Monday, October 26, 2015

Penguin Random House Coffee Klutch - better late than never

Okay, really late in getting this post out...sorry for the delay. I've been busy doing the last changes to Age of Myth before it goes to production (copy editing) and this, along with printer proofs for The Death of Dulgath has kept me and Robin busy.  I actually wrote this right after returning form New York, but I wanted Robin to look it over so I didn't embarrass myself. In any goes.

A few weekends ago I got to pretend to be an author. I know. I know. You're probably thinking that I AM an author. Still, it rarely feels like it...for the most part I live in an isolated bubble. I don’t see people beyond my family and a handful of folks at my local pub and coffee shop who know me well enough not to look up at my arrival. This is partially why I have problems with the idea that I am an author, rather than a guy who wrote some books. Probably a good thing.

Okay, so about the event...whenever she is visiting, Robin Hobb has a habit of going to public places and telling her fans to come invade a local restaurant or coffee house to see her. While in New York last year, instead of bringing the local Denny’s to a standstill, her publisher, Random House (Del Rey), hosted the meet-and-greet in their offices. They did the same this year with two distinct differences: I was there and Robin Hobb was not.

Wasn’t just me, there were a lot of authors in attendance including: Bradley P. Beaulieu, C.A. Higgins, Alan Smale, Terry Brooks, Marshall Ryan Maresca, Shawn Speakman, Myke Cole, Sylvain Neuvel, Alis Franklin, Naomi Novik, Erin Tettensor, Melissa Grey, Daniel Jose Older, Judd Winick, Susan Griffith, and Bill Schweigart were there too. We all came to see each other, readers, and to give away books provided by our publishers (very nice of them.) What it meant is that for forty-eight hours I was able to step into a Nora Ephron movie. I wandered Manhattan in the fall with an over-sized scarf and talked about the book business. Just to psyche ourselves, Robin and I watched You’ve Got Mail the day before and were whistling the Puppy Song as we arrived in Manhattan.

I’m pretty sure Nora Ephron’s vision of New York does not include a cramped five hour bus ride through Philly and Jersey. Usually we like to take the train from DC to Midtown, which is significantly shorter and far more comfortable, but the bus has the advantage of being within walking distance to our house, and a lot cheaper on short notice—which this was.

 The weather was gorgeous. I was wearing my author uniform of sports jacket, sweater, jeans, cap, and afore mentioned enormous scarf that was wholly unnecessary. We carried all our luggage in a small courier bag. I never pack heavy or wear fancy shoes when going to Manhattan because we walk everywhere. My wife has a Fitbit.

We ate at a pleasant French Bistro, then hiked to our hotel. Nice one. Robin booked it. After checking out the Apple Glass Cube just down the street, and the creepy storefront windows of Bergdorf Goodman (they’re doing a Crimson Peak theme), we collapsed in our room. Rumor has it we logged just shy of 10,000 steps.

Next day we ate breakfast at a little packed diner where I watched the people passing on the street thinking about stories set in an urban jungle. Something about New York has that effect. Probably the fact that so many movies depict it and get it right. Walking down any street I see people doing things like hauling a luggage rack along the sidewalk, or walking five dogs while smoking and drinking a latte, or a woman in a stunning black and white 1940’s dress with red lipstick leaning seductively against a building, or a doorman in an old-fashioned uniform and think, This is staged, right? It’s hard not to dream up characters and tales, but it is like drinking from a fire hose. It becomes a blur.

After breakfast, which like everything in New York is fast and efficient and all business, we hoofed our way to Random House. The day got warm—mid-seventies in mid-October—and I started to sweat. Great, I’ll smell like I just came from the gym. Not that I belong to a gym, but I can imagine—I’m a fantasy author after all. The good news is that my coffee breath will likely overwhelm the body odor.

Random House is lodged in the first fourteen floors of a giant glass building. In a stark lobby that could have been the setting from a Ayn Rand story if she had written 2001 Space Odyssey. They have glass cases of significant books they’ve published up on the walls well out of the reach of mortals. My favorite was Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer.


Security at all buildings in Manhattan is strangulation tight, and always leaves you feeling that publishing books is just a front for something else. I’m positive that if you push the lowest button on the elevator it will take you to MIB headquarters. Alas, I wasn’t allowed near the elevator panel, so we’ll never know for sure.

Tom, my editor’s assistant, came down to rescue Robin and I from the barren bench in the lobby and provide escort. I thought of calling him Strider, but figured that was too geeky. I soon realized such a thing was impossible. One does not simply walking into Del Rey. One needs to have credentials to work there. Now you might think that would entail diplomas and signed letters of recommendation, and I’m certain they have those too, but first and foremost, their geeks. They have to be. They read fantasy books all day and have life size cut-outs of George Martin in their cubicles. That’s right…Del Rey is geek heaven.

After meeting and chatting with my editor, Trisha Nawani, who works beneath a threat-of-death-by-fantasy-book-avalanche shelf (seriously, I hope you have literary insurance and a hard hat). She alone in Del Rey has an iMac, which made me smile and think she might be the queen of the Del Rey Geek Realm. When I found out she was deeply into Magic the Gathering, I began looking for her crown.

Then Trisha led Robin and I to the event, a large room where the other authors had begun to gather. Right now you’re imagining a dark room with no descernable walls and a blue light coming up from the illuminated floor casting everyone’s face in sinister shadows like the judges at the start of the Christopher Reeve version of Superman. We’re all in cloaks, most with hoods up, except Shawn who looks cooler without it. Sorry to say that you’re imagination—or rather mine—is a tiny bit off. We were in a well lit event space not unlike a high end hotel conference hall, except with books. Books on shelves, book on tables, some were mine. Smile.

The first author I ran into was a wild, bearded man who gave me a bear hug. The rest of you might know him as Myke Cole. If you’re wondering if you’ve ever met Myke—you haven’t. No one forgets Myke Cole. He’s a cross between Hemingway and Peter Jackson’s stand in for Gimli. He’s the one in the pictures below with the Fahrenheit 451 T-shirt, and the bicep with the tattoo that is big enough to write a novel on. I already knew Myke, but the next author I’d never met and was anxious to as I’d read her most recent book—Uprooted—a few months ago and loved it. I’m certain Naomi Novik had no idea who I was. I’m pretty sure she still doesn’t.

The clock struck 11:00am and the doors were opened. I didn’t know this at first as I was talking to Shawn Spearman (who I know very well in the Narnia-quese world of inter-webs, but have never met in real life). But when I spotted someone with a copy of Theft of Swords, I got clued into the start of the event and I walked to a table to sign it. By the time I did a line had formed at my table. Some brought bags carrying books of mine.

One fellow had a complete set of my original self-published works. Another fellow who goes by the name Kevin, presented me with a Fritz Leiber book as my Riyria novels have often been compared to them, but I am famous for never having read anything by Mr. Leiber.

Orbit sent over a stack of Rise of Empire as my addition to the Robin Hobb Coffee Klutch. (I’m still calling it that even though she wasn’t there.) In the midst of all this I spotted a familiar face over my shoulder. Tim Gerard Reynolds, the voice of my audiobooks had taken time from his ever busy schedule to say hello.


The man is now an ‘A-lister’ in the audiobook world, and still remembers my name. Squee! I never get enough time to speak to this man who gave voice to Royce and Hadrian, and once again he was gone before I could say much. He had places to go and I had people to meet.

Robin got her own celebrity moment when a pair of women approached her. They wanted to thank her for all her hard work on the Kickstarter (that they just loved) and for pushing me to write more Riyria stories. The three of them spent more than half an hour swapping favorite "Riyria stories" and Robin dished with them about some behind the scenes stuff.

As things wound down I met Terry Brooks when Shawn told me to stand next to him (or at least his wife) for this photo.


He explained how he had outlived everyone at his publisher. I replied that he shouldn’t let that get him down, and that if he kept at it I was certain one day he’d make a go of this ‘writing thing.’

After the event my editor treated us to lunch. It was there that  I learned about Tom’s computer game and movie addiction and Trisha’s affection for Magic the Gathering. So there you have it, publishers are in fact human, and oddly normal people with ordinary lives. Sort of. Well, as ordinary as people can be who have a life size cut-out of George Martin in their offices.

By the time we got back to the Port Authority bus station, we’d walked 12,984 steps. I had a beer at the bar beside the bus station and discussed the Mets with a fan on the bar stool next to me. Born a Tigers fan, I adopted the Nationals when they were born right about the time I moved to DC. That had to be a sign or something. But as Hadrian says, ‘Your enemy is only your enemy until he hits the ground’—or in this case, you do.

A long five hours later we were home. The dream was over, and once again I was just a guy who wrote some books, in a townhouse that needs cleaning. Then I saw the boxes.

The Death of Dulgath proofs were back! But that’s another story.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Authors Helping Publishers: Kickstarter Card Game

I really like the guys & gals over at Ragnarok Publications.  They released my short story "Professional Integrity" in the Blackguards Anthology they Kickstarted last August, and they produced a beautiful book with stories from almost two dozen amazing authors.

Now, they're running a Kickstarter to produce a card game dreamed up by fellow fantasy author Mark Lawrence (author of The Broken Empire Series and The Red Queen's War). It looks like a lot of fun.

I backed as soon as I heard about it, and they are already 100% funded. But more funding means more perks through stretch goals.  They've even asked me to pen a few snarky quotes for the game, so there's that to look forward to. In any case, check it out and if looks like something you think you'd enjoy why not back it as well?  Click on the graphic below (or this link) to learn more.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Authors Helping Musicians: Mama Dragon

Got a really nice email today from someone who wanted to let me know how much they enjoyed The Death of Dulgath. At the bottom of it was their signature which had a link to this YouTube. I'm not sure if the person who wrote the email, and the one who created this song (and video) are the same, but I thought it was cute and decided to share it. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Authors Helping Authors: Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Book 5

I've known Pip and Tee for a while now. They are talented writers and incredibly hardworking. They also have a heck of a fun steampunk series featuring Agents Books and Braun.  Think of it as a witty version of Avengers in a steampunk world.

The books have been published by Harper Voyager (first 2 books) and Ace (second 2 books) and now the fifth book, The Ghost Rebellion, will be self-published with help from...

The books have won a number of awards including:
  • 2014 Best Steampunk from RT Book Reviews Reviewers' Choice Award
  • 2012 Steampunk Chronicle Readers' Choice for Best Literature
  • 2011 Airship Award for Best Steampunk Literature
So, check it out (click on the video or the Kickstarter logo above to go straight to the project), and if it looks interesting to you, please join me in backing this incredibly exciting project.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Release Day: The Death of Dulgath (ebook edition)

It's been a whirlwind, to be sure. But the ebook version of the next Royce and Hadrian adventure is now live! You can find copies at the following places:

As for the print copies, the files have been sent to the printer and we are waiting on the proofs to roll the presses, so it shouldn't be too much longer on that front.  As for the audio, Tim Gerard Reynolds had to make a hole in his recording schedule (can't NOT have him) and that will be sometime between middle November and Thanksgiving.  Right now it is scheduled to come out December 15th and preorders have been going well.

The Kickstarter and Beta readers got their copies a few days ago, and so far the response has been quite positive.  I hope you'll check it out.

Oh, and if you haven't read the other two Riyria Chronicles, you can pick this one up independent of them. It's written as a standalone book, so don't let that hold you back.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Can't Wait Sci-Fi/Fantasy of 2016

One of the really cool things about goodreads is it's ability to create lists. The bad side of this is they are often not accurate ;-(. The Can't Wait Sci-Fi/Fantasy of 2016 list has (at the time of this writing), been voted on by 423 people. Currently it contains 129 books - but as you'll see some of the most highly anticipated won't be coming out in 2016. Here's what I know about the top 10.
  1. Patrick Rothfuss: - doubtful for 2016. Patrick is no longer saying much about books until they are "close" to release and given how much post-production work is involved I doubt we'll see this in 2016.
  2. George R.R. Martin: - rumor has it that George is trying to be more concentrated on writing since the series is getting a head the books. I'm not sure this will make 2016.  I think 2017 is more likely, time will tell.
  3. Brandon Sanderson: - only at 21% complete at the moment, but Brandon does write quickly. He's said that if he can get the first draft done by March November 2016 is possible. I think it will probably slip into 2017, but we'll know more by April 1.
  4. Scott Lynch:   - This was originally targeted for 2015 and so I think the the chances for 2016 are pretty good. Scott, has been notorious for missing deadlines in the past, he suffers from bouts of depression that effects his ability to write, but I think in general he's been better on that front in recent years.
  5. Brandon Sanderson: - pretty much a done deal, the release date is early int he year, pre-orders are live, and the manuscript is 100% through the final draft. This will hit 2016.
  6. Mark Lawrence: - I'm sure this will hit 2016. Mark tends to write ahead of schedule on his books and has a good track record of on-time releases. 
  7. Michael J. Sullian: - No question this will come out in 2016. My editor received the book in April 2015 and it's already been through structural editing with not much in the way of changes required. 
  8. Brandon Sanderson: - Again I think this is a pretty "done deal" for 2016. 100% through the rough draft so it should be good to go.
  9. Robin Hobb:  - A mid-year release from an author with a good track record for on-time delivery - I think this will hit on schedule.
  10. Brent Weeks:  - No pre-order page on Amazon and no listing in Nielsen's Bookscan, which surprises me. Brent tends to do books on a 2-year schedule so I do think he'll hit 2016.  Also, initial chapters are already circulating and so this bodes well so I give it a 90% chance of hitting 2016.
Okay, so that's the list I'll summarize my "guesses about release here."
  • Unlikely: Doors of Stone & Winds of Winter
  • Potential Risk: Oathbringer & Thorn of Emberlain
  • High Probability: Assassin's Fate, The Blood Mirror
  • Sure things: Bands of Mourning, The Wheel of Osheim, Age of Myth, Calamity

Friday, October 2, 2015

Start spreading the news...

I'm leaving...well not today, but soon (Oct 11 to be precise, for an event on the 12th) for a quick trip to the Big Apple.  I'm going to be taking part in Del Rey's Author Meet and Greet. So if you are going to NYCC, or happen to live in or near New York City why not come see me and a bunch of other authors. We're even giving away some free books for those that stop by, but feel free to bring copies of your own to get signed. NOTE: Del Rey won't be selling copies of books and the number of free books will be limited. Here's the skinny:
  • Where: Penguin Random House building at 1745 Broadway (between 55th and 56th streets) after signing in with security you'll go to the 2nd floor Club Room for free coffee and mingling with authors.
  • When: October 12 from 11:00 am -1:00 pm  (come and go anytime during those hours)
  • How: RSVP by e-mailing with the word RSVP in the subject line (and include the full names of everyone that are coming with you in the body of the email.
  • Note: All attendees need to bring a photo ID with them.

So who can you see at this shindig?  Here's a list of the authors that I know about so far:
  • Bradley P. Beaulieu   
  • C.A. Higgins
  • Alan Smale
  • Terry Brooks
  • Marshall Ryan Maresca  
  • Shawn Speakman
  • Myke Cole
  • Sylvain Neuvel
  • Michael J. Sullivan
  • Alis Franklin
  • Naomi Novik
  • Erin Tettensor
  • Melissa Grey
  • Daniel Jose Older
  • Judd Winick
  • Susan Griffith
  • Bill Schweigart
If you can't make it during that time, and you still want to meet-up, drop me an email and I'll see what I can do. Hope to see some of you there!