Category Archives: Life Log

02 Jul

How I screwed up

So Tor very generously asked if I would agreed to do a panel at San Diego Comic Con.

Over the last year I’ve been doing my best to reach out to places that invite me to come to them and indicate I can’t unless there is an anti-harassment policy in place, as per Scalzi’s convention anti-harassment policy. I’m not a star headliner or rock star, but I know it’s helped at least once create a formal policy where there was none before, so I’m now aware that doing this does have power.

As the details quickly came together for this West Coast tour, I didn’t read San Diego Comic Con’s harassment policy too closely. I found one, and was excited there was one. Yay, I could go! I said yes! I went back to writing my novel that was due RIGHT AWAY.

After I posted my schedule, a couple of people pointed out this, that the rules aren’t really clear cut (and I may have even retweeted/pointed out that link as well, doubly damning on my part):

This isn’t exactly a clear or easy to find set of rules. Beyond this small paragraph on the website, comic-con’s director of marketing and public relations David Glanzer told The Mary Sue last year that their policy is also printed in the Events Guide made available to attendees and that “each incident is handled on a case by case basis, as are the decisions on how best to prevent the issue from occurring again.” Considering the length of the Events Guide and the possibility of not every guest receiving it, the convention should create a formal policy displayed more prominently on their website and convention materials. As for dealing with issues case-by-case, each incident will certainly be different but that should in no way prevent them from listing common, specific anti-harassment rules that would still be good to make clear for attendees instead of assuming everyone has the common sense to already know how to behave.

So I didn’t read as closely as I should have. Which meant I messed up.

Since I agreed to go I’m going to go. And not go again now that I understand it’s a weak ass policy that’s not really a policy.

I’m sorry for not catching why it wasn’t much of a policy.

I also donated a sum of money to the National Museum of Women in the Arts:

NMWA addresses the issue of the lack of recognition and representation that women receive in museum collections and major exhibitions. NMWA maintains the reference library, and classifies, catalogues, and transfers artwork to exhibitions

So this was a learning experience for me about rushing through and not reading closely enough.

30 Jun

My latest book, Hurricane Fever, launches tomorrow, and even though I’ve been through six book launches I’m still nervous as hell

You’d think by now I’d be rather blasé about all this. Why yes, I do have a book coming out tomorrow. Yes, I’ve done this six times already with other novels, nine times if you count launching an anthology I’ve edited and three collections.

By launch number ten I should be ready to throw a little soiree in town where I sip cocktails and entertain people with witty anecdotes. Or whatever it is suave writers who launch books do.

Instead I’m utterly unprepared and feel like the guy at the top of a roller coaster. “Oh shit,” I’m thinking, “Here we go again!” and, “No turning back now!”

I wrote a tight book. As tight as I could. And I’m hoping it doesn’t leave people much room to take a breath before they’ve slingshotted through Prudence Jones’s world of heavy weather, spies, and corporate conspiracy. I dwelled on two islands that have a special place for me, and hope I communicated some of their uniqueness. And I certainly shared my love of boat life.

But the roller coaster feeling comes from all the things I wonder if I should have done instead. Should I have dwelled further on world building? Should I have included more POVs? Will people who loved Anika in Arctic Rising feel short changed that she isn’t in here? Did I… Did I… Did I… did I do enough. I worked on the book as hard as I could, so I know that is behind me. But now, there begin the worries about whether I’ve sent out enough copies. Do enough people know the book exists.

Does it have a chance out in that cruel, cruel cold world?

I perused a listing of all the other science fiction and fantasy books out there that launch this month by Locus. Books that aren’t just vying for reader’s attention, but for the attention of reviews, coverage, and buzz. Great books, some them ones I’m looking forward to reading.

And I wonder, did I do enough? Should I be doing a gazillion blog interviews? Should I get on the street corner with a megaphone and start assailing random passer’s by? Do I buy ads? Do I…

…a thousand what ifs and possibilities, worries that I could have done more the last couple months to help the book, swirl around my hindbrain.

But, I’ll be spending time on tour. I have interviews lined up. I’ve put up the Batsignal telling people I’m here. And, at some point, because this is the 7th (or 10th) time I’m doing this, I also know: it’s time to also get back to work.

Because I’ve sacrificed a month or two on doing *nothing* but promotion to try and help a baby book, and at some point, like a mama deer, I know that damn book has to just get up on its own two wobbly legs and stand. Or it won’t be able to escape the wolves of indifference. Either I wrote a good book and it will generate interest and readers, or it won’t.

Two nights ago I finished writing my 10th novel. I’m going to be spending a good chunk of time while traveling to promote Hurricane Fever doing edits on the YA novel Islands in the Sky. And sometime next month I begin working on the 11th novel.

Because the buzz doesn’t start unless there is a book out there to buzz about. And while no promotion isn’t ideal, I do have to take a deep breath and realize I can’t, all by myself, get people to be excited and spread the word. Either people are invested in the book and things will happen.

Or they won’t, and I work on a book that will.

And that is my state of mind, the night before my 7th novel launches, that I need to be chill. Relax. And trust the book. And also OMG please for the love of all that is holy read my book.

That is all.

05 Jun

Cover reveal for OLD VENUS, which includes a short story of mine

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George R.R. Martin has this to say on his livejournal:

The Venus of Leigh Brackett, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Roger Zelazny, C.L. Moore, and Isaac Asimov.

Those who miss the place (like me) will be able to return there next spring. OLD VENUS, an original anthology of retro-SF stories set upon the lost Venus of old, will be released by Bantam Spectra in hardcover on March 3, 2015. We just got our first look at the cover:

My story PALE BLUE MEMORIES will be in this. Very excited.

04 Jun

I’ve been invited to be writer-in-residence by Bermuda this October

Last month Dr. Kim Dismont Robinson from the Bermuda Ministry of Community and Cultural Affairs reached out to me to ask if I would come and be a part of the Writer-in-Residence Programme in Bermuda this October. I would be responsible for helping direct some three weeks of workshops for interested writers, with a focus on genre.

It’s always a huge honor when the islands reach back out to me. And for anyone to reach out to ask me to teach or guide up and coming writers.

I accepted, and am happy to announce if you’re a reader from Bermuda, I’ll be there from September 27th through October 19th as Writer-in-Residence. There should be some opportunities to come ask me about writing and business outside of the workshop, and possibly a reading. Keep an eye out!

My previous experience in Bermuda amounts to a mere two days stopped there while passing through working on a yacht, so I’m eager to connect with the island some more.

Each Caribbean island has its own history, story, and vibe. While there’s a tremendous commonality, every stay in an island different than the ones I grew up on teaches me new and wonderful things, so I’m very excited and grateful for this.

What a life. Again, sometimes I pinch myself, because that little poor kid from the harbor in Lance Aux Pines Grenada could hardly have imagined this would be my future. As I said on twitter:

22 May

Website relaunch

Well, the website is all shiny and new again. I last overhauled it in March 2013, as I felt it had been getting creaky. However, the new template that I used required me to set up a lot of plugins to make it work. A whole layer on top of everything else. And it was very dodgy.

Eventually I got tired of things breaking due to wordpress upgrading and decided to revamp.

Additionally, since the last revamp, people had pointed out that the background and tiny font had been making it hard to read.

For this new iteration, I’ve focused on more open, clean space and let the text and graphics hold their own. I also simplified the heck out of all the pages and sub themes as much as I could, so that if I have to move to another theme it’ll be easier. I also have less to take care of now. I moved from 30 plugins down to 10, and from 40 pages of information down to 12.

The book page information is handled by Book Table, a plugin for authors.

At the top, the Buy My Books link takes you to a list of all the books for sale, and they all have buy buttons. Very straightforward. Book Table has some nice breadcrumbs in there, and I can tag books by series, so it’s easy to sort out what books are in what series (and related books appear at the bottom of the book pages). Bibliography is duplicative for some, but my click tracking shows I have two audiences: one that looks for a button that says ‘buy my books’ and one that looks for ‘bibliography’ and there isn’t necessarily overlap. Having both in plain site will hopefully help everyone.

Appearances lists where I’ll be (and shows back up in the blog right hand sidebar) and includes a link to info about how to invite me to speak. The Press Kit is new, and long overdue. It hopefully curates the things that those looking for a kit need. And I found a better Contact Me plugin.

There’ll be some more tweaking, but this seems to be a more functional site, less prone to breaking, faster to load, and easier to take care of.

I need to get new author photos for the press kit… but we’re getting close.

09 May

8th Year Freelanciversary

Today I celebrate walking out of a 9-5 and never looking back 8 years ago. It’s my 8th Year Freelanciversary!

I’ve spent more years as a freelancer (8) than I did at a regular day job (6). Ever since I matched the same number of years freelancing as I did having a 9-5 (and got a tattoo to match at the same point), I’ve started to internalize it. For a long time it used to feel like I was getting away with something, or that it was too good to be true and continue.

Freelancing still involves having to keep an eye out for the wolf at the door, and getting hit with almost dying back in 2008 (and debt for not being able to work and medical bills) really put a dent in it, but as I start being able to put that behind and really work forward, I have to say I’m really looking forward to the next few years of being a freelancer.

It’s been hard work. But it’s been hard work I choose and hard work on my schedule. And it turns out I really thrive on that.

My thanks to everyone out there who buys my books or hires my services.

I know it’s been quiet on the blog. I’ve been working hard, the blog suffers as a result.

11 Apr

Tech and five year olds

Someone asked what the biggest surprise about living with five year olds is. For me it’s been their uptake of devices.

Technology is something that was invented when you were past adolescence, I saw that written somewhere. My kids, because I design eBooks, have had iPads lying around (or use our iPhones) since they were babies. It isn’t technology to them.

It’s natural, and I expected to see them use and fumble around with user interfaces with the apps we’ve curated for them.

What blew me away was when we let them play with Siri on the iPhone. For a while, they would just try and ‘talk’ normally with Siri, and then laugh hilariously at the response, as Siri wouldn’t ‘get it.’

But then they began to hone in on the idea that Siri could present them things they wanted. And within a few days, I realized that was going to be something interesting. Because they shortly proceeded to ask Siri “Siri: show me Paw Patrol (a show they like) videos online.”

Now, where they picked up the concept of ‘online’ I’m not sure. But they did. Or at least that adding that word (possibly because Siri said ‘I don’t know what that is, but there’s a list of things online’ at some point). But they know that asking for #thingtheywant and #online results in a search, which often has what they want. (This spills over into other things. ‘Daddy, can you show me a video of how the solar system got made’ is one I get asked frequently.)

So within minutes, they were watching youtube clips of their favorite show.

I wasn’t sure about Siri technology making the leap to mainstream, but the fact that my kids have figured it out means that I think this is here to stay. They’ll expect it.

Just like I expected TVs to get touchscreen. Not because it makes sense. All the reasons for TVs not to get touch technology makes sense.

It’s going to happen because when my kids hit the age they can make purchase decisions, they expect it. I know this because my TV is covered in finger swipe marks from where they will walk up to it absently when they can’t find the remote, and tap it. Then realize that ‘oh, the TV is dumb’ and walk back and look for the remote.

Fascinating.

I was recently talking to a grandmother in town who told me about her kids proudly not letting kids access any sort of technology. Frankly, as a digital native, I’m more interesting in staying a step ahead of mine and teaching them responsible use.

The reason I say that is that I didn’t have cable or TV until college. As a result, I’m horrible about monitoring my use of it. I inhale it like an addict when I have it (one reason I don’t have cable anymore), but my wife, who grew up with TV, can just sit in a room with it on and do other things. It might be that we’re different personalities, but I suspect it might have a lot to do with the fact that she learned to do homework or other activities with people (family) while the TV was on. I struggle with that.

Not coincidentally, a lot of people I know who have grown up with the internet often struggle to figure out how to pair productivity with online accessibility (witness the success of apps like Freedom, that turn off the internet).

So I’m hoping my kids will be able to handle connectivity as digital natives, and not be like me.

I find it fascinating to see when they want to have stuff on the TV, versus when they want to curl up with an iPad together for a show. Or when they want books. Or when they want the book on the iPad. Or read to. And that they will often turn off the devices to go jump into a box to make a fort.

So far they seem to self-regulate better than most adults I know, though I’m sure as parents we’ll keep an eye on it.

But what’s fascinating about the Siri online search anecdote (something we monitor very closely), is the fact that I read a novel once where the characters, at any age, had access to a phone-booth sized terminal into a central computer that was basically wikipedia. And anyone at any age could ask the computer anything, and it would tell you. And the sf-nal extrapolation was: this changes everything.

So my kids basically have that in a handheld device, unless I lock everything down tight. And even if I do, the moment they hit an age where they can access someone else’s device, same deal. So it’s going to happen. They’re going to grow up in that information rich world.

A totally science fictional world from my childhood’s perspective.

And that is the wildest thing about having five year olds, to me.

11 Apr

My kids turn 5 today

Five years ago. Doesn’t seem all that long. But I’ve ended up with two five year old kids running around the house.

How did that happen?

Twins

Their current hobbies include re-enacting memorized lines from Frozen, bedazzling open surfaces of the house with stickers (where do all these stickers come from? I don’t remember buying them, they just seem to… happen), and heckling me in my office when they get home (“did you finish the book today, daddy?” “No, I’m a quarter of the way through.” “Well, you should finish it soon.” “I know.” I once explained to them that I get paid if I write a book, so they sometimes add in “You know, you’ll get more monies if you finish the book.” Me: “Trust me, I know.”).

They’re wildly creative, funny as all hell, opinionated, and too smart by half. I hope they take over the world.