I am not a slacker. Well, maybe I am a little bit. But it's all Words with Friends' fault! I can't help it if that game's addictive and work isn't. And hey -- I'm never a slacker at Words with Friends. No Word Friend has ever had to wait more than an hour for a move from me. Speaking of which -- I'd better go check my games.
Ha! "EQUAL" on a triple word for 48 points! Take that, Mom!
Now...where was I? Oh, yeah. I was talking about how focused and diligent I am. I'd understand if some people out there thought I was a slothful, slovenly slob, though. After all, I haven't had a new traditionally published novel out in two and a half years. (Yeah, there were all those collections and the novella I put out myself, but those don't count with some folks.)
Why the long gap between my last novel and now? Oh, god -- don't get me started. I mean it. Make me talk about all that and I'll just lose my will to blog and go back to Words with Friends.
The important thing is this: The Hocken-drought has come to an end. Over the next year, I'm going to put out so many danged books you're gonna get sick of me!
First up is Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab, which I whipped up with co-conspirator Trevor "Science Bob" Pflugfelder. (Science Bob's first name is really Robert, of course. I just like the idea of a Trevor being called "Science Bob" for no particular reason. It'd be like people suddenly calling me Steve "Writing George" Hockensmith. In fact, feel free to call me "Writing George" from now. I feel cheated that "Trevor" has an edge on me in the nickname department.) N & T's H-V.D.L. tells the story of Nick and Tesla Holt, 11-year-old twins with a knack for gadgets -- and getting mixed up in wild mysteries. They use their science smarts to both track down clues and get out of scrapes, aided by their eccentric inventor uncle and their thrill-loving pals Silas and DeMarco. It's a grim and gritty exploration of the darkness at the heart of the human soul that should appeal to fans of serious adult literary fiction...NOT! (Ah, doesn't it make you nostalgic to revisit that old retired chestnut, the "NOT!"?) This is a middle-grade book, folks, and it doesn't just come with (hopefully) plenty of laughs for young readers (and their parents -- also hopefully). Science Bob has packed the pages with easy-to-follow instructions so that kids can build everything Nick and Tesla do. And you know what that means: We're about to have an army of little MacGyvers coast-to-coast, people. Watch out!
Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab comes out November 5. Three long, agonizing, No-New-Book-from-Hockensmith months will follow. But then on February 4, 2014 -- ba-BAM! Along comes Nick and Tesla's Robot Army Rampage. As you might have guessed from the title, this is the long-awaited sixth installment in my "Holmes on the Range" mystery/Western series...NOT! (I'm remembering now how addictive "NOT!" can be. It makes bogus irony and punchy-but-pointless transitions so easy.) Nick and Tesla's Robot Army Rampage actually tells the tale of...wait for it, wait for it...Nick and Tesla fighting rampaging robots. And guess what. There's an army of them! Best of all, Trevor (you know -- Science Bob) put in instructions for all kinds of cool robots readers can create themselves. Oh, and have I mentioned that the super-talented artist Scott Garrett is filling these books with hilarious illustrations? I didn't? Well, come a little closer and let me whisper in your ear.
Super-talented artist Scott Garrett is filling these books with hilarious illustrations.
A few weeks after N & T's R.A.R. hits the scene, I know what you'll be thinking. I've gotten hooked on this All Hockensmith All the Time thing. I needs me some Hock NOW!!! And you'll be in luck, because the March forecast calls for warming temperatures, light precipitation and a smattering of Steve Hockensmith. The anthology Fiction River Special: Crime will feature my story "Wheel of Fortune," a sneak preview of...but no. That would be getting ahead of myself. Suffice it to say it's a short story I like a lot, and readers who are interested in what I've been up to should check it out. You'll be sure to get your money's worth, as editor Kristine Kathryn Rusch has rounded up stories from super-stellar writers like Julie Hyzy, Doug Allyn, Kate Wilhelm and Brendan DuBois. Even better, from my selfish perspective, Kristine even let me be on the cover with them. Click the pic and squint and you'll see what I mean. (Usually when I'm in an anthology, I'm an "And More." You know how antho covers work -- "New stories by Bestselling Mystery Writer, Bestselling Thriller Writer, Your Favorite Cozy Writer, That Writer from Another Genre You Haven't Read Yet But She's So Popular You Know Who She Is Anyway and 15 More Writers Whose Names Will Mean Nothing to You!")
April is going to be a sad, sad month for you. No new me, you see. But come May, I'll be back with our little friends Nick and Tesla in tow. Nick and Tesla's Secret Agent Gadget Battle will pit our young heroes against secret agents...with gadgets! With which they battle! Oh, and Nick and Tesla will be battling with secret agent gadgets of their own -- homemade ones kids can build themselves, thanks to directions and blueprints from Science "Trevor" Bob and Scott "The Illustrator" Garrett. And by the time N & T's S.A.G.B. comes out, Quirk Books' fun-fun-fun Nick and Tesla website should be overflowing with project ideas, instructional videos and whatever goofy stuff they'll let me contribute. Check it out. The site's a little light on content at the moment, but pretty soon the joint's gonna be jumping.
But, Steve! I hear you cry. Middle-grade mysteries are fine, but what I really want from you is a mystery for grown-ups! Preferably one with a link to the wild, wacky world of the occult! I hear you, my friend. That's why my buddy Lisa Falco and I have teamed up to launch a new series of tarot-themed mysteries. Remember that short story I was hinting around about earlier? The one in Fiction River Special: Crime? It's actually an excerpt from The White Magic Five and Dime, the first book in the series. The setup: Reformed con woman Alanis McLachlan discovers she has a knack for both mystery solving and tarot reading when she investigates the murder of her estranged mother -- an unreformed con woman who'd been posing as a psychic. So it's kind of like the Nick and Tesla books, only instead of using science the hero relies on her skills as a con artist. And instead of learning how to build soda-bottle rockets and mini-robots and the like, readers learn all about tarot cards. (Lisa's the Science Bob of the series: the one who supplies all the expert know-how. Hmm. Maybe I should start referring to her as Lisa "Tarot Lisa" Falco.)
The White Magic Five and Dime comes out next July, and the first sequel should follow about a year later. But don't worry! I know how dependent you'll be on a steady flow of Me by that point, so I won't leave my peeps hanging. That's why next fall will bring you the fourth Nick and Tesla adventure, Nick and Tesla's Currently Unspecified Thingamajig. In it, Nick and Tesla match wits with...uhh...bad guys determined to...something, in the end saving the day with...you know...science-type stuff. It's the funniest, kookiest, coolest Nick and Tesla yet! (Which is actually quite a claim to make, given that I haven't started writing it yet.)
Now, I'm guessing some of you have reached the end of this Shape of Things to Come preview feeling disappointed by a couple conspicuous absences. Where are Big Red and Old Red Amlingmeyer? Don't worry. They're just enjoying a relaxing sabbatical. They earned one after everything they went through in the Holmes on the Range books, don't you think? Their vacation won't last forever, though. The day will come when they'll be back in the saddle. I mean, hey -- if I can put out five books in the coming year, don't you think I can squeeze in my favorite cowboy detectives sooner or later?