Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Michael G. Munz. He is the Amazon bestselling sci-fi/fantasy author of Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure and The New Aeneid Cycle series.
Science Fiction, Fantasy, Humor and Comedy
Michael G. Munz
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An award-winning writer of speculative fiction, Michael G. Munz was born in Pennsylvania but moved to Washington State at the age of three. Unable to escape the state's gravity, he has spent most of his life there and studied writing at the University of Washington.
Michael developed his creative bug in college, writing and filming four exceedingly amateur films before setting his sights on becoming a novelist. Driving this goal is the desire to tell entertaining stories that give to others the same pleasure as other writers have given to him. He enjoys writing tales that combine the modern world with the futuristic or fantastic.
Michael has traveled to three continents and has an interest in Celtic and Classical mythology. He also possesses what most "normal" people would likely deem far too much familiarity with a wide range of geek culture, though Michael prefers the term geek-bard: a jack of all geek-trades, but master of none--except possibly Farscape and Twin Peaks.
Michael dwells in Seattle where he continues his quest to write the most entertaining novel known to humankind and find a really fantastic clam linguine.
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author
Congratulations on completing your series: The New Aeneid Cycle. What do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
Thank you! Right now I’m working on the follow up to my adventure comedy Zeus Is Dead. I hadn’t originally intended that book to start a series, but it’s by far my most popular book, and I miss working in that world, so I’m eager to visit it again. It lets me flex my comedic muscles in a way I just didn’t get to in my sci-fi books. My goal is to have it ready in late 2017 or early 2018.
In the meantime, however, I’m working with some other authors to put out a short story anthology. My own contribution will include a story called “Mything Digits” that is a fun little crossover tale between a few characters of both series. We should have that done sometime in the spring, and I’ll be sure to post more info as it’s available on my blog and in
my author newsletter.
You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? How did you build your following in your niche? Do you see a carry over to your writing success?
Social media is a tricky thing, at least in terms of being able to measure direct influences on the success of books. It definitely helps me get the word out there, however, and to stay in touch with fans of my own work and just other people with the same geeky leanings as I do. Since a lot of my humor is in my books (sprinkled among a couple of characters in The New Aeneid Cycle and spread like Nutella all across Zeus Is Dead), I think it helps to give followers a taste of what they’ll find if they read my stuff.
As for how I built my following, I started with following some fellow geeks that I know in real life, and then doing searches on Twitter for various sci-fi/fantasy topics and following those people as well. I tried my best to actually engage with the people I followed—otherwise why are they going to spare some attention for me?—and eventually it snowballs. The most important thing that I try to remember is not to just tweet about my books. After all, if all I do is shout “Buy my books!” and don’t say anything else that isn’t funny, interesting, or otherwise engaging, then why would people want to follow me?
Do you do any book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?
I do, on occasion. I’ve done a handful of bookstore readings and book release events, and I’ve also been a panelist at Norwescon, which is a big annual sci-fi/fantasy convention that started here in Seattle forty years ago. Like a lot of us writer-types, I’m an introvert, so I probably don’t do as many personal appearances as I should. I will, however, have a booth at
this year’s Norwescon
in Writer’s Row, where I’ll be selling books and signing autographs from April 13th to 15th.
I also appear on podcasts from time to time, including the
Super Awesome Geek Show, for which I’m a semi-regular panelist.
You have great covers. How does your book cover creation process work? I noticed a change in format for Zeus Is Dead cover. Do you think that contributed to it becoming #1 on Amazon? Are we looking at your audience and seeing a preference for a different style rather than the traditional cover?
Thank you! They’re the work of Amalia Chitulescu (who did all of the New Aeneid Cycle covers), and Greg Simanson (who did Zeus Is Dead). As you can see, they both do fantastic work. With the New Aeneid Cycle covers, I worked with Ms. Chitulescu to flesh out some ideas I had for each cover, while trying to keep them all connected.
Zeus Is Dead was originally published by Booktrope, an indie publisher based in Seattle, and the cover for that was more of a group effort between myself, Mr. Simanson, and a few others at Booktrope. The group there was really a blessing because I honestly had no specific ideas for the design myself. That cover took a little more time to coalesce, but I love how it turned out. The hand drawn style of the artwork fits the different genre and voice of Zeus Is Dead, and better highlights that it’s a different sort of book from the others. I’ve gotten a lot of comments on it, so I’m sure it’s helpful for catching the eye: “Hey, is that a kitten with bat wings??”
You have written a set of short stories called Mythed Connections. Can you tell us if they had an impact on the sales of your novels? Are shorty’s one of your styles of writing or are they created to give readers a sample of your work?
Tracking the cause of novel sales is always a tricky thing, but I think Mythed Connections has helped grab at least a little attention for Zeus Is Dead. (I also use it as incentive for people to sign up for my newsletter, since you can get it free
when you sign up!)
I don’t write a lot of short stories. Longer fiction is usually more interesting to me. Nonetheless, I do them from time to time. The three stories in Mythed Connections are actually from before I wrote Zeus Is Dead and had just begun to start exploring the fun of combining Greek mythology with the modern setting. In that sense, it’s a spiritual prequel to Zeus Is Dead. Some elements of MC don’t quite fit with the Zeus Is Dead world, hence the “spiritual” qualifier—which I swear wasn’t intended as a pun. On the other hand, the story “The Atheist and the Ferryman” does explain why there’s a guy named Marcus playing ferryman to the Underworld for six months out of the year in Zeus Is Dead…
With your busy schedule, how do you have time to keep up with your followers? Between your book writing, blogging, marketing, family and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do you sort of play it by ear?
Most of the time I play it by ear, which is why I like Twitter so much. It lets me shoot out a 140-character thought, comment, or joke when it occurs to me. (My mind is such that those things pop into my head throughout the day anyway. Before Twitter I just had to express them with non-sequiturs to people in the room. This way I get fewer strange looks!) Sometimes if there is a specific event or promotion I want to tell people about, I will schedule tweets ahead of time, but mostly I just get on when I can.
What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?
In terms of paperback giveaways (which I usually do through Goodreads), it does help a bit with exposure. I get the name and logline of the giveaway book in front of people who might not otherwise see it, and hopefully that leads to some purchases on behalf of those who don’t wind up winning the giveaway contest.
In terms of free ebooks, the great thing about having a series is that I can let people have the first book for free (A Shadow in the Flames is free to download on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and iTunes), and hopefully that will snag their interest in reading and picking up the other two books in the trilogy. There’s an ongoing debate between myself and some other authors I know about how well this works. Some people do grab all the free books they can and never get around to reading them because they’re less invested than they would be if they had paid for it.
My primary obstacle in giving ASITF away for free has been my own self-consciousness about it being the first book I published, and therefore worrying that my other books are better written due to my having grown as a writer since then.
How do you manage your plots, characters and timelines to keep your stories going? Do you use any software to keep track of your books?
I know a lot of authors like Scrivener for that, but I mostly stick with notes written by hand or in Word. I sometimes augment those with Excel spreadsheets for things like tracking which characters are aware of which plot elements at a particular time, or their individual agendas/mindsets as things progress.
It’s all kind of a mess, but for me it works.
Do you maintain a reader list? What are the methods you use to find your readers and create the list and the relationship? Do you use social media, forums, newsletters and/or support groups to build your list?
I do maintain a list, at least in the sense of my aforementioned newsletter that people can subscribe to for information about my books (and a few other geeky things). “Maintain a reader list” brings to my mind the idea that I’ve got this physical list that I’m checking over like Santa Claus in order to stalk my readers. :D (Okay, so my brain works in odd ways.) I should probably do a little more to promote my list in terms of making people aware of it, but I mostly just have sign-up boxes on my website. When I do marketing, I tend to promote my books more than my list.
That said, all of my books have a blurb about my list in the “about the author” sections in the back. That’s likely where I get most of my list subscribers.
What is your method of getting reviews for your novels? Do you seek professional reviews, use social media or do you rely on your reading audience to supply them?
When I’m preparing to launch a book, I’ll often tweet, post, and put out a newsletter saying that I’m looking for people to read advance review copies in exchange for an honest review. I’ve also queried book bloggers and highly ranked Amazon reviewers inviting them to read the book (again, a free copy in exchange for an honest review). I don’t pay for reviews, with the one exception of signing up for a service that listed my book on a website where reviewers could request it. (The fee paid for the listing only. The reviewers themselves received no compensation besides a free book.) I didn’t get a lot of reviews that way, however. The majority of the reviews my books have are from the readers themselves.
Author's Book List
A Dragon at the Gate
- The New Aeneid Cycle Book 3
Artificial intelligence, aliens, and nanotech collide in this cyberpunk adventure…
Michael Flynn has lost time. An operative in the worldwide conspiracy known as the Agents of Aeneas, the last thing he remembers is the struggle to retake Paragon—the derelict alien spacecraft found crashed on the Moon. Yet that was three months ago. Now, as he wakes in a hospital back in the high-tech, urban strife of Northgate, his struggle begins anew.
The Agents of Aeneas have vanished.
His friends are either missing, in danger, or altered. Hired killers shadow his every move. And Jade, the mysterious, cyber-enhanced woman watching over him, will give no answers. Thrust into a blind search for the truth, Michael needs allies. Yet whom can he trust when once loyal friends may have turned against him?
Meanwhile, an intelligence thought trapped within Paragon has escaped to Northgate. Driven to fulfill the goals of the mysterious “Planners,” it, too, seeks allies. When it finds them, it will transform the face of Northgate, the world, and the entire human race.
The year 2051 draws to a close, and nothing will be the same.
Order the Book From:
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A Memory in the Black
- The New Aeneid Cycle Book 2
One memory unlocks the future. Another restores the past. Only one can survive in this cyberpunk thriller…
Save humanity from itself. It is the goal of the worldwide conspiracy known as the Agents of Aeneas. For months they have struggled to explore the mysteries of Paragon, an alien spacecraft buried on the Moon. Once a closely guarded secret, word the craft has leaked, and now multiple forces plot to seize it for themselves.
Agent Marc Triton has breached its depths and returned alive. While Michael Flynn protects Marc from corporations that believe he knows too much, together they must confront a demon from their past: the freelancer Diomedes. Michael's violent ex-mentor, Diomedes has assassinated a man at the heart of the spacecraft's discovery. They must learn why.
Meanwhile, Caitlin and Felix have spotted the murdered vigilante Gideon alive in the dystopian city of Northgate. The truth behind his impossible return will pull them into dangers far beyond what lurks on Earth.
Each of them driven by a memory, their fates will soon entwine amid the blackness of Paragon…
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Barnes and Noble
A Shadow in the Flames
- The New Aeneid Cycle Book 1
Northgate is in turmoil. Decaying, violent, and corrupt, it is a common enough city in 2051, yet soon, a discovery will echo from beneath the Moon's surface to set Northgate aflame.
New arrival Michael Flynn is jobless and down to his last few dollars, but he still dreams of making a positive difference of his own. He has no family, no friends—save for the idolized freelancer known only as Diomedes—and tonight the apartment they share will burn to the ground.
When Diomedes becomes his mentor in a search for the arsonist responsible, Michael will get the chance to realize his dreams. Joining them is Felix, a wise-cracking "information bounty hunter" who claims that neither the arsonist nor Diomedes are quite what they appear.
Will Michael pass through the flames unscathed, or will urban violence incinerate all that he is? Those who search the Moon will be watching…
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Barnes and Noble
Zeus Is Dead
- A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure
THE GODS ARE BACK. DID YOU MYTH THEM?
You probably saw the press conference. Nine months ago, Zeus's murder catapulted the Greek gods back into our world. Now the whole pantheon revels in new temples, casinos, and media empires--except Apollo. A compulsive overachiever with a bursting portfolio of godly duties, the amount of email alone that he receives from rapacious mortals turns each day into a living hell.
Yet there may be hope, if only he can return Zeus to life! With the aid of Thalia, the muse of comedy and science fiction, Apollo will risk his very godhood to help sarcastic TV producer Tracy Wallace and a gamer-geek named Leif--two mortals who hold the key to Zeus's resurrection. (Well, probably. Prophecies are tricky buggers.)
Soon an overflowing inbox will be the least of Apollo's troubles. Whoever murdered Zeus will certainly kill again to prevent his return, and avoiding them would be far easier if Apollo could possibly figure out who they are.
Even worse, the muse is starting to get cranky.
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- A Short Story Collection of Classical Myth in the Modern World
In this "spiritual prequel" to the award-winning comedic fantasy Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure, three short stories tell what happens when beings of Greek mythology make themselves known in the modern world…
"The Atheist and the Ferryman": An atheist named Marcus learns the hard way that just because the old man living along the river that flows through a giant cavern in his basement sounds crazy, it doesn't mean he's not telling the truth about being the ferryman to the land of the dead.
"Snipe Hunt": Janette's older brothers have ditched her in the woods. Again. But when Hermes takes a liking to her, vengeance is hers.
"Playing with Hubris": A writer a café finds is stalked by a man who claims to be the god Apollo, who says he wants to help him, and who won't take no for an answer.
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Barnes and Noble
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