Alan and The Chromatics at Philcon 2018

Philcon schedule, November 16-18, for me and the Chromatics!

For those of you new to the Chromatics, we’re a high energy vocal band — three women, three men — on a mission to delight audiences with a full spectrum of songs about science, technology, and their intersections. We recently released our 9th CD, this is our 25th year, and we’re the Special Musical Guests at Philcon this year. We have five performances, and I’ll also be doing some author panels and a reading. Come check us out!

Friday 9:00pm, Chromatics Concert #1   A mix of themes from (and songs about) TV and movies, technology, and all that. (Grand Ballroom A)

Sat 11:00am, Chromatics Concert #2   Astrocappella — a musical exploration of the universe. Multimedia performance! (Grand Ballroom A)

Sat 12:00pm, The Chromatics Signing   and talking and who knows, maybe even singing some more!   (Autograph Table)

Sat 1:00pm, Alan Panel: Recipes for Character Creation   with Vikki Ciaffone (M), Steven Brust, Philippa Ballantine, and Michael A Ventrella. (Crystal Ballroom Three)

Sat 3:00pm, Alan Reading   from his Clash of Eagles series. (Executive Suite 323)

Sat 4:00pm: Talk: Exoplanets and the TESS Mission, by Padi Boyd, including several live songs from the Chromatics, so let’s also call this Concert #3. (Crystal Ballroom Two)

Saturday Night: Chromatics Concert #4   as the Masquerade Half-Time Show.

Sun 11:00am: Final Chromatics Concert   Songwriter show — all originals with discussions of how/why we wrote them. (Grand Ballroom A)

Sun 1:00pm: Alan Panel: The Myth of the Mad Scientist    with Jim Stratton (M), John Ashmead, Aaron Feldman, and Anna Kashina (Plaza Two).

And find us all weekend long at our table in the Dealers Room!

See also:

Capclave 2018

In which I … present my Capclave schedule.

My first Capclave was in October 2009. My latest is this coming weekend, September 28-30, 2018. I’ve only missed one over the intervening years (2015, when it “clash”ed with New York Comic Con and I had to go Up North to promote CLASH with Del Rey).

Here’s my schedule for Capclave 2018:

Saturday 1:00pm: What Makes Alternate History So Compelling? – with Tom Doyle (M), J.L. Gribble, Bjorn Hasseler, and Jean Marie Ward.

Saturday 3:00pm: Alternate History and Historical Fantasy – I’m moderating, with Brenda Clough, Doc Coleman, Iver Cooper, and Tom Doyle.

Saturday 4:00pm: Author Table – come and chat!

Saturday 5:00pm: Reading.

Saturday 7:30pm: Mass Autographing, followed by the BSFS Small Press Award, and Partying. The big event!

Sunday 10:00am: Redemption Arcs – moderating, with Tom Doyle, Kelly Dwyer, Chuck Gannon, Will Mcintosh.

Sunday 2:00pm: My Characters Have a Life of Their Own – with Sarah Avery (M), Brenda Clough, Mark Laporta, Lawrence M. Schoen.

Sunday 4:00pm: Time Travel Storytelling – with Doc Coleman, Iver Cooper, and David Keener (M).

If you’re in the area, think of coming along. Capclave is a really nice local con… with big names (Nancy Kress, Alyssa Wong, James Morrow, Andy Duncan just a tiny fraction of the solid genre figures who’ll be there this year). See you there!

And yes, I only blog when I have a con coming up. Because I suck. (And have a day job. And other stuff.)




My schedule for Denver Comic Con 2018

In which I define my comings and goings and signings and panels for Denver Comic Con, June 15-17. Oh my!

Have I mentioned that I love Comic Cons? Have I?

And also, I love Denver. In fact I was there just last week, wearing my Other Hat, at the summer American Astronomical Society, so I already know the lay of the land and the good restaurants and I’m feeling super excited about the whole deal.

So, I guess you’re here to see my schedule. Here it is:

Friday, June 15

1:00PM-1:55PM: SIGNING
Location: Tattered Cover Signing Location B

2:00PM-2:50PM: PANEL: Making History Come Alive for Teen Readers

Historical Fiction written for a teen audience has gone from one of the most elusive genres to a major presence on store shelves. This panel features authors and their tips, advice, and tactics for making history appeal to a millennial audience!

With Jon Messenger, Sherry Ficklin, R. F. Kuang, Naomi Novik, Alan Smale

Location: Room 406/407

4:30PM-5:20PM: PANEL: Best Supporting Sidekick: Supporting Characters in Science Fiction & Fantasy

What are some of your favorite sidekick characters and how do they work so well within this story genre? What is the role of a sidekick? How do you write a sidekick character that works to support your main character, while giving them their satisfying own story arc within the overarching story narrative? Find out in this engaging panel.

With Peter V. Brett, Amalie Howard, Kazu Kibuishi, Sylvain Neuvel, Naomi Novik, Tamora Pierce, Alan Smale

Location: Room 402/403


Saturday, June 16

11:30AM-12:25PM: SIGNING
Location: Author Signing Booth 3

2:00PM-2:50PM: PANEL: When Can I Call Myself a Writer? How to Stop Feeling Like an Imposter

Whether we realize it or not, we all struggle with Imposter’s Syndrome. Our inner voice tells us we’re not good enough, worthy, or legit. In this panel, authors will discuss their personal struggles with this, share how they worked/are working through it, and provide advice for audience members on how to tackle their own self-doubt.

With Robert Jackson Bennett, Katherine Arden, Scott Bergstrom, Liv Hadden, Alan Smale, K.B. Wagers

Location: Keystone City Room – Mile High Ballroom DCCP4

3:00PM-3:50PM: PANEL: Alternate Futures

Creators love to toy with the past for time travel, alternate realities and secret histories stories. SFF also tells many stories of the future, mining the past for clues to what will happen in cultures years from now. The panelists will discuss the “rules” and when we get to break them, and the research they do to create a believable world of the future.

With LJ Hachmeister, Travis Heerman, Emily Devenport, Betsy Dornbusch, Christie Golden, Naomi Novik, Alan Smale, Connie Willis

Location: Room 406/407


Sunday, June 17

2:30PM-3:20PM: PANEL: Leave Your Party at Home – Political Intrigue in Fiction

Political Intrigue is a fundamental plot device that moves a story forward and keeps readers engaged. Panelists will discuss the fine line authorswalk in fiction to benefit the storyline versus preaching personal agendas.

With Liv Hadden, Sylvain Neuvel, Corinne O’Flynn, David Pedreira, C.R. Richards, Alan Smale

Location: Room 402/403

3:30PM-4:25PM: SIGNING
Location: Author Signing Booth 1

4:30PM-5:20PM: PANEL: The Many Faces of Fantasy

The fantasy genre has exploded into several different subgenres. Epic, Dark, Urban, Steampunk – the list goes on. Can a book cross over into more than one sub-genre or should it stay in its swimlane?

With Katherine Arden, Scott Bergstrom, Liv Hadden, Tricia Levenseller, Naomi Novik, C.R. Richards, Alan Smale, Wendy Terrien

Location: Room 402/403

So there it is. Come and say hi!

Denver Comic Con Headshot



My Schedule for Phoenix Comicon 2017

In which I provide my busy schedule for Phoenix Comicon, May 24-28, 2017.

I’m very excited to be going to PHXCC. I loved New York Comic Con 2015, and I loved San Diego Comic Con 2016… but some of my writer friends tell me they love Phoenix the best. So I’m eager to check it out for myself!

And I have a lot going on there. Twelve hours of programming — six panels and six signings, plus a meet-the-authors evening, breakfast with my stalwart editor, Mike Braff, and dinners with the terrific Random House/Del Rey crew (editors, publicists, authors). That’s a considerable load to cram into a few days. I am going to be, as the Emperor Commodus says in the Gladiator movie, a “busy little bee.”

If you want to see my panels on the official PHXCC web site,  here’s a link:

But below I list all my panels and signings for you, so you don’t need to poke about.

Wednesday 24th, 7:00-8:00pm: Elevengeddon! Not part of the Comicon proper, meaning you don’t need a PHXCC pass to attend: it’s a joint signing arranged by the Poisoned Pen independent bookstore, at the Hilton Scottsdale at 6333 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, 85250. A bajillion other authors will be there with me. Well, okay, 24 in total. But way more than eleven.

Thursday 25th, 10:30-11:30am: Writing Ask Me Anything: “Ever wanted to have a pint with a bona fide best-selling author? Well, you may not be able to share a dram with them, but you are welcome to ask them anything. These authors come from across all genres and have been there, done that, and bought the T-shirt and are ready to answer your questions.” With Quincy J. Allen, Neo Edmund, Alexandra Oliva, Aprilynn Pike, and Alan Smale. North 126AB.

Thursday 25th, 1:30-2:30pm: Rock Up! Getting It Right With Military And Historical Accuracy: “Historical and tactical accuracy are key to making any story come to life and more believable. These authors know firsthand, some from real-life experience, how to rock up and make it wire tight at all times.” With Myke Cole, Jason M. Hough, Kevin Ikenberry, Warren Ochse, and Alan Smale. North 126C.

Thursday 25th, 6:00-7:00pm: Signing. Alan Smale and Jason M. Hough. Del Rey booth, Exhibitor Hall.

Friday 26th: 10:30-11:30am: What’s New at Del Rey?: “Adventure, science fiction, innovation, fantasy: The publishers of some of the genre’s best and brightest stars are here to talk about what they’ve got coming out and what’s next on the horizon for Del Rey Books.” With Terry Brooks, Pierce Brown, Robin Hobb, Jason M. Hough, Rob Reid, Alan Smale. North 125AB.

Friday 26th: 12:00-1:00pm: Get Me Out Of Here! “Time for some cross-genre fun and maybe make one of our authors scream “Get me out of here!” We will be asking our authors questions about something outside their genre and let you decide if their answer holds up. Let’s see what a sci-fi writer knows about magic systems or a fantasy author knows about the Andromeda nebula.” With Ryan Dalton, Christina Henry, Scott Lynch, Brian McClellan, Amy K. Nichols, Alan Smale, and Sam Sykes. North 126C.

Friday 26th: 1:30-2:30pm: Signing. With Beth Cato, Yvonne Navarro, Weston Ochse, and Alan Smale. North 124AB.

Friday 26th: 8:00-11:30pm: Drinks with Authors and Creators. Anyone with a guest badge gets free admission and drink tickets (all others at $10). There will be a cash bar and plenty of space to talk, draw, drink, and unwind. North Ballroom.

Saturday 27th: 10:30am-11:30am. Signing. Alan Smale and Robin Hobb. Del Rey booth, Exhibitor Hall.

Saturday 27th: 12:00-1:00pm: Build a Story Workshop. “Ever wanted to help build a story framework and then flesh it out as bona fide fan fiction? Imagine doing it with award-winning authors from different genres. The goal is to build a story framework in an interactive environment and then flesh it out and make it your own. We may even Web publish some!” With Ryan Dalton, Nero Edmund, Christina Henry, Jason M. Hough, Michael MacLean, Amy K. Nichols, and Alan Smale. North 126C.

Saturday 27th: 1:30-2:30pm: All Things Steampunk. “Steampunk in literature can cross boundaries, bend genres, and most certainly has the best costuming! These steampunk authors share their experiences writing in this increasingly popular genre.” With Quincy J. Allen, Kevin J. Anderson, Elizabeth Bear, Jim Butcher, Beth Cato, and Alan Smale. North 126AB.

Sunday 27th: 10:30am-11:30am. Signing. Alan Smale and Robin Hobb. Del Rey booth, Exhibitor Hall.

Sunday 28th: 1:30-2:30pm: Signing. Pierce Brown, Bradley P. Beaulieu, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Brian McClellan, Alexandra Oliva, and Alan Smale. Exhibitor Hall.

Looking forward to a great time! Hope to see you there!




Eagle and Empire book release month: May/June 2017 blogs and interviews

In which I provide a compendium of links to the guest blogs and interviews I did to promote the final book in the Clash of Eagles series, Eagle and Empire, released May 16th, 2017, including Scalzi’s “The Big Idea”, Kowal’s “My Favorite Bit”, and a ton of others. Frankly, I’m super-excited about the response to these books, and very happy to have been able to talk about it on so many great webby places. [Been adding links as they’ve appeared, but as of June 24, I think I’m done.]

5/15: On “Unbound Worlds”, I discuss why alternate history matters:

5/15: A very fun interview with the great Paul Semel:

5/16: Mary Robinette Kowal’s “My Favorite Bit”:

5/17: On Signature Reads: Why We Love the Romans, In All Their Complicated, Bloody Glory”:

5/18: John Scalzi’s “The Big Idea” on his blog, “Whatever”:

The Big Idea: Alan Smale

5/23: The Page 69 Test at Marshal Zeringue’s Campaign for the American Reader blog:

5/28: Writers Read, also at CAR, where I describe what I’ve been reading recently:

6/13: Talking with the Functional Nerds:

On Episode 322 of the Functional Nerds podcast, I babble to Patrick Hester and John Anealio about alt.hist, the Wright Bros (and Sis), my book covers, and my singing group, the Chromatics.

And to round things out:

6/20: On “My Life My Books My Escape” I chat at length with DJ about Eagle and Empire, its world, characters, and influences, and the process of writing it.

You can find excerpts of Eagle and Empire in several places, including Paste Magazine, the Barnes & Noble site, and Unbound Worlds 50 Page Friday:

I’ll be adding to this blog as new interviews, guest blogs, and other fun things appear online.  [Last edited and finalized: 6/24]

My Schedule for Worldcon 2016

In which I describe where you can find me at MidAmericon2, the 74th Worldcon, to be held in Kansas City, MO, August 17-21. Four panels (one I’m moderating), a writers’ workshop, a reading, a signing, and a kaffeeklatsch. And some parties.

(1) Kaffeeklatsch. Thursday 10am-11am. (2211 KKs).

(2) Panel: The Year in Astronomy. Thursday 3pm-4pm, with Mark L. Olsen (M), Brother Guy Consolmagno, John DeLaughter, Alan Smale, Henry Spencer. (3501F-A/V)

(3) Panel: Cleaning Up Your Prose. Thursday 6pm-7pm, with Alan Smale (M), Randy Henderson, Rob Chilson, Rebecca Schwarz, C.C. Finlay. (3501B)

(4) Writers Workshop. Friday 10am-noon, with Alan Smale and Rick Wilber (now filled).

(5) Signing. Friday 1pm-2pm, with Jeanette Epps, Alex Jabolokow, Lyda Morehouse, Lawrence M. Schoen, Alan Smale, and Mary A. Turzillo.

(6) Reading. Friday 7:30pm-8:00pm.  (2202)

(7) Panel: Twentieth Anniversary Sidewise Awards. Saturday 1pm-2pm, with Steven M. Silver (M), Alan Smale, Walter Jon Williams, Brendan DuBois, Ken Liu, Rick Wilber. ((3501F-AV)

(8) Panel: Revealing the Past through Alternate Histories. Saturday 4pm-5pm, with Eric Flint (M), Alan Smale, Walt Boyes, Kate Elliot, Esther Friesner (2504B)

Phew. Yep, I’ll be busy. DM me if you want to try to meet up with me outside these times…!


March/April Blogs and Interviews

In which I provide a compendium of links to the guest blogs and interviews I did to promote the release of Eagle in Exile (on-sale date March 22, 2016), including Scalzi’s The Whatever, Mary Robinette’s My Favorite Bit,, SF Signal, SFFWorld… Lots. Lots. Even more than this time last year, for Book One, Clash of Eagles. Growth is good.

2/17SF Signal’s Mind Meld: The Secret Sauce of Alternate HistoryA dozen alt-hist authors, including moi, expound on what makes good alternate history, how we research and write, and which books we like.

2/22: I am interviewed by the great Paul Semel  about Eagle in Exile, research, what my coworkers at NASA think of all this, and… Romans in space?

Exclusive Interview: Eagle In Exile Author Alan Smale

3/15: What’s my favorite bit of Eagle in Exile? Mary Robinette Kowal knows…

My Favorite Bit: Alan Smale talks about EAGLE IN EXILE

3/18: My Dear Readers feature for Del Rey, featured on It’s all about maps. Because the map is the territory.

Dear Readers: A Letter from Alan Smale

3/17: Podcast: I am interviewed by The Week in Geek on Fox Sports 1280AM, down there at the Market of the Mud. I mean, New Orleans.

3/22: Podcast: I talk to the Functional Nerds about working for NASA, Eagle in Exile, singing high energy vocal music with The Chromatics, and much more:

Episode 267 – With Alan Smale

3/22: “Five Oddball Books about Time Travel by Brits”; my feature for about those timey-wimey weirdos across the pond. Oh wait.

3/22: Here, I’m on John Scalzi’s “The Big Idea”, being more thoughtful than usual about the philosophy of What I Wrote. This turned out to be my vision statement for the whole trilogy. (But no real spoilers.)

The Big Idea: Alan Smale

3/31: In which I am interviewed by Sally Janin of The Qwillery about Eagle in Exile, my characters, the publishing biz, and dining with the dead. We had a lot of fun with this one.

4/1: Interviewed by Lauren Samer of Inverse about concepts and characters, inspiration, TV, and my writing-future.

4/1: I talk with Andrea Johnson of SF Signal about short fiction vs. long, maps, The Chromatics, and the engines that will take us to Mars. “History is Cool!”

4/6: On the Campaign for the American Reader, I take the Page 69 Challenge. As with Book One, it’s surprising how pivotal Page 69 is in Eagle in Exile.

4/13: And to round out this baker’s dozen of promo, I am interviewed by Matt Mitrovich of SFFWorld about Eagle in Exile, flying, great historical walls, and whether what-if writers can really enjoy the Superbowl.

Woo-hoo! That was quite a Book Release Month…!

Back Above Water

In which I reappear after a six month absence, and try to figure out where I’ve been.

Okay. Wow. I knew I’d have to take a bit of a break from blogging, but I didn’t know it would be that long.

It has, in fact, been exactly six months since my last post, which I wrote at New York Comic Con. And that feels weird, because it seems like I was at NYCC just yesterday. I had a great time there. I know a lot of people hate the crowds and the lines and the sheer slog of getting from A to B, but I was in heaven. I loved walking the halls and seeing so much enthusiasm for genre: books, movies, comics, games, TV shows. It was my first Comic Con, and I had a most excellent experience.

And on top of that, there was my time at the Del Rey booth. The Del Rey people are efficient, tireless, well organized, really smart, and have a keen sense of humor. Loved working with them, loved getting cramp in my hand from signing so many books. Enjoyed hanging out in the back of the booth — and down at the bar — with them, and with a number of Del Rey’s other authors.

I will resist the urge to name-drop. Yes, I will. For now. Because getting to meet so many of my writing heroes -and- a bunch of awesome debut authors who are going through just the same things as me right now deserves a more thoughtful appraisal, at some point.

Anyway, since getting home from NYCC, it’s pretty much been the salt mines for me. I was on a tight deadline to deliver Book Three, and I took it seriously, while also taking the day job seriously at the same time, so that means I’ve been working 60-70 hour weeks. Constantly. I did NaNoWriMo, to power me through the second half of the book. Zoomed past 50,000 new words on November 26th and kept going. And then I had to edit all those words. Long story short: I’ve now delivered Eagle and Empire to Mike Braff at Del Rey, and I’m eager to see what he has to say about it and get his feedback. At the moment the manuscript clocks in at 167,000 words, so I’m predicting there may be a leetle bit of structural editing required. But it’s done, the story is all there, the way I always wanted to tell it, and I’m very happy with the book.

Oh, and in the meantime… Book Two came out! Eagle in Exile hit the streets on Tuesday, March 22nd. Over February and March I wrote about 20,000 words of guests blogs, interview Q+As, and other associated promo stuff. I’ll be devoting a whole blog post to that soon, including a handy compendium of links.

And now that my head is back above water after all the writing and promo, I’ll try not to be such a stranger to my own blog pages. Hmmph!


New York Comic Con – free books, free coffee, and me.

In which I briefly describe my schedule for my trip to the Big Apple for New York Comic Con, Oct 9-12.

I do solemnly swear that that I will eventually get back to posting something other than my upcoming con schedules. But This Is Not That Post, because I’ve been busy writing Book Three and getting sick and getting better and I leave tomorrow for NY, so I should really throw some information up about it now.

This will be my first ever Comic Con, so I’m pretty excited about it. Although I was a bit startled to learn that NYCC is now larger than San Diego. SDCC’s attendance caps at 130,000. Last year’s attendance at NYCC was like 150,000 people. Whoa. And I used to think Worldcons were, you know, kinda big. I’m breaking a seven-year streak of going to Capclave because NYCC is the same weekend. Capclave attendance is, oh, a few hundred. Oh boy.

Anyway, I’ll be at NYCC all day Saturday and Sunday, and my scheduled signing times are:

Signing: Saturday 10th, 3:00pm-3:45pm, Del Rey booth #2205. Free books.

Signing: Sunday 11th, 12:00-12:45pm, Del Rey booth #2205. Free books.

Yes. Del Rey will be giving out FREE copies of Clash of Eagles for these signings. Seriously. They do that, because Del Rey are that awesome. Come at other times and get free books from Naomi Novik, Terry Brooks and many more. The full schedule for the Del Rey booth is online at

Click to access 2015-NY-Comic-Con-Programming-DEL-REY-ONLY-HANDOUT2.pdf

If you want to chat with me at other times, DM me through FB, Twitter, or and we’ll figure out how to meet up.

If you’re in NY but not going to NYCC, you can still get to hang out with me and lots of cooler people who actually know what they’re doing, because there’s an Author Coffee Klatsch on Monday, 11am-1pm, at Penguin Random House, 1745 Broadway. The event is free to attend but you need to RSVP ahead of time and they aren’t giving free books away at this one. Here are the full details:

From the list of writers who’ll be there, it’s obvious that this is going to be a great event. Come if you can!

Okay, I gotta pack. See ya there.

Baltimore Book Festival!

Woo-hoo! Next weekend — Fri Sept 25th through Sun Sept 27th — I’ll be at the Baltimore Book Festival. During the course of the weekend we’ll have 30+ authors at the SFWA Tent of Awesomeness, and I’ll be one of ’em. Sunday is my big day, with 3 panels and a signing, but I’ll certainly be around the other days too. Including the Saturday, 6pm-7pm: Meet the Author Social. Which, looking at the list of authors attending, I think is going to be pretty great.

My schedule for Sunday is As Follows:

11am-12 Noon: Design Your Own World.  “Join us in a Rousing Game of Stump the Panelists with a Worldbuilding Mashup – Audience Participation Encouraged. Learn what goes into creating fantasy and science fiction worlds.”

Panelists: Tobias S. Buckell, Carolyn Ives Gilman, Anna Kashina, Don Sakers, Alan Smale … although frankly, stumping me with this kind of thing? Probably not hard at all. 🙂

12 Noon – 1pm: Science in Science Fiction and Fantasy. “Which comes first: fiction or fact when it comes to science in Sci-fi and fantasy? Where do the “soft sciences” fit in? Ask our experts!”

Panelists: Karen Burnham, Jack Clemons, Carolyn Ives Gilman, Anna Kashina, Don Sakers, Alan Smale — I’ll be moderating this one.

2pm-3pm: I’ll be at the Signing Table!

4pm-5pm: Timey-Wimey Stuff: Time Travel, Alternate History, and Historical Fantasy.  “Sometimes past is present and future is past — especially around a time traveler. KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Learn what’s what when we change the past, and how to avoid historical goofs and time travel gaffs.”

Panelists: DH Aire, Tom Doyle, Carolyn Ives Gilman, Alan Smale.

The full online schedule for the SFWA Tent of Awesomeness — along with details of who else is going to be there — can be found at:

Come along. I think it’s going to be a good time.