Michael Underwood Michael's Comments (member since Mar 30, 2012)


Michael's comments from the The Sword and Laser group.

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4170 A quick update - the campaign has passed its funding goal, and pushing on for stretch goals. The campaign now has 41 hours to go.

A limited # signed hardcovers are also available, as well as writing critiques and more!

Cheers,
Mike
4170 Hello, all! Mike Underwood here. I wanted to swing by and let people know about the Kickstarter I am running for Genrenauts, my cross-genre series about a group of travelers that visit dimensions based on narrative genres in order to find and fix broken stories.

If you like the Jasper Fforde Thursday Next series, Leverage, Quantum Leap, and/or Redshirts, you might enjoy Genrenauts.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/...

Genrenauts Kickstarter
May 16, 2016 11:05AM

4170 Hi Alex,

I just saw this message update, so I apologize for the late response.

For me, the biggest trope that Hamilton inverts is that of what we expect a Broadway musical to be. Other musicals have used rap/R&B, but Hamilton posits rap as the language of the american revolution, tying together rap and rhetoric, which re-frames how we can think about that style of music and expression. The show is incredibly kinetic, and puts the trope of double-casting (one actor playing two roles) to great use, with Hamilton's best friends from act one replaced by his son and his political foes in Act Two - that double-casting shows how Hamilton's emotional landscape has changed - instead of his dearest friend, his heart makes room for his son, and instead of being surrounded by allies in the revolution, he has found himself outnumbered with only Washington on His Side.

There's so much more, but I'll top there.

In terms of impact, I think we'll see Hamilton's effect most on Broadway theater, but I will also expect to see historical fiction re-interpreting other moments or figures from American and/or other history, with writers/creators trying to share a new perspective on what has come before. And that has me very excited, as I love when creators use juxtaposition to re-interpret existing stories.
Mar 15, 2016 07:18AM

4170 Tyler wrote: "The season and episode format for novellas is a pretty unique strategy. What made you decide to take that route instead of the traditional series of novels?"

It was a combination of a few factors.

I had seen other writers using shorter episodes to good effect, folks like Seanan McGuire and her serial novel INDEXING, Sean Platt and David W. Wright's YESTERDAY'S GONE, and Matt Wallace's SLINGERS.

The other big factor was that I wanted to import the episodic adventure/mission structure from shows like LEVERAGE or a procedural cop show, where every episode has its own mission, but then there are plot threads that carry on over a season or the whole show (like the 'Who Killed Kate's mom?' plot in CASTLE or the 'Why did Westen get burned?' plot in BURN NOTICE. And in my experience, a whole novel is far more than a TV episode's worth of plot, so I needed to look for a shorter form. Novellas are long enough to still tell a story that is substantial enough for my taste, but they write much much faster then novels. Each Genrenauts novella is about 1/3 to 1/4 the length of one of my novels, so I can get more stories completed in the same amount of time.

I've also noticed that with the dominance of Amazon in the ebook sales sphere, having more releases provides some benefits in Amazon's selling algorithms. Plus having more books out in a year keeps my work on reader's radars (at least that's the hope).

And ultimately, the best answer, which I discovered after the fact, is that it's been really fun to write novellas. I'm kind of addicted now. :)
Mar 15, 2016 07:11AM

4170 And for favorite board game - that's a tough one - I used to work at a hobby game store, so I have clocked a pretty ridiculous number of hours playing board games.

My latest favorite is probably PANDEMIC - it's incredibly challenging, and requires really smart collaborative play. I really enjoy co-op board games, as it means I don't have to be competitive with friends or worry about 'screw the leader' game play like is so common in games like FLUXX or MUNCHKIN.
Mar 15, 2016 07:09AM

4170 HI Scott,

Fortunately, I think the boundaries between YA SF/F and Adult SF/F are more porous than maybe they were during the heyday of YA as an emerging category.

Someone I would look to as a possible model is VE/Victoria Schwab. VE published several books in YA and MG, and has been making a big splash in Adult SF with VICIOUS and the DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC series, where book 2 just hit the Hardcover NYT Bestseller list. Victoria is using an open pseudonym/name variation to differentiate between YA/MG and adult, which is also an option, especially if your Adult SF/F material is going to be Clearly Not For Teens/Kids.

The other big factor will be finding the right publisher, someone who views your YA history as a benefit, not as a brand confusion problem to overcome.
Mar 15, 2016 05:19AM

4170 My favorite genre for pleasure reading is probably either urban fantasy or adventure fantasy, but it changes with my mood. There have been times when I've been on a run of another genre - cyberpunk, young adult dystopian, etc.

It is sometimes difficult to switch out of day-job mode and just read, but it's actually made easier by reading in paperback, since 80%+ of what I read for work is digital, and early manuscript versions at that.
Mar 14, 2016 05:37PM

4170 1) I've been really happy working with the Tor.com Publishing team. They're taking the opportunity to experiment, and their publishing terms are very generous, and it's an honor to be published alongside greats like Nnedi Okorafor, Kai Ashante Wilson, Mary Robinette Kowal, and others.

2) I have written all of the first season , which will be six episodes. My plan is for the series to run for five seasons (ala Babylon 5's Five Year Plan), totaling about 30 novellas (I might make the later seasons a bit longer than season one).

3) A very strong possibility. In fact, I'll be announcing something about the future of Genrenauts on my blog this week.
Mar 14, 2016 12:39PM

4170 Hi Tom, this is a really fun question, because it's a great one to talk about the intersection of art and business.

From an artistic standpoint, stand-alones can be far more straight-forward than writing a series. A stand-alone can be one idea, examined thoroughly, and then done. My favorite stand-lone of recent memory, The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, didn't need to stretch out Maia's journey into three novels, it just showed the journey of one character in impressive depth and followed his journey. And if Goblin Emperor had been a Book One, I don't know if it could have been as satisfying.

And I think stand-alones can also be good for the kind of writer who has lots of ideas and not enough time to write all of the stories they want to do - write a stand-alone book to explore the idea, but avoid building yourself into another series. It's something I've been thinking about, because my To-Write queue is like 8 books long, and almost all of them could be book one of a series.

And from a business side, stand-alones can launch at the level of a Book One, which usually means a larger # of sales than a Book two or three for a series that isn't already taking off. Most series that aren't selling really well have a drop-off in sales, where Book two doesn't sell as much as book one, and then book two sells less than book two, and so on.

However, stand-alones don't have as many chances to get sales bumps from other releases, which is what series books do. Book two creates a bump for book one, book two creates a bump for both, and so on. That is part of why book ones almost always sell the most in a series - new releases are always feeding back into book one. Series can be sold as a whole, and in the biggest cases, the series becomes a brand with value almost as much as the author. All of those, from a business standpoint, are *huge* assets to series.

And on the digital retail side, since Amazon is the big player, we want to look at how they sell books. The way I see it, Amazon's systems are designed to support series far more than stand-alones. We can see it in the success of indie authors in up-selling their series by including links in the back matter, we see it in series pages, and in the way that promotional pricing (Kindle Daily Deals, BookBub) creates a halo effect of sales for other books in a series far more than an author's other books (in my experience).

In summary - if you really want to write a stand-alone, go for it. There is a market, but you'll probably end up needing to promote it in a different way than you would a series.
Mar 14, 2016 10:51AM

4170 Veronica wrote: "Hey Mike!

Any thoughts on companies like Inkshares? Do you think they could change existing publishing models, or is it too different to affect existing publishers?"


I haven't worked with Inkshares, and am mostly familiar with it through S&L and Nerdist's campaigns, but so far, I see Inkshares and similar companies as mostly a way of complimenting the existing array of publishing companies.

Inkshares looked at the field as it is, and found a space they thought they could enter with a new model. Even with dozens of publishing imprints per genre, there are only so many titles traditional houses can publish, so I'm very happy to see other companies trying to find a new way to serve authors and readers. Publishing at times has been very personality-driven, from the origins of Ballantine Books to DAW, as well as smaller houses like Fireside Fiction Factory, but many imprints have de-specialized and generalized over time, and I think a personality-driven model like using curators is a smart one. If readers resonate with how someone sees the genre and thinks about it, it only makes sense that they'd generally trust their taste in fiction.

For me, one of the biggest question with a new publishing venture is always 'how are you handling discovery?' since there are ever-more titles publishing from thousands of creators and publishing companies. Building in your own discovery, and gamifying it to a degree with the crowd-funding model, seems like it could be very effective.

As to what impact they have on publishers, I don't know if it'll be much of one. The larger SF/F houses are practically drowning in quality submissions, and are often, in my opinion as a writer, publishing too many books and not supporting them enough. So big publishers' problems are mostly not problems that are made worse by the entry of a publishing company like Inkshares.

What Inkshares might do, and what I think is exciting, is the move to be more reader-facing in terms of how books are acquired and produced. Getting readers emotionally invested from the early stage of a book's life makes a *lot* of sense, and is definitely something I think other publishers could learn from, though it involves a very different set of first assumptions about how a book is made and sold.
Mar 14, 2016 09:19AM

4170 Hello, all! I'm very excited to be back in Sword & Laser-land to talk with you! I also work at Angry Robot Books as my day job, managing Sales & Marketing, so I'm game to talk about the publishing industry as well as my own books.

Cheers,
Mike
Dec 23, 2015 08:42AM

4170 My publisher is hosting a giveaway here on Goodreads to win one of three free copies of The Shootout Solution.
Nov 19, 2015 10:00AM

4170 Hello, Sword & Laser!

Some of you may know me from the Ree Reyes books (Geekomancy et al.). I've just launched a new action/adventure SF series with Tor.com Publishing - Genrenauts. It's designed to be a TV series in prose form - each episode telling a complete story while building in season and series arcs. It's been reviewed by Library Journal, Publisher's Weekly, and B&N's SF Blog.

Synopsis:

Leverage meets Jasper Fforde in The Gernenauts.

Leah Tang just died on stage. Well, not literally. Not yet.

Leah's stand-up career isn't going well. But she understands the power of fiction, and when she's offered employment with the mysterious Genrenauts Foundation, she soon discovers that literally dying on stage is a hazard of the job!

Her first assignment takes her to a Western world. When a cowboy tale slips off its rails, and the outlaws start to win, it's up to Leah - and the Genrenauts team - to nudge the story back on track and prevent a catastrophe on Earth.

But the story's hero isn't interested in winning, and the safety of Earth hangs in the balance...

Available in paperback from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.

Ebook from Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo.

Audiobook coming 11/20/15 on Audible.
Geekomancy (52 new)
Sep 14, 2015 09:50AM

4170 Hello, my fellow Swords and Lasers! It's been a while, but I wanted to share the squee about the fact that Hexomancy HEXOMANCY, the fourth Ree Reyes story, is now available.

Some of you may know me from the interview I did for S&L last year.

Geek on!
Sep 10, 2015 10:31AM

4170 It usually takes me a little while to get used to present tense in a novel, maybe ~20 pages, but then after that, I don't tend to notice. I get that for some readers, it makes things less certain, less concrete, but for me present tense is a very valid narrative choice. Looking at film/TV and comics, all of them tend to default to present tense, which no one questions.
Oct 01, 2014 07:57AM

4170 Ann Leckie cites C.J. Cherryh as an influence rather than Iain M. Banks, so I'd probably point you at Cherryh.

And if you're looking for something equivalently boundary-pushing in Fantasy, I can't help but shill The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley.
Aug 04, 2014 10:38AM

4170 SHIELD AND CROCUS is the Kindle Daily Deal for just $1.99.

You can also add on the audiobook narrated by Luke Daniels for just $.99 more.

http://www.amazon.com/Shield-Crocus-M...
Jun 10, 2014 08:41PM

4170 Today is the launch day for Shield and Crocus, available now in print, ebook, and audio.

Conveniently, today is also the day that my interview with the fabulous Veronica and Tom is live in the newest ep of S&L! It's like they planned it or something. :)

http://swordandlaser.com/home/2014/6/...
Jun 05, 2014 08:02AM

May 13, 2014 05:25PM

4170 Hi folks,

You might know me as the author of the Ree Reyes series (Geekomancy, Celebromancy).

I've got a new book coming in June called Shield and Crocus, which combines the New Weird (ala China Mieville's Perdido Street Station) with the Superhero genre.

Right now, my publisher has a Goodreads giveaway going on, with 20 copies available.
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