W00t! It’s that time again, folks – It’s Angry Robot Open Door time!
“But Mike, what are you talking about? I am conveniently unaware of the Angry Robot Open Door periods for informative purposes.”
Angry Robot, being constantly on the lookout for fresh blood and new approaches to the genre, periodically open our doors to unagented submissions, allowing writers to submit directly to the publisher for consideration. We’ve acquired a number of books this way, and some of those have gone on to be our stronger sellers.
I think every blogger has a graveyard of half-finished drafts of posts that they can’t quite find the time or words to finish to their satisfaction. One of mine is about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or ACA, commonly known as Obamacare.
Thankfully, instead of having to finish that post, I can link you to several other posts made by working artists and critics to give a sense of what ACA can mean for our country, as well as what it has already done.
For myself, I’m very excited and optimistic about PPACA/ACA – I think Alyssa’s dead-on about the potential for artists and freelancers, and if I wasn’t really happy with and excited by my current job, I’d be taking a serious look at going full-time as a writer in 2014 with the healthcare exchanges. As-is, I’m going to be looking at the exchanges anyway, to see if I can save money by switching over to the exchanges and strengthen the pool by participating as a healthy young person.
What the exchanges, the employer mandates, and the individual mandates will actually look like and how they will shake out in terms of costs, really remains to be seen. But ACA has already taken a big step forward in several areas, (the ones discussed above, among others) from our total cluster@$% of a healthcare system to something somewhat less callous and exploitative. Maybe one day, we’ll move forward from PPACA and institute a real, single-payer, universal healthcare system like the vast majority of the rest of the developed world.
Today I’m handing the reins of the blog to my friend Steven R. Stewart. Steve and I met at World Fantasy in San Diego, and he quickly impressed me with his generosity, his curiosity, and his humor. I was very excited to see that he’s launched an already-successful Kickstarter to tell the tale of the first generation of children raised on Mars. I think this is the kind of SF we really need – a return to an optimistic, youth-oriented future, where the future is something great and exciting, not dark and terrifying.
As I write this, I’m sitting by a window that overlooks my grassy lawn—a carpet of organic solar panels that turn sunlight into sugar—and the busy residential street beyond. A steady flow of traffic—human beings in wheeled metal boxes—comes and goes a little too fast for my liking. I have kids, and they play in this lawn, near this busy street. I love my little girls; I don’t want them to break, to go out like a candle, to stop being.
It is night, the moon is out, and I think to myself how crazy all this is. That’s a real place, that ball of white up there in the sky, a place I could plant my feet, draw in the dust with the toe of my boot. It’s not hypothetical. It’s not an idea. It’s really there.
Near the moon, a faint pink dot hangs in the starry sky. It’s a real place too, a red planet, our next door neighbor. It’s so small, so easy to miss, and we could go there.
One day, if we can muster the courage, we will go there. We will live there. As NASA director Mike Griffin said, “One day…there will be more humans living off Earth than on it.” I agree, and I think that’s the way it should be. Earth is just a dot, “a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam,” all too easy for some cosmic cataclysm to swat out of the sky. If we want to continue surviving in this absurd, beautiful universe, we have to strap on our pioneer hats and get to work.
So here I am, a 29 year-old fiction writer with two kids and a wife, and zero background in science, mathematics or engineering. How can I help bring this bold future into being? How can I pitch in, or at the very least, cheer on the men and women who can? How can I cheer my loudest?
Generation One: Children of Mars is my attempt to do just that—to create a smart, accessible piece of entertainment that will hopefully encourage young people to look up at that pink dot in the sky and think big about humanity’s future in space. It’s a comic book about kids growing up on Mars and discovering what that means, and what it costs. You can learn more by watching our project video here.
My team and I launched the Kickstarter on August 6th, and so far, the public response has been overwhelming. People are hungry for this kind of story, far hungrier than I had realized. They want the same bold future I want, and that gives me hope. Because once we believe it’s possible, it will be.
We’ve been lucky enough to secure the endorsement of Dr. Robert Zubrin, author of “The Case for Mars” and President of The Mars Society. He had this to say about the project:
“Someday Mars will have its own Laura Ingalls Wilder to tell the tale of growing up on the new frontier. But with ‘Generation One: Children of Mars,’ we can experience some of that story now. It’s going to be great.”
There’s only a handful of days left in the Kickstarter. Join us. Come alongside us as we tell this story; be a part of our journey. It’s the same journey humanity has been on since the beginning: a quest to spread out and survive, to understand and grow, to become more than what we are.
Let’s add to the discussion—and have some fun in the process. We’re human after all.
And a cool poster for their final stretch goal:
Poster for Generation One Halloween issue stretch goal
I’ve been worried about Indie Bookstores and eBooks for a while. I work with independent bookstores across the Midwest, and many of them started feeling the sting of Amazon’s growing market share even before the meteoric rise of eBook sales. But as the Kindles rolled out and eBook sales started to pick up, Indies were left in a lurch.
Then came Google, a sometimes-not-evil tech giant, partnering with the American Booksellers Association to allow Indies to sign up and get access to the Google eBooks store — for a fee of $200-300 a month, per store if the business has multiple stores. This meant that several notable independent chains, including Joseph-Beth Booksellers, decided not to opt-in to the program, leaving them without an eBook selling solution.
When Google announced it was ending the bookstore affiliate program, I got worried. The idea of Indies being shut out of the eBook sales market was troubling. There’s no reason that people who are loyal to independent bookstores but like reading eBooks shouldn’t be able to make sure their friendly local gets a cut of eBook revenue if they want.
It seems like the folks at Zola have a well-developed plan for building the company up as a comparable alternative to Amazon or BN.com’s online stores, and the partnership with authors could be a cool feature. I hope that they’ll be able to deliver, that Indies will be able to opt-in with much less overhead costs, and that they grow into a strong alternative to the established online eBooksellers. Amazon has a very sophisticated system that they’ve streamlined over years, and a lot of their success comes from aggressive and smart business practices. But I’m wary of any one company getting too much control of an industry, and Zola might help spread the market around a bit more.
The release week whirlwind continues! I’ll try to round up some of the greatest hits here for folk that haven’t been glued to their Twitter streams (you know, sane and normal people living their lives and not obsessing over their first book release, natch.)
For any readers out there — the more reviews the book the has, the easier it is for readers to know if they’re likely to enjoy the book. So if you’ve read Geekomancy and feel like reviewing it on BN.com, Amazon, iBooks, Google, Goodreads, etc., I would be very appreciative.
In order to keep the great excitement around Geekomancy rolling, I’m rolling out a fun Twitter meme called #Geekomancy101.
Step one will be figuring out our stats and class levels.
The first thing you do in almost any RPG is figure out the character’s stats. Ree Reyes, my lead in Geekomancy, has stat blocks and class levels she assigns to herself and her friends. I’m inviting people to make up their own stat blocks and classes for themselves — life-like accuracy takes a back-seat to hilarity.
These stats are done ala Dungeons & Dragons, so 3 is human minimum, 18 is human maximum, and 10-11 are average.
Anton Strout, gentleman and scholar and host of the Once & Future Podcast, has posted his latest episode, where he and I talk about Geekomancy, our shared love of GenCon, why he and Patrick Rothfuss should fight like Pokemon in the writing arena, and much more.
For those of you who don’t know, I attended the Clarion West Writers Workshop in 2007, and it was a huge boost to my writing career. Clarion West allows writers to focus on craft and critiquing for six weeks. Most writers are urged to write a story each of the six weeks as well as critiquing 3-5 short stories by their classmates each day during the week. It’s often described as Boot Camp for writers, and while I haven’t done a military boot camp, my Clarion West experience was certainly a crucible. I’m still applying and re-interpreting lessons learned at the workshop, and Clarion West also gave me a community of peers, most of whom I’m still in touch with and some of whom I see once or twice a year at conventions, keeping up and basking in one another’s successes.
Digression for plugs — Success like Cassie Alexander’s NIGHTSHIFTED, first a three book (and counting!) series about a nurse that works in the paranormal ward of her local hospital; David Constantine’s PILLARS OF HERCULES, a Roman Steampunk action-adventure novel that includes Steam Engines, a Possibly-Divine Alexander, and the secrets of Atlantis; Melinda Thielbar’s MANGA MATH series of manga about kids in a dojo that have to use math and martial arts to solve mysteries; and others!
I wrote my first salable novel after Clarion West (though it hasn’t sold yet), and I’ve tried to keep some connection to the workshop by participating in the Write-a-Thon most of the summers since.
One of this week’s offerings from the Geek and Sundry YouTube channel is a music video for a song called “Gamer Girl, Country Boy” by Felicia Day and Jason Charles Miller.
Watching the video, in addition to being amused, I found myself thinking that this would probably become a theme for the GEEKOMANCY readers who ship Ree and Eastwood (of which I know there are more than one).