Atlatl Teaser

by Zane Kinney

by Zane Kinney

The eminently talented Zane Kinney has handed over cover work for the next episode of Up Slope, but I’m going to tease you all with it for a while because I’m not yet through copy edits on the manuscript.

Muh ha ha ha ha haaaaaa!

He’s also handed me a couple of pencil sketches which I daresay may sate your building anticipation. I get to meter these out.

The Atlatl making a Jupiter shot.

DetCon1 Redux (Part One)

I’m sitting just outside the DTW jetty that will eventually have a plane parked at its other end. This plane will take me to PHX and thence further on, and hopefully home, to SEA. While I sit, sipping an iced chai from the coffee stand down the concourse, I’ve been reviewing the last four days. Trying to form the lessons I’ve learned into something I can use moving forward. Articulate the wisdom of those who have gone before me.

I should note that in addition to all the learning and networking I had an awesome time. The North American Science Fiction Convention happened to to intersect with the NetRoots Nation convention. This proved a particularly good sort of kismet for all involved. Every time I had a little down time I was approached by someone from the adjacent affair who would invariably say something like “What’s this all about?” or “I don’t read science fiction, but I want to more ….” In some small way all that curiosity and social boundary crossing I think enriched the experience for all involved. Plus, I believe the verdict was that DetCon1 had the better room parties.

From the get-go my convention schedule seemed subject to change. The Vice President’s visit to the same building meant that I got stuck in some amazing traffic. As a connoisseur of the finest road bound cluster events in Norther America and beyond I can say that this was a classic Interstate stoppage. Ultimately, this meant that I missed my scheduled reading. But don’t feel bummed for me because the agile and capable staff running the convention from the table in the green room busted a move and helped me find a spot on Saturday. Opposite Jim Hines. Which was awesome. Did I happen to mention I read opposite Jim Hines? I should probably say that again, opposite Jim Hines.

Had I nothing to read other than a crap pile of words I would still fail to see how this could have gone badly for me. Jim Hines…. Rather my first reading at a convention turned out to be a fairy tale princess event with butter and bacon. We (and mostly he) packed the room. It was standing room only and as we got ready I couldn’t help grinning madly because I knew that I had selected a black arrow from my quiver.

Chapter four of the second book in the “sports in space” series is about the naval space program’s super secret Atlatl gunboat system told from the point of view of Gunnery Sergeant Capston. I had rehearsed the reading a bunch the night before, I wanted it to go really well. I knew there were three good laughs in the manuscript and the potential for a cringe. They happened, all where I had anticipated they might. Even better I know how I can do a better job next time.

The reading was an amazing learning experience and it also served as a great opportunity to get to know Jim Hines a little better. What a great guy to be friends with. I am really looking forward to Geek Fan Expo in September where we’ll both be special guests.

Speaking of readings, I caught John Scalzi and Jacqueline Carey combined reading. A memorable hour of my life, and one which I can now refer to in an effort to make future readings of my work all the better. Both of these excellent authors are also the very best public readers.

So, yes, watching these two masters read was very helpful and informative. I also got to spend some time face-to-face with them both as well as others. A memorable tid-bit that Scalzi left me with was something like, “The operating mode of writing is failure, so get used to it. Submit, and while you’re waiting write some more. Eventually, you’ll get sales.”

Finally, John’s wife Kristine was at the convention. Much like my wonderful Tess, Kristine is a capable, smart, and loving woman who teams up with her main man in the creative process. Perhaps the most important take away from our conversations was that I was reminded I really need to listen and pay attention to what Tess has to say about my work. Perhaps more importantly what she tells me about the way I conduct my business. She is my first, best fan in addition to my partner. Also, “never compromise when it comes to your work.” Kristine gave me this fundamental as a guideline and then we enjoyed a beer in between panels. If you’re reading this, I’ve heard you both. Loud and clear.

And with that, I must leave you. The plane is at the far end of the jetty and the scent of anticipation is running through the crowd. Yes, there will be more. Stay tuned, big announcements are blog bound.

The New Grand Strategy

As things so often do, change has come to my family’s doorstep. Tess and I have been adapting rapidly and re-prioritizing and as a result we’ve instituted The New Grand Strategy.

Movement

Colorado is my home state, and being here on the Western Slope has been enjoyable, however, the old saying “you can never go home” hits the nail on the head (to mix metaphors). That is to say, we’re planning on relocating. Soon. Tentatively, we imagine we’ll end up back on the West Coast and of the possible locations where we might settle Seattle and the Sound, we feel, might work out well.

As the potential for (yet another) move entered our conversations we’ve really had to think about the parts of our lifestyle and careers that we’d like to emphasize. As much as I love the landscapes of the Rockies and the Canyon country that sits at its feet, none of this enhances my situation. In fact, while I still get out into it, the pattern is that trail heads are often out of reach for want of time and resources. So I spend an inordinate amount of time pining away for something I am not independently wealthy enough to obtain.

Yep, I’ll probably never again be a working Wilderness Guard. And I’ve made my peace with that, as best as I can. The West Coast has some advantages for us as a family — jobs in our industry, culture in which we can participate, friends we love and miss, public transportation we’ll use, and, yes, even some amazing landscapes which, when viewed through the lens of air pollution currently settled on the Grand Valley, seem very attractive if at times a little moist.

Health

I tend not to talk or write about this much, but my health has been generally good. I haven’t had a seizure in more than a year and I haven’t needed medication to control the seizures for more than eighteen months. (thank the gods above and below). Ultimately, that little episode has resulted in a renewed and enhanced focus on my health. I like to think about it as if I were playing a video game and needing to manage my resources to stay alive through each successive encounter (groan, yeah I’m a nerd).

In the upper right corner of my consciousness are three Health levels — PHY, SPI, MEN — in the past I focused on my physical health, much to the exclusion of my spiritual and mental health. I guess I figured, with naiveté, that if I could run thirty miles at the drop of a hat the other aspects of my being would necessarily take care of themselves. Unfortunately, not so.

These days I apply a great deal of attention to these levels, so, if there was some good that came from that period of my life it resides here. Believe me, seizures are terrify.

Employment

Now that my health is stable and my memory is better we have decided that it might be a good thing for me to put myself forward once again. Yes, this is a call for action. Finding employment is never easy, and I’m spreading my résumé around the internet liberally, but I’m hoping to harness the power of social networks here too. I have many friends and acquaintance and I’d love to impose upon you, especially those of you with whom I’ve previously worked. You know what I am capable of and the best endorsement I can imagine comes from you.

My résumé is posted here. And, as usual I am always available via phone call and email. If you know of an operations engineering position or project management role, I thank you in advance for passing it along.

Self-Employment

If you read that last section and wondered to yourself “What about the boy? What about the writing?” you’re not the only one. Care of the boy and more words will continue to happen. This has been my full time occupation for a while now and relative to anything I might do in technology I enjoy it a great deal more. This should come as no surprise. Said no stay-at-home parent ever, “Gosh, I’m rolling in too much cash. I suppose I should toss another load of laundry in and roll myself hipster cigarettes with spare $100 bills.”

UP SLOPE is nearly complete. It will be delivered to the editor thereafter, and you should expect to see it on Amazon soon. I have several additional projects that are in various stages of outlining, including book three in the sports in space series. I am anticipating writing this one a great deal and it’s been a real struggle not skipping ahead to this project while I’ve got some things to take care of with UP SLOPE.

Even if my word count drops a bit, the writing will continue.

Packing for Detroit

Good grief! I’ve got to pack my bag for Legendary ConFusion this afternoon. The cards look awesome, I’ve already given out a couple and they seem well received. I ended up choosing to go with the Luxe stock from Moo and they color matched the middle layer of red with the cover colors so the whole thing has heft and looks really sweet. You could frame these cards and mount them on your wall they are that nice. Again, a huge thanks and plenty of kudos to Jeffrey Witty, the incomparable artist who did the amazing cover work.

After a little prompting from friends at the Rec Center and elsewhere, yesterday, I started writing a mémoire ostensibly about the rescue of Jim Nee and some of my trail running experiences. My intent is to submit this work to Amazon’s Kindle Singles program when it is done. My intent is to weave together a number of story threads that I have blogged about or talked about in the past, but never really given the treatment they deserved. The outline is coming along, and I knocked off the first 1,000 words yesterday. I need to wind up my time machine and start finding the news articles that aired about that particular event, but much of the research is already done (because I lived that whole thing).

Finally, I have a gear review for BackpackingLight that I need to start working on. The good news is that this is not a long piece, but it is due in April. I need to get these shoes out and up a number of trails so that I can objectively provide some insight into the performance characteristics of these Keens. Right now I’m actually very happy with them, they are waterproof and comfortable.

So one last time, if you’re going to be Legendary ConFusion and want to hook up let me know so that I can keep an eye open for you. I’m planning on learning a lot while I’m there, but none of that should get in the way of meeting new people and having a great time.

 

Oh I am Happy with This Bit

Low Muscle Glycogen. Yep, I just completed a chapter which focuses on the endurance demon that ends all races. And wow, is it good. Even if I do say so myself. And I do.

Write what you know? Have you ever bonked before? Why yes I have. And after reading this bit I’m guessing that even if you have never been in the situation where your body literally gives up — while your mind screams “lift that leg, yes, one more time. Now that one, you can do it” — you will feel that pain. That sweet, sweet pain which narrows your focus and will inevitably prove to anyone who matters, to yourself, to your only competition, that you are the only God of this damned temple.