Tag Archives: MAJESTIC-12

Hey, folks on Goodreads really like MJ-12: Inception

MJ-12-newcoverLet’s face it, y’all — I’m pretty bad at social media. I’m fine with Twitter for some reason, but I could certainly stand to update the blog a bit more, and I’m not even on Facebook because, well, gah. And I really should’ve been paying more attention to Goodreads, because MJ-12: Inception is getting a lot of love there.

In fact, it’s my best-rated novel on there right now, averaging just over four stars, which…man, that’s awesome, and thank you to everyone who took the time to rate it. It doesn’t even have a 1-star rating! (Watch, I’ve just jinxed it. Ah, well.)

So consider this my apologies for not minding Goodreads — I’ll try to do better. And if you enjoyed MJ-12: Inception, I’d mightily appreciate it if you’d say so on Goodreads (or Amazon or wherever you bought it). It’s also worth noting that MJ-12: Shadows has a page up on Goodreads now, so be sure to “want-to-read” it for when it comes out in September!

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You can now pre-order MJ-12: Shadows!

Yep, the folks over at Amazon have the pre-order page up and running for MJ-12: Shadows, the sequel to MJ-12: Inception. Yes, it’s lacking a cover, but I’ve been working with my editor and artist on that, and while it’s not done, it’s looking boss. Also yes, that Kindle price there is insane and not going to be the actual Kindle price, because that would be, er, insane.

On that pre-order page, there’s a synopsis of the book (which I kind of spit-balled with my editor via email). The synopsis probably won’t be the final copy that makes it onto the book jacket, but I think it’s a nice little intro. In fact, I’m just gonna put it right here:

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?

*dun-dun-DUNNNN*

Yep, we’ll be in Syria this time. While there’s certainly a modern geopolitical resonance there, I would’ve chosen 1949 Syria for this series no matter what, because the CIA/OPC operation there was really crazy, in that sort of you-can’t-make-this-shit-up way. It wasn’t exactly America’s finest hour when it comes to the Middle East, and given our long and horrible history of intervention there, that’s saying something.

Oh, and in the fine tradition of spy thrillers, we’ll also see events taking place in Vienna, Washington, Area 51, Lebanon and Kazakhstan. You may draw from those locales what you will.

MJ-12: Shadows is tentatively scheduled to drop Sept. 5 — that’s a very preliminary date, of course, but as of right now, I see no impediment to that. If you’re intrigued, you can get a little taste of Shadows when the trade paperback edition of MJ-12: Inception is released (again, tentatively) on June 6, because we’re gonna throw an excerpt in there to keep your appetite whetted.

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That pesky, uncontrollable muse

Note: The muse almost never shows up this way.

Note: The muse almost never shows up this way.

With MJ-12: Shadows in the hands of my capable editor, I thought I would start the new year by tinkering with a new project — one that wasn’t under deadline. I’m truly fortunate to have deadlines for books, and I still have the third MAJESTIC-12 book on the horizon. But at least for a while, I wanted to go back to some pressure-free creativity because, as I’ve mentioned before, MJ-12: Shadows kicked my ass.

I actually have several ideas in various stages of development — some straight-up science fiction, a clockwork fantasy, all kinds of stuff. But the one I chose to work on was new to the idea files, something overtly political in nature with a near-future setting and all kinds of social commentary. Gee, wonder how that popped up on my radar since November. Hmm.

I told my agent about it — I actually tell her most of the stuff I’m noodling on — and I got excited about it. I did my usual worldbuilding notes, my character snippets, my Excel plotting. I started in and focused on the voice, which would be very different from my previous work.

And then I hit a wall.

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MJ-12: Shadows is with my editor

I am pleased — and relieved — to report that MJ-12: Shadows, the sequel to this year’s MJ-12: Inception, is now in the capable hands of super-editor Cory Allyn over at Night Shade Books.

Why relieved? This book kicked my ass.

MJ-12: Shadows will be my fifth novel, and it was the hardest one to draft. Part of that was due to the material, part of that was due to circumstances, and part of that was just…something else, that writerly thing where you gotta grab the story and drag it kicking and screaming into the light because it doesn’t wanna go.

The material was complex enough — there are two main storylines in the book, a couple of subplots and several POVs. It’s set in 1949, which was a very busy year for the Truman Administration, the U.S. intelligence community and the Middle East, where one of the storylines is set. One of the main historical characters from MJ-12: Inception died that year under mysterious circumstances, too.

So on the one hand, the history was an absolute blessing — you can’t make some of that stuff up. But there was a lot of juggling going on in writing MJ-12: Shadows. So there’s that.

Then there’s life. I was plowing through the drafting process while preparing for the launch of MJ-12: Inception and through the launch, which included events at DragonCon and in San Francisco, plus a ton of guest blogs, interviews, podcasts and assorted bits of marketing. I know some authors loathe the marketing stuff, but it’s kind of what I do for the day job, and I’d like to think I’m pretty good at it, so I don’t mind it. But it was all happening while trying to write MJ-12: Shadows, so I was moving between stuff quite a lot.

Oh, and I do have that day job, and I happened to have the busiest autumn in said job in my nine years here. It’s nice to be in demand and appreciated, of course, and let’s face it — the day job pays the bills. On Monday, I’m about to head off on my seventh business trip of the year, so yeah, they keep me busy.

And I do have a family, which takes precedence over…well, everything else, frankly. But it’s kind of unfair to list that here, because family isn’t a burden. To me, it’s a privilege.

But story and circumstance aside, this was just a tough nut to crack. Prior to MJ-12: Shadows, three of my past four novels kind of came together easily — as easily as a major project like a novel can happen. The Venusian Gambit, which I wrote in 2014, felt like a hot mess when I was writing it, but that was largely due to my mother’s passing that summer. Cory and the NSB gang were great about giving me extra time to wrap it up, and I had apparently done a better job than I thought in the end — Gambit got a starred review from Publishers Weekly. 

But MJ-12: Shadows was different than Gambit. Sometimes, the story is stubborn, and finding the right threads to follow and the right words simply takes longer. Getting the pieces in place and the characters lined up just took more out of me. It’s kind of hard to explain, really, other than it just took longer to get it right. 

With all that said, I’m happy with how MJ-12: Shadows came out. It’s got some mystery, some slow-burn intrigue, a bunch of cool action and the ending…the ending I’m rather proud of. It explores the nature of the Variants, the source of their power and the responsibility in using that power in the world.

And now? I’m holding off on getting the third book started until Cory finishes the edits on MJ-12: Shadows and we have a chat as to how best to approach the next one. But I have a few other things to work on….

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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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Inspiration where you least expect it

My day-job office is at Rockefeller Center, which is pretty awesome most of the time. (The Christmas tree is beautiful for about two days, then the throngs of tourists begin to wear on one’s nerves, admittedly.) I remember the first day I arrived, I saw this plaque in the elevator lobby.

intrepid

Pretty cool, eh? The office itself is pretty unremarkable now, but it’s nifty to think that a critical piece of the Allied war effort played out on the same floor where I drink coffee and talk football with my co-workers. And yes, I revisited this plaque more than once as I was writing MJ-12: Inception.

Sir William Stephenson was a Canadian businessman prior to World War II. As war broke out in Europe, Winston Churchill asked Stephenson to open up the British Security Coordination office in New York. Room 3603 in Rockefeller Center was the place he rented. Officially, he was a passport control officer. Unofficially, he helped coordinate intelligence activities throughout North America.

MJ-12-newcoverPrior to late 1941, part of Stephenson’s job was to try to sway public opinion in the U.S. in favor of aid to Britain. After the U.S. joined the war, his office in Rockefeller Center became a hub of activity, coordinating U.S., British and Canadian covert action against the Axis. He was the one who set up Camp X up in Ontario, where O.S.S. and MI6 officers trained during the war.

Yes, the Camp X training manual was a real thing, and I used it in MJ-12: Inception as a guide to how Variants would be trained at Area 51. In fact, researching Stephenson led me to Camp X, which led to that key piece in the book.

Stephenson was also instrumental in the creation of O.S.S., which would later become the CIA.

After the war, Stephenson went back to being a businessman, and I haven’t found much more about him after that. It was sorely tempting to include him somehow in the MAJESTIC-12 series, but alas, I don’t think he’ll make in there. But it’s nice to know that a piece of history is right here in my office, and helped me discover more of the history that went into my work.

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Superpowers, alienation and Deadpool

Oh, yeah. We’re gonna do a think-piece on Deadpool, baby. Grab a chimichanga and buckle up.

I admit, I didn’t see Deadpool in theaters, and only had a passing knowledge of the character to begin with. However, I’ve seen the movie several times on video – twice courtesy of United Airlines, where at least some things are still free besides dry-mouth and turbulence. And since I’m in the midst of writing about superheroes, of a sort, in the MAJESTIC-12 series, I have thoughts.

Ready? Cue the music.  Continue reading

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