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.


Prose and Cons

Whew!  Sorry for the delay in posting my RavenCon report here, but I was so blasted with ideas and advice, I had to get some of it out as actual writing before it vanished like the play-by-play of a dream.  Now, however, with a thoroughly re-written and re-submitted short story complete, and plans upon plans for more SciFi-ish goodness to come, I can now relax and tell you about my first science fiction convention.

Two things stand out.

First, these are awesome people and I’ve been missing out.  It is FANTASTIC that the nerds and geeks among us have the opportunities to gather together to achieve a critical mass (not a fat pun) and then explode outward into a multifaceted mushroom cloud of fandom without reservations.

Second, I’m afraid I’m not awesome enough of a fan to cast aside all inhibitions and revel in it to the n-th degree.  In a place where introverts are encouraged to REALLY extrovert without judgement, I still found myself holding back.  There would be no costuming for me.  When exhorted to get up and dance like a monkey for a good cause, I still found myself only dancing like a nervous cro-magnon.  It was no fault of the Con that I could not release an uninhibited über-nerd upon the Richmond DoubleTree Hotel.  The fault lies with me.  I still find myself on the outside looking in, trying to find the right niche between aspiring author, published author, veteran, sailor, officer, and nerd/geek/neek/gerd.

But I’ll get there with a little help from a BUNCH of amazing new friends.  First, I finally made contact with the Baen Books crowd!  I met Gray Rinehart, their slushmaster who took so much great time helping shepherd along ASID, Tedd Roberts (Speaker to Lab Animals), Michael Z. Williamson, Sarah Hoyt, Patrick Vanner, Jim Minz, and soooo many Baen Barflies (like the Royal Manticoran Navy crew, Peggy, and Julius — who is certain global warming is directly responsible for the rise in superhero movies).  Drinking and woo-hooing were accomplished in style at two great parties on two great nights.  Sailor Jerry, we hardly knew ye.  A special shout-out goes to Joelle Presby and CDR Andy Presby, two great writers and mega-brains living in nearby Norfolk who work with the great David Weber, helping to flesh out the Honor Harrington universe.

I met and got to speak at length with the Guest of Honor, Hugo/Nebula/Campbell award winning author Elizabeth Bear.  Bear gave me a lot of great advice and encouragement and was surprisingly gracious and down to earth for such an accomplished author.  I really hope to be able to attend the Viable Paradise workshop, as she recommended (as long as I can a. Wow them and b. Afford the time and expense).  I’d love to spend a week working with writers and people of her caliber.

Writers, editors, and fans everywhere, and not a single one made me feel unwelcome or unworthy in where I am and where I aspire to be.  My favorite new contact/bud is Chris Kennedy, one of the Con guests who is in very much the same position as myself.  He’s a retired Navy CDR and former kick-ass aviator (he kicks ass in other ways now) who just released his fourth self-published book, the second book of his planned space opera trilogy, the Theogony.  Okay — no lie — go get Janissaries and When the Gods Aren’t Gods today for some great military science fiction, written by someone who DEFINITELY has the bona fides, along with a smattering of myth and fantasy.  I hope to guest at future Cons, like Chris did here.  And he did his panels in the ultimate Navy fashion:  with PowerPoint!  Best part, he also lives nearby in Virginia Beach, so I see some beers in our future.

And, of course, there were the panels and the Masquerade.  I had a lot of fun, learned a lot, and got told the best thing a writer can here:  You, sir, have an ugly baby.  (Yep, that’s a good thing.)  I read the opening of “Bumped” and they INSTANTLY knew what was wrong with it, lifting blinders I didn’t even know I wore.  That was the story I re-wrote on Sunday and Monday.  It’s shorter, smarter, and a lot more professional now.  Hopefully editors will agree.

And that’s about it for RavenCon.  Con virgin no more!  Pics or it didn’t happen?  Well, here’s some pics!20140426_122836 20140426_113456 20140426_202934 20140426_224750 20140425_224736 20140426_202955 20140426_202640 20140426_203825 20140426_131630 20140426_203032 20140426_202926 20140426_201814 20140426_121834 20140426_203001 20140426_202602