Posts Tagged ‘Mirrored Heavens’

World, meet Spartacus

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Ok, the mass-market of MIRRORED HEAVENS gets released tomorrow, and that means it’s Shameless Self-Promotion/mega-pimpage time. Events are going to be going down all week, so watch this space. . .

And I’m going to start off by introducing my partner in this marketing endeavor, Spartacus the Wonderbeast. He may be only five months old, but he is a marketing expert, and has been signed on at Chez Williams specifically to help me sell this paperback. In fact, his continuing to be supplied with unlimited amounts of chicken and turkey directly depends on Bantam moving thousands of copies of this book. But he’s not worried in the slightest, and is right now investigating a certain mouse-like toy that has rolled under the desk. Stay tuned for further updates. . .

Why MIRRORED HEAVENS isn’t a bestseller (yet)

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Ok, so the book’s done well, and sales are generally strong—but MIRRORED HEAVENS remains a long way from battling its way out of the midlist. And I have to rationally grapple with this fact, because I need to figure out how to market the upcoming mass-market (not to mention the rest of the series). I’ll have a post shortly on stuff I did to market the trade paperback (released last summer), kinda like what my pal David Edelman did here. But in the meantime, I need to think deep.


And in the hopes this will be helpful to others, I intend to be totally transparent about this.

And here’s what I’ve noticed, going back over the negative reviews (incredibly, there were some!).  You’ve got some people who say the book is just pure “combat porn”, with “little to no plot”, and then some people who say the plot was too complex, and they didn’t understand it.  Clearly, these directly contradict each other, which I find fascinating, and which leads me to believe that I have a larger challenge.  The core military SF audience at whom Bantam aimed the book has yet to entirely embrace MIRRORED HEAVENS; I suspect this is partially because it’s not as Manichean as that audience is used to (there’s no clear line between good guys and bad guys), and also because some of them might be getting lost in the thicket of unfolding conspiracies (because the book is in many ways a spy thriller).  At the same time, a lot of folks in the non-mil SF world haven’t looked past the shoot-outs, I suspect, and have been quick to dismiss it as just another kill-crazy action-fest.

So where does that leave me?  It leaves me all the more resolved to come up with a marketing strategy that will find a way to crack the lucrative n’ large military SF market, while simultaneously positioning MIRRORED HEAVENS for a breakout into the mainstream/Tom Clancy audiences.  Hell, Stephen Baxter himself invoked Clancy’s name in describing the book, and my agent sold it as LeCarre on SF crack, so there’s gotta be a way to crack this code. More on this later—

Writing process

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

John C. posted a comment recently asking about my writing process for MIRRORED HEAVENS and sequels:

I was wondering if you could write a little bit more about HOW you go about writing. Do you outline the chapters first with a general idea of what u want to write about within a chapter. Or just shoot from the hip and figure it out later?

And I’m glad he asked it, because this is something I feel pretty strongly about. I plan it all out, and I’m firmly convinced that one of the biggest mistakes new/aspiring writers make is that they don’t. To some degree, I think this is because they get terrible advice from the senior/pro writers. I’ve been struck by how many professional writers who should know better proudly tell neophytes about how they write novels by “just diving in”, not knowing where the whole thing was going, and often having no clue whatsoever about the ending. And this may not be such a bad approach . . if you’re a seasoned writer with several books under your belt, and you’ve got well-honed instincts and a well-trained subconscious that’s used to bailing you out of tough situations.

My subconscious, on the other hand, hits the rip-cord when the going gets tough (thanks dude). And I don’t have time or resources to plow 40,000 words into something and then realize that it’s not going anywhere. To me, not planning out what you’re writing is about as irresponsible as a Hollywood director hauling a million dollars worth of cameras into the desert without having a fucking script.  Writing is painstaking, and I’ve got to have maximum assurance (it can never be total) that the hours I’m spending writing a page are well-spent.  Which is why I map everything out at a several levels, and I never, EVER write a scene without knowing (a) how I’m getting in, (b) how I’m getting out, and (c), most critically of all, what’s the center of gravity of that sequence.

To be clear:  I’m not saying there’s no room for spontaneity.  I’m just saying there’s plenty of room for good planning.  In fact, I’ll go out on a limb here and define writer’s block as being fundamentally about the failure of the planning process.  My formula in four words is brainstorm hard, write easy.  Even though writing never is . . .

Mirrored Heavens year-end mentions

Monday, January 5th, 2009

They broke out the drinks and had themselves a roundtable discussion over at about everybody’s “top five” 2008 SF books, and MIRRORED HEAVENS got mentioned not once but twice, by Graeme Flory and by Pat at Fantasy Hotlist. Plus I also got on the scoreboard with John Ottinger over at Grasping for the Wind, who gives me the prize for most surreal read of the year. I find this to be the most gratifying review yet. . .

And don’t forget, MIRRORED HEAVENS is getting released in mass-market paperback on January 27th.  Why not beat the rush and pre-order?

Quick break

Monday, December 29th, 2008

. . . enough time for me to resurface to say that (1) Valkyrie rules, for the love of God don’t let Tom Cruise stop you from seeing it; and (2) MIRRORED HEAVENS has made Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist top SFF reads of the year (20 out of 20, but hey, no complaints this end).  Hope everybody’s enjoying the holidays. . .

Last chance

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

I’m currently going through the copy-edits of the sequel to THE MIRRORED HEAVENS. Turns out the editor(s) had a problem with the Remixed Ending I wrote up in the last stage of the edits. They like virtually all of it, but there’s just. One. Thing. They. Aren’t. Sure.  About.

So now I have to decide whether or not I agree with them. This is always the weirdest part of the process—years in the planning, months in the writing, and now whatever I choose, I’m stuck with.  My desk is littered with manuscript pages; my cat has been banished from the study because of his fascination with them, as well as with that Awesome Blue Pencil I’m using to mark up the text. He doesn’t give a fuck what I decide to do with the text, just as long as he gets the chicken/turkey combo that keeps appearing in his bowl like magic. Maybe he’s got the right perspective.

Query letter time

Friday, September 12th, 2008

Today I’m participating in a Query Letter Project, orchestrated by fellow scribe Joshua Palmatier. The (very cool) idea being, of course, to showcase the letter that cracked open the door for each of us. I’ve written previously about the limits of query letters (at least for me), but they’re an essential, unavoidable part of the game.  So herein follows the iteration of the query-letter I was starting to use when superagent Jenny Rappaport answered my prayers.  Would this letter have gotten me anywhere if she hadn’t?  You be the judge.


I recently completed a 110,000-word science fiction novel, The Mirrored Heavens, and thought you might be interested in representing it.

October 1, 2110:  terrorist strike-force Autumn Rain’s destruction of the Phoenix Skyhook leaves Earth’s superpowers on the brink of total war.  Swept up in the race to stop the Rain’s next attack are:

Claire Haskell, the data-thief who must work with the man who was her first love, even as she starts to suspect that her handlers are shaping her memories of that love to serve agendas of their own.

Strom Carson, the operative assigned to hunt down his onetime mentor, a legendary assassin believed to be in league with the Rain and last seen on the Moon, deep in the wastelands of the lunar South Pole mountains.

Lyle Spencer, the mercenary who escapes from the ultimate prison with the secret of the Rain—only to learn too late that some things have no price.

I co-wrote Vancouver, BC-based Relic Entertainment’s computer game Homeworld (1999), which won Best Original Storyline from Eurogamer, and Game of the Year from PC Gamer.  In addition, I was a contributing writer on Homeworld 2 (2003), and have written business publications for a Washington, DC-based firm.

XXXX, I appreciate your consideration of this query, and look forward to hearing from you.


And here’s links to the other participants.  Definitely work checking out:

Paul Crilley
Chris Dolley
Diana Pharaoh Francis
Gregory Frost
Simon Haynes
Jacqueline Kessler
Glenda Larke
John Levitt
Joshua Palmatier
Janni Lee Simner
Maria V. Snyder
Jennifer Stevenson
Edward Willett

MIRRORED HEAVENS tops bestseller list!

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

Well, okay . . . the bestseller list at Borderlands Bookstore in San Francisco. But still: the book was first (!) on the July trade paperback list, and then came in fourth for the month of August, tying with Warren Ellis’ CROOKED LITTLE VEIN! (A tie with Warren #$# Ellis! Can life get any stranger than this? Hopefully the answer’s yes, and I’ll *steamroller* him next time around.)

At any rate, here’s a link, but I’m posting the entire July list as well, as it’s pretty interesting. Very cool to see that Richard Morgan’s ALTERED CARBON just keeps on selling. And I’ve heard a lot of good things about WJW’s IMPLIED SPACES. Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.

(And thanks to Alan and Jude and all at Borderlands for being such incredible advocates for what I’ve written.)

Top Sellers At Borderlands

1. Toll the Hounds by Steven Erikson
2. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
3. Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik
4. Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross
5. Implied Spaces by Walter John Williams
6. Escapement by Jay Lake
7. Jhegaala by Steven Brust
8. The Man With the Iron Heart by Harry Turtledove
9. The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong
10. Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr

Mass Market:
1. The City, Not Long After by Pat Murphy
2. The Devil You Know by Mike Carey
3. The Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar
4. Ha’Penny by Jo Walton
5. Snake Agent by Liz Williams
6. Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan
7. Mainspring by Jay Lake
8. Shadows Return by Lynn Flewelling
9. Valiant: The Lost Fleet by Jack Campbell
10. Sun of Suns by Karl Schroeder tie with
The Margarets by Sheri S. Tepper

Trade Paperback:
1. Mirrored Heavens by David J. Williams
2. Thirteen by Richard K. Morgan
3. Spook Country by William Gibson
4. Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
5. The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie tie with
The Word of God by Thomas Disch

Governor Palin’s debut

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

Sarah Palin’s speech last night was pretty much made to order: she scrupulously avoided all (well, most) of the really controversial stuff, and instead beat the drumbeat of family values and small town Americana. The questions that swirl around her will only intensify across the next few days, though, with the really big wild-card being whether there any other surprises in her past that the McCain campaign failed to discover.

And there may well be. But nothing that’s surfaced so far is likely to be damaging, despite the growing speculation. In fact, a lot of those “issues” in Palin’s past are likely to redound to the GOP’s favor. The “Troopergate” question, for example: Palin may have crossed the line, but the cop she was targeting was clearly completely out of control, and the details of the incident are unlikely to win her anything but electoral sympathy, regardless of what the law says. And as to the speculation on her/her daughter’s baby: do the Democrats really believe there’s serious upside to pursuing this? Based on what we know now, nothing that’s occurred in the Palin household is likely to disturb the voters of Red State America. If anything, they’ll rally around her more fervently.

And that’s likely to be the crux of the matter. Palin has virtually no chance of pulling any but the most diehard/confused of Hilary Clinton’s followers into her orbit. But she has energized the Republican base in a way that I suspect the mainstream media (and certainly the left) has yet to fully understand. There are many reasons why we’ve had only two Democratic presidents since Richard Nixon took over. One of them is the Dems’ perennial tendency to underestimate their opponents. In focusing on the Alaska governor’s experience, they run the risk of falling into the same trap.  McCain is betting that Palin will ignite the NASCAR circuits this fall, ensuring that the GOP base is mobilized and in the voting booths this November. From what I’ve seen so far, he’s probably right.  Whether this can be done without diminishing McCain’s chances of clawing enough centrist votes to win:  that’s the big question.

Alas Babylon

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

With Babylon A.D., Vin Diesel’s career careens precariously toward what we call the Rutger Hauer Event Horizon: that point of no return beyond which a star only makes straight-to-DVD guilty pleasures. There’s a lucrative career there, to be sure, and hey, it beats auditions while you hold down the day job. But Diesel has fallen a long way since his Pitch Black glory days, and that’s a real shame.

Particularly because Babylon could have amounted to a damn sight more than it did. Someone clearly sank some money into the thing, and the world it depicts has a cool dystopian feel to it (there’s some truly gorgeous scenery at times). It opens well, too: in a hellhole that looks it might be round twelve of some Chechnyan war.  And they probably should have kept the whole thing there, rather than turning the movie into the Children of Men-meets-Cyborg roadtrip that it rapidly becomes.  By the time the narrative reaches America, the plot has descended into near-total incoherence, and by the time the movie ends, the audience’s reaction was one of near-total derision.  (They were vocal about it too.)

Leaving us to wrestle with the question of Just Went Wrong.  The script feels like it was done by a committee, so that’s one thing.  And the movie ran over-budget, which seems to have gotten the studio involved perhaps earlier than it should have.  Director Mathieu Kassowitz has claimed that the studio bosses cut 20 minutes of his vision, and maybe that was the problem, but I didn’t see anything on the screen to convince me that there were uncut gems lying around in the vault.  I’m also not inclined to give the guy who unleashed Gothika upon us the benefit of the doubt.

And I have to wonder why Vin Diesel’s agent did.