Kevin Hearne's Blog, page 15

November 28, 2012

Hey everyone,

You may have heard by now of Worldbuilders, the charity run by fantasy author Patrick Rothfuss. In a nutshell, it’s this: You donate $10 to Worldbuilders, all of which goes to Heifer International—an organization that helps families in developing nations directly with goats, chickens, heifers and other sustainable sources of food—and you get a chance to win signed books by your favorite fantasy authors. For every $10 you donate, you get another chance to win. And regardless of  whether or not you win some goodies, the cool thing is that hungry kids get to eat.

I’ve donated two signed sets of the Iron Druid Chronicles to help out. One set is in the general prize pool, so you have a chance to win it—or any number of other fabulous books—for as little as $10. But if you’d like to make ULTRA HONKIN’ CERTAIN that you get a signed set of the series rather than just a chance to win it, you can bid on the other set at an auction. Again, all money from the auction goes directly to Heifer International. And here’s why you might want the set that’s up for auction: They’re not merely signed. Each one also has a unique sketch of one of the characters and a little message from them. Here’s what I drew in each book:

HOUNDED: Perry! First time I’ve ever drawn him. And what I have him saying is kind of an inside joke that you won’t understand unless you’ve read book two. :)

HEXED: The Morrigan!

HAMMERED: Leif Helgarson!

TRICKED: Oberon!

TRAPPED: Atticus!

So HERE IS THE LINK to Pat’s blog, where you’ll see all the author-donated books and find links to the general donation page. You can also click through to his other recent blog posts and see all the other books and goodies you can win or bid on, because there are a buttload of them on there, donated from publishers and independent spiffy people and so on.

And, in case you’d rather go straight there, HERE’S THE LINK to the Iron Druid auction with the specially signed/illustrated books. The pictures that they show there are from the first set, not the illustrated set, so don’t panic. :) As of this writing I believe the auction is open for about one more week.

Thank you, as always, for reading, and if you can spare it, thank you for donating to this worthy cause. Hope you win!

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Published on November 28, 2012 15:56 • 267 views

November 27, 2012

Happy reading, everybody! TRAPPED is now available wherever you like to get your books (except the release date in the UK/Australia is Thursday). Very excited for you to see the binding process for Druids and meet the dark elves and the dwarfs of Nidavellir! Those are the parts I geeked out about while writing it, anyway… :)

It’s a heck of a day in general for sci-fi and fantasy releases. Jim Butcher’s new one, COLD DAYS, is out today, and I’ve also been waiting for THE FRACTAL PRINCE by Hannu Rajaniemi. And of course, the legend himself, Alan Dean Foster, has the third book of his latest series out, THE SUM OF HER PARTS. It’s a great week to be someone who enjoys reading, basically.

Wee reminder: If you’d like a signed copy of TRAPPED—or any of my books—you can order ‘em from The Poisoned Pen by calling 1-888-560-9919. They ship internationally.

If you’re one of the people who has a ticket to Atticus & Oberon’s Beer Bonanza on Saturday, I’ll see you soon! Tacos and beer and Druids and probably some ill-advised shots of tequila!

If you don’t  have a ticket but you’d like to say howdy and ask me stuff and take a picture and whatnot, I’ll be at The Poisoned Pen at 2pm on Sunday, Dec. 2, and I’ll sign darn near anything. But LOOKIT! You can also win shiny pretty things by showing up! First up is a print of Atticus and Granuaile by watercolor illustrator Cody Vrosh. Granuaile is pictured here as a new Druid, brandishing one of two different staffs she uses in TRAPPED:


Click to embiggen

Would you like your own copy? You can snag one from Cody directly here!

You’ll also have a chance to win a framed poster of the glorious map of Yggdrasil illustrated by the peerless Priscilla Spencer, signed by both Priscilla and me:


Click to embiggen

If you’d like your own copy of that—she has ten of them signed by both of us, I believe, and more signed by her—you can do that right here, and please see my previous post on her awesomeness and some background info on the map!

Last but not least, in case you’d like a spiffy new wallpaper for your computer, I have an ultra-hot n’ sexy one for you right here—click, download, and set as desktop. I got it courtesy of my homies at Del Rey, who modified the cover of TRAPPED for me. Thank you all for reading!

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Published on November 27, 2012 07:56 • 368 views

November 25, 2012

I’m one o’ those people who likes maps in books. For me it’s an essential part of losing myself in the world. But since I’m writing an urban fantasy series set in the modern world, there hasn’t been much call for maps…until now! I have a map in TRAPPED and it’s so cool! I loves it, Precious! It was drawn by the amazingly talented Priscilla Spencer and I couldn’t be happier with it. Here it is—click to embiggen:

Norse cosmology is fascinating stuff and sometimes contradictory. If you do a Google image search on Yggdrasil you will see a surprising number of variations on which realms are actually included in the Nine and where they are located. So I’m just piling on here.

For example: In some versions of the cosmos, Hel is a realm separate from Niflheim rather than a territory within Niflheim. In some versions Muspellheim is left out entirely—very odd since Muspellheim plays a key role in the end of the world. In yet other versions there is no distinction betwixt Nidavellir (land of the dwarfs) and Svartálfheim (land of the dark elves). So you could look at my map and compare it to any other one and say HEY YOU DID IT WRONG in all caps, but quite honestly, there’s no agreement that anyone has done it right. Where the sources do tend to agree are on the following points:

1) Yggrasil has three bigass roots and these are fed from three different sources on three levels or planes: The Well of Urd in Asgard (at the top), the Well of Mimir in Jötunheim (in the middle) and the Spring of Hvergelmir in Niflheim (way down there).

2) There’s an abnormally large dragon lizard thingie called Nidhogg nibbling at the root by the Spring of Hvergelmir. And there’s a buttload of rivers (in this case, eleven) flowing from the spring.

3) Also: Ratatosk! An eagle at the top! And some rather confused hinds who have somehow become arboreal and frolic amongst the branches on their hooves!

5) Five of the realms are pretty solid in terms of their location; it’s the other four that get people squabbling. The Fab Five are Asgard, Vanaheim, and Álfheim at the top, and Midgard and Jötunheim below them.

6) Jormungandr, the world serpent, circles Midgard. You can see that Priscilla got extremely clever and represented Jormungandr with the knots.

I’ve included Muspellheim as a land o’ fire to south of Niflheim, the land of ice. Hel is included as a territory of Niflheim—you can see the gates to it in the back (sometimes Niflheim is left out!); and Svartálfheim is a subterranean realm, the entrance to which also lies in Niflheim. The reason for these and other choices should become clear as you read TRAPPED and continue with the series.

If you dig maps & mythology like I do—or if you know someone else who does—you may want your own poster of this. We’ve got you covered! You can order a 12×18 poster of it directly from Priscilla! She has only ten (10) signed by both her and myself—hurry if you want one of those—and a virtually unlimited supply of posters signed only by her or unsigned.

Also: Don’t be surprised if a couple of these signed posters get donated to Worldbuilders, Patrick Rothfuss’s charity. You can win them by donating there.

Also, too: If you come to my signing for TRAPPED at The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale on Sunday, Dec 2, at 2 pm, you’ll be automatically entered in a raffle to win a framed poster signed by both of us.

Hope you enjoy! Not just the map, though. The book too. :)

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Published on November 25, 2012 23:18 • 287 views

November 16, 2012

I thought I would share a wee bit of math here since it’s not something I figured out myself until after I was published. It simply never occurred to me to think of it this way, so in the interest of being helpful to people who may be in the same boat now: There is no economic reason for most authors to tour. In fact, bookstores often lose money on author appearances too, but for now we’ll focus solely on the author’s side of things. Apologies in advance for the length. Here we go…

I’m in Arizona. Let’s say I want to visit people in Boston because I have yet to visit Massachusetts and there might be a few people out there willing to come see me. Cool! First, I have to plan my visit months ahead. The bookstore needs time to get the appearance on their calendar and send out emails to their newsletter subscribers and so on, doing what they can to publicize the event locally, and they also need to order copies of my books. But once the date and time is set, I have to pull out my credit card.

Round-trip flight to Boston from Phoenix: $365 according to Orbitz

Hotel in Boston: $100-$200 depending on where you stay

Rental Car or Taxi: That will cost a nice fat stack

Food: Should probably eat some

Transportation to the airport: Necessary and not free

So let’s say we’re super-duper cheap and manage to do this whole thing in one day & night for $500 just to keep the math simple. Can I write all this off on my taxes? Heck yes. And I will. But it’s still $500 out of my pocket right now, and of course that write-off is a deduction on taxable income, not a credit. I won’t get it all back by any means. So what’s in it for me?

In financial terms it’s pretty small taters. It’s standard throughout the industry for authors to get about sixty-four cents per mass market paperback, and quite honestly, not a lot of people attend book signings. There are authors out there who will draw a couple or few hundred people, of course, but I’m not one of them. Most of the time authors will sell 30-60 copies at an event, depending on the city and the day of the week and the weather. Let’s say for easy math purposes, however, that Boston rocks hard and I sell 100 copies. That means I make $64.00. (I’d need to sell 800 copies to break even!)

My hypothetical visit to Boston, therefore, with a cheap estimate of costs and a generous estimate of sales, would put me in the hole $436. Clearly, the math tells me I cannot visit every place I’d like to go. It’s simply not possible if I would like to continue to do things like pay my mortgage and feed my kid and avoid calls from bill collection services. And the same holds true for the vast majority of authors.

“But wait!” a random straw man interjects. “Doesn’t your publisher pay for all that stuff anyway?” Nope. Publishers have budgets and bills to pay too. And airlines don’t give them discounts on author flights. The economics don’t work out in their favor either. Tours are simply not good for the bottom line—unless you’re one of the very, very few superstars who can sell hundreds of hardcovers at each event. That’s not me and that’s not most authors. That’s dudes like Neil Gaiman and George R.R. Martin. Publishers do pay for some tours, of course, but that’s for mondo huge bestsellers, and people might erroneously assume that it’s like that for all authors. It’s definitely not.

The reason I bring this up is that I recently announced on Facebook that I’d managed to get an appearance arranged in Cleveland. The comments immediately began to fill up with very sweet people urging me to come to their city in Florida or Wisconsin or California or wherever. And that’s when I realized they probably didn’t know what they were asking. They probably didn’t realize that I can’t afford to go wherever I want. Most of my appearances—and most author appearances, honestly—happen only if someone subsidizes them, either a convention or a conference or a publisher.

Here’s how the Cleveland thing happened: Nicole Peeler (who is a ridiculously smart professor in addition to being one of my favorite authors) invited me to come teach for a wee bit at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA, which is about an hour outside of Pittsburgh. The university is flying me out there for the gig, but of course while I’m there on their dime I’m not going to be doing anything else but what they want. Still, I thought, maybe I can get something arranged out there for readers since I’ve never visited that part of the country. So I asked Seton Hill to schedule my return flight out of Pittsburgh a day later, and they were cool with that. Awesome! I got a hotel room in Pitt for my extra night and then set about trying to find a place in Pittsburgh to have an event. That turned out to be far more difficult than I anticipated. For various reasons that are no one’s fault, I couldn’t get a store to host me in Pittsburgh. My publicist in NY stepped in to help by finding a spot in Cleveland—Rocky River, actually, which is just to the west of Cleveland.

So now I’ll be driving a rental two and a half hours to Cleveland (probably uphill in the snow both ways!), and it’s definitely not for the money. I mean, if Cleveland rocks like the hypothetical Boston scenario above, I might break even on my rental car since the flight was taken care of. But I’m not worried about that because I’m not doing it for the economics anyway. Instead, authors who aren’t mega best sellers tour for these reasons:

1) Writers are full of neuroses and foremost among them is a desperate need to be loved.

2) People who read books are really cool and who wouldn’t want to meet cool people?

3) We cling to a hope that maybe the appearance will pay dividends down the road, as in spiffy people might spread the word about our books to their friends. Maybe we’ll break even on the trip in some distant future and there will be chocolate.

4) We like to get off our asses and away from the computer for a while.

5) Some readers would actually like to meet me and chat and I want to make them happy.

There are probably more reasons than that. I simply can’t think of them right now because I haven’t had my coffee.

Anyway, the point: I’d love to visit your town because I love to travel and see the country and meet people, but I can’t afford to do very much and neither can my publisher. And I hope this doesn’t come across as a woe-is-me sort of thing or a complaint; it’s merely an explanation of How Things Are for darn near everyone and maybe a wee plea: If I don’t come to your neck of the woods, please do not take it as a personal insult. I basically go where I’m invited or someplace near me because math says that’s all I can do. If you would like to see me (or any other author) in Florida or Wisconsin or wherever, the easiest thing to do is to convince either a geek convention or a writer’s conference to invite me as a guest. In a sense, you might have more power to make it happen than I do.

Bookstores, by the way, lose money on author appearances more often than you would think—or make such a slim profit that it’s barely worth their time. The reasons why are for another post. But like authors, they do it anyway because they like readers and they want people to enjoy reading.

I’m not touring at all for TRAPPED; I’m having a single signing locally at The Poisoned Pen on December 2. I will tour, however, in support of HUNTED next summer. It will be the west coast, basically, with stops in Montana and Colorado on the way back. I’m driving the whole way and Del Rey is being super nice and helping out. If you’re on the west coast and would like to see when I’ll be in your neighborhood, the dates are on my Events and Appearances page. Store locations and times will get cemented later, but those dates and cities are pretty solid.

If you made it all the way down here, thanks so much for reading it all! Hope it helped you understand the touring biz.

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Published on November 16, 2012 09:07 • 455 views

November 14, 2012

Occasionally the calendar rolls around to the bit where I have to do some obligatory promo in case people have yet to hear that TRAPPED is coming out November 27. So here we go:


If that was news to you then I feel totally validated for writing this! But I feel like I should provide something more for people who already knew that…hmm. I know! I can help you escape all the holiday Doorbuster sales with a single phone call!

You can snag some signed copies for all the geeks you love—and not just copies of TRAPPED, but any of my titles. And this applies internationally, too. An independent bookstore near me, The Poisoned Pen, will ship signed copies anywhere. Call them toll-free at 1-888-560-9919 and say hey dude, I’d like to order x number of signed copies of these titles and they’ll get it done. If you want them personalized “To Buffy” or “Fifi” or whoever, that’s cool too, just let them know, and I’ll head over to sign them! (And The Poisoned Pen offers signed copies by Diana Gabaldon as well, in case you’re a fan of hers.)

Apart from getting signed copies and giving the gift of Oberon, ordering from The Poisoned Pen means you’re supporting a local business instead of a giant corporate kraken from the sea. So there’s no downside here.

If you’re local and you can spare the time, I’m having a signing for TRAPPED on Sunday, December 2, at 2 pm at The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale. I’ll be talking a wee bit and taking questions, and you can win a signed print of the map that appears in the front of the book as well. (It’s signed by the amazingly talented artist, Priscilla Spencer.) Would love to see you! Please come by if you can!

Other promo news: Audible now takes audiobook pre-orders, so you can snag TRAPPED from them now if you’d like (US/Canada only). Last time I looked they didn’t have the narrator posted there, so let me reassure you that it’s still Luke Daniels. He’s already recorded it.

Other, other promo news: I want to put this dude on your radar. His name is Jason Hough (pronounced like Huff). His series, the Dire Earth Cycle, comes out next year. His publisher—full disclosure, also mine—pitches it as Firefly-meets-Scalzi. I pitch it as the best thing I read in 2012, period. I scored an early copy and it wasn’t long until I was talking to the book. That’s how you know a book is really good, right? You start yelling at it because you’re fully involved. Here are a few choice things I shouted at various characters in his first book, THE DARWIN ELEVATOR:

“Shit! Watch out! It’s going to eat your ass! GET OUT OF THERE!”

“Oh, you’re a dick. You’re just a dick. I hope you receive a humiliating injury to your groin.”

“He’s PLAYING you and you need to wake the fuck up!”

Of course, that’s not the kind of thing you can put on a book cover. I wrote something a bit more polite for that. Here’s my full blurb for it: ”The best part about alien stories is their mystery, and Jason M. Hough understands that like no other. Full of compelling characters and thick with tension, THE DARWIN ELEVATOR delivers both despair and hope along with a gigantic dose of wonder. It’s a brilliant debut and Hough can take my money whenever he writes anything from now on.”

Yes, it’s true. I’m already a fanboy. The Dire Earth Cycle is going to be released back-to-back-to-back, just like my series was. They’re coming out in July-August-September of 2013, and you can pre-order THE DARWIN ELEVATOR now if you like or just click there to learn more about it. You won’t regret it.

As always, thank you so much for reading. Especially the occasional promo posts. You deserve a beer. Cheers!

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Published on November 14, 2012 02:06 • 336 views

November 10, 2012

Hello again. :)

Many thanks to all of you who responded to my last post regarding my wish to stick it to the Man (Facebook) because they’re trying to extort money from anyone who manages a Page. I’m grateful both to those of you who are now following me on Google+ and those of you who let me know about the options to continue seeing all posts on Facebook. I’ve learned a lot. Sharing begins now…

First, as I mentioned before, when Facebook allows only 14-16% of fans to see posts without paying to reach the rest of them, that is seriously damaging to businesses and also to people like me who aren’t really selling stuff but simply trying to stay in touch with peeps who have bought stuff in the past. My publisher, for example—DelReySpectra—manages both their own FB page and another one for Star Wars. They have taken serious hits as a result of the new Facebook policy. Their traffic is way down. Facebook is actively damaging their ability to provide readers with a neato online experience. That’s what’s happening to me, too, and every other author. Facebook has therefore broken the Law  of Will Wheaton, which is: Don’t Be a Dick. Now I understand the impracticality of protesting every Giant Corporate Dick out there—in very real terms that’s most corporations—but you have to draw a line somewhere. I have drawn mine at Turbo Dickishness. And it is undeniable at this point that Facebook is being a Turbo Dick.

How bad is it? I would much rather reach 100% of 1K people following me on Google+ than 15% of 6K following me on Facebook (that’s only 900). Seriously, at this point Facebook is not doing what it was originally designed to do. It’s broken.

Now many of you have kindly shared the fact that people can hover over the Like button on my page and click Get  Notifications of my updates, since Show in News Feed isn’t sufficient anymore. This is a True Thing, and I encourage everyone who wishes to stick with Facebook to do this if you’d rather not switch to Google+ and would like to continue to see my stuff. It looks like this:

Thank you. HOWEVER. This feature is essentially a Cover Your Ass Move by Facebook to disguise the enormity of their Turbo Dick Move. All of my posts previously showed up in the News Feed of everyone who Liked me. Now they don’t—only a small percentage will see it unless I pay $20-$30 per post. As a user, you now have to Get Notifications or create Interest Lists to see what you want to see, and you have to check and manage those Lists instead of automatically seeing it in your News Feed. And, of course, not everyone will do this because it’s a pain, and that’s what Facebook is counting on. They’ve made Liking someone into a two or three-step process in order to squeeze money out of businesses and entertainers, and it’s ruining everyone’s fun.

Google+ isn’t a perfect solution—it’s not as intuitive and there are still some things about it that confuse me. There’s also the issue that not as many people use it as Facebook. However, that can all change and it has several spiffy qualities that I like so far:

1) They have yet to demonstrate that they are greedy Turbo Dicks like Facebook. If you follow me there, you’ll see my posts and won’t have to go through extra steps to ensure that it happens, and I won’t have to pay to make sure that it reaches you.

2) I like the layout better than Timeline.

3) Comments remain in sequential order, which is no longer the case on Facebook. FB now displays comments according to those that have been most Liked, making it impossible to follow any conversations that get started.

4) You can like stuff by clicking a friendly +1, which for some reason I like more than the thumbs-up.

5) I can have hangouts! I haven’t tried this yet but I really want to. Basically I can invite several people to join a video chat thingie and then upload it to YouTube. Patrick Rothfuss has been doing really cool hangouts with other authors on the Geek & Sundry channel called The Story Board. I don’t know what my hangouts would be like yet…I could do some with my readers or do some with craft brewers or whatever. That’s an option I don’t really have with Facebook.

6)  There aren’t incessant ads and things the way there are on Facebook. What Google+ loves to do is send you emails when anybody sneezes near your posts. However, you can turn off the email notifications in Settings and then your Inbox will remain uncluttered.

So after all the input, here’s what I’m gonna do: I won’t shut down my Facebook page—I know there are many people who aren’t ready to move to Google+ but would still like to see my posts. What I will do instead is autopost to Facebook through a daisy chain of apps: Google+ to Twitter to Facebook. That way, if you click on Get Notifications or create Interest Lists or whatever you have to do, you can still see what I’m up to on FB. What will change is that I won’t be interacting on FB anymore. Apart from my deep-seated need to stick it to the Man, I simply don’t have the time to keep up with that many social media channels. That doesn’t mean I’m abandoning you: I’ll be active on Google+ and continue to respond on Twitter and my blog, and you’re always welcome to email me, but FB will just get autoposts beginning December 8.

I do encourage you to give Google+ a try and drag your friends with you. Facebook won’t stop being Turbo Dicks unless they suffer real consequences.

Thanks again for all the techie suggestions and the encouragement. Ginormous thanks to everyone who’s already  followed me on Google+. You guys rock! I lift my flagon and toast in your general direction.

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Published on November 10, 2012 09:28 • 328 views

November 7, 2012

It’s come to my attention that someone has engaging in shenanigans with my posts.

I don’t mean spammers. I mean Facebook.

A few weeks—maybe months?—ago, Facebook started to choke off who saw my posts. I currently have over 6K people who Like me (thanks btw, mwah!) but only a fraction of them are now seeing what I post, despite the fact that they have clicked Like and thereby have indicated that they want to see my posts. Facebook has done this to make money.

They want to charge me to reach people that I formerly reached for free and who clicked Like expecting to to see what I post. Perhaps you’re one of them. Have you noticed that you’re not seeing my Facebook updates as often? Or the posts of other people you have Liked? I still update every day, sometimes twice a day. Most of it is fun stuff but you may not be seeing it. For example, I recently discovered this hilarious YouTube video called Dragon Baby and posted a link to it:

Fun, right? Facebook says only 2,241 people saw it (as of this writing). If I want to make sure all my peeps see it, I have to pay $20-$30. I literally have to click a button at the bottom labeled “Promote” and then I get this utterly evil popup that tells me how much I have to pay to reach people who have Liked me and who I used to reach for free. Here’s a screen capture from my page—it looks like this:

[image error]

Holy bovine! $30 to reach an estimated 4.2K-7.8K, the number of people who have Liked me. It boggles my mind that it says “an easier way to get more people to see your posts.” IT WAS EASIER WHEN IT WAS FREE. PLEASE GO BLOW A GOAT.

They didn’t announce this. They just kinda did it on the down-low and it took me a while to figure out. With this action, Facebook has become the Man. The Man wants to keep me down. Well, I’m going to stick it to the Man, and I hope you’ll join—because this isn’t just happening to me. It’s happening to every author/entertainer/business/whatever that you have Liked. You’re seeing fewer of their posts because Facebook is trying to squeeze cash out of all of them. They’re turning what they advertised as social media into commercial media. It’s like making a friend on the playground and then the next day the teacher says during recess, hey, if you wanna play with your new friend, you gotta pay up. It’s the ultimate Dick Move.

So I’m going to Google + because in + land they’re not throttling my posts. And, as it turns out, I actually like the layout much better than Timeline. The post sizes are spiffy and the comments display in order (another thing that Facebook has recently changed—the comments get displayed and ranked according to who “Likes” a comment, so that the ability to follow conversation threads on my end is gone). You can follow people and actually see their stuff, and you can comment on their posts and click +1, which is the equivalent of liking something. Right now I’m posting in both places, but around the middle of December I will stop posting on Facebook because They Are Being Dicks and telling me I can’t play with my friends.

I hope you’ll head to Google + too and encourage your friends to migrate there. Or, if that’s not palatable to you, I hope you’ll subscribe to my RSS feed on my blog (big button for it at the top right) or follow me on Twitter, or maybe become a fan on Goodreads—that would let you see my blog posts there. Basically, I’d like you to be able to find my posts  if you want to see them, unfiltered by the Man. I know that I’ll probably lose some people by doing this—the Man is counting on the fact that I won’t want to lose touch with readers there and that you won’t want to try something else—but as a matter of principle I cannot continue to support Facebook. I’m not gonna work for the Man or pay the Man.

Love you guys. Hope to see you on Google +. Once you’re on there, just search for Kevin Hearne and you’ll find me. Cheers!

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Published on November 07, 2012 08:39 • 380 views

November 1, 2012

So this is pretty awesome. No, scratch that. It’s turbo awesome. A composer named Will Musser has composed a theme for Atticus! It definitely has the Celtic feel but it builds and gets more modern as it goes. What do you think? Dig it?

Siodhachan O’ Suileabhain
Huge thanks to Will for taking the time to do this and sharing his talent!
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Published on November 01, 2012 21:11 • 395 views

All the critters were so cool! I received almost 100 entries and they’re so fun! Thank you for taking the time to do this and send in your pics. If you haven’t seen all the entries, here’s the link.  I did the random winners first. The album is conveniently numbered 1-98, so I went to and asked it to give me a sequence. It starts at the top left and goes right across the columns, so the random winners are 68, 54, and 79.


Those numbers correspond to the following entries—congratulations to Theresa, Richard, and Dan!








Please email me your addresses so I can send you your goodies.


I picked one for extreme cuteness and one for extreme badassery. Cute winner first: Duke’s freakin’ EARS, omg! Melissa, please send me your info!

And now the ultimate badass: Adam and his red-tailed hawk, Mara Jade! Send me your address, Adam!


Now I know I said there would only be five winners, but I couldn’t stop there because there was simply too much awesome going on. So I’m giving away signed early copies of TRAPPED to these five additional winners:






If you see your pet(s) there, please send me your info so I can get you an early copy of TRAPPED. When you get it, it is your solemn duty to taunt other people, but please, no spoilers, okay?

Thank you all again for entering and, as always, for reading! Cheers!

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Published on November 01, 2012 02:22 • 295 views

October 28, 2012

Besides belonging to The League of Reluctant Adults, I am also a member of The Confederacy of Nerds. I would be a card-carrying member except that we don’t have any cards and I’m not sure why we would carry them around if we did.

The Confederacy Roster: AK, Alan, Tooth, Barushka, Pilot John, and That Kevin Guy (me). We periodically escape to A Cabin in the Woods that is thankfully not the setting of a Joss Whedon film, and there we drink and smoke and play games and paint miniatures and watch Joss Whedon films about cabins in the woods. We also take pictures of wildlife around the cabin because it’s there.

Last year we tried Tobacco-Infused Tequila Hot Chocolate for the first time and it was oh-dear-gods-that’s-nom-nom. So we had to do it again, right? You start by laying out your cigar in foil and making a wee boat out of the foil so that it will float in a stock pot with about 4 cups o’ whole milk.

Next you cut that baby open. Ceremonial chanting is optional but it’s highly recommended. Pilot John taught us a chant he learned at a monastery in Tibet. He spent four years there training to be a billionaire playboy masked vigilante until he took an arrow in the knee. Now he flies planes and leads chants over cigars.

Next comes the really fun part: YOU SET IT ON FIRE. Last year this was a challenge because we had cheap lighters and it was quite windy on the night we tried it, so this year, Tooth thought it would be a good idea to accelerate the process by bringing a freakin’ blowtorch. You fire up the cigar so the tobacky is burnin’ and then put a lid on the pot so the smoke infuses into the milk.

So while we waited for the milk to smoke (about 30 minutes) we decided to smoke a stogie ourselves. Turns out blowtorches are handy for that too. Here’s Tooth lighting a cigar for Barushka:

So yeah, while we smoked and the milk smoked, AK melted Girardelli chocolate into another four cups of milk on the stove. He put shots of agave tequila into cups, followed by shots of bitters—a kind called Fernet Branco. Then you combine the tobacco-infused milk with the hot chocolate milk and pour into cups. The picture below has just the shots on the left and the finished drink on the right:

It’s so good. Not a quickie drink or anything, but absolutely outstanding for those times when you want to create a memorable experience.

The first game we played was  X-Wing, a model-based space shootout that’s pretty fun—and the models look really good. You get stat cards for the pilots showing their attack and defense and agility points and so on. During our game we wound up killing both Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader and wiping out the whole trilogy in the process. The game included other named pilots like Wedge Antilles, but we were all disappointed that there wasn’t a card for Porkins. Here’s a shot of the game in progress:

Speaking of Star Wars, have you ever seen a cloaking device from the Star Wars universe? If you haven’t, you really need to see these things. They look like huge schlongs with three testicles. They work spectacularly well because when you see an enormous three-balled woody floating through space you’re not going to see the ship to which it’s attached. We thought the principle deserved testing in this galaxy, so when Tooth made pancakes the next morning, here’s how they came out:

See? There are two other pancakes on that plate but you didn’t notice them, did you? You were staring at the cloaking device. A light, fluffy, delicious cloaking device. Heh!

We had several visitors at the cabin. A family o’ deer came by and said hello. There was an excessively cute wee one.

There were also some javelina snuffling around. I wrote about these critters in the short story “A Test of Mettle.” They can be aggressive if they have low blood sugar or if you smell bad, or for no good reason at all. But I got a good shot of this one:

We had a great time up there. Pilot John painted his Blood Angel figures and Alan painted the kilt pattern for his Trollblood Mountain King. We played Settlers of Catan and San Juan and poker. Poor Barushka wore my 20-sided die fez all night and had an unfortunate run-in with Maple Bacon flavored beer. That stuff literally beat the shit out of his gastrointestinal system and it’s not recommended. If you’re going to give bacon flavor to something, I recommend that you give it to a nice filet instead of beer. Here are some bacon-wrapped filets we fired up on the grill. Awww yeaaaah.

It was a great weekend and I hope that if you don’t currently belong to a Confederacy of Nerds you will join one soon. But now, back to writing! And if you’re on the east coast, I hope you’ll all be safe from Hurricane Sandy.

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Published on October 28, 2012 22:10 • 276 views