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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SIX OF THE WORST… things about Android Auto

When I first got a car with Android Auto, I was super-excited to use it. But the more time I’ve spent in the application, the more problems I’ve had with it. At this point I’ve given up and gone back to using my phone, which is now mounted above my infotainment system. Here’s why I did that.

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SIX OF THE BEST… Tenth Doctor episodes

I was finally convinced to watch Doctor Who. It’s good. Not the best show ever, but good. Good enough for me to have a top-six list of David Tennant episodes.

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SIX OF THE BEST… deep cuts I forgot I thumbs’d up

I haven’t written a column about music in about a year and a half. Time to change that.

(There’s also a small rant about Girl Scout Cookies at the end.)

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SIX OF THE BEST… ways you could make my stay more comfortable

I’ve stayed in 13 hotels in the past two years. That’s an average of one hotel every two months (not including the one I stayed in twice). That’s given me quite an insight into ways hotels could improve things… or, in some cases, stop improving them.

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SIX OF THE WORST… things about recipe websites

If you manage to get to the end of my long-ass, picture-filled column, you’ll find an actual recipe at the end… just like a real recipe website!

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SIX OF THE BEST… annoying conspiracies no one is talking about

It’s a conspiracy. You may not think it is, but it is. Maybe.

By the way, did you check out my new story, “Thoughts and Prayers”, over at The Arcanist? You should. It’s only 1000 words; shouldn’t take you long to read.

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“Thoughts and Prayers”

Out today in The Arcanist: my flash fiction story about the gamification of tragedy, “Thoughts and Prayers”.

I first wrote this in November 2015, after a mass shooting (I think), when I saw the outpouring of “support” on social media — especially from the government, who did absolutely nothing, and continues to do absolutely nothing… except send thoughts and prayers. At this point the phrase has become rote, and while I know there are people out there who are genuine, it’s really more of a “do it on social media so everyone knows how much you ‘care'” thing. I’m a cynic, yes, but there’s a reason for that.

The whole mess has only gotten worse since 2015, as the disasters somehow get worse and the platitudes somehow get emptier. And yet the first dozen publications I submitted this story to passed on it. One said “not speculative enough” (which, okay, the speculative element is slight), another called it “too message-y”, and another said I didn’t push the concept far enough. But I was telling the story the way I wanted to tell it, and The Arcanist was my lucky 13.

Here’s hoping you enjoy the story, and that if it comes true, you find a way not to participate. But if you’re forced to… well… my thoughts and prayers go out to you.

(And yes, I know there was an amazing episode of BoJack Horseman that covered this same topic. I highly recommend it.)

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SIX OF THE BEST… expensive things I refuse to spend money on

I don’t buy expensive stuff as often as I would like, because… well… it’s expensive.

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