It’s Been a Year; Here’s what I’ve Been Doing…

I’ve been busy – mostly with a full time job. So let me do this by the numbers…

  1. I got a new agent! Actually multiple agents including Eddie Schneider and Joshua Bilmes, and these guys are the best. Even if I fade away and never publish another title, it’s been fantastic to work with them.
  2. I wrote a YA title that will hopefully go into submission in the next month or so. It was a long editing process and a learning experience, but it was a welcome change for me from SF.
  3. I wrote a literary novella. So far this is on hold, but once we start editing it, I’m hoping it will be my first shot at publication in one of the tier I mags (New Yorker, etc.). Hope is the key word…
  4. I wrote a short story for Andrew Liptak’s and Jaym Gates’ anthology, War Stories; mine is called Black Butterflies. The roster so far is AMAZING and I finally get to publish a story with Joe Haldemann (my idol) and author of WARCHILD (should have been a warstoriesHugo winner – further evidence of this award’s irrelevance), Karin Lowachee! Also, look at all the amazing authors on there like Ken Liu, Will McIntosh, etc. More on this in a separate post later…
  5. I wrote my first military fantasy piece, PATHFINDER, for a new anthology that I’m not sure has been announced and my story hasn’t been accepted. So no news on this yet.
  6. I’m working on a YA science fiction series with my daughter, who wants to be a writer. We’re 7k words into the first book and this is probably my favorite project yet; she’s already a better writer than me.
  7. An SF trilogy based on my short story Somewhere It Snows is on hold. The first book is at 55K and will stay there for a while. Why? The SF market is awful and I need to have a strategy discussion with my agent on what to do (YA vs. Adult).
  8. Why did I come to the decision in number 7? I totalled my car by running into a solid, immovable chunk of steel, full speed (without braking), and subsequently was in and out of consciousness for a good hour or two. I narrowly escaped serious head injury and walked away. But it makes one think about what’s really important and I decided that I’d rather spend time with my kids than with – well, you know.
  9. I’ve been fighting for first and fourth amendment rights by supporting the ACLU, the EFF, by tweeting news reports re Snowden, etc., by writing and phoning the pols, and by posting discussion topics on facebook. THIS HAS NOT BEEN A WASTE OF TIME. It has taken away from writing time but unless we have free speech, we run the risk of losing our right to define discussions – the ones all those ninnies on twitter enjoy right now. OUR GOVERNMENT IS LYING TO US EVERY DAY IN AN EFFORT TO STRIP AWAY OUR FREEDOM; WAKE UP, EDUCATE YOURSELF AND GET INVOLVED.
  10. That is all.
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DragonCon Schedule

My DragonCon Schedule is now updated; I hope to see you there!!!

Rejectomancy: Hear tales of the best rejection letters sent or recieved; Fri 01:00 pm at the Regency V – Hyatt

Science Fiction–The Real Thing How to break into the future world of Near future, Hard, Space Opera (pick your poison) Sat 01:00 pm at Embassy D-F – Hyatt

Good War/Bad War How have recent conflicts shaped or influenced today’s sf? Sat 02:30 pm at the Greenbriar – Hyatt

Transhumanist Open Discussion Better living through technology! The directed evolution and transformation of the human race via emerging technologies – pros and cons. Mon 02:30 pm at 202 – Hilton

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Special Offer for Walmart AND Germline and Chimera Fans

You’re an early shopper for Christmas or someone’s birthday is coming up and you’re looking for the perfect gift for the science fiction fan in your life. What should you do? You know that it’s hard to find a good science fiction book these days; there are so many titles coming out that it’s difficult to decide on any one and besides: just buying him/her a book doesn’t seem like it’s “special” enough, am I right? I have an offer just for you!

Buy two (or even just one!) of my books at a significant discount, pay no shipping costs, AND they will be personally autographed at NO EXTRA CHARGE. You can even tell me what to write in the book, to make it a completely personalized gift. (We hope to have the third book, Exogene, also available soon; stay tuned!)

How? Here’s what to do:

  1. Go to Walmart and search on the title you want (Chimera or Germline)
  2. IMPORTANT STEP: On the book’s page, type in my zipcode (29803) where it says “free store pickup with sitetostore near” – Again, this is the zipcode: 29803 DO NOT ENTER YOUR ZIPCODE!
  3. Select Walmart store #514
  4. Add the book (or both books!) to your cart
  5. When you’re done shopping, go to your cart and click on “store pickup”
  6. Use your email address as the contact for this order  – not mine!
  7. Warning: there may be sales tax on these books, but you will still pay less!
  8. You will eventually get to a part where it asks “Who will pick up this order?” – enter “TC” for the first name, “McCarthy” for the last name
  9. Continue as you normally would with any online order
  10. Email me your details (when it will arrive at my Walmart, what you want inscribed, where you want it shipped, and whether or not it should be gift wrapped) at my email: tburger88 at (note: replace “at” with @ and remove the spaces!)
  11. I will send you an email to confirm I agree to do this and will take it from there; it will be shipped at no additional cost to you.

Book III in the Subterrene Trilogy: Chimera

Yes this will take a couple of extra days but it transforms an otherwise ordinary gift into something a little more unique and even if he/she hates my book(s), you will have CLEARLY put a lot of thought into this one! :) Here are two links to pre-loaded searches at Walmart for these books, just to make it a little easier:

Chimera (book three of the Subterrene series)

Germline (book one of the Subterrene series)

Happy shopping.

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What DongWon Song, Anne Lesley Groell, and Nick Mamatas Have in Common. Also DragonCon.

Tim Ward Interviews moi

Did you know that I stole an idea from George RR Martin’s editor, Anne Lesley Groell? Did you know that DongWon Song is a steely eyed missile man with balls of cast iron? Did you know that Alexander Field thought he was getting a WINNER when he signed me? Did you know that Nick Mamatas is super nice when you pay him? Learn the answers to these and other questions (like what really happened at Roswell) in Tim Ward‘s interview of me over at SF Signal. Wait. THat’s HUGO NOMINATED SF SIGNAL!!! Oh Ye-uh-yeah!!! (and don’t worry – once we get past the Chimera launch week I’ll shut the hell up).  Here’s the freakin’ link, you animals.

Flyleaf Books Makes a Mistake…

They booked me for a reading. Come one, come all! Here’s the link, you filthy animals.

DragonCon Beware; I AM Coming…

I just got my panel schedule and yes. It Rocks. I’m trying to get a bunch of free giveaways together with the help of my Orbit Overlords so stay tuned, and even if Orbit can’t help I’ll be bringing a bunch of my own free stuff. Everyone likes free stuff, right? RIGHT???? Anyway, look for me on these panels and yes, I do like having undergarments thrown at me whilst I speak. I’m also trying to schedule some readings, so stay tuned for details as they emerge…

Rejectomancy: Hear tales of the best rejection letters sent or recieved; Fri 01:00 pm at the Regency V – Hyatt

Science Fiction–The Real Thing How to break into the future world of Near future, Hard, Space Opera (pick your poison) Sat 01:00 pm at Embassy D-F – Hyatt

Good War/Bad War How have recent conflicts shaped or influenced today’s sf? Sat 02:30 pm at the Greenbriar – Hyatt

Transhumanist Open Discussion Better living through technology! The directed evolution and transformation of the human race via emerging technologies – pros and cons. Mon 02:30 pm at 202 – Hilton

And now a video of a very young Neil Young, because…well…because he’s Neil Young. So here’s the freakin’ link, you filthy animals.

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Chimera: 10 Days and You Better Pre-Order

My final installment in the Subterrene Trilogy is being released on 31 July 2012, and stores are not allowed to stock their shelves or sell it before then. This is called “strict on sale.” I’ve learned a lot about this term over the last week and there are a number of different reasons for publishers to this, but it is an increased cost since booksellers have to sign legally binding affadavits that they won’t sell prior to the official release date. I think. I’m probably getting the details wrong, but the point is that publishers do this for a number of different reasons (e.g., a super popular book by Janet Evanovich might be on the list so that smaller indie stores aren’t put at a disadvantage, or they might do it to prevent spoilers in a popular series). I have no idea why Orbit did it but it shows that they care deeply about Germline and the trilogy so I’m grateful, but I also suspect this is part of a grander non-T.C.-focused business strategy – which means I’m not special. :( So pre-order or you might have to wait if stores sell out!

And now a little DIY action…

Today I spent 4 hours installing a new car stereo. There were three options: (1) get a crap stereo and have it pro-installed, (2) get a nice stereo and do it myself, or (3) get nothing and save the money. I chose 2; saving is a sucker’s play. So if you’ve ever wondered if you could do it, here are some pictures of the ordeal, but first some data:

  • Car: 2011 Nissan Xterra S
  • Stereo: Kenwood DDX319
  • Accesories Added: Sirius/XM Tuner, AV/IN, Video in (for reverse camera – to be installed later), and AV/OUT to rear seat (for monitors for rear passengers – to be installed later).

This doesn’t look like a lot at first glance, but look again; here are all the things I used/needed:

Not much - but this job nearly killed me

Taking apart a car that you’ve just bought is a scary thing, and I was sweating bullets. First I pulled off a small panel/tray from the dash and then unscrewed the main console before popping it off. The thing just came free and it scared the hell out of me. Here is the dashboard afterward, disconnected from the ocean of wires it vomited with the stereo. (Note: do not use this as a guide to replace your own stereo; there are steps I’m omitting, like disconnecting the car battery).

This nearly made me sick; "what have I done to my baby?"

And here is the factory installed stereo:

I hope I never see you again, you filthy animal

At this point, the fact hit me that I could still turn back, which is really not so weird because pulling your car apart sucks. Not only do you have to take apart the console section (that you just yanked from the dash) to pull off the old stereo, but you have to transfer climate control sections to a replacement piece that comes in a kit. Also, the instructions (you need 2-3 different sets, btw) are only “kind of accurate.” At many points, I had to bootleg it and figure things out for myself because they can’t write a set of instructions for every single specific car model? Bastards. Anyway, Once I’d put together the console piece it looked like this.

Come here, you little beauty...

Now the fun really began: wiring. Here are the two sections that I had to put together so that I could connect the Xterra wiring harness to the new stereo:

So simple, so simple...

Easy, right? Uh, no? It took me over an hour to get this right and involved all sorts of new skills (crimping, taping, etc.). This is it, halfway through:

It was getting hot and ugly in that car.

And this is it with all the wires connected, the antenna connected, the Sirius stuff connected, and the AV cables connected.

This looked AWESOME.

And that was that. The next step was attaching all the grounds that I needed to, and I had to leave one wire unconnected because I couldn’t find the reverse lamp harness (it’s a wire that switches my screen to the backup camera’s view (if I ever get one) when I put the car in reverse), which apparently is hidden in an alternate universe in the new Nissan Xterras. On the bright side, I can now listen to Ozzy on my car stereo using my iphone, and the kids can almost watch movies (see pic below). Stay tuned for the next project: installing headrest monitors for my rear seat passengers.

I bet "Germline: The Movie" would look great on this!

So don’t forget: pre-order Chimera and you’ll be able to install car stereos.

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Nick Mamatas on Germline

There is this cool webzine called Clarkesworld, and a few years ago I submitted a story to them but then withdrew it because of one name: Nick Mamatas. His rejections were legendary. I have no idea why I was so scared to hear the truth (although Nick’s rejections were legend, they were also truthful and often very helpful) but that’s me, a coward, and so withdraw I did.

A year or two later. I had a novelette and today I can’t remember what I called it but it was an SF homage to Michael Herr that involved genetically engineered female soldiers and a drug-addicted reporter on the front lines. Nick Mamatas had left Clarkesworld to work in the Bay Area and I had followed his blog on LiveJournal so I knew that he ran a critique service: two bucks a page and he would read your manuscript and give an honest assessment with suggestions for improvement. I paid the dough. Nick took the manuscript. A short time later I received my marked up version with plenty of red ink and it took some time for me to muster the courage to read it, but read it I did, and eventually I had to read it over and over to make sure I understood everything.

By the time I finished making changes and re-writing, the novelette grew into three novellas, which I sandwiched together as a fix up. Subterrene was born. DongWon Song at Orbit bought it on one condition: I break up the book and further expand each novella into a full novel. So began the creation of Germline

Fast forward. Last year at WorldCon I gave Nick a copy of the book and of the audiobook (he was credited in the acknowledgements) and when I got home noticed that he had posted something about having to deal with some stinky crap he got at WorldCon. Was he talking about Germline? I thought the worst and shrugged, but man that got me down because I assumed that mine was the only “stinky crap” available at WorldCon and sooner or later I’d hear about how much he hated Germline. So what happened? Today I get in the car after work and grab my phone to see if there’s anything going on Twitter. I find this:

Yes, I got all man-teary. I don’t have many idols in this business but if you’ve read Move Underground or You Might Sleep or Under My Roof, or if you’ve ever known the fear of a Nick Mamatas Clarkeworld rejection, you know what this means. Sure. He didn’t say “I loved it, you are the best!” or “I will leave my wife for you.” HE SAID I MADE MILITARY SF RELEVANT AGAIN!!!! And besides, even if he’d said “meh” you know what they say: a handshake is as good as a hug.

Thanks Nick!

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2012: A Heck of a Ride So Far and Chimera is on the Way…

Awards, Reviews, and Overall Kick-Assedness

This has been a great year, although I could do without the heat. Then again, we all have complaints so I’ll stop mine right there and get to the point: 2012 is shaping up to be a great year. Germline (my debut novel) won the Compton Crook Award. Exogene and Chimera – the other two novels in the same trilogy as Germline – both received rave reviews, including stars from Publishers Weekly. Germline went into its second printing, which everyone says is a GOOD thing, right? The Guardian did a write-up on Exogene, someone at Wikipedia decided I was worth an entry, and Bill Fawcett invited me to DragonCon (thanks again Bill!!)! Anyway, below are the links to the 2012 reviews of my trilogy and everything else. I hope everyone else is having as good a year as (or better than) me.

That’s a lot of action. I’m especially grateful to the wonderful people in the Baltimore Science Fiction Society, for voting Germline into the Compton Crook Award. This is going to take up an entire post (that I’m working on now) so more on it later (with photos) but I will say this: awards matter – especially to this debut author. Germline didn’t catch the attention of the Hugo, Nebula (i.e., SFWA), PKD, or Campbell crowds, but clearly folks in Baltimore are much more intelligent, well-read in the literary tradition of the war memoir, and all around geniuses! :) Either that or the SFF social activists and butt-kissers don’t have ready access to the BSFS. :P

Chimera is on the way!!!

Book III in the Subterrene Trilogy: Chimera

Chimera, the final book in the Subterrene trilogy is coming on 31 July 2012 and my fans will love it. It’s just as gritty as Germline. Stan Resnick is a guy with problems – someone who is more at home in war and with killing than he is in a peacetime US that consumes itself and its citizens within the cogs of a futuristic police state – so the only way he can maintain his sanity is by hunting down and killing escaped Germline units. Now that’s some old-timey dystopian fun!

And one last thing: does anyone know how to edit wikipedia pages? My headshot is uploaded to wikipedia commons and yet nobody has added it to my page so it feels kind of…well…headless. If someone out there could add it to my page, that would be awesome! Here’s the link to my headshot  (caution: don’t let the size of my noggin scare you) and look above for the link to the T.C. McCarthy wiki entry.

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In the Press

My local paper interviews me about Germline, Exogene, Chimera, writing, and oh yeah: DragonCon!

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When Two Whales Collide, I Publish Fiction for 99 Cents (or However Much it Costs in Europe/Can/Aus/NZ)

Someone once told me there was a Korean proverb that went something like this: “when two whales collide, the shrimp get crushed.” Well in the world of publishing, the whales are colliding. Who are they? Amazon, for one, the classic publishing world, for the other, and it’s the kind of competition that will benefit the consumer with lower prices. So who are the shrimp? I am – along with every other author out there. One can almost hear the corporate types in New York thinking about how, having lost much of their influence on e-book pricing, they can recoup their losses by reducing the author’s percentage on e-book revenue. No I have no knowledge of anyone actually thinking about doing (or actually doing) this; I’m a cynic. But it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that someone is going to have to pay for lower prices and usually the weakest are the ones who pay: authors.

So I’m hedging my bets; I’m teaching myself the ins and outs of electronic publishing, and putting out my own content – just in case the author’s standard percentage for e-books gets ridiculously low. Without further ado, from the blurb for my latest short story, “Somewhere it Snows”:

“Lev Sandakchiev is old and worn out. An indentured servant to a warrior alien race, he wonders if he’ll survive his last assignment. If he does, Lev has a choice: return to Ukraine – on Earth – or stay in space as the master of his own indentured servants, forever tied to the commerce of destruction…”

Buy “Somewhere it Snows” at the following places (also available for Kindle in Europe and CAN/AUS/NZ at Amazon):

Barnes & Noble

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Contest for US Kindle Readers!!!!

Beware the ides of March. Yeah – it’s March 27th, I know (not the 15th) but I’m way behind on putting my publicity ideas into action so here goes a contest I wanted to run two weeks ago. I am conducting a random drawing so that 10 of my US readers will receive a free kindle copy of my new short story, “A People’s Army.” To enter, just complete the following simple tasks:

1. Tweet this (just click the twitter button at the bottom of this post)

2. “Like” this post (just click the Facebook button at the bottom of this post)

3. Enter your name and email address in the comments section. I will not publish your comments and your email address will not appear in my blog, so don’t worry. As soon as the contest is over I will delete the entries and will never post your information.

4. You must be willing to review the book on any online outlet of your choosing (Amazon, etc.) and do your best to give it a review. Negative, positive, short, long – whatever – just give me an indication that you intend to write some kind of review.

5. This is a requirement, not a task: you must be a US person (sorry, my short fiction is not available in UK, etc., yet) and must be able to read on kindle.

Get going already!!!!! Contest ends on April 20th, 2012. Also, don’t forget about the worldwide Exogene contest over at Goodreads, which ends on March 31.

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