Tomorrow GFX, and Other Things

I’m sorting my bag, getting ready to leave, and I thought it might be a good idea to remind you all that I’ll be leaving tomorrow for GeekFanExpo near Detroit, MI. Jim C. Hines and Timothy Zahn are joining me there and we’ve got some excellent things planned. Come join us!

In other news John Scalzi will be visiting here in the Pacific North West this evening. I’m planning on going to the reading. His latest LOCK IN is really excellent; and does not include any semicolons. I finished reading the Will Wheaton narrated version with my ears this weekend and it was mucho entertaining. Sort of a crime thriller with C3P0’s running around everywhere. Oh, and Diné. You may dig this book too, but I’m not going to tell you anything else about it because … spoilers.

Finally, yes that was me that you saw ripping off the front end of his brand new Prius V in the parking lot of Issaquah Coffee Company yesterday. And yes, I have been beating myself up for this mistake since then. It has made writing a bit of an effort, which is why I’ve been focused on cleaning and playing with Aral more than collecting words or running. And I agree with you, whole heartedly, it could have been much, much worse; a tiny fender bender in a parking lot with a parked truck is, relative to a catastrophic collision with a moving train, easily categorized as minor. Still I feel bummed out about the whole incident; justifiably at least for the moment. Fortunately, I can spare you the incident report and remind you to drive with care.

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News

First, the good news. This weekend I received a letter from the DetCon1 Programming folks and I quickly shot off a reply. I’m headed, once again, to Detroit, Michigan for a summer convention.

I don’t know what it is about that part of the world, but man you “Yoopers” sure have a thing for SFF. I’m not complaining. Not even a little bit. In fact, I’m sort of ecstatic to visit Michigan in the middle of the summer. I’ll get to hang out with the mucky-mucks for a couple of days. Meet new friends and share with colleagues. I’m currently planning on driving so if you’re interested you’ll get to experience my overlander first hand.

Yesterday I nailed down my reservation at the hotel, and there is even the possibility that my beautiful and talented wife might join me on this excursion into intense geekery.  And for that I am even more excited than I have the words to express. I might have to bump up the reservation and get a room with a view.

In other news I have lined up a couple more author interviews for FROM THE INDIE SIDE. Be excited, you’re going to get buckets of new author blood really soon. Peter Cawdron is due this upcoming Friday. Followed by Ernie Lindsey, Susan May, and Mel Hearse.

In the mean time, if you’re looking for something to read you won’t be disappointed with this anthology. The diversity of voices and tales means that you can pick and chose what you’d rather read based on your mood in the moment. And, even though it is thicker than a Chilton’s Auto Repair manual, it won’t break your budget at $4.99 (kindle price).

While you’re supporting independent authors you should give me a try. I’ve just put out a short story of my own which is turning into something of a series. ON THE LEFT FOOT: A TALE OF THE LONG EARTH is only $0.99 on Amazon and it will transport you from that dull, slightly musty bus seat into an otherworldly back country filled with the rich scents of waking pine trees and fresh trout.

Also, last weekend I added another couple of thousand words to the next in the “sports in space” series UP SLOPE. It is on target for spring release and I’m pretty happy with how the story is coming along. You don’t need to read the first in the series to understand the story, but if you gave THE BIG RED BUCKLE a gander you would not be disappointed.

Next up, this morning I was browsing through your many, many Facebook posts when I came across a real gem from Jacqueline Carey, who is a formidable presence in the the world of wordsmiths to say the least, and she has something really poignant to say about our professional organization.

I don’t mean to imply that the blame for all that ails SFWA lies with its most senior members.  I’m sure it doesn’t, but I can only speak to what I’ve observed, which is that there’s an undeniable generational push-back against changing mores that’s a significant part of the problem.  I don’t want SFWA to lose its identity or its sense of history, but if it’s going to remain relevant, it needs to adapt.  Honor the past, but celebrate the present and look toward the future, too.

I can thank my wife Tess for getting me hooked on Carey’s Kusiel series, late night readings from Kushiel’s Dart were something of a treat back in the early days of our relationship. It is sexy stuff, but with careful and complete construction, deep plots that make it difficult to sleep (even though you have work in the morning).

At ConFusion I had only the briefest of encounters with Carey, but her opinion, and the action (or inaction) she is willing to undertake in order to achieve a clear and unmistakable expression, is admirable. And she has done a wonderful job of laying out all the things SFWA might be missing its maddening rush to cling to BS and drama.

I mean… seriously?  The publishing industry is undergoing seismic changes, changes that affect every single author in (and out of) the genre.  E-book pricing and royalty rates, the antitrust lawsuit, DRM, the rise of indie publishing, Amazon’s slow-burning bid for a monopoly, dwindling brick-and-mortar stores, the commodification of fan fiction, promotion in the age of social networking, the Google Books lawsuit, the consolidation of the Big Six into the Big Five, etc.  There’s a lot to talk about!  And yet when it comes to SFWA, it seems all the oxygen in the room was—and still is—being sucked up by a discussion that has no business taking place in this day and age.

When I first started to accumulate rejection letters one of my primary motivations to be a writer was SFWA membership. I wanted to be included in the group and run along side others doing the same thing. In my past life as an engineer I belonged to a variety of professional organizations, and for the most part, this was a useful and even necessary requirement for inclusion within the network of people working in the field. They kept me appraised of the major currents in my industry and helped me make good decisions that ultimately made me a better engineer.

The realization that SFWA membership might be beyond my reach, even with the growing collection of SFF bearing my name, gave me pause. I started to ask myself, “What could I get out of this relationship if I take the time to jump through their hoops?” The answer that I reached basically amounted to not much that I couldn’t find on my own. I’ve got KBoardsGoodreads, and conventions for community, inspiration, and to keep me appraised of what is and isn’t happening in the writing world. The organization’s Writer Beware blog tends to be far behind the 8-ball when it comes to breaking news and new predatory practices that harm creatives, and its contributors spend at least half their time tooting their own horn. The organization has become, in many respects, just a breading ground for drama and discontent.

So, with that in mind, I’m going to extend some kudos to Jacqueline Carey, I think she is doing a good thing and I hope the best for her and wish her luck. Yes, she has lost her nomination privileges for the Nebula, but her opinions are already well respected. I’d happily read anything she recommended, her cogent and considered opinion has lot more weight than an award.

And finally, I wanted to take a moment to pass along the announcement that Michael J. Sullivan‘s next book is available for pre-order. And if you order now, you’ll get a pile of extras and bonus stuff … early. This is a series I’ve had on my W2R list for a while and Mr. Sullivan is an excellent dude.

So, I will round out today’s news and announcements with one more place for you to spend your hard earned dough on books. Click on through to this announcement for all the details and goodies.

Holy Poo Sticks!

Oh Poop!

So the last time I attended a scifi convention was in the early 90’s. I went with a bunch of friends, coming down from the little mountain town where I attended college, and we carpooled in a VW bus that blew a spark plug out of the block somewhere on the backside of Kenosha Pass (IIRC).  Ostensibly I went there to play games, and I had a great time.

But I just signed up for my first Convention in more than twenty years. I’m going to attend Legendary ConFusion in Detroit. There are a couple of authors going that I’d really like to meet face-to-face and I’m also hoping that to get some learn’in.

Last night, laying in bed with a strained back, I realized how little I actually know about this business. I feel like a blind sword fighter, constantly stabbing in the dark. You know you have struck meat when you feel that squishy, yielding flesh under your blade, but most of the time you just end up sending your cutlass uselessly zipping through the air.

There are a number of symposium that I want to attend, but in particular, Tobias Buckell is sitting on this panel.

Becoming a working writer with Tobias Buckell

12pm Sunday – Rotunda
In this intimate Q&A Tobias talks openly about strategies, tips, and what it took to make it out of hobby and into career, as well as answers questions readers might have about his work)

So not only has it been a long time since I’ve been to a Con, but it was under much different circumstances. I feel that the stakes are higher this go around and the intent is certainly to learn the ropes of this business a little better (or to stick with my earlier metaphor, lift the veil).

In the mean time, I’ve got the pre-trip-with-a-purpose jitters. It helps that my first good review came in on Amazon yesterday. But the pucker-factor needle is still hitting “oh poop” tick way over on the far side of the gauge.

The Big Red Buckle, for those with an interest in Colonial-Mars-genre science fiction, or paragliding, or just about anyone else with a pulse and an imagination, is a compelling page -turner. Well beyond short story length, more of a lean and taut novella, it’s a great late-evening read that still won’t take all night. Thyer’s characters, even those whose physical characteristics differ from birth in Mars’ low gravity, are ultimately human at heart. I look forward to more from this author!

I guess now I need an appearance page. I’m going to bring a couple of print copies of The Big Red Buckle along with me. If you’re going to be there, let me know, I’d love to meet some new faces and other writers.