Saturday, June 5, 2010

Look what just arrived

Yesterday's mail brought my author copies of Jump Gate Twist, which with the paperback of Overthrowing Heaven (available now from your favorite bookseller) here decorates the top of a bookshelf in our upstairs hallway. Though I am far from unbiased, I have to strongly recommend you pick up both books. After all, you don't want to loan your hardback copy of OH, do you?

I didn't think so.

Jump Gate Twist is, as I've blogged previously, chock full of goodies. Sarah, who had not read any of the original material in it or "My Sister, My Self," the first Jon Moore story, declared it a "pretty cool volume." She is my daughter, of course, so you may be inclined to see that recommendation as perhaps a tad biased, but I discourage that sort of thinking; you can trust me, and you can certainly trust her.

All shilling aside, I really am pleased to see both books, and Jump Gate Twist truly is an amazing bargain: it contains two complete novels, two short stories, a bunch of essays, a gorgeous John Picacio cover--and it can be yours for the bargain list price of twelve bucks (way less on Amazon).

Okay, that was more shilling. Drat.

I'll end with this: It's cool to see these additions to my bookshelf.

Friday, June 4, 2010

What you can do to help?

As I mentioned in yesterday's entry, the second most common question I received was, "What can I do to help?" Before I answer it with some ideas, I need to clarify that it's really two separate questions: what can you do to help with my particular campaign, and what can you do to help with the greater issue.

I'll focus on the former for most of this post, so let me address the broader question first: Get involved. Learn more. Start conversations. Donate money to my Falling Whistles partner or to any other organization that's working to help child soldiers and other children in war. As with any cause, if this one speaks to you, put some time and money into it.

That said, if you want to help with my particular effort, there are many things you can do. Here are five relatively straightforward ones.

Buy the book--or, even better, pre-order it from your favorite online or brick-and-mortar bookseller. Yes, it's obvious, but this is a very big deal. If we could get as few as ten thousand people to pre-order the book, that would help generate a lot of attention to the cause--and raise a lot of money.

The novel also makes a dandy gift, by the way. It really is a fun read--in a month or two, I hope to have real reviews to that effect--and at the same time its serious side will encourage people to think about this awful problem.

Spread the word via your social networks.
Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn, whatever--anywhere you hang out online is a good place to spread the word.

If you work at a company, see if they'll publicize this effort. Publicity will help spur sales, which will help raise more money.

If you attend a school, particularly a university, publicize it there. Post this news on all their activist listservs, tell your newspaper, inform your activist groups, and so on. If they bring in speakers, tell them about both the Falling Whistles people and me. For at least a limited number of groups, if they will cover my expenses, I'll come speak for no fee.

If you work at a bookstore anywhere near me or know people who do, encourage them to have me do a talk and signing there. I'll drive to them, it'll cost them nothing, they'll make money on the book sales, and more money will go to the cause.

You get the idea. Getting involved can be as quick and easy as ordering a book or as time-consuming as you're willing to let it be.

Let's sell a ton of books, raise a ton of money, and help these kids.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Just how much money could we raise to help children in war?

After reading my post yesterday, a few folks have danced around this question, but no one has been impolite enough to ask it directly. I want all the information out in the open, however, so I'm going to show you the math. I don't think I'll upset Publisher Toni or anyone else by revealing the basic hardback royalty terms I have, because they are pretty standard. With that data, we can talk about what's possible.

My royalties for this hardback, which as I said are quite standard, work as follows:

10% of the retail cover price on the first 5,000 copies sold

12.5% of the retail cover price on the next 5,000 copies sold

15% of the retail cover price on the first 5,000 copies sold
List price for Children No More is $22.00. (All figures will be US dollars.)

Thus, the arithmetic for some easy sales figures goes like this:
- Selling 5,000 copies => 5,000 * $22.00 * 10% = $11,000

- Selling another 5,000 copies => 5,000 * $22.00 * 12.5% = $13,750 more, or a total of $24,750

- After that, each additional 1,000 copies we sell => 1,000 * $22.00 * 15% = $3,300 more to add to our total
Let's go wild for a moment and assume we can gather a ton of momentum and hit the New York Times bestseller list in the first week--an unlikely outcome, but one that's possible. That would mean selling something like 25,000 hardcovers--again, unlikely, but possible, I have to hope. Doing that would yield $74,250--enough money to do a lot of good, I believe.

I honestly don't think there's much chance we'll get anywhere near those sales figures--but I sure as hell am going to try.

Tomorrow, I'll talk about another of the most common questions I received today: What can I do to help?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Buy a book, help save a child in war

I've been teasing for a while that I had a big announcement to make. This is it. I'll start with the simplest statement of it:

I'm donating every cent I receive (including the advance) from the sale of copies of the Children No More hardcover to help rehabilitate children in the war. To that end, I'm partnering with Falling Whistles.

Now, a little background.

Back in February, on the first day of TEDActive, during a break in the sessions, I realized that I wanted to do more than just participate in conversations about improving the world; I wanted to do something, something potentially large. Though none of the sessions were about child soldiers, Children No More is--and I was deep into the third pass of it at that point. The novel is, I believe, a page-turner of a good story, as it should be, but it is also at another level a discussion of some of the challenges of rehabilitating and reintegrating child soldiers.

Though I have never been a child in war, this topic is near and dear to my heart. For more on why, let me quote from my own afterword to Children No More.

The use of children as soldiers is one of those topics that few people like to discuss. Depending on what you read and watch, you can go a very long time without bumping into it. Do a Web search on the subject, however, and you’ll find that children are fighting and dying every day. Hard numbers are, as you might expect, difficult to come by, but groups such as The International Rescue Committee ( estimate about 300,000 boys and girls are involved today in this horrific practice.

I find this deeply disturbing. I think everyone should.

I understand that in the catalog of the world’s woes, a cause with only a few hundred thousand sufferers may seem like a small thing. Numerically, it certainly falls way below hunger, disease, poverty, and many other vital issues humanity must address. But these are children, children whom adults are turning into soldiers, and that is simply wrong.

I must confess to a special connection to this cause because of personal experience—not, I hasten to note, as a child soldier. I have never experienced anything as bad as what these boys and girls undergo.

I did, however, spend three years in a youth group that trained young boys to be soldiers. The group’s intentions were good: To use military conventions and structures to teach discipline, fitness, teamwork, and many other valuable lessons. It certainly accomplished many of those goals with me.

The year I joined, however, was 1965, and war was ramping up in Viet Nam. I was ten years old. On my first day, an active soldier on leave showed up and acted as our drill sergeant. That day, I saw my first—but not my last—necklace of human ears and learned the ethics of collecting them. That afternoon, I stood at attention in the hot Florida sun while this grown man screamed at me and, when I cried, punched me in the stomach so hard that I fell to the ground and threw up. He put his boot on my head and ground the side of my face into my vomit.

That was not the worst day I had in those three years. It wasn’t even close.

My worst days with that group were nothing compared to what the child soldiers endure. Nothing.
That day in Palm Springs, I realized that I didn't need to rely on anyone else--not my publisher, not the bookstores, not anyone--to do this. I just had to do it.

Of course, that didn't mean I had to do it stupidly, or on a small scale.

So, I talked with Publisher Toni, who was supportive. Gina and I started researching charities who help child soldiers and other children in war. After a few months of conversations and negotiations, we agreed to partner with the fine folks at Falling Whistles, people who work on this cause every day.

A small group of friends and co-workers agreed to lend their talents to the cause. You'll see the results of their labor over the next two months. The Falling Whistles people are going to be doing a lot of promotional work as well; more on that later.

Some of our activities are already starting to appear:
* A placeholder Web site,, is already up. We'll be turning it into a far richer site over the next few weeks.

* Publisher Toni let us flag the cause on the back of the book, which now includes a nifty graphic and some text about what we're doing.

* A Flash ad for Children No More is running for all of June on the Publishers Weekly Web site. That ad notes the donation.
Many more bits of promotion, including a press release, will follow soon.

My goal is simple: To raise as much money as possible for this great cause by selling as many hardbacks as possible--and keeping none of the proceeds.

I hope to do it by making gift-giving painless--no, not painless, enjoyable. You don't have to pay anything extra to get the book; in fact, Publisher Toni has made it the cheapest of my hardback novels ever. All you have to do is buy it, have a good read, and in the process you'll be doing a good deed.

Of course, if you'd like to do more, tell your friends. Spread the word. If you really want to work on this cause, we'd love to have you join our little band. Email me via the form on the Web site and let me know your ideas.

As Sarah said tonight, when we were discussing possible tag lines for this simple process,
Lose yourself in another world,
and help save a child in this one.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

On the road again: Balticon, day 7

After much driving, including a detour that took us off I-85 for half an hour, I'm home. (My theory on the detour is that a secret government convoy was transporting an alien leader to the White House for a conference with President Obama when a terrorist group kidnapped the alien--but that's just one possibility.)

Simply settling in and dealing with the accumulated mail and so on has taken most of the evening, so I'm going to keep this short. Tomorrow, I hope to write up the big announcement.

Until then, enjoy a little Southside Johnny and the Boss.

Monday, May 31, 2010

On the road again: Balticon, day 6

This morning vanished in a blur of sleep, work, packing, and goodbyes. I then drove to the middle of nowhere, where I am now.

Well, to be more precise, I'm in Washington, VA, at The Inn at Little Washington, where I am recharging a bit, writing a bit, and soon heading to enjoy an amazing dinner in its Kitchen Table. I love this place, in large part because there is nothing to do here. (No cell phones work, though the Internet bandwidth is quite good--and comes with the room, of course.) Chef and Proprietor, Patrick O'Connell, has created here a certain kind of perfection. It's not my normal taste, nor at all how I would have done it, but I admire his dedication to his vision, and there is no place quite like it.

I'm heading offline now to prepare for dinner and then to eat a large number of what I expect to be exquisite courses. More on the meal in an update later.

UPDATE: After consuming an enormous tasting menu full of delicious tidbits, I can say with complete confidence that Chef O'Connell and the team here at the Inn have not lost a single step. This is definitely a great place to come if you want a world-class meal.

I can also confidently declare that I am in the grips of a food coma and so will now head offline for the night. Perhaps it was the sixth cheese, or maybe the second dessert course, that did me in.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

On the road again: Balticon, day 5

Morning once again arrived far too early for my taste today, but it has a way of doing that. One of these days, I'm going on a "vacation" trip that is actually a vacation; maybe this year's beach trip will fit the bill.

After scraping the drool off my chin and showering, I headed out to do the 90-minute Baen News panel. It was, as always, big fun. We showed dozens of covers, talked about upcoming books, eARCs, DRM (= bad; Baen has no truck with it), my big announcement (leaking out at the con and soon to come here, as soon as I catch a breath), and so on. We also gave out a fairly hefty box full of goodies. All in all, a good time. My thanks to Publisher Toni for the slides and the great giveaways. My thanks also to the loyal Baen fans for turning out in good numbers (50 or more folks attended) to hear about upcoming books.

Lunch was at a local pizza-and-gelato lunch; our group partook of both house specialities. From there, I headed back to my room to work.

Random con activities, work, a bit of a rest, and dinner filled the remainder of the day, with dinner being a particular stand-out: a wide selection of lovely tapas dishes from the always reliable Pazo. Though the restaurant's menu has changed for the worse--fewer different tapas choices, more big plates--each dish we sampled was delicious, and I still heartily recommend it.

With the show behind me, I must now focus more intensely on various writing obligations, notably finishing up my story for The Wild Side and getting that book off to Publisher Toni. Fun stuff!

UFC 114: How Kyle and I fared

Kyle's in Morocco, so I had to text him the results. We did pretty well, but we did make a few very wrong calls. For the details, read on--but please understand that I'm having to report based on online summaries; I won't bet to see the fights until I'm home and have access to my DVR.

First, as always, the undercard.

Jesse Forbes vs. Ryan Jensen

We both chose Jensen, and we were both right to do so, as he submitted Forbes with a guillotine choke in the first round.

Joe Brammer vs. Aaron Riley

Once again, we both chose the right fighter: Riley. I said to expect a decision, and Kyle went with a stoppage. I was right on the details, as Riley won all three rounds on all three score cards.

Luis Cane vs. Cyril Diabate

Color us both surprised and wrong: Diabate won by TKO in the first. We both expected Cane to dominate him, and in less than a minute Cane did indeed drop Diabate with a punch. After a scramble to the feet and a little time on the cage, however, Diabate dropped Cane and followed up with more punches until the ref called the fight.

Melvin Guillard vs. Waylon Lowe

In less than a round, Guillard's punches and knees sent Lowe packing. We were both right and back to our winning ways.

Efrain Escudero vs. Dan Lauzon

Escudero dominated Lauzon for three rounds and won the unanimous-decision victory, pretty much as we expect. If Lauzon wants to stay in the UFC (and if it's not already too late for that outcome), he needs to get his head on straight and have a better training camp.

Dong Hyun Kim vs. Amir Sadollah

Finally, Kyle and I disagree on a call: I went with Kim, while he chose Sadollah.

Go, me! Kim won every round on all three judges' cards en route to the decision victory. (MMAweekly gave the last round to Sadollah.) From what I read, Kim was just too much for Sadollah to handle.

So, as the undercard drew to a close, I was 5-1, while Kyle was 4-2.

Now, the main card.

Diego Sanchez vs. John Hathaway

We were both quite confident that Sanchez would dominate this fight. Instead, it went exactly the opposite: Hathaway won all three rounds on all three cards for the unanimous decision. Hathaway shook Sanchez with a knee in the first, and from all reports, Sanchez never recovered. I'm now 5-2, while Kyle is 4-3.

Todd Duffee vs. Mike Russow

I expected Duffee to knock out Russow no later than the second round. Kyle thought Russow would win by using his superior wrestling to put Duffee on his back and grind out a victory.

Neither of those things happened, though Kyle called the fight correctly: Russow won.

Basically, Duffee manhandled and beat on Russow for two and a half rounds, and then out of nowhere, Russow landed a right cross that completely knocked out Duffee. A few sites I've visited are already calling it one of the greatest comebacks in UFC history.

Drat! Now, Kyle and I each have three wrong.

Michael Bisping vs. Dan Miller

As best I can tell from what I've read, Miller rarely tried to take down Bisping, and when he did, he failed more often than not. That meant the fight was perfect for Bisping to out-point Miller with small strikes, and Bisping did just that and gathered the unanimous-decision victory as a result.

I'd called Bisping, while Kyle had gone for Miller, so I was now 6-3, while Kyle was 5-4.

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Jason Brilz

We both improved our records by correctly choosing Nogueira as the victor, but from all the reports I've seen, this decision was controversial at best. Still, Nogueira won the split decision.

Mark: 7-3
Kyle: 6-4

Rashad Evans vs. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson

I look forward to seeing this fight, because apparently Evans dominated Jackson for almost the entire fight, though in the end he had to settle for a unanimous-decision victory. Jackson had a shot at the fight in the third round, when he dropped Evans, but Evans came back and won the last round on two of three score cards.

So, we finished the evening 8-3 (me) and 7-4 (Kyle), for another victory for me.

Kyle, dude, time to pick up your picking game.

As always, remember these important words: Don't use us for betting advice!


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