The man, the myth, the legend.
Category Archives: Publishing
So my very first Dragoncon is in the books and I gotta say, with a few exceptions I had the best time of my life.
So without much ado, rewind to 9 days ago…
I was going to leave Wednesday originally but work requirements prevented this from happening. So instead I left the house at something like 0600 with plans on arriving in Atlanta around 1400 that afternoon. However, my roommates were arriving early, so I managed to finagle the Hilton app and get an early checkin time for no extra cost. Score!
The drive was relatively uneventful, for a change. Usually I almost die a few times on the drive to a con, but for some reason I hit almost no traffic until I was just about in downtown Atlanta. However, before then I could see my hotel from about 6 miles out.
I’m not kidding.
The Westin at Peachtree Plaza has something like 70 floors in it, and this was where the four of us were crashing. It was the so-called “quiet” hotel of Dragoncon, which I was thankful for. The Hyatt and Marriott were freaking insane with their parties and whatnot, and I need… space? Quiet? So I checked in and promptly posted a picture to my Instagram account showing the view. And whoa, what a freaking view! I could see everything from there: the stadium where the Atlanta Hawks played, a giant ferris wheel that looked impressive from the ground but puny from my room (40th floor), and lots of buildings everywhere. It’d been years since I’d been in a large metropolis… I forgot just how many people there are in big cities.
So I rolled in and met up with my roommates… sorta. We were mostly ships passing in the night the entire weekend, and while I’m glad we all had our own personal space it would have been nice to hang out with them a little more. Still though, I had fun.
So Thursday evening I was starving and looking for food. Ran into the Internation Lord of Hate, Larry Correia, who hatefully guided me to food where I could divulge in hateful mchatey hate-filled sustenance. Unfortunately, I suck with directions and got lost. I wandered around and discovered the underground food court eventually. The problem was that in order to get to it from my hotel side you had to go down a CVS and then navigate into it. The CVS staff was awesome and were immensely helpful while handling 80,000+ congoers all weekend. Found a terrific Cubano food place and ate like a fiend. Prices were a bit high (a common theme the entire weekend) but the food was delicious (another recurring bit). Finally fed, I found my way up to Speaker’s Speakeasy.
This used to be Barfly Central but this year, since Tedd “Speaker To Lab Animals” Roberts was hosting it in his suite, it was renamed. There I got to meet up with some old friends and make some new ones. For some reason I’m blanking on who was in the room besides Speaker, but it was nice to catch up with them all. From there I headed back to the Westin, where I ran into David Weber and his awesome wife, Sharon. David was recovering from a fall and was kind of doped up on pain meds, courtesy of a broken nose and some stitches. From there I briefly met up with my publisher and friend, Chris Kennedy, who was in the bar holding court. Surrounding him were some of his authors, including Mark Wandrey, Kevin Ikenberry and (I think) Jon Osborne. All of them had their spouses in tow.
Question: when I meet my fellow male authors, their spouses always seem to be more attractive and “out of their league”. It seems to be a rule of thumb. Just an odd observation that I’ll probably have people screaming at me in the comments over.
Pooped, I finally crashed around 2300. Friday promised to be a long day and I knew I would need to rest.
I woke up around 0700 Friday morning. Stupid, considering how little I was going to sleep for the rest of the weekend, but still… I tried to be quiet for my roommates (one of them stumbled in at around 0400 or so) and made my way down to the Starbucks in the hotel. Ran into my publisher again and we briefly talked about the sales of Deathlords, Book 3 of the Kin Wars Saga. The book had gone on sale Thursday and reception has been amazing so far. A lot of people have yelled at me for the opening scene of the book, when they received a gut punch that they were not expecting.
We talked briefly about Book 4 and he mentioned that I should be writing in the Four Horsemen Universe, which had been co-created by him and Mark Wandrey. When I reminded him that I’d written in two anthologies, he countered with “novels”. That sort of caught me off guard, since I was already writing a 4HU novel with my old writing buddy Chris Smith.
I then went over to the dealer’s room and found Nerd Mecca. Three floors of vendors, with wares ranging from handmade personalized nerd wall clocks to massive dragon and fairy wings for those searching for that elaborate costume piece. I found kilts as well (didn’t buy one, instead snagged one of a friend’s old ones) and some other really cool gifts, including something for my housesitter. I realized that it was getting close to time for my first panel so I hustled over to the Marriott, where I sat in on The Pen & Sword.
It was a pretty crowded panel and quite a few people were there to listen as myself, Kevin Dockery, Marc Allen Edelheit, and Mark Wandrey spoke about how we armed our protagonists and the pitfalls of dealing with modern and classical weapons. The best example was the classic “safety on a Glock” incident.
From there I headed back up to Speaker’s. Along the way I had to pass through the throngs of partygoers on the main levels of the Hyatt and Marriott. It was plain to see that Dragoncon was officially underway as thousands of cosplayers were out showing off their costumes. There was everything from inflatible dinosaurs to a woman in a walker cargo lift from Aliens. It was amazing.
I went back down to the Fantasy Gathering panel, which was more of a room for all of us on the fantasy lit track to sell our books and meet the fans than anything else. There I got to meet Todd McCaffrey again, Quincey Allen, and JoHanna Moresco, one of the violinists from The Cruxshadows. I’m pretty sure I was only at stage 9 of 10 on the blushing level. I sold quite a few books and had a blast. I packed up quickly and headed out at the end, done for the night. I needed sleep, and bad.
Was up at the butt crack of dawn because one of my roommates was in the Dragoncon parade, and I promised to get pictures. I had a special invite up to one of the rooms overlooking the route, so I got to see the parade with no obstructions. While watching the parade I spotted Larry Correia and his wife, Bridget, on a similar balcony practically next door. Lots of waving and facial expressions made (as well as a dance off at one point) made for a fun viewing experience of the parade.
From there I had to hustle because my next panel, Amazons & Assassins, was about to begin. It was a pretty interesting panel, and my first one with both S.M. Stirling and Eric Flint. I didn’t talk much on this one, preferring to listen as two masters of the craft talked about their own writing experiences. After that it was over to the Baen Books Traveling Road Show, where the winner of the Best Military SF Story was announced. My friend Kacey Ezell won for her short story in the Forged in Blood anthology. That was awesome, and then Toni Weisskopf (editor of Baen Books) showed off some of the new books coming out, including the cover for Deathlords, which was pretty damn cool.
Next panel was Stealing from the Past, which was… I don’t know. I actually don’t remember anything about it. Weird. Yeah, Saturday night was a bit of a blur actually. I don’t remember much after the Road Show, though I do know I bought a really cool art piece from the Art Show.
Sunday was fun. I got to do my first of two book signings at the Baen Books booth, which was myself, Mike Massa, and John Ringo. Mike and John cut out a little early due to panels, and Larry Correia showed up a bit early, so I got to hang out with three of my favorite Baen authors. Got to talk up the Black Tide Rising anthology and hand out beads for Baen. Nobody really wanted my signature, which was okay, because I stealth signed the sh*t out of those Baen bead necklaces. 😀 Take that, oppressors!
I’d also made a mistake in not bringing any of my own books with me to sell. I didn’t think I was allowed to do this. My bad.
Then was my Four Horsemen roundtable panel, which featured just about every single 4HU author attended who was there. It was here where I finally came up with a solo 4HU novel (titled Fangmaster, and then also Ortu Luna, the collab with Chris Smith). It was a lot of fun. After that I prepared for the I:scintilla/Cruxshadows concert. That was probably the most fun I had all con, as I got to meet the band afterwards and catch up, since it’d been over 10 years since I last saw them. Got to hear a lot of their newer stuff as well as older songs I was more familiar with. What a great concert.
Monday the con began to wind down. I was on a final panel with some authors and it went okay. Got to meet Cat Rambo at the last panel, which was interesting. From there I went to went back to sign more books at the Baen Books booth. Then it was off to the Dead Dog Party at some restaurant. I forgot the name of the place. It wasn’t horrible but for the prices I was expecting a little more.
Before the Dead Dog Party, however, I was taking the escalator when a con staff volunteer was attempting to go up. He had a large travel bag, a sleeping bag, and looked, well, exhausted. His bag got caught up in the escalator and he tried to dislodge it. In the process of doing so, he lost his balance and fell backwards. It looked like he was stuck on the escalator and it looked like it could get ugly in a hurry, so I tried to help him back up to his feet and off the escalator. He was confused and he fought me a little, trying to continue going up. However, because he was fighting me, he wasn’t getting to his feet, and that was when I decided I needed to move his ass off the escalator, willing or no. I reached under his arms and hauled him off the escalator. He was shorter but bigger than me, so he had a better center of gravity. Unfortunately he had no balance, and fell backwards on top of me as I was getting him off the escalator. He also, incidentally, landed on my wrist and dislocated it.
That hurt like hell. Fortunately we were able to get it back into place and hotel security and staff helped him to his feet. They made him drink water and then started asking him questions. That was when we found out he couldn’t remember when he last ate, slept, or drank water. That is a fail.
Con staff — make certain you get sleep every night, eat twice a day, and shower once. That should keep your wits about you so incidents like this don’t occur. I’m okay but I’m going to have to go to the doctor’s this week to see about damaged ligaments in the wrist because I’m still in a lot of pain. This could have all been avoided if the guy had just gotten some rest.
Tuesday morning I shoved off for home. Along the way I stopped to have lunch with David Weber and Sharon, and catch up on how David was doing (sore). Eventually I got home and passed out.
For my first Dragoncon, it was pretty smooth. The Fantasy Lit track (where I spent most of my time) was run very well and, outside of a few tech issues with the mics, there weren’t any problems. I was asked if I was coming back next year. I said yes, of course, though I failed in procuring a room so far.
Getting a room for Dragoncon is akin to the Hunger Games — may the odds be ever in your favor.
I swear, I look down, get back to writing, look back up… and it’s almost been a month since an update.
How does time do this to me?
Well, this week I had not one but TWO cover reveals occur. The first one is the one that everybody has been waiting for, and HOLY CRAP it is beautiful! Here is Deathlords, Book 3 of the Kin Wars Saga.
Nice, isn’t it? Bonus quiz: can you identify the planet from the series that the suit is protecting?
Then, on Thursday another publisher released the final cover of Sha’Daa: Toys, the (from what I hear) final anthology in the Sha’Daa universe. This one will actually be out in a few weeks, but the cover is downright creepy.
They both are great, and shows once more while I will continue to support small press publishers. Both teams I work with are amazing people who put all their efforts into producing quality workmanship. I can’t ask for better people to write for.
Yes, the title is correct. Darkling is now live and available over on Amazon. I’m super excited about this. How excited? So excited I’m going to be running a giveaway for a copy of Wraithkin, Darkling, and Kraken Mare, all autographed. All you need to do is Tweet it, tag me in it (@warpcordova), and voila! one entry. You can also tag me on instagram @warpcordova to show me your share for a SECOND entry! Want to enter a third time? Post a screenshot of you sharing a link of the book over on any other site like Facebook or MeWe and I’ll add in your names. Contest starts TODAY and will end at 11:59PM EST Sunday. Winner will be randomly selected at 8:00PM on Wednesday, April 18.
Good luck, my Kinions!
Darkling will be live and on sale April 13, 2018.
**cue dramatic screaming from my tens of fans**
Book 2 of the Kin Wars Saga will continue the story of Gabriel and Andrew, as well as introducing a new set of eyes to the novel. It also tears your freaking heart out (so I’m told by first readers), so there is that.
Mark your calendars and set aside some money. This one is gonna be good.
First off, Darkling is finished! It’s now off and in the hands of the Super Mega Awesome Beta Force Crew for dissemination and assassination. Book 2 of the Kin Wars Saga had a ton of heartache, loyalty, and betrayal. Let the song of victory play!
Secondly, my article about the current kerfuffle within the Worldcon has gone live over at the Mad Genius Club. Go take a gander and see just why they would seek to remove one of the more prominent Hispanic science fiction writers out there from their attending guests, and see just what I think of this (hint: I’m not a fan of their decision).
Today is the release of the long-awaited first book of a brand new series I’m writing. Wraithkin is out and available in both print and e-format, and the early reviews is that all my hard work has come to fruition with this book. Run and buy, share, talk about it. Publicity never hurt a writer.
So at a very odd hour late last night, I went ahead and wrote a review over at Shiny Book Review. To say that it was an adventure is an understatement. Reputedly, this author has a history of lashing out at reviewers, so we’ll see just how interesting things get around here.
I mentioned elsewhere that the ideal author response to any review is a “thank you for writing a review”. That should be it. Drop mic, exit stage left, fade to black. For some reason some authors feel the need to tell the reviewer that what they read was not what was written, and they missed subtle nuances, etc. Word of advice: if the reviewer missed it, then it’s possible it wasn’t there in the first place.
Nobody knows the story and the characters as well as the author, and it’s completely understandable to see something that the reader does not because you know the characters and story so much better. It’s okay, really. However, lashing out and yelling at book reviewers (or going creepy cyber stalker, like this author did) is not the way to go. You are a professional now, damn it. Try and remember that, even if your Twitter feed is nothing but hyperbole and pictures of lattes (nothing wrong with either, actually).
Yesterday, over on Facebook, I kinda sorta touched on the new HarperCollins digital watermark, which is another updated rendition of their failed attempts (thus far, apparently) at a secure and impenetrable DRM. Those pesky pirates are costing publishers a lot of money, so of course the natural response is to put even more money into a system that will be obsolete in about four months. Most of us who know anything about computers will roll their eyes when reading the description of what this new digital watermark does:
“We are pleased to add this new service to our anti-piracy toolbox,” said Chantal Restivo-Alessi, Chief Digital Officer at HarperCollins Publishers. “Part of the value publishers provide is protecting the livelihoods of our authors and ensuring that they’re being properly compensated for their work. Digimarc Guardian Watermarks help us identify and stop potential e-book leaks in our digital supply chain that result in piracy. This technology, alongside the monitoring and takedown service, helps us better protect our authors’ content.”
The real fear for publishers, it seems, is not in the average 4chan user who has a copy of some bestseller, but leaks from within their own organizational supply chain. Of course, this does nothing for those dedicated individuals who are willing to type up an entire hardcover book and release it into the wild, ala Harry Potter before J. K. Rowling allowed for ebooks to be created. The amount of money that they would need to spend to get this started, as well as ensure on a daily basis that their DRM code within each and every book is unique, is going to be expensive. Intuitive thinking leads one to believe that in order to combat this growing cost (and it will grow, since the digital algorithm for their DRM will be cracked inside of a month by some 13 year old kid who was bored after playing Destiny), prices may go up in the near future for all HarperCollins books, especially with the beating that its parent company, NewsCorp, took this year with their quarterly earnings.
Now why, one may ask, would HarperCollins do this? Well, their 1Q 2014 earnings show that they had a 15% increase in profit, which is very good in the publishing world. Most of their profits came from the NYT bestseller Divergent and ebook sales. Well, one was made into a movie, and the other… must be protected from piracy, because that 15% could have been 15.2%? I don’t know. To me, this sounds like it was a call from above, since piracy of their most popular book (Divergent) didn’t seem to hurt their profit margin any. NewsCorps, in case you were wondering, did not have a good 2013 on the whole (HarperCollins was their lone bright spot, apparently). Instead of riding the surging popularity of their books, a decision was made to ensure that the Dread Pirate Roberts would not be able to pilfer their books. This is going to hurt them in the long run, methinks.
You see, the typical Information Security Analyst clears about $117,000 a year. I’m not sure what the hell a “Chief Digital Officer” is, but I’m willing to bet it’s something like a management level ISA, so let’s say that a senior manager like that would make more than $117,000 per year. Of course, this is also a publisher notorious for pinching pennies, so let’s cut that back a bit. Call it $100,000 a year. But she’s not going to be doing all this coding and whatnot alone (if at all, if my own history of working for senior managers is any indication), so she’ll have coders doing this for her. And the code monkeys should be making about $45,000-$75,000 per year, according to my sources in the industry. That’s quite a bit of money to be paying, per year, to ensure that they don’t lose half of that in sales.
One of the things I’ve found, doing a little bit of research into the matter, is that while HarperCollins is protecting their rights and intellectual properties through the digital marking, they’re also data mining your device. This wasn’t mentioned in the same article as the one above, but from a previous interview done with Ms. Restivo-Alessi by Fast Company back in January of this year. She mentions her job history was in the music industry (specifically, EMI) and digital security, which makes you wonder just how far HarperCollins is going to be willing to go to protect their books from piracy. There is a reason that the music industry has been properly vilified over the past 15 years.
But let’s go back for a moment. In the interview with Fast Company (in regards to a question about data-driven projects), Ms. Restivo-Alessi said this:
The first one is insight. Where we are making the first inroads is really allowing ourselves to acquire more consumer data–primary and secondary–and do it in a more cost efficient way. Also, we’re in the early days of then having a way of providing a digested presentation of the data to our publishing colleagues so that they can incorporate that information in the way they run the business.
The other is a little more sensitive, but I can tell you just in general it’s the area of digital sales and pricing. Again, because of digital, much more data is available so you can start inferring and analyzing impact and demand elasticity. That team doesn’t report directly to me, but it is a part of my job, as a part of looking for what works in the digital space and what best practices we can share.
There are a lot of buzzwords in there that sound impressive until you break it down. Once you do that, it starts to sound downright creepy.
We are consumers, and companies like HarperCollins wants us to buy their product. In order to do that, they have to put out a product that is both of value to us, the consumers, and entice us to purchase their product over someone else’s. This business model is pretty much capitalism in its most basic form, most people would agree. However, when you begin to take away the choice of the consumer through manipulations and “trends” in data mining, suddenly you have 56 different versions of Twilight floating out there because that’s what the data mining shows. The consumer is no longer the consumer, but a part of the product. As Facebook has shown, when you own the trends and data history of a consumer, the consumer becomes the product.
The second part is pretty simply: prices are going to go up, and that will justify more DRM. It’s a self-serving loop, one which tells the Greek myth of the Ouroboros. Eventually, this will consume itself. Oh, they can claim that their new digital marketing and DRM has shown that profits are increasing while they’re protecting the author, but anyone who works in traditional publishing knows that these books that are bestsellers now have been sitting in the queue for up to five years now. It happens to be fortuitous timing on their parts, and nothing more (well, other than the books being good, that is).
Look, DRM is not going to work. The people who steal ebooks are the people who weren’t going to buy it in any case. I have never had someone tell me that they pirated my book because that $3.99 was just too expensive for their tastes (waiting for my inbox to fill up now challenging this statement…). Yes, HarperCollins was profitable in 2013. That doesn’t mean that making it more difficult on the consumer in order to protect past profits means any sort of substantive growth for 2014 and beyond. If anything, this could cause sales to flatten and even decline.
In the end, all this is going to cause is more people refusing to buy HarperCollins overpriced ebooks. To combat this, they’ll have two choices: raise prices, or get rid of the DRM. And history has already shown us which direction they’ll take.
There are some nice deals going on this week.
Kaiju Apocalypse is currently on sale for only $0.99. This is would be the perfect time to get the first book in the series and try it out and see if it’s up your alley.
Also on sale is Murder World: Kaiju Dawn for only $0.99 as well. You really might want to grab this gem, since it has one of my favorite characters of all time in it. We’re still writing the follow up books to this, but rest assured that the sequel will be out this year.
Come on, what are you waiting for? For less than two bucks you can get two exciting Kaiju novels.
I was looking over my map of Weslande (my fantasy world I’m building around the story of I, Godslayer) and I saw that I had made a massive cathedral made of crystal in the middle of a vast desert. I was sort of surprised (I don’t remember doing it, but I make so many maps I wouldn’t be surprised if I did it while half-asleep) and started thinking about other maps I’ve made over the years. Since I’m a pack rat with regards to notebooks and such (I have almost 80 notebooks with random story ideas, notes, city designs, etc), I figured I’d go check to see how many maps have some sort of crystalline cathedral mentioned. When I got done going through them all, uh… yeah.
Every. Single. One.
Wow. Talk about commitment.
But then I started thinking about my childhood, and what influences subtly guided me to add some sort of cathedral like this. It was pretty obvious in hindsight.
Growing up in group homes, I never had a sort of geographical or architectural “anchor” to a place. 26 groups homes in 7 years will do that to you. But while I bounced around from home to home, there was one home I usually ended back at (albeit for a brief time only). I think I ended up there about 10 times. It was also my first ever “group home”, a place that was (once) called The Albert Sitton Home (funny story: when I first arrived there, I was confused and wasn’t sure what was going on (I’d been yanked from school). When the intake staff told me the name of the place, I got upset. I said “You mean all you do here is sit?!” I was a very literal sort of kid). I don’t remember much about the place the first time I was there except that it was the first time I was really fed well. I also remember being able to look out my dorm window and seeing, faintly, this large glowing tower with a blinking light on top of it.
For a kid who was seriously messed up in the head and nobody offering any sort of explanation (I knew what had happened, and how bad it had hurt, but I thought it happened to every kid and didn’t quite grasp why I was being punished… as I said, things were really messed up back then), this grand tower in the distance offered… an escape? It’s hard to explain. So I dreamed of living on top of the tower and eating whatever I wanted. I could play with whatever toys I wanted and not have them taken away by the other kids and broken. I could play in the sand with little toy soldiers and not have a bunch of vatos pour gasoline on my face because they were bored and the white-looking kid was an easy target.
Basically, I could be safe.
But a funny thing happened as I grew older. I went to another group home, then somewhere else, then went back to Albert Sitton Home. Only now it was the Orangewood Children’s Home, and I couldn’t see the tower from the new building. I could still see the glowing light, which I knew was now a warning light for planes and helicopters. The tower actually had a real name as well (the Crystal Cathedral), but it still held that magical allure for me. That tower always seems to be in land I base a story in (whether I mention it or not) and it always is a place of sanctuary, no matter what I call it or think of it.
I have other influences which color my writings as well (not everyone who is nice to the good guy is a good guy, for example), but the cathedral is by far the most influential.
I guest blogged over at Sarah Hoyt’s site today. More on the Marion Zimmer Bradley issue, how it relates, and me asking why the SFWA hasn’t kicked out their 2013 Grand Master and open pederast Samuel Delaney. I, uh, kinda lost my cool a bit.
I’m going radio silent for the weekend. I won’t be around until Tuesday of next week. This weekend is Libertycon!
- Friday, 3:00PM — Autograph signing — kicking off the weekend with some autographing, I might sign a few books. I’ll mostly be sitting back and plotting books while watching the more important authors be bombarded by their fans. I’m signing with Peter Grant, Kurt Miller and Travis S. Taylor. I dream of the day when I can have Kurt Miller do one of my book covers.
- Friday, 5:00PM — Opening Ceremonies — Yada yada yada.
- Friday, 9:00PM — What’s New in Military SF — This one should be fun, since I’ve written a ton of MilSF and Kaiju novels recently (6 in the past 10 months alone). I’ll be with Walt Boyes, K. S. Daniels, Bill Fawcett, Mark Wandrey, Charles Gannon (woot!) and John Ringo (woot woot!). That’s quite a large panel, which means someone (not me) has the unenviable task of trying to rein in John.
- Saturday, 11:00AM — Urban Fantasies — This one… uh… okay, I can do this one, but I feel this is not my usual dog and pony show. Scott Baker, Louise Herring-Jones, D. Alan Lewis and Gail Z. Martin will be with me on this one.
- Saturday, 4:00PM — Reading — Huh. Wonder what I’ll read to the people.
- Saturday, 9:00PM –What’s New from Iron Clad Press — One of my publishers is rolling out a bunch of books this year, and I owe him a Tobias Fox novel. This one will be fun, but I’ll probably be late getting there due to prior commitments elsewhere.
- Saturday, 10:00PM — Book Launch Party — Iron Clad Press, Moondream Press and Perseid Press are all having books come out this weekend, and are having a massive launch party. I’ll be there (since I have books from each publisher) and probably about ready to drop at that point (I get tired easily).
- Sunday, 11:00AM — Autograph signing — another one, though most people are probably still recovering from the previous night’s drinking. I’ll be there, sleeping (or signing, whatever).
- Sunday, 1:00PM — Kaiju – Why Do We Love the Big Monsters Who Stomp us to Pieces? — Eric S. Brown, and I are gonng talk Kaiju, lots of Kaiju, and nothing but Kaiju. This one should be fun.
- Sunday, 2:00PM — What’s New from Moondream Press — Another one of my publishers and we’ll be talking Sha’Daa more than likely.