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Author: Matt

Matt (MG) Herron writes science fiction thriller novels and nonfiction how-to guides. His first novel, The Auriga Project, was published in 2015. His first nonfiction book for writers, Scrivener Superpowers, was published 2016.

When he’s not bending words to his will, Matt organizes Indie Publishing Austin, a local Meetup for writers and authors. He also likes to climb mountains, throw a frisbee for his Boxer mutt, Elsa, and travel to expand his mind.

New England in Autumn: Day 3

We took a little ride up Mount Washington today, and did some hiking there and also in an area with little waterfalls and placid pools called Diana’s Baths (all part of the White Mountains National Forest).

This area is absolutely breathtaking in Autumn.

The one photo below of the walking path shrouded in fog is from the top of Mt. Washington. It was 30 degrees with high winds and zero visibility up there this morning.

New England in Autumn: Day 1

Shelly and I flew to Boston early this morning! We’re headed up to New Hampshire tomorrow to see the fall colors. Here are a few photos from day 1. It started with beer and burgers, and we got out to Borderland State Park for a little walk. Chinese food for dinner not pictured, but I can assure you it was delicious.

Burgers at Lucy’s Tavern in Boston!
Beer!
Picnic tables at Borderland state park
Shelly and I next to the little waterfall 🙂
The Ames Mansion at Borderland State Park in Massachusetts

Recommended Reading List: October 2017

What have I been reading lately? I’m glad you asked. Here’s a list of all the good science fiction/fantasy books and stories I’ve read over the last few months.

Originally, I had it set in my mind that I would be doing blog posts for each book, but I’ve come to realize that this is an unrealistic expectation. Plus, I read a lot of short stories because I love the format. So I’m going to experiment with this roundup format instead—the focus, as ever with me, is science fiction and fantasy books and short stories.

(Psst, links to books are affiliate links, which means I get a few cents if you end up buying one or two. Thanks for the tip!)

October Recommended Reading

Legionnaire by Jason Anspach and Nick Cole

A military science fiction tale fashioned after the Star Wars universe. The book has been described as “stormtroopers in Afghanistan,” which is not an inaccurate description—the story follows a company of Legionnaire’s (as they’re called in this world) who are incomparable shots with a blaster rifle and wear smart battle suits that protect them while they battle rebels on behalf of the (often incompetent) Empire.

But to just describe the book as Star Wars-inspired doesn’t do this particular story justice. Seeing what these men go through, living through their particular experience of combat, manages to be both emotional and endearing. It had me alternately laughing and choked up as they face death with a sense of humor.

Cole and Anspach have since released three more books in this series, so If you’re a fan of Star Wars, you’re bound to love it. Subtle (and some not-so-subtle) nods at the history of the original SW trilogy will have long-time fans chuckling and cheering them along.

Nomad by Matthew Mather

I originally thought of this one as a purely scientific apocalypse story. What’s most incredible is all the legwork Mather did to set up a very realistic hard science apocalypse using real-life astronomy. The story is good, too. Our main character is a climber and adrenaline junky (easy for yours truly to relate, let me tell you), who is on a vacation in Rome with her mother when the world turns upside down.

Or maybe upside down is the wrong expression. When the world explodes might be better. I don’t want to ruin it, but if you like hard sci-fi, books like The Martian, or Thrillers with a sci-fi bent, then check this one out.

“The Key” by Isaac Asimov

I found this sci-fi mystery short story in a paper copy of The Best From Fantasy and Science Fiction: 16th Series. I love Asimov’s short stories, and a large chunk of what he wrote uses the mystery structure with his typical science fiction slant. The best part was when the detectives found a secret code, and they interpreted it as corresponding to the names of the moon’s craters, which, it turns out, were named after a lot of ancient astronomers who believed the Earth was the center of the universe.

It was a fun mystery that held up well though more than 50 years has passed since it was written. No buy link for this one because I can’t find an ebook on Amazon that has it. Wikipedia tells me you can find it in The Best Mysteries of Isaac Asimov, a collection of his stories.

“Passerby” by Larry Niven

Another great sci-fi short stories from the 1960s, I read this in the Galaxy from September 1969. I’ll admit here that this is the first Larry Niven story I’ve read, and I was definitely not disappointed. The story is built around a metaphor, and a frame story to boot, so the writer in me was absolutely delighted. A peoplewatcher in a park meets a “rammer” (a space man) who has returned to Earth from a journey through the stars where he encountered a mysterious golden celestial being who walks among the stars. It’s one of those stories that makes you stop to reflect.

There’s an audible version for less than $2 here and or in a collection called All The Myriad Ways  (audio and mass market paperback only).

Why they don’t print these things as individual ebooks is beyond me.

The next few days I’ll be on vacation, so the blog will probably revert to short posts—hopefully with photos! New England is beautiful in the autumn.

Behold! My paperback to read pile

I spent a little time this afternoon reorganizing the bookshelves in our house! Since we bought a new bookshelf for the office, we’ve finally got enough shelf space for ALL the books,

I put all the genres together and got the books into (mostly) alphabetic order. This time, one section of the got pulled out: my paperback “to read” shelf.

These are all the books I’ve been meaning to read. Anything look good to you? (Let me know in the comments).

This doesn’t include my digital to read pile, of course. I’ve got a dozen books on my Kindle in various states of unread. But that’s not important!

The rest of my evening was spent watching the X-Files and turning a new story into an ebook. Make Like The Roaches And Survive should be available soon.

I noticed tonight how much I’ve managed to streamline my post-production process, which is great because less time publishing and marketing means more time for me to focus on writing a good blurb and working on the next story.

Still have to write the blurb for this one, but I think I’ve got a good place to start. You can tell me how I did when it’s out in a few days 🙂

Autumnal Equinox Sci-Fi Extravaganza

Every once in a while, I’m lucky enough to get involved with these big giveaways where new readers can find a bunch of great sci-fi novels to sample for free.

Today, the Autumnal Equinox Sci-Fi Extravaganza went live. It’s only good from today through October 8th, so head over there and grab any story that looks interesting to you.

As for myself, I’ve been working on Translocator 3. Wrote 1700 new words yesterday, and another 1000 new words today—it’s been a productive weekend.

How two vintage pulp sci-fi books landed in my lap

Spent the last 24 hours visiting with a good friend, Jacen, who was in town from Colorado Springs for a work thing. He only had a little time to hang out before heading back home, but even so I think it’s safe to say we did Austin right: we started with whisky tastings and eventually made our way into the wine bar last night, and then had breakfast tacos to sober us back up this morning. Thanks for visiting, Jacen!

As luck would have it, we found ourselves with some extra time to kill before his flight took off, so we stopped by an art gallery on the east side called the Recspec Gallery. It’s in a converted warehouse along with three or four other small galleries and it was great fun to see all the cool art they had. The Austin Book Arts Center also has a workshop in there (they do book binding classes and book restoration work).

Recspec also happened to have a very small display of science fiction magazines and anthologies from the 1960s. Now, that’s just up my alley. Imagine my delight to find the September 1969 issue of Galaxy Magazine with Dr. Menzel’s martians on the cover. Apparently he sent these doodles out to friends and the originals are “highly prized.” Fun to have a book cover featuring those same sketches.

And The Best From Fantasy and Science Fiction: 16th Series, first published in 1965.

Both books are in beautiful condition, with only a little normal wear from reading and time. The vanilla old book smell is strong, and the art is beautiful. You see those details in the eyeballs of the anthology? Maybe I’ll do a giveaway to pass these two treasured volumes on…or maybe I’ll hang onto them. I love the art, and it’s fun to have original stories from Philip K. Dick, Isaac Asimov, Roger Zelazny, Dr. Menzel, and Larry Niven. I’m gonna start by reading a few today.

Thinking in scenes

An important moment in my development as a writer was learning to think in scenes.

This is a good life skill too, being able to break things down into their constituent parts.

You’re not writing a book, you’re writing a chapter.

You’re not building a wall, you’re layering wet cement and placing one brick at a time.

For stories, the basic building blocks are the scenes. Just focus on one at a time.

This works because a scene has the same basic structure as a story, but on a smaller scale. Each scene has a beginning, middle and end. Further, each scene is somewhere along that the beginning-middle-end spectrum in the greater story.

Writing a story can be overwhelming. Writing a single scene is eminently manageable.

Break it down. Focus on one thing at a time. You’ll get there.

Scrivener Superpowers Reaches 100 Reviews

I’m a big fan of celebrating the little things when it comes to writing and the indie publishing business. It can be a tough gig, and wins like this are usually a long time coming. So it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate it.

Scrivener Superpowers, my nonfiction software how-to guide to the popular writing software, Scrivener, reached 100 reviews today. My first book to do so, and with a 4.6 star average no less!

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Nothing special happens when you reach 100 reviews. No fanfare, no parties, no champagne. But it’s still kind of cool. Three figure reviews show a certain amount of trust in a book. It’s a general indicator of quality. So in addition to the emails and messages I get about the book (hi, folks! You’re awesome), this is further proof to me that the book was worth writing.