Light a Candle

Things have been pretty scary the past few weeks, even within the hard year that 2017 has been. We had a family health scare just a little while ago (all better now), plus the ongoing garbage fire that is US politics.

So I wanted to spend a bit of time focusing on things that have been bringing joy and light into my life, in case these things could do the same for you. At the bottom, I list some resources I’ve been using to stay up to date on politics with a minimum of hassle/frustration.

Sources of Joy

One of the things I do to relax is listening to podcasts. I started listening to podcasts over ten years ago when I was out in Oregon doing my M.A. in Folklore. Back then, the only show I listened to was Mur Lafferty’s I Should Be Writing. These days, I’m a part of two podcasts and subscribe to many more. The two below have been particularly helpful for me this summer:

Friends at the Table – A marvelous actual-play tabletop role-playing game podcast with great players, engrossing worlds, and amazing music by composer Jack de Quidt (who is also one of the players). The current season Twilight Mirage is especially engrossing, telling the tale of a far-future utopia in crisis.

Waypoint Radio – The home podcast of video game website Waypoint. They focus less on giving games scores and more on story structure, design, and the political dimensions of games. They sometimes also talk politics (esp. labor and health policy) and are clear and open in their progressive leanings.

When I’m not listening to podcasts, I am often chilling out with my wife watching TV or watching something in the background while I work on this or that. Here are some shows and video series that have brought me joy the past few months:

DuckTales – The original show was one of my favorite cartoons as a kid, and the 2017 remake on DisneyXD is very amusing so far. I am a total sucker for anything that plays in the ‘modern multi-genre pulp’ mode where mummies and vampire and Atlantis and so on are all real.

Breakfast & Battlegrounds – This is a video series on Waypoint comprised of recordings of the game Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds. Breakfast & Battlegrounds is complete with a (funny, loose) continuity, special music (boat jazz!) and fun special guests. Austin & Patrick from Waypoint play as father & son team Crowbar & Sickle, in search of the elusive Chicken Dinner of victory. The most fun I’ve had watching a video game in some time.

Killjoys – A fun, sexy, space-based action-adventure series which starts with great episodic stories and builds to a cool metaplot. The showrunner is the same as the urban fantasy series Lost GirlKilljoys is about a pair of space-age bounty hunters called Killjoys who travel The Quad (four planet/moons bound together by a corporate-owned government).

And of course, since I’m a gamer, here’s a recent game I loved playing:

Pyre – The new game from Supergiant Games, who created Bastion and Transistor. It’s a cool fantasy combination of a visual novel/choose your own adventure and a magical sports game. The biggest draw for me in this game is the cool characters and their evolving relationships with one another. Also, you can complete a play-through in about 10-12 hours.

Podcasts
Pod Save America
 – Ex-Obama staffers break down the news and snark along the way. Unabashedly Democrat-leaning & progressive, a bit bro-y, though not gross.
Pod Save The People – Activist Deray Mckesson provides a grassroots view on politics, with a strong focus on the impact to and organizing by communities of color.

Website
What The Fuck Just Happened Today? – Trump-focused digest of American political news.

A Very Geekomancy Christmas

Hello, all!

Here’s a special present from me to you – a short fluffy return to the world of Ree Reyes and the Geekomancers.

 

“A Very Geekomancy Christmas”

By Michael R. Underwood

Most days, Rhiannon Anna-Maria (aka Ree) Reyes (Strength 10, Dexterity 14, Stamina 13, Will 18, IQ 16, Charisma 15 – Geek 7 / Barista 3 / Screenwriter 3 / Gamer Girl 2 / Geekomancer 3) slept in. Since she lived a co-running-a-magic-game-slash-bar-while-protecting-the-city-as-a-magical-superhero life, which came with late nights as standard. That meant sleeping in whenever possible. Though there were a lot of days where she’d be woken by some magical alarm Drake had posted around the city, or when her dad would call early about something weird or wonderful, claiming to have forgotten that yes, Pearson was still three hours behind Indiana.

But today was Christmas, and on Christmas, there was a damned good reason to wake up early. The earlier she woke up, the longer she could make the day in order to stuff in as much joy and love and peace as she could manage. Because on the 26th it’d be back to the magic and mayhem.

Ree snuck out of bed, leaving Drake snoring under the covers, muttering formulae in his sleep. She tip-toed through their apartment (lovingly dubbed “The Shithole,”), which was done up with lights and tinsel and the best in gaudy seasonal decorations that money could buy from the Dollar Store and use for years and years until they became a fire hazard. Sandra had outdone herself with the tree, decorated not just with Ree’s geeky ornaments but with papercraft snowflakes, houses, and more.

Approaching the tree, Ree smelled coffee. Glorious coffee.

Already used to waking up at six each day for her office job, Sandra Wilson (Strength 15, Dexterity 13, Stamina 13, Will 12, IQ 13, Charisma 13 – Geek 3 / Scholar 3 / Professional 3 / Dancer 1 / Teacher 1 / Waitress 1 / Chef 1) leaned against the kitchen counter, holding a steaming mug.

“Merry Christmas,” Sandra said at a whisper. She slid to the side and gestured to an empty Grognard’s Grog & Games mug, over-sized for maximum caffeination.

“Merry Christmas,” Ree answered. She picked up the coffee pot and poured herself a massive cup. “Darren up?”

She nodded. “He’s been writing for an hour.” Sandra’s boyfriend’s dissertation was due on the first day of the semester, and he had only just now started his bibliography. So his and Sandra’s holiday had turned into a series of writing dates. Shopping and writing, wrapping presents and writing, baking and writing.

“He is going to stop long enough for you to shower him with food and presents, right?”

“That’s what he promised,” Sandra said. “Drake still out?”

“And deconstructing the principle of special relativity in his sleep, from the sound of it.”

Ree and Sandra chatted for several minutes over coffee as color returned to Ree’s world thanks to the power of java. It’d be the first of many cups today, but not out of necessity for fighting back-alley monsters or tromping through the sewers after homicidal gnomes, but because she could. And the lack of urgency made the drink all that much sweeter.

***

An hour later, Drake had emerged from slumber and Darren finished his writing quota for the day. Anya and Priya arrived with armfuls of presents and food, and the six of them crowded around the tree on couches and tables and the expandable ottoman that Drake had made Priya for ease of crafting anywhere and everywhere.

Anya gestured to the tree, present-lust in her eyes. “Presents first! I’m tired of waiting to find out what’s in that huge box,” she said, pointing to a box Drake had secreted away the morning before. Anya Rustova (Strength 7, Dexterity 12, Stamina 16, Will 15, IQ 16, Charisma 15 – Musician 5 / Geek 2 / Scholar 4 / Opera Diva 3) wore a gloriously gaudy Christmas sweater in green and red and gold, her one fashion concession to the season.

“Can we eat first? I might have been up late finishing this coat. You know, hypothetically.” Priya Tharakan (Strength 8, Dexterity 13, Stamina 12, Will 16, IQ 17, Charisma 15 – Geek 3 / Professional 3 / Seamstress 4 / Steampunk 4 / Goth 2) had gone all-out, sporting a green leather Christmas elf costume, complete with a jingling sonar bell on her felted hat.

“I’ve got enough food to feed an army, and unlike the presents, this stuff will get cold,” Sandra said.

“Let’s do both,” Ree said, taking charge like she was back at Grognard’s and directing traffic. “Drake, you and Anya divvy up presents, Darren and I will serve food. Priya, can you take notes for thank you cards?”

“Certainly.” Priya whipped out her tablet, which she carried in a gear-laden carrying case, which she dubbed the “Portable Babbage Engine” model. It had become the most popular non-clothing design on her shop, copies shipping across the country and around the world. Her business was so bustling she’d hired an assistant-slash-apprentice to help with the leather-work.

“Hosts go first,” Drake said, setting the massive box on Ree’s chair, then depositing a long rectangular box at Sandra’s spot on the couch. It was heavy. Like, What the Hell Is In Here and Is it Going to Explode? heavy.

Ree speculated as to the box’s contents as she returned to the kitchen to grab the rest of the food. She emerged with three plates full of scrambled eggs, sausage links, re-heated pasteles from last night’s Nochebuena dinner, and Sandra’s picture-perfect hash browns, all stacked on her straight arm, using Veteran Server Skills. Sandra followed with a tray full of drinks – mimosas and lambics from Grognard’s new line.

Drake Winters (Strength 12, Dexterity 15, Stamina 14, Will 15, IQ 16, Charisma 15 – Inventor 6 / Gentleman 2 / Steampunk 7 / Fae-Touched 3) accepted a plate and sidled up next to her, preparing to bask in her appreciation. Drake was a thoughtful gift-giver, but most times, it seemed like he got as much joy out of the giving as Ree got out of the receiving. It was a pretty handy arrangement, especially since Ree took about as much joy figuring out weird and wonderful gifts to give him.

They were still an odd couple par excellence, Ree all hyper-modern and esoterically geeky, Drake all propriety and otherworldly tech magic, but they’d found the tools they needed to work with one another’s faults and foibles, which meant that real fights were infrequent, short, and just about always ended with laughter. And other fun things.

Ree sized up the box, lifting it (which took some effort). “Is the shakey-shakey kind of box?”

Drake’s instant look of horror was hilarious, even if Ree knew she shouldn’t torture him so. “Please no. You’ve repeatedly said that you have renter’s insurance, but it’d hardly be fun to spend the day in a hotel after the resulting fire.”

“No shaking, got it.” Ree set the box down and proceeded to tear the wrapping to shreds, revealing a carved wooden box.

“It’s a box. Presumably with a thing in it.”

“Did you carve that?” Priya asked.

“I did, in fact. Berian Balsam, procured a few months ago at the Midnight Market. It is quite sturdy and might serve well as a container for any magical implements you wished to store at Grognard’s. Though the true present lies within.”

Ree beamed, and opened the box with a flourish.

Inside was a chrome-and-brass contraption that looked like a cross between a chemistry set, a wand, and a fireplace poker.”

“It’s beautiful,” she said. “What is it?”

Drake smiled. “It is a phlogistonic flat iron. Calibrated to drastically reduce the time necessary to achieve the desired straightness of hair. Its heat is only transferrable to hair, so there should be no random burns. However, the preservation of forces means that the central chamber it’s attached to does get very hot, and should only ever be used with the chamber properly secured.”

It was bizarre, but thoughtful. And incredibly useful, considering the awesome burn she’d given herself on her ear trying to flat-iron her hair for a super-fancy dinner out with her mom two weeks previous. “It’s awesome, thank you.” She leaned in and kissed the man-out-of-time, who looked like he was the cat that had caught the canary in an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine.

Darren got Sandra fancy paper for her newfound papercraft hobby, and then the rest of the crew tore through a round of presents. For Priya, heavy needles for her leatherwork (from Sandra). Anya got a new scarf (enchanted to let her mimic voices), a present from Ree and Drake, part of their ongoing experiments in combining Ree’s geekomancy and Drake’s Fae-powered magical engineering. Darren got capacitive touch gloves from Sandra.

“So you can keep reading even if we get another ridiculous winter like last year,” Sandra said. The same winter of the blizzard and Lachesis, the second of Lucretia’s Fate Witch sisters, who’d tried to kill Eastwood. In the end, Eastwood had sacrificed himself to save them all, mostly Branwen, aka Sionnan Reyes, Ree’s mom.

Who was due to arrive in about an hour. Ree had invited her to join them for Christmas first thing, but Sionnan wanted Ree to keep her traditions, “to let the younger generation keep your fun without an old lady around to embarrass everyone.”

Ree had argued that there would be no embarrassment, but she also guessed that the play might be for her mom’s sake as much as anyone else’s. Sionnan’d had a long, hard time, imprisoned by the Thrice-Retconned Duke of Pwn, and was still getting back into the swing of the whole Living Around People and Not Demons thing.

And finally, Drake opened Ree’s present, which she’d made with her mother’s help. Drake produced a pair of rubber gloves. But not thick, clumsy rubber gloves. These were doe-skin thin, fitted perfectly.

“These are remarkable!” Drake said. “They are non-conductive, I assume?”

Ree smiled. “Not just that, they’re also temperature-proof. Mom helped me with the enchantment, and Priya cut the material with the instruments we made. This way, you can do repairs in the field, work without a ground, and whatever else you can think up on the fly.”

“They’re fabulous, my love. Thank you.” Another kiss (chaste, because company), and they were back at the top of the gifting rounds, with a break for food.

There weren’t too many presents for each person, since even as a partner at Grongard’s, Ree wasn’t swimming in money any more than her other friends. The real gift was a day free of magical interruption, free from dark magic, and spent with the people she loved most in the world. Her mom would be over later, and then they’d all head down to Grognard’s for the Christmas Day Tournament & Banquet. Ree imagined Grognard in his festive apron, the one item he wore at work that wasn’t basic black.

A few minutes later, her phone lit up with a call.

Ree stood and walked over to the kitchen to talk.

“Merry Christmas, dad.”

And it was, in fact, Merry. The whole day.

That night, as Anya led a few of Grognard’s irregulars in some caroling while Ree’s Eldar (including Harlequins in Christmas colors) Ree reflected on the day, which had turned out even better than she’d imagined. She took pictures in her mind, and thought,

 

Dear Geeky Jeebus,

               Thank you for a real, honest-to-goodness break of a holiday. A+ navidad-ing. Would Christmas again.

 

“Hey Ree,” Grognard shouted from the bar, still wearing the festive apron, sporting a leather-clad but still jolly Santa. “Looks like we need to tap another keg!”

“On it!” Ree answered, humming a song and getting back to work.

THE END

NerdCon: Stories Schedule

NerdCon: Stories

 

Hello, all!

I’m very excited to be a Featured Guest at NerdCon: Stories in Minneapolis, MN this October 14-15th. NerdCon: Stories is a new convention (in its 2nd year) celebrating stories and the power of storytelling. I couldn’t imagine a convention more up my alley if I started it myself. I heard great things about the con from several friends, and was eager to be a part of NerdCon: Stories this year.

The schedule for the con is up for all to peruse.

And here’s where you can find me during the show:

 

Saturday, October 15th:

11:00 AM – Room 101A – How To Hand-Sell Your Book

Author and publishing professional Mike Underwood shares lessons from seven years of hand-selling books to readers, booksellers, and sales reps.  Learn how to put your work into a market context, showcase what makes it special, and connect with readers when selling at conventions, festivals, and more.

12:30 PM – Room 101 BCHI – Storytelling in Tabletop Games

Role-playing and other tabletop games are a fantastic catalyst for collaborative storytelling. Creating narrative frameworks and game rules that allow players to have enough control over both story and interaction can be a tricky business. How do game designers do this, and what makes a game truly great?

3:30 PM – Saturday Afternoon Variety Show

Hosted by Paul & Storm

Featuring:

  • A rapid-fire Q&A with Chris Rathjen, Eileen Cook, Joe DeGeorge, Jonathan Ying, Karen Hallion, Kevin MacLeod, Nalo Hopkinson, and Paolo Bacigalupi
  • A talk by Sara Benincasa
  • Daniel José Older and Nalo Hopkinson in conversation
  • Ms. Pacman vs the Patriarchy – a talk by Paul DeGeorge
  • A reading by Michael R. Underwood
  • A lip sync battle with Blue Delliquanti, John Scalzi, Paul Sabourin, Matt Young, Mikki Kendall, and Darin Ross
  • A talk by John Green

 

I’m very excited to reprise and further refine my How To Hand-Sell Your Book presentation, which I’ve given at the Nebula Conference and GenCon.  The other programming looks fabulous, as well. Other than this official programming, you can find me in the Expo Hall all weekend! I’m sharing a booth with fellow author Jay Swanson (check out his cool real-time fantasy blog Into The Nanten). And if all goes as planned, I will have paperback copies of the Genrenauts Season One Omnibus!

You can register for NerdCon: Stories here.

Hope to see you there!

A Reminder in Song

(With apologies to the Ramones)

(Full Lyrics)

Twenty twenty twenty four hours to go
I wanna get Kickstarted
So much to do, new worlds to write,
I wanna get Kickstarted

Just get me to nine-thousand, un-lock that audio
Hurry hurry hurry, while there’s time to go.
I can’t control the numbers, I cannot stop the show
Oh no oh oh oh oh

Twenty twenty twenty four hours to go
I wanna get Kickstarted
So much to do, new stories to write,
I wanna get Kickstarted

Just go and back the project now, get me to the goal
Hurry hurry hurry, help us keep up the flow
I can’t control the numbers, I cannot stop the show
Oh no oh oh oh oh

Twenty twenty twenty four hours to go
I wanna get Kickstarted
So much to do, new stories to write,
I wanna get Kickstarted

Just go and back the project now, get me to the goal
Hurry hurry hurry, help us keep up the flow
I can’t control the numbers, I cannot stop the show
Oh no oh oh oh oh

genre genre Genrenauts, I wanna get Kickstarted
genre genre Genrenauts, I wanna get Kickstarted
genre genre Genrenauts, I wanna get Kickstarted
genre genre Genrenauts, I wanna get Kickstarted

 

ConFusion 2016 Schedule

This week I will be attending Life, the Universe, and ConFusion in Novi, MI. ConFusion is a very cool smaller fan-run con, and I’ve been attending for several years now. This year’s promises to be even better, with more friends planning to attend, a new venue, and an exciting schedule.

I’ll have paperback copies of Genrenauts with me – including galleys for Episode 2 – hit me up if you want to get in on the inter-dimensional story heist-ing fun.

Here’s where to find me at the con:

Friday, January 22nd

9:00 PM – Charlevoix
Party with Angry Robots!

Drinks! Snacks! Prizes! Authors!

Robot Party

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, January 23rd

11:00 AM – Petoskey
Why Do I Pay So Much For Ebooks?

Many new releases debut with eBook prices not too dissimilar from the cost of a discounted hardcover. This had led to cognitive dissonance among readers and complaints that eBook prices are simply too high. Why do readers find these costs difficult to handle? What’s the sweet spot for eBook pricing today and will it rise or decrease over time?

Yanni Kuznia, Brigid Collins, Michael R. Underwood, Steve Buchheit (M), Sunil Patel

 

1:00 PM – Charlevoix
Adapting Science Fiction and Fantasy

Adapting beloved (and not so beloved) genre into other mediums (adapting books to screen, comics based on TV and media properties (Dr. Who, the new Star Wars comics, Mad Max, novelizations of films and tie-in novels)

David M. Stein, Michael R. Underwood (M), Lynne M. Thomas, Matt Pearson

 

5:00 PM – Manitou
Vigilante Justice in Urban Fantasy

The Urban Fantasy genre is built, in many ways, around glorifying extra-judicial violence. In this way, they might have more in common with the Western than the modern crime novel. Given the huge challenges in the United States with gun violence and criminal justice, should we be more concerned about the narrative shape of these novels?

Diana Rowland, Michael R. Underwood (M), Delilah S. Dawson, Jeannie Szarama, Melissa F. Olson

 

6:00 PM – Interlochen
The Fallacy of Commercial Fiction

Literary culture often derides the idea of commercial work, suggesting that marketability signals a lack of refinement. What exactly is commercial fiction and why is it snubbed? Furthermore, are science fiction, fantasy, and horror equally burdened by this dichotomy?

Devi Pillai, Laura Resnick, DongWon Song, Michael R. Underwood, Marko Kloos

 

Sunday, January 24th

11:00 AM – Manitou
Fantasy Fantasy: Live Draft

Fantasy sports has become an international phenomenon. It’s time for the ultimate conclusion: Fantasy Fantasy. Come watch the panelists conduct a live draft of their Adventuring Party from a pool of the most famous characters in genre history. The winner will be selected by the audience and then showered with confetti.

Tom Doyle, Douglas Hulick, Kristine Smith, Michael R. Underwood, Steve Drew (M), Cherie Priest

 

…and if all else fails, find me at The Bar. 🙂

Goals and Resolutions for 2016

2016 is here, and looking at my schedule and list of projects on proposal and in development, this year is looking like a big one.

Books

 

For the year, I’m going to divide things into Resolutions, Goals, and Ambitions. Resolutions are personal principles I’m going to try to keep in mind to help make a happier, more productive year. Goals are achievable actions and projects under my control. Ambitions are Cool Things I would like to see happen this year that require other people’s/company’s buy-in.

 

Resolutions

Here are some principles I’m going to try to keep in mind for the year:

  1. Focus on Joy, and share that joy. Spend more of my free time on things that make me happy. Celebrate colleagues and creators that inspire me – from talking up things I’m enjoying, recommending books and movies and shows and music, and so on. Use my platform to spotlight awesomeness.
  2. Elevate marginalized voices. This means signal-boosting people of color, women, LGBTQIA/QUILTBAG persons, and other people marginalized across various social axes. This lets me put my Privilege Yahtzee to good use and helps me continue to learn how to be a better-informed and more empathetic person.
  3. When I read an opinion about media that I deeply disagree with: just walk away (unless it’s actively bigoted, in which case, I can allow myself to throw down for great justice). This will hopefully keep me from wasting as much time arguing about things on the internet.
  4. Do writing work every weekday and one weekend day wherever possible. Optimally, this means drafting, revising, and/or promotion work. Writer admin (website, accounting, etc.) comes after drafting/revising/promotion. I’ve noticed that I get antsy if I spend too long without working on drafting or revising, so I want to be more consistent in working on that part of writing.
  5. Do what I can to reach out to people in more substantive ways. I love Twitter, but it’s become a very large part of my social life, and I want to mix in more Skype and in-person socializing.

 

Goals

These are mostly writer and career things. I’ll note that these are things totally under my control, rather than things which require other people’s buy in (those are ambitions, they’ll follow below).

  1. Revise Genrenauts Episodes 3-6. (Winter-Spring).
  2. Promote Genrenauts: The Absconded Ambassador.
  3. Publish Genrenauts Episodes 3-6 with Tor.com or myself.
  4. Finish, revise, and submit the Cool Space Opera WIP.
  5. Plot and start writing Genrenauts Season 2.
  6. Proceed with Sekret Project #1.
  7. Finish revising Beacons and pitch it.
  8. Write more Business of Publishing Essays and pitch them to major markets.
  9. Pick one new way to earn readers.
  10. Do it.

A lot of these are penciled in due to the fact that I have three different submissions/proposals active right now, and my plans for 2016 will be largely dependent on what happens with those. I really want to get all of Genrenauts Season 1 out this year, so that’s pretty solid. And Beacons is, I think, pretty close to being ready to take the next step. And the Business of Publishing Essays thing can fit well with many of the other things. But if more than one of those submissions/proposals comes back with a buy/offer, I’ll need to make a lot of writing time for them.

 

Ambitions

  1. Sell a novel to a Big Five SF/F house for wide print & ebook distribution.
  2. Sell a TV option for Genrenauts to a reputable production company/creator.
  3. Sell Beacons and/or get a work-for-hire job writing for a major comics company.
  4. Have one of my works/projects nominated for a major SFF award (either a book or one of the podcasts I work on).

 

The New Year is here, now let’s make it a great one.

Year in Review – 2015

So, it’s the last day of 2015. That calls for some reflection.

Personally, 2015 was a big year for me. First and foremost, I got married to the love of my life, and we were so excited that we held two receptions! It was a ton of work to organize both, but getting to share the joy with family and friends that wouldn’t be able to travel was definitely worth it.

MikeMegWedding-055 (1)

 

 

MikeMegWedding-079 (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015 was a busy year in writing as well. I finished Season One of Genrenauts, revised the first three episodes, and developed other projects which are in various stages of secret activity even now.

 

Hexomancy cover

September saw the release of Hexomancy, the fourth Ree Reyes story, wrapping up the first arc of that series. It’s been met very positively by fans, and has me excited to move on to the next part of Ree’s story as soon as possible.

 

The Shootout Solution Final

And then in November, I launched Genrenauts season one, beginning with The Shootout Solution, from Tor.com Publishing. We were able to book Mary Robinette Kowal to perform the audiobook, and I couldn’t be happier. My agent and I partnered with Macmillan Entertainment to manage TV/Film rights for the series, which I think is by far my best shot so far in that field.

I’m very pleased with the series, and excited to continue it in 2016. And I have so many ideas of other things to do with the world – an RPG, comics, a board game, etc.

Work

AR Logo with Lettering

Angry Robot emerged from its Interregnum in March, and has been kicking ass and taking names once more. We had popular, buzz-worthy releases, award nominations, and strong sales. We signed up some incredibly exciting novels by amazing writers, and got the word out about our ongoing, beloved series. And for my own part in the team, I started writing art briefs and working with artists, as well as working on a new Thing that is currently secret but very exciting.

 

 

 

 

Geekdom

This was a big year in Geekdom. Just with Mad Max: Fury Road and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, we had two huge, impressive new offerings in genre-defining series, each bringing a breath of fresh air in terms of representation. I’ve spoken a lot about those films, so I don’t feel like I need to go on at great length here.

2015 was also the year I got into Steven Universe and Hamilton, it was the year of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Agent Carter, Supergirl, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and more.

 

I also joined Speculate! The Podcast for Writers, Readers, and Fans in 2015, and have been talking with Greg Wilson, my other active co-host, about cool things we can do in 2016, which has me very excited.

Favorite Things

Here are a few more things that rocked my world in 2015, just for fun – there’s a theme here:

Blades in the Dark

Blades in the Dark is a dark fantasy cloak & dagger RPG by John Harper, in the design lineage of Apocalypse World, but distinctly its own. It cites Dishonored, the Vlad Taltos books, Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, and the Thief game series as its major touchstones. BitD was Kickstarted to great effect this year, and the core book is due early 2016. It already has a very active Google+ community, so if an RPG about a group of scoundrels building a criminal empire appeals to you, check it out.

RPG Actual Plays

titansgraveSmall-241x160

Another thing that delighted and surprised me this year was the rise in prominence of streaming tabletop RPGs. From Geek & Sundry’s Critical Role to Actual Play Podcasts like Friends at the Table, produced RPG video like Wil Wheaton’s Titansgrave, and Roll20 Presents games like Apocalypse World, consuming RPGs as entertainment has become far more mainstream, and I love it. As a guy who wrote his M.A. thesis on Tabletop RPGs, one of the things I wrote about was how RPGs’ mass appeal was limited because the performers were also the entirety of the audience. With these streamed and recorded games, we’re seeing more attention for the form as performance, as narrative to be enjoyed by more than just the participants. It’s super-cool, and I can’t wait to see more.

 

Looking ahead

2016 is already shaping up to be a big year for me – The Absconded Amabssador releases in February, I’ve got stories in two anthologies that will be Kickstarting over the course of the year, and I’ll be attending a ton of conventions for Angry Robot and my own writing. Add my current Sekret Projects to that and it’s going to be a doozy. More on 2016 tomorrow.

Until then, thanks to everyone who bought my books, wrote reviews, talked my books up to their friends, hung out with me at conventions, whiled away the hours on Twitter or Facebook, and more. Thanks for everything you’ve done to make 2015 a great year in so many ways, and here’s to making 2016 even better.

What Star Wars Means To Me

I saw The Force Awakens again yesterday. And I loved it with every fiber of my being.

I am the person and writer I am in no small part due to Star Wars. I know I’m not alone in this. I’m not claiming to be singularly influenced in a deeper way than anyone else, yadda yadda. But here this is my story. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

I don’t remember a time when I hadn’t seen Star Wars. Its structure and tone has left an indelible mark on me.

Continue reading

The Shootout Solution Promonado Round-up: Week 2

The Shootout Solution is here, and the glorious Promonado, distributing promotion and love and geekdom all across the internet, has reached Category V. You can catch up on last week’s Promonado if you haven’t done so.

First, I celebrated the release itself.

The Shootout Solution Final

 

Serial Box had me over to their blog for an interview.

I sent my mailing list subscribers the password to my development diaries for The Shootout Solution.

Books

Barnes & Noble’s SF/F Blog gave me space to talk about genre-aware stories.

B&N also included the book in its weekly round-up of SF/F releases, repeating the kind review from a couple of months back.

Book Riot Podcast All The Books! Included The Shootout Solution in its longlist of releases. I’m a big Book Riot fan, so this was a treat.

At Tor.com, I talk about Leah as a Stand-up hero, and the three tries it took to get her stand-up routine right.

I gave away some copies on my friend and Speculate Co-host Gregory A. Wilson’s Twitch channel.

I geeked out with the fine folks of the Grim Tidings Podcast.

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Stephen Geigen-Miller interviewed me for his Breaking In series.

Library Freaking Journal reviewed The Shootout Solution, prompting joyful flail.

Author Jay Swanson and I talked about genre for writing and marketing on his Creative Mines video podcast.

I rambled about work/writing balance and more with Mahvesh Murad on Midnight in Karachi.

Mary Robinette Kowal gave me space to talk about My Favorite Bit from The Shootout Solution.

And the Audiobook edition came out today – performed by one of the best audiobook performers of our time, Mary Robinette Kowal.

If you haven’t seen them, Tor.com has been posting fun Genrenauts adventure prompts on their YouTube page:

So, that’s the state of the Promonado! Remember, if you buy The Shootout Solution – Genrenauts Episode 1 before November 23rd, you can enter to win a signed galley of Episode 2 – The Absconded Ambassador.

Genrenauts Combined