Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Covers revealed for the new DIRE EARTH books!

Yesterday Unbound Worlds hosted the cover reveal for my two new Dire Earth books, INJECTION BURN and ESCAPE VELOCITY!

Here they are just so we can all gawk at them one more time:

In this post I want to talk about the cover creation process. You often hear from authors that they have no say in their cover designs, and that's largely true. I've been quite lucky to have an editor who includes me in the process, if only to keep me informed. I give my opinions on what they're doing, and sometimes they listen and sometimes they don't. And that's okay! I'm not a graphic designer, nor am I a marketing guru. To quote Monty Python, "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like." So I weigh in and am grateful that my concerns are listened to, but I know in the end they'll do what they think is best. It is, afterall, their job.

These covers, though, went a bit differently than the norm.

Here's a run-down of how they came to be:

Okay. Wait. Before I do that, real quick it's important to know that these two books are very much a duology. They're part 1 and part 2 of a story. Cool? Cool.

So, my first comment to my editor was that I'd love to do something like Connie Willis's BLACKOUT and ALL CLEAR.

I love the way these tie together and immediately suggest they are two halves of something larger.

I also suggested that we do something that implies the arrival aspect of the first book, and the subsequent attempt at escape in the second. In addition, being DIRE EARTH books these have an element of a space elevator involved, so if the above could also somehow imply descent and ascent, that, I thought, would be awesome.

My editor agreed, and over dinner in Phoenix last summer we pencil sketched the idea. At which point he suggested something like this movie poster for High Rise:

And I promptly replied with this one, just to one-up my editor on the geek lore scale.

Point is, the triangular nature of the design implies going up, and if we did the opposite for book one... you get the idea.

Time passed and, as usual, I reached a point in the writing process (the mid-book doldrums) where I needed a little spark to get me motivated again. I decided to embark on one of my favorite pastimes, arm-chair cover design!

So I fiddled around in Photoshop for an afternoon, and came up with these:

Not bad huh? I must apologize to the artists who made the works I used in the above. I literally just started cutting-and-pasting random images that were close to what I wanted from Deviant Art, and didn't think to note who the artists were. Whoever you are, fantastic stuff!

It is also worth noting something else. The woman on the second mockup doesn't look anything like the character we wanted to portray, and that's because for the life of me I could not find a painting out there of a bad-ass sci-fi woman of African descent. Sad but true. I hope my new cover addresses that problem in some small way.

Much to my surprise, my editor loved this mock-up, and immediately went and showed it around the office. The reply that came back made me very happy: "I think we're going to do exactly this."

And so they did! Check out the final product, compared to my mockup above:

Amazing work, and pretty dang close to what we'd envisioned.

I'm super happy with the end result, and even though I didn't get a cover design credit, I can at least share my amateur design-chops with you all here, right?

That's it for now...


Wednesday, December 7, 2016


Hey everyone!

So excited to share that my next novel, co-written with my friend K.C. Alexander, is coming in March!

(not the final cover)

Details here, though it's a bit light at the moment. We're not allowed to say much (yet) as the game and book have closely intertwined stories. Bioware would prefer to avoid spoilers, and I agree!

This has been an incredibly fun project to work on, both in terms of it being my first full-length collaboration, and the fact that it's frickin' MASS EFFECT! K.C. and I worked very closely with the writing team at Bioware to craft this story, and I'm anxious to share it with you all.

Stay tuned, more news coming soon...

Monday, November 28, 2016

Multi-author Cyber Monday sale! Signed books!

Hey everyone!

A bunch of author friends, plus myself, have put some signed books on sale for the holidays. Many of these are heavily discounted, they're all signed, and you'd be buying them directly from the author which means we get a nice perk, too. Everyone wins!

You'll find my books on sale here:

There's a handy list of all the stuff on sale and their discount amounts HERE.

Or visit the authors directly:


Friday, October 14, 2016

Television rights for ZERO WORLD acquired

Good news!  Patrick Dempsey (star of Grey's Anatomy) and his production company Shifting Gears has acquired the rights to ZERO WORLD for a possible television (or film) adaptation.

This is just the first step in a long process, which often goes nowhere, but still! I'm thrilled that the book is being considered.  It's way too early to think about what form an adaptation might take, or who would actually be involved, so for now let's just all keep our fingers crossed and see how things develop.

More news as I have it!

Several other big bits of news to come, so stay tuned...

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A bit of Star Wars

I've been sitting on this news for a while (a common feature of the author's life), but it looks like it was finally announced yesterday at the Star Wars Celebration, so here we go!

About six months ago I was invited to write a short story for Star Wars Insider magazine, which I of course happily agreed to.  Now, as of this moment, I'm actually not sure what I'm allowed to share in terms of details, suffice to say the story takes place just after RETURN OF THE JEDI.  In fact it takes place during the events of AFTERMATH (a fantastic novel by my friend Chuck Wendig), only quite far away from the action of that book.

Writing in this universe (with a story that will be considered canon, no less) was a lifelong dream come true, as is probably the case for most sci-fi authors.  And although it's an honor I don't take lightly, I have to say I was surprised how little pressure I felt.  Major kudos to the editors at both Del Rey and Lucasfilm for giving me a ton of freedom.  Other than a few minor tweaks, they hardly changed a word, which was quite gratifying. In short, I wrote it without worry, I had fun doing it, and they loved it.

I fashioned my story to feel, at least to me, like an episode of the brilliant Clone Wars cartoon, in terms of character, action, and complexity.  It is a short story after all, barely 10 pages, so the scope is necessarily focused.

Publication-wise, TURNING POINT (my title, I don't know if they kept it) will appear in Star Wars Insider issue #169, which I think will hit shelves in October, but don't quote me on that.  It may appear in other places, too, and if so I will post that news here.

As always, enjoy!!

Monday, May 30, 2016

ZERO WORLD ebook sale

Not sure how long this will last, so grab it now if you've been waiting!

ZERO WORLD is on sale for $1.99 right now (US only). Handy links for the major ebook sellers:

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Darwin Elevator cover for Germany

Hey everyone! It's been ages since I updated the blog, sorry about that.  I've been super f'ing busy of late on a number of projects.  More on that very soon, promise!  But today I thought I'd share the cover for "Darwin City", the German version of The Darwin Elevator.

Have a look!

Details here...

Release date is Sept 1st, 2016, and books 2 and 3 will follow soon after that.

Okay, back to the grind for me.  Lots of neat stuff coming... stay tuned!