Tag Archives: Phoenix Comicon

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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MJ-12: Inception on PW’s list of Fall 2016 titles; e-book pre-orders now available!

MJ12_FinalSo here’s a nifty little news item: MJ-12: Inception is on Publishers Weekly‘s list of Fall 2016 announcements for science fiction, fantasy and horror. There are, of course, hundreds of titles slated to be released this fall, but this particular list is pretty much just the lead titles and notables for each publishing house.

Needless to say, I’m quite happy to be there.

Also, it turns out that Night Shade Books is announcing a first printing of 20,000 copies which…whoa, boy, that’s a lot of copies. Honestly, it’s daunting as all get out, because that’s a whole lot of books with my name on them. But apparently, it also means that they’ve been doing a great job of wrangling initial orders from booksellers, too. So it’s also encouraging.

We’re lining up a lot of cool stuff for the weeks running up to the book’s Sept. 6 launch. There will be giveaways. I’ll be doing a number of cool things at DragonCon. There will be a launch-night reading somewhere completely awesome. And I know the good folks at Night Shade are working their tails off to line up even more. You can’t stop the signal.

If you’re so inclined, pre-orders are an excellent way to help boost the signal. If you’re likely to buy the book anyway — or just curious enough to part with a few bucks — I’d wholeheartedly encourage you to pre-order MJ-12: Inception from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Mysterious Galaxy, Borderlands Books, and/or through your local bookstore via Indie Bound. You can also just ask; booksellers are awesome like that.

You can also preorder your Kindle, Nook and Apple iBook editions, too. As with most pre-orders, you can expect the prices to come down a bit as we get closer to launch, so don’t let the early sticker-shock stop you. Amazon, B&N and others will adjust your tab accordingly.

So why are pre-orders important? The more folks who chime in now with orders, the more booksellers are likely to stock up as the launch gets closer. And all those pre-orders count toward first-week sales, which further prompts booksellers to adjust inventories and promote the book more. (And yes, pre-orders also count toward the first-week sales used to calculate the bestseller lists, but…baby steps, man. That’s some cart-before-horse stuff right there.)

Long story short, if you like my books and/or want to check out MJ-12: Inception, then your pre-orders are greatly appreciated.

Finally, here’s another fun little tidbit. I was on a panel at Phoenix Comicon called “Trope Talk: Comedic Relief” with Scott Sigler and Yvonne Navarro — and thanks to Scott and his handy digital recorder, you can now listen in. Here’s the link. It’s like being there, but without the 117-degree temps outside. (And, sadly, without getting to see Scott’s dead-on impression of a dinosaur in the bar that evening. Alas.)  I’m slightly chagrined at all the “umm”s I have in there, but hopefully it’s not too egregious. Enjoy!

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Yes, I actually read the reviews

TDI-mmpb-coverWhile on a panel with other authors at Phoenix Comicon, an audience member asked us whether we read the reviews of our works. At least half of the authors there said no. And I totally get that — kindness and constructive criticism is in short supply on the Internet. It can be hard to read how all your hard work resulted in someone despising the book.

I piped up and said yes, I do read reviews. I don’t really seek them out, but when they’re brought to my attention via Twitter or Google alerts, I’ll give ’em a read. I’ll also occasionally look at what folks are saying when I link to Goodreads or Amazon.

Am I a glutton for punishment? Maybe. But then, I’ve been writing professionally for 23 years now, in one form or another. I used to be a journalist, and I’ve been taken to task not only by editors, but by the people I wrote about. I’ve had to defend my work repeatedly. It tends to give one a thick skin.

Yes, I’ve received negative reviews. I’ve had my ability to form coherent sentences called into question. I’ve been accused of crimes against the English language. There have been a few folks who considered the publication of my fiction yet another indication of the death knell of my publisher, or even the entire publishing industry. There have been screeds.

And you know what? All right then. I hope the screed made the reviewer feel better. Catharsis is good.

I’m really, really fortunate that my works have been generally well received — 4 stars or better on Amazon, at least 3.5 or better on Goodreads, with 4- and 5-star ratings well outnumbering the 1- and 2-star reviews. I got a couple starred reviews from major publishing sites. At this point, I’m reasonably confident that I can write enjoyable fiction.

That said, I certainly notice common threads in reviews, and there have been some dings that I’ve no doubt earned. And that’s actually helpful — that’s something I can take away and learn from, and I have. That could be one of the reasons that The Venusian Gambit was the best reviewed book in the Daedalus trilogy, and that early word on MJ-12: Inception has been really positive. I want to get better as a writer, and feedback helps.

I would never fault a fellow scribe for avoiding reviews. Folks aren’t kind sometimes, and having one’s parentage or even existence called into question ain’t a walk in the park. And some of those reviews are by no means reasonable or warranted — fellow beard-o Chuck Wendig was heartily thrashed in some quarters for Star Wars: Aftermath because folks were furious that the old Expanded Universe novels were consigned to non-canon status. It’s not like Chuck forced Disney to do that, y’all. (I shudder to think of what he would actually do with that kind of power.)

He was also ripped into for introducing a gay character into Star Wars, which the worst sort of mean-spirited, specious criticism. It’s 2016, people. Honestly, it’s about time we saw LGBTQ+ folks represented in popular fiction, and I’m proud to call the guy who brought the rainbow to a Galaxy Far Far Away a friend.

Anyway, I digress. I read the reviews, good or bad. The good ones are a nice little ego boost, and give me a nice hit of writer fuel to tackle the next book. The bad ones? Eh. I’ve had Steve Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft, rant at me over something or other — and he was six inches from my face. And he was eating at the time. If I could stand my ground then — and I did — I’m pretty OK with someone not liking my books.

And speaking of reviews: I saw a couple that were pretty nifty keen. Rob Bedford reviewed The Enceladus Crisis over at SFFWorld and had some really nice things to say about it. And a fine person named Magilla Gurilla (how awesome is that nom du plume?) over at The Veteran Gamer “absolutely recommended” The Daedalus Incident. Glad you folks liked the books. And I’m glad I read your reviews!

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The post-Phoenix Comicon post

Short version: That was incredibly super fun. Will repeat.

But hey, I think we can do better, right?

Phoenix Comicon has one of the best author/books tracks of any major convention I’ve been to. So what makes it the best, you ask? For one, there are a ton of great authors writing a dizzying array of diverse works. Two, the topics of the panels are usually pretty interesting and thought-provoking. Third, the con puts our books on sale right next door to the panels, and the marketer in me loves that impulse-buy opportunity.

But mostly, it’s the fans. The folks in the audience at all of my panels were super-smart and incredibly engaged. Their questions were thoughtful and really kept us all on our toes. The resulting conversations were informative to me, and I hope they were to everyone who came.

The fans are the biggest reason I go, and y’all are really generous with your time and encouragement of my work, and I try to do the same with whatever you got going on, too. For the first time, I had someone in the audience at a panel actually reference parts of my books as an example that I didn’t even think of — and I didn’t even know who he was, let alone did I bribe him. So that was lovely.

And now some more highlights in now particular order!

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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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Elevengeddon! Tomorrow night at the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale!

If you like SF/F books and are less than a half-day’s journey from beautiful Scottsdale, Ariz., you are officially out of excuses — Elevengeddon is coming to the Poisoned Pen tomorrow night, and you need to be there.

Why? Because while the -geddon was officially set at Eleven, we now have twenty-one authors descending on this hapless bookstore. The event kicks off on June 1 at 7 p.m. at the Poisoned Pen, 4014 N. Goldwater Blvd, Scottsdale, Ariz. Here’s the calendar listing. And as for that aforementioned twenty-one authors, they are:

That’s s a veritable flock, a slew, a plethora, a bar tab full of authors. A critical mass of science-fictional and fantastical awesomeness crammed into one bookstore. How could you not be there?

It’s gonna be huge — the store is already expecting at least 300 people, if not more. In order to keep things moving, the Poisoned Pen is going to issue wristbands for folks so they can get folks in and out of there. They’ll start handing out wristbands at 6 p.m., and each wristband will get you 45 minutes in the store to have your books signed. (i.e. the first batch of folks go from 7-7:45 p.m., the next batch is 7:45-8:30 p.m., etc.) That way, nobody has to wait around forever in line. Get your wristband, and then go grab a bite to eat or something until it’s your time.

That said, we’re not going to leave anybody hanging. You want books signed? We’ll sign your books, no matter how long it takes. Fans are awesome, and we appreciate you immensely.

Also, it should be noted that Pat and Brandon will only be signing three books per person. Otherwise, their hands will just fall off, and then they couldn’t type any more books for you.

So if you’re in town for Phoenix Comicon, or if you live in the area, or you feel like taking last-minute road-trips, head on over to the Poisoned Pen tomorrow night!

 

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Sail on! The Enceladus Crisis launches today in paperback!

Very, very excited to see The Enceladus Crisis out there in paperback today. And as is my tradition, I stopped by the local Barnes & Noble in Hackensack, N.J., to sign copies. They now have both The Daedalus Incident and The Enceladus Crisis in stock, and signed!

enceladus-launchday

In addition to detailing the ongoing adventures of now-Captain Thomas Weatherby in 1798, and now-Lt. Cmdr. Shaila Jain in 2134, the paperback edition also has a brand-new, never-before-seen excerpt of MJ-12: Inception in the back. This one followed U.S. Navy Lt. Danny Wallace as he explores the stark, horrible destruction of Hiroshma after World War II. And he finds something utterly surreal there.

Here’s a peek at the first page.

enceladus-excerpt

The third book of the Daedalus trilogy, The Venusian Gambit, is set to go July 5. And yes, you’ll get another excerpt there as well. MJ-12: Inception is due out in hardcover from Night Shade Books on September 6. If you’re attending Phoenix Comicon, I’ll have some advance copies to give away, so come say hi!

My thanks, as always, goes out to the fine folks at Night Shade Books for continuing to support the Daedalus trilogy with these new releases, as well as to super-agent Sara Megibow and all the folks who have read and enjoyed these books. You all rock!

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