achievement unlocked: foreign language rights sale.

foreignrights

That right there is the contract for the Czech language rights to TERMS OF ENLISTMENT, making this officially my first foreign rights sale.

This is one of the many reasons why having a good agent is a huge benefit. Foreign language rights are basically free money. The foreign publisher pays an advance–check in the mail, hooray!–and then the writer gets the contractually agreed-upon royalties per sold foreign language copy. It’s free money because the book is already written, and I don’t have to translate it or do any extra work beyond signing the contract and depositing the check. My agent Evan brokered the deal and negotiated contract terms for me because that’s the kind of stuff an agent does all day, and it’s also the stuff that authors in general (and this author in particular) aren’t very good at. I don’t have the time to approach foreign publishers, and even if I did, I have no experience dealing with them, negotiating terms, or figuring out the contracts. That’s why agents get their percentage, and that’s why I don’t mind that one bit. It frees me up for writing, and getting most of the money from a foreign deal beats getting all the money from no deal at all.

I can’t wait to see the first foreign edition of TERMS out in the wild in the Czech Republic. I hope they’ll give it a sweet cover, with laser-firing spaceships and stuff.

365 days of “terms of enlistment”.

One year ago today, I put TERMS OF ENLISTMENT up on the Kindle Store and Smashwords and announced its availability on my blog, just in case a few of you wanted to spend a handful of quarters on some new Space Kablooie reading material for your Kindles and Nooks and what-not. And then things kind of took off from there. What a wild and crazy year it has been.

To recap, I self-published TERMS in March of 2013. It sold an amazing number of copies in March, and then a downright crazy number of copies in April. I was offered representation by a killer agent in April (the awesome Evan Gregory with the Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency, who is not actually a killer AS FAR AS I KNOW), and then signed a two-book deal with 47North for both TERMS and its sequel, LINES OF DEPARTURE. The rest of the year kept me busy with finishing LINES, editing both novels to hammer them into their final shape as 47North books, attending Readercon in July, and reveling in the marvelousness of this new “full-time writing for a living” business.

Turns out 2014 won’t be any less busy. I’m at work on the third book in what is now the “Frontlines” military SF series, and I may be able to share some more news about that soon. Once I am finished with that novel, I’m planning to serve up a new novella in the Frontlines universe for the summer.

If there’s one negative in all this huge pile of awesomeness, it’s that I had to ditch my favored writing method of longhand first drafts for Novel #3. I have an insanely close deadline, and that mean I simply have no time to handwrite and then transcribe. Instead, everything goes straight into Google Docs as soon as I type it.

Twelve months—how radically things can change in the span of just a year sometimes. I feel extremely lucky that I can spend my days making up stuff for a living, and actually manage to fill the fridge and pay the bills with that. Even among writers, that’s a rare privilege.

io9 reviews TERMS and LINES.

io9 has a fantastic write-up of TERMS OF ENLISTMENT and LINES OF DEPARTURE that is just chock-full of good quotes like this one:

Much like Scalzi’s Old Man’s War and its sequels, Terms of Enlistment and Lines of Departure are combat-grade Military SF, and should come with an addiction warning. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before we see the next volume of the series, Angle of Attack, which Kloos is currently writing.

Thanks for the great review, Andrew. The good news is that my publisher, 47North, moves at the speed of light compared to the rest of the industry, so if they decide to pick up ANGLES OF ATTACK, it won’t be too long before you can all get your hands on it. In the meantime, I am planning to put out some more novellas and short stories to  keep you hooked fill the gap.

lines of departure.

Citizens, rejoice! The day has arrived. The sequel to TERMS OF ENLISTMENT, titled LINES OF DEPARTURE, is now available for your entertainenings!

Here’s where you can get LINES OF DEPARTURE right now:

Amazon.com

Barnes & Noble

Audible

Amazon has Kindle, paperback, and audio versions. B&N has the paperback, and Audible has the audiobook. There’s no other ebook format than Kindle because AMAZON, but if you don’t have a Kindelmaschine, you can read the ebook through the respective free Kindle readers for PC, Mac, iOS, Blackberry, or Android.

Go! Buy! Read! And if you like the novel and have the time and wish to help the dude what wrote it? Recommend it to others, share your opinion, and write a review for other unsuspecting victims prospective readers. I’m pretty proud of that novel, and I hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think!

unabridged audio, without the german accent.

The unabridged audiobooks of TERMS OF ENLISTMENT and LINES OF DEPARTURE are up on Audible for pre-order. The release date is January 28, same as the print and ebook versions. The narrator for both books is Luke Daniels, who also narrated the Iron Druid series (among many, many other books.) Both books clock in at a little over nine hours.

This is some pretty cool stuff, I must say. Audio versions of my books, professionally produced and read by a pro. Robin is particularly looking forward to getting her hands on the audiobooks because that’s how she does most of her reading, on account of her having a physical commute. When I still drove around a lot, I listened to audiobooks on CD (ask your parents, kids!), and I got hooked on them quite fast. We’d both find it amusing to see the other pull into the parking spot in front of the old house in Knoxville and take another 5-10 minutes to get out of the car because the chapter wasn’t quite over yet.

 

daddy used nintendo 2ds. it’s super effective!

How do you glue a first-grader to the couch? You give her a Nintendo 2DS for Christmas:

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She hasn’t moved from that spot since yesterday morning.

We had a low-key Christmas here at Castle Frostbite. No house guests, just the four of us and the doggens. We had our traditional Christmas feast of Surf & Turf (lobster and venison steaks), and pretty much fritzed the day away with eating, drinking, playing computer games, and listening to Christmas music. It was perfectly relaxing.

With the kids at home until the new year, I’m taking the week mostly off from work to tackle Mount Unfolded Laundry and tend various overdue projects around the house. We’ll see if I can keep myself from any serious writing productivity until the end of next week.

Speaking of writing, here’s another Buzzfeed list I’m in:

12 Science Fiction books to look forward to in January

I’m pretty excited about LINES OF DEPARTURE, which has turned out extremely well (and which has been rather effusively praised by just about everyone who has read it already.) I can’t wait until you can all get your hands on it—and this time in paperback and audio. MY NOVEL HAS ASSUMED PHYSICAL FORM. <insert sinister, semi-hysterical laughter>

TERMS OF ENLISTMENT will see a new release at that time as well, with a matching new cover and in the same formats. If you’re asking yourself whether to drop the money on the new version: it has a rewritten Chapter 23, new cover art, and numerous smaller edits, corrections, and improvements. Because it’s a 47North book now, I wasn’t able to roll all those changes into the old version that people purchased already, as my publisher considers the new version a Director’s Cut, so to speak. But hey—they paid a lot of people to make a lot of improvements to the book, so I think it’s a justified position. Rest assured that if you choose not to buy the new version of TERMS OF ENLISTMENT, you won’t miss anything essential.

Anyway, enough post-Christmas self-promotion. I’m just really excited about this new “making a living by making up stuff” thing, and I want to keep that racket going for as long as I can. Hope you all had a great Christmas and happy holidays, and stay tuned for all the stuff coming out of the Castle Frostbite Magic Daycare & Novel Factory in 2014.

one of the pretty-good-est books of 2013.

Buzzfeed has an article up on “The 14 Greatest Science Fiction Books Of The Year“, and TERMS OF ENLISTMENT comes in at #6. The author says a few very nice words about it, and it’s always a pleasure to see positive reviews, mentions, or inclusions in lists that have the word “greatest” or “best” in them.

I think I’m having an early case of the Release Day Jitters. LINES OF DEPARTURE will be out on January 28, but I already had trouble falling asleep last night thinking about it. I’d love for the second novel to do at least as well as the first one, which means that LINES has a big pair of shoes to fill. On the other hand, just about everyone who has read it (my editors and a very small group of beta readers) said that it’s a better novel than TERMS in almost every respect, which means that if people like it half as much as they did  the first novel, it should do just fine. I guess I need to quit obsessing and get back to work.

To that end, let me ask you all a question, especially those of you who have read TERMS OF ENLISTMENT and the ancillary short story and novella. Which character(s), settings, or events from TERMS would you love to see expanded and treated in more detail, maybe with a short story or novella on the side? I’m currently at work on the third novel, called ANGLES OF ATTACK, but there’s always a little bit of room on the dance card, so to speak.

mmmmmmmrow.

I think I just found a worthy new contender for the top of my “Cars to Buy When I Have Fuck-You Money” list: the new Jaguar F-type R coupe. (Sorry, Aston Martin DBS V12.)

By Odin, that thing sounds insane.

in which I incur the wrath of steve’s ghost.

In today’s installment of the Munchkin Wrangler Gear Whore Labs reviews, I will share with you my opinion of the Microsoft Surface.

I have a new review policy in place. All items I review in this spot—books, toys, gear, whatever—are paid for by my own cash, not provided to me by someone else. And I don’t review anything until I’ve had a chance to use it on a regular basis for at least a month, preferably two, so the starry-eyed new toy phase doesn’t taint the review.

So two months ago, I decided to take advantage of the deep discount on the Surface tablets right before the new version came out, and purchased a Surface RT 32GB. I’ve been using it every day since then, so I’ve had plenty of opportunity to evaluate its strengths and weaknesses, especially compared to the iPad (of which we own four at last count—an iPad 3, an original iPad, a WiFi iPad mini, and an LTE iPad mini.) I’ve been a big iPad fan ever since Robin brought home that original model three years ago, which still serves very well as a beater unit for the kids. Robin and I both also own iPhones (hers a 4S and mine a 5), and I also have a MacBook Air, so we’re quite heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem.

That said, <DRAMATIC DRUMROLL>, I’ve come to the conclusion that (for me, at least) the Microsoft Surface is a better tablet than the iPad.

<insert the shocked, sharp collective drawing-in of breath in the audience>

I thought it was neat in the store, which is why I decided to risk $349 on it, seeing how I could have returned it within 30 days anyway if I ended up hating it. But I really didn’t appreciate its strong points until I used it regularly for a few weeks.

The main selling point for me that the Surface RT comes with a full version of Microsoft Office 2013. Love it or hate it, Office is pretty much the standard in the publishing industry, and after hitting a few bumps during the hot-and-heavy editing phases of TERMS OF ENLISTMENT and LINES OF DEPARTURE, I decided that I needed a cheap-ish mobile system for edits on the run that was 100% compatible with the .DOCX files I get marked up by my editors. The Surface has proven just the right pick for the job—lightweight, reasonably cheap, long battery life, flexible to use, and very compatible. But there’s a lot more to like about the thing, especially when compared to the iPad, and particularly when it comes to productivity use.

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That’s the Surface, clad in a leatherette case, with a Logitech illuminated Bluetooth keyboard behind it. I use the Surface without the keyboard 90% of the time and only need the BT ‘board for longer typing jobs, which is why I didn’t see the need for buying either the Touch or Type Covers that Microsoft sells along with the Surface.

The hardware is extremely well thought-out. You can tell that the people who came up with the design didn’t just want to do a “me too” iPad clone, but rather went their own way. Some of the hardware features I really like:

–Built-in kickstand. Simple concept that makes a great difference. The stand is built into the back of the unit and flips out in far less time than it takes for any case origami.

–Sturdy construction. The case and screen feel like you’d have to drop a car battery on them to do any damage. It’s as pleasant to hold and use as the iPad, only in a different, more industrial sort of way.

–Full-sized USB port. Not only can I plug in USB peripherals, I can plug in anything that works on my Windows 8 desktop system. External mice, keyboards, hard drives, DVD drives, memory sticks, WiFi dongles…it all works. If the device has a driver in the Windows driver database, it works on the Surface. That is sort of a Big Deal.

–Wide-aspect screen. Seems weird for a tablet at first, but now the iPad screen looks too tall and square to me. It’s much like back when we switched from 4:3 aspect LCDs to 16:9 widescreens for our desktops. After you’re used to the wide aspect, the other aspect ratio just looks all wrong. Movies play without letterboxing, and text takes up narrower and easier to read columns in portrait mode. (Interestingly, I use the iPad almost exclusively in portrait mode, and the Surface almost exclusively in landscape mode.)

–SDHC memory card slot. Unlimited, infinitely expandable storage! I expanded the internal 32GB with a 64GB SDHC card. So handy to just be able to copy, say, a movie from the desktop to the Surface via SDHC card without having through that Convert-‘n-Sync-via-iTunes routine on the iPad.

The Surface beats my MacBook Air in battery life and portability while allowing pretty much the same capabilities at least as far as I use both devices. It runs Office natively, lasts eight hours on the battery, can use any USB PC peripheral I have around the house, and can use ubiquitous SDHC cards for internal storage expansion and file transfer. All that for $349? Sign me up.

(Yes, I know you can get budget Windows laptops for the same money, but those don’t run cool and silent for eight hours on one charge, and they don’t come pre-loaded with Office 2013 either.)

I’ve come to equally appreciate the software, which is Windows 8.1 RT. It’s visually and functionally the same as 8.1 on the desktop, with the exception that it can’t run Windows legacy apps. (Its more expensive cousin, the Surface Pro, can do that, but more on that later.) The much-maligned new Metro interface of Windows 8 makes little sense on a keyboard-and-mouse driven system, but on a touchscreen, it’s very good. In many respects, it makes iOS look a bit dated in comparison. The touch gestures come so naturally after a while that I get annoyed whenever I pick up my iPad these days and try to do the Windows 8 swipe gestures. It’s much easier to task-switch in Windows 8 (swipe in from the left; pick from the list of open apps) than in iOS (double-click the home button, flick-scroll through your list of open apps). Closing an app in Win 8? Swipe down from the top of the screen, flick it down off the bottom of the screen. Closing an app in iOS? Double-click the home button, flick-scroll through your open apps until you find the one you want to close, flick it up off the screen to close. After using both operating systems for two months side-by-side, I’ve come to prefer the Win 8 gestures.

And Internet Explorer on Windows RT? Full Flash support. Everything plays in the browser without codec issues.

Oh, and how about multi-tasking? Here’s the Surface running two apps side by side in split-screen mode:

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That’s Internet Explorer on the left, Word 2013 in desktop mode on the right. I can write stuff up and have the research and reference material right next to my work. No big deal on a desktop system, but not an option on the iPad.

And not only can you split the screen, you can adjust the split:

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Word 2013 on the left, Twitter on the right. You can make one or the other minimize and give the remaining app the full screen back just by pushing that divider over all the way to the left or right. For productivity, it makes a huge difference, and it’s definitely the feature I miss most when I use the iPad.

For media consumption, the iPad is still the top dog, and the application variety is much greater for iOS. For getting stuff done, however, the Surface runs circles around the iPad.

Are there things I don’t like? Of course there are. No device is perfect. Stuff I dislike about the Surface:

–The magnetic power plug is way too hard to line up and connect. On my MacBook Air, it snaps in when you just move the plug into the vicinity of the jack. On the Surface, you have to line the plug up very carefully and rock it into place, and the feeble magnet only pulls it into place when you’re just about all the way into the socket already anyway. NEEDS REDESIGN.

–The app variety is paltry compared to Apple’s iOS, which had a two-year head start. But it has Office 2013, which is a big advantage for us publishing types.

–There aren’t very many accessories available for the Surface. I had to get a leatherette case off Amazon because none of the local big-box stores carry a damn thing for the Surface other than the (too expensive) Microsoft Touch and Type covers.

–It’s too easy to leave lying around, say, in the bathroom, where your wife may come across it, play with it, and want her own.

Yep…Robin looked at the Surface RT for a little while, and when I told her that the Pro version would run all her legacy Windows apps, she went out and got a Surface Pro 2 for herself. Now she has a tablet that runs Scrivener, Office, and World of Warcraft, with the same portability as her iPad 3, and with the ability to use her specialized PC peripherals. (She plays with one of those mega-multibutton mice because she can’t use both mouse and keyboard simultaneously due to physical restrictions.)

Now, I’m not slamming the iPad here, which is a fine device and still the top dog when it comes to media consumption and general variety and quality of apps. But for us, the Surface has proven a surprisingly capable machine with its own set of strong points that the iPad can’t match. It fits my day-to-day needs for mobile computing so well that I’ve barely touched the iPad or the MacBook Air since I got the Surface. I have to give credit to Microsoft for coming up with something decidedly different from the iPad and even *GASP* innovating along the way. I’m happy with the RT over the Pro right now because it runs cooler and more quietly with longer battery life and quicker startups, but it’s already filling almost all my day-to-day computing needs as it is.

Now I need to come up with some star system that isn’t bullshit. Whatever the scale, however, I’m leaning toward giving the Surface a really good rating on that scale. It’s not perfect, but it’s really good, and it works for me.

measures of absolution.

Happy goddamn Monday, kids!

There may or may not be a new novella of mine out on the Kindle. It may or may not be called “Measures of Absolution”. It may or may not be availabl…no. You know what? Forget that angle. This is private commerce, not the Obamacare website.

It’s called “Measures of Absolution”. It’s sixty-some pages of new story, told from over the shoulder of Andrew Grayson’s TA squad mate, Corporal Jackson, and it starts right in the middle of the epic clusterfuck that is the Battle of Detroit.

You can get it here:

http://www.amazon.com/Measures-Absolution-Marko-Kloos-ebook/dp/B00G8TQUG0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382976599&sr=8-1&keywords=Measures+of+Absolution

And the best part is that it’ll cost you less than a donut and a coffee, which give entertainment for minutes. For the same price, this 64-page novella will give entertainment for tens of minutes, possibly even hour.

It’s a KDP Select title, so I can’t sell it directly or through another source, but you can read it on the Kindle reader for your OS. Because the file is DRM-free, you can also download it and covert it to a different format with Calibre.