So today is a hugely great day! I mean, not particularly for wallets, but great for brains. Because today is my friend Django Wexler’s book birthday! The Forbidden Library is available for purchase everywhere – now, Django is probably best known for his incredibly epic flintlock fantasy, as well as his inability to say no when I come up with a blog idea, but he will soon be also known for incredible middle-grade fantasy.
I don’t read a lot of children’s literature – I mean, beyond Harry Potter or A Series of Unfortunate Events, which, do those even really count? – but I read The Forbidden Library ARC back in June. Mostly it was because Django is my buddy, and because he promised that cats would be involved. So I might’ve started that book out of nepotism and the desire for literary LOLcats, but that is not why I stayed up all damn night reading that book. Seriously, this is SO DAMN GOOD. I wish that I could use a time machine to go back and hand it to my eleven-year-old self, because I wish I could’ve grown up with this one in my head alongside Narnia. But at the same time, it’s just honestly good, and I’m itching for #2.
Written for kids? Yes, and it will blow their minds. But at the same time, this completely holds up for an adult reader due to the nuanced characters and some extremely tricky and complex themes. Buy it, read it, love it, finally get all my references to The Swarm. (then nag your library into investing in a copy)
I usually have a lot of books and authors I list off when people ask me about what my literary influences were when it came to writing the Fort Scott books. I mean, I kind of wish I could just upload a few pictures of the contents of my bookshelves. But one influence that I absolutely cannot underemphasize was Rob Thurman’s Cal Leandros series – particularly the first book, Nightlife. The grit of it, the humor, the complete nightmare re-imagining of elves, and the emotional messiness – I just love that damn book. I also love Rob Thurman – I must have at least a dozen of her books scattered all over my house, most pretty banged up.
So I’m guessing that I’m not alone in the Thurman fandom, so that’s why you should like this – Rob Thurman has put together a Cal Leandros anthology. Two shorts that appeared in previous anthologies, one short that was previously online, and one entirely brand-new short story. Available in Kindle, paperback, and also on her website! Go snag a copy – Rob Thurman is trying out the Barb Hendee model and dipping her toe in self-publishing, so if she gets a good response out of this, we’re all likely to see a lot more of this kind of thing from her.
That’s news about my friends – now how about some Fort Scott stuff? Tainted Blood has an Amazon page! There’s also a definite pub date – November 4, 2014 should now be seared into your calendars. Finally, here’s the back cover copy – read and enjoy!
In the third Generation V novel, Fortitude Scott proves that working with family can be deadly…
Former film student Fortitude Scott is finally gainfully employed. Unfortunately, said employment happens to be with a group of sociopathic vampires—his family. And as much as Fort is loath to get too deep into the family business, when his brother, Chivalry, is temporarily unable to run the territory, it’s up to Fort to keep things under control.
So when the leader of a powerful faction of shifters turns up murdered, Fort finds himself tracking down a killer while navigating dangerous rivalries, longtime grudges, and hidden agendas. Even with the help of his foxy kitsune sidekick, Suzume, he’ll need to pull out all the stops to hunt for the paranormal assassin.
But as he calls on fairies, witches, and ghouls for help, he discovers that the problem is much bigger than a single dead werebear. The supernatural community is preparing for a massive shift in power within the Scott family leadership—and Fort has landed right in the middle of the gathering storm.…
That was a very busy weekend! I was lucky enough to meet a number of writers who I admire, several very lovely and kind fans of Generation V, and quite a few interesting and kind-hearted people who listened to my spiel and professed themselves very interested in checking out Generation V.
Now, as fast as I was handing out my cards and info, people were handing great cards and info back to me. Check out my collection!
Pretty nice, right? I know I have two of Taylor Anderson’s cards, but that’s because I ran into him twice – once at a party, and once at breakfast. What a great guy, with an absolutely fascinating skillset!
Definitely take a close look at the flier at the bottom – when I was doing my autographing session (which, actually, went very well – a combination of everyone’s love of free books, plus being seated next to the amazing Cat Rambo) I was lucky enough to get a chance to talk to Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Jean Lorrah, and they told me about their newest project – it’s a Kickstarter for a story-driven RPG that’s set in their Sime~Gen universe! Gamers, particularly the gamer ladies, this one is definitely one to take note of. You can check it out in more detail at
I’ll talk about the con (so much fun!) and San Antonio (seriously, San Antonio, what the hell is going on with that river? it looked like Chtulhu’s bathwater!) in a bit more detail later, but for now, I’m going to tell you about something important.
A quest that happened when I suggested to my hard sci-fi loving brother that he check out the list of WorldCon attendees to see if there was anyone that he really liked, because I’d be happy to get a book signed for him. Well, it turned out that there were quite a few of my brother’s SF heroes at the con, and we entered into some fairly intense negotiations about exactly how many books I was willing to shlep down for him. (I drew the line at bringing David Brin’s entire Uplift series. Yes, I am heartless)
So my brother managed to narrow it down to his top five picks, which he then mailed to me from San Francisco. Here’s what that stack looked like:
I packed them into my bag, and took them down. Something to keep in mind – first, I made my brother prioritize them, just in case I had only a chance to get one signed and not another. Then he took it a little further and wrote up a post-it note for each one so that I could read it to the author to explain just why this book was beloved.
Okay, so I set myself up to go – firstly, I didn’t get down to WorldCon until Friday afternoon, which means that the first thing that happened was that I completely missed Joe Haldeman and David Brin’s signings. Nuts. Now, they both had programming later in the con, but the problem there was that I’d scheduled myself pretty tightly for most of the con and I actually didn’t get to go to many panels. (‘cuz I was there to, you know, *work*) And then I couldn’t find Greg Bear anywhere on the programming, and was told that he’d had to cancel at the last minute. Whoops. But that still left Gregory Benford, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Alistair Reynolds. And Alistair Reynolds was actually on my panel, so that seemed very doable!
So, the quest began. (impressive music) I flew down to San Antonio, got to the hotel room, and packed my shoulder bag for the day. Off I went to pick up my badge – and guess who was in front of me at the programming table? DAVID BRIN! And I was all, “FUCK, I left the book back in the room!” (which is probably something that David Brin is not un-used to hearing when people meet him) But he was absolutely lovely, and had a stack of fliers for his new book on him, so he personalized one of those for my brother. And then even let me take a photo with him. Awesome!
And then I realized about forty minutes later that I’d actually had the book in my bag at the time, and I screeched obscenities at myself for about five minutes. Good times! (seriously, the moral of this might be – I kind of suck at this thing) And I really tried, but I never saw David Brin again.
Which, in all honesty, isn’t surprising. I mean, somewhere a deity was just shaking Its head, all, “Seriously, ML? I arrange it so that the very first person you bump into at WorldCon is David Brin, who is your brother’s personal SF hero because of the Uplift series, AND that he’s in a good mood, and you completely fumble the moment? Forget any favors in the future.”
But after that I went the solid route – autographing lines. And I learned a few things – firstly, that autographing lines are actually a good way to meet some pretty neat and nice people. Secondly – there are people who are kind of in the business of getting autographs. There were people with *carts* of books! And lists! (at one point I was at the SFWA table, and after I introduced myself to a very nice woman, she pulled out her list to see if I was on it – it turns out that I was, but only sort of. She’d actually put *Marie* Brennan on her list, because she thought we were the same. This actually turned out to be kind of a theme, so I’ve made an adjustment to my FAQ sheet.)
I also learned that it’s usually kind of important to get to the autographing line a little early. That way you can save some time. But on Friday I was able to get two of my brother’s books signed!
Then on Saturday I went to my panel on writing horror. It was very fun, very sharply moderated, and there were some pretty cool questions from the audience. One interesting thing that came out was that all five of the authors sitting on this panel were completely obsessed with non-fiction accounts of Himalayan mountain climbers – particularly when someone loses fingers or a nose to frostbite and then keeps climbing. Make of that what you will, but to those of you who like getting writing advice? Apparently you should be reading Into Thin Air and watching some documentaries.
Anyway, it was lots of fun, and then at the end Alistair Reynolds was very lovely and signed my brother’s book!
That was basically the end to the quest. However, my brother did have one specific desire to make his nerd life complete, and that was a photo of Benson, Brin, and Bear all together. And I completely delivered.
Welcome to July (also known as, “shit, how is it July already?”)! Last week was pretty good for the writing. I had a very useful phone conversation with my editor (the great and powerful Anne Sowards) in the middle of the week.
We talked about where I’m planning on taking Book 3. This was a pretty important phone call, since when Roc bought the three books, the purchases on #2 and #3 were based on a set of proposals, plus an over-series arc document. Iron Night is similar in most major points to its proposal, but the problem is that there are a few really BIG events that were in the Book 3 proposal that I just didn’t feel should happen yet. They needed more prep before I could get to them.
Anne agreed with me, and I had a really productive week of outlining. I’ve cleared up one of the thornier areas of the main plot, and now I’m just figuring out how some of the ongoing plots will fit in around it. The timing is going really well on this, since on Saturday I’ll be heading down to one of my favorite places in the world for a six-day solo vacation – can you guess the place?
Newport, RI. My family starting going down for a week every summer when I was about 4, and I actually lived there for a full year on my own. Newport is both one of my favorite settings in the Fortitude Scott books and a really important place in its creation. I finished the first draft of Generation V in Newport in the summer of 2011. In the summer of 2012, I’d just sold the series to Roc, and I thrashed out the full outline of Iron Night during my time there. This summer I’m hoping to get a chunk of writing done on Book 3.
My schedule in Newport is pretty basic – I get up in the morning, eat breakfast and read on the porch. Then I come inside and write for a few hours, breaking for lunch. In the early afternoon I take a break and head down to the town – I walk all over, looking in shops, checking out what has changed, until I’m exhausted and sweaty. Early dinner at the Newport Creamery (greasy spoon diner and decent eating for a writer on a budget – plus, Awful Awfuls!), then back to the keyboard. Time out on the porch to enjoy the sunset. Work until I’m tired, then to bed. Repeat until vacation is over.
It’s wonderful – though my brother usually calls me a few times to make sure I haven’t gone all The Shining on my own.
This year I’ll be leaving Newport on a Friday – the same Friday as my first convention! I’m really excited to be attending ConnectiCon – I’m on two panels, plus I’m going to get a chance to sign copies of Generation V! Plus I also get to attend a convention – yay! If you’re planning on attending ConnectiCon, drop me a note so that we can meet up!
So that’s what’s going on with me (and why there won’t be a State of Monday next week), on to the important stuff – what’s going on with the books! Firstly, Generation V is up to 22 reviews over at Amazon. Amazon also has a new format which I’m not especially thrilled about – I find it really visually annoying, and it kind of pisses me off to have to click on something to see basic book info like where something was published. But, hey, I guess when I’m a global conglomerate with billions in assets, I can complain then, right?
Two really great reviews of Generation V – one from Kristin over at My Bookish Ways, and the other that I found over at bookistry. Also, Candace from Candace’s Book Blog is having a guest post and giveaway extravaganza, and she was nice enough to ask me to add a post. I had a lot of fun doing it, so check out My Top Ten Favorite Books So Far This Year — because, really, I’ve never been able to do a Top Ten list of favorite books of all time. I remember getting really frustrated over that once back in 8th grade, and let me tell you, I’ve read a *shit-ton* of books since then. It’s not getting any easier. But favorite books read in a six month period? That I could get a fun handle on. Oh, and you should also check out my list because Candace is running a giveaway of a signed copy of Generation V. So, free stuff!
I’ll be guest blogging tomorrow at That’s What I’m Talking About for their Urban Fantasy Summer Reading Celebration ) — they have a pretty great lineup of books to raffle off, and they’ll also be talking about some of my favorite authors.
Speaking of summer fun – check out the Blogger Summer Circus Giveaway Hop. There are a lot of great blogs involved, but start off at one I like very much – Danielle at Coffee and Characters is the ringmaster, and she also has a lineup of cover reveals, and I’m *very* flattered that she included Iron Night as one that she’s really looking forward to! Believe me, I’m *dying* to find out what people think of it, and January feels like forever and a day, but it’s with the copyeditor now, who will no doubt point out about fifty problems that I was completely unaware of. (last time favorites included the fact that the gun Fort was using held about four more bullets than I thought it did – so the final version ended up with four more shots to explain how he emptied his gun)
Speaking of the Iron Night cover….
…it was included in the All Things Urban Fantasy Cover Art Coverage! They had 36 covers to get through (whoa!) but were nice enough to include Iron Night. The entry is worth checking out on its own (I love reading their cover art posts), but here’s what was said about Iron Night:
The covers for this series suck. A lot. They’re boring as all get out. That’s especially sad since this is a tremendous series.
Did you hear that? Chris says that this is a “tremendous series”! Woo!
While I will always applaud sensible clothes and just plain clothes on a model this is kind of boring. He looks like he’s just taking a stroll with his gun.
“Taking a stroll with his gun” would be the best kickoff to an animated Disney song EVER! (wait, didn’t that already happen in Pocahontas?) But, yes, I am continually relieved at Fort’s state of dress on these covers – ie, his commitment to wearing shirts. Actually, this cover got even safer, since he now has a tee *and* a long-sleeve shirt! That’s smart layering, Fort!
The V in the background is why I’m giving this cover the middle. My interest is peaked by it alone.
I’m a huge fan of that background V. Yes, it has flummoxed a few people, since the official series name is American Vampire, not Generation V, but I was seriously worried around title time that my series didn’t have themed titles, and I think that the artist did a fantastic job of using that V to tie them together. Bravo!
Fun side story – I was on the phone with my brother last night, and I asked what he thought of the new cover. Typical brother, he didn’t even know I *had* a website (right on the book! Argh!), but it turned out to be a win, since then I got to listen in realtime to his cover reaction! (once he scrolled past last week’s fluffy dog – not my cover, btw). It was hysterically funny, and I wrote it down to share with all of you:
My Brother says:
WHAT? He went from film theory geek to Die Hard! And why is he carrying a sawed-off shotgun?!
I’m going to call that a thumbs up.
That’s about it – but remember that tomorrow is the debut of Django Wexler’s The Thousand Names (#5 on my list of books I read this year, btw). According to SF Signal:
I would wholeheartedly recommend The Thousand Names, not only to fans of fantasy but also to fans of military fiction of all types. Fans of Steven Erikson, David Drake, Glen Cook, Naomi Novik, Tom Kratman, Jack Campbell, David Weber, and John Ringo take note – there’s a new military fiction cowboy in town and his name is Django.
And if you’re buying The Thousand Names, why not take the opportunity to pick up Generation V as well?