Ginnungagap

This morning over tea my wife and I clicked through a new life insurance policy questionnaire. She has meant to increase her level of coverage because what her job offers wouldn’t be a flash in the pan if she left us. I’ve been avoiding the conversation for all the usual reasons.

I’m loathed to consider my own demise. I’m even more frightened at the thought of the death of people I love. I’m afraid enough that I’ve never really bothered to name these fears.

And so here we are. What this blog seems to be to me is a crossroads, a place of decisions.

“Fear not death for the hour of your doom is set and none may escape it.”

― Volunga Saga

I’ve been reading (with my ears) the Saxon Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell. I’ve admired his protagonist Uhtred of Bebbanburg because of his unshakable belief in fate. Right now I’m on the second to the last book in the series, and even though Uhtred is an “old” man, by the standards of the time, he still feels the weavers’ hands on his thread. His faith in the Norns frees him to focus on whatever is before him. He is undistracted, always sharp, relentlessly moving through his own life with singular purpose.

“Destiny is all, Ravn liked to tell me, destiny is everything. He would even say it in English, “Wyrd biõ ful ãræd.”
― Bernard CornwellThe Last Kingdom

I find myself wanting for that surety.

I also marvel at the Cornwell’s voice. How he deftly transports his reader into his Uhtred’s vision of the world. Past the moral ambiguity of his actions and into the faith that the Fates weave his future. Yes, I love his action scenes. Sure enough, I feel my heart pound and my fires are stoked when Uhtred stands in the shield wall or when he faces Ubba beyond the hazel bows I feel his singular focus and the accomplishment of his victory. Cornwell is a master of character. Even when Uhtred is beset by ambiguity, self-doubt, or worse remorse Cornwell finds the way back to certainty. “I touched Thor’s Hammer,” and suddenly we know that Ginnungagap will consume all, the only thing that matters is what lies before us. The enemy beyond the iron clad edge of an ash shield.

“I touched Thor’s hammer, then Serpent-Breath’s hilt, for death was stalking us. God help me, I thought, touching the hammer again, Thor help us all, for I did not think we could win.”
― Bernard CornwellThe Pale Horseman

My fears? They are nothing other than the usual. Helplessness, loss, grief, oblivion; add to this I lack faith, there is no eternal Hall waiting for me when I die. Despite this I know there is the Ginnungagap and so I narrow my gaze and touch the hilt of my sword.

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rePatreoned

 

Inspired by a couple of other artists who’ve used the new year as an excuse to put some polish on their Patreons I’ve done the same. It’s an imperfect system, sure, and there’s every possibility that the company will again pull the carpet from underneath creators, but it is also a direct line to readers. Add to this that there doesn’t seem to be any other similar platform my choice is easy.

Income from writing is excellent. However, that’s not really the point. This year what I’m much more focused on is finding people who are willing to give me some of their interest. Since leaving my comfortable salary position back in 2013, I’ve made about as much forward progress as I can manage on my own. I need some outside direction, someone standing in the audience who can tell me when I’m missing my marks. That’s why I’m going back to Patreon. I’d love to see 100 $1 supporters, all with strong opinions.

Over the past five years, I’ve been lucky. A handful of my stories have been published in some small press locations. Reviews, even the negative ones, have become a sort of ambrosia. By completing that feedback loop, they feed me.

In the same way that applying to Clarion West will allow me to leverage my desire for that validation while becoming a better writer, Patreon will be another avenue to reach readers. I’ve just got hustle a little harder to make it work.

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.