Hidden Things Slightly-less-Extreme Word-finder Puzzle ARC Giveaway

I’m still fighting a Montezuma-grade case of ComicCon Crud, but I’ve staggered away from the sickbed long enough to right this wrong.

You see, I kind of stumped everyone with the wordfinder puzzle.

For those that need reminding, I once designed a title page for Hidden Things, inspired by a scene in the book. For reasons that remain an utter mystery, Harper actually decided to use it for its intended purpose, which made me really happy. Here’s my version, which is not as awesome as the version in the final print:

In the original version of this contest, I simply said “There are 23 words in this puzzle that relate to the story. Click on the image to get the big version and print it. Find them all. Circle them all. As one does. Send it back to me. Simple!”

Except it turned out it wasn’t so simple. To be honest, I couldn’t even do it without a list of the 23 words.

So, here is a list of the 23 words:


Now then:

Click on the image to get the big version. Find all the words. Circle all the words. Send it to me. Win a signed ARC.



Update: WHOA that was fast! Congrats to Paul Czege for extremely efficient use of his lunch break.

Hidden Things: Here’s that Two Bucks I Owe You

Those of you who’ve known me a long time know that I’m quite critical of any arguments that try to justify an ebook priced close to or exactly the same as a traditional print version of the same story. Yes, the story is the same, and the editing and formatting work is the same, and it’s entirely fair to want to see that cost recouped, but there is obviously no electronic equivalent to warehousing, shipping, physical printing, material costs of same, bookstore placement, or bookstore returns (an inexplicable practice unique to publishing and brick and mortar bookstores), and it irritates me to see those fundamental differences between the two mediums hand-waved away as “inconsequential to final cost.” They aren’t, and people aren’t stupid.

So, given that, you should understand that I was reasonably happy to see that the ebook and print prices for Hidden Things weren’t similar — the former being a third less than the later. Looking at it from a reader’s point of view, it seemed consistent with today’s market.

But I still would have liked to see the ebook price a bit lower, and it’s possible I might have made a few comments to my agent to that effect. I’m always going to be the guy that misses the days when I could pick up a copy of I, Robot for $1.25.

Understand, this isn’t about ‘moving product’ — it’s about reaching people. I don’t want to destroy the romantic illusion of the self-employed author, but the fact is I have a day job that pays the bills. I’m not excited about the idea that Hidden Things might make money (though I certainly want my wonderful agent and editors to get paid); I’m excited because very soon a lot of the English-speaking world will be able to read a story I wrote, and I think they might like it. People like to go round and round about whether someone is a ‘writer’ or an ‘author’ and what those words mean in ‘the industry’; bottom line, I guess I’m just a storyteller, and if I see a way to tell a story to more people, I want to try it.

Anyway: last week, Harper Voyager let my agent know that they’d decided to lower the price on the ebook of Hidden Things by two dollars (down to 7.99 from 9.99 — very close to half the price of the print edition). Today, that change took effect on all the sites where you can pre-order the book, and I am very, very happy.

Even better, all the awesome people who had already pre-ordered the ebook will automatically get the new, lower price as well, which makes me feel fantastic — as if we’ve been able to hand each of those great, supportive people a couple dollars.

So: if you’re one of those people, here’s that two bucks I owe you, and if you’ve been on the fence about a pre-order, maybe this will help.

Contest Winner! Reviews! ComicCon Super-Special Wordfinder Puzzle EXTREME!

(Warning: I’ve got a bunch of use-em-or-lose-em exclamation points I needed to get up on the blog before they go stale. Seriously: leave them out too long and they start smelling like banana peels.)

Contest Winner!

Three cheers (and an ARC of Hidden Things) to The Original Edi for her submission to last week’s microfiction contest. In addition to the book, I’m also granting Edi the title “Biggest Fan I Have Who Hasn’t Actually Read the Book Yet” – a coveted rank of nobility she will be inheriting directly from parents, who no longer qualify.

(Related: Waiting for your non-genre-reading family members to finish your book? Nerve-wracking.)

Reviews (and Mentions)!

There’s a lot of these floating around, considering the actual book’s not out yet.

Publishers Weekly started off with a pretty nice one, calling Hidden Things “a satisfying blend of noir and magic”, which makes it sound like a story that should be served in a highball glass. I approve.

Douglas Lord, who writes the always-fun Books for Dudes column for Library Journal, already gave Hidden Things some love at Book Expo America. I would have been entirely happy with that, but in his most recent round of reviews he had even more to say: “Calliope Jenkins is kind of an asskicker. Independent and sexy (not in a girly way), she’s a private investigator in the VI Warshawsky mold.”

And winning the award for Sentences I Never Thought I’d Write: MTV has some great things to say about the ComicCon panel I’m going to be on next weekend with John Scalzi.

I… don’t even know how to parse all the Surreal and Awesome contained in that one line.

Speaking of ComicCon!

I really really really want to give away at least one if not several ARCs at ComicCon, but I’ve kind of got stuck on the “how”, because I don’t have time to judge anything, but at the same time I don’t want to just hand one out to the first guy who walks up and says “Hey. Gimme a book.”

So, in honor of a dear friend I don’t see nearly enough right now, We Shall Have a Puzzle!

Once upon a time, just for fun, I designed a title page for Hidden Things, inspired by a scene in the book. For reasons that remain an utter mystery, Harper actually decided to use it, which made me really happy. Here’s my version, which is not as awesome as the version in the final print:

So here’s the contest:

There are 23 words in this puzzle that relate to the story.

Click on the image to get the big version and print it. Find them all. Circle them all. As one does. Five of the words have already been revealed, so, really, I’ve done like… half the work for you. (Shut up.)

Be the first person at ComicCon to present the completed version to me, and I will hand you an ARC and a pile of respect, because half the time I can’t find them all.

If you find 23 words, but it’s not the official 23 words (or if you find way more than 23), that will also count, especially if the unexpected words are cool.

But How Do I Find You At ComicCon?

Oh, right! Here’s the official times and places for my ComicCon Stuff:

  • Sunday the 15th, 10-11am — Stunted Fools, Scary-Ass Clowns, Enlightened Orangutans, and Other Devilish Charmers:  Humor in Science Fiction and Fantasy panel, Room 25ABC. If you can’t snag me there, all the authors on the panel will immediately be heading to…
  • 11:30 to 12:30 — Signing Session in the Sails Pavilion autographing area, alongside everyone from the Stunted Fools panel.
  • 12:30 to 1:30 — Yet more signings, this time at the HarperCollins Booth (#1016).

Also, I’ve been informed that Friday I’ll be somewhat easy to identify, as I’ll be the guy dressed up as Jayne, wandering the Con with Kate (Kaylee Frye) and Sean (Wash), and you for damn sure will see me at some panels, acting like the squealing fanboy I am.

Is that it? I think it is.

… crap, I still have exclamation points left over.

Hidden Things: The Microfiction Contest

I remember, when I was a kid, riding in a car with green, leathery seats that got very hot in the sun. The car was green as well, although a different shade, and it seems to the me of my memories that most of the cars back then were that color. It was a popular trend, or maybe my child perception was skewed.

At any rate, the car was green, the seats were green, it was summer, the sun was hot, and the seats were hotter. We had the windows open to let the air in and my mom was driving to town on an errand.

The road was a winding black hardtop that looked down into sharp ravines between the hills; drops that seemed (to me) to go down and down farther than anything in the whole world. Every drive, I would look down and out from the tiny back windows of the two-door and think about what it would be like to go sailing off the road and into the ravines, tumbling over and over and finally exploding at the bottom, like on TV. A little morbid, but we lived a long way from any other kids my age — I had to make my own fun.

So, with the sun beating down and my boredom rising, when I saw a goblin shambling along the bottom of a ravine with an old, rusted sword balanced across his shoulders like an oxen yoke, I didn’t bother mentioning it to my mom. Even at that age, I assumed I’d imagined it.

I believed that for the next 23 years.

Vayland Rd.

I think it’s time for another HIDDEN THINGS giveaway, don’t you?

(By the way, the Hidden Things giveaway at Goodreads is still going on, so check that out if you haven’t.)

But enough about that, let’s talk about this giveaway.

This contest.

So, two things I enjoy quite a lot:

  • Weird things, happening in normal surroundings.
  • Microfiction.

Seems to me we can combine them.

Here’s What You Need to Do

Write a little microfiction story set in the same basic ‘world’ as Hidden Things. That’s it.

Well, no, that’s not it. There are rules.

  • Your story, if posted on g+ or Twitter, must contain the hashtag #hiddenthings.
  • You are permitted to stretch the story out over a luxurious five tweets, if needed, but each of those tweets must be numbered. ([1/5], [2/5], [3/5], et cetera) Each tweet in that sequence needs the hashtag.
  • I admire spare use of words (shut up, I do), so while you are permitted to use multiple tweets, understand that a story that is five tweets long should strive to be five times more awesome than a one-tweet story.
  • You have one week from the moment this post goes up. Next Wednesday, there will be a reckoning.
  • You can enter (that is, write stories) as many times as you like. All of the above rules apply equally to each story.

But… I don’t know anything about Hidden Things, or the setting.

Sure you do. Look to the excerpt from Vayland Rd. for some inspiration, or check out the back cover copy on the Hidden Things page. We’re looking for weird Things hiding in various ways in what we think of as the normal world. Dragons concealed in cornfields. Coy elves running bowling alleys. Bogeymen lurking in abandoned rest stops. A vodnik peering at the neighborhood kids from the slit of a storm drain.

I have more questions!

You do? Okay, ask them in the comments. Regardless, spread the word, because while the prize for this activity is a shiny ARC of Hidden Things, the point is to make some cool stuff and share it with everyone.

Get to it!

Charles de Lint on Hidden Things? Yeah, right…

Actually? As it turns out, yes:

“I loved this book from start to finish. It’s strange, weird and down to earth, all at the same time; chock full of fascinating characters, dark dreams and fantasy elements that deliver a real sense of wonder. What’s not to love?”

That was in my inbox last night — a forwarded message, via my editor. I mean, I really didn’t think…

Let me back up and tell you a story.

I read my first Charles de Lint book, The Onion Girl, in 2003.

First off, it’s really kind of amazing that I went as long as I did without reading his stuff — as a writer, the man is incredibly prolific, and pretty much everything he’s ever done falls squarely in what anyone would recognize as one of my reading sweet spots. I think it’s fair to say (De will correct me if not) that he is really one of the seminal authors in the genre of urban fantasy or mythic fiction or whatever people are calling it this week, especially when it comes to stuff in the magical realist vein, which is pretty much where I live when I’m writing.

And yet, somehow, I hadn’t encountered his work up to that point. I have no explanation other than the fact that county libraries in South Dakota were pretty thin in the Sci-fi and Fantasy section.

Then, just after I wrapped up the first draft of Hidden Things, one of my First Readers (Stacy Tabb, aka Sekimori, Queen of the Internet) said to me “You know what this reminds me of? It reminds me of Charles de Lint, in a good way.”

“Who?” I replied, because Wikipedia wasn’t really a thing, yet.


So, because I trust my first readers (or they wouldn’t be my first readers), I did exactly that.

And, having read The Onion Girl, I set the book on my shelves and said “I have to be very careful about when I read this guy.”

The reason was simple: in my mind de Lint was a guy who, in a lot of pretty meaningful ways, was doing what I, at that point, was learning to do. Taken in small doses, that can be a great way to orient yourself as you develop as a writer, but overdo it and you can hobble your ability to figure out your own particular voice.

And I’m sorry if that sounded stupid and pretentious and arty. As Miriam Black would say, it is what it is. Writers worry about shit like that, sometimes.

So fast forward to about a month ago, and I’m exchanging emails with my editor and agent about the Hidden Things ARC. We each have a short list of “Absolutely Must” people whom we’d really like to read the story and yes: on the business side of things, it is for all intents and purposes done in the hope that these people you admire will want to say something nice about the book, but personally? I mean, I’ll be honest: for me, all of those names were just as much “MAN I would love for them to read this thing.”

Anyway, I list my names, and my agent lists her names, and my editor lists her names.

And one of them is Charles de Lint.

As in, she actually wrote the words “I’m going to send an ARC to Charles de Lint and see if he’ll write about it.” and no one laughed.

Well, I laughed. Right at the screen. Sure, let’s just send it over to the guy nominated for about twenty World Fantasy awards, I thought, I’m sure the chief book critic for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction has loads of free time available, between his own writing and music and whatnot.

But secretly, in my heart of hearts (read: when talking about it with Kate), I hoped.

“I loved this book from start to finish. It’s strange, weird and down to earth, all at the same time; chock full of fascinating characters, dark dreams and fantasy elements that deliver a real sense of wonder. What’s not to love?”

As far as “first book blurbs” go, it’s… not a bad place to start.

I’m still a tiny bit stunned. And happy.

It’s going to be a pretty interesting summer.

Going to San Diego Comic Con?

Me too!

Stunted Fools, Scary-Ass Clowns, Enlightened Orangutans and other Devilish Charmers: Humor in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Time: Sunday, 7/15/12, 10:00a.m. – 11:00a.m.

Description: “The pen is mightier than the sword if the sword is very short, and the pen is very sharp.” And these authors’ pens are…very sharp. But, as The Hitchhiker’s Guide so sagely advises, DON’T PANIC. Humor is everywhere you look in science fiction and fantasy. So, wrap your towel around your head to ward off noxious fumes, and join us for an irreverent hour celebrating sly wit and unholy humor with some of the most devilish quipsters, wisecrackers and satirists writing today. Warning: you will snicker. And you may just laugh out loud.

  • Richard Kadrey
  • Doyce Testerman
  • Bill Hornshaw
  • Rob Reid
  • Ned Vizzini
  • Gini Koch
  • Nathan Long
  • Moderator: John Scalzi (tentative)

I’ll be doing some other stuff at the Con as well (when I’m not busy having a nerdgasm about being back there), but this is the first verified, we-know-what-time-it’s-happening thing. First, I’m pretty keen on the subject; second, I’m really excited about the potential conversation with that group of authors.

“Watch out for the Hidden Things…”

I actually started writing a completely different post today (another book review), and then realized that I really, really ought to start talking about some of the stuff going on with my book. (I’m actually fairly bad at the business side of publishing (or bad at business as publishing practices it, which is different). That’s a topic about which I can (and probably will) write a whole series of posts.)

I won’t lie: I’ve been putting this off. I don’t know if it’s nerves or laziness or the bone-deep conviction that something will happen and everything will just go poof and vanish. Even now, as I’m writing this line, I want nothing more than to delete the post and go do something else. Weird.

So here it is:

I have a book coming out in September. It is called Hidden Things.

It’s being published by HarperCollins Voyager, which is a recent… thing (see: not good at pub business lingo)… that brings all of the US/UK/Aus sci-fi/fantasy publishing arms of HarperCollins under the same impenetrable force field.

Now, part of the benefit of working with HarperCollins is (obviously) working with some very smart editors (a quick scan of my inbox tells me they have to pay at least six people competitive wages to control my rampant use of semicolons and argue where punctuation should go in relation to double-quotes1).

But another benefit is the fact that they have artistic, designer-type people who put together book covers for a living, and are quite good at it.

For example, they did this cover for Hidden Things.

I’m pretty happy with it.

…*plays it cool*…


You know what they say about not judging a book by its cover? Well screw that: you should definitely judge my book by this cover — nothing would make me happier.


Right. Sorry about that; got a little excited. If you need a bit more info, here’s a close approximation of the jacket blurb:

“Watch out for the Hidden Things…”

That’s the last thing Calliope Jenkins’ best friend and former lover says to her before ending a 2 A.M. phone call from Iowa, where he’s investigating a case she knows little about. Five hours later, she gets another call, this time from the police. Josh has been found dead; foul play is suspected. Calliope is stunned.

Especially when Josh leaves a message on her phone a few hours later.

Spurred by grief and suspicion, she heads to Iowa herself, accompanied by a road-weary stranger who claims to know something about what happened to Josh and who can — maybe — help Calli get him back.

The road is not quite the straight shot she imagined. Josh was involved in something a lot more complicated than a teenage runaway or deadbeat day, and Calliope find herself on a surreal road tip into — and behind — America’s heartland, hounded by once-magical creatures twisted by living too long just out of sight and the bogeymen in Calliope’s own troubled past.

See, what finally pushed me to the tipping point in terms of talking about all this stuff is the fact that I received a box full of advance reader copies last week, and I finally got to actually touch a hardcopy version of the story — to pick it up and feel the heft of it — and that helped me stop thinking that the whole thing was going to go ‘poof’.

It also reminded me that — more than anything — I want people to read this thing.

And that of course means I need to get the word out.

Which, you may recall, is the part of the stuff I’m bad at. Still, I’m going to give it my best shot. Here’s everything going on right now:

Hidden Things has its own special page on this site, right here, so that if I (or, should I be so lucky, you) tell someone about the book, there’s a handy link for more info. The Hidden Things sub-site isn’t totally done — I still need to finish up the Reading Guide page, but I’m taking a lot of allergy meds this week (stupid cottonwoods) and my brain is too dumb to come up with good questions — most of the pertinent stuff is there, and there are placeholders for the other stuff that I will fill in as we get closer to the date-of.

I bit the bullet, went back onto Facebook, and made up an Author Page… thing… It is here. Please don’t do anything crazy like making up a Facebook account just so you can see the page, but if you already have such a thing, well, you’ll be far more at home on that page than I am.

Finally, there are going to be some CONTESTS that will result in people winning ARCs of the book. As a matter of fact, there are already two contests going on right now, and there will be more soon.

Contest the First: A Simple Click It doesn’t get much simpler than this. All you have to do is:

  • Go over to that Facebook page I mentioned and “Like” something therein. Like the page. Like the picture of the cover I posted yesterday. I don’t really care what you choose; there are little blue thumbs all over the bloody place — click one of em. Or, if you are not written in the Book which is Face…
  • Tweet something on twitter about this blog post, and put a #hiddenthings hashtag on it, so I’ll see it. Or
  • If you’re on Google Plus, go +1 this post, as it appears over there. OR
  • Go to my Tumblr page and like or reblog this post.

Next Monday, I’ll gather up the names of everyone who did any of those things, put em in a hat, and pull a name out: that person wins a copy of the book. Simple.

Contest the Second: A Not-So Simple Click
This one is pure Facebook, since it’s not something I cooked up. William Morrow is currently giving away a bunch of themed prize packs of books. Hidden Things is included in the “Mystery/Thriller” package, because (I can only assume) someone at WM has a sense of humor. Go here, click the things that ask to be clicked, and you’ll be entered to win Fabulous Prizes.

Contest the Third and Fourth and So On: Which Haven’t Happened Yet.
In a few weeks, I’m going to ask for a bit more creativity in these contests: one of you will win an ARC for writing awesome twitter-length microfiction; a few others will win stuff (not just Hidden Things, but other stuff) for being all artistic and designery — that one will happen around the same time the San Diego Comic Con, where I’ll be signing stuff and sitting on panels and other things I didn’t do the last time I went. More on that when the time comes — I’d like to do all these things right now, but I’m told I should pace myself and start simple, which I have (I hope).

Now What Did I Forget?

Actually, I think that’s it. So…

Let’s have another look at that book cover, shall we?


She’s a pretty one, isn’t she?

1 – That actually ended up being a debate I won. Who knew I could hold my breath that long?