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Here’s where I’ll be during Portland’s Orycon convention! The panel names and fellow panelists. I leave my school where I teach right after my last class, and get right on the road, and arrive just a little ahead of my first event: my reading.

Sunday afternoon, at 4 pm., I’ll also be at Powell’s Books (Cedar Hills location) AuthorFest 9.


Friday, 7 p.m.    Reading. Patrick Swenson reads from The Ultra Big Sleep, the follow-up novel to The Ultra Thin Man.

Satuday, 2 p.m.   First Page Idol. Submit the first page of your novel to our talented author panelists, and listen to them read aloud that first page(keeping the writer’s identity anonymous) and give thoughtful reactions.

Saturday, 3 p.m.  Synopses, Summaries, and Blurbs, Oh My!  Few things exasperate writers more than condensing their masterworks into a single page synopsis–or worse, a 150 word book description! What to include, what to exclude, and strategies to keep it fresh and reveal your voice without sounding unprofessional.

Saturday, 5 p.m.  Planners vs. Pantsers. Some writers have everything outlined and plotted before they put their fingers on the keyboard. Others insist on flying by the seat of their pants. If you’re one, come learn the techniques of the other, and why you should pay attention.

Sunday, 11 a.m.  Publishing Ethics.  What should the relationship between publishers and writers look like, as well as writers and readers? Both situations require respect. What does that look like?



My small press, Fairwood Press, will be hosting a release party at the Spokane Worldcon, now less than 2 weeks away. It’s to celebrate the release of four new titles by four authors who will be in attendance. It’s open to all! Here’s the info poster below:

FP poster test 2


It’s  release day for the trade paperback version of The Ultra Thin Man!

That’s it.  Really. All I got. Except the graphic of the trade cover flat below. Beauty.

Move along [to a bookstore and buy a book].

utm scan1



A second post in the same day? Well, why not? Particularly when a lovely box filled with lovely trade paperbacks of The Ultra Thin Man arrive.

But I’m not going to say much in this post. I’ll say (1) the trade comes out July 28, and (2) buy that sucka.

Now here are some pictures (click for larger), and the unboxing video!

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Yesterday I found out I’d made the final ballot of this year’s World Fantasy Awards, to be presented in Saratoga Springs, NY, later this year. The World Fantasy Award has been described as one of the three most prestigious speculative fiction awards, along with the Hugo and the Nebula Awards.

But The Ultra Thin Man is science fiction, you say!

Yeah. This isn’t about MY writing. This is about my small press, Fairwood Press. The award category is “Special Award: Nonprofessional.” (Note: not Unprofessional.) There’s also a “Special Award: Professional” category. Meaning, I don’t make a living off this venture, or pay certain pro rates to writers (although some of my writers’ books have made more money than some pro books out there, for the press and writer both). The full ballot is listed right here. What’s great is that I have a lot of friends on this list in other categories! Congrats (and good luck) to all of them.

This is an award in recognition for my work with Fairwood, which spans about 20 years, starting back in the Talebones magazine days. Back then, Fairwood was a basic umbrella company and I was throwing out some specialty chapbooks, such as the original edition of Ken Rand’s The 10% Solution. In 2000, I incorporated, and Fairwood Press, Inc. was born.  As of this year, there exists some 70 book titles, which includes the four new books coming out this summer.

For all of that time, with the exception of the earliest Talebones years, when we were producing some of those first Fairwood books, I’ve worn all the hats at Fairwood Press.  It’s a lot of work, and typically there’s not a lot of recognition. This is the first nod, award-wise, in 20 years, except for a short story in Talebones, “Still Life with Boobs” by Anne Harris, which was on the final Nebula Award ballot for best short story. But that was an award nomination for Anne.

I’m thrilled beyond belief, of course. Mind you, there are a lot of worthy names on that ballot for this category, and I would consider it a bit of an upset if I pulled it off and won the thing. But I wouldn’t mind, of course. The award trophy itself is . . . interesting! It’s a bust of H.P. Lovecraft, designed by cartoonist Gahan Wilson, all in honor of Lovecraft’s work and contributions to the world of fantasy. The downloadaward has a nickname, too: A “Howard,” Lovecraft’s first name. It’s not one of the best looking awards, but you know? Looking at it from my position now? It looks damn beautiful. I can think of an instance in November when it would look even more beautiful.

Now I must make plans to somehow get to the World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga Springs. A convention that’s been sold out for a while now. Where there’s a will . . .



The Ultra Big Sleep is in the hands of my agent after another editing pass and incorporating some first reader comments. More comments from readers are still coming, but I needed to at least get the book and a synopsis out there so my agent can pitch it to my editor.

I realize, at this very moment, I’ve not even thought about the short elevator pitch for this sequel. Hmmm. I’ll work on that.

My agent came up with a great one for The Ultra Thin Man after it sold to Tor, so we could announce it in various venues. It’s now the 2nd sentence of my summary on the front page of my site, interspersed between Tor’s own summary.

Hurry up and wait. Not much I can do now with this book. If I get more comments from first readers that are crucial, I can still get them in and resend the file before my editor reads the book. Or even after he reads, if he’s interested in it.

I could work on book three. That is, once my seat-of-the-pants writing process throws me a title and comes up with that first inciting WTF moment. I’ve also thought about writing a short story with my main characters from book one. I’ve not done a lot of short story writing in a loooong time. Maybe it would be good for me to give it a whirl.

Meanwhile, I ought to be seeing my own copies of the trade paperback version of book one pretty soon!


As I write this, two weeks remain in the school year. As a high school English teacher, this can turn out to be a busy time. For example, I have about 35 creative writing students finishing up short stories, and they’re due at the end of this week, because seniors are done then, graduating on Saturday. It means a lot of plot outlines, character studies, opening pages, rough drafts, and final drafts to go through.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to work my way through a read-thru and edit of The Ultra Big Sleep, sequel to The Ultra Thin Man.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to get five Fairwood Press books ready for this summer for their official release at the World Science Fiction convention in Spokane, WA.

Meanwhile, I also have a lot of “also need to do this” things on my list.  And it would also be nice to have some sort of life outside of all these things. Yesterday, that never felt more true, with a full day to myself, and stacks of work facing me. I met a friend for a late breakfast, and then came home ready to work.

And…… I couldn’t. I mean, I did a few things, but I didn’t even make a dent. I couldn’t even venture outside into the 80 degree weather to soak up the sun. Really, I don’t particularly like the sun when it’s making my world 80+ degrees. So I sat inside, in air-conditioned comfort, and proceeded to read for an hour or so. And then I watched some television shows via Netflix. I rarely get the time to do this (except during the summer). I watched five episodes of A&E’s series Longmire, and finally finished the first season. (I’d watched the first 5 episodes months before.)

I could’ve worked out for an hour. I could’ve done some editing. Could’ve done some Fairwood work. But none of that happened. I did finish a few of the creative writing stories I had on my lap as I watched. I sat glued to the couch and the TV (and enjoyed the episodes), but I also brooded. A chunk of me wanted to be outside, hanging out with someone. (See, I didn’t have my son Orion with me during the weekend.) I did do a couple of out-and-about things with friends: A movie on Friday night. Firepit gathering with another group of friends on Saturday night.  That breakfast Sunday late morning. But when I was home, I gloomily stared at the pile of work and said SHUT UP to it. And brooded.

It’s maddeningly difficult to juggle so many balls in the air. I’ve been told it sometimes seems effortless to those on the outside looking in, wondering at my tenacious work ethic and prolific output. How do I do it all? In the end, I guess I do get a lot more done than would sometimes seen humanly possible (sleep is sometimes a luxury), but I also put a lot of pressure on myself. When I feel overwhelmed, I’m not very productive. To tell the truth, I would’ve accomplished more this past weekend if Orion had been here. I would’ve managed to check off a smattering of tasks from all categories in the blog post title, and still been able to have lots of quality hangout time with Orion.

I have people in my life who are very important to me, for various reasons. When I don’t see them, I freak out a little. I second guess myself. Do I feel like I’m missing out on something good? Maybe. Is it the extrovert in me wanting to get out and socialize? Likely.

Everything will even out a whole bunch in the next few weeks, I’m sure. When summer is in full swing, perhaps I’ll find my second wind for the year 2015.



A few days ago I finished a 3rd draft of The Ultra Big Sleep, the sequel to The Ultra Thin Man. With this book I’ve been able to highlight some of the milestones in its creation, whereas the first novel was sold and on its way by the time this webpage came into existence. This new novel has gone through a markedly different process in many ways. For one, it’s not taking mumblety-mumble-mumble years to finish. Because a follow-up book can’t take too long to come out into the world after the first one. The process overall has sped up. And yet I wanted it to go faster. And I’m not done with it by any means. I’ll be editing the 3rd draft from a printout of the book.

Regardless, I’m now in the position of being able to send out the book to trusted first readers to read through it, even as I’m continuing to edit from my end. These are all readers who read book one. I should probably also get someone who has not read the first one to see if it stands alone well enough. I’m also sending it to my agent now to read through. He can give me feedback and also get the ball rolling on pitching this book to my editor. I don’t have a deal for this book (The Ultra Thin Man was a one-book deal), so it still has to catch the editor’s attention. I also will be getting a very short synopsis/outline ready.

That being said, sales of book one will play into any decision about book two. Hard cold facts. Tor has to see they made back a good chunk, if not all, and then some, of their investment. That’s a bit scary.  There are still trade paperback sales to come. More ebook sales when the price goes down.

So feel free, everyone, to punch up those sales numbers and buy that space opera noir novel you have been itching to buy by yours truly! I’m working hard to get the next one out there.



First: Has it really been THAT long since I posted last? Yeesh. Must. Do. Better.

This quick note explains that the trade paperback edition of The Ultra Thin Man will be out on July 28! It’s already up on sites for preorder, such as Amazon and Barnes &, sans cover art. I’m looking forward to seeing physical copies of this edition!

Meanwhile, I’m putting the final touches on The Ultra Big Sleep, the sequel, and should soon be giving my agent a looksee. I’m pretty happy with the way it’s turning out.



Quick word here to say that the first draft of the sequel to The Ultra Thin Man is done! The Ultra Big Sleep has come in at 115,000 words. But … ’tis a rough draft, of course. Much work needs doing as I begin revisions. I expect the length to be somewhat shorter after all is said and done.

I finished the draft on Friday night….no, er, Saturday morning, at 4 a.m. It’s been composting since then, and I won’t look at it again until Wednesday night, when I return to the Rainforest Writers retreat for the 2nd of three sessions. The time between is not only for composting, but also for deciding how best to approach the revision process.

Wish me luck!