Cover Reveal – There Will Always Be a Max

There was this movie last year, a few of my internet friends and I saw it. Decades-later sequel to an Australian action movie franchise from the guy who went directed Happy Feet. Maybe you heard of it. 😛

Mad Max: Fury Road hit me like a conversion experience. I came out of the film energized, challenged, and inspired. It totally changed how I watch action films, as well as a number of other lessons I’m still processing and trying to apply.

So, naturally, my mind went to “how can I channel this excitement into Genreneauts?” The result was “There Will Always Be a Max,” a short story in the Post-Apocalyptic region of Action world. And Lee Harris, my editor at Tor.com, decided to take it to be published on Tor.com. It’ll appear free on the website and will also be sold as an ebook.

 

And now it has a cover, by the brilliant Goñi Montes.

Here we go.

 

Wait for it…

 

Wait…

 

SEGA!

Ahem.

There Will Always Be a Max cover (by Goñi Montes)

Pardon me while I pick my jaw back off the floor.

“There Will Always Be a Max” is a short piece where Angstrom King, the leader of the team, heads to the Post-Apocalypse region to investigate a breach. He steps into the role of “The Max” to help a group whose story broke when their own hero bit the dust. I promise car chases, Molotov cocktails, and ruminations about post-apocalyptic heroes.

More coming soon. 🙂

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.

Genrenauts Giveaway

The fine folks at Tor.com are giving away three copies of Genrenauts: The Shootout Solution on Goodreads. Enter here

The Shootout Solution cover

Here’s a round-up of reviews to get you psyched to enter:

“This is fun…Readers will be looking forward to Leah and company’s next trip to a story world.”
Library Journal

“It’s an entertaining enough concept, and the diverse cast of characters is a nice change of pace.”
Publishers Weekly

“Who hasn’t wanted to imagine themselves parachuting into a story gone wrong and putting it back on track? It’s storytelling as heroism, genre savviness as power. Endless fun.”
Marie Brennan, World Fantasy Award-nominated author of A Natural History of Dragons

“A clever, exciting, and seriously fun twist on portal fantasy that sends a geeky stand-up comedian into the Wild West. Sign me up to be a Genrenaut, too!”
Delilah S. Dawson, author of the Blud series, Hit, and Wake of Vultures, written as Lila Bowen

“My favorite new TV show of 2015 isn’t on TV, it’s in the pages of Mike Underwood’s Genrenauts. Deeply funny and creative, shrewdly insightful, and thrillingly paced, every pop culture diehard will want to keep living vicariously through the characters in this series.”
Matt Wallace, author of the Slingers Saga and Envy of Angels.

“…a rollicking exploration of western tropes, with hints of a larger conspiracy afoot. Underwood has plans for a lot more of these, and I can’t wait to read them.”
Joel Cunningham, B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog

“A wonderfully executed idea that uses the strengths and background of the writer to great effect.”
Paul Weimer, SF Signal

The Shootout Solution is Genre blending fun.”
Fangirl Nation

“A Tardis of a novella, The Shootout Solution is packed full of ideas… The possibilities are endless… Tor.com continues to blaze a bookish trail in terms of both originality and diversity. More like this, please.”
Geek Syndicate

“Snappy dialogue, twisting plot turns, and efficiently written action scenes combine with a strongly realized protagonist that reminds me of a old friend from my art school days, not a cardboard cut-out of the “strong female character” trope.”
Polychromantium

While the book is short (it is a novella after all) I could not help but get sucked right into the concept. Everything is explained just enough to get me going. The characters are great and interesting, and they included both our main character who is an Asian Female (this is rare as hell) and even had a Transgender lady (male to female). It comes up briefly, and then just moves right on. Its well done, and fun.
Page Turners, Inc.

“I enjoyed this book tremendously. Leah is a smart, savvy, snarky young woman whose character nicely balances the calm goodheartedness of Shirin, the experienced competency of King, and the attractive cockiness of Roman. They make a great team.”
Fang-Tastic Fiction

“I can see this really appealing to readers who are into browsing TV Tropes, or who liked Ready Player One but want a more satisfying experience.”
One Last Sketch

“We like nerdy Leah and were able to immediately identify with her. She should return for many more episodes!”
Exploding Spaceship

“It’s got a clever, rather cool central idea. It has a plot built around that which keeps up suspense, whilst giving you a protagonist to care about, portrayed well, in a world which feels believable – perhaps by virtue of the setting for that world. I’d like to see more of all of the characters, and really, more of the setting in general, but that’s more recommendation than complaint!”
Sci-Fi and Fantasy Reviews

 

And here’s that link again to enter the giveaway.

 

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.

comics speech bubbles

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

A Book Birthday Message from Your Host

Hi folks.

Today is the release of my seventh book, The Shootout Solution. It’s the beginning of my Genrenauts series, and I think it’s my strongest work to date. It’s about a group of storytellers that travel between dimensions, each other world being the home of a story genre (Fantasy, Mystery, Romance, etc.). They find and fix broken stories in order to protect their Earth. Genrenauts lets me explore my thoughts about the social and psychological role of genres and storytelling. It’s also a chance for me to try to tell a big, dramatic story while staying optimistic.

It’s like Leverage meets Jasper Fforde, or Leverage for stories. It’s a great match for Ree Reyes fans, or for anyone that likes action/adventure or genre-bending SF/F.

Some of you have been with me since Geekomancy released in 2012, others are probably just now finding my work. Whoever you are, however you got here, thank you for completing the storytelling circuit. I write these books to communicate, to get my thoughts out into the world, and to entertain. Without you, without readers, I’m just talking to myself.

I’m incredibly excited about this series, as you have already seen. I’ve got a five-seasons planned for the series, and I’ve already written all six episodes of season 1. I want to take this one all the way.

Now, it’s up to you, the readers, to see if you like the book. Because if you do, there’s plenty more to come. Not just from me, but from the entire Tor.com Publishing imprint. They’ve got stand-alone novellas and series like mine across every corner of SF/F, from gritty revenge stories starring anthropomorphic animals to lyrical tales about outsider witches, stand-alone epic fantasy, and more.

If you’re here, it’s probably because you already know me from my books, from Twitter, from Angry Robot, or from a podcast. However you got here, welcome. I work from home, so a lot of my socializing happens through the internet – I thrive off of that interaction, and I appreciate having you here.

Like I said, it’s my book birthday, so here’s my wish: Please buy The Shootout Solution. And if you like it, tell your friends. Tell your co-workers. Find the people in your life that you think would enjoy the series, and share it with them. And then, consider trying some of the other novellas from Tor.com. We’re all in this boat together.

Every book that does well makes it more likely that Tor.com Publishing will succeed. Because I tell you what – Macmillan aren’t the only ones watching. You can guarantee that other publishers are watching what happens with Tor.com Publishing and deciding what to do about novellas, about innovative publishing strategies.

This entire imprint is an experiment by Macmillan, which does a perfectly good business in SF/F with their existing imprints (Tor Books is the largest North American publisher of SF/F, with many of the biggest writers in the genre). Macmillan is taking a big risk and investing a lot in trying to make this new model work, but it will only succeed if readers get as excited about novellas as the staff and writers for the imprint are.

I’ve found writing novellas to be incredibly rewarding – they’re long enough to establish an interesting world and tell a meaty story, but they don’t come with the expectations of a full-length novel. You can get in, tell your story, and get out, without the need to elongate the story with sub-plots and additional try-fail cycles. I still love writing novels, but this series has taught me to appreciate the versatility and beauty of the novella form. And for episodic storytelling in prose? Novellas are the place to be.

So if you’re excited about novellas, too – whether it’s from reading Genrenauts already, other novellas, or from any of the other Tor.com Publishing books, please spread the word. Recommend novellas to your friends, buy novellas as gifts for the holidays, and be sure to review the novellas you’ve read on retailer sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, as well as Goodreads.

So, here’s the take-away:

  1. Please buy The Shootout Solution – you can get it in paperbackebook, or audio (narrated by the amazing Mary Robinette Kowal, who narrated Celebromancy and Attack the Geek). The ebook edition is just $2.99, less than a latte, and just as energizing.
  2. Once you’ve read the book, please consider writing an honest review on retailer sites (Amazon, B&N, iTunes) and Goodreads. More reviews = more attention = more support from the publisher and from the retailers themselves. Especially on Amazon, the more reviews a book gets (especially right away upon release), the more it gets recommended through emails and so on. This is huge, especially for a digital-first book like The Shootout Solution.
  3. Spread the word. Talk about the book wherever you like to talk about books. This is really the most important thing. Maybe you can’t afford to buy too many books, or don’t have the time to read more than a handful a year. If you never buy one of my books and get them all on NetGalley or whatever, you can still make a huge difference by talking about the book. Anonymity is the kiss of death for creative work, so when someone cares about a work, cares enough to talk about it, that is magic.

P.S. If you buy the book before November 23rd, or if you’ve already pre-ordered, you can enter to win a signed & personalized print galley of The Absconded Ambassador, Genrenauts Episode 2. I’m doing this because early sales are a huge deal, I greatly appreciate them, and this is a way I can show that appreciation.

 

The way I see it, creative work succeeds when it makes an impact. Whether that’s just being a pleasant distraction during your commute or a way to focus during a flight, changing your mind or how you see the world, or providing a way to fill a lazy afternoon – however you partake, the fact that you care is the biggest magic of all.

Because it’s the beginning of what I hope to be a big, ambitious series, it’s really important for the first book to sell well. That’s why I’ve been running around the entire internet doing podcasts, written interviews, guest posts, videos, etc. I’ve been doing my best to spread the word and get people excited about it.

Thanks for coming this far, and I hope you’ll come back as Genrenauts continues February 23rd, 2016, with Episode 2 – The Absconded Ambassador.

Genrenauts Combined