As a wonderful person just pointed out, the shopping cart at The Scribbling Lion was crippled by the mistake of leaving PayPal on “sandbox” (i.e., “testing”) mode. This is embarrassing as all heck. So I’ve put together a special coupon that will run for the next month, by way of apology and amends. Please visit The Scribbling Lion blog to find out more…. and thanks for all your support and patience!! I couldn’t do this without you…. :D
I have my schedule for BaltiCon 2014! Here it is:
- Naming Names, Titling Titles (Panel) (Moderator), Fri 17:00 – 17:50, Derby
- Aged Characters in Fantasy (Panel) (Moderator), Sat 15:00 – 15:50, Salon B
- Academic vs. Emotional Book Reviewing (Panel) (Moderator), Sun 11:00 – 11:50, Salon B
- Reading as Exploration (Panel) (Moderator), Sun 13:00 – 13:50, Salon B
- Etiquette in Science Fiction and Fantasy (Panel) (Participant), Sun 15:00 – 15:50, Salon B
- Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading Sunday (Panel) (Participant), Sun 16:00 – 16:50, Pimlico
- Science Fiction Title Chain (Panel) (Participant), Sun 18:00 – 18:50, Salon B
- Games fantastic and futuristic (Panel) (Moderator), Mon 11:00 – 11:50, Derby
- Dealing with Drug Addiction in Science Fiction (Panel) (Moderator), Mon 14:00 – 14:50, Parlor 1041
So….wow. That’s six moderator slots. I have a lot of prep work to do this time around… this ought to be fun! And the topics are grand as well… stuff here I haven’t “done to death” at conventions, which is always wonderful.
I highly encourage anyone attending BaltiCon to put the Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading on their “must do” list. It’s always a fun time, and we generally
bribe entice reward PROVIDE the audience with chocolate…
I also suggest visiting the massive Book Launch Party that is so much a part of BaltiCon’s Saturday night fun time… this time around, Danny Birt is launching the last book in his Laurian Pentology.
…and oh yes. Did I mention that BRANDON SANDERSON is the GoH this year? SQUEEEEEEE….. I’ve been raving about this guy’s talent to everyone and anyone who will sit still (or that I can trap in a corner) to listen…. seriously, he’s that good. Please do take a moment to check out his web site and read excerpts of his work. I don’t think he’s on any panels with me, which is a bummer, but wheeeeeeee — this is the way some of my friends reacted to going to Capclave when George R. R. Martin was GoH!
Now let’s see… I have just about…. nine days to get all my prep, planning, and packing done… uhm… DON’T PANIC DON’T PANIC OH CRAP TOO LAAAATE….
Abigail Bromilow of An Unorganized Mind tagged me for this blog hop. I haven’t done much by way of blogging lately, so this was a great kick in the arse to get my attention back to short, pithy posts … uhhh … wait, do I even do those?
Take a moment to check out Abigail’s post, located here. And while you’re there, wander around through some of her other posts. I especially liked “Mommy isn’t feeling well” and “NaNo, Body Wash, Crayons and Twitter.”
All right. *Cracks knuckles* so … the questions.
What … am I working on?
Um. *blank stare* A lot of things. I’m painting our bedroom, restructuring the front garden, cleaning the house, trying to drop about five pounds, establishing my newly launched business, The Scribbling Lion (a process which, may just I point out, is in danger of adding ten pounds to my waistline)–
–oh, wait, you mean what writing projects am I working on? Ohhhhh. Why dincha just say so…?
(Note to self: put “learn to repress goofy-snark impulse” on To Do List)
Writing projects. Well, I’ve just wrapped up a first draft on a side story set in the Children of the Desert universe; it was supposed to be a short story but turned into a novella when I wasn’t looking. This particular tale explores what happened to cause the Split–it involves Deiq, naturally, since he’s always in the middle of everything catastrophic–and the formation of Aerthraim Family. It also fills in a bit of a gap in Guardians of the Desert: Idisio’s tale of the fallen city and his later visit to the ruins of that same city always rather begged an explanation, to my way of thinking. This is that explanation.
I’m also working my way through a second Children of the Desert novella at the moment, this one set rather closer to “modern” times (as in, KY 1161, when Secrets of the Sands and the other books in the series to date take place) but still primarily serves as side/backstory fill. Again, it started out as a short story and overflowed the boundaries rather quickly: this one delves into the beginnings of the Purge from the point of view of a young Northern Church priest. With this story, I want to show the good side of the Northern Church, because really, the view Alyea and Idisio have of it is more than a little biased by the crazy shit that’s gone down in recent years. It also gives me a chance to supply some tangentially relevant history in, hopefully, an interesting format.
The fifth book of the Children of the Desert series (working title: Servants of the Sands) is also still progressing, rather slower than I would like–ok, ok, a lot slower than I would like. I won’t go into all of the reasons behind my floundering on this one; I will merely note that my writing group has been hugely helpful in keeping me proceeding forward rather than hiding under the bed in stark terror at the scope of what I’m attempting with this novel. (Thank you, Chris Addotta, Amy Smith, and Danny Birt!)
I am putting together an online presence for the Children of the Desert series: glossary, maps, calendars, all that good stuff–it was all taken down when my publisher shifted her focus and released me from my contracts, so I have to rebuild that. Slightly tedious, but fun all the same.
I’m allllllllsooooooo working on a couple other short stories here and there; hopefully I’ll be able to declare some real forward motion on those soon … I keep getting lured outside to the garden to fuss about with edging and concrete block and bags of dirt … oh dear … is that a hummingbird? Must … not … leave … desk … must … finish … blog … post….
*screams a little*
What was that about short and pithy? Argh. Never mind what other writing projects I’m working on. We’d be here all month!
How … does my work differ from others of its genre?
*another blank stare* Oh, crap, I hate this sort of question, for two reasons: one, I tend to wind up sounding like a query letter pitch. Borrrrring. Part of the trouble is, I don’t quite know how to categorize my own work most days–do I write horror? Science fantasy? Epic fantasy? Dark romance? (One person, in a review, even tagged me as writing “bodice-rippers”, which I personally found incredibly amusing.) It’s kind of like when I try to play pool and the ball goes everywhere except where I want it to end up … best if I don’t declare my target out front, or I’ll look like a complete ass. :D
Reason two is that–abrasive as it may sound–I don’t really care. It’s my story. It’s my writing. What else do I need to say? I’m not interested in a compare-contrast contest. I write what I write. Other people write what they write. Like a fingerprint, like snowflakes, we produce different results with the same materials. I’d rather let readers have fun arguing over this question.
(hey, I’m getting better at this concise thing, yeah?):
Why … do I write what I do?
Let me rephrase the question first. Why do I write about complicated alternative societies with Machiavellian political structures, assassins, bizarre religions, mad gods, superpowerful nutcases with psychic abilities, secret & ancient non-human societies, not to mention a passing interest in women who kick ass & the men, women, and/or non-humans who love them?
Well, because it’s fun. How’s that for pithy? :D
On to the fourth and final question:
(those hummingbirds are sooooo cute…)
How … does my writing process work?
(Wait, shouldn’t that have been a “where” question? Or even a “when”? Meh, well, roll with it…)
I’m not a good example to follow. Really. My writing process changes from day to day. Right now, I’m being fairly consistent and disciplined: I sit down for a couple of hours a day, first thing in the morning, before I do anything else, and get through at least five hundred words. If I do fifteen hundred in a day, I let myself have the weekend off. I frequently jump from one project to another like a meth-addled rabbit. If I get stuck, I’m likely to wander out into the garden to dig around in the dirt, or grab a paintbrush and tidy up that worn spot on the trim that’s been bothering me for months … if my household is particularly unlucky, I might even sing as I’m flitting about the house. If they’re lucky, I’ll bake something to make up for the singing. :D
Compared to some of the more prolific, disciplined writers out there, I’m currently being a lazy slug of a writer. Tomorrow, though, I might lock into some amazing flow of energy and slam through a five hour stint of ten thousand words … then not write a word of fiction for a week. I never know what’s going to happen. The one thing I’ve found by way of an absolute is that the more pressure I put on myself to accomplish teh writingz, the less productive I become.
It’s very frustrating, because I’m also just a touch on the competitive side. If a fellow writer mentions they accomplished eight thousand words in a week, I want to beat that total. But to manage that, I have to make myself and everyone around me totally crazy, drop dozens of other commitments, and hide from the world for days on end.
That’s too high a price to impose on the people around me. So I plug along at a deliberate turtle pace, get done what I can get done, and play outdoors as often as I can–ooooooh, look, a second hummingbird … am I done yet? Oh, right, I have to talk about the writer who is up to pen next.
Folks familiar with this blog will already have heard about Steven Savage of Muse Hack and Seventh Sanctum fame. If you haven’t heard of him before, he tags himself as Geek 2.0 – The Professional Geek. He speaks, coaches, and writes about career development, culture, and creativity – all from (shocking, I know) a geeky point of view. Also, he’s brilliant (my personal opinion). If you want to know even more about him, follow the links to those sites–I’ll wait–I’m pretty sure that you’ll enjoy the side trip!
Steven Savage has been generous enough to post here, in the past, about geek networking and his own, uniquely technical approach to creativity. Examples of his previous posts can be found here and here. And here. And bunches more. Do a search on this blog for “Savage” and you’ll see them alllllll….
I haven’t featured Steven in a while only because he’s so damn busy with his other projects that he hasn’t had time to write for my blog. Happily, he’ll be featuring his answers to the above questions on both Muse Hack and Seventh Sanctum.
Look for Steven’s post to show up at one or both of those sites on May 5th.
If you’ll excuse me … there’s a gorgeous cardinal strutting around having an argument with our local bluejay … I have to go watch this….
Here I am! With two whole weeks before I hit the road for Alt*Con, my task list is almost manageable. I’m steadily chipping away at the fifth book in the Children of the Desert series, setting up lots of promotions and free fiction offerings for The Scribbling Lion, reviewing my stack of books from The Sleeping Hedgehog, working through my To Be Read pile… and finally, finally, returning to this long-neglected blog. The price of adding on more and more tasks, I suppose–something had to slide, and this blog was the target this time around.
Let’s see…so much to tell you about, where do I start?
Well, how about with the Virginia Festival of the Book, which was a lot of fun. The weather was absolutely gorgeous for walking around the city, and I took advantage of that as much as possible, discovering fabulous chocolate shops and toy shops and bookstores (yeah, surprise!).
The SFF panel on Friday night, led by Chris Oakley, featured myself, R. S. Belcher (Six Gun Tarot), David B. Coe (Rules of Ascension, many more), and Colleen Doran (Vampire Diaries, Absolute Sandman, many more). I’d met Rod and David before, but this was my first encounter with Colleen–and I’m pleased to say that it was very rewarding. She’s sharply intelligent, passionate about her career, knowledgeable about her field, and articulate. Definitely someone I’d recommend as a panelist, and she’d make a wonderful artist GoH.
The panel went to audience Q&A right after our introductions–and, predictably, the majority of the questions involved making money as a writer, self-publishing, the impact of ebooks, and so forth. They weren’t in any way bad questions, mind you, and it was a very good discussion overall. It’s just that I hear the same line of questioning over and over at conventions: how do I make it big as a writer? Do I need an agent? An editor? What about self-publishing? How do I “win the game”?
(Hint: the answers don’t change that much at the end of the day. They could best be summarized as–Write a lot, then write a lot more. Then keep writing… Sometimes…. ALWAYS … It’s a shitload of heartbreaking work; and There is no game to win. There is just you, the keyboard, and your vision.)
To me, if you’re going to attend a panel of smart and talented creative folks with a wide array of experiences and backgrounds and skill sets–why the hell would you ask a question that you can answer for yourself within twenty minutes of searching online? Why not ask questions that the panelists are uniquely qualified to answer?
But at the same time, in every audience, someone usually comes up with good, challenging questions that are a delight to answer. So it balances out in the end. And to be totally fair, Colleen is uniquely qualified to answer those sort of questions, and did so with an admirable, precise clarity.
Moving away from my not-enough-coffee grumpy grumbles and into something more interesting, I’ve recently discovered an intriguing blogging challenge: the A to Z challenge. Essentially, it asks you to commit to writing a blog post of at least a hundred words a day for a month (weekends off), subject chosen by consecutive alphabet letters. Since I’m not currently feeling broken-down-overwhelmed, I’m considering taking up this gauntlet. It does mirror my own research-for-fun model, after all; I love using the alphabet as a guideline for random research topics.
Of course, I’m looking at the calendar…and at the April 1 start date of the challenge…and at the free fiction I’ve committed to putting up over on The Scribbling Lion…and the support I’ve pledged for Gail Z. Martin’s April 1 book launch…and the visit to see the grandkids that I’ve promised myself this weekend…and the editing job on my desk…and the 500 words a day I’ve promised myself to accomplish on Book Five…and the work I need to do on my main web site…and the work I need to do on sprucing up and smoothing out wrinkles in TSL’s web site…and….
Hmm. Maybe I’ll pick up that challenge in May…
My dad used to call me “monkey”. When he went on business trips, sometimes he’d come home with monkey hand-puppets or stuffed monkeys or something similar. I always totally adored those toys, even when I was an angry, sulky teenager in constant conflict with my dad and everyone else around me. I was so embarrassed to admit that. I still am. But I’m telling you now anyway.
Because of parallels. Two years ago in March, my dad died of a ridiculously aggressive cancer. This March, right now in fact, there’s a monkey-themed anthology on Indiegogo that aims to support a writing friend of mine who’s been battling a different, but equally aggressive cancer. This writing friend is about my dad’s age, and he’s been really damn cool about boosting my confidence and giving me advice on how to be a professional writer.
One of this writer’s favorite sales pitches is “I’ll dance like a monkey for a nickel.”
If you haven’t already guessed, the writer in question is C.J. Henderson. And yes, I’ve been pushing and shouting about sending in donations for a while now. And I’m gonna continue to do so, because while we thought he had the damn cancer licked once–turns out it’s still there, bigger and badder than ever. He’s in a LOT of pain, folks, which means he can’t write, can’t go to conventions to sell his books–can’t, in short, make his normal paycheck happen.
I’m not going to let this go. Too many of us writers live right on that line, terrified of being in that same situation.
If you can donate, even a dollar, please do so; if you can’t, please spread the word on your social networks. While the previous campaign I’ve talked about is through Youcaring (and that one still needs every penny of support it can get–the funds donated go directly to CJ and his medical bills), this campaign is run through Indiegogo, which has somewhat less popular reach than, say, Kickstarter. So if you haven’t yet reposted the Youcaring campaign link, please do so; if you’re more interested in getting a reward for your donation, that’s perfectly OK! Back the Indiegogo anthology fundraiser.
(By the way, the writers involved in the anthology form a fairly impressive list: Kevin J. Anderson, Danielle Ackley McPhail, Mike Resnik, Gail Z. Martin, and many, many more.)
There are always reasons not to donate. There are always reasons not to help. I don’t know this person, I don’t have the money, I don’t have the time…
When I sat by my dad’s hospice bedside, I thought of all the reasons I hadn’t talked to him, all the fights that made it easy to avoid one another over the years. I had a lot of very good reasons. I still stand by a lot of those reasons. We did not get along well at all.
But at the end of the day, the years of distance left me sitting by his bedside with nothing left to say, no way to show him that I really did care….
….except to bring him one, small, stuffed monkey that I set on his bedside table. I don’t even know if he understood the significance of that toy. I never explained it to him–by that point, he wasn’t really coherent enough for that kind of conversation. And I was always too close to tears to even risk speaking, let alone talk about anything emotionally sensitive.
I’m certainly not saying that CJ is a father figure to me–not even remotely. But the parallels in this situation are making me think about my dad a lot these days. Making me remember how damn tough the last couple years of Dad’s life were–not only on him, but on everyone around him who helped as best we could. How sometimes, the little things were the biggest: a hug, a single flower, someone else picking up supplies at the store, a phone call. A few moments of time and a couple dollars spent on a goofy gift. Essentially, the nickels and dimes added up to a huge sum of being a family.
And one of the things I love the most about the SFF community as a whole is that, for all of our bickering and fractiousness and factions and infighting, we are a family.
So yeah. I’m not going to let this go.
It’s time to be part of the family; time to drop a nickel in just one of these buckets.
Time to help CJ keep on dancing.
The links, one last time:
Indiegogo campaign: Monkeying Around For A Good Cause
Youcaring campaign: Society For The Preservation of CJ Henderson
Twenty minutes ago I felt healthy and coherent enough to write a series of blog posts. By the time I sat down in front of my computer I was a zombie again. So this post is going to be a whiny rant about how frustrating it is to be sick. No, actually, it’s not, because that would take too much energy. I’m just going to retreat to bed and sleep some more, and curse my effed up respiratory system/allergy issues that keep landing me further and further behind on all the fantastic things that I want to do soooo badly. It’s been six days since Ring of Fire. Two weeks since Mysticon. I want to send out thank you notes, I want to catch up with two dozen interesting people I met along the way, I want to write blog posts about, well, writing, and developing background, scenery, details, descriptions, family ties–I have so many ideas bouncing around through my head! I have newsletters to write and new subscribers to welcome to The Scribbling Lion, four different time sensitive fiction projects to work on (three of which are already overdue)….I want to post first chapter segments of my books, and Q&A stuff, and do the same for the other folks teaming up to support The Scribbling Lion…
And I have this tiny window of useful brain time to work with, and it’s all gone by the time I’ve reached my desk. SO. FRUSTRATING.
Hm. I seem to have managed a whiny blog post about being sick after all…. well, never mind. I’ll see if I can get something done on the laptop between naps…
Thank you, everyone, for your patience. I’m doing the best I can. I promise. And I’m doing BETTER. I was able to write this much, which is more than I’ve managed for the past week.
“Just” a cold? hah. Right.
…sorry for the long delay here, folks, I’ve been alternately busy with conventions, setting up The Scribbling Lion, and being horrendously ill. Every time I get up, I seem to get knocked down again. Here’s to heaving myself to my feet and charging at the windmill once more… and thanks for your patience!