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MISSION: MY COPIES

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Because I must. This instant. Show you the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in a long time. More thoughts about this experience and a long-time dream I’ve had, in a later post. But for now:

UTMboxorionandbookutmstairs

2 WEEK WARNING

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Yesterday, glancing at the calendar, I realized  I was exactly two weeks away from the official pub date of The Ultra Thin Man. The wait is nearly over.

In fact, I think I might see my own personal copies before then. It might depend on the timing, since I’m headed to Calgary for When Words Collide on August 7. The box could arrive that day and it’d be sitting on my porch for four days! I may have to call in a favor from a good friend who lives nearby. But honestly, I sure hope I have something to show off in Calgary.

ChecklistTwo years and two months ago, I thought: this is going to take forever for the book to come out. An eternity. But it’s gone by faster than I expected, and along the way, I’ve enjoyed a lot of great “firsts” related to this novel’s publication. When I think about things logically and compare this wait to the longer stretch of time it took to finally finish the book and send it out, the process of turning a “Yes, I want to publish it” to a finished product has been more like a blink of an eye.

So excuse me while I start to get a wee bit excited. I hope to see many of you at various signing events along the way!

REVIEWS & CHAPTER 1 EXCERPT

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Actually, the whole chapter 1 is up! I’ve put it as an extra on the novel information page on this site:  Chapter One   It also appeared today on Tor.com.  (Along with bonus chapter, Chapter Two!)

What else? Well how about the book being selected as a “Fantastic First” and a staff pick over at Mysterious Galaxy? And while I’m at it, because I’m all about these “firsts” in the publication adventure, the very first rating over at Goodreads was 5-star, and a nice little review to go with it.

I caught wind of another review from Booklist, and although I can’t get to an online link that I can read, my publicist sent along the review. Pasted below:

“Dave Crowell and Alan Brindos are former private investigators, now contractors with the Network Intelligence Organization and assigned to investigate the terrorist Movement of Worlds organization. The investigation that begins it all centers on the death of a woman who is suspected of being involved with the Movement’s leader, Terl Plenko; Crowell sends Brindos alone to the planet Ribon to work that angle. Meanwhile, Crowell ends up embroiled in an elaborate frame-up and conspiracy that threatens to shatter the security of the Union. They are separated, mostly unable to communicate, questioning their allies and everything they thought they knew. Nothing—and no one—is what they seem. The characterization and world building start off a little rough, but the thriller pacing carries the story along until the structure of the conspiracy becomes clear. By the epic finale, the universe is fleshed out enough to make the ultimate question—Who is behind this chain of events?—one worth answering. All in all, an entertaining piece of storytelling.”  — Regina Schroeder, Booklist

BLOGGING THE BLOG TOUR

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Even five years ago, a lot of folks would have heard the phrase “blog tour” and gone….”Whaaa?”  But it’s one of the newer ways to promote a writer’s work, thanks to the advent of blogs and social media.

So I have a blog tour! Tor Books (thanks very much to my publicist) has lined up some nice venues for me around the time of The Ultra Thin Man‘s publication date. Here’s a list of the blogs, with links, in case you’d like to get a preview of what they’re like. Also, I’ll add a little commentary about each, including topics if they’ve been given.

 

Book Banter / Guest post, August 8th  (No topic was given, but I’ve already started working on this one, which is a rundown on the strange and winding road to publication for this book.)

Forces of Geek / Guest post, August 10th  (The folks at Forces want to know a little bit about the pop culture influences in my work (tv, movie, books, comics, etc) or maybe the influence of a particular movie, or book)

Geek and Sundry / Guest post. August 12th  (They’d like me to give my quintessential survey of science fiction mysteries. Looking forward to writing this one. The blog’s tag line: Your Daily Dose of Geekiness.)

The Quillery / Interview, August 12 (They’ve asked questions about the novel, including fun ones such as describing the book in 140 characters or less, or asking about my favorite lines, favorite character.)

Optionated.com / Guest post, August 13th  (Note that’s OPTION- and not OPINION-ated. I made that mistake when checking it out for the first time! Topic’s wide open.)

My Bookish Ways / Interview, August 14th  (I’ve not seen the questions yet for this interview. But I’ll get ’em, answer ’em, and pass ’em on.)

Speculative Book Review / Guest post, August 15th  (Open topic. They do lots of book reviews and have quite an interesting rating system. And they have guest posts.)

Books and Things / Guest post, August 17th  (Also open topic. The URL is the proprieter’s blog address, so it doesn’t come up easily in a search. So good thing I have a good link to it!)

A Dream Within a Dream / Guest post, August 21st  (A late addition to the tour on 7/21! Open topic. Looks like it focuses a lot on fantasy, so I’ll have to win them over!)

SF Signal / Guest post, August 27th  (This Hugo Award-winning blog and fanzine is one of the best for SF/Fantasy out there. I’ll be talking on that guest post about works that influenced my book.

(There might be one more, depending on confirmation)

There will also be the the Twitter interview at @sffwrtcht on Aug 13
and Publishers Weekly Radio interview airing on Aug 22nd.

THE ULTRA THIN TOUR

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The tour is shaping up, and it’s anything but thin! The Ultra Thin Man launches on August 12, and I’ll be making a number of appearances at bookstores from then on throughout the month and into September. This schedule is on my Appearances page, but I thought I’d break them down a little bit here with this post.

When Words Collide, Calgary AB, August 8-10. I love this little convention, which is in its fourth year and growing. It’s a multi-genre convention, so it’s not just SF/Fantasy, but Mystery, Romance, YA, Childrens, and so on. It’s run by great people, and I’ve made a lot of friends here. Unfortunately, this is the weekend before the book release and getting books up to Calgary in time just isn’t possible. But I can really push the book there, and who knows? I might have a few of my own contributor copies there to show off.

The University Bookstore, Seattle WA, August 12, 7 p.m. My favorite Pacific Northwest bookstore, and it has one of the largest SF sections in the country. Also, one of the most knowledgeable SF booksellers in the personage of Duane Wilkins. This is the big launch event.

sffwrtcht Interview on Twitter, 9 p.m. Should be fun! If you’re on Twitter, look it up live, but the transcript of the interview will post later. It’s hosted by writer/editor Bryan Thomas Schmidt.

Third Place Books, Seattle WA, August 14, 7 p.m. Another great Seattle bookstore. Third Place has two locations. This is the larger store in Lake Forest Park, on Bothell Way.

Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing, Beaverton OR, August 20, 7 p.m. In a suburb just west of Portland, this is the branch of the famous Powell’s chain that caters to the SF/Fantasy crowd with lots of great author signings. The metropolitan Portland area is fabulous, and I hope a lot of the folks I know in that area come visit for this one!

Publishers Weekly Radio, August 22. This was just added! Hosts Rose Fox and Mark Rotella will chat with me the day before, Aug 21, for fifteen or twenty minutes about the book, and about writing and publishing. The interview itself will go live on their site on the 22nd. Quite pumped up about this. They do 4-5 interviews a month, and only rarely with SF/Fantasy authors. You might recall The Ultra Thin Man received a starred review from Publishers Weekly.

Mysterious Galaxy, San Diego CA, August 28, 7 p.m. This is one of the top independent SF/Fantasy bookstores in the country. Independent bookstores like Mysterious Galaxy really help a debut author like myself, for they can promote and reach out to their customers in a way the big chains can not. I always hear about writers signing here. Although I’ve been to San Diego a few times, and even met a few of their store gods in person at conventions, I’ve never been to the bookstore, so I’m excited to do this one!

Borderlands Books & SF in SF Reading Series, San Francisco CA, August 30, 3 p.m. Honestly. Ditto what I just said about Mysterious Galaxy. Great independent. Great people I’ve met at conventions. Been to the city (but not in a looong while), but never to the bookstore. AND….I’m reading with author Brian Herbert, co-author of the Dune book prequels. This event is a combined event with the SF in SF reading series, long on my radar of wanting to do some day. The excitement continues!

SFWA Reading Series, Kirkland WA, Sept 9, 7 p.m. This is held at the Wilde Rover in Kirkland. Good grub and drink. Multiple author readings. Books available for sale courtesy The University Bookstore. I’ll be reading with the fabulous writers Eileen Gunn and Darragh Metzger.

SFWA Reading Series, Portland OR, Sept 10, 7 p.m. The next night I do it all over again down in Portland at McMenamin’s Kennedy School, books sold there by Jacobsen’s Books. I’ll be reading with the same writers I did in Kirkland, plus the wonderful Wendy Wagner as an added bonus.

The Good Book Cafe, Sumner WA  Sept 13, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. This is my local bookstore. (Close to it. It’s about ten minutes from where I live in Bonney Lake.) It has used and new books both, and sits on the quaint main street of Sumner. And guess what? It’s Sumner’s annual “Wine Walk.” I’m told an extra thousand people storm small town Sumner for this event. So I’ll be sitting in the store signing books, along with author Mark Teppo, as folks come in to get their wine and browse.

Well that’s it! Stay tuned for the possibility of some sort of release party in August, if I’m not totally burned out. Because I love a good release party. Time, date, venue to be decided.

I’ll be at VCon in Vancouver in October, and World Fantasy in Washington DC in November, and that will round out my year pretty nicely.

I hope to see you at one of these venues!

THE PR PROCESS PROCEEDS

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My first official book signing has been arranged. It will happen on the actual publication date of the novel, August 12, at the University Bookstore in Seattle, at 7 p.m. I’d talked to the SF book buyer (and good friend) Duane Wilkins a while back, and in fact he reached out to the publicist assigned to me by Tor. Which was great, considering I’d not been aware who that would be before then. Almost immediately, my publicist contacted me to confirm the date, time and place.

So it begins. A debut novel needs a good start out of the gate, so early promotion is crucial. I’m already at work thinking about what else needs to happen, including, I very much hope, a small tour of the Northwest, and on down into California and some of the better known specialty independent bookstores.

There will be interviews. One such will be coming up with Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat (also known as #sffwrtcht because it has traditionally been a live interview on Twitter).  That will happen the day after my pub date, on August 13.

I suspect there will also be some type of “blog tour.” Between myself and publicist, we will find some blogs in the field that might best connect with the book, and hopefully  I can do guest posts.

There’s also talk of a little road trip earlier in the summer to some other bookstores, traveling with a couple other writers in an effort to increase visibility of our respective projects.

And … a release party? I’m sure there will be something along those lines. It’s not every day you release your first novel, so might as well do it up big! And of course there will be business cards, postcards, bookmarks, posters to think about.

Although I won’t be going to Worldcon in London this year, I’ll be at a few other conventions, including World Fantasy in Washington, D.C., although that isn’t until November. Of course, I’ll also be promoting books from my own small press, Fairwood, and I’ll hopefully have a table in the dealer room.

Here we go!

 

COVER ART BEFORE TEXT

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When artist Victor Mosquera created art for my novel, he did so without title, author name, and quotes. Here it is! The final cover below it.

Tor’s art department, run by the inimitable Irene Gallo, did the typography, of course, and I must say they did a great job presenting the title, which in itself (I humbly think) grabs a lot of attention. On the final cover, you can see slight differences in the artwork on the upper half, where the art department added some textures to it to help be a backdrop to the typography. I also love the way each word sits on (dare I say it?) an ultra thin line that gives it even more depth.

I just think the pairing of Victor’s art and Tor’s art department has produced an absolutely wonderful cover. Early word from friends, family, and social media seems to agree!

Here’s where I saw the original art: http://cghub.com/images/view/816804/.

And here’s one of several of his gallery websites. There’s some great stuff there! http://www.krop.com/victormosquera/#/

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PORTLAND AND ORYCON

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I’ll be in Portland, OR at Orycon this weekend. Last year I missed it because the World Fantasy Convention was held the same weekend, which has never happened before (as far back as I can remember, anyway).

Might be one of my busiest Orycons ever. First off, there’s a BIG book release party on Saturday evening in the Presidential Suite of the convention hotel. Fairwood’s releasing J.A. Pitts’ story collection Bravado’s House of Blues, and we’re sharing the limelight with two other awesome debut books: Brenda Cooper’s novel The Diamond Deep, and Raygun Chronicles, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt. It’s bound to be a most fabulous evening.

Here’s the rest of the schedule. Looks like some great topics for discussion, but I swear I’m going to die on Friday from the overload, including 4 panels in a row!

Fri) Reading, 12:30-1:30 pm. Awfully early in the con, and I know a lot of folks won’t be there by then.

Fri) Publishing Ethics, 2:00-3:00 pm

Fri) Writers Workshop, 3:00-4:00 pm (closed workshop)

Fri) One Lump of Science of Two?, 4:00-5:00 pm

Fri) Education Today, 5:00-6:00 pm

Sat) Agents in a Changing Landscape, 12:00-1:00 pm

Sat) The Structure of Writing, 6:00-7:00 pm

Sat) Book Release Party, 8:00 pm. Books will be for sale, and I’ll be the guy to see about that. Look for the table in the suite.

Sunday I’ll be heading over to Powell’s Books for Scifi Authorfest 7, at 4:30 pm,  featuring about 30 PNW writers. I hope I’ll be sitting down there next year with my book!

SUMMERTIME BLUES AND THE FALL OF MY DISCONTENT

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It was a whirlwind summer, full of writing opportunities and workshops and conventions and…

Well. The blog post title sounds kind of gloomy, so let me explain. Tomorrow I head back to school to greet students for the new year. (It will be only a partial day of classes since much of the first part of the day is reserved for the incoming freshmen.) I always feel blue as the summer comes to an end, for a variety of reasons. This year, I am bummed I didn’t get more writing done than I did. I’m bummed I won’t see some of my writing friends and convention compadres for a while.

But: It was a whirlwind of a summer, as I said. I attended Clarion West get-togethers ands various author readings. I managed to catch up with a lot of work related to my small book publishing company, Fairwood Press. I got to meet my agent, who was in Seattle for the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference, and I got to attend and be a workshop leader for the Cascade Writers Workshop in Portland Oregon. I traveled to Calgary, Alberta to take part in When Words Collide, a genre convention for writers. I went to Montana to visit my family. I had lots of time hanging out with my son Orion. And just this weekend I traveled to San Antonio for the 71st Worldcon, and even got to hold a Hugo Award won by Joss Whedon for The Avengers. (He wasn’t there, so the award was accepted by someone else. I managed to wrest it away for a few minutes.)

I’m excited for the new school year, I really am. It’ll just take some time to adjust. Mostly, I have to adjust my sleep schedule, which is completely contrary to my natural pattern of night owlness. I’ve got good classes, a lot of eager students (I’m overloaded in three of the classes at the moment), and plenty of learning to pass on. I also, as usual, find myself a bit innundated with more Fairwood to-dos. And due to a lackluster summer of writing, I’ll have to crank up the heat on writing book two.

Sleep can sometimes be a premium during the school year. How often do you give up on a few hours of shut-eye to get things done? It seems almost a given. I still put in a few all-nighters during the year just to catch up with the tasks that stack up.

I was at school most of the day, and dragged myself back home by 11 p.m. And now it’s officially tomorrow, just past midnight. There’s a late load of laundry going right now, still in the wash cycle. Oops! Gotta get those bills paid for the month too.

What am I doing here writing this blog? I’ve got work to do!

FIGHTING FOR INDEPENDENTS: BOOK SERENITY

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No, this isn’t a Firefly post.

With the demise of Borders, and the “iffy” future of Barnes & Noble, many book buyers who love to frequent brick-and-mortar stores are nervous about what is to come. Will they have to buy every print book online? (Well, there are those discounts, and fast shipping.) Will they soon have to read everything in e-format?

How can a traditioanl paper book buyer find any peace?

A while back I contributed to a special section in Locus magazine about the small press and independent press. One of the questions asked about the future of publishing, and I have always thought that when the big chain stores go out of business, we’ll see a rise in the independent bookstore. Indeed, the early numbers are already bearing out that idea. Chains put a lot of the independent bookstores out of business. Amazon, ebook retailers, and other onlilne venues had a part to play in crippling the chains. So why not bring back the independents?

Just today I had lunch with my sister in my hometown of Kalispell, Montana, and afterward she took me across the street to their new bookstore. Before this, the city of Kalispell had a big Borders. It did indeed drive my sister (and others) crazy not being able to go inside a bookstore to browse. Now here was this independent store (Bookworks). Small, cozy, limited selection, but it absolutely bled charm. They knew my sister by name. They told her the book she’d ordered was on its way, and apologized for the delay. Granted, the science fiction section, tiny by most stores’ standards, had a lot of big name fantasy authors (Butcher, Martin, Brooks, etc), and a bunch of Orson Scott Card, some classic authors, and a few odds and ends. But there were some nice surprises. I saw a book on the shelf from a friend of mine, and one of the owners said those books were doing well for them. (I actually ended up buying something from the mystery section, Craig Johnson’s The Cold Dish, the first book in his Longmire series.)

There’s something to be said for the homegrown experience. Sure you’re paying full price for books. Sure you’re waiting a little longer for special orders. But in my opinion, nothing beats a good tour of a cozy bookstore. My sister didn’t hesitate to mention my book coming next summer from Tor. The owner said, “Oh, science fiction or fantasy?” She knew the imprint. She asked me for the title, and told my sister to make sure to remind them when it got closer to the pub date.

A friend of mine has a local bookstore he goes to in his hometown of Sumner, Washington. They know him by name. He orders books through them. They also have a thriving online business, which keeps the brick-and-mortar store going.

Don’t you wish you all had a corner independent bookstore just around the corner from you? Total serenity.

If you are one of the lucky ones who has the cool bookstore nearby, it’d be fun to hear about it in comments.