Wednesday, August 31, 2016

MJM Episode 34.

Dear friends -

The question of our generation will be remembered as: Where were you when the news broke that the colossi came out of the ocean?  While I'm asking, who were you with?  What was your reaction?  Did you believe it?  This week we're re-sharing a historical episode of our podcast MJM, in which Mansa, jonny and Matt discuss this world-changing news and pursue the truth on related matters:  Where did they originally come from?  Why isn't the government acting?  Is it still appropriate to make fun of Matt's conspiracy theorist paranoia in the face of humanity possibly not being at the top of the food chain anymore?  If we only knew then what we know now.

Download the new episode here and share the link, which is - and good luck, godspeed and know your and your family's safety are in our prayers.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Wandering City Cocktails

Hey there everybody!  Usually we do this on Wednesday but I've got a pretty fantastic update for you today and it just couldn't wait.

Kevin Bednarz, a northern Virginia business owner and bartender, has been working with me and A Carrier of Fire to create several cocktails based on the new novel.  I sent some ideas his way based on the Fogworld universe and he came up with some brilliant (and delicious) drink.  We recently shot some video of us making the drinks and most of those videos are uploaded and waiting for you on YouTube!  Check the videos and links below, and don't forget that all the recipes will be printed in Wandering City Blues when it's released October 29!

Galatea - Click here for video

Galatea is a colossus in the Fogworld universe who spends a lot of time oceanbound, so I asked Kevin to come up with something that screamed "beach life," like a twist on a Mai Tai.  He came up with this tasty beverage and I couldn't be happier with it.

Iris is the female lead in Wandering City Blues and she's as mysterious as she is cool.  Kevin invented this sweet blue cocktail for her that starts with Absolut Citron, Blue Curacao and Peach Schnapps and ends with plunking in a blue glow stick (or glow cube) and letting the glass shine.

Leon's Old-Fashioned - Video coming soon!

Leon Adler is the male lead in the new book, and he's a classic film noir detective.  Kevin uses a muddler and a spoon to help mix this variation of an Old-Fashioned and serve it up fresh.

Red-Orange Fog - Click here for video

What's better than Stoli Orange or Grand Marnier?  How about Stoli Orange and Grand Marnier?  Add some OJ and Sprite, shake and pour then finish with some grenadine and you've got the fog-covered earth of Wandering City Blues in a glass.  Drink up; it won't give you Red Lung.

Sao's Jack and Coke - Click here for video (Finally, a drink I can make!)

Me:  Hey Kevin, one of my colossi is entirely peopled by psychos and cannibals.  What's the closest drink equivalent to like a steak dinner?
Kevin:  Hmm, maybe a Jack and Coke?
Me:  Is there a way to make it strange and a little trashy?  Like that Corona-bottle-in-the-margarita Jersey Shore bullshit?
Kevin:  [eyes widen]  Yes.

Thanks for watching, everyone!  Don't forget to come to Comic Logic and The Ashburn Pub on Wednesday, October 26th, for a local launch party where I'll be signing copies of Wandering City Blues - and the pub will have these drinks on the menu.  Huge thanks to Kevin Bednarz; check out all his stuff at the following websites:

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Review Copy / Series Title! / Misc.

This last week I've had the pleasure of sending the finalized manuscript for Wandering City Blues to about a half dozen websites for review.  Obviously it's an 80,000-word book so those will take some time to come back - but they're out there, out of my hands and being perused by scrutinizing eyes.  To be honest, it's as exciting as it is nerve-wracking, for several reasons.

I wholeheartedly believe in everything I write.  I spent 11 years working in retail and at this point in my life I've had enough of pushing a shit product in which I don't believe for the sake of making a buck.  So I always told myself I'd never fill a book with any crap, let alone crap I'd pretend was better than it was so I could pocket your $10-15 and tell you to kick rocks.  I've mentioned before the profound impact that book sales have on me.  With minimum wage what it is, there are people who have to work two full hours at their job just to pick up one of my titles.  The fact that they choose to trust me with their hard-earned cash in hopes of being whisked away on an adventure in that special way that only books can is...well, it's humbling.  So I sincerely try my best to entertain, to give pause and make the reader think about his/her world just a little.  Whenever it's "new book release" time, or close to it, I'm elated to have the chance to do it all again - to experience the reader's reaction to these weird little stories I dream up, to have someone race up to my table at a show and geek out over something that started with that hateful blank page and blinking cursor in Microsoft Word.  It began with that, the writer's blank canvas or marble block with a statue waiting inside to be chipped out to freedom, and the connect and hype that comes with the reader's in-person review is (excuse the cliche) all the high I need.

So keeping in mind that I try my damnedest for years on end to deliver a paperback for you to enjoy, and now I send it out and there's nothing else I can do to change it, I get pretty nervous.  The critic's job is to analyze the efforts the writer has spilled onto his/her canvas and to judge where the writer has succeeded and failed, to say what works and what doesn't.  On the selfish end, negative reviews can impact sales.  Far be it from me to "get rich or die trying," but I do wish to continue my business of authorship and book sales and I do wish to provide for my kid.  If a reviewer ends up panning something of mine, I risk losing out on the money I could make to keep doing what I want to do for myself and my family.  But this is not a complaint about the reviewer, nor the post-production process of a novel.  It's their job to find out where I may have screwed up and to hold me to task for it.  I'm responsible for the flaws and imperfections my work may have and I deserve to face the music for them, as all authors do.  This brings me to the other end of negative reviews: the selfless end.  If my work has problems and gets jeered by whichever critic on whichever site, I really beat myself up for having overlooked whatever earns their ire.  Mistakes happen - that's why we have editors - but in my journey to be the best writer I can and to make the best books I can, it's frustrating to me that I can make an obvious mistake - and in my opinion, anything that's a mistake in my own work is an obvious one.  I made it from scratch; I created that mistake along the way.

So whenever I see that there's a review of my work, even before I read it, my heart races and my blood pressure spikes and I can hear my heart pumping in my ears because I want my work and the review to be good.  Like I said, it's a very conflicting thing sending the reviews out.  You can't lose if you don't play, but you can't win either.

Anyway.  Review copies are out to several websites and podcasts and all I can do now is wait for them to come back and hope for the best.

In other news, I needed a name for this colossus/fog/beast-city sci-fi series and I've settled on Fogworld.  It may seem a bit on-the-nose, but I'm really in love with the image in my head of these titan cities surfing on the 1,000 feet of deadly tangerine-colored gas that lazily blankets the globe.  With the leviathans' legs and (sometimes) lower bodies covered by the mist, their upper bodies and backs - with their neighborhoods seeming to drift above the danger - are like leaves floating on a pond or a pirate ship sailing the ocean.  Fogworld is a representation that ultimately, it never ends.  So Wandering City Blues will be Volume One of the Fogworld Series.  Or Fogworld, Book One...or something.  I still need to Google how to name all that shit before we go to print.  Don't worry; I'll get there!

I spent most of my weekend on my phone, emailing and IM'ing reviewers (see above) and managing non-manuscript stuff for WCB.  I have a lot of cool additional content that will be included in the book - and some audiovisual content I'm not quite going to unveil yet - so now I'm working hard on all of that.  I've also been formatting WCB for paperback and I've gotten four chapters in out of 13.  I decided on fonts, font sizes, layout, margins, page size and other stylistic stuff with story headers, chapter titles, the table of contents and so on.  This coming week I hope to finish 100% of the internal copy for the book, including the aforementioned bonus content and laying out the paperback itself.  Then I'll just need the jacket image/design and an ISBN and this badass bitch will be ready to deliver in late October!

We're getting there, friends.  Thanks as always for sticking with me through this incredible process.  I hope it's been as entertaining as it has been educational and informative.  Did I mention that the coolest stuff that will ever be on this blog should be coming up in the next three or four weeks?  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

WCB Review Copies.

With the manuscript finished and the bonus features underway, now we get to start sending out the digital review copies of the book for websites.  Hoo boy!

To benefit our friends in the press, I partnered with Wandering City Blues's publisher, A Carrier of Fire, to assemble the review packet.  It contains a README/primer on the rest of the packet, the completed manuscript for the novel, the promotional artwork of Psamanthe and Proteus (created by Brian and Nick Whitmire, respectively), a working draft of playlists of assembled music that inspired the book and a working draft of the detailed migration routes of several of the colossi featured in the novel.  

So far this review packet has been sent to about a half-dozen websites and podcasts and I'm anxiously awaiting their responses.  To be honest, though, I've already received feedback on the book from my most ardent critique: my mother, Linda.  Mom sits in this very precarious position of knowing me well enough not to sugar-coat things while also knowing that I need the best book I can to go into print.  Fortunately, her review came back all smiles after reading the manuscript so I think I'm just about ready to wrap it up.

All that's lacking now are for me to punch up the cocktail recipes and other bonus features, get my jacket design and prepare the book to be printed.  Excitement!

Short update today, but thanks for checking in!  I had over 150 views last week alone (wow!) and I'm looking forward to showing you some more good marketing/promotional stuff as the time approaches.  Have a good week, and if you want a review copy for your own website/podcast, please email me at - thank you!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Final Word Count / Bonus Features!

Hi everybody!  I'm so sorry for last week's absence; it's been an insane couple weeks.  On the downside, I had to deal with my first (and ideally last) kidney stone.  That took me out of commission for a couple days.  On the plus side, my wife and I were finally able to announce that we're expecting our second baby in late January!  We're over 15 weeks along now and the baby is happy and healthy (and currently the size of an apple).  We also spent four days visiting my folks in Richmond and there have been a lot of other book-based things that took up most of last week.  So let's talk about those!

First and foremost, I'm very excited to say that last night I finished the final round of edits for Wandering City Blues (yeah, the title was staring me right in the face all year).  The full manuscript of the story itself is 82,424 words.  It's a total of 13 chapters, including an epilogue and a 100-word intro to the world before getting into "Timeshare."

In addition to the 82k words that make up the novel, there will be a number of bonus features included in the book.  First and foremost, local entrepreneur Kevin Bednarz is creating several new cocktails just for the novel, so recipes and maybe even pictures of the drinks will appear in all versions of Wandering City Blues upon its release this October.  I've had the chance to try these drinks and they're badass.  I couldn't be prouder.  Second, there will be several recommended music playlists to help you get your head in the right space for any setting throughout the novel.  While I would personally love to call them a soundtrack, I can't due to copyright law and a total lack of endorsement or official involvement from any musical artist I mention.  More on that another time.  For now, just know that unofficial/recommended playlists will be in the book.

There will also be detailed information for several of the colossi that appear in the main story.  Basic physical descriptions and behavioral patterns will be listed first, followed by their travel routes.  Those will include their destinations, layover times, distance between destinations, average travel speeds and expected travel times.  This way, you can find out where any of the colossi are at any given time.

Finally, I'd like to have a section describing some of the climbing gear, survivalist setups (water filtration systems etc) and other world-building devices that didn't get explained in the book.  I want you to exercise the minimum of suspension of disbelief when you read so I don't want to have any big mulligans or easy ways out for the characters in the universe.  The last thing I want is for you to say "How could they have X, Y or Z up there?  This is bullshit!" but at the end of the day, going into detailed descriptions of every single facet of life on the theriopolis would be incredibly dry.  So I put in the big kahunas or most glaring questions that needed answering, but some descriptions didn't fit or they held up the story too much.

Okay!  Next week I'll detail some of the promotional and fun stuff I'm doing (and having done) for Wandering City Blues.  Videos, audio, events, etc.  Stay tuned!  Thanks for your support; it's almost finished!!!