Hey all! It’s almost time for Norwescon again. Whee. I’m on quite a lot of programming this year, so if you want to come see me, there are ample opportunities. (Also if you are going to be at the con and want to get dinner/lunch/drinks/whatever with me, I strongly recommend messaging me ahead of time. I will have access to email and etc through my phone while I’m there, but as you’ll soon see, there are a lot of events to work around.)
This may also TRAGICALLY be my last Norwescon for a while. I’ve received offers to attend PhD programs (in the biological sciences or genetics depending on the school) on the east coast. I’m not 100% sure which school I’m ending up at, but I’ll either be moving to the Boston area, New York City (Manhattan! woo) or Long Island. It’s possible that I will be able to come back for Norwescon. But… it’s somewhat unlikely, because I will either be researching, taking classes, or even teaching. And, to be honest, if I fly back to Washington, I’ll want to be able to come for at least a week so I can, well, you know, visit family and friends. As you do.
Anyway, here’s my super busy schedule, so you can start thinking about what panels you’d like to attend! I’m all over the board, with writing panels, social justice panels, a reading, an INGRESS panel, and even… duh duh DUHHHH a science panel!
Ingress: What Is It?
Thu 3:00pm-4:00pm – Cascade 7&8
Thu 5:00pm-6:00pm (Only listed so you know I’m BUSY at this time.)
Why Can’t They Get It Right?
Thu 8:00pm-9:00pm – Cascade 3&4
Fri 10:00am-11:00am (Only listed so you know I’m BUSY at this time.)
How to Write Vivid Scenes
Fri 11:00am-12:00pm – Cascade 9
Diversity in Spec Fic Publishing
Fri 2:00pm-3:00pm – Cascade 3&4
Fri 4:00pm-5:00pm (Only listed so you know I’m BUSY at this time.)
Denied: A Story of Rejection
Fri 6:00pm-7:00pm – Cascade 3&4
Sat 11:00am-12:00pm – Cascade 9
Molecules of Life
Sat 1:00pm-2:00pm – Cascade 7&8
YES I WILL TALK ABOUT THE DNA
Autograph Session 1
Sat 2:00pm-3:00pm – Grand 2
Reading: Keffy R. M. Kehrli
Sat 4:00pm-4:30pm – Cascade 1
Keffy R. M. Kehrli
Transphobia: A Panel for Allies of Transgender Folk
Sat 6:00pm-7:00pm – Cascade 10
Dissecting the Weird
Sun 11:00am-12:00pm – Cascade 5
The Best in Recent SF
Sun 1:00pm-2:00pm – Cascade 10
PHEW! It’s going to be a busy con, but it should be a lot of fun. Also, I will try not to drive everyone nuts talking about the GlitterShip Kickstarter that I’m running – it ends on April 8, which is a few days after Norwescon. I’m kind of boggled at how high the total is so far, since I’m only on day 4 and it’s just crested $3,000.
For more about GlitterShip, check out the webpage!
Thanks for all your support, everyone, and I’m looking forward to crawling back out of the depression cave to make things for you all again.
Well, I had a few short stories come out this year, and I went to some conventions. I’m still more-or-less employed, still more-or-less carrying my Clarion debt, and still haven’t gone surgeon hunting because a) not enough money b) the plan was to lose weight first… welp.
I managed to acquire more books than I read, again. (Which was less of a financial burden than it sounds due to how many of them were purchased on sale/clearance/given to me.) I should probably cull the shelves. Even if I wanted to read all these (not always true anymore) I think I have at least 10 years worth of books unread.
I had a few short stories come out. I’m listing them here because even though it’s a pathetically small number, it’s more than I managed last year, so there’s that.
“Mice” in Fireside (August 2013).
“Gazing into the Carnauba Wax Eyes of the Future” in What Fates Impose (Sept 2013).
“HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!!” in Lightspeed (Oct 2013). [Link]
“This is a Ghost Story” in Apex (Nov 2013). [Link]
Of these, I’m still astonished that Ghost story and Robot Army sold in the first place. Ghost Story, for one, contains poetry. LOOK I NEVER THOUGHT I COULD WRITE POETRY? (maybe I can’t) SO IT’S STILL WEIRD TO ME THAT I EVEN DID. I’m still overly proud of the story, though, so I don’t know. Go read it or whatever.
HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! also inspired a kickstarted anthology which over-funded.
I have four reprints on deck for some time next year. Two of these are foreign rights sales (French and Polish), one is HELP FUND… for the Kickstarted anthology and the other is a reprint that was accepted back in March, but Stuff occurred, so I’m still waiting for the okay to announce that one.
I did turn in a short comic proposal this year. I don’t feel super hopeful about it, mostly because I know they can only buy 10-ish out of the 220 open call proposals that came in. This is not very many, and I suspect there are people in that pile with much more impressive comics/writing/art credits.
I’ve finally figured out what I needed to make a webcomic concept I’ve been playing with for years interesting enough to start drawing it, though I’m holding off right now because a) I need to draw dogs, dogs, dogs, more dogs, and dogs and b) I need to figure out what layout works best: page? strip? individual panels? WHAT. So I don’t know when that will go live, since after I figure that out I have to work up a reasonable backlog before I start posting. See also: things I learned about webcomics by doing it all wrong the first time.
What if I just want to draw hands for other artists.
I went back to freelance writing for one job, which I promptly worked my ass off to finish in five days and then got stiffed by the customer, who disappeared from the face of the planet, although the text I wrote for him is being happily used on some fucking website. This kind of killed what little I AM GOING TO MAKE ENOUGH MONEY TO GET TOP SURGERY momentum I had because I don’t have the time or energy to do stuff for assholes for free. It’s probably time for another batch of angry emails, but I hate writing emails and to be honest, I feel demoralized enough to just pretend that it didn’t happen. Oh my god, do I ever fucking hate chasing people down for payment.
To be honest, my overwhelming feeling regarding the last year is wondering why I even bothered. The number of open calls that I wanted to write stories for but couldn’t finish because I was having trouble creating my way out of a paper bag is too high to mention. (And I’m fucking ashamed). I feel even more strongly like whatever YAY NEW WRITER promise I might have pretended to have a few years ago is fully gone and squandered. Which is all stuff I probably shouldn’t even say, so when nobody wants fiction from me, it’s really my own fault. Surprise! I still suck.
I’ve got messy half-drafts of three short stories, and am still fucking around with the vampire book that people tell me not to call a vampire book, but I think I’m at about 10 completely separate reasons as to why it’s Never Going To Sell, so whatever. Gay. Vampires. One of the characters smokes. Right now 0.3% of the words in the rewrite are “fuck.” It may or may not be YA. Etc. No, but seriously, more people should totally go LOLSNORT TWILIGHTTHHHHNNNNNGGGG at me because that’s fucking clever. Good job, nobody else has ever thought to compare any and all mentions of vampires to Twilight, you must be a god-damned genius.
That said, this year I did watch about 3 minutes of one of the Twilight movies because it contained Vampire Baseball, which was just as awesomely stupid as I expected, up to and including the fact that apparently vampires don’t know the difference between the hand signals for “safe” and “out.” (“WHOO~! OUT!” he screams, gesturing “safe” with his stupid vampire arms.)
I have been watching some newer TV shows. I wanted to like Sleepy Hollow, but it was too stupid and not interesting enough to hold my attention. I think I made it one or two episodes past the massively awful Magical Indian episode.
Almost Human tried to be good, and I do love Karl Urban, but cops cops cops all shows are about cops if the show isn’t about cops why even bother cops cops cops cops cops. This also applies to Sleepy Hollow, which would have been 99% less stupid if the protagonist hadn’t been a cop. Seriously, if she’d had literally any other job, it would have been a much better show.
I am still watching Dracula, also known as Crackula, because it’s incomprehensible nonsense but it’s entertaining incomprehensible nonsense. Sure, Van Helsing is a mad scientist who brought Dracula back to life so that together they can perfect green, wireless energy and destroy British big oil. Or… whatever is going on. I don’t know. I admit that I have trouble telling all the random British dudes apart. So far their sideburns are my best bet. Plus, it’s not about cops. Is it the only TV show on all of TV that’s not about cops? I think so.
Movies: Catching Fire was as good as the first movie in the series and was exactly what I wanted it to be. Byzantium (MORE VAMPIRES) was an awesome movie, if you like moody vampires staring off into space and being moody and then killing some dudes. Which I do. I rented a bunch of things that were mostly terrible, so I won’t talk about those. I also actually enjoyed Gatsby for the costumes and:
-Although the movie overall seemed to be trying to recreate the feeling of reading Fitzgerald in a 10th grade English class. HERE, LET ME PICK OUT THE THEMES AND PUT THE TEXT UP ON SCREEN FOR YOU.
In 2014, I’ll turn 30, so I’ll close out my 20s without having accomplished much of anything and with nobody to blame but myself for it. So that’s fun, I guess.
In short: wah, I want 2014 to be better, but I feel like I’ve run out of “try” and I’m honestly not sure what to do now. I feel terribly cut off if I turn off social media, but I get stressed out when I leave it on. (It feels like Twitter consists of nothing anymore except for Important Hashtags that end up getting trolled and notices that friends of friends have succumbed to suicide.) I feel like I only have two emotions anymore, despair and anger. So, there’s that. I’d say “here’s to 2014 being better” but to be honest, everything I hated about 2013 was under my own control, and I have no idea what to do anymore. New Year’s is typically the only holiday I give a shit about anymore, and today I’d like to just pretend it isn’t happening.
What am I looking forward to in 2014? Right now, nothing.
Another post of some writer talking about art in general is probably the last thing that the world needs, but that has never kept anyone from writing a blog post before, and it sure as fuck isn’t going to stop me now.
You’d think that after spending most of my late teens and all of my adult life hanging around other artists and writers that I’d be about to launch into a moving tale about some time when I had a heart-to-heart with another creator. NOPE, NOPE, NOPE. Like so many things in my life, this learning experience was a result of me being a little shit.
I was in middle school, and probably about 12, and taking seventh-grade art. In that class, we would dutifully work on drawing and shading techniques, spend hours with rulers trying to get three point perspective right, and look at famous paintings. (Of course, I drew floating 3D text that said “THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE” over the X-Files symbol, y halo thar late 90s.)
So, here’s where I admit that about 99% of all abstract art I looked at as a kid was completely lost on me. I was like IF THERE ARE NO PEOPLE IN IT THEN WHAT IS THE POINT??????????????
One day, I came home from school, pissy, as usual, and went off on a tearing rant about one piece of art or another that I thought was completely stupid. I was possibly talking about Jackson Pollock’s drip painting, but most likely I was reacting to Mark Rothko’s “Orange And Yellow” which our seventh grade art teacher had shown us while explaining that it had sold for millions and millions of dollars.
“Orange And Yellow” – Mark Rothko – 1956
I ranted to my father about it. After all, I was smart and clearly knew what good art was, so obviously he would agree with my outrage. People pay millions of dollars for two squares!? TWO SQUARES!? Here I was, slaving away with a set of cheap pencils, getting graphite all over my fingers and hands trying to make a photorealistic drawing of my ragged old sneaker, and some dude paints a couple of rectangles!? And that painting is worth more money than I could ever imagine having, EVER? RIDICULOUS!
“I mean,” I said, “it’s not like that’s hard! ANYBODY could do that. Even I could do that!”
So, what’s been going on for the past few months? (Besides Twitter. Twitter is always going on.)
Despite classes, general disgruntlement with my abilities, and every procrastination technique known to the modern writer, I finished what I tentatively called “a draft” of my novel. It was the first time I’ve slapped THE FUCKING END on a novel and gave it to other people to read, so I guess it was an achievement of some kind. And just like XBox achievements, it doesn’t really count for much of anything. Oh well!
I had my critique group (Horrific Miscue in Seattle) go over it, and got additional feedback on the beginning. This was illuminating in a “fuck, that thing I thought was a problem but just kind of hoped nobody would notice because I wasn’t sure how to fix it is actually a problem and everybody noticed” sort of way. Due to being busy, etc, I haven’t started pulling teeth redrafting yet, but that’ll happen soon.
Also, there is general disagreement about what genre it is.
I’ve been working on short stories AND keeping track of how much I’m writing, which is why I can sadly sigh and say that writing 5,000 words in about a week feels less useful when you’ve been bouncing between three stories. But, well. Progress. I only mostly hate what I’ve been doing.
That said, I SOLD a short story last month, which was great because I was starting to get that mopey “oh man, I will never write or publish again! I’m just going to be one of those people who goes to cons for years on end and sits on panels but never publishes anything until finally the audience starts wondering why the fuck I’m there!”
Story: “This is a Ghost Story” to Apex. I’m not sure when it’s going to come out, but I’m assuming April or later this year. Probably later than April, since I suspect March/April line-ups already know who they are. BUT I AM JUST WILDLY SPECULATING. I’m excited to have this one out, and also nervous because I have no idea how people are going to react.
I’m still editing for Shimmer. This consists of being the most horribly picky slush reader (which is less a point of pride and more “sorry, I’m just really, REALLY picky”). Now that there are enough numbers for it to matter, about 3% of what comes through my first reads pile goes to the second reads forum. I also do actual editing… though by the time we decide a story all the major edits are taken care of, so it’s mostly copy-editing with the occasional, “WTF are you intending to do with this paragraph, can you clarify this description?”
I always get anxious about it, like the author’s going to get my edits and go, “Wow, these are stupid. STET 4EVA, MOFO!”
I also moved on the last weekend of 2012, which basically sucked on pretty much every level. We were able to find one person to help, and we moved two apartments in one day. I’m not really sure where my boundless energy for leaping into and out of UHaul trucks came from, but it was probably my impressive fat reserves. Pete (who helped) is basically a saint at this point, in some religion that I just made up where they have saints and I can just declare that someone is one.
I’m still doing science for the time being as a day job, and am slowly reaching the point where I feel vaguely competent with regards to some biological science topics. TA-freaking-DA. I probably should have been a bio major in undergrad instead of physics/linguistics. That said, people do get all O___O at a physics degree, which is nice. Ish. Right now, I’m taking Advanced Human Genetics or something, also known as, “No, seriously, how are we even alive?”
I’m sure there’s other stuff that’s been going on that I’ve missed.
OH. On the subject of the Duotrope thing, there was not enough money for a crowdfunding replacement effort to get off the ground, but there’s now The Submissions Grinder which is a free replacement. Includes data visualization, for people who want to look at a given magazine’s bimodal distribution. Right now is a good time to check it out because it’s still in active development. If there are features you’d like to see, you can suggest it to the site admins.