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Winterwakers Part 2 Available Now

UPDATE (January 27, 10:30 AM): Now available on iBooks.

UPDATE (February 2, 11:00 AM): Now available on Barnes & Noble Nook

Three months ago, I published the first part in my Winterwakers saga. It was an exciting, fun day, but it was only the beginning, not just for this story, but for my writing career as a whole.

Today, I’m very pleased to present the second part of my sci-fi/thriller series. It’s called Bitter Winds and it’s available for eBook download right now!

As with the first book, not every retailer is carrying it immediately, but it should be in all the big eBook stores by the end of the day. I’ll continue to update this post as stores add it to their virtual shelves, so check back here to see if it’s available at your preferred retailer yet.

Available now:

Coming less soon:

  • Google Play (working on it)
  • Direct download from my site (later)

Oh, and if you haven’t read Part 1: Cold Hands yet, good news: it’s on sale for 99 cents at all eBook stores. Check it out on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, and the rest.


My First Published Book: a Retrospective and FAQ

By now, you’re probably aware that Winterwakers Part 1: Cold Hands is officially up for sale on the big online book stores. Or maybe you weren’t aware, perhaps because you don’t follow me on Twitter, or like me on Facebook.

2014-12-31 08.44.06

*clears throat* anyway … Winterwakers is my first book, so this is definitely a huge milestone for me. And yet, there is still so much left to do, not only for the Winterwakers epic itself, but for my writing career as a whole. Publishing Part 1 was big, for sure, but I’ve really only just begun.

I visited with a lot of friends and relatives over the holidays, and many of them were curious about the book, and how it came to be. Over the course of blathering on, some of the same questions came up a few times from different people. Chatting with folks about the book turned out to be a good way to look back at what I’d accomplished, and look ahead at what’s to come.

Thus, here is my FAQ about writing, Winterwakers, or whatever.

1. How long did it take you to write? Well, that depends on your definition of “write.” Typing out the words that make up the book is only one aspect of writing a book. I started that in January 2014 and finished in early March. In terms of hours, I’d guess I spent between ten and twenty hours a week writing during that time.

There’s a lot more to finishing a book than writing the first draft, though. Before I even typed a single word, I made an outline — a note card for each chapter and scene in the book describing what I wanted to happen. That took a few weeks by itself, and it was a very important step. I’m 100% certain I would have never finished writing Part 1 without that outline in place.

Then there was editing, more editing, and even more editing. I spent a couple weeks doing a first pass edit of my first draft, then sent it out to my test readers, a brilliant group of volunteers who read my book in a pretty rough state and gave me notes on it (side note: love you guys!). I gave them two months to submit their feedback (during which time I started writing Part 2), then I did another round of editing, and then another. By this point, it was late August. Continue Reading


The Software Security Iceberg

6a00d8341c562c53ef01347fcf13ae970cOver on Reddit, there’s a pretty fun sub called explainlikeIAmA (Reddit-speak for “Explain Like I am a …”). The premise is simple: people post a request in the form “Explain [topic] like you are [person]”, and other people reply accordingly. It’s basically a game of make-believe, and it’s a fun exercise for fiction writers.

Today, I replied to one such post titled “Explain the Sony hack like you, and not North Korea, were the one responsible, and you are trying to not-so-subtly hint at what you did.” Clever premise, and highly topical. Here’s my response:

Hypothetically, if a hacker wanted to avoid detection, he’d use an opportunity to deflect the blame to a plausible scapegoat. Perhaps this hacker, whoever he is, saw a golden opportunity in the impending release of The Interview.

North Korea is already known for its cyber-warfare program, and it’s no surprise they objected to The Interview. If someone wanted to hack Sony — perhaps for personal reasons that we may never learn — it wouldn’t be too difficult for said hacker to leave clues that point back to the DPRK: clues that are obvious enough for the FBI to pick up on, but not so obvious that they look suspiciously fake. Someone familiar with Sony’s network security should be able to accomplish this quite easily.

When the news came out that North Korea’s government was the prime suspect in the hack, Pyongyang’s response was predictable. Obviously they know they weren’t the hackers, but why would they deny such a perfect opportunity to claim credit for a massively successful cyber-attack? What better way to show the world they’re not a joke, and that they must be taken seriously as a threat to global security?

The media jumps on the story. North Korea is a known belligerent on the world stage, and the explanation that they’re behind the hack is not only plausible, it’s ideal. Meanwhile, the real hacker can relax, knowing he will never be caught.

OBVIOUS DISCLAIMER FOR MORONS: the above is a work of fiction/speculation. I am not the Sony hacker, nor do I claim to know anything about the identity, strategy, or methods of said hacker(s).

That said, nothing I wrote in that Reddit reply is implausible. If I had sysadmin-level access to Sony, I could have probably pulled off everything I said up there. A person with more expertise in computer networks than me, or someone with inside knowledge of Sony’s systems, would definitely be able to pull it off. Computer software is full of horrible flaws because it’s made by humans — and humans are jam-packed with horrible flaws. Continue Reading


Name-My-Blog Contest Winners

The time has come to announce the winners of the contest to rename my blog!

I was impressed with the quality of the entries you guys submitted, but especially with the winner and two runners-up. Thanks to everyone who participated.

Let’s get right to it, shall we? Our winning entry is beautiful in its simplicity, truly capturing the je-ne-sais-quoi of my blogification. This is probably because the crafty contestant lifted the text directly from the contest rules themselves. Hard to argue with that line of thinking.

Congratulations, Todd. You win a $25 Amazon gift card, and a copy of Winterwakers Part 1.

EDIT: It was brought to my attention that someone else had exactly the same suggestion in my Facebook comments. This is pretty amazing. If two people came up with it independently, it must be a great idea. As such, I’m going to award a co-winner. Contratulations, Julie. You also win a $25 Amazon gift card, and a copy of Winterwakers Part 1.

The runners-up are both creative, delightfully geeky entries from creative, delightfully geeky people:

Congratulations, Arlue and Glen. You both win a $10 Amazon gift card, and a copy of Winterwakers Part 1.

Additionally, two random entrants will be receiving copies of the book. I will contact you directly if you’re one of those winners.

That was fun, wasn’t it? Thanks again to all contestants for participating. I will definitely do more contests in the future, so check back here often.


The Wacky, Weird World of eBook Pricing

Last night, my wife was reading her new Kobo Arc 7 with a frown on her face.

“Something wrong with your Kobo?” I asked.

“The Kobo’s fine,” she said. “It’s just that there’s a book I want to read, and it’s thirteen bucks on the Kobo Store. I don’t get it. How can an eBook possibly cost that much? It makes me wonder why anyone would even bother owning an e-Reader!”

As an author publishing in the eBook domain, I am acutely familiar with the many facets of this problem. My first foray into publishing, the eBook edition of Winterwakers Part 1, was released into the world on October 28, 2014. I priced it at $2.99, and it will likely remain at that price for a while yet.

By pure coincidence, one of the other books released on October 28 was Yes Please by Amy Poehler. She is one of the most talented comedians in existence, and by all accounts a fantastic human being. I’m kind of proud that we both published our debut books on the same day. Plus, it means that if I ever meet her in person, we can have the following conversation:

ME: “Amy Poehler, hi … I’m Matt Perkins, and my first book came out on the same day as your first book! Isn’t that amazing?”

AMY POEHLER: (engulfs me in a cloud of pepper spray and runs away)

The eBook edition of Yes Please is currently priced at $17.28. For the price of Ms. Poehler’s book, you could buy five copies of my book and ride the Paris Metro. Or, interestingly, you could pay an extra $1.33 (not including shipping) to get the hardcover edition of her book.

Do these prices seem out of whack to you? You, and my wife, are not alone.

Why?!?

The idea of an eBook and a hardcover being even close to the same price doesn’t make intuitive sense. A hardcover book is a physical product. It costs money to print and bind. It takes up space in a warehouse, space in a delivery truck, and space on a bookstore’s shelves. A sizable percentage of a hardcover book’s retail price reflects all that. It’s incorrect to say that an eBook has no manufacturing, storage, or delivery costs, but when compared to the hardcover format, said costs are effectively nil.

So where’s all that money going? And why are some eBooks, like mine, priced far lower than a typical hardcover book?

Continue Reading


Contest: Name My Blog, Win Prizes

UPDATE, December 1, 2014: Contest is over! Winners announced!

I like blogs. The best blogs almost always have a good name, even if the blog itself is a promotional tool or “side business” for the person who writes it. A good blog name puts things in context. It sets the tone. Blog names can be descriptive, funny, clever, bizarre, or stupid. Quite often, they are two or more of those things.

John Scalzi’s blog is named “Whatever.” Patton Oswalt’s is called “Spew.” Both names are perfect for their respective creators. I’m disappointed that my blog doesn’t have a name. Right now the title is “Matt Perkins Blog,” which is super boring. Super, duper boring, perhaps. Especially compared to “Spew.” I may as well have left the title blank.

I wish I could think up an excellent title, but for some reason I’m coming up empty. Thus, I’ve decided to do a contest to let you guys choose the title of my blog. Hopefully you can do better than I did, or at least have some fun trying.

Speaking of fun, what fun would a contest be without fabulous prizes? Here’s what I’m offering:

  • For the winning entry: a $25 (US) Amazon.com gift certificate
  • For two runners-up: a $10 (US) Amazon.com gift certificate

In addition, the winner, runners-up, and two other random contestants (i.e. five contestants in total) will receive a free copy of Winterwakers Part 1: Cold Hands for Kindle. Yay!

Continue Reading


Winterwakers Part 1 Now Available

Update (October 29, 3:00 PM): Now available on Barnes and Noble

Update (October 29, 8:45 AM): Now available on Amazon and iBooks.

Update (October 28, 8:45 PM): Now available on Scribd.

This is the excellent news I’ve been looking forward to sharing for a long time. The first part of Winterwakers, a three-part novel series that has sucked up nearly all of my time for the past nine months, is available as an e-book as of today!

Unfortunately, the world’s biggest eBook store doesn’t have it yet. Amazon has it now!

I’ll be using this post to update you on where and when it’s available for sale. Check back often to see if your preferred retailer is carrying it.

Available Now

Coming Soon

  • Page Foundry (submitted)

Coming Less Soon

  • Google Play Books (investigating their process, will submit ASAP)
  • Direct, DRM-free download from my site (investigating this possibility)

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, there’s a free sample of Winterwakers Part 1 here on this site. And here’s the cover art.


Every Writer Deserves a Mechanical Keyboard

keyboard_cmstorm2 One of the great things about writing, when compared to other artistic pursuits, is that it doesn’t cost much. As I said a while back, anyone with a half decent computer has everything they need to write a book. Compare that to the cost of working in the visual arts, music, or film, and writing looks like a pretty sweet deal. (I should know–I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of money on music equipment over the years.)

However, in my experience, there are definitely two things a writer can buy to make writing easier and just … nicer. One is an outstanding software product called Scrivener. There are plenty of blogs out there already singing its praises, so I’ll just say that it’s wonderful, and that I’ll never, ever, ever go back to writing in That Blue Application Which Shall Not Be Named. Today, I’ll focus on the other great writing tool I’ve bought: my CM Storm Quickfire TK mechanical keyboard. It’s wonderful, and I’ll never, ever, ever go back to typing on cheap, squishy keys.

Okay, I’ll bite, Matt: What’s a mechanical keyboard?

The simple explanation: it’s a fancy keyboard for people who type a lot, or people who demand a high degree of accuracy from a keyboard. Writers fit both those categories, especially the typing a lot one.

You can also think of it this way: it’s a high-end keyboard for people who aren’t satisfied with the mushy feel, imprecise action, and slow speed of your typical came-with-the-computer slab. Said people might even remember when keyboards were somehow intangibly better, and yearn for those days. Those people aren’t just crotchety old nutjobs–they’re actually on to something. (Seriously though, you should probably get off their lawns before they throw their canes at you.)

You see, many years ago, every computer keyboard was mechanical. They were much more durable, and noticeably more pleasant to type on. Today’s keyboards are–and I’m not exaggerating in the slightest here–utter garbage in comparison. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say the keyboard is the only piece of computer hardware that has gotten demonstrably worse since it was invented. Continue Reading


And Now, the Winterwakers Part 1 Cover!

As promised, here’s the cover for the forthcoming book. I think it’s a nice compromise between eye-catching shelf appeal and iconic coolness factor. It includes a cool symbol by my talented friend Brendan Dora. (I can’t tell you what the symbol represents without spoilers, sorry.)

Cover for Winterwakers Part 1: Cold Hands

We march ever closer to e-book publication. I’m aiming for the last Tuesday of October, but don’t hold me to that. I’ll make it official soon.


Enjoy a Free Sample of Winterwakers Part 1: Cold Hands

Cover for Winterwakers Part 1: Cold HandsWinterwakers is my first completed novel, set in an alternate version of Earth where humans hibernate. It’s gonna be a big one, so I’m throwing it out into the cruel, cruel world in three parts, each about 200 pages. Part 1 is titled Cold Hands, and if all goes well it will be available in e-book form before the end of October. Once I have a firm date I will announce it on all of the various social shouting platforms. Be sure to follow me on Twitter or Facebook to stay in the loop.

The following is a short sample from the second chapter, in which Elliot, one of our protagonists, meets a mysterious person.


 

The elevator opened onto a sparsely populated lobby. A jovial ‘Happy Feast’ banner loomed above. Two maintenance people were testing the bolts on the thick steel outer doors as Elliot Warden slipped outside.

One of the few things Elliot would miss about the waking months was Happy Fortune Cafe, located just down the block from his office. It was a little hole-in-the-wall that served tasty Taiwanese thick noodles in a rich beef broth. It would be perfect winter food; it was warm and hearty, and those delicious beef morsels were so tender they practically melted in his mouth. Unfortunately there would be no fresh beef once the snow fell, nor would there be a Happy Fortune Cafe. It would be shuttered and dark until the thaw, as would everything else on this busy downtown street. Businesses that thrived today would soon be buried under snowbanks, their proprietors deep in peaceful hibernation.

While the world slept, Elliot was among the few who kept it running. Winterwakers all had jobs in the winter, most of which fell into two categories: infrastructure maintenance, and hibernation care. Elliot’s winter job was similar to his ‘normal’ job: network administration. The main difference was that in the spring, summer, and fall, he administered First Fed’s network. In the winter, he administered every network. He was the only qualified network and server maintenance tech awake in the entire city. Continue Reading