In Which Author Anthony Vicino Interviews Me.

I promised the other day to be a little more timely in my self-promotion and stumbled across the posting of this interview conducted by author Anthony Vicino. I’ve gotten to know Anthony a bit thanks to Facebook and Twitter, and he was gracious enough to read and review Convergence, alongside Ted Cross’s cyberpunk title, Immortality Games. (Ahem: Ted’s book just so happens to be on sale for 99c right now!) So, when he approached me about doing an interview for his site I said yes, and we spent a couple days going back and forth over e-mail. Our conversation is now online and ready for consumption.

Anthony is the author of Time Heist, which has a terrific premise and is in my TBR pile (if you ever saw my TBR pile you’d understand, and perhaps even commiserate as to, why I have not yet read this one. Readers are digging it though, and I encourage you to pick up a copy ASAP!). Coming out soon is book 2, Mind Breach, the cover for which was recently unveiled and looks FREAKING AWESOME.

But rather than rest solely on his authorial laurels, Anthony has also become a writer for the Hugo Award winning website SF Signal. Definitely check out his first article for them, Where Are All The People of Color in Sci-Fi/Fantasy?, and if you’re brave enough to endure the comments you’ll find a mixture of rational discussion as well as posts that will make you weep for humanity.

So, onto our interview then. Just follow the link below!

Michael Patrick Hicks Interview.

In Which Author Anthony Vicino Interviews Me.

Works In Progress

chronicles
I’m not in any of these. But I’ll be in an upcoming Chronicle soon!

This year has been nicely productive, and in the back-half of the year we should be seeing a healthy bit of output as the finishing touches are put on several anthologies that I’ll be appearing in. Of course, this could all go to hell in a handbag, but as long as the marvelous editors and curators I’ve been working with are happy to publish the stories I’ve written for them I should be making a sizable splash in various arenas soon.

Earlier this year, I released Emergence, a follow-up to last year’s debut title, Convergence. I was also fortunate enough to be a part of the No Way Home anthology as fellow indie sci-fi writer Lucas Bale put on his curator hat to assemble some mighty fine voices in the speculative arena.

Not quite content to rest on the success of our first anthology, we’re all teaming up again to release our next wave of speculative fiction short stories with Crime & Punishment near the tail-end of summer, so keep an eye out for news on that one as we get a bit closer.

I recently had a small chat with Samuel Peralta, who has simply been killing it with the production of a number of anthologies in The Future Chronicles line-up (see the image above!), and who will soon be expanding his efforts with a second series of anthologies revolving around alternate history, alternate universes, alternate realities, etc. Naturally, this line-up will be branded under the Alt.Chronicles label, with Alt.History 101 launching soon.

I’ll be making my debut in a Peralta production later this year, under The Future Chronicles banner with The Cyborg Chronicles. This is, literally, a dream come true for me. There’s a few benchmarks I’m hoping to hit in my writing career, and getting to appear in a Chronicles anthology was damn near the top of that list, so this is a huge, huge deal for me. Not only are these collections superb, but I’ll also get to join the ranks of a long line of Chronicles luminaries like Ken Liu, Hugh Howey, Jennifer Foehner Wells, Peter Cawdron, Therin Knite, Susan Kaye Quinn, and so very many more. This is just some damn fine company to be in!

Finally, my first-ever fantasy (!) story will be appearing in Undaunted, from LARRIKINbooks, later this year. There will be some news on this front soon, though, and I don’t think it’s completely verboten for me to mention that this collection will actually be in the realm of fantasy-noir. Talk about an intriguing cross-genre mash-up! Plus, Delilah S. Dawson, author of Hit and Servants of the Storm, to name but a few of her novels, is doing the foreword on this one, and there’s a great stable of indie talent coming together here, as well. Check out the announcement at this LARRIKINbooks blog post and stay tuned here for more news in the coming months.

  • Crime and Punishment Anthology
    • THE MARQUE, approx. 12,000 words. Post-apocalyptic sci-fi western, a sort of “aliens vs. cowboys” thing.
    • submitted
    • Release – Aug. 31, 2015
  • Undaunted
    • DEBTS OF BLOOD AND FLESH, approx. 6,700 words. Fantasy-noir.
    • submitted
    • Release – TBA/October 2015
  • The Cyborg Chronicles
    • PRESERVATION. Manuscript of 4-10K words due July 17. Can’t say much about this one yet, but it will be a stand-alone short story with some very loose ties to my two DRMR novels.
    • In Progress!
    • Release – TBA/September 2015
Works In Progress

Emergent Thoughts, Or What I Learned About Writing While Writing EMERGENCE

Emergence finally released this week, and it’s looking like my hard work has paid off! The book is currently ranking near the top of the charts in Amazon’s Sci-Fi > Cyberpunk category, as well as that category’s Hot New Releases chart. To say I’m thrilled is a bit of an understatement!

But, man, getting to this release week? It’s been a bit of a slog. A good slog, but a slog nonetheless.

Now that I’ve come out on the other side of another finished product, here’s some random thoughts on the book, in no particular order.

writing1. Writing a sequel is fun!

Your mileage may vary. For me, writing was Emergence was, mostly, a lot of joy. This is a story I had in mind for quite a while, and one that, in order to get to, I had to write Convergence first. That book lays the basic groundwork for a lot of the things that happen in Emergence and sets up the characters. In Emergence, I’m able to take those characters and knock them around, manipulate them, leave them bruised and bloodied in a way that I couldn’t necessarily do in Book 1. Book 2 is where I get to go apeshit on everybody.

Emergence is also a lot more action-oriented, and the stakes are larger and more personal. I also wrote this one as more of a chase thriller, so it’s got a little bit of a different feel than the prior entry. It’s sort of like the Alien/Aliens dynamic to the sequel framework, and I wanted to push these characters into harsher directions with big, hard-hitting impacts.

2. Control Your Authorial Voice.

Every writer puts a bit of themselves into their characters, or puts pieces of themselves on the page (hopefully not literally). So while writing this book was fun, I also couldn’t get too comfortable, and I had to rein in a lot of my own influences that got laid down on the pages and in the character because those words weren’t necessarily true to the characters themselves. Sometimes my own personality worked its way into the story or thoughts of the leads, and it was a bit of corrupting influence.

When Emergence went through developmental edits, my editor, Laura, pointed out something to me that took me by a bit of a surprise. There’s a scene in the book where Mesa is going through a seedier part of Nevada, populated by gamblers and hookers, and she remarked that she could practically hear the crotch crickets. Laura noted, rightly, that isn’t really something that Mesa would say or think. It’s the kind of off-hand remark I might make, though. But not Mesa.

A little too much of me bled through. Yeah, I made Mesa, but she’s become very much her own person, separate from me, in my own mind. And while she can be foul-mouthed at times, I’m not so sure that she’s so blatantly vulgar.

So, there were a few instances where I needed to reign in my own peculiarities as an individual who was writing, and let the characters talk for themselves.

3. Writing Is Learning

Seems a bit like a given, but let me elaborate a little.

There’s certain rules to writing – things like tense shift and maintaining point of view. Convergence was a first-person work, and in that first draft I shit all over things like keeping it directed in first-person. Thus, there was a good amount of heavy lifting when it came time to edit. The editing experience with that book also gave me a huge list of no-no’s and things to avoid – phrases like “it was” or a list of crutch words, such as “like” or “just,” two massive crutch-words in my first drafts.

The editing process in Book 1, taken as a whole, paid off a lot when I was ready to get to work on draft two of Book 2. I could let the first draft be bad, because the writing was the most important part; just getting the work done was my primary focus. When it came time to edit, though, I felt a step ahead of the game, having gotten schooled on the ins and outs of content edits the prior time around. I was able to rewrite more effectively before the manuscript was sent off to my editors, which made their feedback all the more critical and necessary. I wasn’t hampering them with petty stuff, and they were able to focus on and scrutinize the more important things, like structure and content, and it helped make the line edits stronger.

4. Stick The Landing

Endings are important. Some books just kind of fizzle out, or come to an abrupt ending. In the first draft of Emergence, I really rushed the ending, which was stupid. It needed to have a proper come-down and a fitting resolution to what had come before.

Laura smartly suggested that I take the dual concepts that had formed the original ending and elaborate on them, giving them each their own chapter. And she was dead-on correct. The new finale is so much stronger, and such a better fit to the book itself. I’m really proud of how well this revision worked, and it prompted me to introduce a new character that could potentially have an impact once the dust settles a bit more and I start working on book 3.

5. Diversify!

While Emergence is book 2 in a series, one of the most crucial things I’ve done over the last year is getting involved with other projects. Writing, and the entire process that goes along with it on that path to publication, is time-consuming. Saying no to things – even beneficial things – can be awfully tempting. Let me tell you, though, that saying “yes” can be even far more rewarding.

The DRMR series is likely going to be the backbone of my early career, but I also want to have a number of other, smaller, strong works out there. The key to that is to dabble in other projects and dip your toes into unfamiliar waters.

When Lucas Bale approached me to take part in the No Way Home anthology that he was curating, saying yes was a no-brainer. I was enjoying Bale’s solo work and when I got word of what he was intending with the collection, I knew I had to take part. My story was a bit risky and has been largely well-received, if not a touch controversial given the current political winds in America. Taking part in Bale’s second curation, due out later this year, was an obvious and easy choice.

Last month I was invited to take part in another anthology, this time revolving around urban fantasy. I had a great idea for it, but unfortunately I absolutely did have to say no due to saying yes for another project – writing a book for the Apocalypse Weird series (you can read my announcement on that here).

The key, I think, is to make your name visible across a few different platforms and try to hook in various readers through a number of quality projects.

This is also important because it helps keep me from getting burnt out on writing the same characters in the same series time and time again. I need to do some non-series work in order to dive back into the DRMR books fully refreshed and recharged. And hopefully you, and plenty of others, will join me in these other adventures!


EMERGENCE eBook Launch Special: 
  1. Buy CONVERGENCE (A DRMR Novel, Book 1) FOR FREE. amzn.to/1E2ZphG
  2. Buy EMERGENCE (A DRMR Novel, Book 2) for 99c: amzn.to/1GDsFx8
Offer valid Mon., May 4 thru Fri., May 8. Normal price for each title is $3.99
Emergent Thoughts, Or What I Learned About Writing While Writing EMERGENCE

Review: Writer Emergency Pack

Arrived today: The #writeremergency #darkmode deck! @writeremergency @johnaugust #amwriting

A photo posted by Michael Hicks (@mphicks79) on

Back in November, I supported the Writer Emergency Pack as a Kickstarter project and received the final print deck in December. I was absolutely thrilled with the final card deck, and wrote about it a bit back then and posted a couple pieces of iPhoneography to go with it.

Tuesday night, I received the Kickstarter backer-exclusive Dark Mode deck, which is basically the same as the regular pack but printed on sleek all-black cards and a much darker box. It’s really nice looking and a fun little change of pace from the standard cards. The Emergency Pack crew even added the delightful little touch of wrapping the Dark Mode deck in black tissue paper, helping to emphasize the stygian nature of this updated deck.

The two #writeremergency packs side-by-side. @writeremergency @johnaugust #darkmode #amwriting

A photo posted by Michael Hicks (@mphicks79) on

Although these decks started out as a Kickstarter project, the Emergency crew is now making the standard decks available on a wider scale. Every writer can (and should!) now buy them via Amazon.

Here’s the review I posted on their product page:


This is a terrific and easy-to-use resource for writers both established and up-and-coming, designed to help storytellers get out of whatever corners they’ve written themselves into or to brainstorm ways of reinvigorating stalled ideas.

The Emergency Pack is designed to look and feel like your average deck of cards, like Bicycle playing cards, but for authors in a jam. Using these cards is very simple and is outlined on a 3-step “Emergency Procedures” card at the front of the deck: focus on your writing conundrum, draw an illustrated Idea card at random, read it and then read the corresponding Detail card. Maybe the ideas will help, or maybe they won’t, but the goal is get you asking “what if?” and to hopefully get you drifting back into the right territory. Some random cards might be “What Would Indy Do?”, “Switch Genres”, or “Kill The Hero.” The accompanying illustrations are well-drawn, detailed, and amusing (and sometimes even downright irreverent).

Shuffling through the deck during one of my own jams helped me brainstorm a finale to a recent short story that I had no idea how to finish. The writing had gone smoothly throughout, right up until the climax. And while the fix ended up being fairly simple, it wasn’t really until I’d played around with these cards that I realized how helpful the Emergency Pack truly was. It gave me a much-needed kick in the rear, helped me think my way through a muddled segment of story, and wrap up my project in a way that I found both useful, true to the story, and a worked as a satisfying finish.

The Writer Emergency Pack is a fun little tool for writers, and it’s small size – the same as your average deck of playing cards – makes it’s conveniently portable for authors on the go. If you’re the type to write while traveling or at your local coffee shop, you can easily incorporate this pack into your writing routine at any place, at any time. You might not always need it, but, then again, it is for emergencies, and you never know when it might come in handy. It very well could save your entire story, although some of your characters may never forgive you.


I’ll have a new short story printed in an upcoming anthology (currently slated for Aug./Sept. time-frame), and I absolutely did use these cards to drum up that piece’s finale. They were a total lifesaver (well, for me, as an author anyway. Less of a lifesaver for some poor fictional schmucks, but whatever). I’ll let you be the judge on how well I did with that story later this year, but as far as I’m concerned the Writer Emergency Pack has proved to be an excellent investment already. I’m keeping these cards handy and close to the keyboard when I write, just in case.

And if you want some more info on these cards, check out www.writeremergency.com/

Review: Writer Emergency Pack

Dear Clean Reader, Fuck Yourself.

censorship

Chuck Wendig recently posted on Clean Reader, which I had not heard of before today, but which has seriously rankled my nerves and got my blood boiling. Let me put this simply – I fucking hate censorship.

Here’s another simple thought for you – if you don’t like swearing in my books, don’t fucking buy them. Don’t purchase them and then twist my authorial intent and manipulate the words I have chosen with some pathetic thought-policing app.

I am ridiculously livid right now. So, again, for the record – fuck you, Clean Reader.

Here’s the background:

First, check out Joanne Harris’s blogs:

Harris’ initial post sparked this article from The Telegraph, Joanne Harris condemns Clean Reader app for replacing swear words in novels, where the columnist writes:

The app, entitled Clean Reader, has been designed to take explicit words out of any book printed in electronic format – with or without permission from its author – to swap them with child-friendly versions.

The technology works on a scale from “clean” – removing the “worst” swear words such as f*** – to “superclean”, which will substitute words including damn.

And who fucking told them they could do that? If I wanted to write a clean, swear-word free novel, then I could. But I deliberately choose not to. I write for adults, not children; my books are not “child-friendly.” And if you use this app to alter my intent, then be aware that you are not getting the proper story the way I have intended it be told. You’re getting an ineffectual, piecemeal bit of shit.

Swearing is an integral part of language, it’s a form of communication, a method of expression. When I write an intense and emotional scene, would you rather I write the most impactful way I know how, or water it down to appease the thin-skinned, hand-wringing thought-police? Should I have a sentence that runs along the lines of, “He was trapped, his skin boiling, guns pointed at him from all directions. There was no way out of this, and death was certain. He muttered, “Gosh fudge darn Popsicle,” and readied for the end.” because some self-imposed censor think that’s a cleaner, nicer way of writing?

Fuck that. Who are the app developers, these Maughan’s and the developers at Page Foundry, to determine what’s obscene, what’s moral, what’s good and pure, what is or isn’t?

Harris notes,

First, what counts as “profanity”? Close inspection of the “acceptable alternatives” suggests a very strong Christian bias. Therefore, “Oh my God!” becomes “oh my goodness!” “Jesus Christ” becomes “geez” and so on. “Bitch” becomes “witch” (bad news for modern pagans), and by now we’re already beginning to see some obvious problems emerging.

We’ve seen Harry Potter books burned out of fear, we’ve seen cartoonists murdered, and now these religious zealots are embracing the digital age in order to assault our written words, our very means of expression.

As Harris writes,

Apps like Clean Reader change the text without the author’s permission. They take the author’s words and replace them – sometimes very clumsily – on the basis of some perceived idea of “bad words” versus “good words”. No permission is sought, or granted. There is no opt-out clause for authors or publishers. This is censorship, not by the State, but by a religious minority, and if you think it sounds trivial, take a moment to think about this:

The Reformation brought about the destruction of over 90% of our country’s art heritage, including music, books and paintings.

The Nazis burnt countless works of art judged to be “degenerate”; including an estimated 45% of all existing Polish artwork.

ISIS are currently destroying antiquities and historical sites in the Middle East, including the ancient city of Nimrud, the walls of Nineveh and statues up to 8000 years old.

The Victorians bowdlerized and rewrote Classical myths and literature out of all recognition (they also converted hundreds of thousands of Egyptian mummies into fertilizer, having judged them of “no historical value”).

And all in the name of purity, morality and good taste.

Fuck you, Clean Reader.

And if you, as a reader, are so afraid of what words I am deliberately and purposefully choosing to articulate myself with in my novels and stories, then do not fucking buy them. If you’re offended by the choice of words I make in my work, that’s your problem, not mine. And my solution is pretty simple. Don’t buy them, and don’t read them. Stay away from this blog. Because my material is very clearly not for you.

Dear Clean Reader, Fuck Yourself.

2014 Writing In Review

2014 was a fairly productive period for my first year as an author. In late February, I released Convergence, and it’s since been featured as a Kobo Next Read Selection in their Science Fiction & Fantasy category, and was just recently a Book of the Week over at SciFi365.net. I’m pretty proud of this work, and reviewers have been responding favorably. I’ve heard from several readers who have greatly enjoyed it, and that alone has made this indie venture worthwhile. The title itself has raked up 10 reviews at Amazon, with a 4.8 out of 5 star average. On Goodreads, it’s accumulated an average of 4.42 out of 5 stars. It’s also made the Top 100 in Amazon’s Cyberpunk category multiple times since its release in both the US and the UK, which was very, very exciting to see.

My productivity hit its peak over the spring and summer, when I finished the first draft of Emergence and then dove into a short horror story, Consumption. Between those two works, I broke more than 110K in word-count over roughly three months.

Consumption released in October, and is currently standing at a 4.4 out of 5 star average among nine reviewers at Amazon, 4.15 on Goodreads. Again, I’ve been really happy with the reader reactions to this one. I was a bit nervous releasing it, as it’s so very different from Convergence, and is a bit off the wall. Horror is a genre I love, and I plan on dabbling in that end of the writing pool again in the (near?) future. I’ve got a few ideas I’m toying around with, but for the time being I’m heavily involved in my next novel.

And that next novel is, as I mentioned above, Emergence. This sequel to Convergence has been undergoing some serious editing and rewriting throughout the back-half of 2014. I recently received some beta reader feedback, which I think has helped tremendously, and it was great to get yet another set of eyeballs on this work. My content developer had terrific notes and suggestions, as well, and between those two readers I really do think Emergence is going to be one heck of a strong book. I’m hoping a few more betas will chime in soon. The next step is line edits, and I know my editor is going to have some more mighty fine suggestions, and that, in some ways, the work is only really just getting started.

Once those line edits are done, it’ll be onto the proofreading stage, and then art design and formatting. I’m eying a late first quarter or early second quarter release for 2015.

That’s not all, though! With Consumption out, and Emergence close to wrapping up, I was invited to take part in an anthology. There’s been a few kinks to work out on the scheduling for that one, but I have a 10,000 word short story, Revolver, that will be in the mix. Current plans are to have that one out for the spring, and I got an early look at the cover art and some of the story ideas from my fellow contributors. This should be a really great anthology, and I’m looking forward to sharing more details as we get closer to release.

I’m also in the very early stages of sorting out ideas for book three in the DRMR series, which will follow-up on some of the plot developments that occur in Emergence. I’m still a little bit away from hammering out all of the story details, but have settled on some interesting ideas that help expand on some of the conflicts seen in Convergence. I’m about five thousand words in and things are just starting to gel, so lots and lots of work ahead of me on this one.

On the blog side of things, I published 258 posts. These drew in more than 11 thousand views, across close to eight thousand visitors. Not a bad first year for this site (note: posts prior to 2014 were imported from a previous blog). I’m going to hedge my bets and say, conservatively, that between this blog and all the story writing, I probably produced close to 300 thousand words this year.

So, 2014 was busy, and I’m expecting 2015 to be equally productive. Keep an eye out for more news, more reviews, and new releases in the coming New Year.

Now, back to writing…

2014 Writing In Review

eBook Sci-Fi Sale (But It Won’t Last Long!)

Hey there, readers!

I’m happy to announce that, for a limited time (i.e. today and tomorrow), you can grab some great sci-fi reads for cheap, including my book, CONVERGENCE, over at Amazon. Just click the links below to buy, but act fast because this won’t last for very long.

Convergence-800 Cover reveal and Promotional99 cents!

| Kindle | Nook | Kobo |


hereticFree!


whatitmeanstosurviveFree!


defiance99 cents!


And, as always, my short horror story CONSUMPTION is only 99 cents as well. Just don’t read this one on a full stomach…

consumption-complete99 cents!

| Amazon | Kobo | Nook |

eBook Sci-Fi Sale (But It Won’t Last Long!)