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I am writing, but…

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this in the past, but I write under two names — this one, and a pseudonym. I know I wrote a bunch on my fantasy novel earlier this year, but that mojo has petered out and I’ve been instead working on pseudonymous fiction. I finished a book, two short-stories, a novelette, and the first part of a flash fiction collection.

So, I mean, progress is happening. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

In the meantime, here’s a preview of my as-yet-unfinished horror short-story, “Creeping Cold”:

To her credit, Aundrea didn’t leave me a month later, when I was completely cold. She stayed; she tried; she gave me everything she had because, in her words, “someday I’m going to need it from you, and I know you’ll be there for me.” My brain comprehended her words, and somewhere inside me I even appreciated them, but at the moment all I could think of was the brittle way I moved and the block of ice that had formed at the center of my body. I barely felt anything anymore; I floated through life like a balloon that was low on helium, going through the motions: eat, work, eat, exercise, television, bed. A few times, Aundrea managed to eke a response out of my body, but I think she knew that even sex wouldn’t fix this.

By now Aundrea was going to the gym with me — she’d complained that she wanted to lose weight, and over my protestations that she absolutely didn’t need to, she’d gotten a membership. She even got me a session with one of the trainers, saying, “maybe you need to do something different. I’m always reading about workout boredom and getting used to it, and it not working anymore.”

The trainer was a compact, gregarious man who kept trying to make me smile. I finally faked one, just to get him to stop. He was so happy, so full of life, and I was dwindling away, the light at the center of my crystallized soul fading to nothingness.

And then, while I was on the squat machine, he reached across me to adjust the weight and I caught the tiniest whiff of warmth.

It was enough to get my brain working, enough to put a lighter amount on the back extension machine than I should be using, and when he reached across me again I breathed in as much of his warmth as I could.

He was dead three days later, but I didn’t care; I was warm again, and he had so much in him that I was free of the cold for almost six months.

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Because I didn’t have anything else to do…

Lately my mind has been running itself ragged with the idea of starting my own literary magazine. Because, you know, I didn’t have anything else to do… like work on my novels. I’ve been making a lot of progress on my fantasy novel, and it would really suck to arrest that progress just to work on a completely new project. But I guess that’s how it is for some writers: we go for the new and shiny, instead of finishing one thing at a time.

And this magazine idea has been consuming me, especially when it’s time to go to sleep. Last night I was up for two hours after lights-out thinking about the magazine and what would go into it — the website, the print version, the e-reader version, the Kickstarter, the Patreon, the submissions page, the amount of words per issue, the non-fiction articles, the letter from the editor, the frequency with which the magazine will be released, the other people I might ask to work on it with me, the slush pile, the acceptances and rejections, and so on.

I guess I could work on my novel in the mornings and the magazine in the evenings. It would be more productive than sitting around watching Stargate SG-1, yes, but… but do I really want to go down this rabbit hole?

Somehow, I think I do.

Wish me luck.

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Progress Reports

I’ve been working pretty hard on my fantasy novel — it’s up to Chapter 23 now. If you’re interested in seeing what kinds of things I’m writing in this book, the best place to do that is on my Instagram, where I’m posting snippets each day that I manage to write something. Here’s an example:

 

So, y’know. Check it out. Give me a follow, if you like. The excerpts also show up on my Twitter, if that’s your thing.

And yes, the rules of “Run” are in the book. Just in case anyone wants to do a tie-in.

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It’s over 100,000!

I have this fantasy novel I’ve been writing, on and off, since 2006. I picked it back up again in 2019 after the inaugural Multiverse convention and started rewriting it; after all, my writing has changed — hopefully for the better — in the years since I first wrote it.

It's over 9000! (Dragon Ball Z) (Newer Animation) Blank Template - ImgflipThere were some truffles in there, but there was also a lot of dirt. I had the bones of a good (I hope) fantasy novel, one that I was maybe halfway done with. I’ve never written a book longer than 145,000 words, but this one is on its way to beating that number.

And, as of now, it’s over 100,000 words. That’s about 400 pages. And, according to my outline, I still have three more parts to go. I predict this book will hit at least 150,000 words.

What’s even better, though, is that I’ve actually been working on it. Writing it. Thinking about it. Wanting to get to the ending (eventually). I can’t say that my writing mojo will continue, but it might. I mean, I already finished writing one book this year (to be published under my pseudonym); why not two?

Here are some of the words I wrote this morning. Here’s hoping there are more tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that. And so on.

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THE COMING OF THE TWO is out for consideration

After multiple drafts, multiple revisions, and a whole hell of a lot of time spent pondering what I should call it, my YA novel (formerly called “the shelit book” for lack of anything better) is finally out for consideration with a couple of agents.

What’s it about? Well, I can distill it down into one sentence, if I absolutely have to: “what if The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, but with genre-aware protagonists and lizards instead of traditional fantasy creatures?”

The book is called The Coming of the Two, and hopefully you’ll get to read it before I have to revise it again to make it more accurate for the time when it’ll actually be published.

Here goes nothing…

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Here, Have Some Updates

Here are some updates that may or may not interest you:

  • I finally, finally finished the second draft of my YA fantasy novel. Next step is the third draft, where I take all the individual chapter files, put them all together, and then edit for internal consistency.
  • Last year I wrote two books in March (and published one over the summer, under my pseudonym), and made a somewhat-abortive attempt at a new novel in November
  • Writing during COVID is hard. Harder than I thought it would be. I really thought I’d be able to crank out the words, especially since I was saving over an hour a day by not commuting to and from the office, but it just didn’t happen. Sad times.
  • I got a new dog, Ruby. Here she is doing a heckin good sit.

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AFTER THE APOCALYPSE: Free Until Friday!

It’s my kid’s birthday this week, but you all get the gift: until Friday August 14, you can get a free copy of After the Apocalypse for your Kindle. You don’t have to do anything special — just go to Amazon and grab it.

And if you like it, maybe you’d consider reviewing it? The more good reviews an independently-published book gets, the higher it goes in the Amazon algorithm, which is vital when you don’t have a publisher’s marketing machine working for you.

After the Apocalypse. Free. Get it while you can.

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Virtual Tip Jar

Times are tough for everyone. I get it, believe me. But if you feel like my stories have made you feel feelings, or you just want to send a little encouragement, I created a virtual tip jar that you can use if you like. But you don’t have to.

I suppose I ought to tell you that I wrote two books since quarantine began. They’re in various stages of beta-reading and editing. They’ll be published under one of my pseudonyms. Hopefully I can get back to writing under my real name; late last year I was making real progress on a fantasy novel and hopefully I can finish it at some point. I guess we’ll find out.

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Piece by Piece, Line by Line

One of the biggest issues I have when I write is getting anything finished. Not because I don’t have the ideas, or the ability to follow through, but because I need to see my successes. Otherwise I don’t know that I’m doing a good job. Sure, I can tell my friends “hey, I wrote 3500 words today” and they’ll tell me how great that is, but that kind of talk doesn’t get me going as well as actual metrics-based success.

I recently started working on a new project — a choose-your-own-adventure story that I will be publishing under one of my pseudonyms. I talked to an author friend who has written these before, and he gave me some tips, including that each page should be outlined as a separate page in a notebook. Well, there are two issues with that: (1) my handwriting is atrocious and I would never be able to read my notes (2) this is the time of physical isolation, and I don’t have any blank notebooks right now.

Fortunately, since I do most of my writing using Google Drive (I tried Scrivener but it just wasn’t for me), and since I use Google’s applications for pretty much everything outside of work (which is a Microsoft Office/OneDrive shop), I figured I should take advantage of the tools with which I’m familiar. I created a spreadsheet, gave it some columns I could work with, numbered it from 1 to 999, and set to work.

When I finished, two days later, I had outlined 310 individual pages with several different characters and outcomes. To some people, 310 pages can sound daunting, but to me it’s a challenge. My novels are over 300 pages, and my short-story collections are between 250 and 300; I can do 310 pages. (As I’ve written the book, the outline has hit 330 pages because I found things that didn’t work, that I had to rewrite in a different way on their own pages.)

So I opened a new file in the CYOA folder, called it “The Book”, and started with the heading of “Page 1”.

After writing each page, I marked it in purple on the spreadsheet — this is a holdover from when I outline books; I’ll write outlines in paragraph form, more like summaries than bullet points, and as I finish writing a part I’ll mark it purple so I know where I left off. This is how I wrote After the Apocalypse, as well as several long works of fan fiction (we’ve all done it) and an unpublished novel that people are still trying to get me to finish editing. It works.

Apparently when it comes to CYOA, when I have to write each page and keep track of what goes where, it really works. Within one calendar week — seven days — I have written over 48,000 words on this book, and odds are good I’ll have it done in another seven.

I have literally never written a book this fast. I may never write one this fast again. But piece by piece, line by line, I’m seeing myself having success after success, and as long as it’s working, I’m going to keep doing it.

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a multiverse of boss fights

Hi! Did I meet you at Multiverse? If you missed it, you should keep an eye on this space and see where you can meet me next. (I don’t have anything scheduled at the moment, but follow me on one of my many social medias and find out when I do.)

While at Multiverse, I read “The Accumulation of Mere Existence”, one of the stories in Boss Fight. Judging from the reaction of the audience, it hit pretty hard. You should get a copy of the book and check it out.

Finally, my wife has taken on the herculean task of pushing me to write more, and I started by revisiting an urban high fantasy novel (think the Bas-Lag books by China Mieville or, to a lesser extent, the Moonworlds books by Sean McMullen) that I wrote 95,000 words of back in 2006. As of today I’ve rewritten the first two chapters, taking the bones of what (I think) is a good story and applying thirteen years of knowledge to it to make the writing better.

So far, so good.

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BOSS FIGHT cover reveal and preorder page

Guess what?

You can now preorder your digital copy of my new collection, Boss Fight! It officially releases on October 18, but if you buy it now it’ll show up on your Kindle (or other device with a supported Kindle app) on that day without you having to do anything.

There will also be a paperback, but Amazon doesn’t yet have a way to do paperback preorders, so you’ll have to wait on that until the 18th.

Also, here’s the cover art, without any text on it, by the lovely and talented Sara Noto:

So, yeah. Boss Fight. Preorder it. You’ll like it.

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BOSS FIGHT is alllllllllmost done…

I know I’m cutting it kind of close, but my new collection, Boss Fight, is just about done. I have to make one or two quick edits to the manuscript, get the final cover, and get it to the publisher. All the editing and typesetting is done, though.

Here, have a table of contents:

  • Boss Fight
  • The Accumulation of Mere Existence
  • Committed to Memory
  • Morning Commute
  • Five Conversations with Lieutenant Mendez
  • The Cessation of Pain
  • Dreaming of Suzanne
  • My Pillow
  • Oubliette
  • The Healing Process
  • Thoughts and Prayers
  • You Don’t Bring Me Flowers
  • The Wilson Witches
  • Dire Diuretics
  • Red Star
  • The Tape Library
  • Faded Glory

Hopefully I’ll see you at Multiverse, October 18-20, 2019, in Atlanta. And if I don’t, that’s okay too.

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MULTIVERSE is only weeks away!

Hello, friends. Since we last spoke, I’ve been putting the finishing touches on my new collection, Boss Fight and Other Stories, which will be releasing at Multiverse on October 18. You should come.

I have my tentative list of panels and events for Multiverse, but until the official schedule is posted I’m going to keep the times and dates to myself. However, I can tell you that, unless things drastically change, I will be…

  • Arguing about who’s the best monster.
  • Talking accessibility in the future.
  • Getting sex-positive about tabletop RPGs.
  • Creating better characterizations for writers and others.
  • Reading some of my fiction aloud.

Multiverse has dozens of guests coming, and I’m honored to be a part of that group.

I hope to see you there.

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Appearance Alert: Multiversecon 2019

Fellow humans, I will be a guest of Multiversecon 2019, October 18-20 in Atlanta, GA, USA. You should come.

I’ll most probably be talking about writing, and I’ll have a new book as well: Boss Fight and other stories, a collection of 18 tales of aliens, parasites, architecture, and pillows. More news on that as it develops, but my artist is already putting together the cover and it looks great.

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“Return to Waypoint 5”, now in audio

My far-future space opera story “Return to Waypoint 5”, first published in Black Denim Lit, has been turned into a pretty amazing full-cast audio production.

Listen here.

This was actually published back in early August, but I’ve been a bit sidetracked lately with work and such.

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An Update

Here’s an update on what’s going on in the world of my writing:

  1. I put Six of the Best on a hiatus. The site is down right now but when it comes back I’ll try to get links of all the columns. I may end up just hosting them here.
  2. I finished writing a novel. The project is titled The Shelit Book until I come up with a suitable name. The first draft is done and my first beta reader has gone through it; I’m now loading it into Scrivener and working on updates and continuity before it goes out to the next beta readers.
  3. I started a new novel in mid-August and have hit 40,000 words on it. It’s straight-up science fiction, set in the late 3100s.
  4. I haven’t been writing or submitting much short fiction because I’ve been working on the aforementioned novels.

To those of you who keep checking back: thank you. I’ll try to do some more updating when I have more to update you on.

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“113 Feet” reprinted!

My scuba-diving sci-fi short-story “113 Feet”, which first ran on Escape Pod, has been reprinted in the new collection The Chronos Chronicles. Time travel enthusiasts should check it out at some point in the future.

Get it?

No? Just me? Oh well. Read it anyway.

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SIX OF THE BEST… nerdy recipes

If you’d seen my work schedule this week, you’d know that I don’t even have time to post this on the site. But I’m taking a moment because my wife spent a lot of time working on a guest column for me about nerdy recipes, and you should read it.

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SIX OF THE BEST… Brooklyn Nine-Nine cold opens

Brooklyn Nine-Nine returns this Sunday, and in celebration, here are six of the best of their cold opens. They all have something in common. Guess what.

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