On My Way to MADICON!!!

Hold all my calls! On my way to my first sci-fi convention as a guest:  James Madison University’s MADICON in Harrisonburg, VA!  Wish me luck  . . . Break a leg . . . Vaya con Dios . . . .

Here’s hoping I don’t completely suck and get laughed out of town by college kids.

😉

 

And My Hugo Nominees Are . . . .

 

In case you were wondering.  This list is based off of what I read that was published last year.  I had to do a lot of last-minute revision since apparently I’m a late reader — more than half the things I was intending to nominate were published prior to 2014, even though I yanked ’em out of the New Arrivals section.  Sorry, Lexicon (but I’m still nominating The Martian because it OUGHT to be eligible).  I also referred to a bunch of best-of lists, as well as the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies slates (they were handy and I agree with many of the listings, even if I don’t fully agree with the particular windmills they’re tilting against), but I only put down things I had a personal knowledge of — so, sorry about that, Novella and Novelette categories, I don’t apparently read many examples of you.  I’ve also tried to recognize some below-the-radar and self/indie publishing hopefuls that should receive recognition.  I realize, just like with putting my own name in the ring, these little guys are unlikely to get enough votes for a spot on the final ballot, but I do what I can.  If you haven’t heard of one of my noms, by all means CHECK THEM OUT.

I don’t have my nominee slots completely full either, so you have until midnight Pacific Daylight Time to convince me to add more!

Best Novel:
Trial By Fire, Charles E. Gannon, Baen Books
Skin Game, Jim Butcher, ROC
Robogenesis, Daniel H. Wilson, Doubleday
The Martian, Andy Weir, Crown

Best Novelette:
Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium, Gray Rinehart, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show

Best Short Story:
“Words On The Wind”, Lu Whitley, The Writer’s Arena
“Turncoat”, Steve Rzasa, Castalia House
“Tuesdays with Molakesh the Destroyer”, Megan Grey, Fireside Fiction

Best Related Work:
“The Hot Equations: Thermodynamics and Military SF”, Ken Burnside, Castalia House
“Why Science is Never Settled”, Tedd Roberts, Baen
Wisdom From My Internet, Michael Z. Williamson, Michael Z. Williamson
Atomic Rockets website, Winchell Chung, Winchell Chung
Mathematical Fiction website, Alex Kasman, Alex Kasman

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form):
Interstellar, Christopher Nolan, Paramount Pictures
Guardians of the Galaxy, James Gunn, Marvel Studios
Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Russo Brothers, Marvel Studios
Automata, Gabe Ibanez, Green Moon
Edge of Tomorrow, Doug Liman, Warner Brothers

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form):
Pilot (The Flash), Greg Berlanti, DC Entertainment/The Flash
Unbound (Almost Human), J H Wyman, Fox Television/Almost Human
Night Zero (The Strain), Guillermo Del Toro, FX/The Strain
The Grove (The Walking Dead), Michael E. Satrazemis, AMC/The Walking Dead
The Mountain and the Viper (Game of Thrones), Alex Graves, HBO/Game of Thrones

Best Professional Editor (Short Form):
Edmund R. Schubert
Mike Reznick
Eric Flint
Jonathan Laden
Trevor Quachri

Best Professional Editor (Long Form):
Toni Weisskopf
Jim Minz
Anne Sowards

Best Professional Artist:
Alan Pollack

Best Semiprozine:
Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, Edmund R. Schubert

Best Fanzine:
The Writer’s Arena, Tony Southcotte, Joseph Devon, Albert Berg

Best Fancast:
The Human Echoes Podcast, Tony Southcotte, Albert Berg
Emergency Awesome, Charlie Schneider
PT Hylton Reads, PT Hylton
Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing

Best Fan Writer:
Cedar Sanderson
Amanda Green

The John W. Campbell Award (not a Hugo):
Rolf Nelson, The Stars Came Back
Chris Kennedy, Janissaries
Jason Cordova, Kaiju Apocalypse

BLUF Review: Chappie

Bottom Line Up-Front:  Most of the critics are wrong about Neil Blomkamp’s Chappie.  While not as good as I remember District 9, it is better than Elysium.  However, it is NOT what you expect from these stars, nor from the advertisements, and I think that is what is bringing its scores down so low.  This is a pretty good AI sci-fi action flick, but it subverts so many of your pre-conceptions, many end up disliking it.  I enjoyed it and it would be well worth a matinee and/or rental, though probably not a purchase on Blu-Ray.

SPOILERS ABOUND:  Chappie is set in Johannesburg, South Africa in the near future.  Jo’burg is overridden with violent crime and drug activity, so much so that the police force is heavily militarized, and the environment supports some drastic measures.  In comes Tetravaal, a tech company who has perfected an autonomous police robot to support the human cops.  They have a functional AI, but they are not “alive” or self-aware.  Within a few short months, the Scout droids designed and overseen by Dev Patel’s Deon have turned the crime situation around and everything is looking rosy for Jo’burg — as long as you’re not a gangster or a rival in the company with an alternative police droid.  Enter our first antagonist, Hugh Jackman’s Vincent, playing a fairly monomaniacal villain against his usual type.  His alternative robot, a HEAVILY armed and armored remotely-piloted ED-209-ish droid called The Moose, is the prime alternative to the Scout, but the Scout design is doing so well, Sigourney Weaver’s Michelle — Vincent and Deon’s boss — won’t spend company funds on his ugly and overpowered drone.  He thus hates Deon and consistently menaces him and looks for a way to undercut the Scout program.  Deon himself has grand plans far beyond the Scout program.  His true goal is a full artificial intelligence, a machine consciousness that can appreciate and employ abstract thought for art, music, and everything.  The problem is, Michelle doesn’t see any upside for the company for a more fully rounded AI, making Deon a victim of his own success.

Now enter the two big “problems” with Chappie:  our actual protagonists.  You see, Deon, Vincent, and Michelle only bookend the story and provide the framework for the plot.  The actual protagonists are three craven, stupid, drugged-out gangsters in the form of rap-rave duo Die Antwoord’s Ninja and Yo-landi (going by their actual stage names here) and Jose Cantillo’s Amerika.  They enter the story because they screwed up and wind up owing a brutal thug, Brandon Auret’s Hippo, around 20 million Rand (about $1.6 million) after a bad drug heist and Hippo gives them 7 days to come up with it.  The problem is, the Scouts have made it a lot harder to pull off deals or heists of that size, so they’re all gonna die.  Yo-landi, however, figures it would be easy to pull off a heist if they turned off the Scouts, hypothesizing that they probably have a remote control somewhere that can do the trick (she apparently had just seen The Phantom Menace or Avengers).  They see Deon’s picture in the paper and decide to kidnap him.

Deon makes a breakthrough and successfully compiles a conscious AI, but given Michelle’s reluctance, he decides to go behind her back and install it in a very unlucky Scout, Unit 022, which has been wrecked so many times its battery is fused to its chassis and cannot be changed or re-charged.  He steals the busted Scout, the encrypted guard-key to change its program, and his prototype AI.  As luck would have it, though, the gangsters choose that moment to car-jack him.  At their hideout, he convinces them there is no remote to kill the Scouts.  Amerika sees the busted Scout and figures it is the next best thing and orders Deon to program it to help them pull off a heist.  Not wanting to die, and desperate to see his creation live, he brings the Scout online with the new program.  Dubbed Chappie by Yo-landi, the infant-like droid is nothing like Ninja wants and he threatens to kill Deon if he can’t make it perform.  Deon promises to come back and get Chappie working better.  They let him go and Yo-landi, Amerika, and Chappie bond while Ninja seethes and plans.

This is both the most enjoyable section of the movie and the most frustrating.  It is fascinating to see Chappie “grow” and try to reconcile Deon’s brief admonishment to only do good and not commit any crimes with the trio’s reality of nothing but crime.  Nature vs. nurture.  Chappie won’t kill, but they convince him it’s okay to poke holes in people and help them go to sleep.  Chappie won’t steal, but when Ninja tells him the rich people on the street are driving cars that they stole from his Daddy and Mommy (Ninja and Yo-landi), he becomes quite adept at carjacking.  Chappie wants to do good, but Ninja explains to him that if he wants to live beyond the week he has due to his bad battery, he has to fight and help them carry off the heist.  Chappie is innocent, but he is also crafted into a dangerous gangster because of the environment he is exposed to, the reality of their “normal” lives, and his own desperate situation in the face of all the abhorrent treatment he receives at the hands of humans.

In the third act, Vincent re-emerges after scuttling the Scout program and out-ing Chappie to Michelle, who gives him free reign to bring down the rogue robot with his own monstrosity.  Pyrotechnics ensue and everything collides very satisfactorily.  But then comes the 4th act and finale no one is talking about, where many thought the movie goes off the rails.  I won’t give it away here, but I did think it followed with Chappie’s situation and the actions he takes on his own to survive, and it served to make the question of AI more profound.

NON-SPOILERISH DISCUSSION:  This movie is not what you expect going in.  Hugh Jackman is a monomaniacal, former special forces type desperate to succeed with his own project at any cost.  He is not one-dimensional, but he isn’t a well-rounded hero either.  Sigourney Weaver is DEFINITELY not a Ripley-type.  She has a fairly small role as a timid, second-guessing, cover-your-own-ass corporate bureaucrat.  Neither is what you expect from these actors and knowing what they are capable of in other films may leave you wanting more.  But that’s not this movie.  Neil Blomkamp’s films involve dark-dark-dark antagonists and extremely flawed protagonists in a dirty, messy, petty world.  It was that way in District 9, in Elysium, and now in Chappie.  This movie is not Robocop, Short Circuit (1 or 2), Pinocchio, Oliver Twist, District 9, or AI, though it carries elements of them all.  Of course, if you have to name five or more movies that a story has common elements with, that doesn’t say derivative to me, that says it is an original story informed by what came before.  The special effects are great.  I believed in Chappie as a real thing, and I found his journey through life believable, even if it isn’t the good robot discovers how to be good sort of story many seem to want.  The plot goes places you aren’t expecting, but I found it a fun and interesting journey.  Do the characters make poor choices?  Yes, but guess what?  Life is often defined by poor, not well thought out choices.

And to address the biggest gripe of the movie:  Die Antwoord.  Many ping on their bad acting as the thing that kills the movie.  Would I choose a pair of rappers to lead my film?  No, but they are not as bad as people make out.  I considered them to be members of a totally separate South African gangster sub-culture, so I just accepted their mannerisms and way of speech as true-ish elements of that culture.  Was Yo-landi’s voice annoying?  Maybe a little, but I didn’t notice it by the end.  Was Ninja an asshole?  Yes, but he’s supposed to be an asshole, and he had a satisfying arc by the end.  Was Ninja an actual asshole on the set?  I’m given to believe that he probably was and won’t be getting any more acting roles because of it in future, but his main detractor — the guy that played Hippo and complained about Ninja criticizing his acting — was so over the top and an actual bad actor, that I have to take his criticisms with a bag of salt.

Best is Sharlto Copley as Chappie.  I loved his work and his growth here.  Great job and nothing left to say.

For me, I’ll see it again when it goes digital and I may end up buying it.  But don’t believe all the detractors that insist the movie match the movie they thought they’d be seeing.  Go check it out.

The Partly Informed Voter

Hey, all.  I’ve been off the computer as of late (well, off everything that isn’t Parks and Rec or Justified binge watching), so I apologize for the lack of recent posts, updating my writer’s group, or making progress on my projects.  I can’t say why I’ve been off.  It’s been more of a general “blah” feeling than anything else.  Maybe it’s the winter.

But with the advent of March, I am renewed unto the approach of Spring, groundhog be damned.  I’m feeling UP and ready to tackle the blog-o-sphere and my own writing career yet again!  Read closely — there is much to catch up on:

– First and foremost, I am a contributing member to SASQUAN, this year’s World Science Fiction Convention, and as such I have a terrible and awesome thing:  a vote!  Yes, it is now within my capability to vote for the (lately) controversial Hugo award for the best works in Science Fiction.  Nominations close March 10th, so this is YOUR last chance to make suggestions to me for what should receive a nod.  I have no delusions that my own novel or stories will make the cut, proud of them though I am.  Nominees don’t need many votes to make the ballot — on the order of 160 or so.  I have more than enough 5-star reviews of ASID to think that I have 160 people who would back me, but I doubt the Venn diagram of my readers and SASQUAN voters would intersect to that degree.  Back when I had dim hopes that I might make the Sad Puppy slate (one side of the Hugo controversy), I might have had a slot, but it was not to be.  Many of the Sad Puppies devotees have read and liked ASID, but there are better books out there and they justifiably got on the slate.  The same goes for my short stories — my audience and the average SASQUAN voting pool are not the same group of people, so no joy.  That being said, who SHOULD I vote for?  I have a few that I’ll be backing, but there is room on my card for others to tag along.  Should I fill in my gaps with Sad or Angry Puppies?  Should I strike out for balance and vote for books touted by the other, “non-controversial”, “I don’t see anything wrong with the awards”, “there’s no inherent bias among WorldCon voters” side?  Check out my existing slate tomorrow and let me know what I should add!

– My active SFWA membership has not come through yet.  I’m qualified six ways from Sunday, but no joy yet.  Must investigate.  I am happy that my friend Joelle Presby got her membership, however.  That’s a future SFWA board member there, folks.  Me?  I couldn’t be bothered.

– I’ve completed about 1/4th of DEMI-GOD and it is going well (except for my operational writing pause throughout much of February).  I’m eager to finish, but worry about how the story grabs you.  I expect the editing phase to be arduous.  This is not a spiffy sci-fi military adventure like my last one.  This is much more social science fiction and much more character driven, so I worry about my past readers losing interest.  Once I get further on, I will be requesting beta-readers, so let me know if you want to participate.

– I’m spending today re-writing my sci-fi western for the Weird Wild West anthology.  Gotta get that in before the window closes.  Just need to punch up the beginning.

– I also need to post my new short story for sale as a Kindle Single.  Let the 99 cent experiment begin!

– Movies you should check out:  Jupiter Ascending (a visual masterpiece that should only be watched completely drunk), Kingsman (an AWESOME flick which is both a deconstruction of Bond and the best of what makes Bond), and The Lazarus Effect (which is being unfairly maligned as either a Lucy redux or a Flatliners copy.  It is neither.  It is a good low-budget horror flick, though I did think the villain had some issues with her motivation to go FULL-EVIL at the end.)  I’m thinking about adding a feature here called the BLUF review for Bottom Line Up Front where I lead with my final judgment and then go into detail.

– Should I get in to You Tube?  I have a face for radio and a voice for books, but there is a whole media out there that I’m missing out on.  Recommendations?

– And, lastly, for a special treat, go check out The Human Echoes Podcast, where you can hear yours truly debate and riff off of Albert Berg and Tony Southcotte of The Writer’s Arena about the movie Armageddon, space science, the end of the world, and 50 Shades of Grey (which may or may not be related).  It was my first podcast, but I had tons of fun, and you should absolutely check it out.

Later!

SFWA Now Accepting Indie-Publishers!

About damned time, I say.  Found this post, just as I was filling out my membership based upon my 2014 banner year, in which I made both my third and fourth qualifying short fiction sale.  And now it looks like, as of March 1st, indie-published SF/F authors and those from small, non-qualifying presses may now qualify as pros as long as they published a minimum of 10,000 words at 6 cents a word, or received at least $3000 in royalties+advance.  Man, I got that 20-fold in the last year alone! Like I said, good year.  For the official announcement from SFWA President Steven Gould, go here.

Now, a lot of my compatriots (conservative-ish / libertarian-ish / military sci-fi / red-state-leaning-but-largely-apolitical / indie-hybrid apostates) are largely dismissive or downright hostile toward the SFWA because of the organization’s perceived ideological bent of late (and not without reason), but I find myself leaning toward optimism and traditionalism.  I want to be part of things like the SFWA, the Hugo, the Nebula, and the SF-writers’ community because of what those things are supposed to be, even if the reality of what they are currently rubs a lot of folks raw.  I’m not a controversy type of guy.  I’ve yearned to join the club for so long, that I’m gonna join it, even as others are abandoning it as unwelcome or irrelevant.  Who knows?  Next year, I might agree with them.  But this year?  This year, maybe I can do something to right the ship (should it prove to indeed need righting).

And congrats to all of those on the Sad Puppies 3 and Rabid Puppies slate for their inclusion in the alt-protest list of books and works that often get seemingly excluded from consideration for the Hugo Awards.  There are some seriously good pieces on that list and they absolutely should be considered for a Hugo, ironic inclusion or not.  I imagine that my own nominations will include a lot of those.  There was an outside chance that A Sword Into Darkness or one of my three short stories published in 2014 might have gotten included on the slate, but alas, it was not to be.  Could I still get a Hugo nom even without Sad Puppy backing?  Sure.  Pigs can also fly with a sufficient amount of explosives applied.

 

Con-stitutional Liberties

First, “me” business:  I finished the second half of Chapter 4 on Demi-God / Dattoo, which was a tough one because it’s a lot of technobabble justification for what comes before and after.  I may end up re-vamping or cutting most of it, but it’s on paper/pixels at least.

Finishing up the files for my launch of “The Commuter” — COMING SOOOOON!

I have finally started writing Chapter 1 of Lancers Into the Light, the sequel to A Sword Into Darkness!  If you would like to be Tuckerized/Red-Shirted/Die in a gloriously fictional manner, hit me up on Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, or in the comments below!  And you guys are gonna love Huli.

And, I hit on a couple of very nice posts about my writing!  First, there’s a nice mention for my story “Within This Horizon” from Riding the Red Horse over on Takimag.  And, pleasantly surprising, Mark Ciocco of the Kaedrin Weblog has put me among his nominees for this year’s Best Novel Hugo Award!  Thank you, Mark!  And you would all be wise to go check out his excellent blog over there.

Now, convention stuff.  Here are the updates!

  1. MystiCon, Roanoke, VA – February 27-March 1; Rejected, all full up.
  2. RavenCon, Richmond, VA – April 24-26; Rejected, but on the waiting list.  I’m probably still going.  Oughta be fun.
  3. DragonCon, Atlanta, Georgia – September 4-7 (Yeah, right, this is like San Diego Comicon East); Rejected! Their form rejection email even had .midi file of a donkey laughing at me.
  4. Capclave, Washington DC – October 9-11; Application still under review
  5. HonorCon, Raleigh, North Carolina – TBD – October 31-November 2; No response
  6. AtomaCon, Charleston, South Carolina – November 13-15; Accepted as a guest!  Waiting on a response from me as to what panels I wanna be on.  This is a long drive, but, hey, that’s what meth is for.

So, the latest travel plan/list is:

  1. ROFCon, Virginia Beach, VA – February 27-March 1; Attending just to see all the costuming and cuz it’s local.
  2. MadiCon, Harrisonburg, VA – March 13-15; Guesting!  Super small college con.  Still still thinking on it.
  3. RavenCon, Richmond, VA – April 24-26; Attending cuz it was fun last year.
  4. BaltiCon, Baltimore, MD – May 22-25; Acceptance pending, but they urged me to enter for the Compton Crook Award.  And I did! No confirmation of award eligibility yet.
  5. ConCarolinas, Concord, North Carolina – May 29-31; Guesting!
  6. LibertyCon, Chattanooga, Tennessee – June 26-28; Guesting!  I’ll be taking trucker meth to reach this one too.
  7. Con-Gregate, High Point – North Carolina, July 10-12; Guesting!
  8. Capclave, Washington DC – October 9-11; Application under review
  9. HonorCon, Raleigh, North Carolina – TBD – October 31-November 2; No response
  10. AtomaCon, Charleston, South Carolina – November 13-15; Guesting!  At this point in the year, I’ll be a full-blown trucker meth-head.

Plus / PS:  I now have a supporting membership to this year’s Worldcon, so I am free to nominate stuff for the Hugo this year.  What should I be nominating?  Make your Best Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story, Related Work, Graphic Story, Dramatic Presentation (Long Form/Movie), Dramatic Presentation (Short Form/TV ep or short film), Editor (Long Form), Editor (Short Form), Pro Artist, Semi-Prozine, Fanzine, Fancast, or Fan Writer.  I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!!  So, hit me up, y’all.

Toodles!

Con-tinuous Updates

Ha, ha.  I wonder how many of these I can make before even am sick of them.  Looks like Con-Carolinas is on board, though they have accepted me as a Military/Science guest vice as an author.  I’ll take it!

  1. MystiCon, Roanoke, VA – February 27-March 1; No response
  2. ROFCon, Virginia Beach, VA – February 27-March 1; No response, but I’ll probably go to this one due to proximity.  Or I’ll sleep in.  I dunno.
  3. MadiCon, Harrisonburg, VA – March 13-15; Accepted as a guest!  Super small college con.  Still thinking on it.
  4. RavenCon, Richmond, VA – April 24-26; No response (Damn it)
  5. BaltiCon, Baltimore, MD – May 22-25; Acceptance pending, but they urged me to enter for the Compton Crook Award.  And I did! No confirmation of award eligibility yet.
  6. ConCarolinas, Concord, North Carolina – May 29-31; Accepted as a guest!
  7. LibertyCon, Chattanooga, Tennessee – June 26-28; Accepted as a guest!  Long drive, I may look at car-pooling.  Very excited!
  8. Con-Gregate, High Point – North Carolina, July 10-12; Accepted as a guest!
  9. DragonCon, Atlanta, Georgia – September 4-7 (Yeah, right, this is like San Diego Comicon East); Application under review
  10. Capclave, Washington DC – October 9-11; Application under review
  11. HonorCon, Raleigh, North Carolina – TBD – October 31-November 2; No response
  12. AtomaCon, Charleston, South Carolina – November 13-15; No response

So, my travel sked is shaping up.  Stay local in February, travel to Harrisonburg March 13-15, Richmond April 24-26, Baltimore (if acceptance comes through) May 22-25, Concord the very next week May 29-31, chill for a month, then LibertyCon in Chattanooga June 25-29, High Point July 10-12, and then FREEDOM!

As for writing, almost finished with the short for the Weird Wild West project, and honestly it is turning out awesome. I’m channeling my inner Laura Ingalls Wilder, as interpreted by Sergio Leone and George Lucas.  It is not steampunk, though.  It is more . . . clock-punk?  It involves a young girl on the frontier and a Babbage horse.  That’s all I can say right now.

As for novel manuscript, it’s . . . going well?  Yeah, it is definitely a thing on which some measure of progress is being made.  Honestly, my failing here is entirely David Weber’s fault.  I met my local idol briefly at a one-day stop in to MarsCon in Williamsburg, so I’ve been reading Weber again (my signed copy) and playing waaaayyy too much of the actually very good mobile game Tales of Honor:  The Secret Fleet.

So, totally not my fault.  🙂

Con-Sequential

(Warning:  I fully intend to keep making conference puns in these titles.  Run now if you can’t handle that.)

Well, THAT certainly escalated quickly.  So, as briefed yesterday, I sent off e-mails to about a dozen regional science fiction and literary conventions, trying to garner more industry contacts since the day-job insisted on kicking me in the ass.  And unlike I imagined, they responded!  Already!  In a positive direction!

Here’s my current schedule, with status updates:

  1. MystiCon, Roanoke, VA – February 27-March 1; No response
  2. ROFCon, Virginia Beach, VA – February 27-March 1; No response, but I’ll probably go to this one due to proximity.  Or I’ll sleep in.  I dunno.
  3. MadiCon, Harrisonburg, VA – March 13-15; Accepted as a guest!  Super small college con.  I’ll have to think on it.
  4. RavenCon, Richmond, VA – April 24-26; No response
  5. BaltiCon, Baltimore, MD – May 22-25; Acceptance pending, but they urged me to enter for the Compton Crook Award.  And I did!
  6. ConCarolinas, Concord, North Carolina – May 29-31; Application under review
  7. LibertyCon, Chattanooga, Tennessee – June 26-28; Accepted as a guest!  Long drive, I may look at car-pooling.  Very excited!
  8. Con-Gregate, High Point – North Carolina, July 10-12; Accepted as a guest!
  9. DragonCon, Atlanta, Georgia – September 4-7 (Yeah, right, this is like San Diego Comicon East); Application under review
  10. Capclave, Washington DC – October 9-11; Application under review
  11. HonorCon, Raleigh, North Carolina – TBD – October 31-November 2; No response
  12. AtomaCon, Charleston, South Carolina – November 13-15; No response

Sooo, Madicon, Balticon, Libertycon, and Con-gregate all look solid.  Along with Ravencon, that gives me travel plans for March, April, May, June, and July.  Better start saving my pennies now.  If I was a smart man, I’d have a finished manuscript to bring with me . . . .

Well, back to writing!

Con-ventional Warfare

Sometimes life just kicks you in the balls.

The guys reading this know what I’m talking about, and I’m fairly certain that most of the ladies will know what I’m talking about with a fair degree of empathy, even if I don’t know what the female equivalent would be.

I don’t talk about my day job much here (and I will stick to the usual doing-something-for-the-Navy-somewhere-on-the-East-coast) but I will expand on it a bit to let you know that I’ve essentially been biding my time at one job, awaiting the opening of another one:  the DREAM job for one in my line of work, the gold-or-silver ring you wait for your whole career to bring you to.  Well, after doing everything the job asks for the last two years, and getting ready to go to the DREAM job . . . it was, of course, snatched all away.  Now I have essentially a year more to wait, hoping it will come through this time, and being promised a variety of things to assuage me.  I hold no animosity for my current job or the folks that had to give me the bad news, but DAMN IT.  Just damn it.

So, I was feeling pretty low.  I made vague plans to hit the water in my new kayak, stymied only somewhat by the fact that it was due to be rainy and freezing all weekend.  Whatever.  It fit my mood.  But theeeennnnnnn . . . .

Super-Indie Author Chris Kennedy sent me a note saying “Forget all that reality stuff!  Come and kick back with me at IllogiCon in Raleigh, NC!”  And wouldn’t you know it, I did and it was awesome!

Illogicon is a fun, fan-run science fiction convention about half to a third the size of my only other experience at RavenCon last year.  But since it was smallish, the rules weren’t quite so rigid, and they graciously allowed me to participate as a panelist.  I sat in on “Using the Military in Fantasy,” “Independent Publishing 101,” “Indie Publishing Finances,” and “Worldbuilding,” and I managed not to embarrass myself during a single one.  In fact, it almost appeared that I knew what I was talking about.  I also attended but did not participate in “SF/F for the Younger Generation,” “Using Religion and Spirituality in Science Fiction,” among others.  I talked up A Sword Into Darkness, REMO, and Riding The Red Horse, gave away a few copies and a bunch of postcards and business cards, and made and renewed contacts galore.  Not only did I touch base with Chris, I also met fellow indie superstar Ian J. Malone, Baen Slushmaster Gray Rinehart, Intergalactic Medicine Show Editor Edmund R. Schubert, Baen Editor/Publisher Toni Weisskopf, and authors Clay and Susan Griffith, Gail Z. Martin, Jacqueline Cary, Christopher Garcia, and Misty Massey.  It was a great time, not least of all because my little Gabster came with and impressed everybody with her involvement and her last-minute cosplay.

It was tons of fun and inspired me to hit the keyboard hard so I can finish Demigod, write Lancers Into The Light (ASID 2), and put out even more shorts in 2015 than I did in 2014.  They also inspired me to get my name out there more.  So, even though I’m probably a day late and a dollar short, I’ve sent in queries to guest or panel at a bunch of area conventions this year.  I have no idea how many (if any) will say yes, but here’s what a 100% attendance schedule would look like:

  1. MystiCon, Roanoke, VA – February 27-March 1
  2. ROFCon, Virginia Beach, VA – February 27-March 1
  3. MadiCon, Harrisonburg, VA – March 13-15
  4. RavenCon, Richmond, VA – April 24-26
  5. BaltiCon, Baltimore, MD – May 22-25
  6. ConCarolinas, Concord, North Carolina – May 29-31
  7. LibertyCon, Chattanooga, Tennessee – June 26-28
  8. Con-Gregate, High Point – North Carolina, July 10-12
  9. DragonCon, Atlanta, Georgia – September 4-7 (Yeah, right, this is like San Diego Comicon East)
  10. Capclave, Washington DC – October 9-11
  11. HonorCon, Raleigh, North Carolina – TBD – October 31-November 2
  12. AtomaCon, Charleston, South Carolina – November 13-15

I don’t know if any of these might say yes, but I may attend some of the closer ones regardless.  I’ll definitely be attending RavenCon.  It was just too much fun last year.

All in all, a pretty good weekend after all.  Thanks, Chris!