The Data Disruption launch

The new Genrenauts story is here!

Cyberpunk is one of my very favorite genres. Movies like Ghost in the Shell and Blade Runner were formative for me growing up, as well as The Matrix. I played the hell out of Netrunner card game growing up, as well as Shadowrun and Cyberpunk 2020. In school, I got to take a SF/F class from a professor whose specialty is cyberpunk.

I was a bit young to read Cyberpunk when it was first emerging in film and fiction. But as a Millennial/Gen Y/Oregon Trail generation kid, I grew up in an ever-more Cyberpunk world, with global communications technology, global mega-corps, consolidation, ever-more-impressive medical and technological breakthroughs, automation, rising corporate influence on government, and so on. It’d be pretty easy for me to argue that Cyberpunk is the genre most reflective of the world I’ve known growing up. It’s given me many of the tools I use to see and analyze the world, in terms of the social impact of technology, how labor, corporations, and politics intersect, and humanist questions about androids, robots, and so on.

Also, it’s got cool fight scenes.

So it’s little surprise that the majority of my non-novella short fiction is cyberpunk. “Kachikachi Yama” and “Can You Tell Me How To Get to Paprika Place” are both cyberpunk stories, though their focuses are very distinct. Cyberpunk aesthetics show up in the Ree Reyes series as well, especially in Hexomancy.

Acknowledgments 

I want to thank John Appel, Devan Barlow, Beth Cato, and A.F. Grappin for their great beta reader feedback on this story. Richard Shealy’s copy edit helped me say what I want to say with clarity. Thanks also to Sean Glenn for keeping the visual style of Genrenauts going with his cover design, and to Meg White Underwood for being my first reader and final proofer, as well as a marvelous brainstorming buddy. And once again, thanks to everyone who backed, promoted, and otherwise supported the Genrenauts Season One Kickstarter.

So without further ado, here’s The Data Disruption! It’s free on all ebook platforms. Check below for more information about the story.

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * iTunes
GumroadKobo

The Data Disruption cover. Design by Sean Glenn

Design by Sean Glenn

 

When Stories Break, You Send in the Genrenauts!

The Genrenauts are a group of story experts who travel to parallel worlds. Each is the home of a narrative genre—Science Fiction or Romance, Fantasy or Western—populated by archetypal characters and constantly playing out familiar stories.

The Genrenauts’ mission: find and fix broken stories. If they fail, the ripples from the story worlds will cause havoc and devastation on their home world.

In the world of Cyberpunk, D-Source, a noted hacker, has disappeared, leaving his team’s storyline to grind to a halt. Angstrom King leads the Genrenauts on a mission to find out what happened to D-Source and how to get the cyberpunks back in the action.

World-spanning megacorporations…suspicious mercenaries living on the edge…lethal computer programs designed to tear your mind to shreds…the Genrenauts will face all these and more to get the story back on track—before it’s too late.

A short story in the world of Genrenauts (a finalist for the r/Fantasy “Stabby” Award for Best Serialized Fiction.)

Those links again:
Amazon * Barnes & Noble * iTunes
GumroadKobo

Writers, Artists, and the ACA

There’s a call to action further down. If you’re already convinced that the ACA is important to keep, skip down for action steps.

A lot of people are talking about the GOP and the new Senate, Congress, and President-Elect’s likely actions on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly known as the ACA or Obamacare.

I personally used the PPACA exchanges to find a cheaper and higher-quality health insurance package for my 2015 health insurance, and I personally know dozens of writers and other freelancers who use the PPACA exchanges for health insurance. I’ve seen over a dozen direct accounts from writers/artists/freelancers that they’d be dead or back in terrible day jobs without the PPACA, due to the protections it offers against being denied health insurance because of pre-existing conditions or for other reasons.

The PPACA is crucial in making it possible for many writers, artists, web designers, graphic designers, and many other freelancer able to work in their desired field full-time. We know that 20 million more people have health insurance because of the PPACA. That’s over 6%. 20 million people is greater than the population of the entire state of New York. That’s huge.

Gutting or repealing the ACA would have a massive impact on my field – SF/F prose, as well as comics, visual art, etc. The ACA has let more creatives and freelancers go full-time. If the ACA goes away, the best opportunity for full-time creatives to obtain healthcare for themselves and their families goes out the window.

Even if you don’t use ACA plans, please consider calling in support of the ACA to make sure that your favorite writer, your favorite artist or graphic designer, your favorite freelance pop culture writer, etc. will still have access to affordable health care. The ACA is not perfect, but so far, the GOP has done little more than spread lies about what the ACA does and promise to remove it and somehow give us something better. But without any details.

 

I’m not saying that the PPACA is perfect. It was the result of a lot of legislative fighting and compromise. But it’s done a lot of good, and we can build on it instead of throwing it all out and starting over or, possibly worse, trying to keep only part of it and throwing out the rest. The PPACA was designed to function because of the inter-dependent parts – the individual mandate brings people into pools so that the price of insuring high-risk people becomes more manageable for the companies and keeps costs down, etc. I’d prefer single-payer or other systems more like Canada or one of the other ally nations we have with very strong health care programs. But right now, we apparently have to fight tooth and nail to keep the imperfect but life-saving system we have.

Additionally, if you are a writer, artist, graphic designer, web designer, or other freelancer that uses the ACA plans, or someone who the ACA has personally assisted, I’d love to hear your story in the comments so other people can see just how much good it’s done.

ACTION STEPS – Copied over from material shared on FB/Twitter

If are a US person and you support the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, please consider calling or writing your elected representatives in the Senate and the House. Here’s a contact sheet with info as well as suggested scripts.

Off to NerdCon!

NerdCon: Stories

As this post goes, live, I am on my way to Minneapolis, MN for NerdCon: Stories, a two-day celebration of the power of storytelling (October 14-15th). I’m honored to be a Featured Guest for the con. I’ll be on a gaming panel, reprising my How To Hand-Sell Your Book presentation, and reading during a showcase event. You can check out my full programming schedule for the con here.

I’ll also be running a booth at the con all weekend with my friend Jay Swanson. If you’re coming to the con, please swing by (#817) and say hello! I will have a limited # of the paperback omnibus editions of Genrenauts: The Complete Season One Collection, as well as other books.

Here’s a quick guide to where you can find Jay and my booth during the con:

 

NerdCon booth directions

 

As a special bonus, the Ree Reyes novels (speaking of Nerds + stories) are still on discount through this weekend!

Amazon * B&N Nook * Kobo * iTunes

ree-reyes-series-small

Genrenauts Season One Collection

I’m very excited (like hovering over my chair excited) because today is a big landmark in my writing career. Today marks the result of countless hours of writing, planning, and promotion, as Genrenauts: The Complete Season One Collection releases to the world.

If you’re coming here through random happenstance and haven’t about Genrenauts, it’s like Leverage meets Redshirts, where a group travels to dimensions based on narrative genres (like Fantasy, Western, Romantic Comedy, etc.) to find and fix broken stories. It’s set up like a TV series with a new adventure every episode, arranged in seasons with an overarching plot. This new book collects the first season in one volume.

Writing this series has let me really dig in and explore what makes stories tick, why we tell certain types of stories, and what I love about different genres.

I’m eager to bring Genrenauts to new readers by collecting all six episodes from Season One in this single volume, sold at a big discount compared to buying each episode individually.

You can get the Season One Collection in ebook:

Direct from Me (via Gumroad)
Amazon Kindle * Nook * Kobo * iBooks

And in paperback from:
Amazon * Barnes & Noble * IndieBound

A final bit of fun. Here’s me unboxing the first physical copy of the omnibus:

The Failed Fellowship launch!

The Failed Fellowship cover

Today marks the release of the final episode of Genreneauts season one with The Failed Fellowship. If you’re itching to pick up a copy, here are some convenient links:

Direct from the Author (via Gumroad)
Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Kobo * iTunes

And now, some reflection, in the form of the acknowledgments for this season finale.

 

Here we are, at the end of the first season of Genrenauts. It’s been an exciting, winding road, and I’ve learned a lot in the 10 months since the series launched last November. I’ve learned about the joys of writing serial episodic fiction, the challenges of promoting that kind of fiction, and I’ve learned that I can succeed as not only the author but the publisher of my own fiction.
These two episodes draw on my life-long love of the fantasy genre. I’m a writer because I love fantasy, so it only made sense to send a love letter to the genre which set me on the path to being a storyteller. The Failed Fellowship draws from The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Dungeons and Dragons, and many more heroic fantasy adventures, especially those of the role-playing persuasion. Many other fine writers have written loving parodies of the genre, and it has been an utter delight to add my voice to that chorus celebrating and gently tweaking the genre.
I’ve written before about how fantasy’s escapism is far more often one of liberation than one that’s about abandoning the world. Professor Tolkien started that line of conversation, and like so many of us in the genre, I find myself continuing the conversations he got rolling. The Tolkien tradition and D&D have given us a lot in the genre, and while we’re moving the genre forward into new and interesting directions, it’s also fun to remember how we got here and to keep those balls rolling.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned this season is that I have a wealth of people rooting me on and supporting me every step of the way. From the 321 fabulous Kickstarter backers to my marvelous production team, beta readers, and more. Thank you, one and all, for what you’ve done in supporting me as I tell this story.
Some specific shout-outs:

  • Big thanks to Effie Seiberg, Beth Cato, and Jay Swanson for their great notes on Episodes 5 & 6, helping me dig deeper with characterization and clarify places where the story had been lazy or lacking depth.
  • A hearty cheers to Bryon Quertermous, my editor, for riding with me again and posing great questions about how I could make these episodes stronger, and in doing so, elevate the entire season.
  • Richard Shealy is a freaking copyediting wizard. He’s learned my style and his copyedit passes help me do a better job of telling the story the way I wanted, without any prejudice or desire to exert influence. His addition to the work is seamless, invisible, and essential. Thanks, man.
  • I lift a great tankard of ale to Sean Glenn for once again providing the cover for this episode.
  • And to my fabulous wife, Meg White Underwood, my eternal thanks. Meg was my first confidant with the finale and my diligent final proofer before the book went off to press.
  • And again, thank you to the fabulous Kickstarter backers of Genrenauts: The Complete Season One Collection, which releases to the public on October 11th.

Now onward, to season two!

Michael R. Underwood
Baltimore, MD
September 14th, 2016

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!

Genrenauts Omnibus cover!

I have for you today the fabulousness that is the Genrenauts Season One omnibus cover, created by Thomas Walker.

Genrenauts Season One cover - art by Thomas Walker

When Thomas sent over his first rough, I was instantly blown away, and totally confident that I had picked exactly the right artist to capture the cross-genre adventure feel of the series. Thomas’s style is both flexible and unforgettable – he brings in elements of movie-poster-style design, and he made my art brief come alive in all of the best possible ways. It draws upon and references the individual episode covers while making a bold move into an incredibly catchy style that sums up the entire season in one amazing image. Every time I look at it, I want to jump ahead and start writing Season Two just so I can commission Thomas to do another piece of art.

But that’s getting ahead of myself. First, I’ve got to finish up the omnibus for Kickstarter backers and other lovely readers.

If you missed out on the Genrenauts Kickstarter, you can now pre-order the omnibus direct from me via Gumroad right now. Other pre-order links coming soon!

UPDATE: Soon is now!

Gumroad

Amazon

Kobo

iTunes

The Substitute Sleuth launch!

She’s a Wacky Comedian. He’s a Gruff Detective. They Fight Crime!

The Substitute Sleuth - Genrenauts Episode 4 cover

Today, Genrenauts continues with Episode 4 – The Substitute Sleuth.

This episode draws on contemporary police procedurals like Castle, Psych, Lie to Me, White Collar, and others. It puts Leah Tang on the spot in a big way, and dives into Angstrom King’s backstory. It also kicks the season into high gear as we barrel forward into the season finale.

You can buy your copy direct via Gumroad.

Or on: Kindle  Nook  Kobo  iTunes

The first season of Genrenauts will conclude with The Failed Fellowship, the two-part finale, coming in October!

To whet your appetite, here’s the first chapter of The Substitute Sleuth:

 

Continue reading

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

 

Kickstarter Countdown

Genrenauts Twitter Card #3

The Genrenauts Kickstarter has just over 48 hours to go, and as of writing this post, has 251 backers and is $2,414 away from the first audiobook stretch goal. That is still possible, especially considering the final 48 hours of activity I’ve seen in some other Kickstarter campaigns. A lot of people will hit the star button on a campaign (next to the funding button), which then prompts Kickstarter to remind them when the campaign is 48 hours away from ending. Kickstarter’s search engine also has a ‘campaigns ending soon’ category, which we’ll be in starting later today.

The campaign’s success is already paying dividends – I published THE CUPID RECONCILIATION last week, and have commissioned the cover for THE SUBSTITUTE SLEUTH. I am also assembling notes and ideas for the cover for the omnibus edition to discuss with Sean Glenn, the designer for the campaign.

So now is the time for one last round of signal-boosting, word-spreading, and holding out the hat. With your help, I’ll be able to make Genrenauts bigger and better.

As a reminder, here are the basic reward levels:

RECRUIT ($10) – You can get the entire season one collection in ebook.

GENRENAUT ($25) – You get the print omnibus edition of the season one collection PLUS the ebook.

GENRENAUTS FIELD OFFICE ($50) – This is the reward level for retailers (bookstores) and libraries. Only applicable if you are a retailer looking to sell the book or are buying for a public/academic/school library. You’ll receive five signed paperback editions of the Genrenauts Season One Omnibus, PLUS the ebooks, PLUS eARCs of every episode of GENRENAUTS Season Two.

SPECIALIST ($75) – You get a limited signed and numbered hardcover of the season one collection, plus the ebook.

VETERAN GENRENAUT ($100) – You get a limited signed & numbered hardcover, the ebook, eARCs of episodes 3-6 as they’re available, and ebook editions of Episodes 3-6 as they publish. You also get access to a limited high-level-backers-only Google Hangout at the end of the campaign.

There are still some high-level backer rewards available that would help the campaign reach the stretch goals. They are:

NARRATIVE TRAINING ($250 – 1 available) – A detailed critique of up to 10,000 words of fiction. You also get the $100 reward.

GENRENAUT CONSULTATION ($500 – 2 available) – A detailed critique of 25,000 words of fiction, plus everything from the $100 level, and an up-to-one-hour video conference with me to talk about the story and/or publishing/etc.

DINE WITH THE GENRENAUTS ($500 – 1 available) – Everything from the $100 reward AND a quality dinner at a convention with me sometime in the next year (exact con to be mutually decided on), where we’ll talk about publishing, writing, fencing, geekdom, etc.

HIGH COUNCIL ($1,000 – 2 available) – Everything from the $100 level, and you will be credited as an Executive Producer on Genrenauts Season One, AND when I begin writing Genrenauts Season Two, you will be credited as an Executive Producer, and we will work closely together to determine the genres, plots, and tropes used in the second season. Like the High Council and the Genrenauts, you will help guide the team and their missions. As the author, I will have final say on narrative choices. You will also receive signed & personalized paperback copy of SHIELD & CROCUS, PLUS signed & personalized copies of THE SHOOTOUT SOLUTION and THE ABSCONDED AMBASSADOR, PLUS ebook copies of every Genrenauts story ever published (past and future).

And don’t forget the whimsy goals!

These are stretch goals not to unlock more Genrenauts content, but to get me to do fun and ridiculous things. Just another way of getting people excited about the campaign.

YOUTHFUL EMBARRASSMENT – If the campaign reaches 300 backers, I will record a reading of some of my early fiction, including stories written in college. It will be embarrassing, and it will be awesome.
HAMILTON COVER – If we sell out of the NARRATIVE TRAINING ($250) OR GENRENAUTS CONSULATION ($500) backer levels during the campaign, I will post a video of me covering “You’ll be Back” from the Hamilton musical. Backers will see the video first. If we sell out of both levels, I will cosplay as Balmer King George III for the performance (Balmer King George = Kitschy as hell, because Baltimore)
LIVE-TWEET OF SUFFERING – For every audiobook stretch goal we hit, I will live-tweet a ridiculous SF/F movie. Options include CLASH OF THE TITANS, STARCRASH, and LADYHAWKE. Backers will vote on which movie(s) to watch.

So again, if you haven’t backed but intend to, now is the time for action!