A Creative Update

It’s about time for one of these. I know last winter I posted about restarting my Patreon and then went radio silent for a long dark time. Having a neurological scare like I did will tend to do that to just about anyone. But wow! It’s like summer out there. My kids are home from school, and I have been writing.

What’s the WIP?

I’m about 3,000 words into an exploration of a multiverse that fragments along the borders of possibilities. My protagonist is learning the ropes from someone more experienced than herself, and I’m poking artists for cover work.

Plus, I’m enjoying writing this story. Infinite possibility imbues the freedom of breaking one’s own rules. No datum, no Amber, no center means I can turn the dials well past eleven to see what happens when the first one is set to -∏, and the next one shows “blue.” Let’s run this baby at Ludicrous for a while.

So, the reason I’m writing this post is to determine who, if anyone, is interested in reading this as a series. Most of you are probably going to see a notification from Patreon or WordPress and immediately move said email into the trash bin, but I’m willing to twist the setting on the possibility that at least some of you will a) read the post and b) reply with anticipation. Even if that’s beyond the boundary of what is possible, get ready, new stories are coming soon.

WIP

The ball is metaphorically rolling up here in the thankfully gray Pacific North West. Much has happened since my last update. I ran across the Grand Canyon after a Mark Watney-esk road trip to into the heart of the early summer heat of the desert South West. A-bear and J-bug are now both out of school (yay me! another year of education down) and Tess is plugging away at the Zu.

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What I’ve Been Reading

“The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Pacific Northwest” and other similar. Over the last month or so I’ve actually gone through a stack of gardening books like this one. The library has been my friend.

One of the questions I’ve wanted to answer for myself is “Could Mark Watney have done better for himself if he’d grown his potatoes in towers?” The hypothetical answer is yes, he missed a real opportunity for closed-loop sustainability caloric efficiency given his habitat’s space limitations.

I’ve also re-read “The Martian” (at A-bear’s request). Still a great story, and yes the book is better than the movie.

Finally, I’m on book seven of Roger Zelazny’s Princes of Amber series. It’s rolling along well and Wil Wheaton was an excellent choice to read the Murlin segments of the story. One of the things I really enjoy is how you can see the author’s development reflected in his characters over time. Zelazny was arguably a lot more misogynistic and self-centered, much like Corwin, at the beginning of the saga, then nearer its end. Life seems to have tempered his protagonists and that’s refreshing.

Sitting here, I’m thinking that I really need to keep better track of what I’m reading. I’ve gone through a considerable stack of paper books and a few electronic titles as well, but right now I can’t recall a single title. Maybe I’ll resolve to get back on Goodreads or something.

What I’m Writing

I’ve been sort of reviewing the idea of a multiverse through which we can negotiate space-time by pinching possibilities together. Something like a nearness of world’s theory realized in a modern setting. Think Pratchett’s Long Earth series but in a chaotic, non-linear network of possibilities that can and will become weird. Yes, it’s walking along the rim of those deep Slipstream canyons, but that’s where all the best views are.

I’ve passed on a couple of non-fiction pieces mostly because the amount of work necessary for doing the story right far exceeds the compensation. Writing is not an expensive hobby. If your business model requires me to absorb its costs to produce content we’re not going to have a deal. C’est la vie.

Hey There Spring and News

It has been a wet, wet, moisty wet first season so far, but today the sun is out, and there is a seasonably light breeze blowing over the island. I’ve spent so much time focusing on my house, my yard, and my head that my writing has necessarily taken a back burner.

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For a health status updates, you should know that I now, after years of searching, have a diagnosis that isn’t one of exclusion. Functional Neurological Disorder which is, in equal parts, both a blessing to know and an epic gut-punch to know about. I guess my dreams of becoming an internationally renowned opera singer are on pause, unless or until stuttering with a growl and facial tics ever comes back in vogue.

For somewhat obvious reasons I’ve yet again missed an opportunity to submit to Clarion West, but I will remain sanguine about it and hold onto all the work I did for submission until next year. C’est la vie n’est pas? At least I didn’t have a stroke.

What I’m working on:

Currently, I’m two chapters into a short-ish story about engineered genetic specialization as a sort of currency set in the caldera of Mount Olympus. The title eludes me at the moment, but I’m having lots of fun with it. I’ve also forged on with a couple of novel-length outlines which include “Friend of Bees,” “Winter City Above the Clouds,” and re-writes to “Distance.”  I’ll pick all of these up when I’ve got the short done or when I’m stuck on the short story.

What I’m reading:

It’s been a while since I’ve done anything review-y, but I should probably pick that back up again.

I’ve just finished the complete audio set of Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe’s Series. Unfortunately, I couldn’t locate a copy of Sharpe’s Skirmish, but I have and have listened to all the other stories in that extensive series. Add to this, I’ve been entertained. It’s always a bit of a soap opera, but I guess I like that and Cornwell‘s action scenes are a study in the best way to write those sequences.

Also, I received a recommendation for “The Sparrow” by Mary Doria Russell as a colonization space opera that’s going to make me think. I’m about 2/3rds of the way through the audible version of the story, and there have been a handful of reflective moments, but I’m not giving this work the whole can of beans.

Finally, after reading Tobias Buckell’s multi-nominated work “Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance” I decided to dust off my cover of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert Pirsig. Both of these are worthy reads, but for different reasons. Although, it is my opinion that they’re improved in juxtaposition.

What’s next:

Bees, garage door, more painting and work on the van to name a few big projects. I’ll be headed over to Puget Sound Overland and Coffee at Mule Expedition Outfitters on the 28th of this month with my van to talk about overlanding and maybe find a full-length gear shelf for my roof. Also, I’m going to try to get to the coffee shop at least once a week for some writing time. Likely Wednesdays, but it will vary.

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Refactor

This morning has been productive. I did some work with the bees (corrected an issue with the installation I created … sorry girls), took Aral to school, spent some time at the coffee shop talking with friends, even made a decision regarding the usefulness of yet-another-EEG.

I think the most important takeaway from this morning are some rules I wrote for myself for my writing. Since last year’s river of rejection left me feeling all my attempts to write were worthless I’ve had a very hard time doing the necessary. Still, I’ve got ideas, whole worlds that are banging on the inside of my skull demanding to get out. But I haven’t done what I need to write any of this down and that’s a problem. I need to start writing again as a practice, but the rules I follow regarding this craft also necessarily must change. I can’t write and write only to feel like what I’ve written is a piss poor result for all that time.

New rules are written. They’re simple and the mean that my practice becomes a much more self-contained experience.

Rules to Live By:

  1. Stop seeking criticism from people with no skin IN YOUR GAME. The rule is to write what you want, what you know, and what you’ve planned as fast or slow as you can.
  2. Build the world for “Distance,” “Winter City,” and “Friend of Bees” and other stories methodically and from scratch. Share and talk about ideas only with people you trust.
  3. Begin each story by outlining its plot and understand how it fits into the timeline.
  4. Take your time, spend as much time reading/editing what you’ve written as you spend writing.
  5. Get good at editing your own work.
  6. Remember that publication is only a milestone along any story’s trajectory. It’s not a goal, nor is making money. Keep this in mind when it feels like you’re wasting your time. You’ve written books, and not a lot of people can say that.
  7. Love your stories.
  8. Stop caring so much about a world that doesn’t give two shits about you.

Fire Weather

This is the view from the upper deck of my house, across the East Passage looking toward Mount Rainier right now. It’s cleared up considerably, can’t you tell?

In good weather, we’re usually able to look out over the rail and see the volcano some 40-ish miles away. Often, we can even see the Cascade Crest, situated well beyond the volcano, in the blue distance. So, when the air quality is this bad you know something is up.

What is up is a complex of fires burning in British Columbia. The whole area has been socked in since Monday varying amounts of smoke and ash. I’ve had a headache since about then, and my only relief is when that pain becomes punctuated with periodic lung sensitivity and shortness of breath. Who knew a 45-year-old man could develop asthma?

Well, apparently I did. Starting about two years ago I wrote the bones of a story called Fire Weather. It’s a spec-fic piece about an Air Quality Refugee who flees summer fire weather in Chi-town only to become entwined in a pirate fire-fighting effort working off the coast of … wait for it … British Columbia.

It’s got everything too — semi-autonomous wild fire-fighting robots, boats, heroes, anti-heroes, swine, disaster, and rescue — and there’s no reason (other than a keyboard failure) that I can’t find an editor and get this thing out there.

Look for it on Patreon first.

IOTD

Anyone close to me knows how much running means to me. What it’s done for me and to me over my forty something years. Lately, the barometer or something else has sent my left leg into a troubled period. I’ve been a lot of pain, and consequently, depression.

This video, apparently student made for Addidas and rejected, moved me. It’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest for the aged. I think that the glory day’s angle on the story told herein is nice, but less fitting.

Science Fiction Harder

Why ponies? I have no idea, but that’s their theme.

Excitement! Early tomorrow morning I’ll be making my way to SeaTec for a flight to Detroit. It’s been too long, three years, since the last time I made my way to ConFusion.

I still don’t have a ride from the airport to the hotel, but unless someone volunteers I’ll likely just grab an Uber or Lyft. If you’re at the convention make sure to ask me for a giveaway code. I’ve just purchased 20 copies of The Doomsday Chronicles that I’ll be giving away while roaming the halls. I’ll also have a stack of Big Red Buckles to hand out.

Preditors & Editors Reader’s Poll

Doomsday Chronicles

Hey did you know that Doomsday Chronicles and consequently my short story GOAT is in the running for this year’s Critter’s Best Anthology? At the time of this writing, we’re ranked #2, right behind a horror anthology and there are only a few days left before they’ll call it.

This is another example of a place a single reader can have an enormous impact on a writer’s career. We only produce so much over the course of any year and simply being nominated is a big win, but the award accolades can make or break any cover.

Please take a moment and register your opinion.

Critter’s/P&E Annual Readers Poll – http://critters.org/predpoll

Anthology Poll – http://critters.org/predpoll/antho.shtml

 

Confusion 2017 Schedule

Below is my current panel schedule for ConFusion 2017 in Detroit, MI which takes place in a little over a week.

Topic Description Day Time Room Panel

If You Liked ‘The Martian’…

Hard science fiction is serious business. Hard science fiction done well can be big business, as exhibited by Andy Weir’s mega-hit The Martian. What other hard science fictions stories are out there in The Martian’s shadow? And what about their science is so engaging?

Friday

5:00 PM

Interlochen

Karen Burnham, Martin L. Shoemaker, Matthew Alan Thyer, Andrew Zimmerman Jones

I Believe I Can Fly

Those lyrics, popularized by R. Kelly in the film Space Jam, highlight something each and every one of us dreams of €”being able to soar in the heavens. Greek myth, superhero stories, and many genre books tap into this fantasy. What about the concept of flight is so appealing? How are today €™s books reimagining the trope and where else can we go with it?

Friday

6:00 PM

Keweenaw

Elizabeth Shack (M), David John Baker, Mary G. Thompson, Matthew Alan Thyer, Ken Schrader

From Fanfic to Profic

Many of science fiction and fantasy’s authors have come out of fandom. What’s the transition like? Why do so many talented writers stay in fanfic? What does writer with professional aspirations get out of fic?

Saturday

10:00 AM

Manitou

Kate Elliott (M), Matthew Alan Thyer, Dira Lewis, Geoff Gander, Angela Carina Barry

It Takes an Intergalactic Village

Finding and surrounding your life with positive influences that will help your kids become productive, insightful, and best of all nerd-class citizens.

Saturday

12:00 PM

Keweenaw

Karen Burnham, Matthew Alan Thyer, Vanessa Ricci-Thode, Andrew Zimmerman Jones

Reading: Matthew Alan Thyer, Ken Schrader, Martin L. Shoemaker

Authors read from current or forthcoming works

Saturday

3:00 PM

Petoskey

Matthew Alan Thyer, Ken Schrader, Martin L. Shoemaker

Autograph Session (4 PM)

Come meet your favorite authors, artists and musicians and have them sign things! (Please limit your signing requests to 3 items per person.)

Saturday

4:00 PM

St. Clair

Matthew Alan Thyer, Dyrk Ashton, Angela Carina Barry, Mishell Baker, Brandon Black, Elly Blake, Gail Carriger,Suzanne Church, Michael Cieslak, Lesley Conner, Seleste deLaney/Julie Particka, Kate Elliott, Amal El-Mohtar, Janet Harriett, Christian Klaver, Mur Lafferty, Jeffrey Alan Love, Mark Oshiro, Dustin Patrick, Cherie Priest, Adam Rakunas, Jason Sanford, Michael J. Underwood, Brigitte Winter

Citizen Scientist: Biomechanical Engineer

The current state of the art in cybernetic body parts, plus a look into the future.

Sunday

10:00 AM

Isle Royale

Daniel Dugan (M), Martin L. Shoemaker, Matthew Alan Thyer

It’s been a while since I’ve seen many of you, since 2014 to be exact, and I’m very much looking forward to spending time with you over this SFF enriched weekend. If you can’t find me at these locations during the convention, hint hint, peek into the bar.

2017 Awards Consideration Post

I know, you’re wondering “What can I do to help this author person I know?” Well, I published a bit in 2016 and some of it is eligible for an award.

Best Short Story

Best Novelette

There’s more, but those are the big one’s I bled for. All of them are science fiction of one sort or another and these are the stories I’d ask that you consider when you make your nominations and vote.

As always, feel free to pass along any story you enjoyed to a friend or leave a review. As soon as I cover it, GOAT will be published on its own along with its nearly complete companion story MONITOR.