The Genrenauts Life

Life right now is pretty Genrenauts-tastic. I’m working on final edits for Episode 3, Ep. 4 is off for edits soon, etc.

And “There Will Always be a Max,” a Genrenauts short, is coming to Tor.com on April 6th.

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

Which means, with the release of THE ABSCONDED AMBASSADOR very fresh in my mind, I have some things to say and people to thank, which I did largely on Twitter, but will repeat here:

The Absconded Ambassador is dedicated to Dave Robison, an OG (Original Genrenaut), for helping me develop the core premise of the series at a critical juncture, and for his ongoing contributions to the genre in fostering community and helping writers develop their voice and craft.

I lift a Neon Space Drink (TM) to my editor Lee Harris, who took a chance on the series and helped me bring this vision into the world.

I’m also very grateful to Irene Gallo, Christine Foltzer, and Peter Lutjen for creating the cover design and series style for Genrenauts, reflecting the genre love and playfulness of the series.

My Copy-Editor, Amanda Hong, kept the alien species consistent, made sure I kept the timeline clear,  and in general polished the book to look better than it had been before.

Katharine Duckett has done a fantastic job spreading the word about the series and helping me get it into the hands of people far and wide. Thanks also to Mordicai Knode and Carl Engle-Laird for their assistance along the way.

I am so delighted to be a part of the Tor.com Publishing experiment, and the campaign to show that #NovellasAreTheNewNovel.

And speaking of #NovellasAreTheNewNovel, Matt Wallace has been a great supporter of the series, for which I am very grateful. Thanks, brother.

My agent Sara Megibow is the Opener of Doors, the Herald of Awesomeness, always there to help me plow throw when things get rough.

Every book I write is a love letter to the stories that have inspired me, and a suggestion of how we can move forward. As an Ex-Academic, most of my books so far have been my way of taking what I have to say about the genre and the world and putting it into story form. Never has this been more the case than in Genrenauts. I’m really excited about the characters of this series and what they have to say.

Writing Genrenauts has already helped me stretch my skills and learn to write more thoughtfully, more energetically, and more flexibly. (That ONE SECRET FOR WRITING SUCCESS everyone asks about? It’s actually lat stretches. Keep that between you and me.)

And the response so far has been very exciting. Here are some of the reviews for the series:

“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

“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.

“I have this sinking feeling that the Genrenauts series, with its raucous meta-commentary upon the stories of pop culture, is going to say important things that I might not be clever enough to catch the first time around because I’m too busy enjoying the books.”
Howard Tayler, Hugo Award winner and creator of Schlock Mercenary

“…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

and for Episode 2,

“The second episode in Michael R. Underwood’s Genrenauts delivers on the promise of Episode 1, and demonstrates that his special alchemy of Leverage + The Librarians + Quantum Leap + Thursday Next (just my current guess at his secret recipe) has legs — and will hopefully go a long time.”
– Irresponsible Reader

“…it’s a heck of a lot of fun the way Galaxy Quest is: a little goofy, a little serious but not taking itself too seriously, and filled with a fondness for the source material that gives it weight without weighing down the story.”
Samantha Holloway, New York Journal of Books

it offers a wonderfully creative premise: Fictional stories are really alternate universes in which problems bleed over into our would and cause calamities here.
Leah Hansen, RT Reviews

In closing, I hope you’ll join Team Genrenauts and see where the story goes next.


The latest Genrenauts story is The Absconded Ambassador. Weird aliens, diplomatic wrangling, space dogfights, genre ruminations, and more:

The Absconded Ambassador

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

Library Journal review

Big news! The Shootout Solution has been reviewed by Library Journal – one of the major trade reviewers in the US. This is a big deal, not just because it’s a high-profile review, and more reviews = more people finding the book, but also because I’ve never had a major trade review for one of my books before (digital-only books don’t get much love along these lines).

Without further ado, here’s the review!

TSS Library Journal Review

 

ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED (25G)

*happy dance*

Fist bump

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

 

The Absconded Ambassador giveaway!

We’re just 5 days from the release of The Shootout Solution: Genrenauts Episode 1

The Shootout Solution Final

Happy minion

 

There’s still time to pre-order the book in paperback, ebook, and/or audio, which I say because pre-orders are incredibly important.

Here’s what pre-orders do.

  1. They maximize week one sales, which makes the book look good and makes the publisher happy. Since I want to sell all of Season 1 (and beyond) of Genrenauts to Tor.com, this is a big deal.
  2. They get the retailers excited about the book. Especially if you order with a friendly local store – your local indie, a B&N, and so on.
  3. The sooner readers get to a book, the sooner they can review a book. First week reviews are a big factor for ebook retailers in determining what books get promoted and to whom.

The second-best thing to pre-orders are sales the first week of release. I know some people like to buy on the spot, so instead of just doing a pre-order giveaway, I’m going to extend it to both pre-orders and first week sales.

Buy the book (in your format of choosing) and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a signed and personalized print galley of The Absconded Ambassador – Genrenauts Episode 2. Those galleys are due to me by the end of November, so you’d get yours shortly afterword. And then you’ll be months ahead of the February 23rd 2016 release for the book.

Full Giveaway Rules:

  1. Pre-order The Shootout Solution from any retailer, or buy it in the first week (November 17th – 22nd).*
  2. Send an email with the proof of purchase/receipt to munderwood@gmail.com. The subject line should read “Absconded Ambassador Giveaway
  3. On November 30th, I’ll randomly select winners to receive the 5 signed & personalized print galleys.

 

Pre-order links:

Paperback: IndieBound * Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Ebook:   Kindle * Google PlayKobo * Nook * iTunes

Audio: Audible

 

*The physical galleys will be available to US and Canadian readers only. (I’m sorry, but international shipping gets incredibly expensive. If you’re outside the US/CAN territory and win, I will send you a free ebook copy of The Absconded Ambassador when it releases in Feb 2016, along with Other Cool Stuff via email.)

The Absconded Ambassador

 

Good luck, and stay tuned for much more from the Genrenauts Episode 1 Promonado – Essays, interviews, podcasts, and more!

Fist bump

Return of Promonado

We’re just 8 days from The Shootout Solution‘s release, and my Promonado has already begun. Here’s a quick round-up of reviews and appearances so far.

Reviews:

“The Shootout Solution is Genre blending fun.”
Fangirl Nation

“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

Podcasts:

Talking Genre with Daniel Benson on The Kingdoms of Evil.

Q&A at GenCon with James L. Sutter and Kameron Hurley for Writing Excuses.

 

And just in this very hour – the first of several videos we shot at Macmillan HQ about Genrenauts. This one is an introduction to the world and concept:

GENRENAUTS cover reveal!

The fine folks at io9.com have exclusive cover reveals for four of the Tor.com novellas, including my own Genrenauts Episode 1: The Shootout Solution. Go forth and bask in the artistic marvel!

Big props to Peter Lutjen for a stunning design job on my cover – I love every single piece of it. And a reminder that you can pre-order the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iTunes before it drops on November 17th.

cover of The Shootout Solution, art by Peter Lutjen