News This Second Week of May

Finally some nice weather here in the Twin Cities – sixty degrees and (partly, but we’ll take it) sunny. The flowers aren’t blooming yet, but there’s hope.

There are various May promotions going on for my series starter, The Far Time Incident, so if you’re in the mood for a time-travel mystery, it’s a great time to pick up the audiobook (wonderfully narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal and $6.95 for Audible customers until May 10) or the ebook ($1.99 on Kindle until Memorial Day) or a print copy ($7.99 until May 15 on Amazon). In the UK, both The Far Time Incident and The Runestone Incident are £0.99 on Kindle for all of May.

Also, a reminder that this Mother’s Day weekend, I’ll be at Uncle Hugo’s. If you drop by the bookstore this Saturday, the 10th, you’ll find Douglas Hulick and me at the table by the door from 1-2 pm signing books. Hope to see you there.

Then, on Sunday, my guys will probably take me out to brunch somewhere. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!



Order a Personalized Copy of My Books

Uncle Hugo’s is a science fiction bookstore here in Minneapolis. They’ve just celebrated their 40th anniversary, which makes Uncle Hugo’s the “oldest independent science fiction bookstore” in the U.S.! Needless to say, forty years is a long time to be in business, especially in the publishing business, so a big congrats to Don Blyly–you can read his take on How’s Business? in this store newsletter. The store is next door to its mystery twin, Uncle Edgar’s, and is packed from floor to ceiling with new and used books. It’s an excellent place to find out-of-print and vintage books.

Uncle Hugo’s is also the one place you can get signed copies of my books (unless you run into me somewhere). They do ship, so you don’t have to come by in person.
If you do feel like stopping by, I will be at Uncle Hugo’s on Saturday, May 10, from 1-2 pm signing books, along with Douglas Hulick, who is signing copes of his newest book, Sworn in Steel.

Otherwise, you can pre-order a signed and/or personalized copy of any of my books. I will sign and/or personalize the book when I’m there in May and Uncle Hugo’s will ship it to you.

I’ve been meaning to take pictures of the inside of Uncle Hugo’s, and will do so this time around and post them!



News This Third Week of June

Hope everyone is enjoying their summer (or winter, depending on which part of the world you’re in). Lots of rain, green, and mosquitoes here.

Over on Chris Henderson’s blog, TheWriteChris, I talk about Writing Sci-Fi and Making it Real. Chris sent me a list of insightful questions, such as What’s the best advice about writing you want to pass along? Spoiler alert — I quote Neil Gaiman in the answer.

The sequel to The Far Time Incident has gone into the developmental edit and I’ve been reworking the draft based on feedback from my editor, Angela Polidoro. Angela is fantastic at her job, somehow managing to zero in on small, sentence-scale issues while simultaneously keeping her finger on the big-picture pulse of the story. This stage of things is both fun and stressful, as I’m making any last major changes to the story and watching it (hopefully!) all come together. 

Book 2 in the Incident series is slated for publication sometime in early 2014, which seems really far away, but there is a lot to be done between now and then for the book via the trusty hands of everyone at 47North. After the developmental edit, there’s the copyedit, the proofread, cover design and promo text, Advance Reader Copies to be printed and sent out, and whatever else I might have forgotten to put on the list! Rolling up sleeves and getting back to work…


News on This First Week of May

Today’s news is that the big May snowstorm veered off at the last minute and just missed us — towns just south of us got 8+ inches, but our lawn stayed green. Also that I was invited to write a guest post for the Kindle Daily Post. The topic suggested was What are your five favorite time travel novels? Had I thought about it really deeply, it would have been hard to choose from all the great time travel novels out there, so instead I went with the more straightforward method of listing the first five books that popped into my head (figuring that was a sure-fire way of guaranteeing they were my favorites). Read my guest post here and let me know what your favorite time travel novels are!

In other news, I’m doing a giveaway on Goodreads for both the new book and my first one. If you’re a Goodreads member, you can enter to win a signed copy of The Far Time Incident or Regarding Ducks and Universes (or both!). The giveaway runs until May 13.

Finally, The Far Time Incident has been picked by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Kindle editors for their list of books “no self-respecting geek should go without,” which is, of course, unbelievably cool. I don’t know how often they change or update these lists, but for now you can spot the book there, nestled between Flatland and Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. Like I said, very cool stuff.


Launch Day – The Far Time Incident

It’s here! The Far Time Incident releases today in trade paperback, Kindle, and audiobook formats. Am I excited? Yes. Am I nervous? Yes. I feel I should say something deep and profound to mark the occasion, like that writing a book is like building a boat and that I’ve done the best job I could with hammer and nail, hoisted the mast and sail, carefully painted the name on the prow, and all I can hope for at this point are a calm sea and a good tailwind. 

Not for nothing is it called a book launch

The point, I think, is this — that publishing means letting the book sail where it will, releasing it into the sometimes murky, sometimes stagnant, and sometimes wonderfully blue publishing waters. Yes, the publisher and you do what you can to help it along by sending out copies to reviewers and spreading the word via social media and other means, and hope that book finds a home in readers’ hearts. But ultimately it means that the time has come to focus your efforts on building that next boat, and I have — the sequel to the Far Time Incident is well in the works, with a nice solid draft sitting in my computer.

But today I’m here to watch a boat sail away. Here’s to a great launch!


Audio Book News – Mary Robinette Kowal

The Far Time Incident has found an awesome narrator in Mary Robinette Kowal. I cannot wait to hear the audio book — it comes out the same day as the print and Kindle editions, April 9. Here is Mary’s bio from her website:  

Mary Robinette Kowal is the author of Shades of Milk and Honey (Tor, 2010) and Glamour in Glass (Tor, 2012). In 2008 she received the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and in 2011, her short story “For Want of a Nail” won the Hugo Award for Short Story. Her work has been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula and Locus awards. Her stories appear in Asimov’sClarkesworld, and several Year’s Best anthologies. Mary, a professional puppeteer, also performs as a voice actor, recording fiction for authors such as Elizabeth Bear, Cory Doctorow and John Scalzi. She lives in Chicago with her husband Rob and over a dozen manual typewriters. Visit

I am so glad that the book is in such experienced hands (note that Mary is not only a Hugo Award winner but also a puppeteer — how cool is that?). Early last week we fine-tuned the pronunciation of the Latin names and words in the Pompeii section of the book, something I didn’t pay a lot of attention to in the writing stage. Mary needed to know whether to use Classical Latin or the more modern (Ecclesiastical) Latin. (As an example, Veni, vidi, vici would have been way-nee, wee-dee, wee-kee originally.) We settled on having her use Classical in the short bits of dialogue with Pompeian locals Sabina, Secundus, and others, and the more familiar modern Latin for place names and such. And yes, I’m going to be more aware of this side of things from now on, and maybe think twice before incorporating tongue-twisters like Gnaeus Alleius Nigidius Maius (who was a real person, by the way) into the manuscript. Mary seemed to take it all in stride, though.

As an added bonus, Mary’s own books sound right up my alley and will make for great reading on our upcoming winter break. Other things to look forward to are seeing family and feeling that warm Florida sunshine… Bone-chilling subzero temperatures here this week.


Cover Reveal

It’s gone up live on Amazon, so I am at liberty to reveal the cover of The Far Time Incident  — the book is coming out on April 9 (in less than three months!) Without further ado, here it is:

I think 47North did an awesome job with it. The characters spinning back in time and into Vesuvius, the concentric circles… perfect.  (On a side note, close readers of this blog might notice that we dropped the dash in “Far-Time”. It makes the title a little less Chicago-Manual-of-Style correct, but crisper, we agreed all around.)

Here’s the product description from the Amazon page:

When a professor’s time-travel lab is the scene of a deadly accident, the academic world and the future of St. Sunniva University get thrown into upheaval. As assistant to the dean of science, Julia Olsen is assigned to help Campus Security Chief Nate Kirkland examine this rare mishap…then make it quietly go away!

But when the investigation points toward murder, Julia and Chief Kirkland find themselves caught in a deadly cover-up, one that strands them in ancient Pompeii on the eve of the eruption of the world’s most infamous volcano. With the help of their companions—a Shakespearean scholar and two grad students—Julia and the chief must outwit history itself and expose the school’s saboteur before it’s too late.

The Far Time Incident is a smart, richly inventive novel that skillfully weaves together mystery, history, and science to create a mesmerizing and addictive read.


Five Writing Truths That Should Be Obvious but Aren’t… And a Happy New Year!

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 Hope everyone had (or is having) a good holiday break. The new year is just a few days away and, as I look ahead, I realize I’ll soon cease to be a debut novelist—the publication of The Far Time Incident is just around the corner (early April, more than three months from now, isconsidered just around the corner in the world of publishing.) I’ve learned many practical things since Regarding Ducks and Universes came out, like where to order business cards (I like Moo) and how to make a pic like the one above that says 2013 and incorporate it into a blog post. But I’ve been thinking about the big things, the ones that perhaps should be obvious but aren’t. These five writing truths will probably be of interest mostly to other writers, but here they are anyway:
1. Not everyone will like your book. In fact, someone somewhere will think that it’s the worst book in the world. And say so publicly—on a forum, in a tweet, in an Amazon review, or all three. Don’t worry—yours and my book can’t both be the worst book in the world. Only one is and I’ve yet to come across it.
2. What goes up must come down. For every promotion where you excitedly watch your book climb the Amazon bestseller lists, there is an inevitable reversal that follows (how soon depends on how big your book gets) where you get to watch your pride and joy slowly sink in the ranks. Writing is a business where your sales numbers and royalties (i.e., your paycheck) can vary wildly from month to month and from year to year.
3. Reviews—you don’t have to read them. I’m not talking about reviews from Publisher’s Weekly or Kirkus, but the ones readers leave on sites like Amazon, Goodreads, and LibraryThing. I am very grateful for these and appreciate that people take the time to write them—a good reader review is almost irreplaceable in helping spread the word about a book. But if you drop everything and run off to read every new review that pops up on Amazon, only to emerge elated or crushed, you’re setting yourself up for an emotional roller coaster. I recommend staying away from the one and two stars (see point 1: Not everyone will like your book) unless you have nerves of steel. I don’t. Besides, I figure that book reviews are meant for other readers, not for me as the author.
4. No one can predict how well your book will sell. Regarding Ducks and Universeshas done better (sales-wise and review-wise) in the US than in the UK. Why? I don’t know. Maybe they just like me better over here. The just-released German translation seems to doing nicely so far on (Danke, German readers!), better than the English version in the Canada store. Was there any way to predict that? Not in my, uh, book. The point is that, as with reviews, tying your worth as a writer to your book’s sales numbers at any given moment is a recipe for a lot of emotional ups and downs. So don’t do it. (Easier said then done, I know.)
And, finally:
5. Writing is just like any other job. But only the people you live with know this (and that’s if you’re lucky, and I am). Friends and neighbors will wonder why your house is always messy and why you’re perpetually behind on your errands, when as a writer you are flush with free time. After all, you’re your own boss, aren’t you? Yes, but you’re also the only employee—there’s no one to pass on the job of writing to. If you take a sick day, the manuscript word count doesn’t budge. As a rule, you don’t get up in the morning and wonder when you’ll get around to doing some writing; you get up and you do it. On a side note, yes, you do have to pay taxes, as in any other job.
And that’s it. Just five things. As I write these, I realize that knowing them is not the same as keeping them in mind, which I know I need to work harder at. A New Year’s resolution, then.

May the New Year bring lots of good things to you and yours! 

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A Publication Date and New Editions

A couple of weeks ago, I learned a bit about how an audio book gets made—the audio version of Regarding Ducks and Universes is being recorded by the lovely people at BrillianceAudio, with the talented Alexander Cendese narrating. Mainly I learned that there wasn’t much for me as the author to do, as my contribution consisted of supplying preferred pronunciations of names (Mrs. Noor, to rhyme with “sure”) and of words unique to the novel (macar tree, ma-CAR; yabput, YAAB-poot), all of which took about fifteen minutes. I’m very much looking forward to “hearing” the story — the audio book is available for pre-order and will be released on November 6, 2012.

Another bit of exciting news is that a German translation of Regarding Ducks is in the works, through Amazon Crossing (as translated by Peter Friedrich, author and translator). I don’t have many details yet, only the thought that being a translator is probably hard enough without having to deal with finding German language counterparts for made-up terms such as A-dweller, B-dweller, and yabput. (I speak from experience, being bilingual and needing occasionally to translate a phrase in one direction or the other for a family member. There is an art to it. I tend to flounder and say, “uh,” a lot.) But Peter sent me a nice note saying he had fun translating the book, so perhaps it’s all in a day’s work when you do it for a living….

Finally, the publication date for the novel I’ve been working on for the past year, The Far-Time Incident, has been set—March 26, 2013, which would seem like a long time away, except that I know there’s a lot to get done before the big day. This month the final edits are going in with the help of my editor extraordinaire, Angela Polidoro, after which there’ll be cover choices to make, the polishing of the back blurb, the proofreading of the ARC… All great fun.


Pics from Pompeii

Just returned from a local-color and fact-gathering weeklong trip to Pompeii for the book I’ve been working on. I’ve been wanting to go for a while now and the stars finally aligned. It was extraordinary to walk on the ancient paving stones and to see the places I’ve spent the past year, on and off, reading and writing about. Travel time from Minneapolis was about 20 hours and the jet lag weighed me down a bit, but I returned having met some great people — Italians and co-travelers from Britain, New Zealand, Spain, and California, not to mention our trusty tour leader Tony O’Connor, who patiently answered all my questions about what life in ancient Pompeii might have been like — and with a camera full of photos and some good notes.

Here is a picture of me in the Forum, with a notepad, camera, hat, backpack, and shades:

Venus in a shell
HAVE = Welcome
Villa Oplontis

Floor mosaic with geometric design.
Vesuvius, framed between two pine trees. 

The picture below was taken from Vesuvius looking in the direction of Naples, though it’s hard to get a sense of scale. To get to the summit, you take a local bus for a somewhat hair-raising drive up a narrow two-way road with blind curve upon blind curve, followed by a walk up to the crater on a steep gravelly road. The views are well worth it. We thought we saw a bit of steam drift up from the crater and smelled sulfur at one point, after which we had to rush downhill so as not to miss our bus.

I even took an afternoon off to relax by the hotel pool, with its cliff-top views of the bay and lemon trees for shade, and sat in a lounge chair doing light edits of the manuscript. Writing is hard work.


View from hotel in Vico Equense. That’s Vesuvius across the bay.