Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Thoughts on MileHiCon

This is my one convention of the year nowadays. I can't afford to fly to wherever WorldCon or World Fantasy Con is in a given year. MileHiCon isn't big, but I'm starting to appreciate that particular feature. A lot of the people who show up are the same, year after year. Finally, I'm starting to know some people. The result is that I spent as much time this year socializing as I did going to panels.

For those who don't know me, the socializing is surprising, especially to me. I am very introverted. That's not unusual among writers. We work alone and a lot of the work takes place in our own heads. Meeting people and operating in crowds is, for me, as exhausting as running a 10K.

I also went to some great panels. My favorites were the science panels on the Mars One mission, the outer solar system and dark matter; Connie Willis' talk on how to write great dialogue, and a discussion on the evolution of monsters in fiction. I wasn't able to make it to any readings this time around, alas.

I find that the more I grow as a writer, the less I am interested in many of the writing panels, which seem to be geared toward helping writers who are newer to the craft than I am. That's a good sign, I think. It's also a sign that maybe it's time for me to be a guest, rather than a perpetual audience member.

Anyway, it was a good time. The weather was beautiful. The organizers always run a good convention.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

MileHiCon this weekend

I will be wandering the halls and panels of MileHiCon tomorrow through Sunday. This will be my fifth or six year there. I lose count. It's a good time. I get to see some writer friends. I even know a few regular attendees now, so I have folks to hang out with at the bar.

Every year, I tell myself that I should do some panels, sign some books, do a reading. In other words, be a guest instead of a member. But again this year, I will be sitting in the audience instead of at the front of the room. Because of ... intruder syndrome, I guess. I'm starting to feel like a "real writer," whatever that means. I'm writing a novel. I even meet the requirements to join SFWA after my burst of sales and publications over the past three months. But, sit on a panel with Connie Willis, Carrie Vaughn or Michael Swanwick? Yeah. I'm not there yet.

But I will be lurking around, if by any chance anyone wants to find me and chat. I'm always happy to chat, and hang out, and generally have a fun time.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

September stats

September was a productive month for me in a lot of ways, but not in the one way I expected it would be, which is novel work. I did not write any words on the novel last month, which is not good in reaching my goal of finishing the novel by next summer. That will change in October. I got distracted by an idea for a short story that turned into novelette, which I entered in Writers of the Future, even though I didn't plan to enter this quarter. Here's what I did accomplish:
  • Words written: 14,000 or thereabouts
  • Stories finished: 1 (also there's a co-written story that's not finished yet)
  • Submissions: 6
  • Acceptances: 1
  • Publications: 1

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Publication Day! At Intergalactic Medicine Show

"The Temptation of Father Francis" with my co-writer Nick T. Chan is now published at Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show! It's about a priest, some mechanical bees, a dirigible and the AI who powers it, who thinks she's Annie Oakley, all on an adventure across the West in a corporate-controlled future.

This is my first appearance in IGMS and Nick's second. There's some gorgeous artwork by Nick Greenwood. You can read the opening right here, but you need an IGMS subscription to get the whole story. For a taste, here's the opening few lines:
Annie Oakley poked Francis in the shoulder. She kept poking him. He ignored her until she finally yelled into his earworm. "Wake up, you bone-lazy priest!" The image of a tiny woman, barely more than a girl, blinked into existence next to Francis' cot, the metal struts and handholds of the dirigible's plain cabin visible through her corseted dress. She held a rifle and wore a wide-brimmed cowboy hat over her wavy brown hair.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Sale! "Shore Leave" to Galaxy's Edge

I got the good news this morning: Mike Resnick has accepted my short story "Shore Leave" for publication in Galaxy's Edge, which, as a reader, is one of my favorite magazines. So, achievement unlocked! This acceptance is significant for me in another way as well. As soon as my outstanding contracts are signed, I will be eligible to join the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America as an active member.

This calls for a celebration dance:


Monday, September 15, 2014

Writers of the Future, Quarter 3

Straight rejection this quarter, and I am very, very confused. This is one of the best stories I've ever written. I think it's on par with my finalist from last year. When I submitted it, I thought it would get a semifinalist at the very least, but here I am with a "you didn't win" email. Overconfidence? Maybe. I've had a good run of sales lately, and yes, I've been feeling confident about my writing. Today, I am slamming back to Earth in a big way. Let's just say that I'm glad I'm close to becoming disqualified from Writers of the Future.

In 23 quarters of entering this damned-if-I-can-figure-it-out contest:
  • Finalist: 1
  • Semifinalist: 1
  • Silver honorable mention: 1
  • Honorable mention: 12
  • Rejection: 8

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Doctor Who: Listen


I haven't been blogging much about Doctor Who this season. It took a truly bizarre episode to draw me out. I can't decide whether I like "Listen" or not. It was obviously meant to be  "masterpiece," and it has its moments, but it's also unfocused and has one of the weirder climaxes I've ever seen on this show. It is a brilliant failure.

The reviewer at Tor.com nailed the main problem, which is, essentially: It's me, not you. As a viewer, if I had started watching Doctor Who this season, I'm sure I would have been blown away by the amazingness of this episode. But I've seen every episode back to "Rose," and what Steven Moffat did here is all too familiar. I'm starting to think he needs to step aside as show runner because he has run out of ideas. He only repackages his old ones. Granted, they're good ideas. But at this point, they are run into the ground.

Here the Doctor theorizes about monsters that are so good at hiding that you never see them. They are the monster under your bed and in your closet, and the ones that follow in your footsteps and raise the hairs on the back of your neck. The Doctor desperately needs to see them.

But here's the thing: We've already seen them. They are the Silence. They are also closely related to the Weeping Angels. They are the thing that Matt Smith's Doctor said in his first appearance to look for out the corner of your eye.

Then there's the climax. First off, the TARDIS shouldn't have even landed on what was presumably Gallifrey because that planet is time-locked. But somehow Clara accidentally bypassed the laws of the universe and landed them in the Doctor's past, and then gave a sweet speech to the young Doctor while he was dreaming that stuck with the Doctor 2,000 years later. But again, been there, done that: Smith's Doctor already pulled that trick with young Amy Pond. Capaldi's Doctor's speech about fear would have had much more impact for me if it hadn't originated with a time-loop.

And speaking of fear ... Orson Pink (whose name I thought was Awesome Pink until I saw recaps online) and his Nothing Monsters at the end of the universe were the most interesting part of this episode for me. But even that, intentionally or not, has been done before and done better. If you have a Kindle, download the free short story "The Nothing Equation" by Tom Goodwin. It's not as famous or influential as another of Goodwin's stories, "The Cold Equations," but it had more of an impact on me. Orson Pink could have easily been the protagonist of that story.

There were good parts. I enjoyed the Doctor's opening monologue. I like Clara and Danny together, though I hope they get over the awkward stage soon. (And who accuses a guy of being a killer on a first date? Really?) Clara telling the Doctor to do as he's told, after he did the same to her earlier in the episode, was wonderful.

And I wouldn't be surprised if, at some point this season, we circle back to find out that a future Doctor wrote the word "Listen" on his chalkboard, was the one hiding under the blanket in young Danny Pink's bedroom, and was knocking on the door at the end of the universe. Because Moffat loves that kind of stuff.