July 28, 2014
If I had a nickle for every time someone asked me this weekend why I wasn’t at San Diego Comic Con… I would have a lot of nickles.
I suspect I’ll get back to SDCC at some point. I even missed it a little this year. But it’s seriously not a convention I can do every single year. It’s expensive (I’ve paid my own way there both times I’ve gone, my publisher or the convention didn’t), the logistics are nightmarish (even pro badges are limited these days and require applications and a little luck, and then there’s getting a decent hotel room), and it’s exhausting (so…much…walking). It’s especially exhausting for me because I’m not happy just doing my writer panels and signings and calling it a day. I also try to hit panels and walk the exhibit floor because there’s no way I’m going to the middle of that much geekdom and not take part. This ends up making it doubly exhausting. So yeah, it’s a great convention, kudos to the people who do it every year. But I’m happy making it an every few years pilgrimage.
And I’m thinking it’s time I get back to Dragon Con, which I’ve only been to once. We’ll see what next year holds.
I’m still sorting out my desk after the last few weeks of heavy lifting. I got to go to an SCA camping event this weekend which was a very nice break. Now, I must figure out where I left my brain. For today’s mental health break, have a picture from a trip a couple of years ago, the Roman arena at Pula, Croatia:
July 25, 2014
It’s been kind of a strange summer, work wise. I don’t have a big novel deadline pending, so intellectually, I haven’t felt like I’ve been working all that hard. But yesterday I got a big fat project (an in-depth critique) off my desk, and my sense of relief and closure was immediate. I didn’t know what to do with myself. It was like, fruity drink and dance party on the patio time. Then I thought, “Well, I did work pretty hard this week to get things done. And last week, too. And before that was this other project. Not to mention a couple of conventions in there, and guest lecturing at a teen writing workshop. Two sets of galleys, a big revision, the graphic novel was due. . . Gosh, when was the last time I wasn’t working hard? Memorial Day weekend? Oh…”
So yeah, I realized I’ve been going hard since Memorial Day weekend, but since it was all “little” projects I didn’t notice. But when that weight came off — that, I noticed. Weird how that works.
I’ve got one more little job, then all I really need to worry about is getting ready for Loncon and Shamrokon. I’m really excited! Need to get out my travel books and figure out some sightseeing stuff. Oh — and I’ve started writing a new novel, which is super fun. I really love that I’ve been a professional novelist for ten years now and I still get excited about writing.
In other news, I now know how automatic garage door openers work. Anyone want an old broken garage door opener?
In more other news: my tickets for Guardians of the Galaxy next Friday are in hand. Just one. . .more. . .week. I’m on spoiler lockdown — there’s already too much out there and I don’t want to know until I see the thing for myself.
And I wrote a poem this week:
This is just to say
I have thrown out
that were in
you were probably
they might be
and I don’t want
you to die.
July 23, 2014
Harry and Marlowe Versus the Haunted Locomotive of the Rockies is now live on Lightspeed! The entire issue is available for purchase as well. This is the fifth Harry and Marlowe story. A sixth is on the way. The series continues apace!
I have another new story available. This may take some explaining. You might have heard of Amazon’s Kindle Worlds program. Essentially, officially sanctioned and licensed fanfiction. It turns out, G.I. Joe is one of the franchises involved with this. Several astute readers brought this to my attention. Then a couple of months ago, WordFire Press came to me with a proposal that began, “So, we hear you’re a fan of G.I. Joe.”
You can probably guess where this is going.
Behold: G.I. Joe: Luck Be a Lady. A story by me.
So that exists now. It was a lot of fun to do. My guiding principle: I wanted it to feel exactly like an episode of the cartoon, with everything that entails, but with commentary. There are easter eggs. The unexpected thing I discovered: The Baroness is an absolute hoot to write. I had so much fun with her point of view. Because you see, she isn’t really loyal to Cobra. She actually doesn’t give much of a rat’s ass about Cobra, or Cobra Commander, or world domination. She just wants to see everything burn. She wants to create havoc and destruction. Cobra lets her do that more than anything else does, so she sticks around. But I’m talking 100% chaotic evil — in a PG universe. And that’s crazy. I just love it.
July 18, 2014
I had a good time at Shared Worlds, and my presentation seemed to go over well. This is the sort of workshop/camp I’d have loved to do as a teenager — two weeks of living and breathing creativity. So cool.
Now I have the inevitable mountain of email to dig out of it. But there’s some good stuff coming up. I’ll tell you all about it when I can. In the meantime, I’m going to take it easy this weekend and noodle around until the next big travel push, coming up in a few weeks.
Happy Friday, everybody!
July 16, 2014
I’m in South Carolina today! Teaching at the Shared Worlds writing workshop for teens. This evening, I’ll be at the Hub City Bookshop in Spartanburg, at 7 pm, reading and signing. I think I’ll pick a short story to read from, just for fun.
In other news, I finished the revision of the next Kitty novel and turned it in before I left. Woooooo!
July 9, 2014
July 4, 2014
Today is Independence Day in the U.S. I am away, making a weekend of it, and not working too hard (I hope).
Celebrate well. Celebrate safely.
*Raises a bottle of cider to you all*
July 2, 2014
Announcement: On July 16 at 7 pm, I’ll be at the Hub City Bookshop in Spartanburg, SC, hanging out and chatting and signing books and things. An east coast appearance, woot! This will be after my stint teaching at the Shared Worlds workshop for teens, so it should be a fun action-packed day.
The July issue of Lightspeed is now available! Including a new story by me, “Harry and Marlowe Versus the Haunted Locomotive of the Rockies.” The story goes live on the site on July 22, but you can buy the issue and read it early. This is the fifth Harry and Marlowe story, and yes I have plans to gather them all in a collection someday, but I have a couple more I want to write first before I tie them together.
I’m in the middle of revising the next Kitty book. Holy cow, I’ve got a lot of work to do on this one. Complicated by the fact I have also started writing a whole new novel. Almost ten thousand words in and building steam. I am suddenly very busy. Brain full! Gah!
June 25, 2014
I am a prolific writer. I average a couple of books a year and a handful of short stories, which I guess is a lot. I have to admit, from my end all I can see are the dozens of books and stories I haven’t written yet, and I never seem to get enough done. But I’ve come to realize, that on the larger scale of things, yes, I am prolific.
I’ve been thinking lately about why that is and how that happens, because I never decided to be prolific, I never mapped out a strategy that would let me write as much as possible. It just happened. But how? Well, the writing every day thing certainly helps — I don’t even have to write a lot every day, just a little bit. Just enough. I’m always thinking of ideas — I don’t wait for an assignment or contract to come along. Writing both short stories and novels helps contribute to the perception of me being prolific.
And there’s one other trait I hit on lately: Abandonment. Knowing when to let go. Being able to move on to the next thing when one thing isn’t working.
What this means if you’re an aspiring writer, if you want to be a professional writer: Don’t pin all your hopes on one thing. As soon as you finish writing that first story, that first novel — start the next. Immediately.
I’ve talked about my three trunk novels a lot. I probably have a proportional number of trunk short stories to go with my 70+ published stories. Then there’s all the stuff I never even sent out: a couple of “practice” novels, a bunch of stories. I still occasionally write a short story that immediately goes into the trunk because I’m not happy with it. It’s okay, because I’ve got this new thing to work on, and it’ll be better.
Because you know what? All those lessons you learned writing that one thing? You’ll be able to use them on the next. The next thing will be better. The reason it was so easy for me to abandon those early novels and stories? As soon as I wrote the next thing, I saw that the earlier stuff wasn’t very good. The only way you can see yourself making progress as a writer is by working on new things, so you can compare.
If you want to be a professional writer, you have to become an idea factory — you should always know the next thing you want to work on. If that last thing doesn’t sell, doesn’t work out, or isn’t actually that good — that’s okay, because you’ve got this next thing, and the next, and the next.
And for the love of all that is good and holy, don’t spend ten years working on the same thing. Don’t rewrite the same thing endlessly, thinking that this next revision will finally make it good. Or, do, but don’t expect to ever become a pro at this gig if you do.
At the risk of inciting ear worms, Let It Go. You have to be able to let go of old work and move on to the next work.
June 23, 2014
I spent the weekend and the official start of summer — most of the entire last week actually — very sick with what I thought was a cold but turned out to be a “viral sore throat.” The doctor diagnosed and basically looked at me and said, “Sucks to be you. Oh, and don’t kiss anyone.” Thanks, science! I don’t know if I caught it at Denver Comic Con or someplace else, but it’s terribly funny to me that after a stretch of six conventions since the end of March, I get horribly ill after the one that was the closest to home and that I spent the least amount of time at.
I had a good time for my one day at Denver Comic Con — I even got to listen to some other programs, like Edward James Olmos’s spotlight. He’s a sharp and passionate guy, who’s had a hell of a career. You don’t realize until you line it all up — Blade Runner, Stand and Deliver, Battlestar Galactica, and so on. He talked about it all. And he really seems to love leading the audience in a nice round of “So say we all!”
I also spent the day thinking about how much conventions have changed. I went to my first convention in 1988, I think — Starcon here in Denver, one of the predecessors of the current incarnation of Starfest. It was small and kind of insular and really good fun, and it had everything most modern conventions have — a dealer’s room, actors on the big stage, a masquerade, a film room, an anime room, panels and activities like “Jedi Jeopardy” and “Build an Alien.” In fact, it had everything a modern comic con has — but a bare fraction of the attendance. There’d be maybe a couple thousand, and it would be the nerdiest of the nerds. There’d be a handful of costumes — a lot of Star Trek uniforms and a few “out there” ones that would get a lot of attention because there were so few people dressing up. There’d be an award for “best hall costume” as well as awards in the masquerade.
So last weekend, I was thinking about what’s changed so that we have essentially the same thing going on, but with 86,000 people (DCC’s final attendance count was around that) instead of a couple thousand. What’s covered by conventions has expanded, sure. A lot more people know about them — back in the day, I think a lot of people just didn’t know conventions existed. But more than that, genre is everywhere. The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones are super popular, anime airs everywhere on TV and you don’t have to actively track it down like you used to, gaming is everywhere, the biggest movies are all superhero movies, etc.
Conventions have always given people a deeper access to the things they love — meet the actors, buy the T-shirts, network with other fans, etc. There’s just so much more of all of it now, and comic cons stepped in to fill that need in a way that Starfest and the nerdier, longer-running conventions haven’t. 25 years ago, dressing in costume was something different and odd and only some people did. Now, it’s getting to the point where the last few conventions I’ve been at, more people have been in costume than not. It’s becoming an essential part of the experience.
Conventions have always had an air of the mystical. The very strange and mystical way people treat the actors, for example — even just a glimpse of Adam West seems magical, and why is that? I kept thinking, this, the whole convention, is like church. Pop culture church. People wear special clothes. They spend lots of money. All of it in worship of the special things they love. So what’s different now? What is it about comic cons now that wasn’t there 25 years ago? I’m not sure.
What I do know is now, it’s all cool. People don’t look at you funny when you say you’re going to a convention, like they did back then. They think it’s cool. How about that? If you went back in time and told that to my high school convention going self, I never would have believed it.