Kevin J. Anderson’s Blog

i write. i make up stuff. i adventure hard, so you don’t have to.
  • Mentats of Dune Banner resized photo z_export_done3_resize2.gif
  • November 2015
    M T W T F S S
    « Oct    

    Making a BLOCKBUSTER

    Posted By on November 20, 2015

    When I was learning to become a writer, then a published writer, then a novelist, I read a lot of writing books, looking for the key, trying to figure out the next step. Since there were writers ahead of me on the curve, better than me, I knew I had to catch up. Of course, my goal was not just to be a “published” author, but a “successful” author so I could make my living at it. A bestselling author.

    The problem was, a lot of the people writing these How To books didn’t have any real credits of their own. One guy even wrote “How to Write the Bestselling Novel”…but he had never managed to hit the bestseller list himself. Hmmmm.

    Then I found a book that changed my whole perspective, a boot camp that was like a secret decoder ring for those subtle but key ingredients I had been missing: WRITING THE BLOCKBUSTER NOVEL by Albert Zuckerman. A detailed, insightful analysis of why some books succeeded and others crashed and burned.

    Writing the Blockbuster Novel Cover Final
    Zuckerman is not a writer himself, but a big league agent with major bestselling clients. He knows what it takes to make a blockbuster, and he lays it out. For instance, in a difficult and absolutely revelatory section, he goes through several complete drafts—published here in full—of Ken Follett’s outline for the international bestseller The Man from St. Petersburg. First draft of the outline, and an analysis of what needed to be fixed; then second draft of the outline, improved, but what still needed to be fixed; then third draft…all the way until the final.

    At the time I read that, my coauthor Doug Beason and I were developing our high-tech thriller IGNITION—like Die Hard at the Kennedy Space Center. We had our outline done and we thought it was ready to go, a sure-fire blockbuster bestseller. But reading the Follett outline, I realized that we had made the same omissions that Follett did. I had Doug read the Zuckerman book, and we modified our outline accordingly, then wrote the book.

    Ignition Front

    IGNITION sold immediately to Universal Studios for by far the largest movie deal I’ve ever received, and to a New York publisher for a major six-figure advance. I’d say the advice worked!

    A new edition of WRITING THE BLOCKBUSTER NOVEL will be out next year, but right now you can pick it up—along with 24 other extremely useful books on writing craft, professionalism, and career building—as part of the Nanowrimo Writing Tools storybundle for a minimum bid of only $25 (the price I paid for the Zuckerman book alone in the first place). I’m certainly glad I made the investment—it changed my career.

    All Covers 2015 Large

    All Covers 2014 Large

    Check out the Writing Tools Storybundle at


    Writing Tools for Nanowrimo

    Posted By on November 10, 2015

    For the second year, I worked with to put together a massive batch of useful books that will help you survive—and thrive—during National Novel Writing Month. A dozen books on writing craft, productivity, and business—the full spectrum of useful information.  And you name your own price

    From the wide-ranging to the specific, the NaNoWriMo Writing Tools Bundle is a treasure chest of books vital to your success not only in writing your novel but in launching your long-term career as a successful writer. This is a toolkit, a drill sergeant, a mentor, and a cheerleading section, all in one.

    All Covers 2015 Large

    For the big picture, there are two classics that have already influenced numerous bestselling writers: Writing to the Point by Algis Budrys and Writing the Blockbuster Novel by Al Zuckerman; there’s also Brewing Fine Fiction edited by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff & Pati Nagle, Jump Start Your Novel by Mark Teppo, and the unique and massive Synopsis Treasury edited by C.S. Haviland.

    For coaching on specific skills, Kevin J. Anderson presents Wordbuilding: From Small Towns to Entire Universes; Stant Litore teaches you how to Write Characters Your Readers Won’t Forget; Marie Brennan talks about Writing Fight Scenes, while Judith Tarr shows all about Writing Horses.

    And once you’ve got your book finished and your career launched, you need to know about Writing Copy by Dean Wesley Smith, Discoverability by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and Million Dollar Booksignings by David Farland.

    At, you name your own price and receive either the basic bundle of six books (minimum $5 bid) or all 12 books (minimum $15 bid).

    All Covers 2014 Large

    This year, as a special bonus we’ve never done before, is offering a “Superbundle” for a minimum bid of only ten dollars more ($25 total)—all twelve of this year’s Nanowrimo Writing Tools bundle titles AND all twelve of last year’s titles on productivity, craft, outlining, TV writing, and much more.

    Available in all eBook formats, and *worldwide*.




    Utah Writing Retreat—Alone with a BUNCH of Authors

    Posted By on November 10, 2015

    It was perfect timing at Salt Lake Comic Con in September when I stepped on a hotel elevator with James Duckett, another writer I’d met a couple of times before. He looked at me, got a contemplative look on his face, and said, “I won’t know unless I ask.”  He told me about a writers’ retreat he was participating in, one that would be held the first week of November near Park City. They were looking for a “writer in residence” who would come, give a few breakout sessions, and spend the rest of the time curled up writing or editing (thus providing a “professional good example”).  As it happened, that was EXACTLY when I knew I would be in the midst of a big concentration-heavy edit on ETERNITY’S MIND.

    As many of you know, I love to go off by myself in the mountains, find a quiet lodge where I can spend days writing without being interrupted. I wasn’t entirely sure about doing it in a large lodge with 20 or more other writers, but I decided to give it a try.

    I am very glad I did. James picked me up from the Salt Lake City airport on Thursday morning and drove me out to Heber City in the mountains; we had lunch in Park City, then went off to find the lodge.  People were starting to arrive, food and equipment were hauled in, and I got to my room. After changing into comfy clothes (my writing “uniform” of sweat pants and fluffy slippers), I found a spot in one of the sofas near a fireplace, put on my ear phones, and started editing.


    IMG_5193 IMG_5194 IMG_5198

    The scenery was beautiful and inspirational, and the group—writers of all levels and all genres—were all dedicated, eager, and respectful. I felt immediately at home. We would all get together for group meals, which was a time for conversation, but the rest of the time they were all diligent workers, wearing headphones, talking quietly, devoted to their WIP.

    IMG_5205 IMG_5207

    We got to know each other quite well over the next three days. Each night after dinner I gave a talk on various aspects of writing or publishing, but also talked a lot informally.  I think we all benefited from the experience.

    IMG_5199  IMG_5211 IMG_5212 IMG_5213


    As a measure of the success, from the time I left home on Thursday morning to the time I returned home on Sunday afternoon, I edited 324 pages in ETERNITY’S MIND—which is an incredible pace, even for me. Now that I’m home, getting “only” 50 pages done in a day seems like quite a small accomplishment.

    Thank you all for a wonderful experience.


    For Nanowrimo: Two New Books on Writing

    Posted By on November 6, 2015

    If you’re one of the millions of writers participating in National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, or just a writer interested in improving your craft, you might be interested in two writing books just released in print and eBook by WordFire Press.

    I have given many workshops on Worldbuilding at conventions and conferences. I’ve built gigantic galactic empires and steampunk worlds and gritty urban fantasy settings. I pulled together all the information I share in the workshop, as well as some additional material, and published it in WORLDBUILDING: FROM SMALL TOWNS TO ENTIRE UNIVERSES.

    I describe mytechniques in creating a rich fictional setting, leading writers through the countless questions and topics one must consider. Whether it’s geography, climate, politics, economics, society, religion, science, arts, or history, all of these ingredients form the basis for a believable setting for your story to unfold.


    We’ve also just reissued a long out-of-print classic on writing by Algis Budrys, master SF writer as well as mentor to many successful authors in the field today. WRITING TO THE POINT. The complete, concise guide to writing fiction that sells from one of the most popular instructors of the Writers of the Future and Clarion workshops.Get a master’s competitive edge in the writing business.

    Bestselling writer, editor and renowned writing teacher Algis Budrys, known as “AJ” to his many students, has distilled his fifty years of success into Writing to the Point. Write better stories. Fix mistakes in your current stories.


    Writing to the Point contains all the writing articles that appeared in the classic tomorrow Magazine, re-edited and expanded. Algis Budrys taught hundreds of people at scores of workshops, was a well-known critic, editor, and author in his own right.



    Guest Blog: Where do your monsters lurk? Josh Vogt

    Posted By on October 19, 2015

    Josh Vogt is a talented up-and-coming author, my former executive manager, and now an editor at Paizo Publishing. Here’s his take on monsters


    The Monsters Bundle is available from, and includes up to a dozen monster stories for any price you want to pay (minimum $5).

    We all have different fears. Heights. Spiders. Clowns. Puppets. (So, in other words, don’t ever stick me on a clifftop facing a giant spider that has a clown puppet.)

    And they hide in all sorts of different places. Under the bed. In the closet. On dark back roads. In your office shared fridge. Or in a bathroom stall.

    Now, I’ve never been a huge fan of all things scary in life. There’s a phrase I’ve heard tossed around that basically says, “You can laugh or you can scream.” I always prefer laughter, and believe if you learn to laugh at your fears, at the monsters, it can take away much, if not all, of their hold on you.

    Monsters can still be fun. They can be fascinating, even, as you try to understand them and why they do what they do–or why they even exist in the first place. I also think it’s intriguing to see how the definition of “monster” can be so dramatically different from person to person.

    What’s monstrous for you? Is it even always a bad thing, or do we need monsters to inspire us to overcome them? How would you go about defeating yours?

    When I approach monsters, especially in my storytelling, I often tend to do so with laughter as my soundtrack, rather than screams. Now, that doesn’t mean the monsters aren’t serious and can’t cause nasty consequences, but it very much shifts the tone of the story and how the characters within it act.

    That’s why my Cleaners series, starting with Enter the Janitor, has a more humorous bent to it–a level of inherent absurdity when you consider janitors working for a supernatural sanitation company, wielding mop and squeegee to take down monsters like dust devils, sewer creatures, or all sort of magical muck.

    But that’s not the only approach, of course. And one of the best ways to see the enormous variety in how we deal with fear and monsters is in the Monsters Story Bundle going on right now. Just in time for Halloween, it’s the perfect way to add both laughter and screams to your reading list. Experience everything from dinosaurs and werewolves to zombie detectives and attorneys championing the rights of monsters in their city.

    I hope you’ll take a look and enjoy many of these marvelously monstrous stories!

    Monsters Story Bundle is available from, and includes up to a dozen monster stories for any price you want to pay (minimum $5). The other tales include The Love-Haight Case Files by Jean Rabe & Donald J. Bingle, Jurassic Dead by David Sakmyster & Rick Chesler, Pack Dynamics by Julie Frost, Working Stiff by Kevin J. Anderson, Empty Roomsby Jeffrey J. Mariotte, For This is Hell by Aaron Rosenberg & Steven Savile, Enter the Janitor by Josh Vogt, The Wolf at the End of the World by Douglas Smith, Monster Academyby Matt Forbeck, Helmet Head by Mike Baron, and Mammoth Dawn by Kevin J. Anderson & Gregory Benford. Story Bundle available until 5 November 2015.


    Tick Tock! CLOCKWORK LIVES Audiobook—and WORKING STIFF

    Posted By on October 16, 2015

    The CLOCKWORK LIVES novel is a beautiful example of the bookmaking craft from ECW Press, a work of art with red leatherette stamped cover, endpapers, color printing, line illustrations. The unabridged audiobook is just out—and I think that’s pretty special, too.


    CLOCKWORK LIVES is like a steampunk Canterbury Tales, the journey of Marinda Peake across the land of Albion, with airships, carnivals, the Watchmaker, the Anarchist, pirates, sea monsters, and more. Along the way, she collects the tales of others who have led interesting lives.

    The audiobook has as many unique narrators as there are stories. One reader does the main narrative of Marinda Peake, while individual readers take over the duties for the different tales. I even did one of the stories myself, hitting the studio to record The Wrecker’s Tale toward the end of the book. Give it a listen!  Available on or direct from Amazon.

    For CLOCKWORK ANGELS: The Novel, Neil Peart took over the narration duties himself, spending days in the studio recording the novel. This time, CLOCKWORK LIVES was being recorded just as Neil and Rush were finishing their amazing R40 Tour, and though we tried to juggle the scheduling, it just didn’t work out.

    If you’re in the mood to listen to something a little funnier, something with zombie detectives and kidnapped hellhounds and vampire trapeze artists, try another new audio we just released, WORKING STIFF: The Cases of Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.  All seven of the hilarious individual cases of the best zombie detective in the Unnatural Quarter. Includes Stakeout at the Vampire Circus, Road Kill, Naughty & Nice, Locked Room, The Writing on the Wall, Role Model, and Beware of Dog.

    61K1vRbTYNL._SL150_  Working Stiff Cover Final

    Available on  or direct from Amazon.


    Monsters Unleashed!

    Posted By on October 15, 2015

    We’ve got enough of what scares you. I put together a monstrous collection of books for, a dozen tales of werewolves, zombies, dinosaurs, bloodthirsty serial killers, vampires, and more. Who wants candy for Halloween?—this is a better treat.

    Monsters Unleashed! A dozen monster books, and you name your own price.

    All Covers Large

    I’ve done quite a few bundles before, so you probably already know how it works. Pay whatever you feel the books are worth, and you decide how much of the money goes to the authors, to a charity (the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, in this case), or to administration costs to keep running. Pay a minimum of $5 and get the basic six books—that’s half a dozen monsters. For $15 or more, you get all twelve books. They are delivered immediately, in whichever eBook format you prefer. DRM free.

    You want werewolves? Check out Julie Frost’s Pack Dynamics and Douglas Smith’s The Wolf at the End of the World.

    Pack Dynamics Cover Final The Wolf at the End of the World Cover Final

    Prehistoric monsters? Try Jurassic Dead by David A. Sakmyster and Rick Chesler and Mammoth Dawn by Kevin J. Anderson and Gregory Benford.

    Jurassic Dead Cover Final Mammoth Dawn Cover Final

    You want occult forces and investigations? We have The Love-Haight Casefiles by Jean Rabe and Donald J. Bingle, Working Stiff: The Cases of Dan Shamble, Zombie, P.I. by Kevin J. Anderson, and For This Is Hell by Aaron Rosenburg and Steven Savile.

    The Love Haight Case Files Cover Final Working Stiff Cover Final For This is Hell Cover Final

    Horrific killers that make Hannibal Lecter look like a lightweight? There’s Empty Rooms by Jeffrey J. Mariotte and Helmet Head by Michael A. Baron.

    Empty Rooms Cover Final Helmet Head Cover Final

    Or just plain scary weirdness? Matt Forbeck’s Monster Academy, Josh Vogt’s Enter the Janitor, and Keith R.A. DeCandido’s Cayo Hueso.

    Monster Academy Cover Final Enter the Janitor Cover Final Cayo Hueso Cover Final

    The Monsters Unleashed Storybundle runs for only 3 weeks, from October 15-November 6. You can keep them under your bed, until you take them out to read. Help indie authors, help the Challenger Center, and have a good read while you’re at it.


    New Saga of Seven Suns: VEILED ALLIANCES app live on iOS and Android

    Posted By on October 9, 2015

    You never get a second chance to make First Contact.


    I am thrilled to be working with BushiGo to develop the first “appisode” series for my Saga of Seven Suns universe, the prequel VEILED ALLIANCES. The first six-minute appisode, “Confrontation at the Prism Palace,” is the pilot segment of an animated serial adaptation of
    Veiled Alliances, the prequel to the Saga of Seven Suns, enclosed in an app, and it’s optimized for viewing on mobile devices.

    The cast features the voices of Robert Picardo, known to sci-fi fans as the Doctor in “Star Trek Voyager”, and Kyle Hebert, known to anime fans as the English voice of Gohan in “Dragonball Z”.

    Screenshot06  CPjHID4W8AAR-hY

    It’s FREE for download at the following links



    Amazon Kindle

    Windows Phone

    Screenshot07 Screenie02

    “Confrontation at the Prism Palace” uses the interactivity of mobile devices to create a new form of delivering entertainment. Bushing used the Unreal video game engine to drive the animation, so you’ll get the depth of a 3D environment in which you can move the camera angle around to suit your taste and curiosity without interrupting the action. In future episodes, you will be able to add story depth and access the main characters’ innermost thoughts in real time through Bushi-go’s unique “subtext engine”.

    you can also watch a cool teaser video on the BushiGo home page!

    And when you’re done looking at the Appisodes, you can check out the VEILED ALLIANCES book itself, in trade paperback and in all eBook formats.





    NAVIGATORS OF DUNE delivered!

    Posted By on October 5, 2015

    That’s Draft 7, 142,000 words, and the grand finale of the Schools of Dune trilogy that was begun with SISTERHOOD OF DUNE (2011) and followed by MENTATS OF DUNE (2014). Look for NAVIGATORS OF DUNE to be released next May (approximate date) by Tor Books (US) and WordFire Press (UK). Here is the excellent cover by Stephen Youll.


    Brian and I did our basic plotting of NAVIGATORS in an afternoon at a restaurant when we were both guests in Seattle at Norwescon in Seattle in March 2013, during the book tour for HELLHOLE AWAKENING. We were coming off the heels of MENTATS OF DUNE and the story was fresh in our minds, so we wanted to get the story framework down.  We mapped out the broad strokes.

    Hellhole-Awake[2]  Hellhole-Inferno

    First, though, we had to write and deliver the final manuscript for HELLHOLE INFERNO, which we did. It wasn’t until October 2014 before we got together, spending four days at Brian’s house just brainstorming all the details. After those intense, productive days, we went to our separate corners, exchanged the outline back and forth, fleshing it out, developing the details.  We started writing the draft in early 2015 and have been working on it ever since, going back and forth. Now, in the seventh draft, it’s ready for the editor and our trusted test readers.

    Sisterhood Mentats Cover

    NAVIGATORS marks the 17th book Brian Herbert and I have done together since 1999—by my rough guess over 2 million words in collaboration!  And we’re still friends.  We want to thank all our fans for the enthusiasm and support for so many years. We hope you enjoy NAVIGATORS OF DUNE when it’s published next Spring.




    Special Signed/Numbered Edition of Dan Shamble WORKING STIFF

    Posted By on October 4, 2015

    Attention, Dan Shamble fans! A new expanded, special edition of the Zombie P.I. Collection WORKING STIFF is just out from Gauntlet Press, hardcover, signed, numbered, even some high-end editions in slipcases or special trays. Perfect for the zombie collector!

    WorkingStiff Special

    The Gauntlet Press special edition of WORKING STIFF has a new introduction by New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry—and signed by him, too!—an afterword by me, AND a very cool bonus, the complete never-before-published 42-page comic script of “Unnaturally Normal,” written with Richard Dean Starr—the comic team-up between Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I., and Kolchak the Night Stalker!  The comics will be coming out next spring from Moonstone comics, but right now this is the only place you can get it.

    All copies are signed by me and Jonathan Maberry, numbered or lettered, in various states. Available now. Order direct from Gauntlet Press.