Another Giveaway – Get a Signed Copy of The Kronos Interference

autographed_copy_mdFrom now through January 18th, 2013, enter on Goodreads to win a free copy of the trade paperback version of The Kronos Interference, signed by Ed and I!

See our News page for details.

Advertisements

Kronos Interference Named to Kirkus Best of 2012

2012 BestOf LOGOEd and I are pleased to announce that The Kronos Interference has been named to the Kirkus Reviews Best of 2012 list!

The prestigious Kirkus Reviews has long been an authoritative voice in the literary trade, giving literary and film industry professional a sneak peek at books before their release. Since publication began in 1933, Kirkus has brought to the attention of the reading public countless classics by then unknown books, including Gone with the WindThe Caine MutinyThe English PatientAngela’s Ashes, and thousands more.

Kirkus Reviews also gave The Kronos Interference the coveted Kirkus star, calling the book “impressively original” and “{a} tour de force.” For those who missed it, here’s a link to their full review.

Kronos Cover- FINAL - Hi-Res

It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

It’s incredible how far and wide-reaching misconceptions can spread, and certainly the Mayan “end of the world” prophecy for December 21st, 2012 is no exception. I know from my nonfiction writing (much of which is based on history) that falsities run rampant, even in history books and, dare I say, TV shows. So I shouldn’t be too surprised.

The first hint that you’re being misinformed is when you come across an article or website that highlights the classic circular sun stone calendar that looks like this:

Aztec Calendar

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a perfectly legitimate calendar. It’s just that, well… it’s NOT MAYAN!!!  It’s Aztec! The Mayans never even saw this calendar.

So, anyone passing it along as the Mayan calendar and then making predictions of the end of the world, is not exactly starting off on a credible foot. Unfortunately, about 90% of the websites I’ve seen on the Mayan calendar mistakenly reference the Aztec calendar (and even the popular cartoons, like the one below).

maya_cartoon

In actuality there are three Mayan calendars, the civil calendar (the circular Haab calendar, pictured below, which covers about 52 years — the average lifespan of a person at the time), the ritual/sacred calendar (Tzolkin, which is also circular and interlocks with the Haab calendar), and the one in question, the long count calendar. Below is a picture of the Haab calendar (note the Disney-esque cartoon-like center, which easily differentiates this from the Aztec sun stone):

mayan-calendar

 

This is the long count calendar, which is the one everyone’s been talking about with regard to the apocalypse. It’s a column — not circular.

Mayan-Calendar-300x200

 

Now, as for that pesky 12/21/12 reference. To understand that, it’s important to understand how the Mayan long count calendar works.

One B’ak’tun is 144,000 days or about 394 years. 20 B’ak’tuns make up a Piktun.

There are higher orders as well (20 Piktuns make up a Kalabtun, 20 Kalabtuns make up a Kinchiltun, and so on), all of which are referenced in Mayan tablets when depicting events in the distant future.

We are currently nearing the end of the 13th B’a’ktun (which began in the 15th century). The next B’ak’tun starts December 21st, 2012. The current Piktun doesn’t end until the year 4772.

The only mention of the 13th B’ak’tun (the end of which correlates to December 21st, 2012) is on the following stone tablet.

tortuguero_2012_1

The section highlighted makes reference to the 13th B’ak’tun as a time when a new god, dealing with change and wisdom, will reign, and generally a big celebration occurs at the change of a cycle. There is no reference to the end of the world or anything remotely resembling an apocalyptic event.

Overall, the Mayan calendar depicts 5 columns that work sort of like an odometer, with the leftmost column representing B’ak’tuns (it starts at zero and bumps up one cycle every 394 years), then, moving left to right, the next four columns are …

Katuns (cycles approx every 20 years), Tuns (cycles approx yearly), Uinals (cycles every 20 days), and Kins (cycles every day). There is some debate whether the B’ak’tuns reset to zero after 13 B’ak’tuns or 20, but most scholars say 20.

So, on December 21st, the Mayan calendar would look like:  14.0.0.0.0. On the 22nd, it would look like 14.0.0.0.1, and so on.

Keep in mind, there are higher orders than B’ak’tuns, as I mentioned, and these are references on other tablets, but they’re not part of the Mayan calendar per se. Why?

The same reason our computer systems in the last century only had two digits for the year (the famous Y2K problem). It seemed good enough at the time.  Either that, or they ran out of room, like the cartoon says (albeit showing the wrong calendar).

For those familiar with Y2K, when we hit the year 99, every computer programmer in the world was scampering to change their systems to a 4 digit year (though some people kept a 2 digit year and coded their systems to bump up the century if the year was less than 40 — which means we’ll have the same problem again in 2040). But I digress.

In any case, what we have is the Mayan equivalent of the Y2K problem. Nothing more, nothing less. Of course, people into new age science may talk about the alignment of the planets and stars, and there may be some some truth in that (the Mayans, after, all, were brilliant astronomers), but I’ll leave you to decide what that does or doesn’t mean for world consciousness.

As for the rise of a new Mayan god, keep in mind, the ancient Mayans also believed in bloodletting and human sacrifice.

Meanwhile, let’s all have a Mayan-like party (minus the human sacrifice) and celebrate the end of the 13th B’ak’tun and the beginning of the 14th on December 21st!

Why Writing is Like Fine Wine

Writing and WineIt dawned on me that writing is very much like a fine wine. A fine wine needs time to age. It may be okay earlier, and even drinkable, but a great pinot noir or claret needs time before its tannins settle, the tartness goes away, and its true flavors come out.

At the risk of mixing metaphors, stew is the same way. You may be tempted to eat it just after cooking it, but don’t. After it’s refrigerated overnight, the flavors blend and it makes an incredible difference in the taste.

And finally, we come to writing. Whenever I sit down to write, I usually re-read the previous chapter to get immersed in the story again. And, no doubt, I find little tweaks or changes, and the inevitable “Wow, it sounded so good when I wrote it the first time” feeling takes hold, shortly followed by, “What was I thinking?”

Well, at the completion of your manuscript, magnify that tenfold. By that time, when you review your story from the beginning, you’ll find countless changes and you’ll undoubtedly catch things you didn’t notice before. You may even find a few major elements that need changing.  Like the heavy tannins in a young wine, the flaws are masking the true flavor–the feeling you want readers to have.

So then, after the needed edits and rewrites, you finally feel you have a solid manuscript worth pitching. You might even be tempted to send it to some test readers. DON’T!!!!

To do so would be the equivalent of eating the stew just after it comes out of the pot (there I go again mixing metaphors). Except with a book, you can’t just wait to the next day to do another  final read-through, much like you can’t take a wine that’s best served after ten years and drink it after two, expecting the same results.

How long should you wait?  By my experience, in both nonfiction and fiction, I’d say a month at least. Longer if you can afford it. Let the manuscript sit. Find something else to do. Start working on another book. Read a book. Whatever will take your mind off the manuscript.

When you finally come back to it–that wonderful manuscript that you felt so amazing about–I guarantee you’ll find countless edits you’ll want to make. Trust me on this. THEN, after you make them, and do the requisite editing passes, you’re ready to send to test readers for feedback (and make sure they’re critical test readers, ideally that match your target audience — not your friends and family).

So, to summarize, when you’re finished what you think is your perfect final manuscript (even if you’ve already done rewrites and edits and a full read-through), be sure to let it sit at least a month before doing one final read-through and edit round. Your book will be exponentially better as a result.