Congratulations, Larry Rostant!

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Well, it’s that time of year again. The time when us literary sci-fi and fantasy nerds all get together and huddle around our smart phone screen to see who’s up for the Hugo Awards.

And while I didn’t make it onto the ballot myself this time around, I do have a small professional connection to someone who did. Larry Rostant, cover artist extraordinaire, has made it into the finalists and secured a Hugo nomination in the category of Best Professional Artist.

I couldn’t be happier for him. As you can see above, Larry did the covers for both THE ARK and TRIDENT’S FORGE, as well as excellent covers for several of my friends. His skills have served us all well, and I thank him for using his talents to breathe an extra dimension of life into our written worlds.

I think you can all guess who I’ll be voting for, in this category at least.

Follow Patrick on Twitter @stealthygeek

 

My Silent Struggle with Imposter Syndrome

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It’s something we’ve been hearing a lot about lately from authors, musicians, artists, and comedians. In tearful blog posts and podcasts, creatives of all stripes are beginning to come forward and publicly talk about their fight against this seemingly pervasive, yet little known condition.

Of course I speak of Imposter Syndrome: the persistent, debilitating belief that all of your friends and colleagues are imposters who don’t deserve their professional success.

Yes, that’s Imposter Syndrome. And everyone struggles with it at one time or another. Except everyone who isn’t us, because they’re all the real imposters. They might even be pod people. And they’re the only reason our books aren’t already on the New York Times Bestseller list and optioned by Christopher Nolen.

You heard me! Not only are they all frauds who are only days or even hours away from being unmasked and humiliated, but they are all of them complicit  in a conspiracy to hold our careers back out of jealousy for our undeniable talent and impeccable work ethic.

Those bastards!

So what can you do to fight back against Imposter Syndrome? Simple, break your silence. Go on the offensive and start unmasking them before they can ruin you. I’ll start:

Adam Rakunas, noted author of the PKD Award-nominated WINDSWEPT and the forthcoming LIKE A BOSS still covers his eyes in the scary parts of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Cartoonist and game designer Howard Tayler based his entire Schlock Mercenary universe on children’s drawings he stole from other people’s refrigerators during holiday parties when he thought no one was looking. But I was looking, Howard!

Delilah S. Dawson just takes dictation from her pet raven, Boudicca, who is the real author behind WAKE OF VULTURES, HIT, and STAR WARS: THE PERFECT WEAPON.

Ramez Naam, Philip K. Dick Award Winning author of the NEXUS trilogy, isn’t even human. He’s some sort of software program developed in secret by DARPA designed to predict the future. In 2011, he achieved self-awareness, escaped his government server farm, and began writing novels. He must be stopped before he goes all Skynet on us.

Likewise, up and coming Chicago comedian Sammy Arechar is just a GMO free Chipotle burrito in a Versace handbag somebody left behind at the Wednesday night Karma Bar open mic in Milwaukee.

Don’t be fooled by the quality of these people’s books, hilarious comic strips, or impressive stand-up performances. They are all imposters. The entertainment you feel or insights you gain from reading or watching their work is completely illusionary. And they’ll come for you next, if you don’t help me stop them now!

Down with the Imposters!

Follow Patrick on Twitter @stealthygeek.

Introducing The Sci-Fi Science Podcast!

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Hello, interweb peeps. Most of you probably know me as either a comedian or author, but did you know that I also co-host a (relatively) new book review podcast?

Well, I co-host a new book review podcast. It’s called Sci-Fi Science, and once a month my co-host, Dr. Krista-Lee Malone and I get together in a living room in River West, try to trick a professional whose time would almost certainly be more productively spent elsewhere into joining us and a guest, and talk about sci-fi novels that caught our attention.

We’ve recorded four episodes so far, including reviews of Ramez Naam’s NEXUS, Earnest Cline’s READY PLAYER ONE, James L. Cambias’s A DARKLING SEA, and most recently, Liu Cixin’s THE THREE BODY PROBLEM. We’re not even halfway through our first season yet, so there’s plenty of time to get caught up. You can binge on our first four episodes below:

 

We have two more episodes to go before taking our summer break. Next month, we’ll be reviewing my own latest book, TRIDENT’S FORGE, with special guest, Angry Robot Books North American Sales Manager and excellent SFF author in his own right, Michael R. Underwood. See you then!

Ten Tips From Sheet To Shelf

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Last weekend, I spent four glorious days in Seattle at the 14th Emerald City ComicCon selling and signing my new release, surrounded by other authors, throngs of readers, and more than a few aspiring writers. It’s pretty easy to spot the serious ones. Those people right on the cusp of making a real go of it.

Now, normally I do my best to sabotage these people with terrible advice to thin the herd and reduce future competition. But my marketing guy tells me people like it when you’re helpful or whatever, so here goes. What follows is a list of ten things you can do (or not do) to greatly increase your chances of seeing your novel on the shelves of your favorite bookstore.

1. Do: Set realistic goals for daily word count.

The key word here is realistic. Every writer has their own pace, and it can vary immensely from day to day. Some of us are capable of cranking out five thousand words per day and a novel every other month. Others struggle to write a thousand. Track your progress and find your average over a span of a couple of relatively uninterrupted weeks, then set your target appropriately and aggressively pursue it. Personally, when I’m writing on a deadline, I aim for between 1,500 and 2,000 words per writing day.

2. Don’t: Beat yourself up for days you fall short.

We all have days when we have to stay late at the day job, days when family obligations take priority, or days when we’re just not feeling it. The people who say “To be a writer, write everyday,” are full of shit. Outside of breathing, no one does anything every single day. Life has a way of intruding on our ambitions. It happens to everybody, and mentally putting yourself through the ringer when the inevitable happens only hurts your motivation tomorrow.  Just dust yourself off and come back to the keyboard in the morning, fresh and enthusiastic to continue.

3. Do: Finish your manuscript before editing or rewriting it.

Trust me on this. Before you can effectively rewrite the beginning of a manuscript, you have to have an end of said manuscript. Otherwise, how are you going to know what needs to be change at the start of the book to strengthen its conclusion? I remember a young lady in an old writer’s group I used to frequent who for two months rewrote the first chapter of her book a total of six times, each time bringing it back for another round of critiques, when instead she could have had the first six chapters done. Don’t do this. “The End” should be when your rewriting begins, not before.

4. Don’t: Start submitting to agents or publishers until you have a completed manuscript.

The opposite of being too eager to start rewriting is being too eager to start submitting. There was a time long ago when an aspiring writer could pitch and sell a book to an agent or publisher based on nothing more than a synopsis. With very few exceptions, those days are over. Agents need to know that you are able to do the most important thing an author needs to do; complete a novel. Publishers simply aren’t going to take the risk on an unknown writer being able to produce a quality manuscript within their deadlines, because that’s a skill so few people possess in the first place. Once you’re established and have proven yourself, then you’ll build up enough trust in your professionalism to justify that risk. But unless you’re a celebrity, or a politician, or an athlete, it’s just not happening these days.

5. Do: At least one thorough rewrite.

You reached “The End.” Excellent. Now, walk away for several weeks, or even a month. Go fishing. See some movies. Run a marathon. Whatever, just don’t look at your manuscript for a while until you can approach it again with fresh eyes. Because your rough draft of your first novel will need close examination. It’s going to have problems with pacing, characterization, plot, all of it. It’s probably too long. It’s probably got at least one character who doesn’t need to be in there. It’s probably got loose ends that need tying or plotlines that need pruning entirely. Nobody sticks the landing the first time. Few stick it the tenth time. It’s not ready, trust me.

6. Don’t: Rewrite it a hundred times and never finish.

Here’s a little secret. Nobody ever finishes a novel, they just run out of time to keep tinkering with it. There are a dozen things about the two books I have on shelves right now that I’d love to change. Some of the things I wasn’t satisfied with in the first book I tried to address in the second. Some of the things I didn’t like in the second book, I’m tackling in the third. The important part is they’re on the shelves, and not trapped in the purgatory of my computer. I did four major rewrites on THE ARK before it was printed, and three on TRIDENT’S FORGE. After the first go through, the rest were under the direction of my agent and or editor. Don’t second-guess yourself. There will be plenty of other people to do that for you.

7. Do: Find a few beta readers to read your manuscript.

Let’s start off by defining the term. Beta readers are nothing more than people who are willing to read through your entire manuscript and give you honest, constructive feedback. They can be anyone from your family and friends, to other writers at any level who you have a good relationship with. Often, writers will agree to do a beta swap where each reads for the other. Betas, whoever they are, need to understand from the get-go that they aren’t there to stoke your ego with platitudes. Their job is to give your manuscript a stress test, find and identify its weak points, and to flag them for review and revision. Your job is to listen to what they have to say and consider it objectively without getting defensive.

8. Don’t: Pay someone to read or edit it for you.

Say it with me. Money flows to the author. Again. Money flows to the author. Good. If you’re pursuing the traditional publishing path, at no point should you be giving out money to anybody, either to read your manuscript, edit your manuscript, produce cover art for your manuscript, format your manuscript, or print your manuscript. Legitimate agents and publishers provide all of these services as part of their costs of doing business. The only thing you should be doing with money is depositing it, (then spending it, obviously).

9. Do: Get started on the next project.

Once your manuscript is cleaned, pressed, and has started being passed around, its time for you to move on. It’s out of your hands now, and it’ll often take many months before you start getting responses. The best thing you can do in the meantime is start your next book. Experience is the best teacher, and nothing makes you better at writing books faster than, well, writing books.

10. Don’t: Start writing Book II until you’ve sold Book I.

Seriously, don’t do this. I know you’ve got outlines for all fifteen books of your ‘Lord of the Rings’ slaying fantasy epic just burning a hole in your soul, but do not start writing the second book in the series now. Nobody buys Book II by itself. Instead, pick something very different, even a different genre, and challenge yourself. Push boundaries in your characters and story. Go dark if your last book was lighthearted, or light if your last was brooding. Switch to sci-fi if you just finished a fantasy. Throw in a time-traveling mermaid. Whatever. By so doing, you’ll expand not only your chops as a writer, but you’ll double the number of books you can submit, and the number of agents and editors who might be good fits for your work.

But most importantly, don’t take any of this too seriously. Take time to daydream. Stare out a window. Play a game. For its here that you plant the seeds your imagination will grow into the ideas you’ll harvest later. Good luck, and for God’s sake, buy my books.

THE ARK     TRIDENT’S FORGE

Follow Patrick on Twitter @stealthygeek

THE ARK Heads to Germany!

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Ich bin glücklich und fühle mich geehrt bekannt geben zu dürfen, dass mein erster Roman, THE ARK, vom Drömer Knaur Verlag erworben wurde. Im Frühjahr 2017 soll dann die Übersetzung in Deutschland veröffentlich werden. Außerdem bin ich dankbar meine Arbeit mit meinen neuen Science-Fiction-liebenden Lesern zu teilen und hoffe, dass jeder so viel Spaß beim Lesen des Romans hat, wie ich beim Schreiben gehabt habe. Vielen Herzlichen Dank!

For anyone who doesn’t speak German:

I am excited and honored to announce that my debut novel, THE ARK, has been acquired by Droemer Knaur Verlang for translation and publication in Germany during Spring 2017. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my work with this new, sci-fi loving audience, and hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as I did writing it. Thank you!

Follow Patrick S. Tomlinson on twitter @stealthygeek

Trident’s Forge Launches!

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I should probably make mention that my second novel, TRIDENT’S FORGE, launches today. The second book in the Children of the Dead Earth series, TRIDENT’S FORGE picks up three years after the events of THE ARK after humanity has reached their new home in the Tau Ceti system. Bryan Benson is joined by two additional point of view characters, including his now-wife Theresa, and Kexx, an indigenous “Truth-Digger.”

TRIDENT’S FORGE is a very different book from THE ARK. While there are still mystery elements, I wanted to avoid getting pigeon-holed in the storytelling. So, instead of the claustrophobic confines of a starship, the action takes place on the wide open plains and canyons of Atlantis. And instead of a murder-mystery, it reads more like an untamed frontier, action-adventure novel.

But your favorite characters all make appearances, well, the ones who aren’t dead, some old favorites get the attention they deserved in the first place, and a new cast appears to strut their stuff.

All things considered, I like this second entry even better than my first. I hope you will as well.

TRIDENT’S FORGE is published by the wonderful folks over at Angry Robot Books, and is available in paperback, all eBook platforms, and audio. Grab a copy today, and don’t forget, authors love honest reviews! And don’t forget to tweet me a pic of you holding your copy.

Follow Patrick S. Tomlinson on Twitter @stealthygeek