Authors are Real People Too. Go figure…

I’ve had this belief that authors must be somehow… more something. Not sure what. See, they have what I want. A writing career, publishing credits, fans, convention appearances, etc. I’m working toward those things, but I guess even with all that work, I thought that there must be something special about them. Some indefinable thing that all authors had in common. And I’d get it, as soon as I figured it out.

But I don’t think that anymore. Having now met a few authors, I have come to the stunning conclusion that they are, in fact, real people too. I’ve paid more attention to this whole world in the past few years, as I’ve been working on my own writing career. I read their blogs, listen to them interact with each other in person or in podcasts, see them as I’ve attended a few conventions, and am trying to look at them as professional peers, albeit colleagues higher up on the career ladder than I am currently.

And it’s this change of viewpoint that has let me realize that they’re just normal (I use the word loosely) people.  They may have a more enhanced work ethic and ability to force themselves to just sit down and DO IT, but aside from that, they’re just like the people I know at the office (my real one). Some of them I really like, a lot are nice enough, but I have nothing in common with, and there are others that I tolerate.

Same world.

I feel like this is a huge insight. I’m going to have to think about how this changes things for me.

Status Update: Projects

This is an attempt to keep myself honest and on some kind of schedule. It doesn’t generally work, but here goes.

In Progress

1. “Red Tape”. Done and in submission.

2. “Sic Transit Axis Mundi”. Have reworked it and is awaiting final edit from Stephanie then into submission again.

3. “Paper Dream”, formerly “Beckett for American Baroque”. Same as above.

4. “The Witch on the Bus Goes Curse, Curse, Curse”. About half done.

5. “A Frequent Affair”. Stalled out because I’m not sure how it ends. Also trying to decide if it an SFnal story or should I rework it as lit fic.

6. “Dancing to the Tune of Solids”, formerly “A Race through Dark Places”, formerly “Paola”. Still too mired in its previous history as a sidebar piece of fiction associated with a previous roleplaying campaign.

7. Story currently known as “Mind Your Manners” which is not the right title, AKA my Baba Yaga story. Am incorporating comments from last round of beta readers.

8. “Insha’Allah, I will Live Forever”. Maybe a third done.

9. “No Reportable Intelligence”. Maybe a quarter done.

10. And of course, Oberon’s Heir, my work in progress novel. Currently at 69K. Keeping all the stories interwoven together is really throwing me. Also, I keep losing track of where certain scenes are in relation to others.

Not Started

1. Untitled second Corolis story about the dead goldfish

2. Untitled Roxane story

3. Untitled alt-American history with Ben Franklin story/novella

4. Sleeper story. I think this is a novella, if not an actual novel.

5. Murder on the Fourth of July. Novel. Just in notes form

6. “The Left-Hand Windsor Knot of Darkness”. I have no idea what this is, but I love this title.

7. “The All Seeing Jade”, unless its title is “Lucky Fuck”

8. Untitled religious subatomic particle thing

Published! “The Seven Samovars” at Lightspeed Magazine

I’m officially published! My short story, “The Seven Samovars” appears in Lightspeed Magazine‘s September 2012 issue, along with my author spotlight. This is both my first sale and my first pro sale. SFWA membership, here  I come.

I’m thrilled to be included in a Table of Contents with so many other amazing writers – Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Monette, Harry Harrison, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Adam-Troy Castro, Brook Bolander, Scott Edelman and Holly Black.

To anyone who might find their way here from Lightspeed, welcome. I’m a dad with two kids who does a lot of boring work for the federal government, so writing is my sanity check. I’m a 2010 graduate of the Viable Paradise writer’s workshop. I’m working on several other short stories and a novel.

Wanted: Hot, new idea to take me away from this drab, old thing.

So right in the middle of a project is when you tend to get your best ideas – for other projects. I’m stuck in the last 100 pages of my novel’s first draft, and I have come up with at least three great new short story ideas. I think it’s your brain’s way of trying to shake you out of the rut when you’ve been stuck muddling around in the late-middle of a project.

And of course, there’s nothing that burns so hot in your brain as the idea when it comes upon you full force, when your head reels with all the cool things you can do with it. All the connections that leap to the front. How x connects to y connects to z. And then bring in the Aztecs or that cool fact about coral reefs you just read. Or this word you’ve been dying to use in a story.

We’ll get to the boring “But why would he do that?”, “How exactly would that work?”, and “But why wouldn’t he just use his cell phone?” questions later. When the idea pops into your brain, it’s good to go ahead and just purge it. Write the thoughts out in your notebook. Let you brain make those connections while it’s hot, and then put the notes away and try to get back to your main project.

I’ll let you know when I can take my own advice.

Do Women Still Have Rights in the Future? Or in Fairyland?

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Photo by Jurvetson used under a Creative Commons License.

So as a fantasy and science fiction writer who DIDN’T grow up reading the golden age of the genre, I’ve struggled from time to time with a lack of deep knowledge that embarrass me from time to time. “Oh, well Book X was clearly a response to so and so’s Book Y, which was itself very influenced by Book Z.”

So usually I’ve heard of the authors and the books (but not always), but I’ve almost never been able to really relate to those conversations. Regardless, I understand that most authors wrote, or still write, as a way to reflect, expound upon or comment on changes they see in the society around them. Boundless optimism of the space age? Check. Ruthless Cold War government control of movement and personal freedoms? Yep. Next gen manipulation of commercial/social choice through media control? You betcha.

So when I look at the latest political antics, like Wisconsin’s repealing the Equal Pay Act or the fact that it’s unpatriotic to talk about the war on women or my own state’s trans-vaginal ultrasound proposal, I have to wonder what the hell kind of fiction will we be writing in the next decade?

Will female fairies even have rights in the future? Will women be allowed on spaceships? (Don’t even get me started on how they’re barely allowed on right now. Apparently, breasts touching rocket ships might end space-time as we know it. And be, like, totally gross.)

And the debate on female blog commentary that’s raging right now, following Christopher Priest’s Hugo-slam-a-thon is just completely baffling me. Not that these reactions don’t occur; I know they do. But I just can’t understand why. I just don’t understand or know anyone who would behave that way, anonymity notwithstanding.

This is the part of fandom that I don’t really like, and I have to admit, I have trouble relating to. I rarely participate or even read these discussions for this sort of reason. I almost never feel like I have something useful to say or add, and commenting, “Yea! Me, too!” makes me feel like a tool. But my wife totally called me on it today.

Creating a Cohort

One of the things I enjoy most about this new writer thing is the slow creation of a new cohort of writer friends. I met a lot of people at Viable Paradise and in the time since. It’s nice to have a group of people who know what you’re going through. Submit, reject, submit, struggle to finish a draft, finish a draft, hate it, love it, rinse repeat.

As always, there are people you meet that you instantly know you ill connect with and others that are more of a surprise. I was wondering why I feel so connected to these people, when I have friends I’ve known for years that I don’t feel comfortable talking to about my writing. Miranda Suri, who I’ve never met, but is a fellow VP grad, speculates about pouring out your heart in your writing and what that means for new friendships. This rings very true to me, though I’m not sure I would’ve thought to look at it that way.

So to my new friends (you know who you are), thanks. I appreciate it.