1. Andrea Swensson is leaving the City Pages. From now on, she writes for MPR. So that’s pretty cool. She made a brief stop at Sci-Fi Tuesdays this week and I didn’t know, so there was no time for a congratulatory drink. So that’s not so cool. She follows this site, though, so she’ll probably notice that I’m quite happy for her. And that’s back to being cool again.
2. Today I texted a friend who is out of town on a job. I told him that we’ve had two days of motorcycle-friendly weather here, and that he’s missing out on the whole global warming thing. He texted back with a picture of some palm trees. For some reason, I’d briefly forgotten that he’s working in Los Angeles.
3. I discovered puncture-resistant squeak toys yesterday. The dog is both frustrated and ecstatic.
4. A couple of writers and one DJ (none of whom I’ll name just now) are down for being part of the lineup at my book release party in March. Now all I have to do is plan a book release party in March. I hope Mayda’s in town.
5. I invite a lot of local musicians into my shows because I want the people who like my work to be exposed to the work of people whose work I also like. So far, there’s been some nice crossover. Still, if Angie Stevens had never moved out to Denver, it would be her on stage with me every time.
6. I’m hoping to make Two Eyes for the Dead with Killwire, Hawthorn Guild and These Worlds Collide tonight at the Hexagon. If I don’t make it, feel free to go and cheer on my behalf.
When Google first set out to crush web content companies based on SEO business models, I was pretty sure this was where things were going. They have a short but consistent history of identifying potential new revenue streams, buying or destroying anyone currently utilizing them, then going in for a longterm cash grab in what has become an artificially untapped market.
(via Jon Mitchel:) “Then I remembered that public G+ posts count as websites now, as far as Google search is concerned. Furthermore, Google search now obscures natural Web results whenever possible, giving Google+ results from users’ networks instead. And it hit me: True Believers of the Holy + might see this re-shared Google+ post of an almost-unattributed rip of my story instead of the original.”
Once, shortly after that Vita.MN article came out, I had a bad idea I’ll share with you now. I should point out that I got this idea after a drink or two too many during a Sci-Fi Tuesday.
So I looked Jeremy Messersmith in the eye and, in all seriousness, suggested that we organize a live local celebrity game of D&D to raise money for charity. (Looking back, I have no idea how this would have raised a dime, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.) He was nice enough to humor me a little but, being more sober, he didn’t come across as especially in love with the idea.
Then I asked Kate Iverson to text Mark Mallman and see if he’d be in. He got back to her with a firm, “No dice.”
By then my list of local celebrities who probably had some dragoneering in their past was exhausted, and I promptly abandoned the idea. So you never got to see that happen.
I owe Mark Mallman one.
1. Because I never really get invited to be on them. I think I should be. I assume I’m somewhat credible, because I’m always asked about it during interviews.
2. Because I’m often in the audience anyway. I go expecting to learn what’s new, what’s happening and what we can reasonably expect in the future. I usually just see various panelists who don’t acknowledge the differences between a vanity press, a small press, an ISBN reseller, a printer/distributor and an all-out scam. The message that tends to come across is that all very large, established publishing houses are good while all other publishing models are dumb.
3. Except when someone from a small press is on the panel. Then their press, and perhaps a few presses with whom they have a solid business relationship, are the exception.
4. Because none of that nonsense from 2 & 3 is accurate. Not even a little.
5. Because I’d love to see a panelist point that out. Even if that panelist has to be me. (Although I’d rather see someone like Cory Doctorow or Warren Ellis point it out. I may be credible, but they’re more credible.)
6. Because clinging to viewpoints that are uninformed, obsolete, wildly inaccurate or some combination thereof doesn’t do aspiring writers any good.
7. Because the self-publishing panels I’ve seen have always devolved into an extended sales pitch for Atlanta Nights, and because that pitch has always included a strong and unsubtle implication that all real self-published books are inherently just as bad as this fake self-published book.
8. Because I was once in the audience when some panelists actually claimed that writing fanfic is more credible than self-publishing original fiction and, because I believe that audience members should respect certain boundaries, I didn’t correct them. I want to make up for that.
A new book comes out in March. Well, several new books come out in March, but only one of them is by me.
It’s an interesting experience, taking something you’ve done since the Twentieth Century and repackaging it for people who’ve only just heard of you. I’m told this is how writers spend their entire careers.
Part of the process is editing short stories that haven’t been new in over a decade. Part of that process involves resisting the urge to go all George Lucas on what is already perfectly good science fiction. So I’m constantly reminding myself not to add the Praxis effect to explosions, or to plop Jar Jar awkwardly into the middle of the story, or to let my characters scream cartoonishly with their fists in the air.
There. I’ve said it.
Also, I’m constantly reminding myself that people liked this or that story when they first read it ten years ago. It makes perfect sense to reissue it for a new audience. No matter how tedious it is to edit.
The thing is I’ve been very lucky and very successful in two of the three main pursuits that come along with being an author. Over the last few years, my audience (that being you) has grown tremendously. This has happened in spite of the various reasons it shouldn’t have, such as my inability to keep a professional website online or deliver consistent new fiction for your pleasure. My credibility has also taken leaps and bounds. I’m not sure if the cred fuels the audience, or the audience fuels the cred, or if they’re independent of each other. I am sure, however, that I haven’t ever been taken this seriously before. It’s pretty cool, to be honest, and I hope to make it worth your while.
So I’ve grown my cred and I’ve grown my audience. What I haven’t done to nearly the same extent is hone my craft. Becoming a full-time professional writer has left me with surprisingly little time to write. Without regular practice, I haven’t improved nearly as much as I’d like. When I look at something I wrote five years ago and published three years ago, I don’t see a significant difference between the writing then and the writing now. My voice and style haven’t evolved an awful lot, and I think they should.
So I’m going forward into 2012 resolved to spend less time doing things that aren’t about writing books. I want to write another novel and, when I do, I want it to be better than the last. I don’t see that happening if I’m spending all of my time writing shows, obsessing over making them worth the audience’s money, or going out on the scene every night. I do see it happening if I spend more time at home, typing.
So, I probably won’t do a new show in 2012. If the Rockstars do a Fringe Festival show, I hope they have me on to play a part in it but I don’t want to take the reins of my own rampaging one man show again just yet. I may even surrender Sci-Fi Tuesdays to a new host, although that would be a last resort as I’ve become very attached to it. Mostly, I just don’t anticipate doing a lot of shows outside of regular Rockstars stuff, Convention readings and a book launch (if I can find the time) in March.
I hope you’ll understand, and that you’ll appreciate my scarcity when its end result turns out to be a cool, new book that you really like.
I’m at Arcana 41 this weekend. Yeah. Forty-One. It’s actually a little hard for me to envision cons that were going on before I was born. I know there are a few. MiniCon, which was the only annual con I really knew about as a kid, was going on when my parents were kids. But I digress…
On Saturday, I’m doing:
Monster Culture (2:00-2:55 p.m., Mainstage) Universal and RKO classics on Shock Theater; Famous Monsters of Filmland; Aurora Monster models; AIP, Hammer, and Toho Studios; The Munsters and The Addams Family; “The Monster Mash”—what it was like Growing up Monster. Eric M. Heideman, mod.; Pam Keesey, Greg Ketter, Roy C. Booth, Rob Callahan
And on Sunday:
Splatterpunk vs. Traditional Horror Fiction (11:00-11:55 a.m., Mainstage) What are the merits and demerits of splatterpunk compared to more traditional horror/dark fantasy fare? And beyond the splatterpunk movement, what are the pluses and minuses of gore in general in horror fiction? Brian K. Perry, mod.; Greg Ketter, Rob Callahan
Apocalypse (and Post-Apocalypse) in Fact, Folklore, Fiction, and Film (Noon-12:55 p.m., Mainstage) With the world’s end due again on 12/21/12, it seems like a good time to survey imaginative portrayals of the end of the world (as we know it). We’ll also include a bit of post-apocalyptic fiction and film, and religious end of the world scenarios (the rapture, the Book of Revelation, Norse mythology), and the Apocalypse in today’s political/cultural discourse. Rob Callahan, mod.; Pam Keesey, Greg Ketter, Edward E. Rom
After the con, I schlep over to Bryant Lake Bowl in Uptown, where I’ll join my comrades the Rockstar Storytellers at 7pm for our Annual Scary Halloween-type show: Tellraiser (A Nightmare on Lake Street)
Then it’ll be back home for the week, where I’ll wrangle performers and polish the rough edges out of the first Live presentation of Nightmare Fuel - A Musical Storytelling Phantasmagoria. Once that’s done, I’m going to start pitching another ongoing project.
When I show up at a literary event in anything shy of an Edwardian gentleman’s eveningwear, people get upset. This morning, I’m sitting in a day labor office in old jeans, a coat I’ve sewn back together half a dozen times and a sweater I bought five years ago. People here think I’m dressed up.
So I’m guessing that, even among the generally broke and frugal artist set here in the city, there’s an inflated sense of fashion’s importance in daily life. And yes, I realize that this is an unusual stance for a fashion writer to take.
Fact: I have turned down articles I wanted to write, for publications I wanted to be in, because the editor wouldn’t discuss pay until after he had my work in his hands.
Fact: I’ve gladly written for free when it was for a publication I liked, and I knew they couldn’t afford me otherwise. But they had to be honest about it upfront.
Fact: I probably won’t write for free again any time soon. Recent experiences have soured me on it.
Fact: This is me, though, so I’ll probably have changed my mind by the weekend.
The world’s supply of helium may be dwindling, and the heliapocalypse will probably happen in my lifetime, but if it’s got to go anyway then I endorse using some of it up on radio controlled flying sharks.