All posts by Tobias Buckell

09 Oct

Xenowealth: A Collection Kickstarter backers should see the eBook in their inboxes now

I’ve finally managed to get the copy edited and ready to go final of the Xenowealth collection uploaded and sent out to backers. If you backed this, check your inbox. There should be a Backerkit email shortly with links.

This version includes the story “Ratcatcher.”

I think it might be the bloodiest Pepper story yet. And not being able to share it for the last 5 or 6 months has been torture as I had a blast writing it.

For the physical copies, I’m still proofing. This has been my big hold up. I am nothing mea culpas on this. Not so much a blast on this front.

At the end of the Kickstarter I’ll be writing up a little ‘how this kickstarter kicked my ass’ post. Sometimes life hands you fun lessons.

05 Oct

Process neepery: my all new morning schedule for writing (did he say morning?)

I’m somewhat known for being a night owl. In the past my productive hours have been from 11pm or thereabouts until 3am. No one bothers me, nothing interesting is happening, I just put my head down and write.

Well, now I’m a morning writer.


This doesn’t mean I get up with birds chirping and wide eyes and enthusiastically tackle what I’m up to with a grin and a cup of coffee.

First off, I’m not allowed to have any stimulants due to my heart. It’s a drag, but my last bottle of caffeine happened in November 2008. I’ve been clean since then. It kinda sucks.

Secondly, I still hate mornings. This morning while eating breakfast outside the local coffeeshop Emily looked at me and laughed. “You’re not enjoying the beautiful morning at all, are you?”


Okay, so let’s back it up. A year ago I started tracking my sleep patterns with an app on the phone, and then when I got a new FitBit Charge HR, it started giving me intel automatically.

At the time, Emily was teaching at a school that was a fifteen to twenty minute drive away and had a very early start time. The twins were going to Kindergarten. So I was writing from roughly midnight to three, then they were getting up at five thirty or sixish. I would wake up at noon. But I was struggling with being tired a lot still.

What I found out after studying my sleep was that the whole family getting ready for an hour would wake me up just enough to disrupt sleep patterns for an hour or two, then I’d fall back asleep after everyone was out of the house. I was actually losing 1-2 hours a day to this. So I was getting 7 hours a day, maybe less if I stayed up later to really jam on writing. My app and FitBit were guessing that I was averaging 5.6 hours a night.

I would crash on weekends and basically sleep all day.

Emily recently changed careers to come join me running the various things I do. I guess I haven’t mentioned it before. But so far, six weeks in, it’s been great to have her pitching in. There are so many projects I could use her help on. This means that we were able to enroll the twins locally, to the school just a couple blocks away. A germ of an idea occurred to me over the summer: a whole new schedule change.

Knowing that I was losing a couple hours a day had been bugging me. So I decided to pivot everything into a morning schedule. I’d tried on in the first few months of 2014. I went to bed at 12-1am, I got up at 9-9:30 and I wrote until noon. It had been very effective until it fell apart due to exhaustion. I now know that’s due to those ghost 2 hours of little sleep.

I decided to wake up with everyone.

So, starting on the first day of school I set my alarm to get up with the kids. Because, walking them to school on the first day, how could I not? We got ready, shared the bathroom, ate breakfast, all together.

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They were excited to be able to hoof it.

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Like an alcoholic taking a last drink before their first AA meeting, I’d stayed up late the night before.

After walking the twins to school, Emily and I took the poodle out for a continuing walk, swinging through town near the local coffee shop and then back home for a full mile’s walk.

Once home I sat down at the computer and got to business. I worked until noon, then took a break for lunch and touching base with Emily about the day. After lunch, I turned to my freelance work.

My first day of that was August 31st. It’s been rather effective.

For one, I begin every day with a one mile walk. So I’m getting my exercise in right away and getting the cobwebs out of my head. No matter what else happens, I’ve seen my kids off to school, gotten a hug, gotten a walk. There are worse ways to start a day.

Secondly, by writing when I get home right away I get the other really important part of my day out of the way: writing fiction. Usually by 10am, I feel like if the rest of the day exploded into uselessness, I’d still have walked and written. Thus: I win.

Combined with my social media break and GTD approach to email I’ve been more productive than I ever have been. And importantly, consistency productive.

But is it sustainable?

I don’t know. I’ve been aiming for 7 hours 20 minutes of sleep a night minimum. I’ve been failing that here and there, but last week I had a string of 8 days in a row of 7.5 hours of sleep minimum, which is really good. I’ve been getting into bed between 11-midnight. I have fallen down a few times. Twice when company was over (I’m social, I can talk all night), one of those times I stayed up until 3am. I was a mess the next day and felt hungover for 48 hours after. My FitBit helps, it vibrates on my arm at 11, reminding me I need to turn in. If it wasn’t for that, I’d never realize. I do feel very tired around midnight now, which is new, but I’ll still accidentally power through that easily if I don’t have alarms to remind me to go to bed.

The hardest thing has been to fight my desire to ‘stay up and push on getting things caught up on.’ I’m juggling more work in my professional life than I ever have. Fitting it all in has been challenging. But with this schedule, I feel like I’m starting to get caught up (I’m certainly right on track for this current novel deadline) finally. But I still, each night, have this old instinct to want to just stay up and power on.

But I am forcing myself to leave things undone and just trust that the schedule will catch me up.

The morning schedule also solved a problem I’ve always had in the past: working while traveling. While in Baltimore I was up each morning before eight and getting my writing done before I was scheduled to be speaking. If I keep protecting my mornings I expect a boost there. I’m also getting up early on the weekends and not sleeping in, then working on projects for a couple hours.

This is week 6 of the new schedule.

In the past, I was never able to make mornings work at all. I spent six years trying to make this happen when at a day job. I spent my mornings unable to get my brain to speed, and I scheduled all important work and focused on getting things accomplished in the afternoons knowing that I’d barely be able to answer emails.

But we change sometimes. I often experiment with changes and track the results just to make sure I don’t follow old habits blindly. In this case, my morning routine seems to be lending itself toward better results, while my productivity in the late hours was falling off (I have records and charts that show this). How productive? A 60% boost in daily average word count and a 40% boost in rewrites and copy edits.

I still find the late hours conducive to creativity and take notes and drum up ideas in the hours just before bed.

So, crossing fingers this holds for the whole year…

04 Oct

Surprise, Amazon is not a neutral marketplace

I was reading an article on Seeking Alpha, a popular stocks and investment site that I use to track general info about my stocks, when I spotted this article about Amazon banning sales of rival video streaming devices:

There is no such thing as store neutrality. Amazon has all the right to forbid rival products on its online marketplace.

(Via Dear Tim Cook, Amazon Just Banned Your Apple TV 4 – Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) | Seeking Alpha.)

The Verge says Amazon’s decision is a baffling question, but it is so easy to understand. Apple’s decision to release a console gaming iOS TV device and its ambition to become a streaming video service provider are seen as threats by Amazon. Bezos, therefore, promptly exercised his prerogative to eliminate current and upcoming threats to Amazon.

I get a lot of flack for pointing out that Amazon is used as a ‘marketplace’ by authors and assumed to be a neutral marketplace by many (not all, lots of smart people out there).

But it isn’t a neutral marketplace. A lot of the Kindle Unlimited moves are really clever from a selling to readers and corporate standpoint (the monthly pot guarantees a cap on author earnings/payouts) [limiting royalties for some countries unless you sign up, limiting percentage Amazon pays you unless you do certain things just the way you want, people keep saying you get total control, but unless you sell on your own site, you get total control, but not total control of the portion you receive). Amazon is the biggest marketplace, hard not to make a living without it.

But no so much neutral.

They’re very careful to not step too far over. The Amazon brand is one of the most trusted by consumers in the world.

But I am always working hard to make sure I stay well diversified, even as I use the marketplace. As a good little author cockroach I’m always curious to see what gets the biggest marketplace to stir and change the rules.

02 Oct

New review of The Apocalypse Ocean

Hey, cool, a new review of The Apocalypse Ocean via SFF World:

Having just finished a read-through of all four Xenowealth novels I can recommend them in a heartbeat. This is science fiction at its most enjoyable, offering plenty to marvel at, while still giving food for thought.

(Via The Apocalypse Ocean by Tobias Buckell – Official Reviews – Science Fiction and Fantasy World | SFFWorld.)

02 Oct

This is still my favorite one star review of Arctic Rising

First of all, the protagonist, Anika, is a 5’11” Nigerian lesbian former mercenary. The sheer amount of suspension of disbelief with respect to this character is too much to ask from genre readers. There is a scene in the book where she lectures someone on the nature of “sexual orientation.” I would have liked to hear that lecture, because “sexual orientation” is a PC buzz word that no one really understands in the context of individuals’ multifarious sexual impulses, desires, and behaviors. Clearly this protagonist exists to further the political fantasies of the author.

(Via J. Dooley’s review of Arctic Rising.)

I just adore this.

It goes on from there.

This post appears to you courtesy of my trading ‘best of one star reviews’ with another author via email.

Pertinent, I love Casey Neistat’s videos. His feelings about haters are very similar to my own.

28 Sep

Baltimore Book Festival Recap

I got back late last night from Baltimore where I was the SFWA Guest of Honor. This year Sarah Pinsker took over running what I’m told is a constantly growing tent with what I saw was a great list of running panels and interviews.

Fran Wilde, the author the recently launched and great read Updraft, interviewed me about writing, sailing in fiction and much more.

The panels were a great deal of fun. I got to meet YA author Justina Ireland and catch up with Rosarium’s Bill Campbell, who’ll be turning Arctic Rising into a graphic novel series.

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Bill and I also snuck off next door to Baltimore Comic Con which was going down to walk around and check stuff out, as well as catch up on what was going on.

One of the panels I was really impressed by was Mike Underwood and Sarah Pinsker’s show ‘Dangerous Voices Variety Hour’ where they gave away prizes for audience members who guessed the right answer to science fictional and fantasy trivia, let the guest authors read some quick fragments of their work, and also got the authors to try and guess answers to win the audience members prizes. It was fun.

Double fun because I got to do the panel with Diana Peterfreund who is a great writer I’ve followed online for a while and enjoy reading. I wish we’d had more time to catch up, but the panel was fun.

Another fun moment was sneaking out with Scott Edelman Saturday night to go to Vacarro’s Italian Pastry Shop in Little Italy, where we caught up with each other. Scott was the editor guest instructor at Clarion in 1999 when I attended.

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I got to meet a number of new folks like Emmie Mears, Anna Kashina, KM Szpara, catch up with others like Keffy, Annalee Flower Horne, Bud Sparhawk Michael Underwood, Tom Doyle, Karen Burnham and Anne Gray. Met Anatoly Belilovsky again, who I met at Nebula but had forgotten (so sorry, man). I grabbed some interesting dinners, and hopefully didn’t say anything too silly.

John Appel gifted me with some locally made dark rum for the trip home, and helped me get to the airport after I was only able to spend 15 minutes at the last panel:

My thanks to Sarah Pinsker for all her organizational work and making sure I got to where I need to, Summer Cullen of the festival for travel arrangements, and all the sponsors and organizers of the Baltimore Book Festival for bringing me in.

25 Sep

Arctic Rising to be Adapted into Graphic Novel

Rosarium Publishing will be adapting Arctic Rising into a graphic novel series.


The press release is winding its way around the internet and twitter, but here are the details:

The first of twelve issues of Tobias S. Buckell’s Arctic Rising will be released digitally in February 2016. Keith A. Miller (Manticore, Triboro Tales, and Infest) is writing the adaptation and the art is being done by comics newcomer, Tommy Nguyen.

Buckell states, “I believe in creating diverse futures, and writing Arctic Rising was important to me because it attempts to tackle both the ecological issues I see just around the corner and the diverse peoples who will be affected (and who will be trying to solve the problems we leave them). Partnering with Rosarium to create the graphic novel is a tremendous opportunity, as I think they share a similar yearning for more diverse futures. I can’t wait to see what happens next.”

“Arctic Rising is such an action-packed thrill ride, turning it into a comic book seemed like a no-brainer almost as soon as I cracked the cover,” says Rosarium Publishing head, Bill Campbell. “This adaptation is a dream come true.”

21 Sep

The Baltimore Book Festival happens this weekend, and I’m a guest!

This weekend I’ll be appearing at the Baltimore Book Festival as the SFWA guest of honor, which is really nifty. I’ll be on some panels and at a meet the authors event, as well as signing books and being generally available. So if you live within a decent travel distance of Baltimore, I hope to see you there!

The list of science fiction and fantasy related events at the Baltimore Book Festival can be found here. Sarah Pinsker (and many others) has been hard at work pulling together authors and panels for the event for what looks like many months, now.

Here are some of the panels I will be on:

Friday 4 PM: Literary Salon – interviewed by Fran Wilde


Saturday 12 PM Dangerous Voices Variety Hour
A fast-paced quiz show in the vein of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me! brought to you by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. Win free books and learn things you never knew about your favorite authors.

Panelists: Tobias S. Buckell, Sarah Pinsker, Michael R. Underwood

Saturday 4 PM Future: Charming? Baltimore City as a template for futurism.

What does Baltimore look like in the future? SFWA Guest of Honor Tobias Buckell and a panel of writers, futurists and social designers discuss Charm City’s future through the lens of the engineer, the writer, and the activist. Panel led by Jason Harris (“Redlines: Baltimore 2028”).

Panelists: Anatoly Belilovsky, Tobias S. Buckell, Jason Harris, Nia Johnson, K Ceres Wright

Saturday 6 PM Meet the Author Social

Rub elbows with your new favorite science fiction and fantasy authors at this annual event!


Sunday 11 AM Design Your Own World

Join us in a Rousing Game of Stump the Panelists with a Worldbuilding Mashup – Audience Participation Encouraged. Learn what goes into creating fantasy and science fiction worlds.

Panelists: Tobias S. Buckell, Carolyn Ives Gilman, Anna Kashina, Don Sakers, Alan Smale


3 PM We Need Diverse Books: The Next Chapter

Books with diverse characters, written by diverse authors, are a focus of the We Need Diverse Books campaign. Readers are clamoring for books about and by people of color, LGBTQIA people, people with disabilities, people of different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. What’s next for the industry? Our authors talk about diversity, representation, and the next steps.

Panelists: Tobias S. Buckell, Bill Cambell, Justina Ireland, KM Szpara, GL Tomas

Come out and say hello!

18 Sep

Scotch Review: Highland Park 12

A couple nights ago I suggested to my friend Brandon Rhodes that we hop in a car and go to the nearby small city (big town) of Findlay to hit up a state liquor store as I was out (gasp) of scotch. Which made me very sad, as I usually have three or four bottles of what I consider mid-range scotch in my liquor cabinet that I enjoy sipping around the edges of.

Highland park 12I picked up a bottle of Highland Park 12, which was new to me. However it is on my list of scotches to try that I’m slowly working through over the years as I go to liquor stores. I don’t know a ton about scotch but I enjoy trying different ones out. We all need a hobby, right?

The Glenrothes is my favorite scotch, hands down and bar none, I adore the hell out of it. But I have a place in my heart for smoky, peaty scotches as they’re the scotches that first taught me that scotch has a variety of tastes. They can be overpowering, like trying to drink a campfire, or a leather shoe, but that lends to the fun for me.

So to me the Highland Park 12 has some smokiness to it, though it’s not as strong as an Islay. When I tried it two nights ago I wrote: ‘peaty, but mildly so. More… smokey with a smoothness [is it blended?] and a sweetness that balances the peat. Other professional tasting notes mention a ‘honey’ and ‘heather’ sweetness that goes along with the peat and smokiness.

It’s more challenging than a basic blended scotch, but it’s not a Laphroig or Lagavullin.

I drank it first neat, then I switched to two ice cubes and a more generous portion. I found that with some ice it really became a flavorful scotch and might be one of my favorite on the rocks scotches.

All in all, a good catch. I’m not sure it’ll end up being in my cabinet as a ‘must always have on hand’ like Laphroig, Lagavullin or Glenrothes, but I found it really good.