Friday, December 24, 2010

First Step Completed

Hey folks.

I just (as in thirty seconds ago) finished the outline for my third book, Shadow's Master, sneaking in under my self-imposed Christmas deadline. This 15,000-word document will be my roadmap in the months ahead. I feel very good about it, and I hope you will, too, once you read the results.

Now, off the enjoy my Christmas Eve.

Happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gemmell Nomination

Hey folks,

Just wanted to share that Shadow's Son has been nominated for the prestigious David Gemmell Award in the Morningstar and Legend categories. Here is a link.

Voting begins, I believe, on Dec. 26.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Whose voice is it anyway?

A question from a reader has sparked some thoughts in my head. She asked (to paraphrase) if I believed in the things my characters said. Or, to be blunter, am I speaking my personal views through my characters?

On the face of it, the quick answer is no. For example, the main character of Shadow’s Son is a professional killer who sees little difference between assassination and killing an enemy soldier in war. I disagree; I think there is a world of difference.

But, as I think deeper, I have to acknowledge that my stories – and the characters who inhabit them – do represent a certain worldview particular to me. Just as our actions speak louder than our words, I have to “own” my work. That doesn’t mean I condone violence or murder, or treachery or zealotry, as much as it conveys that I see such things as essential components of our world. We can look away or ignore them (sometimes at our own peril), but that doesn’t make them go away.

But there are more positive aspects to such ownership, as well. Many of my stories include observations about valor, duty, and honor – concepts I very much favor. And there is love, which I enjoy in abundance in my personal life, and I’m sure bleeds over into my writing.

So, if my characters are not mouthpieces for my personal philosophies, they are enablers at the very least, fictional ping-pong paddles volleying my notions back and forth, often without a clear-cut winner. And I think I’m okay with that.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Farewell Party

My wife and I went to a local sports bar to gather with some of the fine people I've worked with at the detention center these past fourteen years. Needless to say, I'm going to miss them a great deal.

But, as they say, it's time to start a new chapter in my life.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Pyr Books 100th Title

In honor of their 100th title, Pyr Books is giving away a FREE epub novelette by world-renown author, James Enge. Check it out here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

December Events

Hey folks,

I've got a couple of local book signings next month:

* Dec 11 (5pm) -- Borders Books in Camp Hill, PA.
* Dec. 15 (5:30pm) -- Borders Books on Allentown Blvd. (Harrisburg, PA)

Come by, and bring your literate friends. :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Writing Update

Hey folks,

Just a quick update of my writing progress to date. I'm finishing the final tweaks of Shadow's Lure and should finish them this week, depending on how I feel. (I've been fighting a cold for the past couple days.)

And the groundwork for Book 3, Shadow's Master, is picking up. I finally have a solid frame for the middle of the novel, which is the hardest part for me. Next I need to lock down the ending.

All in all, things are progessing well.

I don't have any conventions planned for 2011 yet. I applied for Guest Status at next year's Dragon*Con, but haven't heard back yet. I'd also like to hit some of the local cons, like BaltiCon and PhilCon.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hour of the Wolf Postponed

Hey folks,

I've just been informed that my appearance on the "Hour of the Wolf" radio show has been postponed due to difficulties beyond my or the host's control. I'll let you know when a new date has been set up.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

French Copies Have Arrived

Sacrebleu! My copies of the French version of Shadow's Son arrived today. Hmmm, the cover art looks familiar...

Thanks to Eddie, and the fine folks at Bragelonne, for such a beautiful book.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Observations at Book Signings

I love people watching. Give me a comfortable seat on the edge of a big crowd, and I can watch them for hours, which is pretty much what a book signing feels like for those of us who aren’t named Paris Hilton, Sarah Palin, or Stevie King.

(Interesting side note: Only two of those listed authors are actually able to pick out a noun and a verb in a sentence. But I digress . . .)

However, whether you sell a thousand copies or three, a book signing is an excellent opportunity for us reclusive-writer types to observe the book-buying (and, presumably, book-reading) public up close.

For example, most people in a book store, when greeted by a friendly hello, will respond in kind as they stroll past your table. A special few will stop and ask you what your book is about. Yet, it’s the alarmingly-high percentage of folks who blithely pass by, not even looking in your direction, that makes me raise an eyebrow. Where are they going in such a hurry? Nine times out of ten it’s the coffee bar, which just goes to prove you can’t compete with caffeine.

But when someone does stop, the pressure is on. Your hands sweat, your voice quavers, and sometimes you even forget what your book is about. (When this happens, I usually say, “It’s like Harry Potter combined with Twilight and The Stand. Only cooler.”)

I have to give a shout out to all the ladies in the house. Women are much more likely to stop and chat, and they buy a copy two or three times more often than the guys. Slackers! What happened to manly men who read novels while chopping firewood and saving babies from burning buildings? Meh, I guess those days are gone. Now, it seems like many men only read the Sports section of the newspaper and an occasional biography (ghost) written by some washed-up athlete.

Still even with the fly-bys and the blank stares, I have to say that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every minute of each book event I’ve done. There’s something thrilling in introducing yourself, and your work, to new people. So here’s to everyone I’ve met out on the road. Thank you. You make a lonely profession all the more worth it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

French Ebook

Just received the contract for French rights to ebook versions of the Shadow trilogy.

Shadow's Son has been doing well on the Kindle here in the U.S.. For everyone who has asked, I'm still waiting for news about other e-format versions. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Turning 40

It didn't hurt as much as I anticipated. A long time ago, I told myself I would be published before I hit thirty. I missed that mark, but at least I snuck in before 4-0 hit.

Aging is very strange. Little things sneak up on you. One day you have a few gray hairs, and then suddenly they're taking over. Or taking your kid to the park. I remember the days when I could run and jump without hurting yourself. Now I just shamble along behind him. At least I'm still (mostly) of sound mind.

Friday, October 1, 2010

October Events

This month I have a few book-related events:

Two book signings for Shadow's Son:

* Oct. 2 - Borders at Lycoming Mall. 2-4 pm.
* Oct. 17 - Barnes&Noble at State College, 12-3 pm., with uber-talented author Susan Kelley.

The Hour of the Wolf radio appearance has been postponed until Nov. 13. (5-7 am.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Shadow's Son In Germany

I just learned that Shadow's Son is in stores in Germany right now. So, hello to my new German friends.

The book will appear in French in mid-October.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mother Russia, how are you sleeping?

We just learned that Shadow's Son will be published in Russia by AST. That makes eight publishers so far, reaching a growing number of nations across the globe.

Thanks to the fine folks at Pyr Books and my agent, Eddie.

In related news, Shadow's Son will also be an audio book here in the States. I don't have a date for that yet, but I'll keep you posted.

Monday, September 6, 2010

I Came, I Saw, I Signed

What do you get when you mix forty-five thousand people, four hot days in Atlanta, and enough alcohol to fill a super tanker? Dragon*Con 2010!

I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Jenny and I had been to World Fantasy last year, so I was thinking it would be little bigger, a little noisier, with a few more fans than writers. Pfft. I didn’t have a clue. The sheer volume of people descending on downtown Atlanta was mind-boggling. People arrived early in the morning each day and stayed well into the wee hours. Writers, actors, artists, publishers, T-shirt sellers, podcast creators, people in the most outrageous costumes.

I met some of the staff at Pyr/Prometheus Books, including editor-extraordinaire Lou Anders, Director of Publicity Jill Maxick, and “Slush Reader” Rene Sears. They are terrific people and uber-helpful. We spent a lot of time together at the Pyr display booth, talking to fans and spreading the word about our products.

I was also psyched to meet fellow Pyr authors like the irrepressible Sam Sykes (Tome of the Undergates), James Enge (Blood of Ambrose), Mike Resnick (Starship series), and Clay and Susan Griffith (The Greyfriar).

We ate, we talked, and we drank. It was awesome. And did I mention the costumes? Check my facebook album for some pictures. One of my few regrets was not spending more time just people-watching.

Anyway, if you get the chance, I highly recommend going. Pack comfortable walking shoes and a camera, and maybe I’ll see you there next year.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dragon*Con Rawr!

This weekend is Dragon*Con in sunny Atlanta, GA. I'm so excited I might need to pack some adult diapers. This year will feature a surprise guest: my father! Yeah, the old man decided to accompany me down into the lion's den of uber-fandom.

We'll be flying in Friday morning. I have a book signing at the Pyr Books booth that day at 2pm. In the evening I'm on the Pyr authors panel discussion.

I'll hold another signing Saturday at 2pm. We fly out on Sunday afternoon. All unscheduled time shall be spent either sleeping or at the bar drinking on Lou Anders's tab.

If you're at the convention, swing by the Pyr booth and say hello.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Podcast Interview

Hey folks,

You can check out the brand-new podcast interview I did with the guys at SF Signal.

Thanks, John & John.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Trail of Indiscretion #10

For those who enjoy shorter fiction, my newest short story, entitled The Wu Jen, has been published in the #10 issue of Trail of Indiscretion (Fortress Publishing).

Also included in this issue are works by Jeff Young, D.C. Wilson, and others.

Friday, August 6, 2010


I just turned in the manuscript for Shadow's Lure to my agent today. I'm sure he'll have some things to say about it, and I have a couple sections I want to polish a bit more, but for all intents it is done.

Then again, "done" only means it is ready for several rounds of editing by the publisher...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

UK Cover Artwork

Here is a look at artist Chris McGrath's original artwork which was used for the U.K. release of Shadow's Son (Gollancz). I love the colors and the edginess of the style.

Thank you again, Chris, for such a fine piece of art.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Look What Just Arrived

Today I received a large package from Gollancz (my UK publisher). *cue the dirty thoughts*

Done? Okay, here are the UK covers for Shadow's Son in hardcover (left) and trade paperback (right). I think they came out awesome.

Thanks, Gillian!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Shadow Over the U.K.

According to Amazon, Shadow's Son is now available in England. So cheers to my new friends across the pond!

If anyone sees the book in a brick-and-mortar store, please let me know.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Iron Maiden Metal Gods

Whew! I saw my all-time favorite band in concert last in Pittsburgh with my brother and father. This was my fifth or sixth Maiden concert, and wow, they only get better every time. I've been a Maiden fan (Maiden-head?) since the early, early 80's, so seeing them live is the second-closest thing I get to a religious experience. (If you have to ask what the first-closest thing is, you aren't old enough to be reading this blog.)

Anyway, my voice is hoarse from shouting the lyrics, my ears feel like they've been packed with concrete, and I didn't get home until 3:30 in the morning, but I can't stop smiling today. If you haven't listened to IM, go buy a CD pronto and get in on the best music in the past 30 years.

Up the Irons!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Aaron's Books

This awesome indie bookstore hosted me for a book signing last Friday, which was also their Five-Year anniversary (they had cake!). It was a great experience. The store is situated on the main drag of Lititz, PA. A lot of people came through the store while I was there. We even sold enough copies to make Shadow's Son their No. 1 bestseller last week -- yes, I am a bestselling author somewhere.

The owners (Todd, Sam, and young Sir Aaron) and bookseller (a fellow Pennwriter!) Vicky Burkholder are about the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. If you live in Lititz, you probably already know that. If not, stop in and say hello. They have a great selection of new and used books, and a playroom in the back for the kids while you browse.

If you happen to pick up a copy of my book while you're there, I wouldn't mind.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Borders Display

I was astounded to be tagged with this photo by my friend Will Horner, taken at the Borders Books in Wilmington, DE.

I will appearing at said Borders store on July 16th (6 pm).

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Read First Chapter for Free

Hey folks,

For those who haven't bought the book yet (what? go buy it now! I'll wait...), you can read the first chapter of Shadow's Son on


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Upcoming Events

I have a few book events/signings coming up next month:
July 9 at Aaron's Books (Lititz, PA)
July 16 at Borders Books (Wilmington, DE)
July 30 at Borders Books (Harrisburg, PA -- Jonestown Rd.)

I'd be glad for some company at any (or all) of them!

Post below if you need more details.

Kickstarter for Fantasy

Hey folks, I want to tell you about a worthy cause. William Horner is the editor/owner of Fantasist Enterprises, a small press dedicated to producing quality SFF books and anthologies. FE was the first venue to publish my work, years ago, and now they are looking for donations so they can keep producing great stuff.

Please visit their page on

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

U.K. Cover

Here's a sneak peek of the U.K. cover art by famed artist Chris McGrath (you may have seen his work on Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files).

Shadow's Son is due to be released in the United Kingdom next month!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Let Me Know . . .

If you've read Shadow's Son already, let me know here. Tell us what you thought. How long did it take you? Did you have a favorite part? A favorite character?

And please feel free to post a review on, or SFF websites you frequent. Spread the word!

Friday, June 11, 2010

I had to share this...

I'm not one for putting up every review I get, but I had to share this one by Charlaine Harris, She Who Rules The Night.

A thousand thank you's, Ms. Harris. I am not worthy...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Son Now on Kindle

Hey folks,

I've just been told that Shadow's Son is now available on Kindle for those who prefer ebooks (but feel free to buy both versions if you like...).

Here's the Amazon link to the Kindle version.

Good Company

Here is a photo of Shadow's Son hanging out on a table at the Flights of Fantasy indy bookstore in Albany.

I just have to say that seeing Son sitting beside Steven Erikson's book is beyond awesome. I'm going to go in the other room and make fanboi squeals.

Special thanks to Alaya Johnson for taking this pic.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

In Stores Now

It's been a year since I signed the contract with Pyr Books. Now, as the first copies of Shadow's Son are hitting bookshelves across the country, the feelings are indescribable (not a good state for a writer, I know). The only thing I can compare it to is the birth of our son: you're happier than you've ever been, and at the same time scared out of your mind. Maybe the best news is that two years from now the book isn't going to be running around the house, destroying everything it can reach.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Today was a Good Day

Hey folks,

A couple nice things happened to me today (well, besides waking up next to the most beautiful woman in the world and spending the day with our son).

First, the Fantasy Book Critic posted a great review for Shadow's Son which you can find at:

Then, this afternoon I got a call informing me that we had sold the Shadow trilogy to Polish publisher Papierowy Ksiezyc. That makes seven publishers and counting.

So, thank you all for your support.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Kind Words

A couple weeks back, I received copies of the Shadow's Son ARC (advanced reading copy) from my U.K. publisher, Gollancz. On the first page was written a foreword by Gillian Redearn, Senior Commissioning Editor. I'd like to share it.

She wrote:

"Dear Reader,

Shadow's Son is an extremely entertaining fantasy novel.

If you want to get caught up in an adventure, if you want a book that can make you feel that pause in time that occurs between an assassing taking aim on their target and releasing the trigger, then you've found the novel you're looking for.

This is the story of an assassin. Caim. He's good at his job. He likes his job, which helps when you've had to infiltrate a castle unseen, lurk in the shadows for a day, climb into the rafters of the great hall and perch there for hours -- in the cold, the darkness, the silence -- waiting for the perfect moment to take out your mark. Caim likes his life, too, which is a shame because if he wants to keep it, he's going to have to escape from his cold perch on a rafter inside a great hall inside a castle, and do it with fifty of his target's servants hot on his heels, all eager to avenge their master.

It's a lot of fun.

[...]I'm delighted to introduce you to the next bloody, twisty, dark author whose novel you simply must read: Jon Sprunk.

Hell hath no fury like an assassin wronged . . ."

Thank you, Ms. Redfearn, for those kind words.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

It's Here!

Yes, the day has finally come. Today I received the first copies of Shadow's Son just as they will shortly appear in bookstores all across the country. It's impossible to describe the feeling. I thank all those who have been involved in this project, beginning and ending with my lovely wife, without whom none of this would have been possible.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Pennwriters Conference 2010

This year's annual conference was held at the beautiful Best Western Eden Resort in Lancaster, PA. I've got to say upfront that I think this conference gets better every year. Big kudos to Ayleen Stellhorn, this year's conference organizer.

As before, the conference offered a program of workshops and seminars about writing, marketing, publishing, and such. I was able to attend a few of these and found them all excellent. I was also able to volunteer more this time around than in previous years, and I really enjoyed that.

But the best part was reconnecting with people I hadn't seen since my last PW conference (in 2008). I was given some awesome marketing advice from NYT-bestselling author Maria Snyder (I also snagged an autographed copy of Storm Glass). And I had a wonderful conversion with agent Jennifer Jackson (of The Donald Maass Literary Agency) in the hotel lobby. Pennwriters does a lot of things right with their conferences; getting top-flight agents and editors to attend is one of them.

So now that the conference is ended, I'm left feeling a little sad that it's over, but I'm also energized to dive back into my work-in-progress.

Thank you to all my fellow Pennwriters.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Iron Man 2

My wife and I saw it on Saturday. I was prepared to be underwhelmed because, well, it's a sequel, but I came out feeling quite good about the movie. I like how it extended the mythic structure of the "maker-warrior," delving deeper into Tony Stark's internal demons while at the same time introducing new challenges.

Robert Downey Jr. does an outstanding job as Tony. Don Cheadle is solid as his best friend Lt. Col. Rhoades. Sam Rockwell is both funny and swarmy at the same time.

That's not to say the movie was without flaws. In my humble opinion, IM2 suffers the same setbacks as the original, namely (A) a lack of chemistry between Stark and his love-interest/girl-friday Pepper Potts, and (B) epic fail on the big "boss" fights.

Overall, I highly recommend Iron Man 2.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Stylish Advertisement

Check out the back cover of the June issue of Realms of Fantasy. Shadow's Son is hanging out in pretty good company.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Shadows from the British Isles

Today I received a very cool package in the mail from my agent: two brand-new ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies) of Shadow's Son! Thanks, Eddie, and thank you to everyone at Gollancz.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

First Book Signing

Hey folks,

I will appearing at the Camp Hill Barnes and Noble on June 16th at 6 pm.

If you find yourself in the area, swing by to keep me company. There may be a surprise (hint: it might be cake!).

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The final cover is revealed!

Looks like Caim and Kit are about to step off the page!

Special thanks to Lou Anders of Pyr Books for all his hard work in getting this project together, to Nicole Sommer-Lecht for the cover design, to Michael Komarck for his superb artwork, and to everyone else at Pyr/Prometheus Books.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Clash of the World of Warcraft?

I saw Clash of the Titans tonight, and the good news is that it’s not another In the Name of the King (which still holds the title for worst movie ever made).

For those of you who have never played World of Warcraft, and have no interest in ever playing it, skip the next paragraph for the sake of your sanity.

Nutshell: it wasn’t so bad for the first movie in a WoW franchise. I mean, it had beautiful and often ridiculous scenery, a rich storyline that no one cared about (including the characters). Everyone’s on some kind of quest, but the details are vague and no one feels like tabbing over to Wowhead to get the right coordinates. There were the usual fights over loot. (Draco: Hey Perseus, take that sword. It’s way betterz for your dps. Perseus: No way! I’m hoarding my DKP for a shield upgrade.) Like so many raids, Perseus’s crew has too many melee-types and not enough healers, but they did manage to pick up a warforged warlock. (Ooops, my bad. I’ve drifted off into D&D territory.) And the game . . . I mean, movie . . . ends with a bad-ass Boss Fight. Too bad the Kraken was nerfed to hell in the last patch. (And his drops were crappy, too: a doe-eyed damsel that no one wants to nail and two sets of pally leggings.)

In all honesty, I expected very little out of this remake, and I got my wish. I despise things in movies that make no sense, and every scene had at least one bit of silliness that couldn’t be ignored. The short list: flying horses that wander around the forest grazing aimlessly waiting to be found by equally aimless heroes, vast deserts in the middle of ancient Greece, bronze swords that can pierce stone pillars and hold up the weight of two grown men, and a main hero who learns how to be an expert swordsman in less than forty-five seconds because, like, he’s a demigod. (Thank goodness we can skip the training sequence montage!) Let’s not even get into the plot. (Transformers + Dungeons&Dragon + semi-Greek mythology = Clash.) The acting was . . . well, I give the performers credit for getting through their lines without laughing.

Did I like anything about it? Sure. For one, I took my wife, and any time spent with her is worthwhile. Second, Hades (God of the Underworld) was given a very slick appearance—understated (for this movie) black armor and smoky wings. I just wish Ralph Fiennes had dropped the annoying gravely-whisper affectation. Oh, and the black Pegasus was a nice touch.

But none of this matters because Clash made a bajillion dollars in its first weekend, so the geniuses behind this fiasco are probably being feted like ancient Greek kings by the Hollywood crowd. Get ready for Clash 2: Rise of the Fallen Lich-King Underworld God.

Hey, no one ever said life was fair.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Podcast Interview

Hey folks!

Adventures in SciFi Publishing has put up my interview on their site, packaged with interviews with world-reknown agent Joshua Bilmes and uber-author Peter V. Brett. You can find it at:

Thanks to Mr. Jonathan Schiefer for sitting down with me.

Oh, and Lou, sorry about getting your title wrong.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Beginning of the End

Having just crossed the 100k word count in my work-in-progress, I’m finding the going easier than before. Why is that?

I always enjoy the start of a new novel. The blankness of the computer screen, the ideas jostling in my head—each wanting to be caught and pinned down first—these things inspire me to create something new. The pages blur past me. Before I know it, I’m wrapping up chapter five.

When I come up for air, I get a glimpse of the mountain of work towering over me, and it seems like too much. This is when a good support system is vital. My wife is always there to tell me how awesome I am (and, no, she doesn’t drink much. Go figure.). But one way or another, I dive back into it. This middle section is where rhythm comes into play. When I’m in the zone, the pages get cranked out and the book starts to gather its own momentum. When I’m not . . . well, it can be an uphill climb.

All this effort carries me into the final act. (Do any other authors think of their books in terms of acts?) This is where I find myself now, in that boiling cauldron where the storylines I laid down earlier are all coming together. At this point, the words flow so easily it’s like I’m not in control anymore, but just holding on with both hands and hoping I don’t get thrown off before the ride comes to a halt. This is the second funnest (yes, I know it’s not a word. Get over it.) time in the writing process for me. The grand charge to the finish line.

*Cue Chariots of Fire theme song.*

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New Tattoo

Here is the new tattoo I got to commemorate the publishing of Shadow's Son:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

2010 Pennwriters Conference

Hey folks,

Today’s post is about a local writers’ conference here in central PA. It’s hosted by the Pennwriters group, an organization to which I’ve belonged for a number of years. I don’t work for Pennwriters, but I feel that belonging to a group like this can provide many benefits for a writer at any stage of their career.

The Pennwriters conference is an annual event. This year it’s being held May 14-16 in Lancaster, PA. The conference features workshops (in many genres), discussion panels, a banquet, a costume party, and pitch sessions with editors and agents who are actively seeking new authors. This year’s keynote speaker is author James Rollins.

For more info, or to register, go to:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened . . .

Let me start by saying I don’t usually discuss political topics in public (I also try to avoid religion, the other third rail of social discourse). But something happened last night so alarming, so contemptible, that I feel compelled to speak out.

Last night, I answered . . . a phone survey . . .


I know, I know. Jon, how could you be so stupid? In my defense, I was making good progress on my latest manuscript when the phone rang and I was feeling pretty magnanimous. So, instead of following my instincts (hang up), I indulged the surveyor. Health care? Sure, I’ve got time to answer some questions. What could be the harm, right? I’ve been meaning to email some congress-type-people about my views on this subject anyway, and maybe this survey will alleviate my conscience enough that I can continue to sit on the sidelines while others slug it out on my behalf. (To those who might wish to manipulate me in the future: appealing to my innate laziness is a good start.)

So Survey Guy starts firing these questions at me about my family’s health care. Who provides it? How happy are we on a scale of one-to-seven? One-to-seven? Um, okay. But as the survey goes on, I begin to notice a bit of a slant in the questions. They seem to want me to say that I’m happy with my health care the way it is and that I don’t want anyone to change it. But I wait it out, thinking surely there must be some question where I can give an answer that will definitively spell out my viewpoint.

Then it came. How happy am I with the cost of my health care? Aha! Now I can unload with both barrels, right? Well, wait. I ask Survey Dude, “Hey, Survey Dude, are you asking me if I’m happy with how much I actually pay out of pocket, or if I like what my wife’s employer has to shell out every year to keep us on the rolls?” It’s an important distinction because those two issues have very different answers. Survey Dude didn’t know. He read the question again and waited for my answer. I gave a middling sort of “slightly satisfied” answer that left me, sadly, unsatisfied. That ended the survey except for (wait for this) would I please give my name (sure), phone number (um, you called me, remember. But okay here it is), and my address. By this point I just wanted to get off the phone so I gave him what he needed. He thanked me and hung up.

No big deal.

Then I start thinking. Why did he need all that personal information? I wasn’t concerned about Survey Lad stealing my identity because those facts (name, phone, and address) are listed in the local phone book for anyone to see. Might there be another reason? Then I recalled something I had seen on TV where companies pretend to do surveys about health care, but what they are really doing is collecting names to put on anti-health care bill petitions, which they send to various congress-people-types in a ruse to make our government think that masses of people don’t want reform.

I’d been hoodwinked! And the worst part is I didn’t see it coming! (Thank you, Mr. Jim Carrey. Dumb and Dumber still makes me laugh.)

So take this as a friendly piece of advice. If Survey Dude calls your home or business with questions about health care, answer if you like, but do so with care because you don’t know what he is doing with the results.

I guess I could go on and trot out my personal views about health care reform, about how the current system is corrupt and has too many congress-type-people in its collective back pockets, or how it’s a crime what employers are forced to pay just to give their workers the security of basic health care, and how we don’t need a reform but instead a complete, top-to-bottom, scrub-behind-the-ears-with-steel-wool overhaul.

But the last thing the world needs is another windbag regurgitating his opinion into the ethereal winds of the blogosphere.

P.S.: A big thank you to my wife’s employer who very generously provides health care coverage for my family.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Reading the galley

Today I received the galley for Shadow's Son. For those not in the industry, a galley is a document showing how a manuscript will be laid out in book form.

It's both exciting and humbling to see how my novel will look when it's published.

Of course, there's work to be done. I'm reading the entire text from beginning to end in search of errors. When I send back the galley, the next time I'll see the book will be in printed form. Woo-hoo!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Writer Daddy

My life changed drastically sixteen months ago when my wife gave birth to our son. One of the things that changed the most (after learning that, yes, there is such a thing as five o’clock a.m. We had only seen it in movies before.) was my writing. Before our son arrived, I had a cushy schedule. You see, I only work weekends at my day job, so I usually had five days to myself every week. Pretty nice for an aspiring author!

It was this schedule which allowed me to write Shadow’s Son. I would wake up whenever the spirit moved me (usually around nine-ish), get something to eat, and then plop down in front of my computer. My daily quota was four pages of new text, but with six or seven hours to occupy, I frequently produced far more than that. The result was a brand new novel in about four months.

Fast forward to today. I still have the same work schedule, but now I have an added responsibility–our son. Because my wife and I don’t want to use daycare, I am Mr. Mom until mommy gets home.

Now I write in the evenings when the boy is asleep, which was a big transition for me. Having training myself to create in the morning and afternoon, it took me a couple months to make the switch to later hours. For a while I didn’t think it was going to work, but having a signed contract is a big motivation, so I stuck to it. Eventually, I got the hang of it, and now I’m back up to my daily quota.

In the shuffle, however, my wife lost something: her evenings spent with me. And this brings me to the real point of this post:

Writers, cherish your spouses!

They are the rocks that hold our families together when that deadline looms and you don’t have time to read “one more story,” or wash dishes, or any of the other million jobs they do while you’re busy creating new worlds. As for my wife, she is invaluable. She is wife, mommy, best friend, first editor, chef, seamstress, grocery shopper, and head cheerleader (and she has the pompoms to prove it, but I digress…) all rolled into one fantastic package.

To Jenny, my love. Thank you.

Friday, January 15, 2010

I'm currently reading . . .

Well, two books. The first is Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 to brush up for the Jumpstreet event this weekend (you can find details on my website

I'm also about halfway through Deadhouse Gates, the second installment of the Malazan series by Steven Erikson.

There's not much I can say about F-451 that hasn't been said a thousands times before. It's both classic and strangely contemporary in its social commentary. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend taking a peek.

So far I'm really enjoying the Malazan series. Erikson delivers a rich, vibrant world simmering with dozens of conflicts major and minor. I've heard some criticism that his novels are difficult to read, but I haven't found that to be the case. Complex and intelligent, yes; difficult, no.

After Gates I will continue with the series (I bought Books 1-6 on a good deal from Amazon).