 in total (or more) and you get another seven — a total of 23 ebooks, including works by John Hornor Jacobs, Nick Mamatas, Martha Wells and Paolo Bacigalupi and me, along with anthologies edited by Paula Guran, John Joseph Adams, Neil Clarke and Ellen Datlow.

That’s a serious bunch of books. And not only does the money go to charity, but you get to choose which charity when you make your purchase. Good stuff all around.

It looks like this bundle closes down at 2 p.m. EDT tomorrow, so click here to get started. And if you’ve already taken the plunge — thank you!


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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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