Tag Archives: MJ-12: Inception

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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2016 in review: Stuff I wrote

MJ-12-newcover2016 may not have been the best of years — thanks, Donald — but I’m pleased to say that I wrote some pretty good stuff this year, and I wanted to take a moment to talk about it, being in a somewhat reflective mood as the year spirals toward its fiery doom…er…wraps up and folks get blitzed on cheap champagne.

The biggie, obviously, was the hardcover release of my latest novel, MJ-12: Inception, first of the MAJESTIC-12 series of Cold War paranormal spy-fi thrillers. I was super-pleased with the reception, and chuffed to see folks embrace it. To all those readers out there, I thank you muchly for your enthusiasm and kind words.

Night Shade Books also released the Daedalus trilogy in mass-market paperback this year. It was fun to see those books get new life and new readers.

I also contributed a novelette, “Mind Flight,” to the Geeky Giving anthology effort, which benefits the Barrow Neurological Institute in Arizona. Barrow works to combat neurological disorders, and the theme of the anthology was to embrace that cutting-edge research. “Mind Flight” is the story of a pilot who links her brain to her fighter jet in order to help fend off an alien invasion — and what happens when the aliens figure out a terrible way to fight back. It’s my first hard SF work, and I’m proud to have it in there with so many other talented writers. All proceeds go to Barrow, so pick up a copy!

endlessagesFinally, I got another chance to embrace my geeky, misspent youth by contributing a short story to the Endless Ages anthology, which featured stories set in the Vampire: The Masquerade game setting. “Tiger” is the story of a young vampire caught up in the power games of her elders, with near-disastrous results. It was a total blast to revisit the setting and embrace my Gothic Punk side.

I also had an article published in the October issue of Writer’s Digest, talking about how I use Excel to outline my novels, which was pretty cool. Sadly, you’d need to get the magazine to read the actual piece, but I can point you to the online exclusive bit, wherein you can download part of my outline and see how the alleged magic happens.

As for 2017? MJ-12: Shadows, the follow-up to Inception, should be coming out some time in the late summer/early fall, and I believe plans are in the works for a paperback release of MJ-12: Inception before that. I also have a bit of a passion project I’m working up on the side, and I’m hopeful it finds a home. I also have a short story or two I’m noodling on, but the plate gets full fast, so we’ll see how it goes.

As of right now, I’m not sure what my con schedule will look like for 2017 quite yet. I like Phoenix Comicon and DragonCon a lot, but I’m wondering if it’d be worthwhile to mix it up this year. I don’t think I have the capacity to add to my schedule — I have a full-time job on top of all this fictioning, after all — and I’d be torn about missing out on two fantastic cons. But there are others that seem interesting, and have the benefit of not falling on two super-popular holiday weekends, so we’ll see.

Again, much thanks and gratitude to all the readers who picked up my work this year. You give me the fuel to keep at it, and I deeply appreciate it.

May you all enjoy a peaceful holiday season, and may we all have a better year ahead.

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Fantastic independent bookstores for all your holiday gift-giving needs

Found by a friend at Powell's up in Oregon. One of many reasons indie bookstores rock.

Found by a friend at Powell’s up in Oregon. One of many reasons indie bookstores rock.

Let me start by saying that I realize Amazon and Barnes & Noble are the two big choices for book buying, and honestly, I have a lot of respect for both of them. Both companies have been good to me and my work, and I deeply appreciate that. I’m glad they’re there.

But you know what’s awesome? Independent bookstores. I love indie bookstores, man. They are an absolute labor of love for the people that own and run them, and they are vibrant and, dare I say, critical pieces of community life around the country. So this holiday season, I would encourage you to check out independent bookstores in your area for all your gift-giving needs.

Or maybe check out the ones I have listed here if you don’t have a local indie close to you. These are the independent bookstores that I’ve enjoyed visiting around the country, and if you’re in the market for books this holiday season — whether it’s my books or just any books — I would strongly encourage you to check them out. The vast majority of these offer online sales and shipping, and many offer ebook sales via Kobo, too.

I totally get that indie books are more expensive — they’re generally full list-price, plus shipping. And sure, Kobo is a little more expensive than Kindle or Nook. Given the huge impact a good bookstore has on its community, I would urge you to shop indie anyway, if you’re able to do so. It’s fantastic karma.

Finally, I’m highlighting the stores that are offering the Geeky Giving charity anthology, which I was proud to be a part of this year. There are some great stories in there, and proceeds go to the Barrow Neurological Institute. Buying it is a win all around, y’all.   Continue reading

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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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Come and Speculate! with us on a mighty podcast

Earlier this month, I was fortunate enough to have a most excellent chat with the hosts of Speculate! The Podcast for Readers, Writers and Fans. And now you can listen to said conversation online or via your favorite podcast download app…thing. Whatever. You should listen.

I joined fellow scribes Mike Underwood and Greg Wilson for a freewheeling 50-plus minutes of writerly goodness. We talked about MJ-12: Inception and the Daedalus trilogy, of course, then delved deep into research and worldbuilding in historical fantasy, and how I did what I did on those books. We also talked about my former life as a full-time journalist and how that enters into my fiction.

And we talked about the election, because it was the day before election day. Ah, we were so naive. Alas.

I’ve known Mike for years now, and consider him one of the good guys, and I very much enjoyed chatting with Greg as well. I would encourage you to check out Mike’s blog and Greg’s blog to learn more about their books, and definitely check out the rest of Speculate!’s excellent podcasts. They also have a Patreon, so if you wanna slip ’em a few bucks, I hereby grant you extra karma points for that.

My thanks to Mike and Greg for a great conversation. Hope you folks enjoy.

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